Squiz Today / 04 January 2021

Squiz Today – Monday, 4 January


“Who needs a cape when you have a mullet?”

Asked one observer of the efforts of Aussie pro-surfer/dodgy-haired Mikey Wright who saved a swimmer in distress on Friday. With his big sister Tyler ranked #1 in the world in the women’s championship tour, siblings sometimes have to go to extremes to be noticed…


The new year has picked up where the last left off [insert thumb down emoji…]. Coronavirus clusters continue to test policymakers, state and territory processes, and Aussies trying to enjoy a break/get about their business as 2021 kicks off.

• In Sydney, a cluster linked to the BWS bottle shop in Berala has grown to 13 cases with officials confirming tens of thousands of people have been asked to isolate to limit the spread. What’s concerning officials is that people have been infected after spending a “very fleeting amount of time” in the store.

• Testing has shown the Berala cluster has a different origin to the outbreak on the Northern Beaches, which has grown to 148 cases and continues to baffle officials as to how it kicked off. Cases in Wollongong and other parts of Sydney have been linked to the Northern Beaches outbreak.

• Also linked to the Northern Beaches cluster are 21 cases in Victoria. The Black Rock cluster has seen 13 people who dined at a Thai restaurant in the Melbourne suburb on 21 December become infected, and 8 more people linked to them. About 580 people who are contacts of those cases are in 14 days quarantine with officials expecting more positive tests.

Indeed. And it's not just those who live in or near those areas - millions of people have been impacted. That's been driven by state and territory governments' decisions to close borders creating heavy traffic on the roads as many raced to get home. And advice to get tested has seen long waits in Queensland and Victoria. Some have also found themselves stranded in NSW, including campers who were out of mobile range when Victoria closed the border. Adding to the drama, India’s cricket team aren’t fans of the quarantine arrangements that await them in Brisbane throwing the location of the 4th Test match in the series into doubt. This week will see more said about these things. As for those in the Greater Sydney area (including Central Coast, Wollongong and Blue Mountains) - get mask ready



Zara Kay - an Australian born in Tanzania who campaigns for the rights of women who have denounced their Islamic faith - has been arrested and charged in the African nation. Reports say the 28yo has been charged with using a phone not registered in her name and not returning her Tanzanian passport after becoming an Aussie citizen. Others say it's likely linked to critical comments she made on social media about the government's handling of the COVID crisis. Kay is believed to be on bail, and the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed they are assisting her. Her supporters are concerned for her wellbeing.


Speaking of Aussies with fraught relationships with other nations… WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to hear at 9pm tonight (AEDT) whether he can be extradited from the UK to the US to face espionage charges and a possible prison sentence of up to 175 years. It’s a landmark day after years of legal wrangling over the unprecedented publication of secret American military documents on the platform in 2010 - but it’s unlikely to be the end with years of appeals possible. Or there are a couple of other options… Assange’s supporters, including partner Stella Moris, have appealed to outgoing US President Donald Trump for a pardon. And if that fails, they hope a newly installed Biden administration would take a more lenient view. The latter might be a reach given WikiLeaks’ history with Biden’s former teammate Hillary Clinton…


New year, new approach from Team Trump? Yeah, nah… Thursday (our time) sees another step taken in the process to officially wrap up last year’s presidential election with a joint sitting of the houses of Congress to certify Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s victory. It’s usually a formality - but not this year if a dozen diehard Trump-lovin' Republican senators get a say in it… Led by Ted Cruz, they want a 10-day delay for an emergency audit of voter fraud claims levelled by Trump and his legal team. The move is not supported by senior Republicans in the Congress, making it unlikely to be successful. It's the latest in a series of last-ditch attempts to overturn Biden's victory with another legal challenge shot down in flames yesterday. Another US political event to put on your radar this week - the Georgia Senate runoff elections on Wednesday (again, our time). They will decide who has a majority in the US Senate which still hangs in the balance after November’s election.


Nomo what now? It’s the fear of being without our smartphone, and new research says almost all of us have some degree of it. In a national survey of more than 2,800 smartphone users, 99% were affected (37% had mild symptoms, almost 50% were in the moderate range, and 13% were considered to be severely affected). Lead researcher Fareed Kaviani from Monash Uni says it’s understandable given phones are part of our everyday lives. "But it also means we are more likely to use it when we shouldn't be using it." Like, can you watch a movie without checking it? Us neither… The big issue, experts say, is that it can damage relationships with friends or family if we're too obsessed and not available for connecting IRL. Now please excuse us as we refresh Twitter to see if anyone's said anything interesting…


Brace for some rough conditions today, Sydney and Canberra. Hail and big winds are about, the weather bureau says, with a weather system that smashed central western NSW over the weekend moving east. Parkes saw a massive downpour on Saturday prompting calls to emergency services. There has also been flash flooding across the mid north coast of NSW with authorities asking residents returning from holidays to be alert to the conditions. Looking north, tropical cyclone Imogen has made landfall crossing the Queensland coast bringing 100km/hour winds and a lot of rain. And in the west, emergency-level fires are burning south of Perth and near Geraldton. Firefighters have been working through the night to protect residents, reports say.


Athletes from Papua New Guinea have asked our government to help them get Tokyo Olympics ready after the pandemic threw a spanner in preparation plans. Like shooter Danny Wanma who is practising - with no ammunition…

Congrats go to the D'Cruz family - they've set a Guinness World Record for the highest total combined age. The 12 siblings have a combined age of 1,042 years and 315 days. Born in Pakistan, they now live all over the world, which anyone who has seen lots of family over the break will understand…

And begin as you mean to continue - Lake Superior State University in Michigan has issued a list of banished words for 2021. The top 3: 'COVID-19' (unrealistic but like their thinking); ‘social distancing’ (ditto); and ‘we’re all in this together’ (sorry Ben Lee…).


Swearing in of the US Congress following last year’s election - Washington DC

Myanmar’s Independence Day

World Braille Day 

Anniversary of:
• the Soviet Union’s Luna 1 becoming the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon (1959)
• the end of the longest recorded strike when the Danish barbers' assistants went back to work after 33 years (1961)
• the annulment of Britney Spears’ marriage less than 55 hours after tying the knot with childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas (2006)

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