Squiz Today / 21 July 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 21 July


“It's not raining in London, Kent or Sussex, but our radar says otherwise…”

Tweeted the UK’s weather bureau. “The radar is actually picking up a swarm of flying ants across the southeast.” Ye gods what a time to be alive…


Another day, more concern about our coronavirus spike... In Victoria, 275 new cases were reported yesterday taking the state’s total number of active cases to 2,913. Of the 5,942 Victorians who have had COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, half have it right now. NSW yesterday recorded 20 new cases - all are connected to known outbreaks in the state.

Good question. All cases of the virus in recent weeks that have resulted from 'community transmission' may have stemmed from 'protocol breaches' of the hotel quarantine program in Victoria. That is, returned travellers have brought the virus from overseas to Melbourne and infected hotel and security workers (including during a special turndown service). They have then spread it to their families/friends/coworkers/random person at the pub. An inquiry into what has gone down started yesterday.

Dunno… But there’s some good news out of the UK on the vaccine being developed by Oxford University. A trial involving more than 1,000 people showed that it is safe, and led to the subjects developing an immune response. What they don’t know is how much protection it can offer over what period of time, and so more trials are underway involving more than 40,000 people internationally. “The key question everyone wants to know is does the vaccine work, does it offer protection... and we're in a waiting game," said Professor Andrew Pollard. The Oxford vaccine isn’t the first to get to this stage - those being developed in the US and China have also shown promising results.



Malka Leifer has faced an extradition hearing in Israel after six years of effort by three sisters to have the former school principal return to Melbourne to face 74 child abuse charges. During the hearing overnight, it was argued again that the process has negatively affected Leifer's mental state. And her lawyer said that while he was not arguing Leifer’s alleged "sexual interactions" were consensual, the prosecution had “failed to prove … a lack of consent”. The lawyer for the state said “Leifer saw in front of her three paralysed girls to whom she performed acts, sometimes when they were together in the same room. I do not know to what cynical level the term ‘consent’ can still be used.” A decision on Leifer extradition is expected on 21 September. Her team are appealing a court decision that she is mentally fit to be extradited.


Amber Heard has delivered a disturbing account of her marriage to fellow actor Johnny Depp in the libel case he’s brought against the publisher of the Sun newspaper over an article that referred to him as a "wife-beater". In the 10th day of the High Court case, Heard described the violence she says took place during their relationship, saying she was “afraid he was going to kill me, either intentionally, or just by losing control and going too far." That included during a drug and alcohol-fuelled “three-day hostage situation” on the Gold Coast in March 2015. "It is the worst thing I have ever been through," she said. Describing him as jealous and controlling, she said "He would blame all his actions on a self-created third party instead of himself, which he often called 'the monster'.” Heard has also been accused of being violent during the case. She said she would "try to defend myself when he got serious and when I thought my life was threatened, but I was never violent towards him". The case continues.


The UK is set to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong amid rising tensions with China. Under the current 30-year arrangement, Hong Kong authorities can ask the UK to hand over someone suspected of committing a crime, and vice versa. But Beijing's controversial new national security law that essentially ends Hong Kong’s autonomy has changed things. The end of the extradition arrangement is a significant development given it was the UK that handed control of the territory to China in 1997. In the last few weeks, the UK has offered a pathway to citizenship to three million Hongkongers, a move which angered Beijing. Tensions were further escalated with the UK’s decision to ban Chinese telco Huawei from its 5G mobile network. And there have been recent swipes over China’s persecution of its Muslim Uyghur population. (Want to get further into that? We have #SquizShortcuts on Hong KongHuawei and the Uyghurs...)


So consider yourself warned… Music/fashion entrepreneur Kanye West burst onto the scene yesterday with his take on a campaign rally. And after a week where pundits concluded his attempt to become President of the United States was over before it began, he took to a stage in Charleston, South Carolina to encourage voters to sign a petition that would get him on the ballot in the state. Many, however, have expressed concern about his mental health. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump called Joe Biden, the Democrats' pick for the November election, “mentally shot”. And like he did last time, he refused to say if he would accept the election result, claiming his opponents are trying to rig the poll via mail-in voting. “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose,” he said.


Kiwi scientists have invented a new warning system that can predict when volcanic eruptions are about to occur. New Zealand’s current system collects data, but it isn’t used for predicting events. And University of Auckland academics say that data they have “shows patterns of seismic activity before an eruption that make advance warning possible". Test runs on New Zealand's past eruptions via a "machine learning algorithm" did the job. While they said their system isn't failsafe and couldn't predict smaller events, it would have given 16 hours notice for last year’s White Island eruption which killed 21 people and injured 26, including many Aussies.


Poor Mark Zuckerberg… Sunscreen might protect you from the sun. But the glare of the internet is harsh, even for its overlord and master of us all…


Start of Term 3 for NT students

PM Scott Morrison to unveil changes to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments

Belgium's National Day

Anniversary of:
• the creation of Central Park in New York (1853)
• Sirimavo Bandaranaike becoming the world's first non-hereditary female head of government in modern history, as Prime Minister of Ceylon aka Sri Lanka (1960)
• the release of Guns N' Roses' debut album Appetite for Destruction, which became the best-selling debut album of all time with more than 30 million copies sold (1987)
• the birthdays of Ernest Hemingway (1899) and Robin Williams (1951)

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