Squiz Today / 31 May 2021

Squiz Today – Monday, 31 May


"As we all know, he's one of the most important writers in the English language - for me, the master... He was the first man to get the coronavirus vaccine. He's died in England at the age of 81."

Said an Argentinian newsreader of last week’s death of William Shakespeare, just not the one who first popped into her mind…


Ten more locally acquired coronavirus cases were added to the outbreak in Melbourne over the weekend, taking the total to 40. There is a mystery case who is troubling officials - an aged care worker whose infection has put an Arcare facility in Melbourne's northwest into lockdown. The growing number of cases and the possible reemergence of the virus in an aged care home has made the COVID vaccination rollout a hot topic again.

As hot as you can get on a record-breaking cold weekend in Melbourne… Yesterday, Deputy PM Michael McCormack repeated an old line that vaccination is “not a race, it has to be systematic". That was not well received by Victoria's Acting Premier James Merlino, who said he would like to make the program go faster if the Commonwealth could guarantee the vaccine supply. However, Merlino came under fire for its faltering vaccination booking system. And words were exchanged over the Morrison Government’s refusal to provide financial support to help workers and businesses affected by the ‘circuit-breaker’ with PM Scott Morrison saying Queensland and Western Oz have not requested support for their snap lockdowns. So everyone’s a critic…

Some good news, perhaps? Soz… A new COVID strain has been detected in Vietnam that scientists say appears to be a combination of the Indian and UK variants. There are already thousands of variations of COVID-19 - most are inconsequential, but some can make a virus more contagious, and officials say this one falls into the latter category. Vietnam's Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the mutation is "very dangerous", and its genetic code will be shared soon. The good news is the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines have been found to be very effective against the major strains that have popped up so far.



...winter's here, and you're off to see them in chilly Queenstown rather than asking them to come to your place in Cairns. Or Darwin. Or Broome. But that's where PM Scott Morrison is with Kiwi leader Jacinda Ardern for the annual governmental get-together. No prizes for guessing what’s top of the agenda: dealing with China. It’s a tricky one because the Kiwis have taken a more conciliatory approach than Oz, but our neighbour yesterday said it will back us in our fight against China on barley exports. The pair will also talk about helping our tourism-dependent Pacific Island family weather the COVID storm. And they are likely to lock horns again on people New Zealand wants to see (resettling refugees) and those they don’t (deported Kiwis who Oz considers criminals). Formal talks start this morning.


PM Benjamin Netanyahu is set to lose his grasp on power if a national unity government is formed as parties from the right, left, and the centre of Israeli politics come together with one thing in common: a desire to see the longstanding leader turfed out. The wheels have been put in motion with ultra-nationalist leader Naftali Bennett confirming overnight that his party will enter talks with centrist party leader Yair Lapid. This follows Israel's latest election in March - the 4th in 2 years to deliver an inconclusive result. Lapid's Yesh Atid party came 2nd to Netanyahu's Likud party, and the former finance minister has been given until Wednesday to form a new coalition government after Netanyahu didn't. That sound you hear could be the door closing on an era…


A Singaporean container ship has been burning off Colombo, Sri Lanka for almost 2 weeks. It's just now come to the world's attention because it’s carrying a load of microplastics. The waste has started washing onto the beaches, putting the local marine ecology at risk and the local fishing and tourism industries under threat. Reports say thousands of defence personnel have been working on scooping up the tiny polyethene pellets with diggers. One said "This is like the coronavirus. No end in sight. We removed all the plastic yesterday, only to see more of it dumped by the waves overnight." Senior officials have labelled it the worst environmental disaster in the nation's history.


Whenever an Aussie does well on the international stage, we like to acknowledge it - even if it is the unlikely stage of managing the nuclear proliferation dreams of some of the world’s trickiest customers… Dr Robert Floyd, a scientist who has been head of the Aussie Government's office keeping a check on nuclear weapons, has a big new job. He's been elected Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. It’s the United Nations body charged with policing the world’s nuclear ambitions. Nations that aren’t signed up to the treaty: the US, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Israel and Egypt. “Never in my wildest dreams have I thought I could be heading such an important organisation and championing such an important cause,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. Good luck, Dr Rob…


Speaking of ambition… China has passed a new milestone in its intergalactic dreams when it successfully docked a cargo spacecraft with its space station's key module yesterday. That means China's well down the line of setting up its own space station named Tianhe. Reports say astronauts will be launched next month for a 3-month stay on the station, but 11 more missions are needed to properly fit the station out. China is going it alone as it's banned from using the US/Russian/Japanese-backed International Space Station. And some new pics have come back from NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars. Are we the only ones who are a bit freaked out that it looks so much like Earth? #SquizShortcut


Making world news - Tassie Devil babies born in the wild on the mainland. Mazel tov…

It’s confirmed: UK PM Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds were married yesterday. Rumours ran wild when she turned up to Westminster Cathedral in a white dress… The last PM to get married while in office was Robert Banks Jenkinson in 1822.

And Vale Ray Strange. His is a name you might not recognise, but you might have seen his work. Strange was a longstanding member of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery in Canberra and was one of its best-regarded photographers until his retirement late last year. He died on Friday at 72yo after suffering a stroke in January. You can get lost for hours in his work, or for a quick hit, there's his self-portrait


Reconciliation Day public holiday (ACT)

Trans-Tasman talks between PMs Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern - Queenstown, NZ

Start of the French Open (on until 13 June) - Roland Garros

World No Tobacco Day

Birthdays for Clint Eastwood (1930), Brooke Shields (1965) and Colin Farrell (1976)

Anniversary of:
• explorers Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains, allowing colonial expansion into Western NSW (1813)
• Dr John Harvey Kellogg patenting “flaked cereal” (1884)
the world’s oldest bride Minnie Munro (102yo) married Dudley Reid (83yo) in Point Clare, NSW (1991)
• Psy’s Gangnam Style becoming the first video to reach 2 billion views on YouTube (2014)

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