Squiz Today / 31 July 2020

Squiz Today – Friday, 31 July


"It must have been a real undertaking.”

Said Professor David Nash from Brighton Uni of what the creators of Stonehenge did to create the 4,500yo monument. This week, researchers said they'd nailed down where the 20-tonne/7-metre tall sarsens came from - a woods 24km away. How they got the massive sandstone pillars to the sacred site is still unknown, but surely there was a Neolithic MacGyver involved…


After decades of failed initiatives to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, a “historic" and "game-changing" plan has been agreed by all levels of government and Indigenous representatives. With time called on the previous 'Closing the Gap' framework in February, the new agreement establishes 16 targets across education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages. And for the first time, all governments and Indigenous organisations share responsibility for achieving those targets.

Set up in 2008 after former PM Kevin Rudd delivered the National Apology to Indigenous Australians, the Closing the Gap strategy was established to reduce Indigenous disadvantage based on seven targets. And each year, the prime minister of the day delivered a report card to Parliament on the progress made under those targets. Problem was, not a lot of progress was made. This year, PM Scott Morrison said the “top-down, government-knows-best” approach had failed. So he tasked Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt and respected Indigenous advocate/Coalition of Peaks convenor Pat Turner to come up with something better. And here we are.

Well, that's the idea. And there are three things that supporters say is in its favour.

• The first is that the agreement is built on different foundations than anything that’s come before - and that’s “one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect,” Morrison said.

• Second is the targets themselves - they are more specific. And Wyatt confirmed there will be more funding to meet them.

• And third, it has broad support across politics and from 50 Indigenous organisations. "The national agreement may not include everything our people want or need to make lasting change to our lives, but this is a huge step forward," Turner said. That’s not to say everyone’s onboard

And now the work begins…


• What a bugger of a day in Victoria... Australia's highest daily totals since the pandemic started were recorded yesterday with 723 new cases of coronavirus and 14 deaths. At least 10 of the deaths were elderly people from aged care homes. From Monday, all Victorians will be required to wear masks. And residents from a patch of territory west of Melbourne and around Geelong can no longer have visitors to their homes as of last night.

• In NSW, 18 new cases were reported with known clusters getting bigger. And in Queensland, there’s a lot of attention on two infected women who returned to the state after visiting Melbourne and didn’t declare the trip to authorities. The Sunshine State’s ban on visitors from Sydney starts tomorrow morning.

• It’s been a rough month. It took from January to the end of June to hit 8,000 cases in Oz, and most were returned travellers. The next 8,000 cases were added in July, and most were locally acquired. Australia now has 16,303 cases, and 189 people have died. More than 9,500 people have recovered from the virus.


Four students have fallen foul of Hong Kong’s new security law and have been arrested for "inciting secession”, local police confirmed yesterday. It marks the first application of the law in that way. The anti-protest law is also aimed at stopping anti-China protests as well as subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces with a penalty of jail for between three years to life imprisonment. In this case, the group has been accused of announcing plans to set up an organisation that advocates Hong Kong independence on social media, police said. Human rights activists said the move was chilling. And overnight, 12 pro-democracy candidates in the upcoming Legislative Council election have been barred from running with the government saying they’re not fit for office. But Chris Patten, the UK's governor of Hong Kong at the time it was handed back to China, said Beijing was carrying out "an outrageous political purge".


Tweeted as an 'I'm just asking…' kinda question, US President Donald Trump has floated the idea that the presidential election on 3 November could/should be delayed over concerns about the mail-in voting process. The coronavirus is expected to keep people away from voting stations on election day, but they can send in their ballot paper. Trump has campaigned against mail-in voting for months citing concerns about fraud. Trump can't delay the election himself - that's a move that has to be made by Congress. But commentators overnight have questioned whether it’s the move of a man confident of victory. US Attorney General William Barr this week raised concerns about mail-in voting being susceptible to fraud. Even the most senior Republican in Congress (aka Trump’s party), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, thinks delaying the election is a bad idea... “Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” he said.


Friends, colleagues and some MPs want more to be done to bring British-Aussie academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert home. She is two years into serving a 10-year jail sentence in Iran after she was convicted of spying charges in a secret trial. Criticising the Australian Government’s “quiet diplomacy” strategy, her supporters have launched a public campaign and website. The Department of Foreign Affairs this week said Moore-Gilbert’s case was “one of the Australian government’s highest priorities” after she was moved from a violent prison in Tehran to a really violent prison in the desert. She was said to be “tearful, terrified and unwell” in a recent recording sent from behind bars.


Women’s tennis #1/legend Ash Barty has pulled out of this year’s US Open over corona concerns. "It was a difficult decision, but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19, and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position," she said yesterday. Barty also said she would make a decision about the French Open and other big gigs “in the coming weeks”. While no Aussie women are set to play in the US Open, which is scheduled to go ahead without fans in attendance on 31 August, Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios and John Millman have confirmed they will be there.


There’s a bit of buzz in the US media that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden will name primary candidate Kamala Harris as his running mate next week. To (potentially) get ahead of the curve, we enjoyed her interview on The Ron Burgundy Podcast (yes, it’s really comedian Will Ferrell…).

Cooking rice has long been a controversial topic. Jamie Oliver got into big trouble with Spaniards over his version of paella in recent times, for example. But it was a BBC cooking demonstration that set off an explosive response this week…

Grilled chicken breasts - such a great mid-week dinner and so dreary at the same time. These couple of recipes have upped our game, particularly when paired with this grilled broccoli salad.


ABS Data Release - Producer Price Indexes, June

Beyonce’s visual album Black Is King debuts

Strive to be Kind Day in memory of Allison Baden-Clay

Birthdays for JK Rowling (1965), Harry Potter (1980)

Anniversary of:
• Germany’s adoption of the Weimar Constitution (1919)
• the end of Operation Banner which saw the British Army in Northern Ireland - the longest-running British Army operation ever (2007)
• Michael Phelps becoming the greatest medal winner in Olympic history after winning his 19th career Olympic medal (he now has 28) (2012)

Start of Super Netball

Canada Day

UN World Breastfeeding Week

MS Readathon kicks off (ends 31 August)

Start of Pawgust for Guide Dogs Australia)

Birthdays for director Sam Mendes (1965), actor Jason Momoa (1979) and horses

Anniversary of:
• English chemist Joseph Priestley discovering oxygen by isolating it in its gaseous state (1774)
• the publication of the first Michelin Guide by the brothers Édouard and André Michelin (1900)
• 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi founding the Non-cooperation Movement aiming to end British colonial rule of India (1920)
• the production of the first Jeep car (1941)
• te reo Māori becoming an official language of New Zealand (1987)
• the publication of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, the first in his series A Song of Ice and Fire (1996)

National Tree Day 

NASA astronauts in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule due to return to Earth

Jeans for Genes Day

International Beer Day

Start of National Missing Persons Week

Start of Homelessness Prevention Week

Birthdays for author Isabel Allende (1942), actor Sam Worthington (1976) and pop star Charli XCX (1992)

Anniversary of:
the formal signing of the US Declaration of Independence (1776)
the publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
The Beatles performing their first gig at Liverpool's Cavern Club (1961)
rubber bullets used for the first time in Northern Ireland during 'The Troubles' (1970)
Ed Sheeran's Divide tour becoming the most attended and highest-grossing tour of all time, overtaking U2 (2019)

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.