Squiz Today / 27 July 2020

Squiz Today – Monday, 27 July


“He called me, and I said, ‘are you jerking my bobber?’”

Said Wisconsin man Joseph Feeney with what we think/hope is a fishing reference… The question was prompted by his old mate Tom Cook honouring a deal they made almost 30 years ago that any mega lottery win would be split between them. The pair each pocketed $7.3 million…


The chill between Australia and China got frostier this weekend… Writing to the United Nations, Australia said China’s territorial claims to the South China Sea are illegal. It’s the first time our government has made a definitive statement about the vital trade route leaving the Chinese Government mouthpiece The Global Times to say the statement was provocative. Australia’s position aligns with America’s as Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds prepare to meet their US counterparts in Washington DC from tomorrow.

We’ve got a Squiz Shortcut on this (helpful, aren’t we…). But the super-duper shortcut is:

• The South China Sea is home to several islands, reefs and lagoons. And it's an important shipping route that's crucial for global trade. It's also a big fishing ground, and it's thought to be rich with energy resources.

• China dominates in its claim to the territory. But Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan dispute their claim.

• The US and its allies, including Australia, regularly hold ‘freedom of passage’ exercises in the area to ensure China isn’t blocking the route. That’s been a bit hectic this year with China upping the agro. And a couple of weeks ago, our warships were involved in 'a confrontation' with the Chinese military reports said.

Our government would probably prefer not to… But there are concerns that China is using the cover of the coronavirus crisis to expand its reach. And in this case, the US and Australia said it's doing it in a way that's against international law. As US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said last week, "I am concerned that while the United States and our partners focus on supporting one another during these challenging times, the Chinese Communist Party continues to engage in systematic rule-breaking, coercion and other malign activities." Meanwhile here in Oz, the major parties agree that the Morrison Government’s gotta do what it’s gotta do when it comes to standing up for international law. Which leaves Payne and Reynolds with plenty to talk about during their visit…



• It was another difficult day in Victoria yesterday with 459 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths, including a man in his 40s. It was Australia's deadliest day of the pandemic so far. The state recorded 357 cases and five deaths on Saturday.

• Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said some people’s decision not to wear a mask was "not an issue of human rights". The statement followed videos emerging on social media of retail staff and police being taken on by argumentative citizens. At least there were no cases of masks being worn as a g-string to report…

• NSW also saw cases rise by 14 on Sunday and 15 on Saturday. There is speculation about if/when the state will tighten restrictions. And police yesterday won their application to ban a Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney planned for tomorrow citing public health concerns. Organisers say they will appeal the decision.

• Further afield, the spike of cases in Victoria means we can say goodbye to a travel bubble with Kiwiland for now. The UK Government announced travellers returning from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days after a new spike in cases in the European nation. North Korea acknowledged its first COVID-19 case and declared a state of emergency - but some experts think it doth protest too much

• Globally, the number of cases has passed 16 million. The world’s racking up a million cases a week ATM… Last week, 37 countries, including Australia, recorded record numbers of new cases. More than 646,000 people have died worldwide, and 9.3 million people have recovered.


Three of them, in fact. Transport Minister Stephan Knoll, Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone and Trade Minister David Ridgway all bit the dust yesterday over an expenses saga. The president of the state’s upper house Terry Stephens also stepped down over a $234-per-night allowance paid to regional pollies when they need to hit the hay in the big smoke. At issue are expense claims they made before it was incurred - which is against the rules. On Thursday, the state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption said it would go over 10 years of allowances prompting a scurry of paperwork to be resubmitted and money paid back. Premier Steven Marshall said he was "disappointed" as Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said the men were “deliberate" in their manipulation of the system.


Fancy bank/investment house Goldman Sachs has agreed to a $5.5 billion settlement with the Malaysian Government over its role in the mega 1MDB corruption scandal. Criminal charges against the bank have been dropped as part of the deal after it was accused of misleading investors when it helped raise $9.15 billion for the state fund. If you’re nodding along politely but are like ‘1MDB what?’, it was a government initiative to get foreign investment in energy, real estate and tourism projects across the country. Malaysia’s PM at the time, Najib Razak, created and chaired the fund that prosecutors believe was a scam from the start. Speaking of Najib, a verdict in the first case against him is set to be handed down tomorrow. He’s accused of pocketing US$1 billion from the fund. Them's some big pockets… #SquizShortcut


The Sussexes have denied any involvement in a new book about their departure from royal life that’s making waves… The London Times newspaper has run extracts of Finding Freedom (paywall) over the weekend where authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand describe the escalating narkiness between Team Sussex and other members of the Royal Family. That tension led to the couple feeling isolated and unprotected. In turn, their actions, like announcing a 'new arrangement' that would see them be part private/part royal without consulting the Queen, perpetuated the misery. Some royal watchers say the book's account resembles what insiders described at the time, but others say it’s too sympathetic to Harry and Meghan’s version of events for it not to have been fed by them.


Don’t you love a scientific study for things we intrinsically know as human beings? Crying - it’s a good emotional release. As you were…


Start of National Pain Week (on until 2 August)

NASA holds its Launch Readiness Review for its latest mission to Mars. It’s the last big checkup before the final approval to proceed to launch later this week

Anniversary of :
• the first tobacco was brought to England from Virginia (1586)
• Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolating insulin at the University of Toronto (1921)
• Bugs Bunny’s debut (1940)
• the Korean War armistice (1953)

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