Squiz Today / 02 February 2021

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 2 February


"If you don't care about the gains, think about the banks like JP MORGAN you'd be destroying along the way."

Was one Reddit investor’s pitch to the upstart investing pack that’s moving on from games stores to the silver market. They’re putting their pedal to the metal…


Myanmar’s armed forces have carried out a coup d'etat. The military’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing has taken power and declared a state of emergency that will remain in place for a year. The nation’s democratically elected de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her ally President Win Myint, and other senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party were detained in raids early yesterday morning. Suu Kyi's party issued a statement on her behalf likening the military to a dictatorship. "I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup,” she said. 


Military intervention in Myanmar’s affairs of state isn’t new. After a coup in 1962, the country was run by the military for 50 years until the transition to democracy started in 2011. But even then, the military’s position in politics was enshrined in the constitution - it holds a quarter of the seats in parliament, and has the power to appoint key ministers. That’s made for a power struggle with the nation’s leading NLD party and its wildly popular leader Suu Kyi when they were elected in 2015 and again last year. And a note on why she’s referred to as a ‘de facto leader’: Myanmar’s constitution forbids her from becoming the president because her children are foreign nationals. After spending 15 years in detention, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s formal position is (or was…) State Counsellor of Myanmar. Once a darling of the human rights set, she fell out of favour in recent times for refusing to condemn the military’s 2017 crackdown against the Rohingya Muslims.


The military says it’s about voter fraud and a stolen election. Seriously… Analysts doubt the claims and say it’s about the military-backed party (the USDP) performing poorly in last November's election as Suu Kyi’s NLD gobbled up 70% of the votes. And why now? The parliament was due to restart yesterday when it would confirm the election result. As for the longer term, observers and international leaders worry about what it means for the future of the fledgling democracy. 



There were no new local COVID cases reported in the West yesterday as 2 million people completed day one of their 5-day hard lockdown. The hotel security guard whose infection sparked the decision was confirmed to have the highly infectious UK strain of the virus leading officials to back their approach. The testing of his 66 close contacts is underway as 13 high-risk contacts’ samples came back negative. All “encouraging” signs, but the next 5 days will be “critical”, officials said yesterday. What did make the day difficult for some Perth residents was an out-of-control bushfire burning in the northeastern suburb of Wooroloo. Residents were told to leave their homes if they weren’t safe. Meanwhile in Canberra, Perth resident/Attorney-General Christian Porter was granted an exemption to leave self-isolation to attend to business in Parliament and the High Court. Other WA pollies can also apply for an exemption because ACT officials consider politicians to be ‘essential workers’. Which might be the first time in history that’s happened… 


Questions about the effectiveness of Australia’s political donation rules have been raised following yesterday’s release of disclosures from the 2019-20 financial year. The Electoral Commission revealed that Clive Palmer's mining company Mineralogy takes first place - it shot $5.9 million in the direction of his own United Australia Party. Next was Pratt Holdings (think Visy packaging) which donated $1.3 million to the Liberals, and $250,000 to their National party cousins. And then the amounts fall away from there. The parties’ funding was down across the board, and when you look at their total income (including donations, memberships, and public funding), the Liberal Party received $57 million, Labor banked $55 million, and the Nationals and Greens raked in $12.4 million and $19.1 million respectively. Critics want more timely information published, along with reform of the rules, like a cap on the amount that can be given. 


Charges have been dropped against 15 journalists and editors yesterday after 12 media outlets pleaded guilty to contempt of court over the reporting of Cardinal George Pell’s since-overturned child abuse convictions in 2018. At the time, Pell’s convictions could not be reported because of a suppression order put in place to avoid prejudicing jurors in a second trial, which didn’t eventuate. The outlets - which were mostly News Corp and Nine Entertainment mastheads - were charged over their publication of cryptic articles saying they had been prohibited from reporting on a story of major public interest involving a high-profile Australian figure. As part of the plea deal, other contempt of court charges have been dismissed. The companies will front court again next week for a 2-day plea hearing. 


A damning independent report has detailed a culture of “systemic racism” at the Collingwood Football Club that led to complaints from Indigenous and African players being ignored - and worse, being punished for speaking up. After details in the report made it onto the front page of the Herald Sun yesterday (paywall), Magpies president/media personality Eddie McGuire fronted a press conference to say it was “a proud day” for the iconic footy club. Wait, what? They had “decided as a club that this fight against racism and discrimination of all types is where we want to be,” he said. The report’s authors gave Collingwood credit for undertaking the shirtfronting review. But McGuire (who once suggested Sydney legend Adam Goodes promote the ‘King Kong’ musical not long after he’d been called an ‘ape’ by Collingwood supporters) and club administrators have copped criticism for years for not acting on racism claims. That includes complaints from former Magpies defender Heritier Lumumba who is suing over alleged racist abuse from his own team mates. There are calls for McGuire’s resignation, but he says he’ll stick around until the end of the year when he’ll end 22 years in the non-game show related hot seat.


In a sign ‘o the times, ‘COVID-19’ has become Merriam-Webster’s fastest ever entry - it took 34 days from creation to adoption by the US dictionary. Releasing its stocktake of 520 new words, the other to catch our eye was ‘sapiosexual’ - romantic attraction to highly intelligent people.

Congrats to the kids of Malanda State School in Far North Queensland. They caused an internet stir with a meteorite project going viral. Who knew manufacturing fake news was in the curriculum?

Also rubbish - the Sunshine Coast’s new $20 million waste system. It’s super high tech - or at least will be when someone comes from South Korea to turn it on


12.00pm (AEDT) - Federal Parliament kicks off 2021

2.30pm (AEDT) - Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Decision (tip: interest rates will remain at 0.1%…)

Back to school for kids in the ACT and the Top End (remote schools)

Anniversary of:
• New Amsterdam (later known as New York) becoming incorporated as a city (1653)
• the Australian Premiers’ Conference deciding to locate Australia’s capital (Canberra) to the coldest place they could find between Sydney and Melbourne (1899). Ok, we might have added the ‘cold’ bit…

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