Squiz Today / 09 July 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 9 July


"At least there has been that side benefit of relationship improvement.”

Said Australian National University’s Professor Nicholas Biddle of a study looking at how the coronavirus lockdown affected relationships at home with more than 25% of those surveyed saying they’re in better shape. Shame it took a global health emergency to bring us closer together…


“China is engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary,” said America’s FBI Director Christopher Wray in an eye-catching speech yesterday. As evidence for the claim, Wray says investigations into China's spying are up 1,300% in the last decade with his agents opening a new case every 10 hours. That covers China’s efforts to spy on American companies - including those working on a coronavirus vaccine - and on the government. China has previously rejected allegations of spying and intimidation.

It’s just a small matter of world domination… One analyst said Wray's words indicate that "Washington now sees Beijing not only as an aggressive adversary but also an ambitious contender for global leadership." And America, as the incumbent powerhouse, has been ramping up its criticism of China and its motives of late. Critics of the Trump administration say that’s a smokescreen for the way it has dealt with the coronavirus crisis, and that it’s a great issue for President Donald Trump to campaign on with the election coming up in November. But others say China’s aggressive push into the world is a real concern for freedom lovers. Case in point: what’s happening in Hong Kong.

China yesterday opened its new national security office there, staffed with agents who have the power to investigate locals for a wide range of crimes as defined by the new law. And authorities now have the right to censor internet content and conduct searches without judicial approval, reports say. Which is a big departure from what was agreed when the territory was handed by the British to China in 1997. Meanwhile, China’s not that keen on Australia offering a safe haven for Hongkongers looking for an out…



• It was the third day in a row that Victoria recorded more than 100 new COVID-19 cases with 134 logged yesterday. It was the state's second-highest single-day total after Tuesday’s record of 191.

• Stay-at-home measures across Melbourne came into force overnight. And the NSW-Victoria border ban kicked off yesterday with long traffic queues. Reports say five people from Melbourne’s coronavirus hotspots who attempted to drive over the NSW-Victoria border were turned around, and one man was arrested.

• If you’re feeling the urge to dress in black and drink good coffee, that’s because PM Scott Morrison says “we’re all Melburnians now” when it comes to the coronavirus challenges we face. He’s considering limits on international arrivals. Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is said to be poised to announce new income support measures and the bringing forward of tax cuts as the government factors in the impact of the spike in cases in Victoria.

• In Sydney, there were concerns after a flight from Melbourne was allowed to disembark without the proper health checks. And a coronavirus-afflicted teen from Victoria was on holiday on the state’s South Coast after he got the wrong test result from Victorian authorities.

• And all this as the US yesterday broke its own unenviable coronavirus record, clocking more than 3 million confirmed cases since the pandemic took hold.


Top US General Frank McKenzie says intelligence reports alleging Russia may have paid the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan were “worrisome”, but he is “not convinced” the bounties led to the deaths of any of his soldiers. Head of US Central Command, McKenzie says the claims are still being investigated, but the US won't send more troops to the region to counter the alleged threat. Despite that, Russia is still considered a threat in Afghanistan with the US military accusing it of providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban.


Facebook has not done enough to fight hate speech and discrimination, and the company’s prioritisation of free speech was causing “significant setbacks for civil rights”, a two-year independent audit says. That follows a “disappointing” meeting between the organisers of a major advertising boycott of the social media platform with company executives yesterday. Called #StopHateForProfit, campaigners want CEO Mark Zuckerberg to stop the spread of racism and extremist views on the social media platform. “While we won’t be making every change they call for, we will put more of their proposals into practice soon,” COO Sheryl Sandberg said. Campaigners aren’t convinced… Reports say the boycott is costing Facebook millions in foregone advertising.


A group of 150 high-profile figures, including authors JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, have signed an open letter in support of free speech and tolerance of diverse views. While acknowledging the importance of the world’s “recent reckoning” of racial injustice, the letter, published in Harper’s, criticised the "vogue for public shaming and ostracism" and said that free speech "is daily becoming more constricted." It is “now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought,” the letter reads. Many of the letter’s signatories, who do not necessarily agree with each other on any specific issue, have come under fire on social media. That includes Rowling, who has recently been criticised for comments about transgender issues.


Aussie Olympic snowboarder Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin died while spearfishing off a Gold Coast beach yesterday morning. He was found on the seafloor, and it’s thought he may have suffered a medical episode while in the water, reports say. The 32yo was a three-time world championship winner who went to three Winter Olympics, including as an Aussie flag bearer, and was one of our most recognisable winter athletes. In more recent times, Pullin was doing a lot of public speaking and playing with his band Chumpy and the Sunsetaroonies. Pullin was “an incredible athlete, beloved teammate and role model”, tweeted the Australian Olympic Team.


The name of the daughter of the fastest man on earth could not be more apt… Olympia Lightning Bolt. She’d be quicker if she could get out from under all the ruffles


ABS Data Release - Lending Indicators, May

And it’s a birthday for Tom Hanks (1956)

Anniversary of:
• the first Wimbledon tennis championship (1877)
• the Commonwealth of Australia being established by the British House of Commons (1900)
• the engagement of Britain's Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (1947)
• the premiere of the original UK version of The Office (2001)

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