Squiz Today / 18 November 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 18 November


“Why are Rob and I pitching a north Walian trailer manufacturer?”

Asked Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds yesterday? Because he and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia creator Rob McElhenney have just bought success-starved Welsh soccer side Wrexham Association Football Club. And Ifor Williams Trailers is the club sponsor. With the pair set to make a TV show out of the club’s upcoming transformation, it’s good times ahead…


PM Scott Morrison’s first overseas trip since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has seen him take the next steps towards the inking of a landmark military deal with Japan. After 6 years of negotiating the Reciprocal Access Agreement, arrangements for both forces to work closely together have received in-principle agreement from Morrison and newly installed Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga. It is the first deal of its kind for Japan since it signed a similar agreement with the US in the 1960s.

What it shows is our relationship with Japan hot and heavy right now. Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds have made recent visits. Suga called Morrison before any other foreign leader, including US President Donald Trump, when he became PM. And Morrison is the first foreign leader to travel to Japan to meet Suga since he took over from Shinzo Abe in September. It’s great that we’re getting along, but pundits say it couldn’t scream ‘we’re a bit worried about China’ any louder…

It’s true that we’re attracted to each other because our recent dealings with China continue to be problematic while Japan has its own sensitive issues with its big and powerful neighbour. But it's a bit deeper than that. Our relationship with Japan is described by the government as “our closest and most mature in Asia” underpinned by “a shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as common approaches to international security.” And China? Well, it’s not that. And it’s playing out with China swinging a bat at nations that get in the way of its push to widen its influence - including Australia. And sometimes when things get rough, it’s only natural to focus on your friends… And this agreement: "It will form a key plank of Australia's and Japan's response to an increasingly challenging security environment in our region amid more uncertain strategic circumstances," Morrison said overnight.



A "full-scale humanitarian crisis" is unfolding in Ethiopia, the United Nations said overnight with at least 27,000 people fleeing over the Sudan border to get away from the fighting in the north of the country. PM Abiy Ahmed says his government’s military operation in the Tigray region is in its "final phase" with a 3-day ultimatum given to fighters to surrender running out. He has ruled out negotiating with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) after launching military action against it for sending its fighters to occupy a military base 2 weeks ago - an accusation the TPLF rejects. This all started after Abiy - last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner for making peace with neighbouring Eritrea - disbanded the nation’s ruling coalition in 2018. It was made up of ethnically based regional parties before they were merged into a single, national party. The TPLF has refused to join and held its own 'illegal' election earlier this year. Hundreds are said to have died in violent scenes so far, but there is little information coming from the region after the internet was taken offline and international aid agencies were denied access.


Nicaragua was hit yesterday by catastrophic winds, “life-threatening” storm surges, and torrential rainfall as Category 4 Hurricane Iota brought winds of 250km/h. The storm is weakening, but Honduras and Guatemala will be next with all 3 nations evacuating areas in Iota's path, including those struck by Hurricane Eta just 2 weeks ago. Iota is the strongest hurricane of the year in the region - and there have been a few… This year's Atlantic hurricane season has seen officials move on to using letters of the Greek alphabet to start storm names (and 'Iota' the 9th letter). Extreme weather events aren't likely to ease up anytime soon leading the Red Cross to up its estimate of the number of people it believes will need natural disaster aid from 100 million to 200 million over the next 30 years.


He promised to end America’s involvement in long-running overseas conflicts when he ran in the 2016 election, and now analysts are waiting for outgoing US President Trump to pull most of America's 5,000 troops out of Afghanistan and 3,000 out of Iraq by Christmas. If he does it, the move will run counter to the advice of his military commanders, but it's expected with Trump making moves last week to install loyalists at the top of the Defence tree. There are big concerns that a quick exit from those places could undermine counterterrorism efforts and the peace process in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden’s team is no closer to getting what they need to start their transition to the White House. And Biden yesterday said more Americans will die from the coronavirus crisis if Trump doesn’t get with the program. “If we have to wait until Jan 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind,” he said. COVID is surging in the US with almost a million new cases added to the tally last week.


There are now 21 coronavirus cases linked to a cluster in Adelaide's northern suburbs, and there are another 14 suspected cases that are being monitored. The confirmed cases from yesterday are close contacts of others tied to the Parafield cluster, and more than 4,000 people are in quarantine or self-isolation. “What we're doing is trying to really act quickly and decisively against this disease so we can minimise the damage,” Premier Steven Marshall said yesterday. Some damage may have already been done with Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern saying the outbreak means there’s little chance a two-way travel bubble will be in operation by Christmas. Lucky we’ve embraced the word ‘iso’...


Pop star Taylor Swift yesterday confirmed her arch-enemy Scooter Braun has sold the rights to her first 6 albums to investment fund Shamrock Holdings, in a deal believed to be worth around US$300 million. "This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge," she tweeted. It follows her year-long effort to regain ownership of her master recordings from Braun after he took control of her old record label Big Machine in June last year. In 2004, a 15yo Swift inked a contract that didn’t give her ownership of her first recordings. While Swift said she was "open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock", she changed her mind when she found out that Braun will "continue to profit” from her old music. Let’s just say her antipathy for the music mogul runs deep... Swift said she will continue on with her plan to re-record those albums in a bid to devalue her original masters.


Reckon you had a rough Tuesday? At least you didn’t kill off the Queen… Or icons Pelé and Brigitte Bardot. Or Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former US president Jimmy Carter, or artist Yoko Ono. Or actors Clint Eastwood and Sophia Loren. That happened to public radio station Radio France Internationale with a technical glitch publishing its pre-written obituaries. What happened to our head of state? “Infected by the virus, Queen Elizabeth II, aged 93, did not survive associated pulmonary complications,” the media outlet had foreseen. Oops…


12.30pm (AEDT) - Law Council President Pauline Wright addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

8.10pm (AEDT) - Rugby League’s State of Origin Game 3 - Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Australian release of A Promised Land, the first volume of Barack Obama's presidential memoir

ABS Data Release - Wage Price Index, September

Birthdays for author Margaret Atwood (1939), Dr Who producer Steven Moffat (1961) and actor Owen Wilson (1968)

Anniversary of:
• the consecration of St. Peter's Basilica (1626)
• Brooklyn toymaker Morris Michton naming the teddy bear after US President Teddy Roosevelt (1902)
• Mickey Mouse's Birthday - on the anniversary of the release of his first appearance in Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie (1928)
• the Jonestown Massacre when cult leader Jim Jones convinced more than 900 people to drink poison (1978)
• the release of video game Minecraft (2011)

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