Squiz Today / 20 May 2021
Squiz Today – Thursday, 20 May
“I’m not telling you that it doesn’t sound wacky. What I’m telling you is it’s real."
Said Luis Elizondo, a former senior officer in the US intelligence service, of sightings of… UFOs. So real that US Senators will be briefed on what the military knows about ‘Advanced Aerial Threats’ next month. Wonder if they’ll recognise intelligent lifeforms?
OZ FREE TRADE DEAL SPLITS UK GOVERNMENT
Making headlines in the UK is PM Boris Johnson's support for a free trade deal with Australia to be signed next month - the first to be inked since Brexit. It would give Aussie farmers tariff-free access to UK food markets putting us on the same footing as the European Union - but it’s an arrangement that farmers in the UK are against. And they’re starting to get vocal about it, opening up a potential split within the UK Government.
DON’T THEY WANT MORE OF OUR LAMB CHOPS?
And beef, and cereals, and the list goes on… That's not the issue. As the first agreement to be made, the problem is that the generous concessions made with Oz could become a baseline for future negotiations with other nations - like the US. Those in support of the deal, including PM Johnson and Trade Minister Liz Truss, say a failure to open their markets to other countries would signal that the UK's focus was still on Europe due to its ongoing tariff-free access to the UK. And as you know, when you've broken up with someone, it's good to show your ex that you're back out there…
AND WE NEED NEW MARKETS BECAUSE OF THE WHOLE THING WITH CHINA?
Yes, the cluster disaster that has been our recent dealings with our biggest trading partner showed our exporters shouldn't put all their lobsters in one Esky. But despite everything, PM Scott Morrison yesterday said when it comes to Australian trade with China, there have “never been bigger volumes”. In the year to March, we exported $149 billion worth of goods to China, down 0.6% from the previous year. That’s propped up by the rip-roaring trade in iron ore, our largest export to China. As for our beef, barley, wine, thermal coal, copper, cotton, seafood, sugar and timber producers - they’re still on ice. Labor’s Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong this week criticised the government’s approach to dealing with China, calling it “frenzied, afraid and lacking context”.
SQUIZ THE REST
LEBANON ENTERS THE FRAY
In a development overnight, Israel has fired rockets at targets in Lebanon in response to four being launched from Lebanese territory. It’s not been confirmed who in Lebanon made the strike, but no damage has been reported on either side. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he is "determined to carry on" with the campaign of airstrikes until "calm and security are restored to Israeli citizens". Overnight, US President Joe Biden has told Netanyahu that he expects a "significant de-escalation" in the conflict with Hamas. America is a staunch ally of Israel, but the New York Times reports that Biden has had strong words with Netanyahu privately while maintaining a diplomatic front of support.
Need an explainer on the Israel-Gaza conflict? Squiz Shortcuts has got you.
TRUMP INVESTIGATION TAKES A TURN
He might be out of the White House, but he's not far from the thoughts of New York's top law officers. Yesterday, it was confirmed that the state's Attorney General Letitia James is conducting a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump's business operations. Her office had been looking into civil claims of manipulating the value of assets to gain favourable loan terms and tax benefits. And there was no explanation why the investigation has taken a criminal turn and no certainty that it will end in criminal charges against Trump or his sons. The Manhattan District Attorney's office run by Cyrus Vance Jr has been conducting a criminal inquiry into the Trump Organisation's dealings since 2019. A heads up: both James and Vance are Democrats. Trump responded saying there is "nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime".
GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF AN ADELAIDE MURDER MYSTERY
The story of the Somerton Man has baffled people for more than 70 years, but researchers are hoping new technology will determine his identity and cause of death. Found on Adelaide’s Somerton Beach in 1948 along with some mysterious clues (including a scrap of paper with the Persian words "Tamam Shud", meaning "it is finished"), amateurs and experts alike have attempted to crack the cold case. His body was exhumed yesterday due to improvements in forensic technology and "intense public interest". It remains to be seen whether researchers will be able to extract DNA from his bones. "Tests of this nature are often highly complex and will take time. However, we will be using every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery," Forensic Science SA's Anne Coxon said.
ALCOHOL ON YOUR MIND
Any amount of alcohol consumption is harmful to the brain, a UK study has found. Drats… The (yet to be peer-reviewed) study looked at alcohol's effects on the brain size and health of more than 25,000 people and has linked higher alcohol consumption with lower grey matter density. But any level of drinking was also associated with poor brain health, affecting up to 0.8% of grey matter. Researchers say drinking has a bigger impact on brain health than other factors, including smoking or body weight, but outcomes were worse for those with high blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). "There's no threshold drinking for harm – any alcohol is worse. Pretty much the whole brain seems to be affected – not just specific areas, as previously thought," lead author and Oxford University lecturer Anya Topiwala said. Cheers to the days when there was a new study every 2 seconds about how good red wine is for you…
A VERY DIFFERENT EUROVISION
After last year’s competition was cancelled (because… COVID), a somewhat low-key edition of the Eurovision song contest kicked off in Rotterdam yesterday morning. Just 3,500 audience members were allowed to attend the socially distanced spectacle, but 200 million people around the world tuned in to watch 39 countries vie for a spot in the weekend's final. The 1st of 2 semi-finals featured Australia's own Montaigne, who was the only act not there. She appeared via a pre-recorded version of her song Technicolour. Spoiler alert: she didn’t get through to the next round... The favourite to win is Italy featuring a man in leather dungarees. Our favourite, these cool funksters from Iceland. All the deets on how to watch are here.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Mice have helped take down mobile telecommunications across NSW’s Riverina as they nibble their way through cables. Is nothing sacred?
If you haven’t been talking about how nuts the property market is right now, you’re not living. On second thoughts, maybe you are… Regardless, spice up your real estate chat with this look at what $2 million will buy you around Australia. Let's just say we're moving to Darwin...
SQUIZ THE DAY
2021-22 Victorian State Budget delivered
ABS Data Release - Labour Force, April
Cameroon's National Day
World Bee Day
Birthdays for Cher (1946) and Louis Theroux (1970)
• the first publication of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609)
• Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patenting the first blue jeans (1873)
• Saudi Arabia gaining independence from Great Britain (1927)
• Sukarno becoming the first President of Indonesia (1963)
• East Timor’s independence (2002)
• Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro winning a second term in an election marred by boycotts and accusations of vote-rigging (2018)
5.00am (AEST) - Eurovision 2021 Semi-Finals 2nd Round - live on SBS
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