Squiz Today / 13 May 2021

Squiz Today – Thursday, 13 May


"Currently, Law 5.3.2 states that the blade of the bat must consist solely of wood, so for bamboo (which is a grass) to be considered as a realistic alternative to willow would require a law change.”

Which is the Marylebone Cricket Club’s take on the suggestion that bamboo could make a great axe. As keepers of the rules of cricket, they have perfected the art of saying ‘no’ without actually saying it…


As tensions between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants intensify, the United Nations’ Middle East Peace Envoy Tor Wennesland yesterday warned that “We're escalating towards a full-scale war.” He said the UN is working to restore calm, but he urged the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas to “take the responsibility of de-escalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people,” he tweeted. Since Monday, the most intensive exchange of airstrikes since 2014 has left 53 Palestinians (including senior Hamas officials and 14 children) and 6 Israelis dead.

• To start with the basics - Israel and Hamas are life-long sworn enemies. Considered a terrorist organisation by the US, UK and Australia, Hamas wants to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It governs Gaza (a strip of land that is surrounded by Israel and populated by Palestinians) independently of the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas. For extra points, Hamas and Abbas don’t get along - and he says the group’s actions against Israel are an attempt to marginalise him.

• Tensions have been rising in recent weeks as several events lined up to create this cluster disaster. That includes the Israeli election, a delay to the Palestinian vote, Ramadan, and legal action in Israel that could end with Palestinian families evicted from East Jerusalem homes claimed by Jewish settlers.

• Long story short, after weeks of clashes and demonstrations (including a nasty one on Monday), Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem for the first time in years. Israel responded with airstrikes and deployed its 'Iron Dome' air defence system (as seen in this incredible clip). And here we are...

"This was only the beginning. We will inflict blows on them that they have never dreamed of," says Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. And Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his group was "ready" to respond if Israel was to escalate tensions. Meanwhile, the international community urged calm. Overnight, the White House said it's sending an envoy to broker talks. But experts say there’s no end in sight at this stage…



And that sound you can hear is a global cry of "argh"...  That's the take of the independent panel assembled by the World Health Organization to look into the origins of the coronavirus. China picked it up early and reported it, the panel says. But the WHO and global governments were too slow to respond, and that saw COVID take off via "weak links at every point in the chain". Calling the pandemic this century's "Chernobyl moment", the report says the world wasted February last year and saw the virus take hold. And it could happen again unless there is reform - one suggestion is to create a "global health threats council” to stay sharp. The panel was assembled after Australia and other countries pushed for its formation (incurring the wrath of China…). More than 3.3 million people have died of COVID during the pandemic.


Qantas has delayed the relaunch of its international routes (except for Kiwiland…) after Tuesday night's Budget revealed the Morrison Government's working under the assumption that the border will not open until mid-next year. The airline had slated 31 October to restart overseas flights - that’s now been put back until 20 December. “We remain optimistic that additional bubbles will open once Australia’s vaccine rollout is complete to countries who, by then, are in a similar position, but it’s difficult to predict which ones at this stage,” a Qantas spokesman said. The tourism sector was one of the loudest critics of the Budget yesterday, calling for more support and certainty about timelines. Speaking of critics... Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese will deliver his address in reply tonight.


In a bid to avoid another Ever Given-style fiasco, the Egyptian Government has announced plans to widen parts of the Suez Canal. The narrow southern section that the mega container ship was lodged in for 6 days will be expanded by 2.5 metres and deepened 40 metres. Which doesn’t seem like a lot, but we’re no engineers… The plan will also see the waterway’s second lane extended by another 10km, which will allow more vessels to pass through. Where is the Ever Given now, we hear you ask? It is still being held in the canal 6 weeks after the crisis, thanks to a dispute between the ship's owners and the waterway's operators over costs. The channel, which stretches between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, sees about 10% of global trade pass through on 19,000 vessels a year.


Aussie artificial intelligence company Appen has been accused of racism after a job applicant revealed she was asked to take a ‘paper bag test’. The test originates from 20th-century slave owners, who used it to compare a person's skin colour to a brown paper bag. US woman Charné Graham took to Twitter to say "as a Black woman the question is very off putting and triggering". Appen apologised and said the question "is used to ensure diverse datasets are included in the collection and annotation used to train computer vision algorithms.” Which we’re not sure makes things any better… The ASX-listed company crowdsources labour for AI services for tech giants including Facebook and Google.


And no, you’re not going to get a 'hallelujah' for that… Social media recoiled in horror after a Tullamore (NSW) farmer shared a video of mice ‘raining’ from a grain silo amid an ongoing rodent plague in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. The plague - which has been called the worst since the 1980s - is continuing to destroy crops and grain supplies. Earlier this week, farmers welcomed a move by Australia’s pesticides authority to allow the use of double-strength baits but are calling on governments to help cover the cost.


There were plenty of reviews of Tuesday night’s Budget, but none as harsh as the one from Frydenberg’s 4yo son. Ouch…

Watch out Pink Ladies and Golden Delicious, there’s a new apple in town, and it's in season and ready to eat right now.

When it comes to celebrity goss, there’s no bigger story than the possible reunion of Bennifer. You know, former flames Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez… Which is a long way of highlighting Affleck’s friend (and honorary Aussie) Matt Damon’s hot take on it on Tuesday night - direct from the TAB section of a pub…


Eid al-Fitr - the Muslim celebration that marks the end of Ramadan

ABS Data Release - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, March

International Hummus Day

Birthdays for Stevie Wonder (1950), Carrie Lam (1957), Scott Morrison (1968), Lena Dunham (1986) and Robert Pattinson (1986)

Anniversary of:
• Captain Arthur Phillip leaving Portsmouth, England with 11 ships of criminals bound for Botany Bay (1787)
• the first-ever race of the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship (1950)
• the death of Ruth Cracknell (2002)

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