Squiz Today / 20 January 2021
Squiz Today – Wednesday, 20 January
"We're all screaming on the inside right now, so I guess I should have figured."
Said school teacher and ‘Just Scream’ hotline creator Chris Gollmar. As it says on the packet, you call the number and scream - and so 40,000 people have done just that with new screams uploaded to a website each day. Just a suggestion, Aussie cricket fans…
BIDEN’S BIG DAY AS TRUMP EYES HIS EXIT
By the time Australia stirs tomorrow morning, President Donald Trump's tumultuous term in office will be over, and Joe Biden will have been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States with Kamala Harris as his Vice President. Taking place on the Capitol steps where pro-Trump supporters angrily gathered 2 weeks earlier, it will be a ceremony unlike any other of recent times with the coronavirus and fears of more violence shaping the event.
SO WHAT’S THE GO?
In front of a smaller than usual gathering, the headline event kicks off from 3am (AEDT) when Biden is sworn in on a massive family bible and you can only hope his wife Dr Jill has been working on her upper body strength… He will then deliver an inaugural address that will “urge a divided America to come together”. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks will also perform. For the first time since 1949, there will be no fancy inauguration balls - but there will be a parade, albeit a virtual one… And a 90-minute TV special hosted by Tom Hanks and featuring Jon Bon Jovi, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kerry Washington and a galaxy of American stars rounds off the day. If you’re setting an early alarm, the swearing-in ceremony will be here.
AND WHERE’S TRUMP IN ALL OF THIS?
He might already be on the golf course of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida… Unconventional to the end, Trump will be the first president to miss his successor’s swearing-in ceremony in 152 years. But before he exits stage right (because he’s definitely not turning left…), he’s expected to hand down more than 100 presidential pardons and commutations today. They will go not just to allies and friends, but also in cases where advocates, like celebrity Kim Kardashian, have argued for those unfairly caught up in the criminal justice system. What about one for the Trumps? Pundits now say it's unlikely he will preemptively pardon himself or his family because it would make them "look guilty" of something.
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CORONAVIRUS PROBLEMS NOT READY TO BE SHED
Some of those currently in hard lockdown in Melbourne ahead of next month’s Australian Open may be allowed to leave early, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed yesterday. That’s because health officials could reclassify them as ‘viral shedding’ rather than having active COVID cases. Putting a couple of shedding players aside, there are 7 cases linked to the Open - none are players. Meanwhile, PM Scott Morrison yesterday said fruit picking and tennis weren’t incompatible. Some context, per favore? Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been criticised for allowing international tennis players into the state, but not farmworkers. Seasonal workers have been in short supply since the pandemic began, and that’s seen crops lost and prices on the up. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has called on state governments - particularly Victoria - to facilitate more overseas workers after incentives to get unemployed Aussies out picking have been unsuccessful.
COVID INQUIRY POINTS AT CHINA, WHO FAILINGS
An interim report released by the independent panel headed by former Kiwi PM Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday took aim at China and the World Health Organisation’s early handling of the coronavirus. It said China could have acted "more forcefully" to curb the initial outbreak, and that most countries had been too slow to act when cases started to spread outside of China last January. The report also criticised WHO for taking too long to declare an international public health emergency and then a pandemic, and called for reforms to be made to the United Nations agency. "The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose," the report said. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, which was set up by WHO last July, is due to hand down its final report in May.
THAILAND SERIOUS ON ROYAL INSULTS
A 63yo civil servant has been sentenced to 43 years in prison for insulting Thailand’s monarchy under the strict lèse-majesté law. Accused of posting audio clips from a podcast on social media 29 times between 2014-15 (although she didn’t comment on the content…), the woman known as Anchan was initially sentenced to 87 years. That was cut in half because of her guilty plea. She belonged to a group being pursued for remarks made about stamping out the monarchy after a military junta seized government control in 2014. Human rights advocates called it a “spine-chilling signal”. The archaic law was suspended when new King Vajiralongkorn came to the throne in recent years, but it was revived last year when students kicked off months-long protests against the government and monarchy.
FNQ SPARED THE WORST AS A SIZZLER FOR WEEKEND PREDICTED
It managed to avoid ex-tropical Cyclone Kimi yesterday, but Far North Queensland could be in for another cyclone as soon as this weekend. Kimi lost steam and moved offshore, but it did bring rain with flood warnings reissued across the region. Next - there is an “early indication” that another storm system could form “sometime in the next week or two”. It isn’t the only state to face a battering this weekend a cyclone also forming off the coast of northern WA. And the country’s southeast is set for a scorcher… Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, parts of Sydney’s west and areas inland of there are expecting temperatures between the high 30Cs and mid-40Cs this weekend - just in time to get the thongs and bucket hat out for Australia Day.
INDIA TAKES THE TEST SERIES DAMMIT
It was a victory 3 decades in the making when India pulled off a thrilling win yesterday to take home the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Getting a hustle on in the final session, India won the last match of the series by 3 wickets with just 18 balls left – ending Australia’s 33-year winning streak at Brissie’s Gabba. Rishabh Pant’s defiance with the bat was what won it for India yesterday and gave India the Test series. The day also raised questions about just how much longer Tassie's Tim Paine could retain the Aussie captaincy. Whilst admitting he was disappointed with his team’s effort, Paine said he intended to lead the Aussies to their next assignment, a Test series against South Africa next month where some ghosts will need to be dealt with.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
China’s most valuable company outside the tech sector? It’s drinks company Kweichow Moutai, and with a valuation of more than US$420 billion, it's worth more than Coca-Cola… Apparently its main product - a drink that’s 53% alcohol and “tastes like fire” - is beloved in China.
Ever popular RuPaul’s Drag Race is committed to an Australia edition… Except it’s being filmed in New Zealand.
Quelle horreur… A vegan restaurant - ONA (which stands for Origine Non Animale) in Ares, near Bordeaux, has become the first French restaurant to win a Michelin star - a feat likely never achieved without the help of kilos of butter…
SQUIZ THE DAY
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels to be designated as terrorists by the US
Penguin Awareness Day
A birthday for astronaut Buzz Aldrin (1930), director David Lynch (1946) and muso Kevin Parker (1986)
• China ceding Hong Kong to the British during the 1st Opium War (1841)
• the premiere of High School Musical (2006) and Breaking Bad (2008)
• the car attack in Melbourne's CBD, which killed 6 people and injured 27 (2017)
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