Squiz Today / 08 April 2021
Squiz Today – Thursday, 8 April
“It is right to question if suburban drivers need a car capable of ploughing over rivers, across fields and up steep hills just to pop to the shops."
Said Steve Gooding of the UK's Royal Automobile Club Foundation. To his credit, his gripe is unnecessary carbon emissions, not the usual laundry list small car drivers could rattle off…
PROPAGANDA PITCH DOES LITTLE TO SOOTH SCEPTICS
It’s not every day that the Chinese Embassy in Canberra invites the Aussie media in for a briefing, but yesterday Ambassador Cheng Jingye threw the doors open in an attempt to combat “disinformation” about his government’s treatment of the Uyghurs Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang. Calling claims of atrocities in the region “distorted”, Cheng showed a propaganda video called Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land highlighting its “economic development, social stability, livelihood improvement and religious harmony”. Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Sophie McNeill said “these clumsy attempts by Beijing to cover up the truth don’t fool anyone.”
WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
China is accused of putting a million Uyghurs and people from other minority Muslim groups into internment camps in Xinjiang. It's claimed they are brainwashed, tortured, forced to work in factories, and some young women have been forcibly sterilised. China says the camps are for “reeducation”, but documents show that it stems from a directive by China's President Xi Jinping to respond to a 2014 terror attack by Uyghur separatists with "absolutely no mercy". Earlier this year, the outgoing Trump administration said what’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide, and Team Biden agreed. That’s upped international attention on Xinjiang which is making China uncomfortable, experts say. Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association president Ramila Chanisheff says efforts like yesterday's media briefing shows China’s “trying every way to cover up the reality of the actual statistics and the pure evidence that’s coming out of Xinjiang.”
Also unhappy with China is Taiwan… Tensions are escalating after Chinese drones were spotted circling in the Taiwan-controlled part of the South China Sea. This week, China has also deployed aircraft carriers and continues to fly in Taiwan’s airspace. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu yesterday said Taiwan may shoot down the drones if they come too close. "If we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, we will defend ourselves to the very last day," he said. China does not recognise Taiwan's independence, and reports this morning say US military officials are concerned China is accelerating its timetable for taking control of Taiwan. That could spark a whole new level of agro between the US and China and regional instability.
Lucky we have a Squiz Shortcut out today to help you make sense of what’s going on between China and Taiwan…
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VACCINE CLOT LINK ‘POSSIBLE’
After weeks of investigations, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) says there is the "possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination" with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Overnight, the regulator also said that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risk. The World Health Organisation says although the blood clot link was "plausible", it was "not confirmed" and that cases of clots were "very rare" among 200 million people who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jabs globally. Still, the UK's vaccine advisory body said that under-30yos should be offered a different vaccine. Analysts said it will be up to individual governments to outline how they will respond to the report. Yesterday, PM Scott Morrison again outlined what the government's done to get 3.1 million contracted doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine sent to Oz from Europe in the face of ongoing criticism that the rollout has been slow and chaotic.
ISRAEL’S COALITION COUNTDOWN
It’s déjà vu all over again… Israel’s caretaker PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to put together a coalition government within the next 28 days after last month’s general election failed to determine a clear winner. It’s a feat President Reuven Rivlin acknowledges will be difficult with Israel having now gone to the polls a record 4 times in 2 years. Not to mention Netanyahu is currently on trial for corruption charges… To form a government, he must build alliances with at least 9 members of the Knesset to get to the magic number. And if he fails, someone else will be handed the task. That means a 5th election is not off the cards just yet...
CLUBHOUSE CONTINUES TO CLIMB
After blowing up across the globe earlier this year, secretive US social audio app Clubhouse is said to be in funding talks based on a valuation of the business of US$4 billion. In January, it raised $100 million in funding that valued the company at $1 billion. Just a year old, Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio-based platform where users from all around the world can join literal chat rooms to participate in what's effectively a live, free-flowing podcast. The exclusive app has attracted several high-profile names, including Elon Musk and Oprah. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg is also said to be interested, and the tech giant is rumoured to be developing its own copycat app.
WHEN TWO CYCLONES COLLIDE
It’s a rare weather phenomenon called the Fujiwhara effect. Fujiwhatnow? What happenes is instead of forming a bigger, more powerful cyclone, they circle each other, with one system weakening the other - and it’s what meteorologists predict could form off the Western Oz coast today or tomorrow. Luckily, what’s brewing is set to stay offshore, so the state’s northwest will likely only receive some rain and possibly strong winds later today. But the Fujiwhara effect makes tracking the cyclones’ movements more tricky, so authorities warn residents in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions should be prepared. As if the weather this year hasn’t been tricky enough...
VALE TOMMY RAUDONIKIS
One of the most beloved figures in Aussie rugby league, Tommy Raudonikis died yesterday at 70yo from cancer. A 238 game veteran for the Western Suburb Magpies and the Newtown Jets, Raudonikis captained NSW for the inaugural State of Origin match in 1980. And he played 60 games representing Oz. After his playing career, it was his coaching stints that cemented him in rugby league folklore. "Tommy was one of a kind. There will never be another Tommy Raudonikis," Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys said in a statement yesterday.
APROPOS OF NOTHING - HARD EDITION
The Canadian province of Quebec is notoriously committed to maintaining French as its official language - but flunking out visa hopefuls who are native French speakers from the language test seems particularly tough…
You know what’s really hard? Facing up to how much ‘discretionary foods’ could be adding to your calorie/nutrition count. You can thank the CSIRO for their new Junk Food Analyser for the opportunity. Thoughts and prayers…
Sorry, South and Western Aussies - you need to consider putting milk in your cup before adding the hot water for your teabag. For everyone else, consult the map to see if you live in a soft water locale or if hard water means your tea isn't all it could be. You're welcome.
SQUIZ THE DAY
From 10.00pm (AEST) - Start of the US Masters Golf - Augusta, Georgia (on until 11 April)
Birthdays for actresses Robin Wright (1966) and Patricia Arquette (1968)
• the discovery of the Venus de Milo on the Aegean island of Milos (1820)
• the deaths of Pablo Picasso (1973) and Margaret Thatcher (2013)
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