10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Good morning!

1. Donald Trump is the first US president to be impeached twice, as the House of Representatives charges him with “incitement of insurrection”. Multiple Republican lawmakers broke ranks to vote with their Democratic colleagues to impeach the president. He was previously impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to the Ukraine scandal.

2. In the Senate, which would conduct Trump’s trial, once-loyal Republicans are also said to be wavering, raising the prospect that he could also be convicted. An even harsher reckoning could come after a conviction, if Congress voted to bar him from office, ending any hope of a 2024 run. It remains to be seen whether the Republican revolt against Trump will be widespread enough for this to happen – but the prospect is looming larger than ever before.

3. Australian businesses were hiring for a record 254,400 jobs in November. It marks huge job growth since August’s 206,100 vacancies, indicating growing employment. However, with unemployment hovering around 7%, there remains 3.7 unemployed Australians for each vacancy – so we’re not out of the woods yet, especially as government support is wound back.

4. Victoria has recorded zero new cases of COVID-19, again. Anyone from Victoria or NSW who has been at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane since December 30 – either as a returned traveller or a staff member – must get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were last at the hotel. Six cases of the highly contagious UK strain of COVID-19 have been linked to the hotel.

5. Xinja closed its remaining accounts on Wednesday and returned its banking licence. Its collapse in Australia raises questions over whether other neobanks can succeed where it failed. While some have stumbled rolling out lending products, others are making stronger inroads on their promise to challenge the big four.

6. Google has admitted that it has been intermittently blocking some Australian news sites from search users as part of a test. “We’re currently running a few experiments that will each reach about 1 per cent of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other,” a spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald. It’s part of the battle between the search giant and Australian publishers over payment for content.

7. Uber Eats riders claimed their pay has been cut in the new year at a protest in front of NSW Parliament on Wednesday. The Transport Workers’ Union claims that decreasing pay is increasing pressure on riders, making them more likely to be injured or die. Five delivery workers were killed over a two month period late last year, leading the NSW Government to undertake a number of new initiatives to improve safety and assist those gig workers who are in an accident.

8. 17 million Australians now subscribe to a streaming or pay TV service – and Netflix dominates competitors by a huge margin. Data from Roy Morgan found the number of Netflix viewers jumped 19% to 14.2 million. It comes as coronavirus lockdowns forced people indoors, causing a spike in viewership numbers for streaming platforms.

9. Coronavirus cases have been soaring in the UK, with the country’s total number of positive tests rising by 70% just since the new, more infectious variant was announced on December 14. The sharp increase came even after the UK tightened restrictions in December. The new variant, which includes several mutations, is thought to be 30% to 50% more contagious than other forms of the virus, according to estimates from Public Health England. Check out this graph.

10. Dropbox is laying off 315 employees, or 11% of its workforce, the company announced on Wednesday. “The steps we’re taking today are painful, but necessary,” CEO Drew Houston said in a statement. Dropbox announced its first profitable quarter in May 2020, driven in part by an increased online work during the coronavirus pandemic.

BONUS ITEM

Netflix are releasing a helluva lot of movies this year, and they’ve released a trailer showing them off.

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