Squiz Today / 11 August 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 11 August


“I have found life away from the front line more relaxed, quieter, and easier.”

Wrote key UK diplomat Palmerston, the Foreign Office's resident cat. Like many, he's recently taken stock, and a move to the country is on the cards. Also retiring is his rivalry with arch-enemy Larry from 10 Downing St…


PM Scott Morrison has written to US President Donald Trump and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a bid to stop the release of an Afghan soldier who was convicted of murdering three unarmed Australian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012. The ex-soldier, known as Hekmatullah, will likely be one of 5,000 prisoners - including 400 “hardcore” Taliban fighters - to be released under a deal brokered by the US Government with the Afghan Government and the Taliban as part of ongoing peace negotiations.

Hekmatullah was a sergeant in the Afghan National Army when he murdered Lance Corporal Stjepan ‘Rick’ MilosevicSapper James Martin, and Private Robert Poate, and injured two other Australians. The men were playing cards inside their Tarin Kowt base in Uruzgan province. Hekmatullah fled, but the ‘green-on-blue’ killings led to a massive manhunt, and he was captured in Quetta, Pakistan in 2013. He confessed to the killings - and said he would do it all again. He was convicted by the Afghan Supreme Court and handed a death sentence, but has avoided execution for more than six years.

PM Morrison said Australia’s position is that the ex-soldier “should never be released”, and that the government was making “very regular and persistent” representations on the matter. However, US officials are looking at what they see as the bigger picture - peace in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the release of prisoners was “unpopular”, but it would help broker "a peace agreement and an end to the war" in Afghanistan. But the families of the murdered Australian soldiers say news of his release is devastating. “Hekmatullah should have been executed - as was his sentence from the highest court of­ ­Afghanistan - not released,” they said in a joint statement.



• Victoria reported another record day for fatalities from COVID-19. Nineteen people aged from 50-90yo were reported to have died - 14 people were in aged care homes. The state reported 322 new cases yesterday - its lowest daily number since late July.

• A new cluster of cases has developed in northwestern Sydney without a known source. Health officials are particularly concerned about 11 cases from a girls’ school in Cherrybrook.

• The aged care sector’s handling of the coronavirus crisis is back in focus with the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety using its hearings to examine whether more could have been done to keep residents safe. ‘Yes’ appears to be the short answer

• PM Scott Morrison yesterday said that a socially distanced Christmas is a concept we might need to get used to… He’d “welcome” the circumstances that could see restrictions lifted by the end of the year, but “I think it’s unlikely that we were able to move back to a restriction-free society” in that timeframe, Morrison said. The glass-half-full view: it's a legit excuse not to hug stinky Uncle Barry on 25 December...

• And to play celebrity-watch, actor Antonio Banderas has COVID-19 - an announcement he’s made on his 60th birthday.


As the death toll from last week’s explosion in Beirut climbed yesterday to 220 with 110 people still missing, the nation’s government has resigned. Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who has been in the job since January, made the announcement overnight via a televised address. And he's laid blame at the feet of the “long-ruling class whose corruption has asphyxiated the country." That dysfunction saw last week’s tragedy unfold, Diab said, as he vowed to "fight the battle for change". Not that this is the end of it - commentators say it was last year's angry protests over the same accusations of corruption and mismanagement that led to the formation of Diab’s government. Lebanon has several leaders and parties with sway over the country's religious groups - a system critics say has kept the same people in power indefinitely.


The billionaire owner of tabloid newspaper Apple Daily (and founder of mall favourite Giordano clothing) Jimmy Lai is the most prominent Hongkonger to fall foul of the territory’s new security law. Known for his strong pro-democracy views, Lai was arrested on the charge of colluding with foreign forces. Lai has been "instigating hatred, spreading rumours and smearing Hong Kong authorities and the mainland for years", China’s state media said. The 71yo faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted. It comes as members of the Five Eyes alliance, including Oz, condemned the city’s postponement of its elections. Over the weekend, the US imposed sanctions on Hong Kong officials, including the city's pro-China leader Carrie Lam - a move that was mirrored overnight by China.


After a long fight by family, friends and the veteran community, Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean will posthumously receive Australia’s highest military honour. Repeated efforts to have the 18yo Tasmanian’s deeds recognised had been rejected. But PM Morrison asked an expert panel headed by former Defence Minister and Australian War Memorial head Dr Brendan Nelson to review the case in June. And yesterday it was a thumbs up. Sheean is credited with helping launch life rafts from the HMAS Armidale while under attack by Japanese forces off the coast of modern-day Timor-Leste in 1942. He then returned to his position to fire at enemy aircraft as the ship went down. He was never seen again. His will be the first VC to be awarded to a member of the Royal Australian Navy.


Look, he didn’t win. But former golf world #1 Jason Day did Australia proud in the US PGA Championship that wrapped up yesterday morning in San Francisco with the 32yo finishing equal 4th. American Collin Morikawa took out a stunning maiden major title victory with the ‘shot of the decade’. Well, it is 2020 so let’s just settle down... But Day is climbing his way back after major back problems and a winless 2019 - with the help of some balloons


Budgie smugglers. Sluggos. And for the sake of propriety (with your best Kiwi accent...), deck steckers. Whatever you want to call a men’s Speedo, they’re so hot right now. Which seems cruel after this year’s pandemic of comfort eating…


ABS Data Release - Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia

Company Earnings Announcements - Challenger; SCA Shopping Centres; James Hardie Industries

Birthdays for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (1950), Hulk Hogan (1953), podcaster Joe Rogan (1967), and actor Chris Hemsworth (1983)

Anniversary of:
• the birthday of author Enid Blyton (1897)
• the premiere of The Wizard of Oz (1939)
• the formation of al-Qaeda (1988)
• the founding of Airbnb (2008)
• the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams (2014)

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