Squiz Today / 22 September 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 22 September


“My grandmother is well and looks to be enjoying her life every day.”

Said the grandson of Kane Tanaka - the world’s oldest living person. And at 117 years and 261 days, she’s just set an all-time Japanese age record. Her secret - Coke and chocolate. Good on you, grandma...


It was set to be a major event - the 75th anniversary of the United Nations marked by leaders from around the world coming together in New York today for the start of the annual General Assembly. But the coronavirus put paid to that… Instead, world leaders, including PM Scott Morrison, will send a short pre-recorded address. Critics of the UN say few will notice if the meeting has a bye this year. But diplomatic movers and shakers say they can’t WFH, and that means some big issues - like climate change and conflicts between nations - are festering.

Interesting you mention that… Many officials said they can’t ply their trade when every word is recorded, and there are concerns about security and privacy with the video conferencing platforms. “Anyway, diplomacy is tactile and about relationships… With Zoom, there is no real interaction, but compromise needs interaction and diplomacy feeds off compromise,” said one ambassador. Others said it’s the “hints, nods and winks” on the side that are vitally important for making and maintaining connections, smoothing over disagreements, and progressing matters of mutual interest. Meanwhile, the UN says the world is “plagued by growing inequality, poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, terrorism, insecurity, climate change and pandemics.”

Indeed. And on that front, the world will soon tick over one million COVID-19 deaths. More than 31 million people globally have been infected, and 21.3 million have recovered. The US has just passed 200,000 deaths, and India is edging towards 100,000 new cases a day. The World Health Organisation says that countries need to do more to work together against the coronavirus. Its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is appealing to leaders at the General Assembly for US$35 billion to speed up the development of COVID-19 medications and vaccines. That effort is not backed by the US - previously the WHO’s biggest funder - after it pulled its involvement with the UN agency in July.



That kicks off this morning after 270 pilot whales became stranded off the remote west coast of Tasmania yesterday. They are in three groups with the main pod stranded on a sandbar off near Macquarie Heads, near Strahan. Reports say at least 25 of them have already died in what is believed to be one of Australia’s worst beaching events. State officials and police are involved in the rescue, and they are hoping to take advantage of this morning’s outward-going tide. The public has been asked to stay away for now. Long-finned pilot whales have been stranded in Tassie before. Experts say it happens when they become disorientated, caught in rough seas, or if they are fleeing a perceived threat. Doing better on the navigation front is the humpback whale that has just finished a 17-day trip through the crocodile-infested river in Kakadu National Park. Talk about an adventure tour…


Former school principal Malka Leifer has faced her 71st hearing in Israel - and it’s ruled that she can be extradited to Australia to face 74 charges of sexual abuse. But that’s not the final word. Her lawyers say the decision will be appealed and maintain that Leifer is mentally unfit to be extradited. If she loses that, and the country's Justice Minister signs the extradition order, they can appeal that too. It’s been a long six-year road for sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper who allege they were groomed and abused over several years while students at Melbourne's Adass Israel school. “This is a victory for justice! A victory not just for us, but for all survivors,” Meyer said.


Energy Minister Angus Taylor will unveil the Morrison Government's long-anticipated 'technology investment roadmap' at the National Press Club today. The key points are that it's focusing an $18 billion Commonwealth investment (aka taxpayer investment...) on 5 types of projects to deliver emissions reductions of 250 million tonnes annually by 2040. They are hydrogen, energy storage, ‘low carbon’ steel and aluminium, carbon capture and storage, and soil carbon projects. That's a different approach to the Turnbull Government's National Energy Guarantee that didn't pick 'technologies', but was a mechanism that would have let the market decide how to hit the government's agreed targets. And it's different from previous efforts, including Labor’s ‘carbon tax’. Taylor says the approach will “drive around 130,000 jobs". A lot more will be said on this today…


Did you hear something yesterday about a leak of sensitive financial documents but didn’t quite get a fix on it? In short, more than 2,500 files from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), including more than 2,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs), made their way into the hands of BuzzFeed. It handed them on to investigative journalists around the world, including at the ABC. Broadly, they show some of the world's biggest banks (think HSBC, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank etc) have noted about US$2 trillion moving around the financial system between 2000 and 2017, most likely by criminals. Some of those banks reported their concerns - but they’ve also taken their cut in fees from the transactions. Australia isn’t immune with the documents pointing to more than US$174 million of possibly dirty money flowing through Australian banks. Our officials say there has been a steep increase in suspicious transactions in the last couple of years, possibly involving terrorism, drugs, and other dodgy/dangerous links.


Remember this one from late May? A piece in London social mag Tatler claiming Princess Kate was feeling “exhausted and trapped” after the Sussexes quit royal life - along with comments about her mother (“a terrible snob”) and sister (“too regal and try-hard”) stirred up a hornet’s nest. Kate and William were said to be particularly angry about references to her weight being “perilously thin”. So notable was the article that the palace took the unusual step of denying the claims. And after taking legal steps, Kate’s had a win. Publisher Conde Nast has taken about a quarter of the article down. What’s left remains here.


That’s the term Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel used to describe the sweep of the comedy awards staged by Canadian comedy Schitt’s Creek at TV's night of nights. It won best series, the four acting gongs, and directing/writing nods - a record for most wins in a single season for a comedy. And they took time to remember a fan who was there at the beginning… Other notables: Succession and Watchmen did well in the drama awards, and Zendaya made Emmys history becoming the youngest woman at 24yo to win lead actress in a drama series for her turn in Euphoria. A full list of winners is here. And a backyard ‘red carpet’ is here. As for the virtual show: consensus is it was a bit weird, but it wouldn’t be 2020 if it was any other way…


12.30pm (AEST) - Energy Minister Angus Taylor addresses the National Press Club in Canberra

The UN General Assembly opens

World Rhino Day

Hobbit Day marking the birthdays of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins

Birthdays for musos Nick Cave (1957) and Joan Jett (1958), and Harry Potter actor Tom Felton (1987)

Anniversary of:
• the last executions of the Salem Witch Trials (1692)
• Robert Walpole becoming the first British PM to live at 10 Downing Street (1735)
• the birthdays for former PM Ben Chifley (1885)
• the debut of TV shows Charlie's Angels (1976), Baywatch (1989), Friends (1994), The West Wing (1999) and Lost (2004)

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