Squiz Today / 09 December 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 9 December


"I don't understand."

Is Aussie squash great Michelle Martin's response to breakdancing being picked over her sport to debut in the Paris 2024 Olympics. Officially called 'breaking', the IOC says it will make the Games "more gender-balanced, more youthful and more urban." Not that 'urban' is a thing anymore…


"We're not telling Australians how much to drink," said Professor Anne Kelso, chief executive of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), as she unveiled new guidelines on alcohol consumption. Instead, the government body that provides advice on research funding and health guidelines says it needed to update the advice from 2009 after a review of the latest evidence on the harms and benefits of drinking alcohol. That way, "we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives," Kelso said yesterday.

Well, us Aussies don't like being told how much we can drink… But the advice is:

• Healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week (down from the previous advice of 14 drinks) and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

• Kids under 18yo shouldn't ever drink to reduce the risk of injury and other bad health outcomes.

• And pregnant women or those planning on becoming pregnant should not drink. Neither should women who are breastfeeding.

Clinician and NHMRC committee member Professor Kate Conigrave said the link between drinking at "fairly low levels" and cancer is what's changed since 2009. But critics say the move is an overreach with alcohol consumption at a 50-year low, and lifetime risky drinking also in decline. Andrew Wilsmore from industry peak Alcohol Beverages Australia questioned the science behind the advice and said it's a problem if official health advice is so "draconian and questionable" that it's ignored. For his part, Professor Paul Kelly yesterday said there are 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia, and more than 70,000 hospital admissions each year. And the advice would see healthy adults have "less than a one in 100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition," he said.



That's the conclusion of New Zealand's Royal Commission into last year's mosque shootings in its findings released yesterday. It found security agencies were "almost exclusively" focusing on Islamist terrorism leaving little bandwidth to consider the threat from white supremacists. And police failed to properly vet gun licences allowing 29yo Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant the opportunity to accumulate a trove of weapons. But there were "no failures within any government agencies that would have allowed the terrorist planning and preparation to be detected," PM Jacinda Ardern said. She apologised and accepted the Commission's 44 recommendations - including the establishment of a new national intelligence agency. Gamal Fouda, imam of one of the mosques targeted, said the Muslim community knew they were being targeted by authorities and that there is an opportunity to rebuild trust with the police. Tarrant was given an unprecedented sentence of life in prison without parole for killing 51 people.


Margaret Keenan, who turns 91yo next week, lays claim to being the first person vaccinated for COVID-19 under the UK's program that is being rolled out across the country. There are 800,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that will be distributed to the over-80yos and health workers ASAP with 4 million more expected by the end of December. In total, enough doses for 20 million citizens are coming their way. The UK isn't the only place with an immunisation program. Russia has made its vaccine free to teachers, medical workers, and other essential workers. And China's vaccine is on the edge of getting approval in Indonesia and other nations across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Meanwhile, reports yesterday said the Trump administration passed up an opportunity to buy between 100-500 million additional doses of Pfizer's vaccine. The US is racking up nearly 200,000 new cases per day and is approaching a death toll of 300,000 people.


Australia is set to become the first in the world to force Facebook and Google to pay for news content shared on their platforms. The mandatory bargaining code aims to restore some balance to the market after advertising revenue plummeted by 75% since 2005. "For every $100 of online advertising spend, $53 goes to Google, $28 goes to Facebook, and $19 goes to other participants," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said yesterday. The plan will be introduced into the Parliament today, and if it goes through unamended:

• The tech giants will need to negotiate with Aussie news companies (including the publicly funded ABC and SBS) over the value of their content.

• It doesn't go all media company's way... The tech companies can factor in the value their platforms provide the media companies from the exposure their content gets.

• Another concession was made on algorithm changes. Instead of giving a month's notice (which was the original suggestion), Google and Facebook are to alert news outlets 14 days ahead of any changes to the way news content appears on their sites.

Google and Facebook say they'll look at the details when the legislation is made public today.


Just in time for the silly season, business and consumers have got their mojo back with confidence indexes soaring in November, driven by Victoria's re-opening and Australia's pandemic response. According to surveys conducted by the National Australia Bank and ANZ-Roy Morgan, business confidence reached its highest point in 2 years, while consumer confidence is at its highest point since the Black Summer bushfires. What's lagging? Businesses looking to take on new staff, and NAB chief economist Alan Oster says that's "not completely surprising". But it's going to be critical to the nation's economic recovery, he said.


If you're Japanese and find dating harder than climbing a Mount Everest that keeps getting higher, help is on the way...  In a bid to address its declining birth rate, Japan announced it will be providing ¥2 billion (A$26 million) in funding to matchmaking programs that use artificial intelligence. Japan's population is expected to fall from 126 million to less than 53 million by the end of the century, and that's a problem for the nation's society, culture and economy. So singles ready to mingle could get some help from the government. How romantic… Note: there are still a few improvements to be made in the world of AI matchmaking with current programs only matching people by factors like age and income. And there's no word of government funding for the only proven way of matching people - star signs…


You've gotta love how the UK goes a bit bonkers over what song is #1 on the charts for Christmas. And if you can believe it, the frontrunner is Mental As Anything's hit Live It Up from 1985. And yes, there's a bit of a backstory to that...

The Heeler family of Brissie (aka Bluey, Bingo, Chilli and Bandit) are approachable, everyday Aussies. And they're minted if the value of their home is anything to go by…

And KFC is getting into the 'mini-movie' business with A Recipe For Seduction


12.30pm (AEDT) - Rory Medcalf (Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University) and Michelle Price (CEO of AustCyber) address the National Press Club - Canberra

ABS Data Releases - Births, 2019; Labour Account, September; Patient Experiences

International Anti-Corruption Day

The one and only Dame Judi Dench’s birthday (1934)

Anniversary of:
• the birthdays of actor Kirk Douglas (1916) and former PM Bob Hawke (1929)
• the premiere of Coronation Street (1960)
• the release of Brokeback Mountain (2005)
• 1st anniversary of the eruption of New Zealand's White Island/Whakaari volcano, killing 22 (2019)

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