Squiz Today / 26 March 2019

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 26 March


“I just folded 56 bags and I don’t know how to store them.”

Strange but true. Reusable plastic supermarket bags have made this cry for help the hottest thing on the internet


The look into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election found President Donald Trump and his campaign did not scheme with the foreign power. After a nearly two-year-long investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump tweeted that it was “total EXONERATION” (his caps…). But it’s far from over with questions still lingering on whether he obstructed justice to hinder the investigation.


The key points are:

• What’s not in doubt is Russia’s interference in the election campaign (although it denies all accusations) in an effort to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

• Mueller’s job was to find out if those efforts were helped along by any Americans, including Trump and those close to him. To do that, investigators issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, more than 230 orders for communication records, and interviewed about 500 witnesses.

• Reports say Russian citizens interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and presidential transition.

• Yesterday, Attorney-General Bill Barr’s four-page letter to Congress outlining the gist of Mueller’s report said; “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.”

• However, six people connected to Trump’s campaign have had criminal charges laid against them, mainly relating to lying to investigators.

No way, José. As the Washington Post said yesterday, “the closing of the Mueller investigation opens the door to fiercer political fights over the president’s judgment and power.” And that mainly has to do with the question of whether a case can be made that Trump obstructed justice by interfering in the investigation (ie like when he told FBI Director James Comey “you’re fired”). Mueller was not definitive on the point, and Attorney-General Barr says he and Justice Department officials have separately determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue the charge. Democrats want Mueller’s original report to be released in full.



The disappearance of William Tyrrell was likely "the direct result of human intervention”. That was part of the opening remarks from counsel assisting the coroner during the first day of an inquest into the 3½yo’s disappearance from Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast in September 2014 while on a visit with his foster family. Dressed in a Spiderman suit and roaring like a tiger in the backyard, his foster mother told of the distressing moment she realised it was “too quiet”. This week’s hearings will look into William's foster and biological families, the circumstances of his disappearance, and the action taken after he went missing.


There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about the rising price of electricity, and a new report out yesterday sheds new light on what drove price increases in 2017. When Victoria's Hazelwood plant shut in March 2017, it reduced the national coal generation electricity market by 5%. But prices went up... a lot. That’s because researchers say AGL, one of our biggest power generators and retailers, lifted wholesale prices by $3 billion a year. Yes, that’s ‘b’ for ‘billion’... EnergyAustralia and Origin also cashed in, the report says. Energy Minister Angus Taylor said “see, told ya the energy companies are terrible” or words to that effect…


Because it’s cool to be current...

ARDERN ANNOUNCES ROYAL COMMISSION - New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said the inquiry would look into the events leading up to the Christchurch terror attack that killed 50 people. In the spotlight: gun laws, social media and its role in stirring up division in the community, plus the performance of security agencies. "In short, the inquiry will look at what could have or should have been done to prevent the attack," she said.

NSW COALITION TIPS INTO MAJORITY GOVERNMENT - After another day of counting, pundits say it’s likely to win 48 seats, meaning it can govern in its own right. And while Premier Gladys Berejiklian could be forgiven for popping the bubbly, Labor leader Michael Daley stood asideuntil a vote of the caucus and rank-and-file members can happen after the federal election in May. Penny Sharpe is stepping in as interim leader.

BREXIT BLUES PART 573 - Key supporters of the Conservative Government in the UK - the Democratic Unionist Party - have told PM Theresa May it still doesn't back her Brexit deal. That’s one of the reasons May says she won’t hold a vote in the parliament quite yet. "But the bottom line remains: if the House does not approve the withdrawal agreement this week and is not prepared to countenance leaving without a deal, we would have to seek a longer extension," May said.


It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie… Some of a patient's immune system cells are removed and re-engineered in a lab, and then given to the patient to attack cancer cells. It’s called CAR T-cell therapy, and it's mainly for people with blood cancers. The federal government yesterday announced funding of $80 million to go towards a treatment centre at the Peter MacCallum Hospital in Melbourne. More government support could also be forthcoming to bring the cost down from around $500,000 per patient to almost nothing. "This is the first such facility not just in Australia, not just in the southern hemisphere but indeed throughout the entire Asian region," Health Minister Greg Hunt said. Meanwhile, Sea Change actor Tom Long is travelling to the US this week to take part in a clinical trial using the treatment against multiple myeloma in an effort to save his life.


Is it a pay phone? Is it a wifi station? No, it's a giant digital billboard… That's the conclusion of Melbourne's City Council which has knocked back 81 applications from outdoor advertiser JCDecaux to ‘upgrade' Telstra's pay phones with 190-centimetre digital ad screens. More than a year into a deal to tart up 1,860 payphones in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide, JCDecaux argues the phones are exempt from state and local council regulations. With 90% of Aussies owning a mobile phone (according to the Financial Review (paywall)), the council says it’s in its domain to question why so many “digital billboards masquerading as phone booths on the footpaths of our city" are necessary.


When you’re allegedly surrounded by the odour of a work colleague you call “Mr Stinky”...


PM Scott Morrison and senior Coalition Government ministers to meet execs from Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss the distribution of extreme content - Brisbane

ABS Data Releases - Causes of Death, 2017; Participation in Selected Cultural Activities, 2017-18

Bump stocks (aka attachments that can make a semi-automatic rifle behave like a machine gun) due to become illegal in America

Purple Day to raise awareness of epilepsy

Bangladesh Independence Day

Diana Ross’ birthday (1944)

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.