Squiz Today / 15 September 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 15 September


“I think its usefulness has run its course.”

Said city commissioner Joseph Kelley from Opa-locka, Florida of the decision to lift the years-long ban on its citizens - from wearing ‘saggy pants’. It’s an act of mercy given the corona-kilos…


US President Donald Trump had vowed to shut TikTok down by the end of this week unless its American operations were sold to American interests. He's concerned the popular platform (it has more than 90 million monthly users in the US) will put users’ data into the hands of China's government. And overnight, Oracle confirmed it would becoming a "trusted technology partner" to the video-sharing app. That pushes out Microsoft, which was in the running to acquire TikTok’s American, Canadian, Aussie and Kiwi operations. But the social media juggernaut isn’t selling to Oracle either… Instead, it's looking to settle its problems with a different proposal...

TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance hasn’t confirmed the details. But it’s thought that it wants to retain ownership, but it would outsource the cloud management of its data to Oracle - an American company headed by a strong Trump supporter. And it’s thought that its headquarters will be moved outside of China to alleviate Trump’s concerns that truckloads of data could be handed over to the Chinese Government if requested - as per the laws of the land. “It’s well short of a US company taking over the asset and the algorithm, and politically, it would be a massive climb-down from what the President said he was going to accomplish with this,” said one commentator. But supporters of the deal say it would achieve what Trump wanted. All of which means it’s been a busy few weeks for TikTok’s acting global CEO Vanessa Pappas - a 41yo Aussie who took on the big gig last month.

From US TikTok users? China says no, and that’s backed up by TikTok. But those assurances don’t go far when a mysterious database of 2.4 million individual profiles surfaces… A Canberra firm has restored 250,000 entries and found more than 35,000 are of Australians, including politicians, senior business people - and pop star Natalie Imbruglia. Put together by China’s Zhenhua Data whose main clients are the country’s Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army, a lot of the information held in the database is accessible on the internet. But some profiles include bank records, job applications and psychological profiles, and that's sent a shiver down the spine of cybersecurity experts. How it was put together and why - these are questions that haven't been answered.



• The World Health Organisation reported the one-day increase record was broken on Sunday with 307,930 new cases in 24 hours. India led the way with 94,372 new infections. Globally, we’ve just passed the 29 million infections mark.

• Victorian officials praised locals for their corona-crushing efforts after 35 new cases were reported yesterday. Melbourne's 14-day daily COVID-19 case average is expected to drop below 50 this week - a key number in the state’s plan to lift restrictions. And there might be good news for regional Victoria today

• Possibly in response to a message in the sky, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk defended the decision to keep the state's border closed to residents of ‘hotspots’. "If it means losing the election, I will risk all that if it means keeping Queenslanders safe," she said. Queenslanders get their say on 31 October.


The nation’s governing party has overwhelmingly backed Yoshihide Suga to replace outgoing PM Shinzo Abe, who last month said he was on the way out due to poor health. The 71yo Suga is Japan's longest-serving Chief Cabinet Secretary. In recent years, he’s made a name for himself as Abe's "right-hand man", and he is expected to implement his policies until Japan's general election in September next year. But he's not expected to be the Liberal Democratic Party candidate at that election - it's been speculated that he will be replaced by... ahem... a more charismatic leader. But Suga has a lot to crack on with before then - thanks to COVID-19 and a preceding period of the fiscal blahs, Japan’s economy is mashed. The parliament is expected to make his appointment official tomorrow.


Facing calls to “free the flag”, the non-Indigenous Aussie company that owns the exclusive licensing rights to the Aboriginal flag appeared before a parliamentary inquiry yesterday. To recap: WAM Clothing was granted exclusive use of the flag on clothing, physical and digital media by its designer and copyright holder, Indigenous artist Harold Thomas. But it has come under criticism for sending cease-and-desist letters to those who use the flag without paying royalties, including to the AFL, NRL, and Indigenous organisations. Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt has started talks to buy the rights to the flag or to split the copyright with Thomas. One expert yesterday said that “smart people with good intentions should be able to mediate a fair outcome” so that Indigenous people could use the flag with no confusion about its status.


Settle down… There’s no footage of Venusians zipping around on hoverboards - yet. What astronomers from Cardiff University in the UK are looking at is a gas in the atmosphere they can't explain. And it’s not just any gas - it’s phosphine, a substance associated with life. Here on Earth, it’s found in microbes in swamps, and in the guts of animals like penguins. It can be made industrially, but scientists are yet to find a factory on Venus - if they did, it would probably be a stronger indication of life than the phosphine... The gas has been detected 50-60km above the planet’s surface using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. And like a parent looking to enter a teenage boy’s bedroom, the next step would be to send a probe into the gassy clouds to find out more.


The US Open has wrapped up with Austria's Dominic Thiem becoming the first new men’s Grand Slam champion in six years yesterday. And the world #3 did it the hard way… Losing the first 2 sets, Thiem eventually beat Germany’s Alexander Zverev after an unprecedented fifth-set tiebreaker making it just the fifth Grand Slam final in the Open Era (aka since 1968) to be won by a player who was two sets down. Thiem also became the first champion to be born in the 1990s. And in the wheelchair quad singles final, Aussie legend Dylan Alcott missed out on claiming his third US Open title after losing to the Netherlands’ Sam Schroder. All in all, it sure was a strange tournament


Thought that the throwback to vinyl records was a quirky, niche thing? Think again. In the US, sales of vinyl overtook CDs for the first time since 1986… Also nostalgic was the choice in tunes - the top-selling LP last year was the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Next up, bell-bottom jeans…


PM Scott Morrison expected to unveil a "gas-led recovery" plan - Newcastle

ABS Data Release - Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities, June

Independence Days for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua

UN International Day of Democracy

World Lymphoma Awareness Day

Prince Harry’s 36th birthday (1984)

Anniversary of:
• the birthdays of Marco Polo (1254) and Agatha Christie (1890)
• Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin (1928)
• google.com being registered as a domain name (1997)
• the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games (2000)

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