Squiz Today / 21 October 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 21 October


“I'm a full-termer.”

Said PM Scott Morrison yesterday when asked about the temptation to go to an early election to capitalise on favourable poll results. Just halfway through his first term, Morrison’s exercising hope over experience with no PM surviving a full-term since John Howard was sacked by the people 2007…


Officials from the UK and US yesterday condemned Russia for a series of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by military intelligence officials. Posing as North Korean and Chinese cybercriminals, US investigators say Russian agents from the secretive GRU launched attacks on the 2017 French elections, the investigation into the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, and many more. Meanwhile, investigators in the UK said they uncovered a plot to hack the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics by unleashing malicious software targeting Olympic organisers' computer network to paralyse the competition.

From taking broad swipes at Western civic institutions to stealing government and corporate secrets, experts say Russia is an internet sensation - and not in a good way. “No country has weaponised its cyber-capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” said US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers yesterday. That includes the plan to target the now postponed 2020 Olympics in retaliation for Russia’s ban over widespread doping offences.

Well, the GRU keeps on keeping on... The US Justice Department announced criminal charges against 6 GRU agents yesterday. But it also charged 12 agents in 2018 for hacking the 2016 US presidential election - and that didn’t stop them… As long as the agents remain in Russia, they are largely protected against sanctions. But analysts say the real game could be to send Russia a message in advance of the Trump-Biden showdown in 2 weeks. In the meantime, you might want to run an update on your computer’s security…



The state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton is under pressure this morning with the phone and email records of some major players now handed over to the inquiry. What's been uncovered has raised questions about Sutton's knowledge of events that led to the state's second wave of coronavirus infections that has killed more than 770 Victorians. Sutton previously told the inquiry that he didn't know that private security agencies were involved in the hotel quarantine program until media reports in late May. But the emails show he was told in late March. Sutton's view was he hadn't digested that information until later, and so the emails didn’t need to be disclosed to the inquiry. He is just one person who may have to clarify their evidence, reports say, and the reporting date of 6 November is likely to be pushed out as these developments are looked into. As they say in the classics, watch this space... Meanwhile, more than 200 people who went through hotel quarantine in Victoria need to be screened for HIV, and hepatitis B and C amid fears of cross-contamination following revelations that blood glucose test devices designed to be used by one person were used by many. Officials said there’s no evidence of infection, but it was important to check.


...but through “ineptitude” rather than anything sinister, according to evidence given by Crown Resorts chairman Helen Coonan yesterday. The former federal minister told the NSW casino inquiry the company "facilitated" money laundering when it failed to act on red flags, like finding $5.6 million in cash stored in a private room. But she disputed the suggestion that Crown had deliberately turned “a blind eye” to criminal activities. The admission came a day after AUSTRAC announced it will formally investigate the gaming operator for potential breaches of anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws.


Ahead of Friday's final US presidential debate (kicking off at noon AEDT), the commission overseeing the organised brawl… sorry… contest of ideas confirmed it will mute the microphones. It won't be arbitrarily applied - just when President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden aren't scheduled to be speaking in the structured debate. The decision was made after the cluster disaster of the first outing which saw the men give a rabble a bad name... The Trump campaign isn't happy about it with concerns about muted mics (among many others issues) leading to the President refusing to take part in a second virtual debate.


Finding itself left behind in the telephonic handset market on Earth, Finland’s Nokia next growth horizon is the moon. It has been selected to deploy the first lunar cellular network on the celestial body after inking a $14.1 million deal with NASA. With the aim of establishing a long-term human presence on the moon by 2030, and to get the first woman/next man on the moon by 2024, internet access is a modern must. The "ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened” wireless 4G network will be installed remotely and will enable “vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video”. Wonder if they’re going for the expensive fibre-to-the-space-station option...


Women’s world #1 tennis star/fired-up AFL fan Ash Barty is set to present the Richmond Tigers with the Premiership Cup if they win Saturday’s decider against the Geelong Cats. The 24yo Queenslander, who is a life-long Tiges supporter and the AFLW team’s top membership holder, said she was “surprised and very honoured” with the team providing her “a constant source of enjoyment for me on the road." Barty, who has retained her world ranking this year despite not playing a big match since February, was spotted supporting her team in a moment of unbridled enthusiasm a couple of weeks ago. In the event of a Geelong win this weekend, the Cup will be presented by Cats legend Ian Nankervis.


Say ‘police graduation ceremony’ and we think something pretty formal with lots of uniforms. In Egypt, they do things a bit differently


From 4.00am (AEDT) - Broadcast of TIME100 Talks hosted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with guests talking about “creating safe, trustworthy and compassionate online communities”

12.30pm (AEDT) - ACCC Chair Rod Sims addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

International Day of the Nacho

Birthday for Judge Judy (1942), Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu (1949) and Kim Kardashian West turns 40 (1980)

Anniversary of:
• English scientist John Dalton unveils his atomic theory (1803)
• China’s occupation of Tibet (1950)
• the death of former PM Gough Whitlam (2014)
• Australia's biggest newspapers blanking out their front pages in protest against press restrictions during the George Pell case (2019)

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