Squiz Today / 17 August 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 17 August


“We never forced customers to weigh themselves.”

But a restaurant in the Chinese city of Changsha did face some backlash after it put scales at the entrance and asked diners to record their weight into an app that would then suggest menu items. President Xi Jinping launched the Clean Plates Campaign to reduce food waste last week telling the nation it can’t leave the table until it’s finished its appropriately-sized meal…


With just 2.5 months until the US election, significant problems with the voting process have been flagged. Millions of ‘mail-in’ votes may not arrive in time to be counted on election day, the US Postal Service has warned state election authorities. Estimates say a record number of votes in November's election will be cast via mail because of the coronavirus, so that’s a problem.

And it’s worked in the US too. In the 2016 election, nearly 25% of votes were cast by mail. But this time it could be as many as 50% of votes, pundits say. Given that sort of volume, the US Postal Service, which is debt-ridden and under pressure, says it’s going to have problems. But stepping back for a sec, we can’t compare Australia's federal elections to the US presidential poll. To start with, we have one body (the Australian Electoral Commission) with one set of rules. Simples. In the US, the poll is conducted by the state election authorities, and they have different approaches - including on how mail-in voting works. Long story short, some states are moving to allow more people to vote via mail - something US President Donald Trump doesn’t want to see.

Nope. Trump says "mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic, it's going to make our country the laughing stock of the world." He claims it’s linked to widespread fraud, which experts reject. But some say the real issue is the theory that more mail-in voting will favour Democratic challenger Joe Biden, although the jury’s out on that. Still, Trump is doing what he can to block the practice’s expansion. Last week he said he would block additional funding for the US Postal Service. And critics claim there are underhanded tactics to weaken the mail system, like an organisational overhaul at the Postal Service under new boss (and Trump donor) Louis DeJoy that’s delivered service cutbacks. Democrats have called those actions “outrageous”. We’ll likely hear more about it this week as the party gets together (virtually) for its pre-election convention to confirm Biden’s nomination from tomorrow our time.



Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews used the term to describe hopes that Stage 4 lockdown measures in Melbourne could be eased from mid-September. The State of Emergency declaration has been extended until 13 September, and 582 new cases and 20 deaths were recorded over the weekend. But the state’s prognosis has improved significantly since this time last week with signs the peak has passed. Meanwhile, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says he's "cautiously but genuinely optimistic" that a COVID-19 vaccine will be on the scene next year.


After 26 years of rule by President Alexander Lukashenko and questions of vote-rigging in his 9 August election win with 80.1% of the vote, tens of thousands of people have gathered in the capital Minsk for a “March for Freedom” after authorities cracked down on protests last week. The unrest has been so bad Lukashenko has sought help from Russian President Vladimir Putin who has promised to provide “comprehensive assistance” in the event of external military threats to Belarus, the embattled leader says. Belarus’ political establishment is worried about other countries intervening with Nato military exercises taking place in neighbouring Poland and Lithuania. Lukashenko is known as the ‘last dictator in Europe’, and he’s been condemned by the European Union for using violence and repression to hold onto power.


As Lebanon’s capital continues to come to grips with the devastation wreaked by the 4 August explosion that killed nearly 180 people and wounded thousands, agents from America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrived to undertake “a thorough and transparent investigation” at the Lebanese Government’s invitation. The cause of the fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port remains unclear, and angry locals have made it clear they want investigations to be taken out of the hands of their government. The United Nations has launched a $790 million appeal for humanitarian and recovery aid. A delivery of essentials from Australia arrived on Saturday.


Forget star-studded nights and hyper-romance... The new benchmark of relationship excellence is a partner who’ll punch a 2-3 metre great white shark until it lets go of your leg… That’s what happened when 35yo Chantelle Doyle was attacked at Shelly Beach in NSW’s Port Macquarie on Saturday morning. Her husband Mark Rapley “jumped off his board onto the shark and hit it to get it to release her and then assisted her back into the beach," Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce said. “Pretty full-on, really heroic," he said in the understatement of the year… Doyle has severe lacerations to her right leg and is stable in hospital. Not so lucky was a 56-year-old man who died off Darwin in what's been described as a freak accident. He was struck in the chest by a fish while on a fishing boat.


Aussie swimmer Chloe McCardel has surpassed the men's record for the most crossings from England to northern France completing the feat for the 35th time late yesterday. To make the 10h:40m swim, McCardel had to get an exemption to leave Australia under COVID-19 restrictions. Even her arrival in France had corona-considerations - she was unable to interact with anybody on the shore and had to swim back out to a support boat for the return journey. She now has the record for the second-most successful crossings in history, and has a few to go to break the record - Alison Streeter holds that with 43 crossings. McCardel holds the record for the longest ratified unassisted ocean swim - she did 124.4km in 41.5 hours around the Bahamas in 2014.


BBQs and fires that burn solid fuel are under threat of a ban in Melbourne’s Bayside City Council area. If you’ve ever heard a topic more suited to talkback radio, we’d like to hear it…

In a boost to ET lovers, the US Department of Defense has formed a new body to investigate UFOs. The truth is out there…

Clueless - the loose 90s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma - is set for a spin-off. And it's set to be "a baby pink and bisexual blue-tinted, tiny sun-glasses wearing, oat milk latte and Adderall-fuelled look at what happens when queen bee Cher disappears and her lifelong number two Dionne steps into Cher's vacant Air Jordans." So just your standard Austen plot then...


8.00am (AEST) - Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern expected to announce the government's position on delaying their election from 19 September

Victoria’s quarantine hotel inquiry kicks off in earnest - Melbourne

ABS Data Release - Overseas Travel Statistics, July

Company Earnings Results - JB Hi-Fi; Bendigo & Adelaide Bank; Kogan; LendLease; Sydney Airport; BlueScope Steel

Independence Day - Indonesia

Birthdays for Robert de Niro (1943), Belinda Carlisle (1958), Sean Penn (1960), Lil Pump (2000)

Anniversary of:
• Korea being divided into North and South Korea along the 38th parallel (1945)
• the Soviet Union's launch of Venera 7 to Venus, which made history as the first probe to return data after landing on another planet (1970)
• the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain (1980)

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