Squiz Today / 28 October 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 28 October


“Very nice!”

In the ultimate ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join 'em’, Kazakhstan, home of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat Sagdiyev, will adopt his catchphrase as its tourism slogan. There’s no word on whether the UK town of Staines will take on Ali G’s favoured term ‘booyakasha’...


It's only Wednesday, and we're marking it down as a pretty good week… The Reserve Bank's Deputy Governor Guy Debelle yesterday told a Senate hearing that Australia’s economy is probably growing again. Even taking into account Victoria's shut down during the period, Debelle said our economy could have grown between July and September, putting an early end to the recession. It’s not confirmed - it’s the RBA’s best guess, but he says it seems "the strength elsewhere in the country was more than the drag from Victoria" with Western Oz an economic standout.

Whoa up, Nelly… We won’t know for sure what the economy’s doing until later this year. Debelle said they’re finding it hard to get a fix on exactly where the economy’s at right now, let alone being able to predict where things are going. But there could be difficult times ahead for many Aussies, particularly if home prices fall, RBA Assistant Governor Michele Bullock said in a speech last night. The RBA’s board will meet on Tuesday next week when it’s tipped to drop interest rates to a new record low of 0.1% while also expanding other measures to help kick the economy into gear. Also on policymakers’ minds - billions of dollars in government support is scheduled to dry up with JobKeeper payments ending in March, and the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement finishing at the end of this year. So, there’s optimism with a few strings attached…

And nothing’s gonna steal their sunshine (except for the forecast showers perhaps…). For the first time since early July, Melburnians can now leave their homes for whatever reason they want, amongst many other splendid things (including the resumption of banging into the Montague St Bridge…). More details were provided yesterday on home visits in Melbourne. From today, two adults will be able to visit another home accompanied by dependents, and until the 25km travel limit is lifted on 8 November, these visits will have to occur within that zone. And in a development unthinkable last week, Halloween trick-or-treating will be a feature of Saturday. Contactless, of course… And further afield, there’s some movement on the Aussie borders front with Tassie leading the charge to reopen.



Mert Ney, the 22yo Sydney man who stabbed 24yo Michaela Dunn to death in a CBD apartment in August last year before going on a rampage through the city, yesterday pleaded guilty to her murder and to injuring a woman who he stabbed on the street. City workers were thanked for their bravery when they confronted and detained Ney who brandished a knife and shouted "Allah Akbar". The court heard yesterday how Ney had filmed himself standing over Dunn, a sex worker, and had told a friend that he’d laughed as he killed her. Toxicology tests found prescription drugs in his system, and he has been receiving treatment for his mental ill health while in custody. Ney's sentencing hearing starts in the NSW Supreme Court on 11 December.


It had never been done this close to an election or in such a tight timeframe before, but US President Donald Trump has been successful in getting his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court. Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate and quickly sworn in at a ceremony that looked different to the one that turned into a COVID superspreader event… Her appointment was lauded by conservatives and condemned by progressives who fear she will be a judicial activist on issues like abortion. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called it an “abuse of power". For her part, Barrett says her deeply held religious views will not influence her when it comes to considering points of law. Barrett is the third justice Trump's put on the 9-seat Supreme Court - remarkable for a first-term president given appointments are for life. Her arrival tips the bench in favour of Republican appointees 6-3.


China has another reason to be angry with the US... America’s State Department has confirmed the plans of US weapons manufacturers to sell US$2.37 billion of Harpoon missile systems to Taiwan. The missiles are capable of striking ships and land targets, and it’s not the only weapon changing hands in recent times. The US Government’s announcement came a couple of hours after China announced sanctions against Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other defence firms for providing weapons to Taiwan. It’s a sensitive issue for China which claims Taiwan as part of its territory. Australia, like many others, doesn’t recognise Taiwan as a nation but maintains an unofficial relationship. For the last 30 years, the US has said it would reduce and end weapons sales to Taiwan, but not yet it seems… Analysts are wondering if Taiwan will become a new flashpoint in the superpowers’ deteriorating relationship.


France’s troubled relationship with Turkey isn’t in good shape with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging his country to boycott French products following President Emmanuel Macron’s toughened stance on radical Islam. France’s long-held secularist values have been in focus after the murder of history teacher Samuel Paty earlier this month by 18yo Abdullakh Anzorov in a town outside Paris. Paty had shown his class cartoons published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo of the Prophet Muhammad - the same images at the centre of the 2015 terror attack. In response to Paty’s death, Macron pledged to defend secularism and tackle "Islamist separatism", a move which has angered parts of the Islamic world. French products have already been removed in shops in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar, while Bangladesh, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Pakistan have criticised Macron.


…but a new study confirms what you might have already suspected. Research on the dietary habits of 100,000 volunteers found that those who drank large amounts of artificially sweetened beverages were 20% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, compared to those who drank none. A similar result was found for those who consumed high amounts of sugary beverages. But the results only showed an association between the two factors rather than direct causation. "We know that people who consume diet sodas sometimes are already overweight or obese, so you have to wonder what other confounders and lifestyle may already exist," cardiologist Dr Andrew Freeman said. The study’s authors said more research would have to be done to establish if diet drinks cause heart issues.


If what their owners put on their gravestones in pet cemeteries is anything to go by, then yes. A study shows it’s a reasonably modern thing to want to be reunited with Fluffy/Bruiser in the afterlife - as is religious leaders' recognition that animals have souls. But as any good atheist would say, that's contingent on there being anything beyond this life at all… Geez, that’s a bit deep for pre-coffee o’clock…


12.30pm (AEDT) - Bruce Wolpe from the US Studies Centre and Tom Switzer from the Centre for Independent Studies talk all things US elections at the National Press Club - Canberra

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements is due to present its report to the Governor-General

ABS Data Release - Consumer Price Index, September

Czech Republic’s National Day

Birthdays for Caitlyn Jenner (1949), Bill Gates (1955), Julia Roberts (1967), Joaquin Phoenix (1974), Matt Smith (1982) and Frank Ocean (1987)

Anniversary of:
• the release of Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)
• Italian fascists conducting the March on Rome, leading to the assumption of power by Benito Mussolini (1922)
• Elvis’s groundbreaking contribution to getting American teens vaccinated for polio (1956)


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