Squiz Today / 24 November 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 24 November


“BRISBANE: Famously the most Spanish city you’ve ever seen in your life.”

Tweeted one eagle-eyed viewer of the latest season of The Crown. The Spanish city of Malaga posed as Brissie. And Sydney. And Canberra. Not recreated: Diana and Charles’ ride on the Macadamia Nut Train during their visit to the Big Pineapple in Nambour…


Tigrayan forces in the north of Ethiopia have been given 72 hours to surrender peacefully to the national government before the regional capital of Mekelle, home to 500,000 people, will face artillery fire. The warning came from Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed who said after that, the conflict will be at “a point of no return.” The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has vowed to keep on fighting. Humanitarian agencies say at least 33,000 refugees have arrived in Sudan to flee the fighting and that hundreds (and possibly thousands) of civilians have already died in the violence. And as Africa’s second-most populous nation, they worry that number will increase significantly in the coming months.

This started after PM Abiy disbanded the nation’s ruling coalition in 2018. It had been made up of ethnically-based regional parties - including the powerful faction from Tigray - and they were merged into a single, national party. Things have never been great, but tensions were raised when Tigray held its own ‘illegal’ election earlier this year. Abiy - who says he wants to unify the country and minimise the autonomy of regional governments - ordered his troops to start a military offensive against the TPLF claiming it had attacked a military base early this month. And over the last 3 weeks, despite international calls for calm and rebuffed offers of assistance to broker peace, experts warn a nasty civil war - and even ethnic cleansing and genocide - could be the result if this conflict continues to escalate.

Yep. Also of note: 44yo Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, in large part for his efforts to end a 20-year war with neighbouring Eritrea. His critics say he’s now proposing the slaughter of his fellow Ethiopians. But his supporters say the Tigrayans are doing the same in a bid to regain power. And for extra points: one notable Tigrayan is boss of the World Health Organisation Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He was the minister for health in the last national government led by the TPLF and has rejected claims he is using his new position to assist his old party. "I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace," he tweeted.



• After 138 long days, the NSW-Victorian border opened yesterday morning, producing countless PDAs of the Love Actually kind. Border cities like Albury and Wodonga celebrated at midnight to the sweet sounds of Elvis and police sirens. And at Sydney airport, drag queens, Bondi lifesavers and donuts greeted passengers arriving on the first flights from Melbourne.

• Victoria is heading towards 28 days with no community transmission - the point when the virus would be ‘eliminated’ in the state. Fingers crossed.

• Meanwhile, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under fire for claims she didn’t isolate while awaiting the results of a COVID test last week.

• Not to be outdone by Pfizer and Moderna, early tests show the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine offers 70% protection against developing COVID symptoms. Researchers say a tweak could get that up to 90% - something worth pursuing because it’s cheaper and easier to store/distribute than the others.

• And last night, Qantas boss Alan Joyce told Nine’s A Current Affair the airline “will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft” for international flights. The comment’s receiving media attention from abroad


A “happy co-existence” is what PM Scott Morrison says Australia is looking for in its relationship with China. And he’s called on the US and China to sort their stuff out because nations like us don’t want to be forced into a "binary choice" between the two. "Stark choices are in no one's interests. Greater latitude will be required from the world's largest powers to accommodate the individual interests of their partners and allies," he said in a speech delivered from quarantine in The Lodge in Canberra to the UK think tank Policy Exchange last night. He also urged communication, noting that it was China's decision to not take the government’s calls to discuss recent troubles from trade to the targeting of our journalists. Just last week, Beijing restated its list of grievances against Oz as its Foreign Ministry warned Australia and other nations to “be careful not to get poked in the eye” over comments made about Hong Kong’s fading freedoms.


Antony Blinken, a Deputy Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, will take the key Cabinet post as America’s top diplomat. And Jake Sullivan has been named as President-elect Joe Biden’s national security adviser, according to reports. The pair played a crucial role in Biden's formulation of election policies and are said to agree that outgoing President Donald Trump “isolated the United States and created opportunities and vacuums for its adversaries.” Biden’s picks for Cabinet posts will be announced today, reports say. Meanwhile, Trump’s diary features the pardoning of some turkeys. A coincidence? There’s no such thing as coincidence…


Herbivores beware… New research suggests that those who follow meat-free diets face a higher risk of breaking their bones, particularly the hips. That’s because vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower levels of calcium and protein in their diets, and are also a bit on the leaner side, so there's less body mass to cushion a fall. The new research, drawn from the long-running EPIC-Oxford study, found that vegans had twice the rate of broken hips compared to meat-eaters. And vegos/pescatarians had a 25% higher rate of cracked hips than steak fans. “It’s certainly possible to look after your bones on a well-planned vegan diet, but people need information to make healthy choices,” dietician Heather Russell said.


The co-founder of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge died on Sunday at 37yo, America’s ALS Foundation confirmed yesterday. The challenge has seen more than 17 million people around the world raise US$220 million to support research efforts to find a cure for motor neurone disease (aka amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Quinn was diagnosed with the devastating disease 7 years ago, and he dedicated the remainder of his life to fundraising. “Those of us who knew him are devastated but grateful for all he did to advance the fight," the Foundation said.


The American Music Awards busted a move yesterday naming Taylor Swift artist of the year. It wasn’t enough though to compel her to attend - she’s busy re-recording her first six albums. Justin Bieber won best male pop artist, and K-pop sensation BTS won best pop group. And Doja Cat (whose songs you’ve heard if you’ve listened to any commercial radio this year…) picked up 2 awards including best new artist of the year. The full list of winners can be found here, and you can glimpse the all-important red carpet gallery here. Update: The Weeknd (who performed with the 80s favourite saxophonist Kenny G) is still in the wars


Birthdays for author and activist Arundhati Roy (1961) and actor Katherine Heigl (1978)

Anniversary of:
• Dutch explorer Abel Tasman 'discovered’ Van Diemen's Land (1642)
• the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, which explained his theory of evolution by means of natural selection (1859)
• Kevin Rudd and Labor beat John Howard's Liberal-National Coalition to claim government for the first time in almost 12 years (2007)
• the deaths of Queen’s Freddie Mercury (1991) and Aussie wit Clive James (2019)

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