Wednesday, 5 August, 2020

Trump takes on TikTok; SOS saves stranded sailors; attack of the zombie cicadas; and Sky Brown, skating legend.






  The clock is ticking on popular social media app, TikTok, as US President Donald Trump has told the company if it doesn’t find an American owner by the middle of September, the app will be banned in the United States – where it has 88 million users.

TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social media apps. You might have heard of it thanks to dance crazes it’s created like the Renegade. 

Make sure you have your parent’s permission before checking it out.

The app is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance – and it was banned in India last month over concerns that Bytedance could share the personal data of TikTok users with the Chinese government. Which is to say: videos TikTok users uploaded, personal information they shared, how they used the app, how often, who their friends were – there’s worries all that information could be passed on to the Chinese government. Claims that the company denies. 

The big American tech company, Microsoft, has offered to buy a big bit of TikTok – which would mean it would keep operating in America and also here in Australia and New Zealand. Watch this space.

Swing sets were in high demand yesterday in Victoria as parents raced to prep their backyards for another six weeks of lockdown. 

Reports from stores across the state suggest there was a rush on jungle gyms and swing sets yesterday as new lockdown restrictions, including a dusk to dawn curfew and at least six more weeks of home learning, mean Melburnians will be stuck at home until mid-September. 

As the state shivered under some of the coldest temperatures all year, shops reported record crowds as Victorians got ready for the lockdown. Hair salons were especially busy as folks got their last haircut for the next two months. Sounds like a lot of home haircuts are on the horizon for Squiz Kids … just close your eyes and be brave …




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops — and today we’ve landed in Micronesia – a country made of about 600 different islands spread across a huge stretch of the Pacific Ocean to Australia’s north. Where, the Australian navy has helped rescue a trio of sailors who had spent the past three days stranded on a tiny tropical island when their boat ran out of fuel. The men had written a massive SOS into the sand – and luckily for them, an Australian navy ship happened to be passing by and its helicopter spotted the sign and landed on the island to investigate.

All three sailors are now safe and well – and happy to be home with their families. The tiny coral island they were stranded on measured only 500 metres in length, had no fresh water and was otherwise only inhabited by sea birds and turtles. And everyone knows sea birds and turtles are rubbish company after three days. 




It might sound like something from a horror film, but zombie cicadas are an actual thing – and they are terrorising the US state of West Virginia and leaving scientists there baffled. 

A gross fungus attaches itself to the adult cicadas and slowly eats away at their bodies – but never actually kills them. The cicadas go about their lives – flying and eating and mating with other cicadas – oblivious to the fact that half of them is in fact fungus. And each time they meet another cicada, the fungus spreads. Euugh. 

Hence the name zombie cicada – because the fungus invades its host and instead of killing it, keeps it alive to help it spread to other cicadas. Told you it was gross.   

Sigh …. As if this year hasn’t had enough weird stuff going on .. 




She gets knocked down, but she gets up again … Sky Brown – the 12 year old British skateboarding champion, may have just recovered from a huge skate bowl accident, but she’s determined not to let a little setback like a broken arm and multiple other fractures stop her from realising her dream of skateboarding for her country in next year’s Olympic games.

In her first interview since the accident which made headlines around the world, Sky said she is already thinking about new tricks she can try on the famous skater Tony Hawks’ 14-foot ramp (the same one she crashed off) – and that wearing a helmet most certainly saved her life. 

Oh – and if you’re in the market for inspiring people who just get back up and carry on when bad things happen to them – be sure to check out our Squiz Kids Q+A session with Turia Pitt. The woman is a living, breathing example of persistence and determination. 




This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What’s the name of the chain of islands in the Pacific where three sailors were rescued after washing up on a desert island?
  2. Which flying insects in West Virginia have had their bodies invaded by a flesh-eating fungus?
  3. In which sport does super-brave 12-year old Sky Brown hope to compete in next year’s Olympics?  




It’s August 5 …. The 217th day of the year, and the birthday of the first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong. 

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today  … 

Sunny from Brisbane, Liam from Coogee, Zara from Grange, Isabella from Wollongbar, Kevia from Morningside, Jamie from Chinchilla, May from Kangaroo Island, Thomas from Lowanna, Ariadne from Yarraville, Fraser from Gowrie, Alex from New Farm, Anthony from Melton, Jemima from Mosman, Rosa from Semaphore Park, Rudra from Cranbourne, Alex from Inverell, Mia and Kayla from Sydney, Mak from Melbourne, Christian from Liberty Grove and Veronica from Dunedin in New Zealand.

And some belated birthday shoutouts… Amelia from Adelaide and Gary from Sydney.

Happy birthday to you all.

Classroom shoutouts… class 4J at Pagewood Public School, class 5JD at Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School in Eltham North, Merri Creek Primary School, Bicheno Primary School in Tassie – beautiful spot, great for penguins – and 4/5 R with Mr Robbo at Mt Terry Public School. 

The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Micronesia
  2. Cicadas
  3. Skateboarding