Squiz Today / 08 October 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 8 October


“The playing of the music was said to be a joke."

Said investigators of the “cruel” tactic employed by Oklahoma's prison guards - making inmates listen to Baby Shark on repeat for hours. The guards have been charged, so you might want to warn any young fans of the song that actions do-do-do-do-do-do have consequences…


Missing this week’s Budget sitting of the Federal Parliament has been Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne. In Tokyo for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (aka the Quad) with her counterparts from Japan, the US and India, deteriorating relationships with China set the tone. And specifically, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants more cooperation between our nations to counter China’s “exploitation, corruption, and coercion”. For Australia’s part, Payne was not so gung-ho…

Well, the theory is to not unnecessarily poke the bear. Sure, when it comes to issues between Australia and China - we’ve got 'em. But we’re not on our Pat Malone there… The US-China trade war pre-dates the outbreak of COVID-19 - which US President Donald Trump continues to call the China virus. Under his presidency, America has been up for pushing back. But Japan has taken a careful approach with its neighbour despite territorial incursions at sea by Chinese ships this year. And while India is more interested in forums like the Quad than ever before because of growing tensions with China along the Himalayan border, it’s not waving a red rag. As for Oz, Payne didn’t mention China by name, but said that Australia believes in “a region governed by rules, not power." However, China - which last week said meetings like this were "exclusive cliques" - is unlikely to buy that the get-together is a forum that doesn’t target any particular country.

You’re smart. You don’t need us to tell you what to think. What we can tell you is that a new poll says Aussies are in sync with citizens from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain and Canada in their falling regard for China and its President Xi Jinping. The US-based Pew Research Centre study surveyed more than 14,000 people and found concerns about China’s handling of the coronavirus plus worries about foreign interference have resulted in the evaporation of trust. And Australians recorded the sharpest fall in favourable sentiment. Note: a similar/recent Pew study into attitudes towards the US and President Trump saw similar falls in good vibes.



After recording 12 days of no locally-acquired cases of the coronavirus in NSW, 3 were confirmed yesterday. Worse, they are ‘mystery’ cases with no known point of transmission. What’s the big deal? It could restart the 28-day clock Queensland Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk has put as a condition for the border to be reopened to residents across the state. There might be some wriggle room with Queensland officials giving NSW contact tracers 48 hours to find the source of the infection. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday repeated her criticism of the approach saying "We're always going to have cases pop up because we're in a pandemic", but the key is containment before it turns into something nasty. Looking to Victoria, it had a better day with 6 new cases bringing its 14-day rolling average to less than 10. It’s striving to get it to under 5 by 19 October for the next stage of restrictions to be lifted.


You might remember the tragic death of Sean McKinnon in August last year. He was a 33yo Aussie surfer on a campervan adventure catching waves in New Zealand with his Canadian partner. He was fatally shot while sleeping in the van in a roadside car park near Raglan on NZ’s North Island. His partner Bianca Buckley managed to escape and run 6km to a farmhouse to raise the alarm. Meanwhile, the accused killer Mark Garson stole the van and later abandoned it 80km away with McKinnon’s body inside. Yesterday, Garson pleaded guilty to killing the Australian after some months of legal wrangling about his mental fitness. That means he won’t go to trial next month, and will instead be sentenced on 9 December for murder and attempted murder. "No punishment he ever receives will balance out his wrongdoing,” Buckley said yesterday. “I'm just glad he has finally stopped wasting everyone's time by pleading guilty."


US Vice President Mike Pence yesterday abandoned his objections to the use of a Plexiglass barrier in today’s debate with Democratic challenger Kamala Harris. The precaution has been taken as more members of President Trump’s inner circle are confirmed to have contracted COVID yesterday, including senior adviser Stephen Miller and several senior military officials. The role of Veep is receiving a lot of attention given 74yo Trump’s health status and the fact his Democratic challenger Joe Biden is 77yo. The election of either candidate will see history made in the age stakes. And the future of the two remaining presidential debates is still up in the air given Trump's case of coronavirus, and pundits say today's outing could be the last hit debate junkies get in this campaign. The action kicks off at noon (AEDT) and will be beamed to a telly near you from Salt Lake City, Utah. #SquizShortcut


Australia's southeastern states are bracing for strong winds, heavy rain and flash flooding over the next couple of days as a low-pressure system intensified over central Oz yesterday. And with that, it's hello, La Nina... Flooding and wind warnings have been issued for parts of Victoria, NSW, Tassie, South Oz and the ACT, with the weather bureau predicting the weather system will move south over Victoria today, dumping up to 120 millimetres of the wet stuff as it goes. Melbourne is forecast to receive up to 20 millimetres of rain, which could see the city exceed its average annual rainfall this month. And if all that weren’t enough, get ready for more mozzies...


It doesn’t come more 70s-90s American rock than what was produced by legendary band Van Halen. And at the core of it was electric guitar god Eddie Van Halen. Sure, he was a pin-up for the genre’s sex/drugs/rock-n-roll lifestyle. But it was his undeniable skills with an axe that shapes his legacy following his death at 65yo from throat cancer on Tuesday. Eddie led the band through five decades, three lead singers (but not Barnsey…) and hits like JumpPanama and Why Can’t This Be Love. And he moonlighted without credit for epic guitar solos on other artists’ work, including Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Remarkably, despite his mastery of the electric guitar (and his development of a technique called tapping), he never learned to read music. But he was a stickler for safety, as exercised through the band’s ‘brown M&Ms’ rider. Eddie once said “I just want my guitar playing to make people feel something: happy, sad, even horny.” Tributes paid yesterday said he’d achieved that.


Ask a young person to show you what hand gesture suggests a telephone call, and you might get a surprising answer. And don’t even try the signal for getting the cheque at a restaurant…

Another sign of the times - the masked face emoji is getting a cheery makeover.

And we’re not sure what this is a sign of… But just be careful with smart ‘what you do in the privacy of your own home is entirely up to you’ toys. ‘Nuff said, really...


From 10.00am (AEDT) - Crown investor James Packer’s appearance before the NSW casino inquiry continues

12.00pm (AEDT) - Vice Presidential Debate - Salt Lake City, Utah

7.30pm (AEDT) - Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese to deliver the Budget ‘In-Reply’ address - Canberra

10.00pm (AEDT) - Nobel Prize for Literature announced

ABS Data Release - Building Approvals, August

World Sight Day

World Octopus Day

Birthdays for Paul Hogan (1939), Matt Damon (1970) and Bruno Mars (1980)

Anniversary of:
• the deadliest ever wildfire that claimed more than 1,200 lives in Peshtigo, Wisconsin (1871)
• the Second Opium War begins pitting the British and French Empires against the Qing dynasty of China (1856)
• the patenting of the microwave oven (1945)
• the release of John Lennon's mega-hit "Imagine" (1971)

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