Squiz Today / 24 August 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 24 August


“The pandemic is stressful, and we hope people can get a bit of relief by having a good scream.”

Said Kenta Iwana from Japan’s Scare Squad, which is helping corona-concerned locals blow off steam by putting them in coffins surrounded by chainsaw-wielding zombies. You know it makes sense…


Coronavirus-weary populations have been told we have some way to go before restrictions can be lifted and life can go back to something resembling normal. Locally, Melburnians are looking for the light at the end of the Stage 4 lockdown tunnel as they hit the halfway mark of 6 weeks of strict restrictions. And looking at the bigger picture, an international expert said the virus is likely to be with us "forever in some form or another".

Soz. It was a comment made by the UK’s former Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport. He says to control the pandemic, "global vaccination" would be required, and like the flu, “people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals." His remarks came after the World Health Organisation boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he hopes the pandemic will be over in under 2 years. Comparing it to the spread of 1918’s Spanish flu that killed about 50 million people, Dr Tedros said we have the technology and know-how to beat the coronavirus, but it will take "national unity, global solidarity". Globally, the death toll is now past the 800,000 mark, and more than 23 million people have been infected. Almost 15 million people have recovered.

Victorians have been told to hang tough. There’s hope that new cases are coming down, and that by mid-September the second wave will be as flat as a Masked Singer’s performance. But until then, restrictions will remain in place, much to the chagrin of restless locals. "We don't underestimate that there are many costs, some economic, some social, many very personal costs and there's going to be a massive job of repair. But I think we're up to that,” said Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday. Also restless is the federal government - reports say it would like to up the intake of international travellers with 18,000 Aussies said to be stranded overseas. That’s not something the state governments, which control the challenged hotel quarantine programs, will entertain while new cases remain on the rise. Also off the agenda are hugs - unless you’re Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. Nationally, more than 500 people have died since the start of the pandemic. Oz has recorded 24,782 cases, and more than 19,000 people have recovered.



NT election situation report: a winner has not yet been declared. The incumbent Labor Party led by Chief Minister Michael Gunner has laid claim to 11 of the parliament's 25 seats - two short of being able to govern in its own right. The Country Liberal Party is sitting on 4 seats, doubling its representation. Newcomer, the Territory Alliance party, has failed to fire with leader (aka former CLP bigwig) Terry Mills losing his seat. Pundits say it could take a week to find out whether Labor will take power in its own right or will need support from others. As the first general election of the COVID era, are there lessons for our federal pollies? Too soon to say, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said yesterday. He’ll be able to chew it over with colleagues from an appropriate social distance when they get together today in person - and online - for the first sitting of our federal parliament in 9 weeks.


It’s expected that Brenton Tarrant, the 29yo from Grafton, NSW who carried out New Zealand's worst mass shooting when he attacked two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March last year, will receive a sentence of life in prison this week. He pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 attempted murders, and one terrorism charge earlier this year. More than 60 people are expected to give victim impact statements this week, and Tarrant, who is representing himself, is also scheduled to address the court. The sentencing hearing, which is expected to take 4 days, was delayed after the coronavirus struck to allow the victims and families of the dead to make arrangements to travel to New Zealand.


More than 14,000 firefighters are battling 585 fires that have destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and forests, and have claimed at least 6 lives with 100,000 people evacuated from their homes. Officials say the fire south and east of San Francisco is the third-largest in the state's history. Nearly one million acres have been burned so far - and look, it's not a competition, but for context, 46 million acres were burned across Australian last bushfire season. Reports say the fires doubled in size on Friday and continued to grow moderately over the weekend with firefighters making some progress yesterday. US President Donald Trump has called a national disaster and released federal aid.

And while we have you… Another measure of the size of our Black Summer fires is in. Insurance companies say the disaster has so far cost them $2.4 billion, making it an all-time top 5 disaster.


Tens of thousands of protestors have gathered overnight to continue calls for the resignation of President Alexander following his disputed re-election two weeks ago. He's been in power for 26 years and has claimed another term in the poll that many, including the European Union, have disputed. In response, state TV showed footage of Lukashenko arriving at the presidential palace by helicopter, wearing a flak jacket and carrying a weapon. He has also put his armed forces on "high alert". He says Poland and Lithuania, with the backing of Nato, are trying to split the nation up and install a new president.


Perth 24yo women’s golf sensation Minjee Lee finished third in the British Open overnight in Scotland. The world #8 went into the final round equal second, and she recorded a pretty good round of 2-under-par to finish 4 shots off the pace. Taking out the title was German Sophia Popov with her first professional win. It was just her 4th appearance at a major, and just three weeks ago she was ranked #390 on the tour. The winner’s check of almost $950,000 is more than six times her entire career earnings.


The science is in... The antidote to all that heavy coronavirus news? A baby panda. Or a baby gorilla. A dose of either (or both) will sort you out. Or if you’re one to revel in misfortune, there’s an asteroid headed towards Earth. You’re welcome.


Brenton Tarrant sentencing hearing begins - Christchurch, NZ

US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify before Congress, along with the chairman of the Postal Service board of governors

Company Earnings Results - Fortescue Metals; nib; Super Retail Group

Ukraine’s National Day

Birthdays for comedian Stephen Fry (1957) and comedian Dave Chappelle (1973)

Anniversary of:
• the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing 15,000 (79)
• the invention of the potato chip by chef George Crum in New York, according to popular legend (1853)
• Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly nonstop across the United States (1932)
• Tim Cook becoming CEO of Apple after the resignation of Steve Jobs due to health reasons (2011)
• the ouster of PM Malcolm Turnbull/Scott Morrison becoming PM (2018)

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