Squiz Today / 10 December 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 10 December


"The judges felt that the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well."

And so the Literary Review's highly anticipated Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been cancelled for 2020. Don't panic - here's a 'best/worst of' list from years gone by…


And it was short and sharp… The US Supreme Court yesterday issued a one-sentence order that refused a request from Republicans to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in Pennsylvania. It is the latest in a long list of legal defeats that US President Donald Trump has suffered as he attempts to cling to power by invalidating the results from battleground states following the 3 November election. In the last 5 weeks, Team Trump and his allies have lost about 50 challenges centred on unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, improper process, and foreign manipulation.

Look, Biden's won the election despite Team Trump's ongoing claims to the contrary. And they maintain hopes that a last-throw-of-the-dice case brought by Republicans in Texas against 4 states that voted for Biden will change the outcome. But in terms of the process, yesterday saw the so-called 'safe harbour' deadline reached -  the date by which all state-level election challenges are to be completed. And on Monday next week, the members of the Electoral College will meet in their respective state capitals to formally vote for the position of president and vice president. The result is then delivered to officials in Washington DC by 23 December. On 6 January, the Congress will hold a joint session to oversee the final count of the electoral votes. And then it's onto Inauguration Day on 20 January.

Coronavirus, we're looking at you… Deaths from COVID-19 in the US have climbed to more than 2,200 a day on average, and cases per day are more than 200,000 on average - the highest of the pandemic. Officials are expecting the situation to worsen after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's get-togethers. Yesterday, Trump signed an executive order instructing the government to get enough vaccine to inoculate Americans before sharing any with other countries. And Biden committed to getting "at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people" during his first 100 days in office. Experts say that's an ambitious plan and want to see the details on how it will be achieved. Since the start of the pandemic, the US has recorded 15.2 million cases, and 287,500 people have died.



The first major go at overhauling Australia's industrial relations system since the Howard Government's ill-fated WorkChoices reforms is on like Donkey Kong. But Attorney-General/Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter's best attempt at 'there's nothing to see here, move along' hasn't stopped Labor and the unions from taking issue. One element caught their attention yesterday - giving coronavirus-affected businesses the ability to make deals with their staff that don't meet the better off overall test (BOOT). Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the Coalition should be condemned for "using the pandemic to cut the take-home pay of Australian workers." This has a long way to go, so settle in…


Australia's trade with China has been further damaged with timber exports from Tasmania and South Australia blocked over claims of the detection of an unspecified pest in shipments. And 2 Victorian lamb processors which voluntarily delisted themselves from exporting to China after workers tested positive to COVID-19 in July are finding themselves unable to resume trade. That takes the number of meatworks affected by Chinese trade restrictions to 8. There's not much hope in sight with a new analysis showing Australian cotton, wheat, dairy, honey, fruit and pharmaceutical exports are vulnerable if they're added to the hit list. With China still refusing to talk it over, lodging the disputes with the World Trade Organisation is an option Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is still considering.


Mark Garson, the Kiwi man who killed 33yo Aussie Sean McKinnon, was yesterday handed a life sentence with a 15-year non-parole period. McKinnon, who was on a surfing holiday in New Zealand with his Canadian fiancée Bianca Buckley last year, was shot while sleeping in their campervan near Raglan on NZ's North Island. Garson had 21 previous convictions and was under the influence of ice when he committed the murder.

And a first-anniversary memorial service held in Whakatane yesterday saw survivors of last year's White Island disaster pay tribute to first responders and medical staff. The eruption killed 22 people, including 17 Australians. Another 10 Aussies were injured. Sydneysiders Nick and Marion London, who were among the 47 people on the island when it erupted, said that the recovery process is long. "People often ask us how we're feeling, and we tell them, 'We're not great, but we're grateful.'"


Just when you might have been adjusting to the summer heat, a "major flood and rain event" is set to cool much of the country down. Australia's east and northwest will cop the brunt of it, with a 'monsoon trough' [insert shrugging lady emoji…] making its way over northwest WA, Queensland and New South Wales over the next few days. Tassie and the Top End will also get a soaking, but South Oz and Victoria will likely escape the wet conditions. Up to 150mm of rain and flash flooding is forecast for northeast NSW and southeast Queensland over the weekend. Perth will also escape the wet but is set to cool down after a string of stinking hot days.


Forbes has issued its list of top sheilas for 2020 - and the theme is they're people who have been "using their platforms to address the unique challenges of 2020". In first place is German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the 10th year in a row, although she probably had her mind on containing a new wave of coronavirus cases in her nation... European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde was next, also for the tenth time. And then it was Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who has catapulted into the top 100 list. Rounding out the top 5 are European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and philanthropist Melinda Gates. From Australia, Macquarie Bank boss Shemara Wikramanayake is in at #29, and Hancock Prospecting executive chairman Gina Rinehart came in at #45. The youngest on the list - pop superstar Taylor Swift who was #80.


Because it's certainly been a year filled with questions… Google's Year In Search 2020 shows Aussies grappling with the big issues of our time. The US Election. Coronavirus. Fires Near Me. Toilet Paper (with presumably 'where can I buy' in that search…). And the most searched 'how to' and recipe - hand sanitiser. 2020, you've got a lot to answer for…


Human Rights Day

International Animal Rights Day

Hanukkah starts (on until 18 December)

ABS Data Releases - Jobs in Australia; Managed Funds, September

Anniversary of:
• the publication of the first edition of Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1768)
• the birthdays of the world's first computer programmer Ada Lovelace (1815) and poet Emily Dickinson (1830)
• the publication of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
• the deaths of critic AA Gill (2016)

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