Squiz Today / 14 April 2021

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 14 April


"It was the first thing that came to mind, don't worry about the holiday or anything else, just get a haircut."

Said David Hadley, a shaggy Englishman who experienced the universal urge of those coming out of lockdown. England's lockdown, which started on 5 January, eased yesterday, drawing many like him to shops, pubs and salons for the first time in 3 months.


Australia Post’s former boss Christine Holgate unloaded yesterday as she fronted a Senate inquiry into her departure from the government enterprise last year. She accused the board’s chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo of lying and said she was "suicidal" after PM Scott Morrison took aim at her in parliament over the $20,000 purchase of Cartier watches for 4 staff members for delivering on a work project in 2018. "I was humiliated by our prime minister for committing no offence and then bullied by my chairman,” she said during the explosive appearance.

And Holgate asked Senators to do precisely that yesterday. In October last year, she fronted the same committee and was asked about the watches' purchase. And in those moments, her career fell apart. Her statement that she didn’t use “taxpayers money” because she believed Australia Post was a “commercial enterprise” led Morrison to call the decision to award the fancy timepieces “disgraceful” and for her to stand aside. Labor joined in the calls for Holgate’s head, and under the extreme pressure, she says she was forced out. Yesterday, she said the experience made her “seriously ill”. And she says Di Bartolomeo lied about what happened behind the scenes and “fabricated the agreement by myself to stand down”. For his part, he says she was “treated abysmally” but rejects any suggestion that he lied. Australia Post never wanted to lose her, he said, but yesterday she said she was targeted because she was a woman.

Well, Di Bartolomeo said Australia Post doesn’t need to apologise to Holgate. In an interview with ABC TV’s 7.30 last night, Holgate said that's what she wants. She also wants Di Bartolomeo to resign and says her departure and some sort of financial (and possibly legal) settlement is still up for discussion because the way she was forced out was "unlawful". The Senate committee is due to report at the end of the month.

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• There are ongoing issues with COVID vaccinations and blood clots, with US regulators recommending a suspension in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Six cases in 6.8 million doses have been reported, and officials are investigating. Yesterday, Australia recorded the 2nd case of blood clots likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. After 700,000 doses of that vaccine have been administered in Oz, 2 cases of blood clots have been reported. “Your chances of winning lotto are much, much higher,” regulator John Skerritt said.

• Issues too for Novavax - one of the vaccines Australia has contracted - it’s experiencing manufacturing delays. Yet to go through the approval process here, it was hoped the US-made vaccine would boost our program in the middle of this year - that could now be pushed later.

• And you know what our vaccination program problems need? More meetings… There's no new timetable for vaccinating Aussies, but PM Morrison is putting National Cabinet on a "war-footing" by pulling state/territory leaders together twice a week to focus on "making our vaccination program as good as it can be". That kicks off on Monday.


Crowds gathered for a 2nd night of protests in Brooklyn Centre, Minnesota, in defiance of an overnight curfew in place after the fatal police shooting of 20yo black man Daunte Wright in Minneapolis on Sunday. More than 40 people were arrested, and police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd that gathered not far from where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin (aka the man accused of killing George Floyd) is taking place. Police have released body camera video of Wright's shooting and said veteran officer Kim Potter had intended to use her taser. She has resigned overnight, as has the local police chief. US President Joe Biden has called for an investigation and urged calm. "We know what we need to do to move forward: rebuilt trust and ensure accountability," he said. Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial are expected to be heard next week.


Just a day after the US Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned China to keep its cool, 25 Chinese military jets flew into Taiwan’s air zone on Monday - the largest breach since the island began regularly reporting activity last September. Taiwan responded by scrambling combat aircraft, alerting missile defence systems and issuing radio warnings to the planes. China has put in almost daily appearances over the past few weeks as tensions heat up between Beijing and Taiwan's main supporter, the US. Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province, and analysts say the exercises serve as a warning that Beijing is prepared to use force to unify the island with the mainland. #SquizShortcut

And while we have you… All US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by 11 September - the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America coordinated by al-Qaeda from that country. They had been working towards a 1 May withdrawal.


It’s been busy buying up the company that helped launch Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Reports say the deal with Nuance is worth $20 billion. No, your Word documents and Excel spreadsheets aren't about to ask you if you need help... Microsoft plans to use it in the healthcare industry as an artificial intelligence tool for practitioners to transcribe consultations and write up doctors' recommendations. Nuance and Microsoft went into partnership in 2019 to work on the automation of clinical admin work. Microsoft said the deal would double its potential market in the healthcare industry to nearly $655 billion.


Can people living with different types of dementia experience pleasure the same way they did before? A new study published yesterday seeks to answer that. Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is where parts of the brain behind the forehead and temples become progressively damaged. It leads to noticeable changes a person’s mood, social behaviour and judgement, and it also tends to affect people at a younger age. Using imaging technology, researchers found the pleasure system in FTD patients’ brains had deteriorated. “It’s not simply that your loved one is acting deliberately defiant, or they don’t want to join you for dinner,” said Sydney Uni’s Professor Muireann Irish, who has spent 7 years on the project. “It's more that the circuits in the brain that allow them to anticipate and respond positively to those experiences are not working properly.” Researchers say the loss of happiness could be a “very early indicator” of FTD.


Tenpin bowling isn't in the news headlines a lot, but an 18yo's near-impossible move has been lauded by serious commentators as a stroke of genius. Spoiler alert: it's a knockout.

Hawaiian shirts are synonymous with dadcore vibes and are making a resurgence in some circles. Hold up, says a Princeton academic... There are historical elements to consider, she says.

Speaking of things that have been stolen, Darius, the world’s biggest bunny, has been taken. His owner, a former Playboy model, is offering almost $2,000 for his return. You can’t make it up…


12.30pm (AEST) - Chair of Dementia Australia Graeme Samuel addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

From 6.00pm (AEST) - Start of the Australian Swimming Championships (on until Sunday, 18 April)

Trade Minister Dan Tehan departs for Europe for discussions about global coronavirus vaccination supplies

ABS Data Release - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, February; Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, March

Birthdays for Julie Christie (1941), Julia Zemiro (1967) Adrien Brody (1973) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (1977)

Anniversary of:
• US President Abraham Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth (1865)
• Dr Harry Plotz discovering the typhoid vaccine (1903)
• the RMS Titanic hitting an iceberg (1912)
• Justin Trudeau being elected leader of Canada's Liberal Party (2013)

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