Squiz Today / 22 April 2021
Squiz Today – Thursday, 22 April
“We had a great time with Mr Bird, he's a great guy, and no harm came to our friend. Sorry to be such a big birden!”
Said two men who call themselves the Big Bird Bandits. The $160,000 costume was stolen earlier this week from an Adelaide circus. It has since been returned, and while, yes, the thieves did a bad thing, gee they've got charisma.
CHAUVIN GUILTY VERDICT SENDS SHOCKWAVES THROUGH THE US
A US federal investigation has been launched into policing practices in the city of Minneapolis, a day after former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. The jury took just 10 hours to unanimously convict Chauvin on all three counts of 2nd and 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter. Overnight, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the justice department would review police policies, training, supervision and use of force and look at whether there has been a pattern of "unconstitutional or unlawful policing".
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
On May 25 last year, Minneapolis police officers arrested Floyd for buying cigarettes with a suspected counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes while the 46yo black man repeated “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times before he died. Two autopsies ruled Floyd's death a homicide. The shocking video immediately sparked unrest in Minneapolis which soon evolved into mass protests against police brutality and racial inequality across America - the scale of which had not been seen since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The 4 police officers involved in Floyd's arrest were stood down and charged with aiding and abetting 2nd-degree murder and manslaughter. They are due to face trial in August. Chauvin was the only one-handed murder charges. The most severe carries a max sentence of up to 40 years in prison, but he will likely face much less than that due to the state’s sentencing guidelines. He is in the Minnesota Correctional Facility awaiting sentencing in 8 weeks' time.
WHAT WAS THE REACTION?
Crowds gathered in Minneapolis and major cities around the US cheered and cried as the verdict was readout. "Today, we are able to breathe again," said Floyd's brother, Philonise. US President Joe Biden said the conviction could mark "a moment of significant change" and was a "chance to change the trajectory in this country". Calls for police reform and racial justice formed part of Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, but critics say little has been done on the matter so far, despite a handful of high-profile shootings. Garland overnight said if unlawful practices are found in the new probe, he would issue a public report and bring a civil lawsuit. "The DOJ will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under the law," he said. As for the Black Lives Matter movement, it's showing no signs of letting up. But for now, the pictures say it all. You can find a photo gallery here.
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GOVERNMENT TIGHTENS BELT ON CHINA DEAL
In a new test for Australia’s relationship with China, the federal government yesterday used its veto powers to tear up the Belt and Road deals between Victoria and Beijing. The agreements have long been in the federal government's sights to cancel, and yesterday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed the decision saying they were "inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations". The cancellation covers a memorandum of understanding that the Labor premier, Daniel Andrews, signed with Beijing in 2018, which would have allowed for Chinese investment in Victoria and for Victorian companies to participate in Chinese government projects overseas. China reacted swiftly overnight, warning the decision would jeopardise any efforts to recover recent tensions between the 2 nations. "It is bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations and will only end up hurting itself," said a Chinese embassy spokesperson. #SquizShortcuts
A PUSH FOR MORE HOMEGROWN VACCINES
Australia’s COVID vaccine effort got a shot in the arm yesterday following the announcement we could soon be producing homegrown variants of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Victorian government yesterday said it would commit $50 million to 'kickstart' domestic manufacturing of mRNA vaccine technology. For the uninitiated, mRNA technology is the science behind the Pfizer and Moderna jabs. At the moment, Oz only has the ability to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine, and we all know how popular that one is right now... But don't roll up your sleeves just yet: it's estimated it will be 12 months before the alternate vaccines can be made here. In other vaccine-related news, the UK government yesterday announced the establishment of a task force to explore the development of a COVID treatment pill - with hopes it could be available within 6 months.
Need an explainer on Australia’s vaccine rollout? We got you... #SquizShortcuts
NOT SO SUPER LEAGUE
In what may be the biggest backflip since Sam Kerr celebrated a hat-trick, 6 English Premier League clubs yesterday backtracked on their decision to join a breakaway European Super League. Citing the days of protest from angry fans, the extraordinary interventions of world leaders and the weighing in of the normally apolitical Prince William, the clubs - including Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea - said they had made a mistake and begged fans’ forgiveness. It leaves the future of the European Super League in doubt, which, had it come to pass, would have also featured the star-studded continental likes of AC Milan, Real Madrid and Juventus. The scoreboard in the Fans v. Big Money stakes currently reads 1-0...
GLOBAL EXECUTIONS DOWN IN 2020
Capital punishment reached its lowest level in a decade last year, according to an annual report released yesterday by Amnesty International. At least 483 people in 18 countries were executed worldwide in 2020, down from 657 the previous year. The report found Iran conducted the most executions with 246 but noted it was working off unverifiable data from China, North Korea, Syria and Vietnam. Amnesty said China is the world's biggest executioner, putting an estimated thousands of people to death every year, but the data is kept under wraps by Beijing. And while capital punishment in Saudi Arabia and Iraq dropped by 85% and 50%, respectively, Egypt recorded a 300% rise when it executed 107 people last year. "We urge leaders in all countries that have not yet repealed this punishment to make 2021 the year that they end state-sanctioned killings for good," secretary-general Agnes Callamard said.
NETFLIX MISSES THE MARK
One company that benefited big from 2020 was Netflix, which passed the 200 million subscriber mark for the first time last year. But now as many of us are out and about, the lack of lockdowns has been a serious letdown for shareholders (say that ten times fast), with the streamer's shares falling 11%. About 3.98 million people signed up for Netflix between January and March this year, well short of the projected 6 million. The reason? Besides the fact we're spending less time on our couches, the global pandemic has caused more production delays, which means fewer new shows. Netflix said things will get better over the 2nd half as new seasons and films are released. But they've downgraded growth predictions, and the staggering number of alternate streaming options won’t help.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
We can all take a leaf out of the Queen’s book. Despite a tough couple of weeks and ongoing family tensions, she’s found time to say thanks.
Amazon is opening its first hair salon in London. And we’ll just leave that one there...
We're hardly a role model for good sleeping habits, but if you need another reason to get some shut-eye, a new study has shown that middle-aged folks who get less than 6 hours of sleep are 30% more likely to develop dementia.
SQUIZ THE DAY
7pm (AEDT) - Stella Prize announced
Virtual Leaders Climate Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden begins (on until 23 April)
National Cabinet meets
Birthdays for Jack Nicholson (1937), John Waters (1946), Daniel Johns (1979), Amber Heard (1986)
• the signing of the Paris Agreement (2016)
• the birthdays of Immanuel Kant (1724), Vladimir Lenin (1870) Sidney Nolan (1917), Bettie Page (1923), and Glen Campbell (1936)
• the death of Richard Nixon, 37th President of the USA (1994)
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