Squiz Today / 29 January 2019

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 29 January


"This move could potentially be good or bad for security/privacy."

Was Johns Hopkins University professor/ultimate fencesitter Matthew Green’s take on Facebook’s plan to merge its messaging services across Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. In fairness, Green says he’s leaning towards ‘not good’, as are many privacy campaigners. Facebook says it’ll make messaging faster and simpler. We’d need to remember our passwords to have a chance of ever finding out…


After 40 years of continuous warfare in Afghanistan including more than 17 years of American involvement, talks between the Taliban and US officials could be getting somewhere. With representatives meeting in Qatar last week, a broad plan in which US troops would leave in exchange for a guarantee that Afghan territory would not be used as a platform for terrorism was mapped out, but not formally agreed. That’s according to Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s envoy and chief negotiator, who has given a rare interview to the New York Times.

For nine years the US has been engaged in stop-start discussions with the Taliban to reach a deal on peace. And in recent months there have been a lot of talks about holding talks… One issue has been the Taliban's refusal to deal with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani whom it sees as a puppet of the US Government. But in an address to the nation overnight (Oz time), Ghani's urged the insurgents to start engaging with him to prevent the bloody mistakes of previous settlements, including when the Soviet Union withdrew from the country in the late 80s.

More talks. And it could take a while to reach an agreement with some suggesting more years are needed. One factor that has been raised by those worried about a rushed deal is US President Donald Trump’s limited patience. He’s already said to be considering halving America’s current commitment of 14,000 troops.


Missing Israeli-born sisters Lily Pereg (54yo) and Pirhya Sarussi (63yo) were found in Mendoza, Argentina on Saturday. Pereg was an Australian scientist working at the University of New England as a microbiology professor. The sisters were visiting Sarussi’s son Gilad Pereg (36yo) when they disappeared on 11 January, and he has been charged with their murders. The family says they are shocked but are “humbled by the outpouring of support and love, worldwide.”

PM Scott Morrison must have spilt some salt while walking under a ladder when a black cat crossed his path after he failed to respond to a chain letter… How else to explain that while already facing a tough election, the task of holding onto government got even harder over the weekend with challenges emerging left, right and centre. Speaking of the right, former PM Tony Abbott will have to fight to hold his seat of Warringah with former Olympic skier/barrister/Manly local Zali Steggall putting her hand up to have a go. ABC’s Antony Green says she has the strongest chance of the independents who have declared so far. Game on… Meanwhile, Coalition Ministers Michael Keenan (Stirling, WA) and NT Senator Nigel Scullion have confirmed they won’t contest the next election. Labor leader/Rupert rejector Bill Shorten said the government was limping to the finish line. "I don't think that's a very kind way to put it," Morrison responded. And Turnbull-loyalist-turned-independent MP Julia Banks has not ruled out a tilt at reelection as an independent, taking on Health Minister Greg Hunt, one of the Liberal blokes she blames for the former PM’s ousting.

And while we have you, let the polls of 2019 begin… Newspoll says the Coalition has had a boost with a two-point rise in its two-party preferred standings, although it still trails Labor 47:53. It's the Coalition’s best result since Malcolm Turnbull was removed in August last year. PM Scott Morrison dipped a couple of points in the preferred PM race but still leads Bill Shorten 43:36.

BRAZIL MINE DAM COLLAPSE - A collapsed dam at the Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais has killed at least 60 people. Around 300 people are missing and damage to the mining town of Brumadinho, which was nearly buried, is still being evaluated. It is the second dam disaster mining company Vale has been linked to in recent years.

MADURO/AMERICA TRADE INSULTS - With more than 20 nations giving their support to Venezuelan leader Jose Guaidó, including Australia, President Nicolás Maduro said he’s willing to talk to those who oppose him. Guaidó has called for a peaceful strike on Wednesday and a big event on Saturday.

US SHUTDOWN - Thirty-five-days in and US President Donald Trump agreed to temporarily end the partial shutdown saga on Saturday by providing funding for the government for three weeks. His critics called it a backdown, Trump said it was a compromise. Still on the agenda - funding for his much wanted US-Mexico border wall…

Esteemed medical journal The Lancet yesterday outlined what it sees as the "paramount health challenge for humans, the environment, and our planet in the 21st century" - the three pandemics of obesity, hunger and climate change. And it says a fund of US$1 billion is urgently needed to develop strategies to deal with these issues, jointly, ASAP. Like, right now. The commission says four million deaths annually are linked to obesity, and that there are currently an estimated 815 million people who are chronically undernourished. And it’s not the first time that the anticipated adverse effects of climate change have been linked to poor health.

AUSTRALIA DAY GONGS - How fab that cave divers Dr Richard Harris and Craig Challenwere awarded joint Australians of the Year for their role in the Thai cave rescue last year. Congrats also to Suzanne Packer (Senior Australian of the Year), Danzal Baker (Young Australian of the Year), and Kate and Tick Everett (Local Heroes) who were acknowledged for their work to fight bullying following the death of their daughter, Dolly. And the Australia Day Awards had some serious star power.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHAMPS - Rafael Nadal went down to Novak Djokovic - it was a record seventh Aussie Open for him. Naomi Osaka had a bit of a mid-game meltdown but went on to beat Petra Kvitova. A well done is also due for Samantha Stosur and her doubles partner Zhang Shuai for their title win and Dylan Alcott for taking out his fifth consecutive quad wheelchair singles trophy.

HOTTEST 100 - Want to feel hip and funky? Then probably don’t use those words… And have a look at ABC Triple J’s Hottest 100 list. The winner? Confidence by Sydney band Ocean Alley.

He was dubbed the world’s loneliest duck, and now he’s gone. Trevor had to live in a puddle on his adopted home of Niue, so let’s hope he’s gone to a nice big lake in the sky.


UK Parliament to debate and vote on the amended Brexit deal

National Australia Bank's business confidence survey update

Facebook to release their annual earnings result

Oprah Winfrey's 65th birthday

Anniversary of the death of author Colleen McCullough (2015)

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