Squiz Today / 06 August 2020
Squiz Today – Thursday, 6 August
“He had a great personality.”
Said John Lever from Rockhampton’s Koorana Crocodile Farm of the death of the circa 100yo croc Buka. They were so fond of him that his head and skin will be treated and displayed on the restaurant ceiling. Imagine if they didn’t like him…
BEIRUT REELS FROM THE SHOCKWAVE
More than 135 people have died, 4,000 were injured, and 300,000 people are homeless from the blast that shook Lebanon's capital like an earthquake. Dozens of people remain missing, reports say. The explosion not only demolished Beirut's industrial waterfront, but significant damage was also done to residential neighbourhoods, shopping/business districts, and public buildings more than 3km away. Reports say hospitals were overwhelmed with some also damaged by the blast. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at least one Australian was killed, and our embassy was "impacted significantly" with some officials receiving minor injuries. Several port officials have been placed under house arrest overnight, and Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said the country will observe an official period of mourning for 3 days from yesterday.
First thing to note: officials say there is no evidence the explosion was an attack. Officials say what seems to have happened is a fire at the port spread to a warehouse housing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. A highly volatile material used in agricultural fertilisers and bomb-making, the explosive had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014. That fire triggered the explosion, sending up a mushroom cloud and generating a shock wave that looked like a CGI animation from a movie. The blast that devastated the city could be heard in Cyprus, more than 250km away. This map and these pictures tell the story.
WHAT A DISASTER…
Reports say it was the most powerful explosion ever seen in Lebanon’s capital, which is saying something given the city’s had more than its share of blasts. Beirut was a key target in the 1975-1990 civil war, and conflicts with neighbouring Israel and ongoing Islamist terror attacks see it hit periodically. But this explosion won't just affect Beirut - rather it’s a national catastrophe. Not only has a key economic asset been destroyed, the Beirut Port Silos, which had the capacity to store 85% of the country’s wheat, were also destroyed. Humanitarian organisations say that will exacerbate the nation’s already bad food security problem. And that’s on top of the national crisis from anti-government protests over the country’s terrible economic conditions. “Even after the shock fades away, the impact will be hard to fathom,” said one commentator.
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MEANWHILE, IN CORONAVIRUS NEWS…
• All of Victoria is now under lockdown restrictions as 725 new cases and 15 deaths were recorded yesterday. They are the nation’s highest daily numbers since the start of the pandemic. The death toll included a man in his 30s - the youngest person to die from coronavirus in Oz to date. Premier Daniel Andrews, who is facing an angry business sector over the Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, thanked residents for staying at home.
• Queensland will shut its border to travellers coming from NSW and the ACT from 1am Saturday. Queenslanders coming home after travelling from those areas will get 2 weeks in mandatory hotel quarantine on their own dime. There are some exemptions for border residents and essential workers. The state recorded one new case of coronavirus yesterday.
• To cap off that trio of disappointments, NSW will require all residents returning from Victoria to go into hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.
• A new study looking at data from 3.1 million workers in the US says the working from home experience has resulted in longer days, more meetings and more email to answer. At least the pants are more comfortable…
• And cask wine sales are up. The four preceding points provide some insight as to why...
REDUNDANT VIRGIN STAFF GET A PHOTO FINISH
Virgin Australia announced it will make a third of its workforce redundant, leaving about 6,000 staff on its books. Following a ‘shrink to survive’ strategy, new owner Bain Capital will also retire the budget Tigerair carrier as it tries to keep the company afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. CEO Paul Scurrah said the company hopes to reemploy 2,000 of those workers and revive a low-cost carrier once things get back on track. Also on the 'wait and see' pile are long and short-haul international routes. To soften the blow, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, who has other financial troubles with Virgin Atlantic, is giving redundant staff a very special (aka pretty ordinary) memento…
SOME GOOD NEWS ON DEMENTIA RATES
They’re falling across the US and Europe, according to a new Harvard study. The study - which reviewed data collected from 49,202 men and women aged 65yo and older over 15 years - found the risk of developing dementia has declined by 16% each decade. A 75yo man’s risk of developing dementia in his lifetime dropped from 25% in 1995 to 18% today. Researchers don’t know for sure why rates are decreasing but think it's due to improved control of blood pressure and cholesterol. And while dementia rates are on the rise in Asia, South America and Africa, they say it could be related to higher smoking rates, which increases the risk of developing the disease. The latest findings come amid a recent breakthrough in the treatment of dementia after scientists developed an Alzheimer's blood test that could be available in a few years.
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the US in the final days of WWII in 1945. It was the world’s first use of nuclear weapons, which saw an estimated 140,000 people killed, with thousands more later dying from their injuries and radiation-related illness after a US B-29 warplane named Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed ‘Little Boy’. Three days later, the US unleashed a second bomb nicknamed 'Fat Man' on the city of Nagasaki, killing more than 75,000 people. The shocking move was credited with bringing about the end of the war with Japan surrendering days after the attacks, and America's decision to use the bombs is something that still divides historians. While the coronavirus means memorial services will be scaled back this year, Japan will observe a minute's silence today at the exact time the bomb was dropped - 9.15am (AEST).
WEATHER WEATHER EVERYWHERE
With the Antarctic Blastinator (we ought to trademark that…) blanketing Tassie and Victoria with snow, wind and rain, there’s a whole lotta wild weather set to get all up in our grill from west to east in the days ahead. A “rain event” that’s “larger than Queensland” is set to hit NSW, the weather bureau says. It’s an event, so dress accordingly… Melbourne and Hobart will remain chilly. Brisbane’s in for more rain, as is Perth. And the Adelaide Hills might see some snow. As for you, Darwin, you can take your sunny 30C days and… have a most wonderful time.
FOR THE BREAD ENTHUSIASTS…
Now that PM Scott Morrison has indicated a TikTok ban isn’t on the cards anytime soon - behold the dancing llama that's taking over the world. The backstory is a bit random and includes Russia, bread, and honey cereal themes. Yep. Almost 90 million views can’t be wrong…
SQUIZ THE DAY
Morrison Government's new cybersecurity strategy to be unveiled
ABS Data Release - Building Approvals, June
Jamaica’s National Day
• the HMS Roebuck, captained by William Dampier, lands at Shark Bay, WA on the first British scientific expedition to Australia (1699)
• the US dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (1945)
• the World Wide Web becoming publicly available (1991)
• the birthdays of poet Alfred Tennyson (1809), US First Lady Edith Roosevelt (1861), actress Lucille Ball (1911), and artist Andy Warhol (1928)
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