Squiz Today / 22 December 2021

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 22 December

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Squiz Today Podcast

Hot tip: Perfect with pre-Christmas Christmas cake. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“We are so happy to let you know the truck and camper are out of the mud and safe.”

Said the Zavros family with an update – they were the adventurers who were stranded for a week and had to be choppered out when they got bogged in the Simpson Desert. The publican from Mt Dare drove 4 hours to dig their vehicle out. Talk about good service…

A duo of high profile deliberations

Two of America’s biggest criminal trials of the year – with 2 of the world’s most reviled women at the centre of them – have retired for the juries to consider their verdicts. Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of grooming young women for Jeffrey Epstein. And Elizabeth Holmes was charged with defrauding investors and patients via her biotech startup, Theranos. Both trials have been years in the making and examine the women’s alleged use and abuse of power.

You’ll remember Epstein died by suicide in a New York jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial. Maxwell was Epstein’s girlfriend/employee, and this trial is about her involvement in sourcing 4 teenagers – some as young as 14yo – in the decade to 2004 to meet Epstein’s voracious sexual appetite. Prosecutors called her a “sophisticated predator” and claimed she built a special relationship with the girls before they agreed to give Epstein massages which turned into sexual abuse. Maxwell’s lawyers maintain she is the government’s scapegoat for crimes committed by Epstein, who was friends with many of the world’s rich and powerful, including Prince Andrew. Judge Alison Nathan yesterday told jurors they could choose to convict Maxwell if they decided she either ignored or “consciously avoided” knowledge of Epstein’s encounters with underage girls. If found guilty, she’s facing the equivalent of a life sentence.

Back in 2014, the 19yo Stanford Uni dropout blasted onto the startup scene in California’s Silicon Valley with her big idea – a machine that could run hundreds of medical tests from just one drop of blood. In the ensuing years, she built her biotech company Theranos while styling herself on Apple founder Steve Jobs. The problem was Theranos was no Apple… It collapsed in 2018 after whistle-blowers exposed its issues to the media and federal regulators. Prosecutors in her fraud trial claim that she knew her technology was a dud, but she kept raising money to keep the company alive. Her lawyers argue that she didn’t purposefully mislead investors and that she believed she was building a company that would “change the world’ while being dominated by her partner/colleague Sunny Balwani. Commentators say the trial is a defining moment for the tech industry and its culture of over-egging the pudding. If found guilty, the now-mum could face up to 20 years in jail.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Meanwhile, in coronavirus news…

• The World Health Organization has urged people to cancel or delay their holiday plans as Omicron continues to spread worldwide. One person heeding the advice is Queen Elizabeth – she’s cancelled her traditional Christmas at Sandringham Estate, preferring to stay put at Windsor Castle. One team that might be wishing it had cancelled its party plans is the Sydney Swans… 

• The National Cabinet will meet today, and PM Scott Morrison says he will present the experts’ “strong recommendations” to reinstate indoor mask mandates – or continue them, depending on where you are. Speeding up the booster shot rollout is also on the agenda.

• Adding to that discussion today will be Doherty Institute modelling showing we’re heading towards 200,000 new COVID cases a day in late January/early February without low-to-medium restrictions, like masks. That would see hospitalisation rates lifting to 4,000 a day, they say.


Death tolls climb in the Philippines and Malaysia

At least 375 people have been confirmed dead and more than 50 are missing in the aftermath of Typhoon Rai that hit the Philippines’ southeast on Friday. The storm was one of the deadliest to hit the Southeast Asian nation, and the Philippine Red Cross is leading calls for aid to be sent to the country urgently. Reports say thousands of residents in the worst affected areas have no access to food, clean drinking water or power. And while we’re in the region, Malaysia is reeling from some of the worst floods its seen in decades. At least 14 people have died and more than 50,000 have been displaced after torrential rain caused severe flooding across 8 states. Images show the capital Kuala Lumpur submerged by water at levels not seen since a whopper flood in 1971. Reports say there is growing public anger over the way government officials have handled the emergency.

World News

Electoral commission takes Laming to court

In a first for the Australian Electoral Commission, it’s taking a federal MP to court because their social media posts weren’t labelled as authorised political content. Let us explain… So you know when you’re watching TV and there’s that urgent voice at the end of a political ad saying it’s authorised by [insert name] for [insert party]? This is about the social media version of that. The law was updated in 2016 to require social posts relating to electoral matters published by a politician or candidate on Facebook/Twitter/etc to display an authorisation. Enter the outgoing Member for Bowman Andrew Laming… He’s been in the news a bit this year, and now he’s heading to court over social media posts that the AEC says do not make clear are his. But Laming says his name was in the ‘about’ section of the Facebook page, and just 22 people saw the posts. Pundits say it’s a warning to candidates as we head towards next year’s federal election.


Mr Big gets dumped

Actor Chris Noth – aka Sex and the City’s Mr Big – has been booted from the CBS series The Equaliserfollowing sexual assault allegations levelled against him by 2 women. In a story published in The Hollywood Reporter last week, 2 women claimed that the 67yo assaulted them in separate incidents in 2004 and 2015 – allegations that Noth says are “categorically false”. He says the encounters were consensual. The actor played a former CIA director in the television series, and Universal Television/CBS yesterday said Noth would end filming “effective immediately”. Yesterday Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis issued a joint statement saying they were “deeply saddened” and they “support the women who have come forward”.


The creative power of sleep

If you need an excuse to snooze, new research has revealed that a little bit of shut-eye can boost creativity. In a study by the Paris Brain Institute, researchers gave 103 volunteers a 20-minute break to sleep before being given a mathematical problem to solve. Those that slipped into the lightest form of non-rapid-eye-movement sleep were almost 3 times as likely to crack the code as those who stayed awake and were 6 times more successful than those that entered a deep sleep. It suggests that when we start to drift off to sleep, that’s when the magic happens. Researchers say that’s because that period is one of the most active times for the brain, as it can operate more efficiently when we are relaxed. Afternoon nap, here we come… 

Environment & Science

Apropos of Nothing

‘Boofhead’ the 4-metre crocodile  – named for his “wide, ugly head” – is a local celebrity in Far North Queensland’s Proserpine. But last weekend, Boofhead became a legend after stealing a local fisherman’s catch. At least it was just a shark… 

Plane and passenger safety is jeopardised by mid-air collisions with birds. So experts in Canada use a novel device to test a plane’s structure – behold the ‘chicken cannon’.

And palaeontologists have discovered a fossil of a giant millipede found on a beach in northern England that they say is the “biggest bug that ever lived”. They reckon it was 55cm wide, 2.63m long, and 50kg heavy = what nightmares are made of.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.00pm (AEDT) – National Cabinet meets

It’s the Summer Solstice aka the longest day of the year

Birthdays for actor Ralph Fiennes (1962) and model/property mogul Jennifer Hawkins (1983)

Anniversary of:
• Thomas Edison inventing the first string of Christmas tree lights (1882)
• the premiere of Doctor Zhivago (1965) and The Graduate (1967)
• the birthdays of Bee Gees Maurice and Robin Gibb (1949)

And it’s 3 days until Christmas…

Squiz the Day

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