Squiz Today / 30 August 2019

Squiz Today – Friday, 30 August


"Our more traditional neighbours, country folk, claim it's ugly and say it does not fit in this beautiful landscape."

Said Tomaz Schlegl, the Slovenian creator of a large-scale wooden statue of US President Donald Trump on a similar scale to the tribute to First Lady and countrywoman Melania, which was unveiled in July. Apparently, Trump's facial expression changes from "very friendly during the week to really scary over the weekends". Wonder why the neighbours are complaining…


Hackles were raised in Hong Kong yesterday as the Chinese military sent new troops to the territory. While China described it as a standard annual rotation of its garrison, it has alarmed pro-democracy advocates. The move comes after particularly violent protests last weekend and ahead of another weekend of anticipated widespread demonstrations.

Since Hong Kong was transferred to China’s hands in 1997, there’s been some 6,000-10,000 Chinese troops stationed in Hong Kong. Those troops stay for about a year before being 'rotated', and that's what happened yesterday, Chinese authorities say. However, suspicious minds are worried that in previous years, the military has been careful to ensure that the same number of troops with the same sort of equipment have taken up a post in Hong Kong. Those assurances haven’t been given on this occasion leading China critics to worry that it’s bolstered its presence and brought in equipment that would help them counter the protests.

Nowhere good. Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam this week said she’s not for engaging with the protestors. “It is not a question of not responding, it is a question of not accepting those demands,” she said. Reports say it was a response that surprised even pro-establishment and moderate voices. Pundits say Lam’s refusal to listen to the concerns of Hong Kong's residents coupled with China's military moves do not bode well for the weekend. Watch this space.

Some pictures showing how this crisis has unfolded are here. And for a quick backgrounder on Hong Kong, try our first Squiz Shortcut podcast. In a matter of minutes, you'll be all over it.



There were dramatic scenes overnight as Border Force officers’ efforts to deport a Tamil family back to Sri Lanka were thwarted by last-minute legal manoeuvring. After taking Nades, Priya and their children Kopika (4yo) and Tharunicaa (2yo) from detention in Melbourne, their plane was forced to land in Darwin at 3am this morning when their lawyer’s request for an emergency injunction was granted. The family lived for four years in Biloela, Queensland - a community that has vocally supported the family's efforts to stay in Australia. The family's temporary bridging visa ran out in March 2018, and they have been in detention ever since. Priya and Nades came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka's civil war and had their children in Australia. An emergency hearing on the family’s fate will be held at 10am this morning in Melbourne.


It’s been a long road, and yesterday the Morrison Government unveiled the draft laws it says would prevent discrimination based on religion. The bills extend existing laws that protect people against discrimination based on their age, race, gender and ability. Notably, the proposed laws will protect people from being discriminated against due to their religious beliefs, but will not protect them from discriminating against other people. And under the proposed laws, employees could be prohibited from expressing personal views if it would financially hurt their employer. Attorney-General Christian Porter said he expects the bills will be introduced into federal parliament in October after further consultation.


UK PM Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament has caused widespread backlash from the opponents of a no-deal Brexit, with thousands joining protests across the UK. But the reaction that got a lot of attention yesterday was that of British actor Hugh Grant. He unleashed a profanity-ridden tirade against the PM on Twitter - probably the nicest thing he said is Johnson's an “overpromoted rubber bath toy”. While critics argue the move is undemocratic, Johnson defended the decision arguing the five-week suspension over September and October will still allow “plenty of time” to debate Brexit before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on 31 October.


Professional speed racer Jessi Combs - also known as the 'fastest woman on four wheels' - died this week during an attempt to break her own record. The 39yo achieved the title after she set a record of 640 km/hour in a jet-powered car in 2013, which she broke again last October when she reached 777 km/hour. Having another go at the record on Tuesday, she crashed in Oregon's Alvord Desert. Combs was passionate about advancing the status of women in the racing industry and was a guest host on popular science show Mythbusters. Colleagues yesterday remembered her as a “top-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator.”


The pinnacle of basketball - the FIBA World Cup - kicks off in China tomorrow. While the US tends to dominate the sport, this year’s World Cup could signal the crowning of a new champion, with most of America’s best NBA players pulling out of the tournament to avoid injury. But the US still remains a firm favourite to win, followed by Serbia and Greece. While FIBA isn’t as prestigious in basketball as FIFA is to football, it’s still an important event that helps decide who goes to next year’s Olympics in Tokyo. Japan has a guaranteed spot in the finals as host, and everyone else must fight it out. The Aussie Boomers made history last week beating Team USA in Melbourne. Come what may, Aussie fans will be cheering for a better result than the previous World Cup when we failed to make the finals. Alley-oop…


James Dyson created the Dyson vacuum. And a bunch of other stuff. This podcast on how he made it happen is worth a listen for anyone who likes to do things differently.

This Twitter thread on the African American woman who made Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress is eye-opening. Spoiler alert: Jackie O didn’t like it much…

Who doesn't get sidetracked by a website with celebrity items up for auction? We spent way more time than we’d care to admit on this one... Starting with Heath Ledger’s jeans and gloves from Brokeback Mountain, we were also quite taken by Sammy Davis Jr’s passport...


7.00am (AEST) - US Open Tennis - Nick Kyrgios v Antoine Hoang

PM Scott Morrison travels to Dili, East Timor to participate in 20th-anniversary celebrations marking its independence from Indonesia. He is also expected to announce funding for a revamped military base and an underwater internet cable from Australia

ABS Data Release - Building Approvals, July 2019; And hold on to your hat, the ABS Corporate Plan, 2019-20 is out

Company Earnings Results - Harvey Norman; Slater and Gordon

UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Anniversary of the establishment of Melbourne (1835)

Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina striking the US Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,700 people and flooding New Orleans (2005)

3.00pm (AEST) - Super Netball Semi-Final - NSW Swifts v Sunshine Coast Lightning

Time TBD - US Open Tennis - Ash Barty v Maria Sakkari

National Days for Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan and Trinidad and Tobago

International Overdose Awareness Day

Anniversary of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) declaring a ceasefire in 1994, which led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998

1.00pm (AEST) - Super Netball Semi-Final - Melbourne Vixens v Collingwood Magpies

Father’s Day

Wattle Day

Start of Legacy Week

Start of Asthma Week

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.