Squiz Today / 18 August 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 18 August


“Hi internet, ASIO here.”

Tweeted our national security agency with its opening gambit, adding it would be fun "if you followed us for a change." Which is as natural as that shadowy neighbour who's avoided eye contact for years suddenly coming on all hyper-personality


State government failures have led to the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the community. That’s what the investigation into the Ruby Princess cruise ship fiasco in NSW found, resulting in an apology by Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday. And as that inquiry wrapped up, a look into another catastrophic failure kicked off - this time into breaches of the hotel quarantine system in Victoria.

To recap: the cruise ship with 2,647 passengers on board docked in Sydney's Circular Quay on 19 March after it was deemed by NSW Health officials to be 'low risk' despite several patients reporting flu-like symptoms. They all disembarked, and in the weeks that followed, 20 passengers died after contracting COVID-19 onboard, and 700 cases were traceable to the ship. On Friday, a report into the debacle said the state government’s mistakes were "serious", "inexcusable" and "inexplicable". Yesterday, Premier Berejiklian said "I want to apologise unreservedly to anybody who is continuing to suffer, or has suffered unimaginable loss because of mistakes that were made within our health agencies." And “since that time we have learnt a lot," she said, but no one is facing disciplinary action over the failures. NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay acknowledged Berejiklian's apology saying "it's obviously something that has weighed very heavily on her.”

Yep - pertinent when the state's daily death toll hit a new high of 25 people yesterday, and there were warnings that more people will die in coming days. The inquiry led by former judge and coroner Jennifer Coate was set up by Premier Daniel Andrews when it was clear to the government that returned travellers had infected hotel and security workers who went on to spread the virus in the community. More than 99% of Victoria’s cases at the end of July could be traced back to the quarantine breaches, an expert said yesterday. And remember, there are currently nearly 8,000 active cases of coronavirus in Victoria… Yesterday, the inquiry kicked up a gear hearing it wasn’t clear who was in charge of the program, and that the guards didn't know how to use the personal protection equipment. Evidence from guards who worked in the hotels is due to be heard later this week.



Senior Democrats have called on the board of the US Postal Service to kybosh any recent changes that reduce services. New boss Louis DeJoy - an ally of US President Donald Trump - is implementing cost-cutting measures that have caused mail delivery and processing slowdowns. That’s an issue because it’s anticipated that half of the votes in America’s November election will be lodged by mail - an expansion Trump opposes. Democrats are demanding action and have called on board members to step up and protect the “public interest”. The Democrats’ most senior pollie in Congress Nancy Pelosi has also called on the House to return to work early to vote on legislation that would prohibit any changes to national mail operations.


More than 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Bangkok in the country’s largest anti-government demonstration since a military coup in 2014. Nearly daily protests have been led by students over the past month peaking on Sunday. Accusations of corruption and economic troubles (which got worse yesterday with its biggest contraction in 22 years) have led to calls for reforms including the dissolution of the military-backed government, and a reduction to the monarchy’s powers. While criticism of the monarchy is usually punishable by up to 15 years in jail, unconventional King Maha Vajiralongkorn has temporarily suspended the lese majeste law. Which is a fancy way of describing offences against the dignity of the reigning sovereign…

And while we have you, protests in Belarus have turned into strikes. President Alexander Lukashenko was heckled by workers on a visit to a factory overnight as anger continues to grow over his disputed re-election earlier this month.


Just when you thought you had a fix on sustainable choices, a new British study suggests dairy milk is better for the planet than soy milk. And get this - it's because it's more efficient to produce milk from grass-fed British cows whose diet is supplemented with soybean meal than it is to produce soy milk. About 85 litres of milk is produced for every kilo of soybean meal fed to cows. By comparison, a kilo of soybeans makes just 7.5 litres of soy milk. Other scientific studies show cow’s milk is responsible for higher CO2 emissions than any other milk alternative, but soy is linked to rapid land clearing in some fragile areas like the Amazon. Vegans will be glad to know that locally sourced oat milk is still considered the greenest option. Maybe we’ll just have a cup of black tea…


After becoming the first NRL player to ever be sent off the field for biting on Sunday, Gold Coast Titans captain Kevin Proctor is set to plead not guilty in front of the league’s judiciary tonight. During a match against the Cronulla Sharks, the ref and thousands of fans that saw the footage claimed Proctor gave Cronulla’s Shaun Johnson a “definite bite”. Proctor says it wasn't a bite - he was struggling to breathe when the halfback’s arm was across his mouth. And Johnson - a mate - backed him up after a tearful embrace after the match. If found guilty, Proctor faces a possible career-ending ban with his contract up at the end of the year.


It’s so obvious now that the producers of The Crown have confirmed that Aussie actress Elizabeth Debicki will play a 1990s People’s Princess in series 5 and 6 of the Netflix series. Emma Corin will take Lady Diana Spencer through series 4, and then it’s over to Debicki for the exciting/tragic bits - from confronting Camilla about her relationship with Charles to (let’s remember her in good times…) finding her own way post-marriage. Debicki, who nailed it with Hugh Lawrie and Tom Hiddleston in the TV adaptation of John le Carré’s The Night Manager, said "It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series”. [Rubs hands together in anticipation…]


*Breakfast avoidance alert* We’ll spare you the details, but check this out for a lead... “A missing piece of Lego has dropped out of a child’s nose two years after he pushed it up.” Did we mention there are cupcakes and fungus involved? Kids: so gross…


Vietnam Veterans Day – commemorated on the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan (1966)

From 10.00am (AEST) - Australian Border Force and Australian Defence Force officials to appear before the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 - Canberra

From 10.00am (AEST) - Victoria’s COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry to hear evidence from Dr Charles Alpren, Epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria

From 10.00am (AEST) - US Democratic National Convention fires up with speeches from former candidate Bernie Sanders and former First Lady Michelle Obama

ABS Data Release - Jobs in Australia, 2011-12 to 2016-17

Company Earnings Results - BHP; Coles; Cochlear

Birthdays for Robert Redford (1936), Edward Norton (1969), Andy Samberg (1978) and Liz Cambage (1991)

Anniversary of the death of Genghis Khan (1227)

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