Squiz Today / 18 April 2017
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 18 April
PATIENCE DESERTS THE US
As US President Donald Trump spent a quiet Easter weekend at his Florida digs, his VP Mike Pence and defence/intelligence team were flying the flag for Team USA on all things North Korea/China/Russia/Syria. Pence touched down in South Korea on Sunday (cue pics of the Veep peering though binoculars across the DMZ into North Korea) and pressed the key message: “the era of strategic patience is over.” North Korea’s response? They are committed to continuing missile tests and say it will be “all out war” if the US takes action. Trump’s national security adviser HR McMaster is in Afghanistan (he’s the most senior official to visit since the Trump administration took power) where he confirmed Russia remains in their sights over its support of Bashar al-Assad’s led government in Syria. And defence secretary James Mattis is undertaking a Middle East tour of key countries.
GO BACK A BIT, WHAT HAPPENED OVER THE WEEKEND?
A couple of rounds of golf, no doubt a steak or two and some light tweeting. But you’re not asking about Trump’s weekend, are you? Soz. Here’s the low-down:
New term to know – MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb aka the Mother Of All Bombs). The US used the yuuuge bomb to target Islamic State fighters in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan on Friday. Officials say more than 100 IS fighters were killed, no civilians.
North Korea had an unsuccessful ballistic missile launch on Saturday – reports say the missile exploded on launch. The test was expected as a part of commemorations of the birthday anniversary of former leader (and current leader Kim Jong-un’s grandfather) Kim Il Sung.
And in Syria, reports say 126 civilians, including almost 70 children, were killed by a suicide bomber targeting a convoy of buses leaving war-torn areas. No group has claimed responsibility but officials do not believe it was the work of the Assad regime.
SO WHAT’S ON THE AGENDA THIS WEEK?
VP Pence is on a week-long tour of allied countries (he’ll be in Australia on Saturday) to convey the view that the US wants action on Syria and North Korea. What does action exactly mean? It means pressure from the powers who have supported them. On North Korea, it’s getting China to pull Kim into line. On that score, the US has complimented China on their engagement since late last week. But it’s a different story on Syria where there’s a lot of crankiness between the US and Russia. Watch this continue to unfold this week.
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SHARK ATTACK IN WA
A 17yo girl died after being attacked by a shark late yesterday while surfing with her father in Esperance, WA. Reports say her leg was badly mauled and she lost too much blood to be saved. Her family were watching from the shore, how horrendous.
ABBOTT’S EASTER GIFT
We’re sure PM Malcolm Turnbull would have preferred a chocolate bilby, but former PM Tony Abbott was in a giving mood nonetheless. In an Easter Monday media blitz, Abbott outlined a five-point plan with his tips to avoid electoral oblivion. Because, as any management consultant will tell you, five points are better than four. And why now? Abbott has just had a few days in the saddle as part of his annual fundraising bike ride = too much thinking time (and lycra), says commentator and friend Cate McGregor. We think finance minister Mathias Cormann might take some time off budget preparations to put together a verrrry long ride itinerary for Abbott. Somewhere there are no journalists.
TURKISH REFERENDUM DIVIDES THE NATION
A referendum to significantly expand the powers of Turkey’s President Erdogan has been decided in his favour – according to him and his ruling party. The result was Yes 51.41% to No 48.59%. However, there have been allegations of vote irregularities and the EU has urged Erdogan to agree to a recount. Protests have broken out and there are fears it will escalate. The new constitution includes removing the position of Prime Minister, allowing the President to intervene in the judiciary, and appoint several Veeps and public officials. So, you know, just a couple of little changes.
CHINA RECORDS STRONG GROWTH
Great news for Australia’s economy – China’s economy grew by 6.9% for Jan-March this year, up on expectations after the annual target for 2017 was cut to 6.5% last month. Experts say the Chinese government is continuing to spend on infrastructure projects although they expect this spending will stabilise rather than grow in coming quarters. Quick! Get that country some more iron ore, stat!
HUNT CONTINUES FOR FACEBOOK KILLER
Police have expanded their search to five states for the suspect of a killing in Cleveland, US that was videoed and posted to Facebook on Sunday. The suspect Steve Stephens claimed he did it because he was angry with his girlfriend and that he has killed many others. Stephens’ family said he worked as a social worker with a local behavioural health agency.
QUICK SPORTS NEWS WRAP
Aussie Stephanie Gilmore was beaten in the Bells Rip Curl Pro surfing final by defending champion Courtney Conlogue. Gilmore is a six-time world champ, and while she didn’t take home the trophy, she regained the #1 world ranking by making the final.
Australia topped the medal tally at the world track cycling championships in Hong Kong. We won three gold in our 11 medal haul. Huzzah!
If you grew up in Victoria you’ll know the only thing you could get on TV over Easter was the Good Friday Appeal and the Stawell Gift. Yesterday the men’s and women’s races were won by favourite Matthew Rizzo and 16yo Liv Ryan. It is the richest footrace in the country, each winner takes home $40,000.
PRINCE HARRY OPENS UP ABOUT GRIEF FOR DIANA
You don’t often see our Royal family publicly talk about their feelz but Prince Harry gave a comprehensive interview to The Telegraph (UK, not Sydney) about losing his mother almost 20 years ago (yes, it’s the 20th anniversary this year if you can believe it). He said he bottled up his grief for a very long time and only recently sought help to deal with it. Making the world love him just that little bit more. So, why talk about it now? Harry, his bro and sister-in-law have set up Heads Together focused on mental wellbeing. You can read it all here. You’re welcome.
SQUIZ THE DAY
11.30am - Release of the Reserve Bank's April board meeting minutes
Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission hearings into the Gold Coast City elections commence
Launch of Australian Heritage Festival, run by the National Trust. More details here
International Day for Monuments and Sites
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