Squiz Today / 18 May 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 18 May


“It feels difficult to breathe at first, and it’s really pungent and irritating. It makes me want to drink a lot of water immediately.”

Said Hongkonger/gelato taste tester Anita Wong of a new local flavour - tear gas. With its main ingredient of black peppercorns, the throat-burning sensation has been made to remind protestors to maintain the rage. More palate-stripping than palate-cleansing...


The European Union has joined Australia’s bid for an independent inquiry into the genesis of the COVID-19 outbreak and the handling of the early stages of the crisis. To be put to a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting of international representatives early tomorrow morning, reports say a coalition of 62 countries back a proposal that’s not as blunt as what PM Scott Morrison has suggested.

Well, there’s no mention of China to start with… Instead, those participating in the World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland will be asked to back an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of "the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19". Reports say heavyweights like the UK, Russia, India and Japan are in support, and there’s a push for others to get on board. No word on where the US or China sit on the proposal, but Foreign Minister Marise Payne asked them to put global politics aside. "This is about collaborating to equip the international community to better prevent or counter the next pandemic and keep our citizens safe,” she said.

Seems not when it comes to Australia’s trade tussle with China. Spare a thought for Trade Minister Simon Birmingham who hasn’t been able to put down his phone for days… He’s still waiting for his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, to return his calls about issues raised last week with our barley and beef exports. Which makes us wonder how many “hi Zhong, it’s Simon. Again...” messages he’s left… On China’s problem with barley, Birmingham says it’s raised government funding for the upgrade of irrigation infrastructure in the Murray-Darling Basin as some sort of subsidy that breaches trade rules. The suggestion “doesn't stand the test of any analysis,” says Birmingham. The dispute is set to go to the World Trade Organisation if it can’t be resolved between us.

We’ve got a Squiz Shortcut on the World Health Organisation, how it works, and why some are criticising its response to the coronavirus crisis. Check it out why don’t you.



• Eased restrictions saw Aussies come out to play over the weekend - a little too much for some officials. Dubbing it the 'great NSW bust out', the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard reminded residents that "1.5 metres is a magic figure - it can keep you safe." Victorians have some time to plan their bust out with restrictions on restaurants and pubs beginning to be lifted from 1 June. Maybe these hats would help?

• NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has pushed her state counterparts to get on with lifting their border crossing bans. Border closures imposed by Queensland and Western Oz are limiting the economy and tourism, she said. "We know Sydney can be dreary but hang in there," responded Queensland's Deputy Premier Steven Miles.

• Italy’s getting on with lifting its coronavirus restrictions with PM Giuseppe Conte announcing plans to allow travel across the country and to and from other nations beginning 3 June. Italy has the fifth-highest number of cases, and only the US and UK are ahead of it in the number of deaths from COVID-19.

• Meanwhile, Brazil has lost its second health minister in a month as the number of cases and deaths climbs. It’s overtaken Spain and Italy for cases in recent days. President Jair Bolsonaro is proving a tough boss to work with during this crisis - he’d previously called the global health emergency "a little flu".

• Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford took the blame for the couple being turned away from a local cafe that was observing restrictions on the number of people it could seat. "I didn't get organised and book anywhere,” he said. But all’s well that ends well


Critics of US President Donald Trump say the firing of the State Department’s inspector general over the weekend is retaliatory and will further undermine good government. Steve Linick was fired on Friday night and was replaced by Stephen Akard, a man who’s considered a trusted ally of Veep Mike Pence. Akard played a small role in Trump’s impeachment, and his dismissal, which was recommended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, follows the booting of three other senior bureaucrats whose job it is to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the federal government. One of those to go was Michael Atkinson, the intelligence agencies’ inspector general who handled the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump said the men had lost his confidence, but Democrats say he’s purging anyone who would bring his administration's wrongdoing to light.


The Los Angeles County coroner's office has released the autopsies of basketball megastar Kobe Bryant, the helicopter pilot and seven others who were onboard when it crashed in foggy conditions in late January. All nine died immediately on impact, the reports say, and the pilot did not have alcohol or drugs in his system. And after that, the details are pretty grim with the chopper hitting the ground at 300km/hr. The 41yo retired Lakers player was with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna as they made their way to her basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy. A cause of the crash is still being investigated, but it is believed to have been an accident.


Australia’s 3.7 million domestic moggies are killing an estimated 230 million native Australian birds, reptiles and mammals every year, according to research funded by the federal government’s National Environmental Science Program. As well as getting a taste of Australiana, they are also devouring 150 million introduced species, including rodents. Those numbers don't include what the 2.1 million feral cats are dining on… "It's easier for us to manage the impacts of pet cats than feral cats. Either keep them inside or in secure pet runs outside," said Dr Sarah Legge of the Uni of Queensland. It's scary, but you’re going to have to stand up to Fluffy at some point…


Arthur Summons, a man at the heart of Australian rugby league, died on Saturday night. A former national captain and coach, he was immortalised with Norm Provan for the league’s premiership trophy. It depicts a moment in time when the two men playing for opposing teams embrace each other in mateship. "He epitomises the importance of what our game expects on and off the field, and he will be remembered for that," said Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe.

And while we have you… One of America’s favourite TV grandfathers Fred Willard has died of natural causes. Willard played Phil Dunphy’s dad Frank in Modern Family. And he was in a stack of great movies including two favourites, Anchorman and Best in Show. He was 86yo.


Saturday would have been pop's special night with its weird European relatives. But this year, a special on SBS will have to do. Coming up tops was Iceland's Daði & Gagnamagnið with a song and video clip that's as quirky as you might expect. Now to find the place that makes the jumpers with your own face on it…


An announcement expected to name the top three potential investors to save Virgin Australia

Start of the 73rd World Health Assembly - this year’s meeting will be held online

International Museum Day

Start of Schizophrenia Awareness Week

Start of National Volunteer Week

Actress and writer/producer Tina Fey turns 50yo (1970)

Anniversary of:
• Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor of France (1804)
• the publication of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' (1897)
• India becoming the sixth nation to explode an atomic bomb (1974)
• the debut of 'Shrek' (2001)
• the Morrison Government winning the 2019 election

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