Squiz Today / 14 December 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 14 December


"Eternally grateful to Nigella Lawson for letting us know we've all been mispronouncing microwave for the last 50 (or so) years."

By calling the cooking machine a 'mee-cro-wah-vey', the Domestic Goddess caused an online meltdown that was as delicious as one of her midnight snacks...


The most significant issues in the US in 2020 have been the presidential election and COVID-19. And on Monday, there are big developments to unfold on both.

Okey dokey. It's been nearly 6 weeks since voting in the presidential election closed, but on Monday, the votes that officially select the next president will be cast. The Electoral College will meet, and the 538 appointed electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia should deliver Democratic candidate Joe Biden 306 votes to President Donald Trump's 232. We say 'should' because a small number of electors have gone rogue in the past, and these are unpredictable times… Trump's dream of retaining power was put further out of reach by the Supreme Court on Friday, but thousands of his supporters showed their support in the capital on Saturday with scenes turning violent. "WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!" Trump tweeted yesterday.

Friday saw the US Food and Drug Administration approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use, and vaccinations are expected to start on Monday (local time). By Wednesday, about 3 million doses are expected to have been shipped nationwide. Who will receive the first shots isn't clear, but reports say health care workers and nursing home residents are priorities. Known as Operation Warp Speed, the program is being overseen by Army General Gustave Perna who compared the distribution effort to D-Day - the "the beginning of the end" of WWII. Like that effort, it will take months of work and "diligence, courage and strength to eventually achieve victory." On Saturday, the US reached the grim milestone of 16 million coronavirus cases and is on the verge of recording 300,000 deaths.



If you're in northern NSW, Brissie and southeast Queensland or a bit further up the coast, you'll need more than a brolly and your gumboots. A raft, perhaps… A severe weather warning has been issued with heavy rain, big winds, very high tides and dangerous surf predicted today. Some areas have already been heavily hit with parts of the Gold Coast region receiving 475 millimetres of rain in 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday. That's more than 18 inches if that's your preferred measure, or about a third of Sydney's annual rainfall… Further south, officials at Byron Bay are concerned about beach erosion. The good news - the fires on Fraser Island that have burned for 2 months are under control thanks to the downpour.


"We are doing this not because we are hair shirt-wearing, tree-hugging, mung bean-munching eco-freaks - although I've got nothing against any of those categories and mung beans are probably delicious," a busy PM Boris Johnson said on Saturday. The UK is one of 38 countries to have declared a climate change emergency - something United Nations boss António Guterres urged on the weekend with global warming targets set to be missed. This all played out at the virtual Climate Ambition Summit where 70 national leaders, including PM Scott Morrison, marked 5 years since the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. Morrison told a virtual meeting of Pacific Islands leaders on Friday night that Australia was committed to net zero emissions ASAP - something Labor says will take 146 years under the Coalition's current projections.


Yep. UK PM Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to continue talks. The UK left the EU at the start of this year and post-Brexit trade talks that have been ongoing this year have failed to reach an agreement. The word being used on high repeat by the UK is 'sovereignty'. Like a new divorcee who felt suffocated in the marriage, they want it. But the EU says the UK can't have their freedom and free access to the marital home and the family business without giving something back - like access to their fishing waters. Which is a tortured way of saying that there's likely to be significant disruption to several industries from 1 January, including fresh food with nearly a third of the supply coming to the UK via the EU, if no deal is struck. And it's giving shoppers another reason to panic buy...


Indonesian police say they've arrested Aris Sumarsono, known as Zulkarnaen. He's the leader of terror network Jemaah Islamiyah - the Al Qaeda-linked group believed responsible for the Bali bombings. Zulkarnaen, who has been on the run since 2003, is thought to have made bombs used in a series of attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 88 Australians. Graduating in the 80s from a notorious boarding school in Surakarta under the tutelage of radical spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir, Zulkarnaen is believed to have been in direct contact with bin Laden's network. His location came from the interrogation of militants who were arrested late last month, police said.


An American, a Belgian and an Aussie have broken a 51-year-old code that has driven US authorities nuts for decades. The 340-character cypher made up of capital letters and symbols was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle by the so-called Zodiac Killer. And it reads "I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice (sic) all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me." The killer murdered 5 people in stabbings and shootings that terrorised the San Francisco Bay area in the late 60s - and 2 other messages need decoding. The FBI confirmed the code-breaking achievement, tweeting it would continue to hunt for the killer. The mystery has been the subject of movies featuring Robert Downey Jr, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Clint Eastwood. Take a bow, David Oranchak (US), Sam Blake (Oz) and Jarl Van Eycke (Belgium)...


That's if you're not covered by rainy skies... But if you can see the stars, this week is something special - including a 'kiss' between Jupiter and Saturn. Which we think means you're going to meet a handsome stranger. Or is that just what our stars for the week promise?


Start of the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine across America

US Electoral College casts its votes

ABS Data Releases - Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, November; Overseas Arrivals and Departures, October

Monkey Day

Birthdays for Sophie Monk (1979) and Vanessa Hudgens (1988)

Anniversary of:
• the deaths of Vlad the Impaler (1476) and George Washington (1799)
• the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where 20 children and 6 adults were killed (2012)

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