Squiz Today / 31 March 2021

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 31 March



Is the new name for Volkswagen in the US in a nod to the company's shift towards electric vehicle production. A marketing ploy, early April Fools' gag or the real deal, do you think?


Greater Brisbane has been declared a COVID hotspot as 8 new locally-acquired cases of the virus were reported there yesterday. There are 2 clusters on the go with 10 cases linked to the ‘doctor’ cluster since its kick-off earlier this month and 8 cases from the 'nurse' cluster, which emerged on Monday. Both stem from unvaccinated medical staff working at the city's Princess Alexandra Hospital who contracted the virus from patients with the highly infectious UK strain. The major hospital in Brissie’s south was locked down last night as a “precautionary measure”.

That’s what Queensland officials are looking into. The state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young yesterday said going forward, only medical staff who have received at least their first vaccination shot are allowed to treat COVID patients. Asked whether she thought there would be more cases, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said yep. “The big question will be whether or not we see unlinked community transmission." She will give an update today on whether the lockdown will lift tomorrow, which is looking tricky with the Gold Coast, Hervey Bay, Gladstone, and Byron Bay (including a cross-border ‘entertainer’...) linked to new cases. For now, Brisbanites face border restrictions, and residents from Toowoomba can't go to the Top End after the territory declared it a hotspot. That's because Chief Minister Michael Gunner developed symptoms and remains in isolation awaiting test results after his in-laws came to Darwin for a visit from the Queensland city on the weekend. Talk about a double whammy…

Kind of… It’s been more than a month since World Health Organisation investigators left China, and their final report into COVID’s origin was released yesterday. They have narrowed it to 4 possible scenarios - the most likely is that it was transmitted to humans from bats via another animal. What that intermediate animal host was is still unknown. The least likely source of the virus? A laboratory leak. Investigators also said they believe the virus was spreading for no more than 2 months before it was first noticed in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.



When the 59yo’s highly anticipated trial starts in New York in July, she will have more sex trafficking and conspiracy charges to face along. Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of financier Jeffrey Epstein, was initially accused of recruiting and grooming his young victims. The new charges centre on claims that she groomed and paid a 14yo girl for sex with Epstein, bringing the number of victims in the case to 4 and extending the timeframe of the alleged crimes from 3 to 10 years. The British socialite has previously pleaded not guilty to similar charges and remains in a federal jail after she was denied bail 3 times. Epstein, a multi-millionaire charged with sex trafficking in 2019, took his own life in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial.


China’s President Xi Jinping has finalised plans to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure its pro-democracy leaders cannot control its administration. Earlier this month, China's powers-that-be approved plans to ban 'non-patriots' from holding office. And yesterday, Xi gave the green light to set up a committee of officials loyal to China's Communist Party to vet Hong Kong's political candidates. The number of the territory’s Legislative Council seats directly elected by Hongkongers was also almost halved. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam yesterday said opposition candidates can still run - as long as they toe the China line. Former pro-democracy Emily Lau says the changes are “degrading and very oppressive." The next election in Hong Kong is in December.


Fears of a civil war in Myanmar are growing as the pro-democracy protester death toll rises and calls mount for the country’s ethnic groups to band together against the military. Three of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups yesterday threatened to enter the conflict and "fight alongside the people" if security forces continue to attack demonstrators. More than 500 people have been killed in the military's crackdown on protests against its February coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Yesterday, Labor and Greens MPs urged the Morrison Government to consider a visa amnesty for Myanmarese students studying in Australia - similar to that given to Chinese students after the Tiananmen Square massacre.


The Ever Given mega-ship may have been freed with the help of a ‘Worm moon’ and dragged to the Suez Canal’s Great Bitter Lake to think about its life choices, but the saga lives on as the process kicks off now to understand the fallout from the ship's wedging. The blockage led to a major traffic jam in one of the world's most important waterways, with billions of dollars worth of goods at a standstill for a week, costing the canal $18-19.5 million every day. Now teams are set to investigate how it happened. Panama will handle it unless Egypt exercises its right to take over, though international pressure could lead to the US National Transportation Safety Board stepping in. Investigation or not, the head of the canal authority Osama Rabie has already reached one conclusion - “the Suez Canal is not at fault,” he said.


Aussies are Apple people. Commanding more than half of the smartphone market here, the next closest is Samsung with 20% market share. But that's not to say we're happy with Apple's grip on repairing their devices when they go on the blink (ie when you've smashed it on the bathroom tiles, or like we've done, driven off with it on the car roof and flung it into a wall as we picked up speed…) if you're to keep your warranty. That was until yesterday when Apple said it will allow independent repairers to do the work by giving them access to tools and spare parts. Tech and electrical goods companies are coming under pressure over the 'right to repair' - which is a fancy way of saying that their goods should be able to be fixed by services outside the manufacturers. Now onto getting our phone screen fixed…


Sure, we see ourselves as future YouTube cooking show sensations. But one person who might have thought twice about putting himself on camera as he whipped up some Italian recipes, even with his face obscured, would have to be a distinctively tattooed Mafia fugitive

If your wine collection is full to overflowing with quality vintages, well aren’t you amazing. If you require some extra space (or the removal of temptation…), an underwater cellar could be just the thing you need.

And if you’re in Brissie and have had to face the rush on the supermarkets this week, at least you’re not getting picked off by ravens in the car park. Or at least we hope you’re not…


12.30pm (AEDT) - National Co-ordinator for the Bushfire Recovery Agency Andrew Colvin addresses the National Press Club - Canberra

ABS Data Release - Building Approvals, February

The Royal Australian Air Force marks its centenary

International Transgender Day of Visibility

Birthdays for Christopher Walken (1943), Al Gore (1948), Angus Young (1955) and Ewan McGregor (1971)

Anniversary of:
• the deaths of Isaac Newtown (1727), Charlotte Brontë (1855), JP Morgan (1913) and Jesse Owens (1980)
• Oliver Cromwell being offered the crown by the English Parliament (he declines) (1657)
• the Eiffel Tower officially opening in Paris (1889)
• Donald Trump buying Eastern Air Lines shuttle, which he renamed Trump Shuttle (1989)
• Harry and Meghan officially stepping down from royal duties (2020)

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