Squiz Today / 20 December 2022

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 20 December

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Squiz Today Podcast

Let’s get this party started.

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Creative brigades.”

Is how the Kremlin describes the musicians, opera singers and circus performers being sent to cheer up exhausted Russian forces on the frontline in Ukraine. Those artists will have a lot to juggle…

Mending fences with China


Australia’s relationship with China continues to thaw, with Foreign Minister Penny Wong travelling there today for the first trip by an Aussie Minister since China banned high-level visits from Oz back in 2019. Tomorrow, Wong will mark the 50th anniversary of the China-Australia relationship that former PM Gough Whitlam kick-started in 1972. Last week, PM Anthony Albanese noted there would be “further measures and activities which indicate an improved relationship” in the coming weeks after a “recent constructive meeting” with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Bali summit in November.


A couple of things… The first is working on ending China’s tariffs and bans on $20 billion worth of Aussie exports, including wine, barley and meat, which ramped up after Australia called for an international inquiry into the origins of the COVID pandemic. And the 2nd is urging the release of 2 detained Aussies – journalist Cheng Lei and writer Yang Hengjun. Cheng has been in jail since August 2020, and Yang was detained in January 2019 – both have been accused of spying. And there are other tensions… In November 2020, the Chinese embassy listed 14 grievances against Oz, including the ban on telco giant Huawei’s participation in the 5G rollout, foreign investment rules, and criticism of China’s actions in Hong Kong and Taiwan. So yeah, there are a few pots on the boil… But Wong is confident, saying she’ll “encourage China to engage with us in a way that navigates the differences between our interests wisely”.


Not officially… Since lifting some restrictions earlier this month, China has seen a surge in infections, mainly because fewer than half of those aged 80yo or over have been triple-vaxxed. The country is said to be in the first of 3 COVID waves expected between now and March 2023, putting more pressure on the nation’s already struggling hospitals. For its part, the Chinese Government insists COVID is entering its “last stage” and will soon become a manageable seasonal illness. But others think there will be a high number of deaths before then… The US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation reckons cases there will peak in April, and more than a million people could die from COVID in 2023 from its 1.4 billion population. As of yesterday, China’s official COVID death toll stood at 5,235 people, despite reports that funeral and cremation services are struggling to keep up with calls.


Squiz the Rest

Tweet now or forever hold your peace

Elon Musk has put his leadership of Twitter to a vote… on Twitter. The billionaire asked the question yesterday: “Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.” It finished with more than 17.5 million votes, 57.5% voting ‘yes’ to him stepping down and 42.5% voting ‘no’. His subsequent tweet saying people should “be careful what you wish, as you might get it” might have been a premonition of sorts… It’s all happening as Musk faces growing criticism for unpopular policy changes to the site after his October takeover. The latest in a long line of gripes is preventing Twitter users from linking to rival social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, and suspending several journalists’ accounts. Musk’s also copping flak for Tesla’s underperformance… Its share price is down more than 60% this year, with analysts calling the “activity” surrounding Musk “overwhelming”.

Business & Finance Technology

Escaping Peru’s political protests

About 300 tourists, including many Aussies, are trying to find a way home after getting caught up in Peru’s violent political crisis. They are stuck in the ancient city of Machu Picchu after train and air services were suspended during nationwide protests. This piece breaks it all down, but we’ll give you the long story short… Peru’s former president Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested on 7 December after illegally trying to dissolve the Congress. Former vice president Dina Boluarte replaced him as president, but Castillo’s supporters and others unhappy with what’s gone down have since taken to the streets… Reports say at least 20 people have died, and 6 others have been killed “in incidents related to road blockades”. Authorities have declared a 30-day state of emergency as those in charge try to end the protests. The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed 171 Australians have contacted the embassy in Lima seeking assistance, and so far, it’s “not aware of any Australians detained or injured”.

Australian News World News

A-League fans handed assault charges

Three of the 8 Melbourne Victory fans wanted by Victoria Police over the violent pitch invasion during Saturday’s A-League Melbourne Derby match have been charged with various offences ranging from assault, ​​criminal damage and public nuisance. They handed themselves in yesterday afternoon after police released their photos. As for the others involved, Acting Superintendent Jason Goddard said he has “no doubt we’ll be knocking on a few doors soon”. In response to what happened on Saturday night, Football Australia has issued a ‘show cause’ notice to Melbourne Victory – the club has until 9am tomorrow to explain why it shouldn’t face serious sanctions, including financial penalties and loss of competition points. And while we’re talking soccer, there were happier scenes for Argentina (and very sad moments for France…) following its World Cup victory yesterday morning. Winners are grinners…

Australian News Crime Sport

David Jones sold back to Aussie firm

The department store has been sold to private equity company Anchorage for what reports say is about $100 million. That’s a lot less than what the 184yo retailer was bought for by South Africa’s Woolworths Holdings (aka not the group with the supermarkets here) – it paid $2.1 billion back in 2014. And it hasn’t been an easy road since then – Woolworths wrote down more than $1 billion from the value of the business in 2018 and 2019. Despite that, David Jones boss Scott Fyfe says it’s in a good place to turn things around, but he wouldn’t say if any of the company’s 7,500 staff will be affected by the sale. Anchorage – which has bought other retailers like the ill-fated Dick Smith – says DJs is “profitable, cash-generative, and self-funding, and we are confident in David Jones’ next chapter as the retailer of the future with a seamless omnichannel experience”. That’s fancy retail talk for doing brick-and-mortar stores and online retailing.

Australian News Business & Finance

Sunshine for Christmas

…at least, that’s what the weather bureau predicts most of the country will receive this weekend. In its official Chrissy Day forecast, the BOM says Darwin will probably be the hottest capital city with a top of 33C, while Hobart will be the coolest with a top of 21C. Elsewhere, the mercury in Sydney, Melbourne, Brissie, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth is predicted to peak between a summery 27-31C. Meteorologist Dean Narramore says most of the country should get a break from the unseasonably cold/wet weather, but hot, humid and stormy conditions are forecast in Queensland and the Top End. “It’s the perfect weather for beach cricket, a barbecue or a swim in a backyard pool,” he said in what’s likely to be music to many weather-weary ears. With the conditions locked in, those looking for another form of holiday entertainment might like to try something a bit different: Christmas beetle spotting

Australian News Weather

Apropos of Nothing

Following a recall of spinach products contaminated with a dangerous weed, the chief scientist at Sydney’s Botanic Gardens has warned people not to go hunting for it in the hope of getting cheap high… Dr Brett Summerell says, “yes, there might be a hallucinogenic side… but there’s a whole lot of really horrible health issues”. You’ve been warned…

Scientists in Queensland have created a floating seaweed “sausage” farm, which could be Oz’s next big aquaculture industry. They’ve already produced enough of the watery veg for 10,000 sushi rolls… Yum?

And pop princess Kylie Minogue is known for her catchy party anthems, but now she’s fuelling the fun with her own liquor line… Her range has sold over 7 million bottles in 31 countries, which means more than a few consumers have been Spinning Around

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.00am (AEDT) – State memorial service for former State Governor of Victoria John Landy – Melbourne

Victoria’s Parliament opens for the first time since November’s state election

ABS Data Release – Annual weight update of the CPI and Living Cost Indexes, December

International Human Solidarity Day

Anniversary of:
• the publication of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1812)
• the premiere of Christmas classic flick It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
• Paul Keating becoming PM after defeating Bob Hawke for the leadership of the Labor party (1991)
• Queen Elizabeth II becoming the oldest-ever British monarch when she surpassed Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days (2007)

And it’s 5 days until Christmas…

Squiz the Day

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