Squiz Today / 07 February 2020
Squiz Today – Friday, 7 February
“I think if we had been there, the atmosphere would be different.”
Said groom Joseph Yew of his marriage to Kang Ting, which was live-streamed to a venue full of friends and family because of coronavirus concerns. At least it made it easier for the couple to leave when they wanted…
GET READY FOR SOME ELECTION CRAIC
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Ireland is going to the polls on Saturday. And it’s another one of those nail-biters...
GIVE ME MY BEARINGS…
In three quick points:
• The Taoiseach (aka the PM) is Leo Varadkar of the Fine Gael party. His main competition is from Micheál Martin's Fianna Fáil party. With neither party commanding a majority in the Dáil Éireann (aka the parliament), the two centre-ish parties have been in a confidence-and-supply arrangement for the last few years.
• The wild card is Sinn Féin, led by Mary Lou McDonald. It's the republican party with IRA links from way back that favours a united Ireland. And it's pulled ahead in an important poll this week drawing critics to warn it would “turn Ireland into the EU’s equivalent of Cuba.” Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have ruled out forming a coalition with Sinn Féin.
• The issues: housing, health and pensions. To Varadkar’s frustration, what’s not getting traction are the good reviews of his economic management, and his wheeling and dealing on Brexit.
WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME ABOUT THIS?
Because the current trend is for the major parties to fight elections by striking a clear contrast with their opponents on divisive issues. Think Brexit as championed by Boris Johnson in the UK. And US President Donald Trump who's blown everything up. But in Ireland, it's been a fight for the centre ground, and that's seen Sinn Féin get some traction with its relatively radical agenda. Depending on the result, the lesson (again) could be that being cool, calm and collected in the centre of politics is out of fashion… Now, it's an election, which means we owe you a drink recommendation. You might think it's an eejit move, but it's a Bailey's on ice for us.
SQUIZ THE REST
IMPEACHMENT VOTE TOPS TRUMP’S TRIUMPHANT WEEK
The Republican-controlled Senate yesterday rejected the charges that US President Donald Trump abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress. Remember, that all started when accusations surfaced that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his opponent and former US Vice President, Joe Biden. With the vote going mostly along party lines, the Democrats fell far short of the two-thirds majority required to remove him from office. It capped off a big week for Trump. And look, viewership of his State of the Union address might have been down, but views on his tweet about being president ‘4eva’ were sky high... As for the Democrats’ presidential candidate vote in Ohio that’s caused them so much grief - Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are in a tight race for first place.
CHINA CENSORS CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE
After weeks of relatively uncensored coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in China’s media, Beijing is clamping down on the media, reports say. To date, many citizens have had their concerns about the government’s handling of the crisis reported nationally and internationally. But in recent days, the government is said to have pressured local media outlets to emphasise what's going well, and many articles criticising the government have been removed from the internet in China. Given the government’s tight control on information, worries it’s not telling the whole story persist. That’s again been highlighted following the death of the doctor who tried to share the news of the outbreak in its early days. The number of coronavirus deaths yesterday rose to 560, and there are 28,000 confirmed cases - including a one-day-old infant whose mother had the virus.
DECEMBER NO LONGER A GIFT FOR RETAILERS
Christmas doesn’t lead to the spending frenzy it used to, with December's data on Aussie retail sales showing the sector experienced the biggest one-month fall in two years. Instead, Aussies are choosing to do their end-of-year wardrobe top-up/gift buying a month earlier in November. The culprit - Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. While sales in November exceeded market expectations by recording 1% growth, sales fell by 0.5% in December when compared to the same months last year. Damp consumer sentiment is expected to continue over the next few months, with federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warning that drought, bushfires and the coronavirus crisis will impact the budget bottom line.
WOMEN’S AFL READY FOR KICK OFF
Footy fans rejoice… As the AFLW’s fourth season debuts in Melbourne tonight, the competition will look different. Four new sides - Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast - up the number to 14. But the teams will not get to play every side with the competition lasting eight rounds. And it’s a rough start for some of the stars with Geelong’s Meg McDonald and Adelaide Crows co-captain Chelsea Randall injured and sitting out for at least the first round. Despite those issues, it’s still early days for the league, and its supporters hope it takes another step forward this year.
VALE KIRK DOUGLAS
Iconic Hollywood star Kirk Douglas has died at 103yo, with his son and actor-producer Michael Douglas announcing the news on Instagram yesterday. Douglas’ acting career spanned seven decades and included leading roles in movies like Spartacus, Lust For Life, and The Man from Snowy River. He was also a producer, philanthropist and best-selling author who helped end the McCarthy era blacklisting of 'communist sympathisers' during the 1950s. He did that by famously championing people who’d been blocked from the industry, like Spartacus screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Douglas suffered long-term health problems after surviving a helicopter crash in 1991, followed by a stroke in 1996. “Dad - I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son,” said son Michael.
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
“Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power,” said some dude ages ago. This piece by Susan Fowler, an editor of the Op-Ed section of the New York Times, about that struggle is a good read.
Smooth dance moves slowed down so it makes you think you can do it… We tried. It wasn’t pretty…
Oh, alright then. This Irish favourite is on the menu for dinner tomorrow night. Given the election, it seems like the right thing to do…
SQUIZ THE DAY
7.30pm (AEDT) - Women's Olympic Qualifying Soccer - Australia v Chinese Taipei - Sydney
7.30pm (AEDT) - AFLW season kicks off - Richmond v Carlton - Melbourne
ABS Data Release - Livestock and Meat, December
Perth Festival begins (on until 1 March)
Anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, which killed 173 (2009)
Anniversary of the death of Edmund Barton, Australia’s first prime minister of Australia (1920)
Royal Hobart Regatta begins (on until 10 Feb)
Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II issuing an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor (1960)
Birthdays for screen composer John Williams (1932) and author John Grisham (1955)
US National Pizza Day
Anniversary of the death of Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II (2002)
Birthdays for author Alice Walker (1944), Derryn Hinch (1944), Mia Farrow (1945), Gina Rineheart (1954), Glenn McGrath (1970), Tom Hiddleston (1981), Michael B. Jordan (1987), Rose Leslie (1987)
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