Squiz Today / 16 April 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 16 April


"I need more beer!”

Was the sign 93yo Olive Veronesi from Pittsburgh held up at her window in a picture that went around the world. Brewer Molson Coors responded by sending her 10 cases of Coors Light. Which is a shame because she said she needed beer…


US President Donald Trump yesterday said America would stop providing funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for 60-90 days while a review is undertaken to assess its “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” The United Nations’ agency says it regrets Trump’s decision. America is the WHO’s largest donor.

The US has the world’s highest number of coronavirus cases (more than 610,000) and deaths (26,000 people), and Trump’s critics say he’s trying to deflect criticism that he acted too slowly to stop the virus's spread. But Trump says the WHO should have “got medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency” in the early days to stop what’s unfolded. Others say it’s about bigger things. America provides US$400 million a year to the WHO, which is about 15% of its total budget. So the theory is it wants more say in its running - and it wants China (which gave about US$90 million to the WHO last year) to be sidelined. Meanwhile, tech billionaire/philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation is the WHO's second-biggest funder, tweeted Trump’s decision “during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds.”

That’s a question that will be examined ad nauseam when the health emergency has passed. And keep in mind that both the WHO and President Trump praised China for their transparency in January. But experts looking at documents and infection data from Wuhan say there were six days in mid-January where officials stayed silent about the potential of this new coronavirus to go like billio. Chinese officials have repeatedly denied allegations of a cover-up. And others say undeniable mistakes were made by China, just like other nations have mishandled elements of their response to the crisis.



• PM Scott Morrison yesterday appealed to teachers to get back into the classroom for term two to let parents get back to work, and to ensure kids don't lose out on learning. Chaos ensued with a mass expression of confusion about what's safe behaviour in a school setting. But Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the message to parents was clear; “for all those parents who are working, and they can't look after their children safely at home, schools are open and your students can attend school.” A National Cabinet meeting of our federal, state and territory leaders is on later today. On the agenda: read above. And what the pathway towards easing restrictions might look like.

• As we head towards a month spent close to home, we’ve lost our shopping mojo. Commonwealth Bank data released yesterday shows we’ve closed our wallets. And it might not just be our full pantries at play… The latest consumer confidence numbers show the largest monthly decline in the survey’s 47-year history.

• NZ PM Jacinda Ardern yesterday cut her salary and those of her ministers by 20% in solidarity with those who are doing it tough. In Oz, pay rises are frozen for MPs and public servants.

• In the UK, 99yo veteran Tom Moore set himself the aim of walking 100 laps of his 25m garden to raise £1,000 for the National Health Service (NHS). So far he’s raised more than £8 million (A$15 million)

• To the tally: there are 2 million cases and 130,000 deaths from COVID-19 globally. Almost 500,000 people have recovered. In Australia, there are 6,449 cases and 63 people have died.


It’s another twist in what’s been a rocky road between the Federal Police and the Aussie media. And what happened yesterday is a bit of a mixed bag… Sunday Telegraph journalist Annika Smethurst’s home was raided by the AFP last year over a story she wrote in 2018 citing a sensitive internal government proposal to expand the powers of our electronic spy agency to be able to do more within Australia. Yesterday, the High Court ruled the search warrant to be invalid. But it didn’t support Smethurst’s ask that the evidence seized be handed back or destroyed. And it hasn’t put an end to possible criminal charges against Smethurst, something her employer News Corp said shouldn’t happen. Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the case, along with the raid on the ABC’s Sydney office over another sensitive leak, were under review.


The kingdom got a new ruler five years ago, and there was hope that King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would take a different approach. But one promise that’s gone by the wayside is reducing the use of the death penalty. More than 800 people have been executed during King Salman reign - a doubling on the previous five years. Critics say the use of the death penalty for politically motivated crimes, including participating in and inciting demonstrations, has skyrocketed. The Crown Prince has pursued a program of social reforms aimed at modernising the country on the one hand, while being accused of involvement in atrocities like the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the other.


Have you been continually interrupting your video conference catch-ups with friends to ask if they know what happened after the 8 February Irish election? Us neither, but it has crossed our mind more than once. And here's something of an answer. The ruling party Fine Gael headed by taoiseach (aka PM) Leo Varadkar and fellow major party Fianna Fáil are close to forming a coalition government that would see them forge a “full and equal partnership”. That includes changing over the top job during the five-year term. The parties had vowed not to align after the election, but the shock success of IRA-aligned party Sinn Féin seems to have changed minds.


Ever seen the 80s movie Splash? Disney+ has given star Darryl Hannah a bit more hair

Sticking with movies, and if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you'll know the place. The property used as the backdrop for the films near Glenorchy on New Zealand's South Island - Arcadia Station - has been sold for almost $20 million. One condition: the new owners have to let the resident dog Bo see out his days there. Oh, Bo…

And here's an attention-grabbing headline: Woman's attraction to chandeliers not a sexual orientation, ruling says. Ok then…


ABS Data Release - Labour Force, March

World Voice Day

Birthdays for former Pope Benedict XVI (1927), Queen of Denmark Margrethe II (1940), Akon (1973), Claire Foy (1984), Chance the Rapper (1993) and Tayla Harris (1997)

Anniversary of:
• the Virginia Tech massacre (2007)
• the birthdays of Charlie Chaplin (1889), Spike Milligam (1918), Henry Mancini (1924), Dusty Springfield (1939)
• the deaths of Madame Tussaud (1850), co-discoverer of the structure of DNA Rosalind Franklin (1958), and Ralph Waldo Ellison (1994)

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