Squiz Today / 16 December 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 16 December


"Adaptogenic lattes and mushrooms coffees"

Is what "woman-led, mission-driven wellness company" Clevr Blends makes, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has backed as the first personal investment of her post-royal life. We’ve come a long way since a teaspoon of instant with some milk in the mee-cro-wah-vey was a thing…


Chinese state media has reported that officials will allow the nation’s power plants to import coal without restrictions from countries "except for Australia"- a position backed by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman overnight. PM Scott Morrison yesterday said the government is treating a coal ban as "media speculation" until Australia is officially advised by China. It comes after months of uncertainty and the stranding of 60-plus coal ships off Chinese ports with officials blaming "environmental problems" for processing delays. Analysts say a coal ban could cost the Australian economy billions of dollars a year.

“You’ve gotta let love rule.” No? How about “it ain't over till it's over?" Yeah, but China's played this tune before, and it hasn’t ended well for our exporters. It doesn’t seem to matter that these trade bans are probably in breach of the World Trade Organisation's rules or our free trade agreement - or if it’s bad for Brand China. "If a perception emerges that there's a conflation between political issues and a trading relationship, then that can create uncertainty for many other trading partners," the PM said. "I'm sure that's not something China's seeking to achieve here."

There is - iron ore is going off. These trade tensions are driving up the price to mining boom highs, and Australian producers hold some power in that relationship - we’re the world’s largest seller of iron ore, and China needs it to build their growing cities and industries. "The bottom line is that China's trade war with Australia is making us money rather than losing it," Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said this week. And then there are WA rock lobsters… It’s been a terrible time for lobster farmers since China rejected the tasty crustaceans in November citing quality issues. But it’s a bonus for Aussie seafood lovers with the major supermarkets yesterday limiting their sale to 4 per customer. After we hit rock bottom in March with the great toot paper debacle, at least we’re engaging in a better class of panic buying…



The US Electoral College has voted, and President-elect Joe Biden has his formal victory over President Donald Trump, winning 306 votes to 232. Next stop: a joint sitting of the Congress on 6 January to do a final tally of electoral votes. It put a pep in Biden’s step who delivered his harshest rebuke of Trump since the election. "The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame," he said. And senior Republicans are starting to accept the result even though Trump is yet to concede. Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr resigned yesterday after a controversial term that saw his critics accuse him of using this office to benefit Trump and his allies. Supporters, however, said he had a tough job balancing his role as the nation’s first law officer with the demands of the White House.


Former Melbourne school principal and alleged child abuser Malka Leifer last night lost her last Supreme Court appeal against extradition from Israel. The signing of an order by Israeli Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn is now on the cards. “After long and torturous years, the time has come to do justice to Leifer’s victims,” he tweeted. Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter welcomed the development but warned things aren’t done and dusted just yet... Leifer maintains the right to petition the High Court of Justice to challenge her extradition. It’s been six years of legal battles with Leifer claiming she was mentally unfit to return to Australia. However, the ball started rolling against her mid-2020 when the Supreme Court decided that her mental state wouldn’t stop her from facing extradition proceedings. "It's just huge because it is something we have been fighting for, for 74 court hearings and every single day in between," said accuser Nicole Meyer last night.


Actor Craig McLachlan has been found not guilty of all 13 assault charges levelled against him, the Melbourne Magistrates Court ruled yesterday. Accused of indecently assaulting or propositioning 4 women during a stage production of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014, Magistrate Belinda Wallington said it was likely McLachlan had touched the women as they had claimed. But the women’s evidence did not meet the high criminal standards required to prove the charges, she said. It’s also possible that “an egotistical, self-entitled sense of humour” led McLachlan to believe he had consent, Wallington said. McLachlan will have “a lot to say” next year and could resume defamation proceedings against Nine’s publications and the ABC.

Still in Victoria, and the Court of Appeal yesterday overturned Melbourne drug kingpin Tony Mokbel’s cocaine importation conviction. It’s the third conviction to be overturned in light of the Lawyer X scandal, which saw gangland barrister Nicola Gobbo serve as a police informant between 1995 and 2009. Mokbel remains in jail on other drugs charges, and the court will later decide if he will face a retrial. Also remaining under lock and key is his wig...


No, that’s not the title of an unreleased John Le Carré novel... Russian spies with expertise in poisons had been following Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny for 3 years and were nearby when he was poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok in August, Bellingcat investigation found. Navalny is still recovering from the attack in Germany. While Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin have denied involvement, the report says phone metadata and flight records show the government was behind the assassination attempt. It also says Navalny was the target of other poisoning attempts, and his wife Yulia Navalnaya became ill while on holiday earlier this year with government agents pinged nearby. While the Kremlin hasn’t commented, Navalny released a video accusing President Vladimir Putin of targeting his political opponents. “There is no reason to be surprised here,” he said. “After 20 years of Putin’s leadership, everything is degrading.”


Following recent moves from the US and Oz to regulate the tech giants including Facebook and Google, the European Union has revealed new plans that will “overhaul” the way digital services operate. The new rules cover how they compete, and they’ll be responsible for the content they host. "The business and political interests of a handful of companies should not dictate our future,” the commissioners said. The UK has also joined the pile-on party with a proposal to fine Facebook, Twitter and TikTok if they fail to remove and limit the spread of illegal content. “We are entering a new age of accountability for tech to protect children and vulnerable users, to restore trust in this industry, and to enshrine in law safeguards for free speech,” Britain’s Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said.


You got it.


2.30pm (ACDT) - Test Cricket (1st of the series) - Australia v India - Adelaide

Day of Reconciliation in South Africa

Kazakhstan’s National Day

ABS Data Releases - Energy Account, Australia; Business Impacts of COVID-19; Household financial resources, June; Personal Income in Australia; Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia; and the big one - The 2020 annual re-weight of the Australian Consumer Price Index

Anniversary of:
• the Boston Tea Party that saw American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea, imported by the British East India Company into the harbour (1773)
• birthdays for Ludwig van Beethoven (1770) and Jane Austen (1775)
• Shirley Temple announced her retirement from films, aged 22yo (1950)
• Shannen Doherty (aka Brenda) was fired from TV series Beverly Hills 90210 (1993)

And it’s 9 days until Christmas…

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.