Squiz Today / 29 November 2021

Squiz Today – Monday, 29 November

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Squiz Today Podcast

Let’s go.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Christmas will not be cancelled.”

Said the American Christmas Tree Association despite shortages of plastic trees (thanks to supply chain jams) and real ones (think fires and workforce issues). 2021: a treat to the end…

OMG Omicron…

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named a new COVID variant of concern: Omicron. First picked up in Botswana and South Africa earlier this month, it was reported by South Africa to the WHO on Thursday last week. Here in Oz, 2 people from southern Africa tested positive for the mutated strain after arriving on a flight to Sydney from Doha on Saturday. Border restrictions have been tightened for travellers who have been to 9 African countries – non-Aussies are banned, and Aussies must undergo 14 days in quarantine. In other changes, all vaccinated travellers arriving in Victoria and New South Wales must isolate for 72 hours, regardless of the origin of their flight.

Not much, but the WHO says it’s concerning because of the ‘mutations’ to the spike protein, aka the part of the virus that connects to a human cell. That means Omicron might spread more quickly than Delta and be too powerful for the current crop of vaccines. Scientists are also investigating whether reinfection is a concern and if it causes more severe disease. Right now, South African doctors say Omicron has appeared in young people, leaving them exhausted with muscle aches but not so ill that they have to be hospitalised immediately. As for the name, the WHO decided to call the new variant ‘Omicron’, which involved skipping the letters ‘Nu’ and ‘Xi’ in the Greek alphabet. They did this to ‘avoid confusion’: they say ‘Nu’ sounds a bit like ‘new’, and ‘Xi’ is a common surname – and it also just happens to be the name of the Chinese President. Totes awks…

Sigh… COVID is very clearly not behind us, and the world is putting restrictions in place to slow Omicron’s spread. In England, masks will become mandatory in shops and on public transport, but UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described the move as “temporary and precautionary”. The US, UK, and many European nations are blocking flights from southern Africa, and Israel has gone one step further, banning all foreigners from entering the country. In response, South African authorities say they feel they’ve been punished rather than applauded for coming forward – and one researcher issued a “told you so” over the delay of vaccinations for the developing world. One ray of light: the company that developed the Pfizer jab says it could produce an updated vaccine in less than 4 months if Omicron is found to evade immunity. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that…


Squiz the Rest

Calm and consequences in the Solomons

The arrival of 150 police and troops from Australia and Papua New Guinea has restored calm to the streets of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. And now to take stock of the consequences of 3 days of riots that followed protests over PM Manasseh Sogavare switching the nation’s diplomatic relationship from Taipei to Beijing in 2019. Three bodies were found in a shop in the city’s burnt-out Chinatown district. It’s unclear if the deaths are directly linked to the protests, but China had expressed concerns that its citizens and businesses would be targeted. And aid organisations said families have emerged from their homes to top up on fuel and grocery staples which have driven shortages and price surges. Our government isn’t pointing fingers over the cause of the unrest, but experts say a long-running inter-province rivalry, poverty, and unemployment play big parts in it.

World News

Cracking down on the trolls

Social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter will face the same legal liabilities as mainstream publishers for defamatory comments posted on their platforms if they do not reveal the identity of the users responsible. PM Scott Morrison yesterday said new Social Media Anti-Trolling legislation would give you 2 avenues if you’ve been trolled and defamed. First, the platforms would have a standardised complaints system to remove defamatory remarks and identify trolls with their consent. And second, if consent isn’t given, a new Federal Court order would require the social media companies to hand it over so the targets of yucky posts can launch a defamation case. Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said the legislation also means “everyday Australians and Australian organisations with a social media page” can’t be held liable for any defamatory comments. That follows the Voller High Court case, which said they could be held responsible as the ‘publishers’ of defamatory comments made by others. Big Aussie media organisations said it was a move they welcomed.

AusPol Technology

Seven wins the ratings game

The TV race of 2021 has been run and won – by Network Seven. It’s in first place after achieving a 38.6% market share for the ratings year. Nine was tipped into 2nd place but isn’t far behind with 37.7%. It’s Seven’s 13th win in 15 years after Nine stole the march in 2020 and 2019. Network Ten in 3rd spot. Industry pundits say it all comes down to programs that create big events like Australia’s Got Talent, Farmer Wants a Wife and Big Brother – all Seven shows. Seven also had the Olympics, which was outside the ratings period – but if you watched any of it and have been able to delete the million promos for The Voice from your brain’s hard disk, you’re doing better than we are… And BVOD (broadcaster video on demand) is proving to be a big new avenue for advertisers as smart TVs are adopted in more homes. Looking ahead, analysts reckon the commercial networks will get some growth in the coming 5 years, while subscription streamers like Amazon Prime will get a lot.

Business & Finance Entertainment

Record crowd for Matildas game

And a yay for the crowd of 36,109 people who went to see our national women’s soccer side (and The Wiggles…) on Saturday… The downside: they lost to the formidable Team USA 0-3. The Matildas have beaten the world champions just once in 31 attempts since 1987, and those in the know said Saturday’s match was a chance to claim a rare victory because the Americans are minus key players. But when the final whistle blew, it was the Matildas’ worst loss to the US in more than 8 years. The Aussies get the chance of a do-over in the friendly series with the teams lining up in Newcastle tomorrow night. Remember: Oz and Kiwiland are less than 2 years away from hosting the Women’s World Cup, so the pressure to perform only goes up from here…


Vale Stephen Sondheim

The titan of Broadway died suddenly at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut at 91yo. It’s hard to overstate Sondheim’s contribution with the New York Times describing him as “the theatre’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.” The Tony, Grammy, Oscar and Pulitzer winner wrote the music and words for heaps of musicals, including West Side Story, which is about to be back in circulation with a film directed by Steven Spielberg to open in December. Last year, COVID restrictions sent his 90th birthday celebrations online, and Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald (both from The Good Fight), and Meryl Streep (from OMG so many great things) downed booze while singing The Ladies Who Lunch to mark the occasion. Over the weekend, Sondheim was remembered as someone who “fundamentally shifts an entire art form,” tweeted High Jackman.


Apropos of Nothing

If you ever came across fake fruit in brown bowls on 70-80s dining tables, you’ll be wishing it was promised to you in your grandparents’ will… We don’t mean to terrify you, but plastic food is back

Kiwi Greens MP Julie Ann Genter gave birth yesterday morning – after cycling to the hospital. Contractions started at home at 1am, she got on her bike at 2am, and hello baby girl at 3am. That’s some commitment to emissions reduction…

And did you know that actors Stanley Tucci and John Krasinski are brothers-in-law? Their wives – literary agent Felicity Blunt and actress Emily Blunt are sisters. Just some handy trivia for your Monday…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

The first public hearings for the Royal Commission into Veteran Suicides begin – Brisbane

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers resume, with a focus on removing US-imposed sanctions

The long-awaited trial of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s confidant Ghislaine Maxwell scheduled to start – New York

ABS Data Release – Business Indicators, September

Cyber Monday

Birthdays for philanthropist Janet Holmes à Court (1946) and songwriter Don Walker (1951)

Anniversary of:
• the birthdays of authors Louisa May Alcott (1832) and CS Lewis (1898)
• physicist Erwin Schrödinger publishing his famous thought experiment ‘Schrödinger’s cat’ (1935)
• the release of the first commercially successful video game, Pong (1972)
• the deaths of actors Natalie Wood (1981) and Cary Grant (1986), and Beatle George Harrison (2001)
• the release of Adele’s single Rolling in the Deep (2010)

Squiz the Day

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