Squiz Today / 27 April 2021

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 27 April


"At 3:06pm, it sounded like I was in Spain with the running of the bulls. All I could hear was feet, then all I could see was legs, shoes in my shop."

Said Sydney game shop owner Bradley Merriel about the stampede of children eager to get their hands on TikTok’s latest fidget toy trend: Pop It. What happened to good ol’ bubble wrap?


Countries are racing to send supplies to India as it battles a record-breaking coronavirus wave that has overwhelmed its health system. The UK has begun sending ventilators and oxygen concentrator devices, and the US will send raw materials for COVID-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear. The first load of supplies is due to arrive in India early this morning. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the states would be asked what supplies and equipment they can spare. As for the risk to Australia, the growing crisis will be discussed at today’s National Security Committee meeting (aka select Federal Cabinet ministers, defence and intelligence bosses), including whether extra steps need to be taken to stop the spread to our shores. Last week, the National Cabinet (aka federal and state leaders) decided there would be a 30% reduction in flights from India after a spike in cases in returned travellers.

Last year, India enforced one of the world’s strictest national lockdowns. That saw it avoid the climbing tolls that other big nations saw (ahem America…), but experts say that caution was thrown to the wind in many areas. Yesterday, the country of 1.4 billion people recorded the highest number of daily cases for a 5th day straight, reporting almost 353,000 new infections and 2,800 deaths in 24 hours. The situation is particularly dire in the capital New Delhi, which is under lockdown until 3 May. PM Narendra Modi has been criticised for the failure to prepare for the wave of infections, instead encouraging large political and religious gatherings earlier in the year just as cases dropped below 10,000 a day. On Sunday, he urged all citizens to be vaccinated and exercise caution, saying the "storm" of infections had shaken the country.

Well, Japan’s 3rd state of emergency has been declared. And yes, it's just under 3 months until the Tokyo Olympics… PM Yoshihide Suga made the announcement on Friday, and Japan recorded more than 5,500 new cases on Saturday, the highest in more than 3 months. Suga said new restrictions would be “stricter” than before and will remain in place until at least 11 May. The Games were postponed last year due to the pandemic, causing the costs to balloon. Despite the surge, organisers have previously said the Games will go on. Good luck with that… And while we’re here, the long-running quarrel between the European Union and AstraZeneca has escalated. Overnight the EU said it is suing the COVID vaccine manufacturer for not respecting its supply contract and not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries. AstraZeneca said the move was "without merit". Yikes...



Residents of the Perth and the Peel region (aka south of the city) ended their 3-day snap lockdown at midnight. Western Oz’s Premier Mark McGowan said there were no new local coronavirus cases to report yesterday, after almost 30,000 tests were conducted since the lockdown was put in place on Friday. That was "exactly what we needed" to end the lockdown, he said, after an infectious Victorian man spent 5 days out and about after clearing hotel quarantine in Perth. So heigh-ho, it's off to work and schools they go… Some restrictions will remain in place for 4 days from this morning, like the mandatory wearing of face masks, a 20 person limit on gatherings, and capacity limits for public venues. "We need to be cautious as we come out of lockdown as the virus could still be out there," McGowan said.


In its latest flex of military might, Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled 3 new warships that analysts say are aimed at sending a message to Taiwan. The latest additions include an amphibious helicopter carrier that is Beijing's most advanced vessel yet, a guided-missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine. Cue fears about how China will use this new technology, with Chinese military commentator Song Zhongping telling state mouthpiece the Global Times that the vessels would play "important roles in solving questions in places like the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea". Which sounds ominous for the territory that Beijing claims is part of China and has recently threatened to take back… The potential for armed conflict is something newly installed Defence Minister Peter Dutton has flagged - on Sunday, he said our defence forces are at a "high level of preparedness" for those sort of threats in the region. Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo added his 2 cents, saying Australia should strive for peace but “not at the cost of our precious liberty”. #SquizShortcuts


The Emerald City has been picked to host the Netball World Cup in 2027, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced yesterday. After waving its hand about and yelling they were ”here if you need", it will be the 3rd time Sydney has hosted - a decision Netball Australia chair Paolina Hunt hopes will "refresh" the game in Oz. Our world #1 ranked Diamonds have been on a losing streak for the past few tournaments, including last month's Constellation Cup loss - their first since 2013. But we've got 6 years to sort it out, and Oz has won the World Cups held previously in Sydney in 1991 and 2015, so bring on the home-court advantage... Until then, there's next year's Commonwealth Games in England and the World Cup in South Africa in 2023 to tide fans over.


Aussie swimming icon John Konrads died on Sunday at 78yo, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame confirmed yesterday. Born in Latvia, his family moved to Australia in 1949, where Konrads began swimming as part of his recovery from polio. Catching the attention of legendary swim coach Don Talbot (who died last year), Konrads shot to fame after setting 26 individual freestyle world records for every distance between 200-1500m by the time he was 15yo. The kid was quick… And in 1960, he struck gold at the Rome Olympics in the 1500-metre freestyle event. Out of the pool, Konrads established himself in the business world as cosmetics giant L'Oreal's Australasian boss before starting his own advertising firm. Fellow Olympic 1500m champ Kieran Perkins yesterday said: “I was lucky to have role models and mentors like John shine a light on this event for Australia – his feats helped cement it as an iconic event for our country at every Olympics.”


There were tears, there was howling (yes, you read that right) and a rather abrupt ending. But the standout winners: Nomadland scored the trifecta claiming Best Picture, Best Director (with Chloé Zhao becoming the 2nd woman to win that gong in Oscars history), and Best Actress (which Frances McDormand took out for the 3rd time). On the Best Actor side, Anthony Hopkins was a surprise winner for his turn in The Father. Though he wasn’t present to accept the trophy, he honoured the late Chadwick Boseman (who was expected to win the award) in a belated acceptance speech. Winner of cringiest speech: Daniel Kaluuya, who won Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah, and sadly this time he wasn’t on mute. Congrats also go to Yuh-Jung Youn, who dragged herself away from Brad Pitt for long enough to make history as the first Korean actor to win an Oscar - she claimed Best Supporting Actress for Minari. The night's biggest loser was Glenn Close - she levelled the record of 8 nominations with no trophy. But the important thing is there are real-life red carpet looks to gawk at


Aussie house hunters struggling to find a property deal may need to widen their search by about 14,000km after yet another Italian town has started offering houses for the price of a coffee. Bellissima…

Us Aussies love a long weekend. And if PM Scott Morrison wants to honour his schnoodle Buddy by emulating Turkmenistan’s presidential declaration of a doggie day off, we’re down with it.

If you’re a goodie-two-shoes with a perfect record, look away. And if you’re like the other 99% of us, be warned that overdue fees on that VHS rental you never got around to watching could come back to haunt you...


12.30pm (AEST) - President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Michele O'Neil addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

5.33pm (AEST) - Supermoon rises

Freedom Day – South Africa

Birthdays for Lizzo (1988) and Nick Kyrgios (1995)

Anniversary of:
• Ludwig van Beethoven composing Für Elise (1810)
• the Australian Labor Party under Prime Minister Chris Watson becoming the first labour movement-aligned government in the world (1904)
• Sierra Leone declaring independence from UK (1961)
• RC Duncan patenting the disposable nappy (1965)
• the Korean summit, which saw North and South officially end Korean war and agree to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons (2018)
• the deaths of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1882), Australian politician and Federation father Sir Henry Parkes (1896)

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