Squiz Today / 27 January 2021

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 27 January


"It was like somebody said, 'OK, you've had enough, here's some to help'."

Said one Adelaide Hills resident of the rain that allowed authorities to contain a dangerous fire that took off in last week’s hot temperatures. If you come across that all-powerful ‘somebody’ today, tell them we’d like to book an appointment…


The European Union is moving to stop the export of COVID-19 vaccines from production plants run by AstraZeneca and Pfizer to nations around the world after they fell behind in supplying the agreed number of doses to the continent. A vaccine shortage is emerging as a problem for the US (which last week passed 400,000 deaths) and the UK (which last night passed 100,000 deaths). And it comes after Monday’s approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Pfizer’s vaccine for use in Australia.

Well, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine (which we’ve pre-bought 53.8 million doses pending approval) will be made in Australia by CSL, so it shouldn't be affected by any EU clampdown. But there's speculation the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - which is made in Belgium - could be delayed. Australia has purchased 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and as the first cab off the approval rank, it is slated to be in the arms of vulnerable and frontline Aussies from late February/early March PM Scott Morrison says. But will this power move by Europe further affect the delivery of those doses to Oz? It’s an open question.

AstraZeneca had a production problem and its expected output of 80 million doses between January and March will be closer to 30 million, the company says. And Pfizer delayed shipments last week because of work to increase capacity at its Belgian plant. That’s seen vaccination programs across Europe slow or stop with Italy and Poland threatening legal action. The vaccination race is on across the world with many nations struggling with procurement and distribution problems. In amongst that is the concern that developing nations will be left behind. Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned richer nations against “vaccinationalism” saying it is “self-defeating and will delay a global recovery.”



Former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer will today arrive in Melbourne to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse. It took more than 70 court hearings to force her to return from Israel where she fled in 2008 when the allegations first surfaced. Since then, Leifer’s representatives have consistently argued she was not mentally fit to return. It’s been a six-year process for sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper who allege they were groomed and abused over several years while students at Melbourne’s Adass Israel school that was headed by the 52yo. Leifer will go into 2-weeks quarantine while being held in detention and face court as soon as next week.


Republicans and Democrats have agreed - former president Donald Trump's Senate trial will kick off on 9 February. And yesterday, members of the House of Representatives delivered the paperwork to support their charge that "Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanours by inciting violence against the Government of the United States." That will keep Trump’s newly opened Florida office busy… For his part, President Joe Biden doesn’t think Trump will be found guilty because it’s unlikely 17 out of the Republicans’ 50 senators will vote with the Democrats. Another painful process facing the former mob - Trump’s personal lawyer/Republican luminary Rudy Giuliani is being sued by a voting equipment company at the centre of unsubstantiated election fraud claims - for US$1.3 billion…


One speech - 2 messages. Chinese President Xi Jinping has addressed the good and the great attending the World Economic Forum annual event (which has gone online this year in a blow to the private jet sector). One take is his call for global cooperation to fight the coronavirus and climate change. “Humanity has only Earth and one future,” he said (and we swear we could hear a Whitney Houston song in the background…). The other angle was his warning of “a new Cold War” developing on the trade front. Xi didn’t mention the US, but it was widely seen as a message to the Biden administration. While the new lot in the White House have overturned some notable Trump policies, experts say the US-China trade war is not likely to be one of them…


Some partied, some protested on our national day. As for those who were recognised:

• Grace Tame from Tassie is our Australian of the Year. Groomed and sexually abused as a 15yo, the now 26yo campaigned for reforms to the state’s laws that prevented survivors from speaking publicly. Tame made it clear she will use her platform to confront some "heavy topics" this year.

• Women took out all the Australia Day awards - Indigenous education advocate Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann is Senior Australian of the Year; Rosemary Kariuki was named Local Hero for her work with migrant and refugee women; and Isobel Marshall, a 22yo period poverty campaigner, was named Young Australian of the Year.

• As for the Oz Day Honours - former tennis great/'traditional values' advocate Margaret Court received the nation’s highest honour for her still unbeaten sporting achievements. Reports this morning say she received the honour to balance the honours' gender disparity with former men's great Rod Laver. Former PM Malcolm Turnbull also received the top gong - he said he found the timing ironic given he ushered in same-sex marriage laws.

• Musically speaking, Heat Waves by UK band Glass Animals took out Triple J’s Hottest 100. As predicted.

• And a surprise - the Coldest 100 that was unveiled on Twitter on Saturday. You can see why this delightfully dreadful version of Tones and I’s Dance Monkey was put in the freezer…


Top health tip: if new Apple devices set your heart aflutter, you might just want to check it’s not your pacemaker reacting with the electromagnetic fields coming from an iPhone 12.

COVID has played havoc with weddings and fancy events - and that's said to be driving new interest in drying flowers. And as anyone who went through this in the late 80s/early 90s knows, it’s just one step away from potpourri - a dark place that no one needs to revisit…

And for anyone who knows (or is) a stage 5 clinger, this is for you.


Back to school for kids in NSW (Eastern division), Victoria, Queensland and South Australia

ABS Data Release - Inflation numbers for the last quarter of 2020

The fast-tracked trials of 89 ’NDrangheta mafia suspects begins - Calabria, Italy

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover head outside for a spacewalk from the International Space Station

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

Anniversary of:
• the end of the Siege of Leningrad, which saw more than 2 million Russians killed (1944)
• the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Army (1945)
the Apollo 1 disaster (1967)

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