Squiz Today / 24 January 2018

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 24 January


"$39 million”

That’s how much it cost Netflix to walk away from Kevin Spacey due to the "unreleased material" it decided to scrap from House of Cards and a new series, Gore. The company still made US$186 million in profit and added 8.6 million new subscribers in the last three months of last year. Because nothing says Christmas like a Netflix marathon.


A federal public servant was yesterday accused of sending $30,000 to Islamic State. Forty-year-old Linda Merhi from Guilford, Sydney is alleged to have transferred five payments to the terrorist organisation between February and October 2015. Evidence against her was uncovered by detectives investigating the murder of NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng who was shot outside Parramatta Police Headquarters in October 2015. Police said there were no links between the allegations and Merhi’s job as a bureaucrat. She was refused bail.

Authorities wouldn’t comment on how their investigation into Cheng’s murder led them to Merhi. You might remember that Cheng was shot as he left work by 15yo Farhad Jabar in an IS-inspired terrorist act. Jabar was also killed that day, and several men have been arrested or prosecuted for plotting the attack. Jabar’s sister, Shadi Jabar, was an IS recruiter who fled to Syria the day before her brother carried out the attack. She was subsequently killed in a Coalition airstrike in mid-2016. Police said they would continue to investigate the recipient of the funds.

Police said Merhi was previously unknown to them. "I want to reassure the community that there is no current or impending threat to the community as part of today's arrest," said NSW assistant police commissioner Michael Willing. PM Malcolm Turnbull praised the joint Federal Police, ASIO and NSW Police operation. “Good intelligence and good cooperation enables terrorist plots and activities to be disrupted,” he said.


It’s the big trade deal that could. Reports this morning say a new Trans-Pacific Partnership is on track to be signed by 11 nations in March. Australia and Japan have spearheaded efforts to get the mega-agreement off the ground after twice being derailed. The first time was when US President Donald Trump removed the US from the deal when he came to office. The second was when Canadian PM Justin Trudeau squibbed it late last year. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said it was great news and would give Australian exporters more opportunities in key markets.

The threat level associated with the Mount Mayon volcano on the Filipino island of Luzon has been raised to level four. That means a serious eruption is imminent. Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated as multiple eruptions have already spewed lava and ash across a wide area. And in Japan, there’s been one death and about a dozen skiers injured after the Mount Kusatsu-Shirane volcano erupted near a ski resort. The fatality and some of the injuries involved members of the defence force on training exercises. Some were hit with rocks, and others were caught up in a resulting avalanche.

US GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OVER - For now… US lawmakers have kicked the budget can three weeks down the road. Pressure is now on Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell who broke the standoff by telling the Senate it was his “intention” to address the key immigration issues in the coming weeks. Which is kinda like your parents saying “we’ll see” when you asked for a pony as a kid. But we'll see.

ROHINGYA RETURN PROGRAM DELAYED - Bangladesh says arrangements aren’t in place for Rohingya Muslims to start to be repatriated to Myanmar. And the UN is concerned about forced returns saying only volunteers should go, and only if their safety and rights are protected.

PASSWORD PROBLEMS – Remember the panic caused by a mistaken missile alert in Hawaii a couple of weekends ago? The state’s governor has fessed up to not being able to help quickly spread the word that it was all a mistake because he and his team couldn’t remember his Twitter password. Happens to the best of us…

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water has received 13 Oscar nominations - just one shy of equalling the record shared by Titanic, La La Land and All About Eve. Aussie Margot Robbie is up for best actress for her turn in I, Tonya. And the rest is largely in line with previous awards this year – the full list is here. Notable snubsWonder Woman; James Franco; and Steven Speilberg. The coveted gongs will be awarded on 4 March. And at the other end of the awards spectrum – nominations for this year’s Razzies are also out.

Sweet Caroline, this is a Song Sung Blue. Musical legend Neil Diamond yesterday said he was retiring from touring and would have to cancel his upcoming concerts in Australia and New Zealand due to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. “I have been so honoured to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows," he said. Diamond plans on writing and recording music for some time to come. He turns 77yo today and will receive a lifetime award at the Grammys on Sunday.


Anniversary of Winston Churchill's death at 90 (1965)

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