The latest from Squiz Today

“I’m fully expecting a plague of locusts to descend and maybe 40 days of night. I mean, it’s just nuts.” Said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. After the coronavirus shutdowns and massive fires that have seen lingering smoke taint their grapes (just like what happened here in Oz over the summer), it’s hard not to take these things personally…

‘Claremont Killer’ Bradley Edwards was yesterday found guilty of murdering two of the three women who went missing from the Perth suburb in ’96 and ’97. Justice Stephen Hall found Edwards killed 23yo Jane Rimmer (a childcare worker) and 27yo Ciara Glennon (a solicitor). But the body of 18yo Sarah Spiers (a receptionist) has never been found. It’s likely Edwards killed her too, Justice Hall said, but there was a lack of forensic evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Dubbed Western Australia’s ‘trial of the century’, it took 95 days over seven months, included 10,828 pages of transcript, 240 witnesses and 2,879 exhibits, and cost $11 million.

The women went missing within months of each other while on nights out. Edwards, a former Telstra technician who last year confessed to raping a 17yo girl and an 18yo woman, abducted the women and drove them to bushland, where he stabbed and killed Glennon and Rimmer before concealing their bodies with vegetation. The critical evidence: Edwards’ DNA under Glennon’s nails, and fibres from both women in a Telstra-work car. Edwards’ team argued that the DNA evidence was contaminated. But when it came time to mount his defence, Edwards didn’t take the stand, and his barrister called no witnesses.

“The events in question occurred more than 20 years ago, but have haunted the memory of many people and troubled the public conscience,” Justice Hall said yesterday. That haunting continues for Lee Rimmer, Jane’s sister, who said “I think you get some closure, but it’s always going to be the same. No one’s ever going to bring her back.” The Spiers and Glennon families didn’t comment yesterday. Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said they would never give up on trying to locate Spiers’ body. “Sarah and her family deserve justice,” he said. Edwards, who sat motionless as the verdict was read out, remains in detention and will be sentenced on 23 December.

Former Australian/Victorian cricketer Dean Jones has died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday at 59yo. In Mumbai to commentate on the Indian Premier League, reports say it happened around noon at the hotel where Jones and others from the broadcast team were staying. Brett Lee, the former Australian fast bowler gave him CPR but was unable to revive him. Known for his upturned collar and white zinc’d bottom lip, ‘Deano’ was a star batsman playing 52 Tests and 164 One-Day Internationals for Australia between 1984 and 1994. He had a Test average of 46.55, but it was the shorter format where he really shone, scoring more than 6,000 runs with 7 centuries and 46 fifties. Former Australian cricketer Mel Jones tweeted “Stats are great but they don’t say how he, like not a lot of others, changed the way the game was played. The speed btw wickets, the ability to manipulate the field, the energy in the field and the development of so many other players. What a contribution to the game.” Tributes flowed from the international cricket community overnight. And some of his top cricketing moments were remembered.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ will today be the final witness before the hotel quarantine inquiry he set up to get to the heart of what led to the state’s second wave of COVID cases and 752 deaths. The main points of contention have been why the offer of military support wasn’t taken up, and who made the decision to use private security contractors instead of local police or Defence personnel. So far, Police Minister Lisa Neville and Jobs Minister Martin Pakula have blamed the Health Department for the bungled program. Health Minister Jenny Mikakos yesterday said she didn’t know for 2 months that private guards were doing the work. Andrews wouldn’t answer questions from the media on it yesterday, saying he’d save it for today. It comes as the state’s daily COVID numbers continue to drop, with 12 new infections and two deaths recorded yesterday. As for the further easing of restrictions on Sunday, there will be some, Andrews said, but they won’t blow your wig off.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement yesterday that none of the three police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death would be charged with her killing has seen protests kick off across the country. Two police officers were shot and injured in Louisville (although officials wouldn’t confirm if the man they arrested was involved in the protests). And 127 people were arrested in demonstrations in the city, most for breaking the overnight curfew. There has been a wave of criticism that just one officer was charged with “wanton endangerment” for shots that hit an apartment neighbouring Taylor’s. Her family’s lawyer Ben Crump tweeted that the charge was “an example of America’s 2 justice systems – protecting white neighbours & ignoring the death of a black woman.” But Cameron said as “gut-wrenching” as her death was, the officers were “justified to protect themselves and the justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges”. The FBI continues to investigate.

Westpac will fork out a record $1.3 billion fine after reaching an agreement with regulator AUSTRAC to settle 23 million alleged breaches of anti-money laundering laws. The bank failed to put proper monitoring systems in place, and admitted to breaching the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act millions of times. That included failing to properly report 19.5 million instances of money being sent overseas or coming into Australia, and at least 250 transactions thought to be linked to child exploitation. Westpac boss Peter King apologised and said the bank had aired all its dirty laundry. For comparison, the Commonwealth Bank was fined $700 million in 2018 for more than 53,000 breaches.

The good news first… Rescuers have successfully returned 88 pilot whales that were stranded near Strahan to deeper water. And reports say there are about 20 more animals that rescuers hope to add to that list, but that needs to happen today. The bad news – about 360 of the 470 whales are believed to have died, and a small number had to be euthanised yesterday. Wildlife biologist with the Marine Conservation Project, Kris Carlyon said: “everyone’s tired, feeling the fatigue, long days, the people on site working on the water are those doing it hardest”. And emotionally, he said the grim week would take a toll on many of those involved.

If you have a little person (and a crotchet genius might also help), this is your way into the Baby Yoda trend.

The latest beauty trend – ‘dolphin skin’. You heard that right… Which has led to this unintentionally funny/informative article on actual dolphin skin…

If you live in the southeast corner of Australia, it’s going to be a wintry weekend. So for the last blast at cold-weather cooking, we’re pulling out Danielle Alvarez’s lemony chicken stew. She’s the head chef at Fred’s in Paddington, Sydney with some good life advice (like not everything in life has to be hard…).

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