Squiz Today / 16 December 2021

Squiz Today – Thursday, 16 December

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Squiz Today Podcast

This news was made for walkin’. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“He was so confident in his continuing longevity … after obtaining his unrestricted driver’s licence at age 100, he was proud to announce that having been offered a one-year or 3-year licence, he took the 3-year.”

Said Michael Jaku of his dad Eddie at his state funeral yesterday. The Holocaust survivor died at 101yo in October, and was known for his unfailingly positive outlook on life, including when it came to driving…

Omicron spreading at an unprecedented rate: WHO

The World Health Organization has issued a stark warning about the latest COVID variant and says it’s concerned that not enough is being done to tackle it. WHO boss Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says we can’t rely on vaccines alone to stop the spread. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril,” he said.

Health officials worldwide say it is, even though confirmed numbers are low. Yesterday, our Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there are 109 officially confirmed cases of Omicron in Oz. But there are concerns here and abroad that Omicron is set to become the dominant strain of COVID – and the worry is there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Kelly says “early reports indicate mild disease, at least in the younger population.” And “current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death,” he says. But it is believed to be more transmissible, and the WHO wants to see more action – just as developed nations relax restrictions as COVID vaccination rates reach high levels.

It is, and NSW is a good example. The state is 93.3% fully vaccinated, and restrictions were eased for unvaccinated people yesterday – just as new infections are rising. Health Minister Brad Hazzard says we’ll see more of that with the state predicted to reach 25,000 new infections a day by the end of January. So the ‘living with COVID’ thing is a fundamental change in approach, and NSW isn’t the only state moving on. Victoria is easing restrictions, and both Queensland and Tassie opened their borders this week with Western Oz to follow. But with Omicron on the rise and state/territory governments’ track records of short notice border closures/lockdowns/restrictions, you can forgive Aussies for contracting a case of the Chrissy jitters. As for staying COVID-safe as you socialise (if your get-together is still on…), political leaders and health officials are urging personal responsibility. And it wouldn’t be COVID if the rules weren’t different around the country – a ready-reckoner is here.


Squiz the Rest

Boris Johnson’s on the nose

No, we aren’t talking about him sweating it up with his trainer… Ninety-nine of his Conservative colleagues yesterday voted against legislation requiring adults in England to show a COVID pass for certain venues and events. There were also votes on other measures like the continuation of mandatory mask-wearing indoors, and all got through with support from Labour. That’s come about because COVID numbers in the UK are soaring, with PM Boris Johnson warning of a looming “tidal wave” of the Omicron cases. But some of his parliamentary colleagues are openly talking about his leadership being on shaky ground. Johnson’s popularity is waning, and his administration is plagued by scandal, including questions about a quiz night of all things… The sentiment has been simmering for a while, but yesterday’s revolt was by far the biggest challenge Johnson’s faced since he took office.

World News

William Tyrrell search comes to a close

NSW Police say a bone fragment has been found during their search for missing toddler William Tyrrell, which will wrap up by the end of the week. A team of 30 have spent 4 weeks scouring bushland near the home of William’s foster grandmother in Kendall on NSW’s mid-north coast, where the 3yo was last seen in 2014. The bone fragment discovered yesterday is undergoing forensic testing. And new evidence found during the search will be presented to a coronial inquest into the toddler’s disappearance. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said that he hoped the case could be solved before retiring at the end of January. As for William’s foster parents, they will appear in court this month after being charged with the assault of a child in their care (not William). His foster mother remains a person of interest in his disappearance.


Toyota drives towards EV investment

As it battles a double whammy of pandemic-related car production delays and a global computer chip shortage, Japanese carmaker Toyota announced it is revving up its electric vehicle (EV) offering. The company’s president Akio Toyoda said it will be doubling the number of new EV models from 15 to 30 by 2030, including SUVs and utes. And its Lexus luxury brand is set to become completely electric by 2035, Toyoda said. The auto giant currently sells about 10 million vehicles a year, and it’s now aiming to sell 3.5 million EVs a year by 2030. To do that, Toyota is investing almost US$100 billion in battery research and development, as well as doing more with hybrid vehicle models. “We can leave a beautiful planet and bring about many smiles for the future generation,” Toyoda said.

Business & Finance Technology

Heatwaves kick off a hot wet summer

The weather bureau is forecasting high temperatures for much of the country – hard to believe if you’re somewhere that hasn’t hit its summer stride. Northern parts of Western Oz and the Top End are readying for extreme heat conditions, and it’s set to be hot across Queensland, NSW and South Oz. The capital cities (except Adelaide, which is set for a sizzling 2nd Ashes Test) will escape the worst of the heat, but the mercury is heading past 40C in NSW’s Dubbo and Broken Hill, and the Top End’s Alice Springs and Katherine. The Bureau of Meteorology has released its summer outlook, and while La Niña means wetter than usual conditions in Eastern Oz, warm air coming from the Tasman Sea is set to make things steamy. Great… At least it won’t be as hot as the probe NASA sent into the sun


Billie Eilish ‘devastated’ by online viewing

OK, we’re going to have to be careful about this one to stay in your inbox… When we say ‘online viewing’, we mean videos of what adults who love each other very much do with their free time. But the singing/songwriting superstar says her issue isn’t representations of love – it’s the violent and abusive content she started watching as an 11yo that “destroyed” her brain and caused her to suffer nightmares, she says. Talking to SiriusXM’s Howard Stern, she said “I was an advocate, and I thought I was one of the guys and would talk about it and think I was really cool for not having a problem with it and not seeing why it was bad.” Looking back, Eilish says it’s a “real problem” that many young people’s understanding of physical intimacy is distorted, including when it comes to consent. Experts have been saying the same thing for a while now.


Apropos of Nothing

And Tassie author Amanda Lohrey has won the $80,000 PM’s Literary Award for her novel The Labyrinth*. Following a woman who moves to live closer to her imprisoned son, the book also claimed the Miles Franklin and Voss literary prizes this year.

Shoe giant Nike has purchased virtual sneaker/NFT company RTFKT as part of its plans to expand its footprint into the ‘metaverse’. Virtual Nikes are expected to cost upwards of US$40,000 a pair. And yes, it is confirmation that the world has lost its mind.

A South African family has discovered an unwanted present lurking in their Christmas tree: a highly venomous snake. Talk about jingle yells…

*Buy using this link and The Squiz may earn a little commission.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to deliver MYEFO (the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook)

3.00pm (AEDT) – Cricket – 2nd Ashes Test – Australia v England – Adelaide

ABS Data Release – Labour Force, November

Company AGM – ANZ

Qantas to deliver a trading update

AIHW Release – Three reports on family, domestic and sexual violence

Independence Day in Kazakhstan

Bahrain’s National Day

Day of Reconciliation in South Africa

Victory Day – Bangladesh

Anniversary of:
• the Boston Tea Party that saw American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea, imported by the British East India Company into the harbour (1773)
• the birthdays of composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770) and author Jane Austen (1775)
• Shirley Temple announcing her retirement from films, aged 22yo (1950)
• Shannen Doherty (aka Brenda) being fired from TV series Beverly Hills 90210 (1993)

And it’s 9 days until Christmas…

Squiz the Day

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