Squiz Today / 11 March 2021

Squiz Today – Thursday, 11 March


“Civilisation isn’t just about 6 nights of watching Netflix then going to dinner on the 7th night to talk about what you’ve been bingeing.”

Said director Robert Connolly in an interview about his new Aussie flick The Dry. Which means we have to rethink our entire operating model…


We didn’t know what to get you… It was 11 March last year when the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus outbreak 2019-nCoV was more than a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ - it was a pandemic. At that time, WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was alarmed by the spread and severity of the virus outside of China. And he was worried by the levels of global inaction. A year later, epidemiological concepts like suppression v elimination strategies and viral mutations just roll off the (preferably masked) tongue…

Since the declaration of a pandemic, COVID-19 has spread to almost every corner of Earth. Globally, more than 117.5 million cases have been reported, and 2.6 million people have died. The US has recorded the most number of cases (29 million) and deaths (528,000). Australia has reported 29,075 cases, which means we're had fewer infections than 113 other countries. We’ve also reported 909 deaths - 685 of those people were in aged care facilities. The last death from COVID-19 in Australia was reported on 28 December last year.

It’s all about vaccination. More than 319 million doses have already been administered across 118 countries - 94 million of those have been administered in the US. In Australia, more than 100,000 people have received their first doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, and health officials say they hope to have 4 million Aussies at least one shot down by early April - a big ask, some say. And look, if the virus doesn't mutate too much and 5.5 billion people worldwide get immunised, things will start to get back to normal. Well, after smashed global economies are repaired. And we work out if lasting changes have been made to work and play, how we educate the kids and dress. COVID has also strengthened some political leaders and weakened others. It’s been the best of times and the worst of them. So maybe it’s about a post-emergency normal then - whatever that might look like...



Reports this morning say the Morrison Government will today announce a $1.2 billion support package for Australian tourism that will include halving the price of nearly 800,000 airline tickets. Between April and July, 13 regions that normally rely on international visitors - places like Cairns and Kangaroo Island - will hope to see Aussie tourists pour in. Good for airlines and tourists, good for struggling local economies, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says. Speaking of struggling economies, record low-interest rates are part of the Reserve Bank's response to help kick things into gear. One side effect: the recent spike in housing prices. Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe yesterday said other things are at play, including large government incentives for first-home buyers and home builders. He's keeping an eye on it, but says the 0.1% official interest rate will be around for a while.


Ah, the electricity market - it's been a while… A big brown coal-fired power plant located in Victoria's Latrobe Valley will close in mid-2028 - 4 years earlier than its planned 2032 exit. Energy Australia boss Catherine Tanna said the sector is changing quickly, and Yallourn's decommissioning is warranted. There are 500 workers who will lose their jobs when the state’s oldest electricity generator closes. It produces 20% of the state’s electricity (aka 1,480-megawatt) - and 13% of its emissions. The company will have a 350-megawatt battery built at its Jeeralang gas plant to cover some of the lost output. That's not soothed Energy Minister Angus Taylor who says he expects the energy sector to “step up” to ensure the lights can be kept on. But the Australian Energy Market Operator says 7-years notice means there’s enough time to sort it out. If you were in Victoria last night, that sound you could hear was climate change campaigners celebrating…


Pro-democracy demonstrators in Myanmar are becoming more agile on the streets as they try to stay out of harm's way with military forces and police deploying lethal force against their fellow citizens. On Tuesday, 1,000 protesters with homemade shields emblazoned with an image of the movement’s 3-fingered salute popped up in Mandalay, the nation's second-largest city, where they protested for just a few minutes and dispersed, reports say, to avoid being targeted by authorities. While demonstrations have become a daily occurrence in defiance of military leaders, observers say concerned citizens are improvising to keep themselves safe while continuing to make their point against the 1 February coup. This image of a nun begging police to spare “the children” and take her life instead is a heartbreaker…


The two superpowers have inked a deal to build a lunar space station. Once built, it will become just the second after the International Space Station, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. While the details are yet to be finalised, the International Scientific Lunar Station will be built either on the moon’s surface or in its orbit - or both - and will be able to be used by other nations. The aim is to strengthen cooperation and promote “the use of outer space for peaceful purposes in the interests of all mankind,” a statement from their space agencies said. The plan is now for China and Russia to map out a design for the space station and plans for how it will operate. And maybe settle on a washing-up roster…


It's been talked about and talked about and talked about, and yesterday NRL great Cameron Smith announced his retirement. Last year, the longtime Melbourne Storm captain set the record for the most NRL games played - 430, to be exact. The Queenslander also put his boots on for 42 State of Origin matches and 56 tests for Oz. The 37yo said it was a "difficult" decision to make, but he felt it was the right one after spending time with his family over the summer. “Cam is not only among the most decorated players the game has ever seen, he made an immeasurable contribution to our club on and off the field,” Melbourne Storm tweeted. He made the announcement with his good mate/fellow icon Billy Slater outside Melbourne’s AAMI Park with the pair unveiling statues of themselves - although there were some questions about Smith’s likeness... Tonight, the Storm will face off against the Rabbitohs in tonight’s NRL season opener.


Giving birth - hard. Giving birth in medieval times - harder. Giving birth in medieval times while wearing a ‘birthing girdle’ - well, that sounds ridiculously hard.

A trader shipping $46 million in copper to China was dudded when thieves in Turkey swapped the metal for painted paving stones. That's 300 shipping containers worth of spray-painted tiles…

Some days it's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys. Other days you just have to faceplant your way to notoriety. Whatever works…


8.05pm (AEDT) - NRL 2021 Season Opener - Melbourne Storm vs Sydney Rabbitohs - AAMI Park, Melbourne

Start of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (on until 20 March)

World Kidney Day

Rupert Murdoch turns 90yo, and a birthday for Benji and Joel Madden (1979)

Anniversary of:
• John Howard sworn in as PM (1996)
• the Madrid train bombings which killed 193 (2004)
• and earthquake and tsunami struck Japan which triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history at Fukushima nuclear plant (2011)
• Chinese President Xi Jinping being appointed president for life (2018)

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