Squiz Today / 17 June 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 17 June


“‘You just have to be patient’ is a weapon used by people who don’t want us to progress or succeed.”

Says agriculture exec, policy/comms specialist, and board director Victoria Taylor. She's someone who is well-practised in patience having been in full-on lockdown in Boston for the last three months… Please welcome Victoria to the Three Minute Squiz.


Tensions between North and South Korea - consider them kaboom’d. After Saturday’s threat to destroy an inter-Korean liaison office building in the border town of Kaesong, North Korea blew it up yesterday. The office has been empty since January due to COVID-19 restrictions. And there could be more to come with Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, flagging that North Korea’s military had the right to take the next step of retaliation against South Korea. Overnight, South Korea said it would "respond strongly" if the North "continues to worsen the situation".

Stalled discussions between North Korea and America about the removal of nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula has seen sanctions imposed by the US and United Nations left in place (which North Korea is hard at work evading…). Things haven’t moved far since the failed second summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in Vietnam in early 2019 when the pair couldn’t agree on the level of sanctions relief North Korea would see in exchange for dismantling its main nuclear complex. And in recent weeks (after Kim surfaced…) tensions have risen, prompted by defector groups sending propaganda leaflets over the border by balloon. One analyst said yesterday’s destruction of the liaison office is a way to “create a crisis” to get talks with America back on the agenda. But there are concerns things will escalate militarily in the meantime. Remember, North and South Korea are still technically at war, having never struck a peace agreement when the Korean War ended in 1953...

Yes. Indian officials say at least 20 of its soldiers have been killed in a clash with Chinese forces in the disputed Kashmir region. Tensions have been rising there too in recent weeks, and yesterday India accused China of breaking an agreement struck in the previous week to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley. For its part, China says Indian forces provoked the confrontation by crossing the border onto the Chinese side. Both sides say no shots have been fired, and local media reports say the Indian soldiers were "beaten to death". It is the first deadly clash in the border area in at least 45 years.



Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday asked the Labor Party’s federal organisation to take over all state and federal candidate preselections for the next three years as the state party starts the "long and critical process of validating each and every member". Former premier Steve Bracks and former federal deputy leader Jenny Macklin will step in to administer the state division until early next year. It comes after former Cabinet minister Adem Somyurek was accused of “industrial-level” branch stacking. Marlene Kairouz, the gaming minister and an ally of Somyurek, became the third frontbench casualty of the scandal, quitting her job yesterday over accusations she was involved in the potentially illegal activities.


Child sex abuse offenders convicted of federal offences could face life behind bars under new laws passed yesterday. Three years in the making, a lot of attention went to the politicking with Labor MPs initially opposed to the bill’s set minimum jail terms because of its general opposition to mandatory sentencing regimes. But a change of heart came after the Coalition criticised them for abandoning vulnerable kids and Labor’s spokesman Mark Dreyfus urged colleagues not to "let the perfect be the enemy of the good". The new law includes the presumption against bail for serious offenders and lowering burdens on child witnesses. Note: the majority of child sex abuse cases still fall under state laws, and these new laws cover offences the states can't, like offences conducted overseas.


• Some good news on the medical research front - low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone - which is cheap and already widely available - has been shown to significantly cut the risk of death in severe COVID-19 cases, UK experts say. It is being hailed as a big breakthrough.

• An “extremely severe” outbreak of the coronavirus in China’s capital Beijing has put several neighbourhoods into lockdown. More than 100 cases have been recorded as officials desperately try to contain the virus to prevent a second wave.

• New official figures looking at the number of jobs in Australia shows roles increased by 1% in May from the previous month. That's off a base that saw the number of jobs fall by 8.5% between mid-March and mid-April.


Australia experienced more ‘firestorms’ - bushfires so large they create their own weather systems - over the Black Summer bushfire season of 2019-20 than over the past three decades, the Royal Commission (#squizshortcut) into the disaster heard yesterday. While the formation of thunderstorm-like pyrocumulonimbus clouds over intense bushfires were once rare, fire expert Professor David Bowman told commissioners that last summer delivered a “near doubling” of these events due to climate change. And he put a cloud over hazard reduction burns, saying while they are considered the best method of controlling bushfires, they are less effective under extreme weather conditions and can lead to increased bushfire risk if mismanaged. The Commission is due to hand down its report at the end of August.


Aussie women’s sides have taken out the top four rankings for sporting teams that Australian fans reckon inspire the most pride, trust and respect. Our World Cup-winning T20 women's cricket team took out the top spot. They were followed by the Matildas soccer side, the women's 7s national rugby team, and our netballing Diamonds. The first men’s team to get a mention on the list is the Australian men's T20 team, which came in fifth. The NSW and Queensland State of Origin rugby league teams - which are among the most popular in Oz - were omitted from the survey, but will be included in the next time.

And while we have you… Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts is out following accusations he dropped too many catches during the coronavirus crisis. The T20 World Cup boss Nick Hockley has been asked to pad up as interim chief executive.


In one of the weirdest corporate stories of the year, a bunch of former senior eBay executives have been charged over allegations they terrorised and intimidated the editor of an online newsletter. Dangerous job, this newsletter business…

Diego the 100yo giant Galápagos tortoise has finally retired having fathered 800 offspring, almost single flipper-edly saving his species. Keeping up with the grandkids over Skype will be a full-time job...

Got the travel bug? One Taiwanese airport is offering a unique solution


12.30pm (AEST) - Senator Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, to address the National Press Club - Canberra

Hold onto your hat - ABS’s latest edition of Methodological News is out

The UN General Assembly scheduled to vote on next five non-permanent Security Council members

Iceland’s National Day

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Birthdays for Venus Williams (1980), Kendrick Lamar (1987), Stephanie Rice (1988)

Anniversary of:
• Charles Goodyear obtaining first rubber patent (1837)
• the Statue of Liberty arriving in NYC aboard French ship Isere (1885)
• the last public guillotining in France (1939)

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