Squiz Today / 30 June 2020
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 30 June
“I’m as fit as a butcher’s dog now.”
We went for UK PM Boris Johnson’s claim to good health, accompanied by push-ups, as the quote of the day. Because headlining with the description of an arborist’s leg that went “flying through the air" after a run-in with a woodchipper seemed a bit sensationalist...
CHINA MOUNTS NEW ATTACK ON AUSTRALIA
Spying claims have been levelled against Australia via the Global Times, China’s state media outlet. In an article published yesterday, accusations of a range of covert activities were levelled against Oz, including “attempting to install wiretaps in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra”. And going forward “vigorous countermeasures” are envisaged “to crack down on Australian espionage operations to safeguard China's national security and interests”.
WHAT DOES OUR MOB SAY?
Asked about it yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "I wouldn't be relying on Chinese state media for your sources for questions." And the relevant ministers and Department of Foreign Affairs have stayed quiet about it too. Experts say it’s China's sharpest criticism of Australia since big cracks in our relationship appeared earlier this year, so there could be a bit to reflect on. And it comes after China warned students and tourists of racist attacks in Australia, put tariffs on our barley exports, and suspended some beef exports. Also, many believe China is the "sophisticated state-based cyber actor” that's been targeting our government, organisations and businesses. (Sidenote: cybersecurity efforts will receive a $1.35 billion funding boost today, reports say...) Our relationship was already rocky, but it was our government's call for an independent inquiry into the emergence and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that seems to have pushed dealings with our biggest trading partner into the red zone.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Let's see what our government’s formal response is to this latest swipe. But Morrison and his ministers have not backed down to date. “I'm never going to trade our values in response to coercion from wherever it comes,” the PM said a couple of weeks ago. And the fractiousness doesn’t seem to have tempered the investigation into NSW upper house member Shaoquett Moselmane/ He stepped aside from parliament yesterday while, he says, an investigation is ongoing into people around him “advancing the goals of a foreign government”, namely China. In the meantime, reports say our officials are putting a lot of effort into boosting our ties with emerging nations, like India. Because if we can’t - or won’t - get things back on track with China, our exporters will need somewhere to sell their wares…
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MEANWHILE, IN CORONAVIRUS NEWS...
• Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, boss of the World Health Organisation, says the coronavirus pandemic “is not even close to being over”. As the number of confirmed global cases passed 10 million and the death toll passed 500,000, he says we all want to get on with life, but the pandemic is speeding up. “We are all in this for the long haul. We will need even greater stores of resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead,” he says.
• The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Victoria took a big jump upwards yesterday. The 75 cases were “overwhelmingly concentrated” in the 10 Melbourne suburbs identified as hotspots. It was the state's fourth-worst day for new cases since the start of the pandemic and the 13th consecutive day of double-digit increases.
• That’s had a flow on to the football codes… Queensland has responded to the spike by issuing strict new quarantine regulations. Footy sides from Victoria, those travelling back to Queensland after playing in Victoria, and those who have played against a Melbourne team in Queensland will need to go into quarantine for 14 days, state officials said yesterday. As you can imagine, that plays havoc with the AFL draw…
• The European Union has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from tomorrow - and Oz is on the list.
• And if you’re looking for inspiration on how to get to Europe, check out Juan Manuel Ballestero’s sea voyage from Portugal to Argentina. After all the flights were cancelled, it was the only way he could get home to see his dad, who’s about to hit the big 9-0.
EDEN MONARO FIGHT GETS DIRTY
If you’re a political tragic like us, you don’t need reminding that there’s a big by-election on this Saturday. But if that’s not you - surprise… Eden-Monaro in NSW is where it’s at as Labor looks to hold onto the seat, and the Coalition is hopeful it will pull off a once-in-a-100-years victory. But in the run-up to polling day, there are accusations of dirty tricks being played on Labor candidate Kristy McBain. Spam emails claiming she’s pulled out of the contest have been referred to the Federal Police for investigation. In the meantime, the Electoral Commission is gearing up for an interesting count. Almost 22,000 voters have already cast their ballots at early polling centres. And 16,098 voters have applied to lodge their ballot paper that way. Which is a lot. Bring it…
RUSSIAN BOUNTIES LINKED TO AMERICAN TROOP CASUALTIES
Bounties offered to the Taliban by Russia to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan are believed to be linked to the deaths of several US troops, according to military intelligence reported yesterday by the Washington Post. While it’s unknown exactly how many troops may have been targeted under the plan, 28 US soldiers have been killed by hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in Afghanistan since 2018. US President Donald Trump tweeted that he was never briefed on the matter because it wasn’t credible - contradicting the accounts of security officials. Top Republicans have expressed concern about Russia's actions and are calling on the Trump administration to take action. It puts Trump - who came into office determined to patch up US-Russia relations - in a tricky spot.
SEAFOLLY WAVES FOR HELP
An administrator has been appointed to look for a buyer for distressed Aussie swimwear brand Seafolly after COVID-19 had a “crippling financial impact" on sales. Retail stores remain open for now, and gift cards/loyalty rewards continue to be honoured, the administrator said. The company has 44 stores in Australia and 12 more in countries including America, Singapore and France. And there are 2,700 stockists worldwide for its togs. The brand was bought from its founders, the Halas family, in 2014 by L Catterton, which is an offshoot of consumer goods giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). It also owns RM Williams.
VALE MARGARITA PRACATAN
It’s hard to describe entertainer Margarita Pracatan, but she has been warmly remembered after she died last week of heart failure at 89yo. Legend has it the Cuban exile was discovered on US cable TV by Aussie TV host Clive James and made famous on his UK chat show. Asked once if Margarita was the same in real life as she appeared on the telly, James said "Margarita gives everything she's got, every time. If she forgets the words, she sings something else. She never stops.” And her thing was showcasing her distinctive vocal stylings for the celebrity guest at the end of James’ show. A favourite - her performance of It’s Not Unusual for Tom Jones. You can’t not smile.
SQUIZ THE DAY
China's National People’s Congress Standing Committee expected to pass a new security law for Hong Kong
Queensland expected to announce its current thinking on its border ban
Independence Day - Democratic Republic of the Congo
Birthdays for Red Wiggle Murray Cook (1960), Mike Tyson (1966) and Michael Phelps (1985)
• the world’s first emergency telephone number (999) being introduced in London (1937)
• the first appearance of Superman in DC Comics' Action Comics Series issue #1 (1938)
• Donald Trump becomes first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea (2019)
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