Squiz Today / 20 December 2021

Squiz Today – Monday, 20 December

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Squiz Today Podcast

Your kickstart to the week. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“People got tired quickly in the old uniform and this is much cooler…” 

Said Warrant Officer Deb Butterworth of a new uniform being trialled by the Aussie Navy. No, it hasn’t embraced high-waisted denim – the ensemble has a new fire retardant treatment that isn’t scorchio to wear. Having said that, it’s undeniable that camo is a cool classic…

Oz holds its COVID nerve as cases soar worldwide

Cases of the Omicron variant of COVID are doubling every 1.5-3 days, the World Health Organization said in a weekend update. About half of the world’s states have reported cases, and the variant is spreading rapidly through populations with high immunity levels from vaccination or previous infections. Experts say it’s unclear if the mutated virus is super good at evading immunity, or if its transmissibility is supercharged – or it could be both. A lot is still unknown about Omicron, and the WHO is following the fortunes of nations with high and increasing numbers of cases closely.

In Europe, the Netherlands has imposed a national lockdown until 14 January in an attempt to prevent a new wave of cases. And plenty more imposed restrictions and cancelled iconic Christmas and new year celebrations. France, Austria, Denmark, Cyprus and Ireland have made those moves. In the UK, Omicron cases account for 80% of new infections, which could hit 100,000/day this week, experts say. On Saturday, an under-pressure PM Boris Johnson said “we are not closing things down”, but more restrictions could be on the cards. And cases are on the rise in the US. Officials there worry that burnt-out health workers, who are already dealing with 60,000 COVID-related hospital admissions a week, will be tested again, particularly in areas where vaccination rates are low.

In NSW, they really are. Since last Wednesday, more than 10,000 people have contracted COVID in the state, with another 2,566 cases were added to the tally yesterday. That has not persuaded Premier Dominic Perrottet to reintroduce restrictions that were eased last week. More than 90% of those eligible are fully-vaxxed, and he says residents should make their own decisions about wearing masks and going to crowded venues. “The government can’t do everything. It’s over to the people of our state,” Perrottet said. Despite Omicron’s march forward, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said he doesn’t expect to see a northern hemisphere-style response. “We’re going into summer, we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,“ he said. 


Squiz the Rest

Death toll reaches 6 in Devonport

Eleven-year-old Chace Harrison died in hospital yesterday – he became the 6th fatality from Tassie’s jumping castle tragedy. He was 11yo. Since we last spoke, authorities have named the victims who died on Thursday: Addison Stewart (11yo), Zane Mellor (12yo), Jye Sheehan (12yo), Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones (12yo), Peter Dodt (12yo). They were Grade 5/6 students at Hillcrest Primary School attending an end-of-year fun day. Police also confirmed that 9 children fell from a height of about 10m when the jumping castle was launched into the air. One child was released from hospital on Friday morning, and 2 others remain in a critical condition. Tasmanian Police, WorkSafe Tasmania and the coroner have begun an investigation into the incident that is expected to take “quite some time.”

Australian News

A trio of deadly events

A tree fell on 3 people yesterday after a freak storm hit Sydney’s Northern Beaches yesterday afternoon, killing one woman. Locals say the cyclone-like conditions snapped large trees off at their base, and there were reports of damage to homes and businesses in Dee Why, Narrabeen and Curl Curl and Forestville.

The bodies of 4 people have been recovered from the water off Redcliffe, near Brissie, after their plane crashed off the end of the runway yesterday morning. Police said the victims were a 67yo male pilot and his joy flight passengers. They were a 41-year-old Brisbane man, his 10yo daughter and 9yo son.

And Typhoon Rai, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in recent years, has killed at least 169 people in the Philippines’ southeast. The storm hit on Friday night, and officials and aid organisations are just now coming to terms with the damage after sustained winds of 195km/h blasted the region. Some pics from the Coast Guard show the devastation… And it’s not done yet – Vietnam and Taiwan are bracing for Rai’s arrival.


Hongkongers boycott local election

Hong Kong’s legislative council election was held yesterday – the first since China introduced the National Security Law to curb dissent. And the LegCo (as the cool kids call it…) has also been in focus because China has imposed changes to the electoral system that means only ‘patriots’ can stand for election and hold positions of political power. The LegCo is an important part of Hong Kong because it’s the body that makes and amends the territory’s laws, approves budgets and taxes, and holds the head of government – the chief executive – to account. Now critics see it as another way for China to exert control, so it’s no surprise that low turnout rates were predicted. The results will be announced later today or tomorrow, but one thing is assured – China’s pre-vetted candidates won…

World News

Young Aussies star in the giving game

It’s not unusual for young people to get a bad wrap. With their sarcastic emoji usage and high-waisted denim (yes, that again…), it’s easy to lay the stereotypes on thick. Like we just did… But the Financial Review (paywall) says the University of Melbourne’s latest ‘Taking the Pulse of the Nation’ survey has highlighted their charitable side. As older Aussies pull back, young people are giving more. The study found that 63% of 18-24yos volunteer their time or donate money to charities or their local community. Researchers say it’s due to their activist spirit, particularly on things like the environment. And as the yoofs pick up their end, the total number of people making monetary donations has plummeted by 20% over the past 5 years, and donations of time have also almost halved. “I found that disturbing,” said Melbourne Institute director Abigail Payne.

Australian News

Aussies coming in hot for the Winter Games

It’s a month-and-a-half until the 2022 Winter Olympics get started in Beijing (sans our officials…), and some Aussie contenders are shining brightly in their lead up/qualifying events. Moguls maestro Jakara Anthony is now considered the one to beat at the Games after completing a “mind-blowing” World Cup performance in France on the weekend. It puts her at the top of the standings in all 3 moguls categories — singles, dual (where skiers go head-to-head) and overall. Not bad for a girl from Cairns… Meanwhile, Belle Brockhoff finished 3rd in her World Cup snowboard cross final in Italy. And last weekend, aerial skiers Danielle Scott and Laura Peel recorded a historic 1-2 in their World Cup event in Finland. And we’ve got a feeling we’re going to get right into the mysterious sport of curling after Dean Hewitt and Tahli Gill earned Australia’s first mixed doubles berth. Bring. It. On.


Apropos of Nothing

The NSW’s Southern Highlands town of Bundanoon has been ‘yarn-bombed’. That’s not a chemical treatment to banish some itchy critters… Thanks to some nifty knitters, the town’s posts, trees and poles are now Chrissy-themed candy canes.

Not feeling so festive is the city of Gavle in Sweden. Its 2 gigantic straw goats – a beloved Swedish Christmas symbol – have gone up in flames. Again.

And the big question on everyone’s lips – are we eating Christmas lunch inside or outside? The Bureau of Meteorology can help you answer that

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.00am (AEDT) – Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race officials will deliver the weather forecast at a media conference

3.00pm (AEDT) – Cricket – 2nd Ashes Test – Australia v England – Adelaide

Liberal pre-selection in Christian Porter’s former seat of Pearce in WA

International Human Solidarity Day

Anniversary of:
• the publication of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1812)
• the premiere of It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
• Paul Keating becoming PM after defeating Bob Hawke for leadership of the Labor party (1991)
• Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days (2007)

And it’s 5 days until Christmas…

Squiz the Day

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