Squiz Today / 05 January 2022

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 5 January

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Squiz Today Podcast

Getting your news year started on the right foot – and ear.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“My goal was to create a platform that would make it easier for employees to achieve a work-life balance and in turn boost the company’s growth as well.”

Said China Toyoshima, the creator of a dating app for Japanese workers. About 800 companies are giving their staff access to the AI-powered love machine. And nothing screams romance like the corporate sector on a productivity bender…

RATs in the COVID testing ranks to be investigated


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating whether rapid antigen tests (RATs) are being sold at excessive prices as Omicron cases continue to soar. The Federal Government has asked the regulator to investigate following more than 100 complaints about individual tests being sold for several times the regular price. The ACCC says there’s no evidence of widespread price gouging, yet. “Clearly we’re dealing with a problem here of limited duration … therefore we need to get those prices down now,” said chairman Rod Sims.


Good point. If you are one of the many Aussies who has spent some of the last couple of weeks touring your local pharmacies, supermarkets and petrol stations to find a RAT, you’d be forgiven for being a bit snarky about it. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Sonya Bennett yesterday said 100 million rapid antigen tests are on their way over the next week or so – just as some private PCR testing sites in NSW closed “until further notice” in order to clear the backlog of pending results. It’s been testing times for, well, testing as cases soar across the country. Yesterday, Australia passed the half-million mark for COVID cases since the pandemic kicked off. Half of those were reported in the past fortnight


That’s a question National Cabinet will ponder when our political leaders meet today. One topic up for discussion: whether to provide low-income earners, welfare recipients and pensioners with direct cash payments to buy 5 RATs each. Earlier this week, the Feds agreed to fund half the costs of the RATs bought by the states for people identified as close contacts but PM Scott Morrison has stopped short of committing to handing them out for free. For Labor’s part, leader Anthony Albanese last night said he had “no problem” with them being free. In the meantime, Dr Bennett says a booster shot remains the best defence against the virus – and more Aussies became eligible yesterday. But if you’re hard at work ferreting out a RAT, this might help… 


Squiz the Rest

Djokovic an Aussie Open starter

The men’s world #1 tennis player has packed his bags and was last night at the airport. That’s right, Novak Djokovic is on his way for a shot at a 10th Australian Open title. There have been months of speculation about whether Djokovic would come to Oz given the mystery surrounding his vaccination status and Australia’s firm border rules. Last month, tournament organiser Craig Tiley said he would need a medical exemption or would have to be vaccinated – and we might not know which way the cookie crumbled. But wonder no more, Djovokic himself has cleared it up saying “I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission.” Tiley has previously said that he expected a few people coming for the tournament would be granted vaxx exemptions after scrutiny from 2 medical panels on a no-names basis. Also getting ready to fire up in 2022 is Naomi Osaka. She spoke to reporters yesterday revealing that “I have a goal in the press room that I’m never going to cry again.” The Aussie Open starts on 17 January. 


Elizabeth Holmes guilty of fraud

It was back in 2018 that federal prosecutors in the US brought criminal charges against the US$9 billion blood-testing company founder, and the trial eventually got off the ground in September last year. Since then, the jury heard sensational evidence, including Holmes’ account that she was abused and dominated by her partner/Theranos colleague Sunny Balwani (whose separate fraud trial kicks off mid-next month). But after all that and 7 days of deliberating, they agreed that she defrauded her investors (including some big names like News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch) by lying about technology she said could detect an enormous range of diseases with just a few drops of blood. She was found not guilty of the charges relating to defrauding the public. Holmes is yet to be sentenced – a date for that has not been set. And journo John Carreyrou – the bloke whose investigation into the company set this in motion – is on the hunt for the inside story

Business & Finance Technology

Prince Andrew’s lawyers ask court to dismiss sexual assault case

The Duke of York’s lawyers have argued in a US court this morning that a civil sexual assault lawsuit against him should be dismissed. That case has been brought by Virginia Giuffre, the Western Oz-based woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her 20 years ago when she was a teenager. A document made public this week showed that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein paid her US$500,000 to end her claim that he abused her and trafficked her for sex. As part of the deal, she also agreed not to sue anyone connected to Epstein who could be seen as a “potential defendant”. The document specifically refers to Giuffre being lured into a world of sexual abuse by Epstein’s male peers “including royalty”. The document specifically refers to Giuffre being lured into a world of sexual abuse by Epstein’s male peers “including royalty”. And it’s that detail that Andrew’s lawyers have jumped on to claim that the civil case against him can’t go ahead. The judge says a decision will be reached over the impact of that 2009 agreement “pretty soon” but didn’t give a date.

World News

Home prices soar in 2021

Record low-interest rates have driven up home prices across the country by 22% last year, the sharpest rise in 3 decades. Prices rose on average by 1% in December with the median price now $709,803. The data, compiled by research firm CoreLogic, show prices rising at a slower pace each month while becoming increasingly unaffordable for first-home buyers. The results showed Brisbane and Adelaide with the biggest jumps on the back of strong demand and lower supply, while Sydney, Melbourne and Perth grew slightly slower. But prices in Sydney remain eyewatering across the city after homes increased in value by about $1,000 a day in 2021. Try not to choke on your avo toast… And while it’s relatively good news for those already in the market, things are looking a bit better for those hoping to crack the market with home prices set to plateau or fall a little this year

Business & Finance

David Bowie’s estate sells Ziggy Stardust

And all his other tunes – but they aren’t absolute beginners… Following song catalogue sales by the likes of Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the beloved British pop icon’s estate has reached a deal with Warner Music Group’s Warner Chappell for his songs from the 26 studio albums that were released during his lifetime, and the posthumous studio album Toy. That includes epic tracks like Heroes, Changes, Space Oddity, Fame, our favourite Let’s Dance (check it out just to see how cool he makes the Carinda Hotel look…). The money hasn’t been disclosed, but industry types put it at about US$250 million making it one of the biggest deals done yet. As for the man himself, he would have been 75yo this Saturday, and it’s the 6th anniversary of his death on Monday. Cheers to him. 


Apropos of Nothing

Queen Elizabeth’s people have written to an Ohio family to let them know how “splendid” she found their toddler’s Halloween outfit. And rightly so, the likeness is uncanny… 

Kane Tanaka has done it again. The world’s oldest person turned 119yo on Sunday. And the Coca-Cola fiend was honoured appropriately

Do you remember the horrid BlackBerry? You know, the tiny torture typewriter that coupled as a phone? Its maker has finally pulled the pin. And good riddance… 

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.30am (AEDT) – The 4th Ashes Test kicks off between Australia and England – Sydney

National Cabinet meets

A birthday for actress and director Diane Keaton 

A wedding anniversary for actress Cameron Diaz and musician Benji Madden (2015)

Anniversary of:
• Pope Clement VII forbidding King Henry VIII to remarry. The warning was ignored, and Henry went on to marry Anne Boleyn (and 4 subsequent wives), leading to his ex-communication and his establishment of the English Reformation (1531)
• the publication of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
• construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
• Brian Lara scoring his maiden test century, 277 runs in a West Indies v Australia cricket match at the SCG (1993)
• 15yo Mumbai schoolboy Pranav Dhanawade becoming the first to ever score 1,000 runs in a single innings in cricket. He made 1,009 not out (2016)

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