Squiz Today / 09 January 2023

Squiz Today – Monday, 9 January

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Squiz Today Podcast

Getting your news year started on the right foot – and ear. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Its poise, balance and control is astonishing.”

Said wildlife expert Mike Dilger after seeing footage of a 2-legged fox strolling through an English garden. “Poise, balance, control” – 3 words that don’t accurately describe our 2 weeks of eating, drinking and sleeping…

China’s reopening marred by health concerns

China reopened its international border yesterday after nearly 3 years, ending strict rules a fortnight ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations that will see huge numbers of people travel to be with family. The final restriction to fall means travellers entering China are no longer required to quarantine. It comes as the virus continues to surge in the country following the relaxation of its zero-COVID policy that cut it off from the rest of the world. And while some nations, including Oz, have expressed concern and introduced mandatory tests for travellers, some Aussie-Chinese are spending as much as $6,000 for an economy plane ticket to get to China for the holiday. And they aren’t the only ones on the move… Last week, the nation’s Transport Ministry said that more than 2 billion passengers are expected to take trips within China over the next 40 days.

Good question… Officials say a handful of people are dying each day – the official death toll for the entire pandemic is just over 5,000 (and for context, Oz’s death toll is around 17,300…). The World Health Organization (WHO) says that’s extremely unlikely, given China’s population is more than 1.4 billion people. Scientists believe as many as 9,000 people are dying every day in China, which could rise to 25,000 with the movement of people over the next few weeks, and that could take the toll to 1.7 million by April. And it’s not all about fatalities… For weeks it’s been reported that hospitals are struggling to cope with rising infections after the government suddenly lifted restrictions following widespread protests against COVID lockdowns last month. Note: there are still reports that anyone criticising the government’s decisions is being silenced.

The one that’s getting the most attention is called XBB.1.5 – it’s the new Omicron sub-variant that has been dubbed ‘the Kraken’ by evolutionary biologist T Ryan Gregory. He’s likened it to the mythological sea creature said to be a bit like a giant octopus that used multiple tentacles to take down large ships. The WHO has called it “the most transmissible sub-variant which has been detected yet”. It’s not thought to cause any more serious infection, but scientists believe it’s showing signs of “immunity escape”, meaning it can infect people who’ve been vaccinated or infected before. It is now the dominant variant in the US and has been found in at least 28 countries, and PM Anthony Albanese has confirmed that includes Australia. The experts say we don’t need to be “overly worried”, but it’s a reminder that COVID’s not done with us yet.  

World News

Squiz the Rest

Russia breaks its self-imposed truce

Russia’s attacks on Ukraine continue, with Moscow breaking its promise of a ceasefire during Orthodox Christmas celebrations on Saturday. At least 2 Ukrainian civilians were killed when Russian forces shelled 7 regions in Ukraine’s east and south. It came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his frontline troops would observe a 36-hour truce from Friday to midnight Saturday. It was the first time either side had used such language since the invasion started, but Ukrainian/Western authorities didn’t buy it. “They talk about a ceasefire. This is who we are at war with,” a Ukrainian official said after the attacks. Ukrainian authorities also labelled Moscow’s claim that 600 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by Russian forces in a “mass missile strike” in Ukraine’s east as “propaganda”. Russia’s actions will come under scrutiny in March when the UK and Netherlands host an international meeting to discuss financial and practical support for the International Criminal Court’s investigations of war crimes in Ukraine.

World News

Water water everywhere…

It won’t be news to those in Western Australia, but remote communities in the Kimberley are still suffering in the wake of the state’s worst flooding on record. Tropical cyclone Ellie hit the region last week, inundating the Fitzroy River. To give you an idea of the amount of water flowing through, reports say the waterway ballooned to 50km wide at some parts and reached a record peak of 15.81m at Fitzroy Crossing and the Indigenous community of Noonkanbah. As conditions ease, emergency services and the Defence Force continue to deliver essential supplies, including at Fitzroy Crossing – about 400km east of Broome. More than 100 people have been evacuated, but that might grow with the towns of Looma and Willare on flood watch in the coming days. Towns in NSW and South Oz also continue to struggle with seemingly neverending floods. The NSW town of Menindee is preparing for a peak above the 1976 record of 10.47m, and Mannum’s central township is submerged

Australian News

The Voice – trying to understand it…

Coalition leader Peter Dutton and PM Anthony Albanese are tussling over the federal government’s plans to hold a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament this year. Dutton reckons Albanese – who promised to deliver a referendum during a speech at Queensland’s Woodford Folk Festival in late December – hasn’t provided enough detail about how it would work. Albanese says Aussies can vote on the “principle” of installing a Voice, and then it’s up to parliament to legislate for how it will work. Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney backs that approach – she says the referendum is “effectively asking do we need a bridge to cross the Sydney Harbour: yes or no” with the parliament deciding “how many lanes on that bridge”. Dutton isn’t happy with that – he wants a model for the Voice introduced to parliament before the vote, but Albanese yesterday accused Dutton of “cheap culture war stunts”.


Not a moment to Spare in translating Harry’s memoir

Barely a month since the Netflix series Harry & Meghan sparked a raging public debate about the couple’s departure as senior royals, the Duke of Sussex is back in the headlines as his long-awaited memoir Spare is set to hit our shelves this week. That is unless you happen to be in Spain, where the book was inexplicably released early… That means we already know some of the big revelations, including that he killed 25 Taliban in Afghanistan, used illegal drugs, and regretted his frolic behind a pub… And as there’s never a dull moment in this saga, 2 TV interviews – both claiming to have exclusive “bombshells” – will also air today… Britain’s ITV has Harry talking to journo/buddy Tom Bradby – he says he saw a “red mist” descend on brother ‘Willy’ when they had a physical fight in 2019. And on America’s 60 Minutes, Harry will reiterate claims that stories were planted about him and Meghan. If too much is barely enough, here’s how to watch both.

World News

Chefs upsetti over scientist’s spaghetti

If cutting carbs was a new year’s resolution, look away… People all over the world are feeling the bite of rising costs of living, so a suggestion from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Professor Giorgio Parisi to find a cheaper way to cook pasta has caused a food fight. He suggests turning off the heat mid-way through cooking the carby goodness and covering it with a lid, allowing the hot water to cook the rest, thereby cutting your fuel costs. Suffice it to say his idea has provoked a semi-heated debate among foodies… Michelin-starred chef Antonello Colonna is one who doesn’t think the pasta would be al dente, saying the method would leave the pasta rubbery and he’d never serve it in his restaurant. It sounds like the only way to settle this is with an extensive at-home pasta cooking experiment… You know, for science.

Environment & Science

Apropos of Nothing

Denmark has turned down the Heat as it recorded its first year without any bank robberies. The Scandi country’s central bank says COVID accelerated the abandonment of cash, meaning robbers have little incentive to try. There’s one Nordic Noir storyline out the window… 

Like a plot from one of her own books, romance author Susan Meachen has been accused of faking her own death, and her fans are not impressed after they spent 2 years holding memorials and fundraisers in her honour. Meachen announced her resurrection on social media, saying, “Let the fun begin”.

Most criminals do their best to evade police, but 2 American robbers did the opposite by calling 911 to ask for help moving stolen items out of the house they were targeting – and for a lift to the airport. Not having a bar of it, officers gave the con-fused crims a ride to jail instead.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.00pm (AEDT) – Australian Open men’s and women’s qualifying matches begin (on until 16 Jan) – Melbourne

7.30pm (AEDT) – Exclusive interview with Prince Harry to air on Seven

ABS Data Release – Building Approvals, November

A birthday for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (1982)

Anniversary of:
• Steve Jobs introducing iTunes (2001) and the first iPhone (2007)
• the Sussexes making a shock announcement that they would “step back” as ‘senior’ members of the royal family (2020)

Squiz the Day

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