Squiz Today / 15 December 2021

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 15 December

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Squiz Today Podcast

Goes with your morning like a wink and a smile. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I was so happy I just started to cry.”

Said a Year 5 student from Urbenville Public School in northern NSW, who couldn’t contain his joy over a Zoom call with The Voice judge/muso Keith Urban. Impressed by the students’ songs posted during lockdown, Mr Nicole Kidman gifted them 16 guitars – and they thanked him by renaming their school after him. Well, almost…

Abuse survivors reach settlement with USA Gymnastics


More than 500 American gymnasts who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor, or a handful of others in the sport have agreed to a settlement with the national governing body and the US Olympic Committee. The US$380 million (A$530 million) agreement is among the largest ever for a sexual abuse case and will compensate victims, including Olympic great Simone Biles and gold medalist McKayla Maroney. The settlement brings a close to one of the biggest child molestation cases in history.


Nassar was the Olympics team doctor for 18 years until 2015 when he was terminated from his job. Around this time, former gymnast Rachael Denhollander went public with her allegations against him and over the following months and years, hundreds of other women came forward, too. Many said they’d reported the abuse to authorities and to Michigan State University where he was a respected member of the medical teaching faculty. The women’s complaints weren’t taken seriously for many years. In 2018, Nassar was found guilty and admitted to the abuse as part of a plea deal. That conviction, on top of another for child pornography charges, amount to what is essentially a life sentence in jail. 


Well, it’s not over… Questions remain about who knew what, and whether those in power turned a blind eye to Nassar’s predatory behaviour. Earlier this year, a number of high profile gymnasts testified before the US Senate that FBI agents made false statements and deliberately spread misinformation about their botched investigation into Nassar. The agency later apologised for its mismanagement of the probe. More broadly, the Nassar case has illustrated how sports organisations are culpable when athletes are abused on their watch. But for the survivors, each victim’s payout will depend on how long they were assaulted by Nassar and the severity of the abuse. “No amount of money will ever repair the damage that has been done,” said Denhollander. “But these women need help – and they need it right now,” she said.

Sport World News

Squiz the Rest

More freedoms for some as Omicron rages on

As restrictions ease in NSW today for the non-vaccinated, COVID cases jumped by 804 new infections – the highest level since Greater Sydney’s lockdown ended a couple of months ago. One area to keep an eye on is the Hunter region after a prom-themed party held at a Newcastle nightclub turned into a superspreader event with at least 150 of the 650 attendees confirmed to have COVID. But NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard ruled out snap lockdowns. In more COVID news this morning, people arriving home from southern African countries will no longer have to quarantine for 2 weeks and self-isolate for 72 hours instead. Tassie is opening up today, too. And in the United States, Pfizer says results from a trial into its antiviral pill show that if given within 3-5 days of getting symptoms, the risk of hospitalisation and death is reduced by 89%. Early days, but we’ll take it at this stage of the pandemic.


Trump’s former chief of staff faces contempt charges

Texts received by former US President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows have revealed more about what went down as supporters stormed the US Capitol on 6 January. Members of Congress, Fox News anchors and Trump’s son Donald Jr all urged Meadows to tell Trump to act quickly to stop the siege that led to the death of 5 people. The House of Representatives panel investigating the Capitol insurrection voted to recommend contempt charges against Meadows, who provided the committee with a tonne of documents, including the texts, and then stopped cooperating with them last week. “These texts leave no doubt the White House knew exactly what was happening at the Capitol,” said Liz Cheney, a Republican (but no friend of Trump’s…) and the panel’s vice chairwoman. The House of Representatives will vote this morning to refer the charges to the Justice Department, which will then decide whether to prosecute Meadows. Meanwhile, Washington DC’s Attorney General has sued neo-nazi groups over the 6 Jan attack in an effort to cripple them financially.

World News

A new head for the consumer watchdog

The Morrison Government has named well-known commercial lawyer Gina Cass-Gottlieb as the new leader of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) from March next year. She will replace outgoing head Rod Sims who is stepping down from the role after 11 years, and she becomes the first woman to chair the regulator. A partner at law firm Gilbert + Tobin, Cass-Gottlieb has spent more than 25 years advising big businesses on their dealings with the likes of the ACCC. The job’s a tricky one, and the most recent occupants of the role (think Allan Fels, Graeme Samuel, along with Sims) have built high profiles as advocates for consumers by taking on big tech, big supermarkets, and big telcos. Their example suggests Cass-Gottlieb will need to be comfortable in front of a Senate committee and the TV cameras to ensure success in the role.

Australian News

Doomsday glacier spells trouble

One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica, known as the Thwaites or ‘Doomsday’ glacier, is as big as Great Britain and holds enough water to raise sea levels by 65cm. That’s why scientists from the ​​International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration are worried that warmer ocean temperatures could cause a huge ice shelf attached to the glacier to break off in as little as 5 years. If that happened, they warn it could accelerate the melting, as the ice shelf currently acts as a barrier for the ice entering the ocean. And satellite imagery is already showing cracks growing in the ice… But next year, the team will send a little yellow submarine called ‘Boaty McBoatface’ under the glacier to gather data on all the factors that influence melting. “It’s scary. We might not get Boaty back,” said Dr Alex Phillips. Fingers crossed for him…

Environment & Science

A super effort at predicting some heroes’ futures

What do you do if you’re a geriatric medicine researcher who’s in lockdown? Like many people with time on their hands over the last couple of years, you watch a few Marvel movies. For Ruth Hubbard of Queensland Uni, that experience led to a new line of inquiry. She wanted to know how the Superheroes might age given the physical and dangerous nature of their vocation. And so Black Widow, Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man and the Hulk got a look over, and let’s just say things don’t look great for the big green guy, but Wakandans appear to be vegetarians, so it was a tick for Black Panther. There are lessons for all of us – regular exercise, social engagement, a healthy diet, abstaining from smoking, moderating alcohol all play a part in having happy older years. Oh, and avoiding head injuries also helps, Hubbard says.


Apropos of Nothing

Back in November, Brisbane artist Thea-Mai Baumann was blocked from accessing her Instagram account @metaverse. After Facebook became Meta, her profile disappeared… That is, until the New York Times got involved…

If you’re of a certain vintage, you’ll remember Tab – the cola drink so packed with artificial sweetener your fillings could taste it? Coca-Cola boss James Quincey, the man behind the decisions to discontinue beloved (or loathed) drink brands, says he has no regrets. 

And speaking of big bosses, Time magazine named Tesla boss/SpaceX founder/’technoking’ Elon Musk as their person of the year. Too bad he’s thinking about throwing it all away to become an influencer…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.00am (AEDT) – NSW state memorial for Eddie Jaku OAM, the ‘happiest man in the world’

12.00pm (AEDT) – Westpac chief economist Bill Evans gives a 2022 economic outlook

More restrictions ease in NSW for the unvaccinated, and mask mandates will be dropped except on public transport and planes

Tasmania opens its border to vaccinated Aussies from COVID hotspots

The NRMA releases a new report on drink driving

Company AGM – Westpac

Anniversary of:
• Gone with the Wind’s premiere (1939)
• the Soviet Union’s Venera 7 becoming the first spacecraft to land on another planet (Venus) (1970)
• the deaths of musician and composer Glenn Miller (1944), animator and producer Walt Disney (1966) and actress Joan Fontaine (2013)

And it’s 10 days until Christmas…

Squiz the Day

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