Squiz Today / 02 September 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 2 September


“It's the sheep that will end my career."

Veteran shearer Phil Rourke says 80-90kg woolly mammoths have become the norm in the last decade. Bigger sheep = more fleece and meat. But it’s baa-d ‘ewes for shearers backs...


The economic cost of the coronavirus crisis is back in sharp focus today as the release of Australia’s national accounts are set to reveal the biggest quarterly decline in economic growth on record and confirm we are in our first recession for 29 years. It comes as some other data points to the economy being in better shape than was expected at the beginning of the pandemic.

Announcing interest rates will remain at the record low of 0.25%, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe yesterday said "the economy is going through a very difficult period and is experiencing the biggest contraction since the 1930s. As difficult as this is, the downturn is not as severe as earlier expected, and a recovery is now underway in most of Australia." And when it comes to trade, figures out yesterday show our exporters are killing it. So that’s something. But nationally, home prices are slipping. And analysts say the end of September will be a test as JobKeeper/JobSeeker payments change and under-pressure borrowers who are taking a 6-month loan repayment holiday have to check-in with their bank.

Well, on the JobKeeper payment and JobSeeker coronavirus supplement, the Morrison Government’s proposed changes to reduce the payment and eligibility, but extend the availability to March next year were passed by the Federal Parliament yesterday with support from Labor. The JobKeeper element will cost an additional $32 billion, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said yesterday, taking the total to be spent on the program to more than $100 billion. And PM Scott Morrison yesterday said it’s his hope that state borders will be opened by Christmas to help the economy get going and allow 2020-weary people to get travelling around the country. He’s keen to talk to state and territory leaders about that at Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.



The local mayor of Kenosha, Wisconsin and the governor of the state pleaded with him to stay away, but US President Donald Trump has visited the protest-wracked city to spruik his law and order message. He's visited a block that was burned down by protesters in the wake of the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake more than a week ago and criticised local Democratic leaders for not doing more to prevent the destruction. The purpose of the trip is that Trump “wants to visit hurting Americans,” his people said. And he defended police saying some officers “choke” when faced with extreme situations, likening them to golfers who “miss a 3-foot putt.” But his Democratic opponent Joe Biden said “he’s stoking violence in our cities. He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”


Shrugging lady emoji... There’s speculation about the Australian journalist’s case, but China has not given any formal explanation. That’s not unusual, said our former Ambassador to Beijing - and a friend of Cheng’s - Dr Geoff Raby. "There's a period during which [China] would be assembling their case, or gauging international reaction and how they wish to handle it. This is an extremely sensitive time," he said. Reports yesterday said Cheng had been critical of the Chinese Government’s coronavirus response. But China expert Dr Delia Lin said Cheng “hasn’t really done anything extraordinary” or been overly outspoken. Which makes her wonder if it’s related to the recent breakdown in Oz-China affairs. And for other Australians working in China, it’s a “chilling message” Lin says.


Paul Rusesabagina was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda as a man who saved the lives of more than 1,200 people from the country’s 1994 genocide. To recap: in one of the world’s worst atrocities, 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists in 100 days. Yesterday, the Rwandan Government confirmed Rusesabagina had been arrested on terror charges and a range of other serious crimes against Rwandan civilians. His family believe it’s related to previously denied accusations that he financially supports Rwandan rebels. In the late 90s, Rusesabagina left Rwanda and became a Belgian citizen and a permanent resident of the US. His family say he travelled from the US to Dubai in recent days where he was kidnapped and flown to Rwanda’s capital of Kigali. His supporters’ worst fears were confirmed when he was paraded before the press on Monday.


If the Morrison Government green-lights an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission plan to force social media and online search platforms to pay publishers for their journalism, Facebook says it would stop users from sharing news content in Australia. Also affecting Instagram, internet overlord Mark Zuckerberg’s mob has joined Google in saying it would move to limit the user experience rather than cough up for Australia’s news companies. The ACCC is drawing up new rules to "level the playing field" between the tech giants and media outlets that are struggling due to the billions in lost advertising revenue. The blocking of news "is not our first choice - it is our last," said Facebook’s Oz Managing Director Will Easton. But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said “we won’t be responding to coercion or heavy-handed tactics”.


As the AFL gets set to announce Brisbane as the location of its 2020 grand final, the issue of protecting noggins on the field is back in the news after it was confirmed that former St Kilda player/Richmond coach Danny Frawley had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). It’s a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated blows to the head that has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, depression, anger and aggression issues. It can only be diagnosed by an analysis of the brain after death - something Frawley’s family allowed after he died at 56yo last year. "As his wife for over 30 years, I strongly suspected there was more going on with Danny than straightforward depression,” Frawley's wife Anita said. The confirmation of his condition makes him just the AFL's second confirmed case. The AFL says it's doing more to protect players, but some who are worried about their future health pondered what support the league will provide.


Sometimes close relationships break down and you never get a clear reason why. For one divorcee, the famed New York Times weddings section featuring her ex gave her some answers


12.30pm (AEST) - Jo-An Atkinson & Sam Mostyn to address the National Press Club on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental wealth of Australia - Canberra

AFL expected to announce the location of the 2020 Grand Final

Indigenous Literacy Day

ABS Data Release - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, June

Vietnam’s National Day

Democracy Day in Tibet, marking the anniversary of Tibet's first election of the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration (1960)

Start of Spinal Injury Awareness Week (on until 8 September)

Birthdays for actors Keanu Reeves (1964) and Salma Hayek (1966),

Anniversary of:
• the Great Fire of London, which destroyed 80% of the city (1666)
• the premiere of the first sci-fi film, A Trip To The Moon (1902)
• the deaths of Henry Lawson (1922), Ho Chi Minh (1969), JRR Tolkien (1973) and Bob Denver (2005)

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