“Should have turned left at Albuquerque, I think.”
Said Melbourne resident Kevin Chelli-Bird after a homing pigeon turned up in his backyard – after starting a race in Alabama in October. After travelling 15,500km in the wrong direction, that’s one helluva missed turn…
IMPEACHMENT TO KICK OFF TRUMP’S LAST WEEK
The US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote to impeach President Donald Trump mid-today our time after Vice President Mike Pence yesterday declined a request to remove him from office. If the vote is successful, it will be the first time a president has been impeached twice. It follows the House’s history-making lobbying effort – never before has it formally asked for a president to be removed by their administration.
SO IMPEACHMENT IT IS?
Yep. The charge: inciting insurrection in a speech to his supporters last week before a mob stormed the Capitol, leaving five people dead. That could trigger a trial in the Senate where a two-thirds majority is required to find him guilty. Whether that trial happens before he leaves office in a week (which is unlikely) or afterwards, getting enough support for a guilty verdict will be an uphill battle given the 50:50 Democrat/Republican split in the Senate. But the winds are changing on that front… Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell yesterday dropped a bombshell with reports saying he would vote to convict Trump. Another senior figure, Liz Cheney (former Veep Dick Cheney’s daughter…), says she would do the same.
SO WHAT’S THE POINT?
We’ll take that from three angles:
• If Trump is impeached and found guilty, he would be prohibited from receiving benefits given to ex-presidents and unable to run for political office in the future – something he’s said he might want to do.
• For senior Republicans who support sanctions against the President, reports say they believe it will make it easier to “purge Trump”. Which is a reminder of how much he has shaken up conventional politics – including for his own party – over the last 5 years.
• And then there’s Trump’s POV. Speaking yesterday, he said “as the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.” These efforts could serve to galvanise his supporters – not just for his last week in office, but into the future.
Want a refresher on how the impeachment process works? Have we got a deal for you… #SquizShortcuts
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HOTEL GUESTS EXTEND THEIR STAY
It’s probably more accurate to say their stay was extended for them… Yesterday, Queensland Health officials took 129 guests in hotel quarantine in Brisbane’s Grand Chancellor Hotel to another location. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday confirmed that 6 people linked to the same hotel floor have contracted the highly contagious UK variant of the virus. That means those guests need to restart their 14 days locked up – even those due to leave yesterday… Hundreds of staff and recent guests (some of whom are now in other states) have been told to isolate and get tested. How the virus has spread is unknown, and there’s a report in The Australian (paywall) this morning saying moves are afoot to quarantine returned travellers outside the capitals as new dangerous strains emerge. That could include sending international arrivals into Brisbane to a remote workers camp. There was better news for those on Sydney’s Northern Beaches – it’s no longer considered a ‘hotspot’ according to the national definition.
Ireland’s PM Mícheál Martin has delivered an official apology on behalf of the Irish Government following the release of a devastating report into a “dark, difficult and shameful chapter” of the nation’s history. It revealed that more than 9,000 children had died across 18 mostly Catholic-run institutions for unwed mothers between the early 1920s and mid-1960s. That includes the home highlighted in the film Philomena that starred Dame Judi Dench. Due to what Martin called Ireland’s “deeply misogynistic culture” at the time, those who fell pregnant out of wedlock did not have the same rights as ‘legitimate’ mothers. This led to appalling levels of abuse and high death rates. Martin said the government will take on the report’s recommendations, including victim compensation, and has urged the Catholic Church to take part in a redress scheme.
A WHOPPING BIG TRIAL IN ITALY
What does a trial with 355 defendants look like? Well, you have to have a big room to start with… Italy’s biggest organised crime trial for decades has kicked off overnight. The notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia from the country’s south is on trial for allegations outlined in a rather lengthy charge sheet… The group is believed to make most of its money from cocaine trafficking, but the defendants – ranging from alleged direct members to politicians, police officers and civil servants – have also been charged with murder, attempted murder, extortion, money laundering and abuse of office. More than 900 witnesses and 400 lawyers also have to be accommodated, so the trial is being held in a repurposed call centre in Calabria. A further 92 accused have opted for a fast-tracked trial to start later in the month.
2020’S SEA AND TREE CHANGE A REAL THING
And that’s been reinforced by data from home sales in regional and coastal areas. Prices have jumped significantly over the past year in many attractive locations due to factors driven by the pandemic. CoreLogic data shows the Grampians in Victoria led the pack recording a 16.6% price hike, followed by Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (greash…), which jumped 14.9%. Other locations that saw at least a 13% price bump included the Yorke Peninsula (SA) and Maranoa (Qld), as homebuyers take advantage of historically low interest rates. “Whatever you invest in is highly likely to go up in value,” Noosa real estate agent Tom Offermann said. “There are no dark clouds on the horizon.” Except for long term renters trying to avoid similar price hikes…
SAY CHEESE, AND CHEERS…
After confirming the Coon Cheese brand would be relegated to history, owner Saputo yesterday revealed Cheer Cheese. The recipe will remain unchanged and will continue to be made in Victoria using Aussie milk, and the new packaging will start showing up on supermarket shelves in July. The PR spin: the name was chosen after it was endorsed by consumers who said it “connects them to how they feel” when they eat cheese. It follows a years-long campaign against the Coon brand given its racist connotations. “Our decision to change the name of Australia’s much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging,” boss Lino Saputo said.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
The only thing creepier than lifelike waxworks figures is a group of waxworks figures that are a bit off. Or quite a bit off in the case of a collection in southern Brazil. Marylin Monroe looks like a strapping lad in drag. Nelson Mandela has a tiny head. And poor Princess Diana…
Lucky not to be featured was fellow former Windsor, Fergie. She created enough of her own buzz yesterday revealing a book deal with romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon. Fingers and toes crossed for her…
And congrats to Roma resident Dexter Kruger – Australia’s oldest person turned 111 yesterday. His secret – “I have half a dozen prawns every day.” Good on him.
SQUIZ THE DAY
From 5.00pm (AEDT) – 1200 tennis players, support staff and other officials to arrive in Melbourne on 15 charter flights ahead of the Australian Open
Ten infectious diseases experts to travel to China for the World Health Organisation’s inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus
• the first successful caesarean section operation (1794)
• the deaths of Lewis Carroll (1898), Dorothea Mackellar (1968) and Alan Rickman (2016)
• the establishment of the Reserve Bank of Australia (1960)
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