Squiz Today / 04 March 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 4 March


“We have lots of contact, we shake hands, we kiss each other, we hug each other. Maybe it is better in this period … (to) try to be a bit less expansive.”

Italy’s coronavirus commissioner Angelo Borrelli has urged his fellow citizens to tone it down for a bit. Buona fortuna...


NSW Health officials yesterday said the Sydney doctor who was confirmed to be one of the first local cases of human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus may have passed on the infection. That’s because he continued to treat patients at Ryde Hospital until he was diagnosed late on Monday. It’s also a mystery as to how he got the virus with officials confirming he didn’t treat anyone with a confirmed case. His colleagues have been put on leave and patients are being contacted. NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant yesterday reiterated that NSW is not seeing a widespread coronavirus outbreak. Australia’s number of confirmed cases rose to 38 yesterday - and new cases have been confirmed overnight, including another local case of human-to-human transmission.

Wash your mouth out - and wash your hands while you’re at it… But if it does come to that, the federal government can invoke Biosecurity Control Orders that could see authorities put us into lockdown. Note: we're a long way from that. In the meantime, there's an economy to worry about… The Reserve Bank yesterday dropped interest rates to a new record low of 0.5% in the hope it will encourage economic activity. All the major banks will pass it on to customers in full. And PM Scott Morrison is cooking up a stimulus package to be announced before the May Budget to help those already hit by the global health emergency, like the tourism and education sectors. He’s also made a couple of phone calls about another urgent issue - the availability of toot paper.

"Uncharted territory" is how the boss of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, characterised the current state of the global health emergency yesterday. But the world can "push this virus back," he insists. Even Tinder is worried about the spread… There are now more than 90,000 cases in 75 countries. And of the almost 9,000 cases that are outside China, 81% are in four countries - Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan.



It was a commitment to suspend hostilities that didn't last long... The Taliban in Afghanistan says it will resume attacks against government forces just days after signing an agreement with America to forge a pathway towards a lasting peace. Not part of the deal: the Afghan Government. That’s because the Taliban has regarded it as illegitimate because of the support it receives from the US and other western nations. But the next steps include the two sides starting discussions. Oh, and the Taliban wants 5,000 of its prisoners held by the government released ASAP. Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani says his government’s position is nup. These stumbling blocks are what critics have been saying could derail all thing peace-ish - it’s just happened sooner than some expected.


It’s going to be another close one... Fronting voters for the third time after inconclusive ballots in April and September last year, incumbent Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and aligned MPs are ahead - but may not have enough to command a majority in the Knesset (aka the parliament). Needing 61 seats to claim victory, Netanyahu and his allies are sitting at 59 with 90% of the vote counted. His primary opponent, Benny Gantz's Blue and White party and its aligned MPs are expected to come up short with 54 seats. That makes a kingmaker out of the leader of Yisrael Beitenu, Avigdor Lieberman. Which is exactly what’s happened in the previous two elections, and look how that turned out... That didn’t stop Netanyahu from claiming victory yesterday. Watch this space.


If you need us around the middle of today, we’ll be in front of the telly watching the results come in from the US presidential election year's second-biggest day. As the Democrats face off in its version of America’s Got (Political) Talent, 14 states will vote today in the race to decide who will go up against US President Donald Trump in November. Self-identified democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is in the lead after the four earlier contests. But former Vice President Joe Biden has momentum after a win on Saturday in South Carolina. And it will be the first time billionaire Michael Bloomberg is on the ticket, so we’ll see whether his A$700 million campaign spend so far will convert to votes. The other watch-out is whether Senator Elizabeth Warren can get some traction. Bring it.

Want a quick way to get a handle on how the US presidential election process works? Check out our Squiz Shortcut on how it comes together for a vote in November. Imagine the dinner party conversations you'll be able to lead - or kill... 


According to the bosses of local news service Australian Associated Press (AAP), the internet has claimed another scalp. A reluctance from Aussies to pay for news (ahem…) and the internet more broadly means it’s curtains for the 85-year-old newswire service. AAP has been the workhorse of Aussie newsgathering since it was launched. Its journalists are guns at breaking news reporting and photography, and their work is then syndicated by international and local media. But like many other media outlets, it has been caught up in the industry-wide cost-cutting cluster-disaster with major shareholders Nine and News Corp trimming budgets. It was a tough day for its staff. "The tragedy in terms of AAP’s demise is that we are a very non-agenda based news organisation. We simply cover the facts. That’s probably the biggest piece of the puzzle that will disappear," said chief executive Bruce Davidson.


People in animal costumes doing their turn on the catwalk at Paris fashion week - who knew that rarified air was so easy to crack?


11.00am (AEDT) - The first polls in America’s Super Tuesday close with results coming through into our evening

ABS Data Release - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, December

Start of Melbourne Fashion Festival (on until 14 March)

Birthday for Lindy Chamberlain (1948)

Anniversary of the birthdays of Vivaldi (1678), Bobby Womack (1944), Bobbi Kristina Brown (1993)

First anniversary of the death of 90210 star Luke Perry (2019)

4th wedding anniversary for Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall

Anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Vinegar Hill (aka Castle Hill rebellion) in NSW, when Irish convicts led the colony's only significant convict uprising (1804)

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