Squiz Today / 16 January 2020

Squiz Today – Thursday, 16 January


“We found women’s disgust towards ectoparasites – such as fleas that live on the skin – negatively affects preferences for men with beards.”

Said University of Queensland’s Dr Barnaby Dixson of his study into beards and women’s attraction to men who choose to wear a chin pelt. Who would’ve thunk that worrying if your bloke’s face has fleas is a turn-off...


It's taken almost a month of politicking between the major American political parties, but the impeachment process against President Donald Trump is taking a step forward. With the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Democrat Nancy Pelosi) arguing with the Senate Majority Leader (Republican Mitch McConnell) about the rules of the trial that’s soon to take place, pundits wondered if it would go to the next stage. But House members have voted to send the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate.

Trump, a Republican, was impeached by House members in mid-December for abuse of power and obstruction of the Congress during the investigation into the President's alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The Democrats control the numbers in the House, and Republicans in the Senate, so the parties have been locked in argument with Pelosi trying to bargain on the terms of the trial with McConnell. Her primary demand has been about allowing the Democrats to call witnesses. But she lost that fight with the Republicans not required to make concessions.

Next stop: a trial. After some pomp where the House impeachment managers (who will serve as prosecutors in the trial) walk to the Senate carrying the articles of impeachment, Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn in to preside over the trial. He will swear in the 100 senators as jurors, and opening arguments are expected to start early next week. And after all that, the Democrats have more hope of getting Amanda Keller to this year’s Logies than they do of removing Trump from office. That's because two-thirds of the Senate has to support his removal. And with Trump's party in a dominant position, it would take something extraordinary to go down for him to be booted. But it will make for spectacular political theatre in a presidential election year...

Get the background to what's going on with our Squiz Shortcut. It's impeachment made easy... 



Hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual scene-setting address to the nation, the government and its prime minister, Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev, have resigned. To explain. Overnight, Putin has proposed big changes to the nation’s constitution that are designed to lengthen his grip on power and change the "entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of the judiciary," according to Medvedev. Putin's term as president ends in 2024, and critics say his proposed changes plot a pathway for him to stay on in a powerful position after that date. Medvedev will remain close to power in a Security Council job that has been compared to a vice presidency. Putin has suggested the changes should be put to the people in a referendum.


Human Rights Watch has released its annual report on the human rights practices of nearly 100 countries, opening with a damning assessment of China’s record. Its “crushing” oppression of its citizens, including the mass detention of Uighur Muslims and use of technologies for mass surveillance and social control, is a “global threat”, the group says. Australia wasn’t exempt from comment - the report also criticised last year’s police raids on the ABC and News Corp journo Annika Smethurst for what it says put a "chilling effect" on journalists and their sources.


As the government fends off accusations of rolling out the pork barrel during the election via a $100 million community sports program targeting marginal seats, PM Scott Morrison has upped payments to those affected by bushfires. He's copped criticism for the way financial aid is being rolled out to those in the fires zones, and so families and volunteer firefighters will get extra, fast-tracked payments under the government’s $2 billion recovery fund. Meanwhile, big efforts to protect some special Wollemi pine trees as NSW's huge Gospers Mountain fire threatened the area paid off. "Wollemi National Park is the only place in the world where these trees are found in the wild and, with less than 200 left, we knew we needed to do everything we could to save them,” said NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean yesterday. Another effort that’s paid off is last nights’ Australian Open Rally for Relief tennis fundraiser. Almost $4.8 million was raised with some serious stars pitching in.


...is that it could actually be illegally-sourced shark and chips, according to ocean conservationists. Macquarie University conservation biologist Dr Adam Stow warned consumers that the mislabelling of fish products is quite common. "Flake, which is the primary ingredient in your fish and chips, is gummy shark either from Australia or New Zealand," he said. But an illegal shark trade means your flake could actually be meat from a shark species that's increasingly under pressure from overfishing. And while Jaws & Co aren't everyone's favourite sea creatures, they play a vital role in the ocean ecosystems. The research comes as the UN yesterday said there's only a decade left to protect many endangered species from mass extinction due to ongoing habitat destruction and pollution.


Another day, another retailer that’s hit trouble… Denim retailer Jeanswest is the latest retailer to enter voluntary administration amid weak consumer spending and a changing retail scene. The future for the Hong Kong-owned/Aussie founded company’s 988 staff and 146 stores (in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA) is uncertain, but administrators KPMG say it will continue to operate as usual while "all options for the restructure or sale" are considered. The company, which opened its first store in Perth in 1972, has since expanded to China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Russia and Indonesia. Jeanswest’s international stores will not be affected.


The age of peak misery is 47.2yo. That’s according to Dartmouth College Professor David Blanchflower who studied data across 132 countries to measure the relationship between wellbeing and age. He then formulated a ‘happiness curve’ which hits a low point for people living in developing nations in their late naughty forties. "People get realistic, they realise they're not going to be the prime minister of Australia or the CEO of a company," Blanchflower says. It's always good to have something to look forward to - or look back on…


ABS Data Releases - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, November; Lending Indicators, November

Cycling - Santos Tour Down Under begins (on until 26 January) - Adelaide

A birthday for Kate Moss (1974)

Anniversary of the US announcing the start of Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait (1991)

Anniversary of the death of Australian photographer Frank Hurley (1962). Fascinating bloke

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