Squiz Today / 16 November 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 16 November


“For some, it may seem boring. Day in, day out. Winter and summer, always those pigeons.”

Said Pascal Bodengien, head of the Belgian Pigeon Federation. But it sure can be lucrative with a bird called New Kim selling to a Chinese enthusiast for €1.6 million ($2.6 million) overnight. That smashed the previous record held by a Belgian-bred pigeon named Armando by $570,000. Wonder if New Kim goes 20% faster?


Criticism is growing over the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) inquiry into the coronavirus, its origins in China and how it was managed in the early days. It's almost a year after the virus first emerged, and nearly 6 months since nations agreed that an inquiry was vital to understanding what happened in order to prevent this sort of global pandemic from happening again. But critics say (paywall) the inquiry is “is too little, too late, and that concessions to Beijing are undermining it.”

Australia was one of a handful of nations that lost some serious bark with China over this inquiry. In April, PM Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne were loud voices in support of an independent inquiry. China was furious, but the May meeting of the World Health Assembly agreed to a "comprehensive, independent and impartial" investigation. Since then, it’s been determined that the inquiry will be undertaken by a WHO team of foreign experts - approved by China - and Chinese scientists. But with the panel of experts confirmed last week, there’s still no arrangements for them to go to China, and no agreement on who they can interview or what records they can have access to. It’s frustrating to officials, researchers and nations who want to get to the bottom of what started the virus that has infected 53 million people, killed 1.3 million and thrown the world into social and economic turmoil.

That’s true. It prompted its officials to warn of a consumer boycott against Aussie products and led to several of our exports being targeted over quality and trade rules complaints. So it was an optimistic Trade Minister Simon Birmingham who said a whopping big new trade deal signed yesterday could be a circuit breaker. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership covers a $30-trillion market including Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, including Indonesia and Vietnam. Billed as the world's largest free-trade deal, Birmingham said it was a win for exporters and urged China to follow the spirit of the deal. Labor’s Jason Clare welcomed the development but said it “doesn't fix Australia's problems with China.”



And there are no points for guessing which social media platform this played out… Tweeting “He won because the Election was Rigged", outgoing US President Donald Trump follow up with "I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go.” That was enough for reports to focus on Trump’s use of the words ‘he won’ as a sign that he’s starting to come to terms with the election loss. The result was further cemented in Democrat Joe Biden’s name over the weekend with several media outlets calling a win in Georgia as North Carolina was called for Trump. Putting legal challenges and recounts aside, that sees Biden take the election out with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Meanwhile, continuing the tradition of Trump’s press secretaries overestimating crowd sizes, Kayleigh McEnany yesterday said more than a million supporters were at a supporters rally in Washington DC on Saturday… Reports say it was more like tens of thousands who gathered peaceful during the day, but there were violent scenes as night fell as the crowd clashed with anti-Trump protestors. More than 20 people were arrested.


The situation worsened over the weekend with a domestic conflict that dramatically escalated last week crossing the nation's border into Eritrea and Sudan. The once-powerful Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which is taking on the national government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, fired rockets at Eritrea’s capital Asmara yesterday over accusations its forces crossed into Ethiopia to help Abiy’s forces. The Eritrean government, which was in a 20-year conflict with Ethiopia until 2018, denied the claim despite the BBC reporting evidence to the contrary. Sudan has now taken in 17,000 Ethiopians who have fled the violence, and humanitarian agencies say that could mount to 200,000. Forces loyal to the TPLF have been accused of killing hundreds of civilians last week in a gruesome machete attack.


The brutal typhoon season hasn’t let up… Just a few weeks after massive tropical storms devastated parts of the region, it’s been hit by the year’s deadliest storm - Typhoon Vamco. Making landfall on the main island of Luzon on Wednesday and Thursday last week, Philippines’ officials were said to be scrambling on Saturday to rescue thousands of people from flooding in a northern province. Officials said 67 people were confirmed dead, 21 people were injured and 12 were missing as of yesterday. Vamco was set to make landfall in the Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai last night where almost 500,000 people were evacuating. Meanwhile, Hurricane Iota is set to unleash hell on Nicaragua and Honduras. It comes on the back of Hurricane Eta which killed at least 165 people and wreaked havoc on the region over the first two weeks of this month.


Hugh Marks, the boss of Nine Entertainment, resigned on Saturday after 5 years at the head of Australia’s largest commercial media company. “I have decided the time is right for me to begin the process of moving on,” he wrote in an email to Nine employees on Saturday with no reason for his departure cited. But after a string of media reports over the weekend, he confirmed it’s over his personal life. If you’re into the ins-’n-outs of these things (#nojudgement…), start here (you’ll need to scroll a bit to hit the relevant bit…), then go here, then here (paywall) to see how things unfolded. And last night, Marks said his new relationship with former direct report Alexi Baker meant it was time for a fresh start. He also pointed to some tension with the board. Companies and politicians have recently been in focus for coming up short on rules about office relationships.


What a season the 35yo British F1 racing driver’s had… Already passing former German driver Michael Schumacher’s record for race wins last month, Lewis Hamilton won the Turkish Grand Prix overnight to cinch his 7th World Championship. That sees him equal Schumacher’s record making him the most successful driver the sport has ever seen. Hamilton was overcome with emotion in the car afterwards saying: "To all the kids out there, dream the impossible." Adding he feels like he's "just getting started", he doesn't have a contract for next year. It's a tough job market ATM, but you'd have to think the accolades will look good on his CV…

And Aussie Cameron Smith is chasing down golfing glory in the final round at the US Masters this morning. Hitting 2 under over the first 13 holes, Smith is 5 shots behind leader and world #1 Dustin Johnson. A great effort.


Back in the day, there was nothing more exciting than a trip to Sizzler. A family favourite for its salad bar, potato skins, and unbelievably good cheese toast, yesterday saw the restaurant chain go to the conveniently located major road in the sky. Just 8 restaurants remained at the end - 4 in Queensland, 3 in Western Australia, and one in Sydney. Going back for one last visit, one critic said he found "anaemic pumpkin soup, rubbery seafood, and linguine so overcooked my toothless Aunt Norma would send it back for being too soft." But the cheese toast: “deeply savoury and delicious until the end”. Sigh…


PM Scott Morrison departs for Japan

ABS Data Releases - Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, October; Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings 2019-20; 2021 Census topics and data release plan

International Day for Tolerance

Anniversary of:
• the foundation of Havana after Cuba moved its capital to avoid mosquito infestations (1519)
• New Zealand officially becoming a separate colony within the British Empire, severing its link to New South Wales (1840)
• 100th anniversary of the founding of Qantas (1920)
• the founding of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (1945)
• Milli Vanilli being stripped of their Grammy Award because they did not sing on the Girl You Know It’s True album (1990)
• the first case of SARS virus recorded in China, though it wasn't identified until later (2002)
• the debut of Lionel Messi for FC Barcelona (2003)

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