Squiz Today / 13 April 2022

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 13 April

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Squiz Today Podcast

Helping you get it done. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Queen Elizabeth II, who for more than 7 decades sat on the British throne and became a symbol of monarchy around the world, died this XXXXXXX at XX years old, due to XXXXXXX.”

Read a premature obituary mistakenly published on the website of Brazil’s biggest newspaper Folha de São Paulo yesterday morning. The 95yo monarch is said to be in good health after surviving a few death-by-media experiences

An urgent diplomatic mission to the Solomons


Fears that China will exploit Australia’s election to secure a controversial security pact with China have prompted an urgent trip to the Solomon Islands by the federal minister in charge of Pacific relations. Senator Zed Seselja is in Honiara to fly the flag and discuss the issues that are keeping Oz, Kiwi and American security folk awake at night after the prospect of having the Chinese military closer to our shores took a big step forward in the last few weeks. It comes after leaked letters show the Solomons Government told China it had “no objection” to its request to import weapons to protect its embassy in the wake of last year’s riots before ultimately ruling it out.


For context, the riots were partly fuelled by opposition to PM Manasseh Sogavare’s decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 2019, along with broader economic frustrations. Rioters targeted several Chinese-owned businesses, and the Chinese embassy feared it would be targeted. That saw it ask to import automatic rifles, pistols, 2 machine guns and a sniper rifle for use by a 10-person plain clothes security team which would ensure “the safety and security of the Chinese Embassy.” The proposal also outlined that the Chinese team could hold diplomatic passports – which give immunity from prosecution under local laws – and would be classed as “Attache of the Chinese Mission”. Ultimately, reports say the request was knocked back by Sogavare’s cabinet, and the PM’s office has labelled the story as “fake news”.


It’s an interesting backdrop to the meeting and highlights Oz’s concerns about the growing diplomatic relationship between China and the Solomons. An overseas trip by a minister during the election ‘caretaker’ period (when the government isn’t to make big decisions or undertake international negotiations) is considered unusual, and Minister Seselja is expected to discuss Oz’s specific concerns about the Solomons hosting Chinese warships in Solomons’ ports. In a statement last night, he said “our view remains that the Pacific family will continue to meet the security needs of our region.” And it’s not just Oz who’s worried – America’s top diplomat for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell is scheduled to visit Solomon Islands this month in a last-ditch effort to persuade Sogavare not to sign the deal.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Putin says Ukraine peace talks are at a dead end

Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the breakdown in peace talks and says the “military operation” will continue. He said Ukraine has shown “inconsistency in key issues from the talks” and that allegations of war crimes are fake. Peace talks were last held in Turkey’s capital Istanbul at the end of March, where Russia had agreed to reduce combat operations around Kyiv and the north to “boost mutual trust”, but progress has now stalled. It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian forces are planning “a new stage of terror” in eastern Ukraine that could involve the use of chemical weapons. Ukrainian fighters say people in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol have already experienced poisoning by warfare chemicals, but that has not been confirmed. In response, Zelensky wants the West to impose stronger sanctions on Russia.

World News

An international prime ministerial update

The UK’s Boris Johnson has become the first serving leader of the country to be sanctioned for breaking the law. He, wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have been fined for going to an hour-long gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 to celebrate Johnson’s birthday. The get-together breached the COVID rules in place at the time. Johnson has again apologised and is resisting renewed calls for his resignation. And in Pakistan, opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif will replace Imran Khan as PM. Khan was dumped because he had not made inroads into fixing the nation’s economy and corruption problem, and had lost the support of the all-important military. Sharif heads the centrist Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and his older brother is Nawaz Sharif who was PM 3 times before he was jailed and then fled to the UK in 2019. The next election is next year, and Khan is expected to be a candidate.

World News

A trio of sports news

  • AFL maestro Gillon McLachlan will exit at the end of the season. It won’t be a cakewalk for the 8-year veteran – he has a broadcast rights deal and a player collective bargaining agreement to crack on with. Maybe those deadlines rather than finishing up the job had him feeling a bit emotional?
  • And the winner is… regional Victoria. Lock it in for 2026, the Commonwealth Games are comin’ to Melbourne and population centres around the state. We’ve already booked in for the lawn bowls in Bendigo…
  • And fresh from the campaign trail, Coalition spokesman Simon Birmingham says cool your jets on legislating a ban on transgender women from playing women’s sports. “These are sensitive matters and … they should be explored properly with sensitivity through parliamentary committee processes.” On Monday, PM Morrison said he supported advocates of a ban

You weren’t the only one…

Coughing, sneezing and generally being miserable through one of the worst pollen seasons on record in Oz. By the end of January, Brisbane’s grass pollen levels had soared to 3.8 times the previous 5-year average. Canberra recorded the highest levels in the 10 years of data collected, and Sydney had substantially higher levels than the previous 2 years. Not to be left out, Tassie experienced its 2nd highest season on record and Adelaide saw a spike too. QUT Professor Janet Davies said the increased pollen levels were probably driven by higher rainfall from La Niña. More broadly, the rise in pollen is associated with elevated CO2 levels and higher temperatures. The high pollen count is also causing people’s asthma to flare up. Asthma Oz CEO Michele Goldman said about 11% of the population – 2.7 million Aussies – who have the disease should re-evaluate their asthma management plans if pollen makes it difficult for them to breathe. Get those tissues/puffers ready…


It’s not about the missing forks…

Nothing generates passive-aggressive notes with the same ferocity and volume as the kitchen at work. Unwashed dishes mounting up and stinky fridges – it’s enough to make you reconsider your return to the office. It’s hard to remember life pre-pandemic, but was it always like this? Professor Katherine Reynolds, a social psychologist at the Australian National University, says it’s probably worse because COVID means some people have forgotten how to share a space with colleagues. Being home alone or with people who know them well, they might have picked up some habits that only family members can/have to forgive. And like most things that drive you crackers, Reynolds says angry kitchen scenes are not just about someone using the last of the paper towel and ‘forgetting’ to replace it. “It’s a behavioural indicator of how people are interacting with one another.” Yikes…

Quirky News

Apropos of Nothing

It’s not an activity for the faint-hearted, but Kiwi scientist Professor Shane Cronin has snorkelled over the underwater volcano in Tonga that erupted in a massive way in January and collected rock samples. They will be analysed to help determine what happened. 

The Australian Fashion Week is set to kick off in Sydney next month, featuring a plus-size runway show for the first time in the event’s 26-year history. In another first, a show will also be dedicated to adaptive fashion (aka clothes for people with disability). 

And while we’re on the topic, Aussies who shop for secondhand clothes tend to be more stylish, according to Tassie Uni researchers. How that explains grandmacore/grandpacore, we’re not entirely sure…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30 (AEST) – Greens leader Adam Bandt gives his Leaders 2022 Election Address to the National Press Club – Canberra

Scrabble Day

A birthday for actor/author Judy Nunn (1945)

Anniversary of:
• Christopher Hitchens’ birthday (1949)
• Apollo 13 announcing “Ok, Houston, we’ve had a problem here”, as an oxygen tank exploded en route to the Moon (1970)
• Tiger Woods becoming the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament at 22yo (1997)
• Winx ending her racing career with a 3rd Queen Elizabeth Stakes win in Sydney (2019)

Squiz the Day

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