We Finally Got a Glimpse Into JFK’s Assassination

The Background

Twenty-five years after the U.S. government passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, President Donald Trump released most of the records related to the 35th president’s assassination last night. In the end, 2,800 files were released, but another 300 were kept under wraps due to fears surrounding “national security, law enforcement and foreign relations.” The release was expected to quell conspiracy theories, but the 300 secret files are bound to keep them going. CNN

What Else You Need to Know

In one of his few presidential actions, Trump demanded that the agencies who had asked for certain files to stay classified, re-review their request within 180 days, explaining that “the American public expects and deserves its government to produce as much access as possible to the John F. Kennedy assassination records.” According to experts, the documents don’t contain any revolutionary information — especially any indication that anyone except Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for JFK’s death.

What’s Next?

The groups have until March 26, 2018 to submit a report explaining why certain information needs to stay redacted. If their reasoning doesn’t meet the standards set out by the government, the remaining reports will be released on April 26, 2018. (We see another JFK biopic in our future.)

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This Is How Multicultural Canada Really Is

The Background

Right on schedule, the Canadian government released more details from the 2016 census. This time, Ottawa focused on the background of our population — which really isn’t much of a surprise. The bottom line? We’re multicultural AF (and proud of it.).  According to the results, 21.9% of Canadians are immigrants, which is the highest percentage in the last 85 years. The Indigenous population also continues to grow at double the rate of the non-Indigenous population, reaching 1.7 million last year, which accounts for 5% of our population. CBC

What Else You Need to Know

Immigrants are coming to Canada from all over the world. More than 60% are coming from Asia (including the Middle East), with Africa close behind at 13.4%. When it comes to specific countries, the top three sources of new Canadians are the Philippines (15.6%), India (12.1%) and China (10.6%). Because of the civil war, Syria is now in the top 10, coming in at seventh, up from 50 in 2011. Fewer are settling in hot spots like Ontario, and attention has shifted to provinces like Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

What’s Next?

The findings have allowed Stats Canada to make some bold predictions, including that by 2036, 30% of our population will be represented by immigrants.
(Take that, Trump.)

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Good News, Canada: Apparently Ottawa’s Rollin’ in Dough

The Background

The Liberal government released their fall economic statement yesterday, and things are looking pretty damn good. Thanks to our “surprisingly strong economy,” Ottawa announced another $14.9 billion in spending over the next five years (which is in addition to what they had originally promised to spend in their March budget). The plan is to put a good chunk of the money towards investments, tax relief and new spending on social programs to support children and the working poor. Global News

What Else You Need to Know

The $14.9 billion is really just a drop in the bucket, since the government’s also predicting an additional $46.6 billion in income over the same time period. The money that’s not being spent on investments, taxes and Canadian families, will be put towards reducing our annual deficits.

There’s More…

The extra funds will also allow the Liberals to implement a promised program enhancement earlier than they had expected: they’re upping the child benefit payments. They also plan to boost the working tax income benefit.

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How Putin Turned Bill Browder Into a Wanted Man

The Background 

Bill Browder is officially a wanted man. The very vocal critic of Vladimir Putin has been leading an international campaign against Russia and its government since 2009, when his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered in one of the country’s prisons. Since then, Browder has openly criticized the Russian government, accusing them of human rights violations. Just last week, Ottawa passed the Canadian version of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which allows our government to sanction human-rights abusers around the world — and one day before it was to take effect, Putin had Browder added to Interpol’s wanted list. Globe and Mail

What Else You Need to Know

The story of Browder, Magnitsky and Putin is a long one…with a lot of chapters (and they’re riveting. His book had us on the edge of our seats). Putin has tried to put Browder on Interpol’s wanted list five times, however the organization threw out the previous four attempts after they realized they were “politically motivated.” Until this fifth notice is tossed out (if it’s tossed out), Browder is unable to leave his home in Britain — peculiar timing considering he was supposed to come to Canada on Oct. 31 with Magnitsky’s family to thank those responsible for the bill.

What’s Next?

Russia is peeved about the Magnitsky laws — and isn’t hiding it. In a report released Oct. 4, a spokesperson said, “We warn again that in case the pressure of the sanctions put on us increases…we will widen likewise the list of Canadian officials banned from entering Russia.” Browder may have been the first, but there’s a good chance he won’t be the last.

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The World Health Organization Just Made a Mega Mistake

The Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reversing its (bizarre) appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as goodwill ambassador — a decision Prime Minister Justin Trudeau compared to a “bad April Fool’s joke.” (We’d call it sick.) In a statement released yesterday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom said he decided to act after the choice drew worldwide concern and outrage. Mugabe, 93, has long been accused of human rights abuses and is often criticized for travelling overseas for medical treatment at the expense of his own people. BBC

What Else You Need to Know

Mr. Tedros had originally justified the appointment based on Zimbabwe’s commitment to public health and thought President Mugabe could “help tackle non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and asthma across Africa, ” but critics quickly pointed out that the country’s health care system was in ruins. The collapse of the economy has forced many health care workers to go without pay and many life-saving medications are often in short supply. In addition to our PM, the U.K. government, the Wellcome Trust, the NCD Alliance, UN Watch, the World Heart Federation, Action Against Smoking and Zimbabwean lawyers also condemned the appointment.

What’s Next?

The World Health Organization hasn’t said whether or not they’ll appoint another goodwill ambassador in the area, but they should make an announcement soon. (WHO knows.)

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The Taliban Is Trying to Take Afghanistan Down With Them

The Background

As the Taliban lose power in Afghanistan, they’re determined to bring the whole country down with them. Yesterday, the terrorist group targeted an Afghan army base killing at least 43 soldiers and injuring another nine. Two suicide bombers were behind the attack, driving humvees packed with explosives into the area, completely destroying the base in the southern province of Kandahar. Simultanously, gunmen attacked police headquarters in the eastern province of Ghanzi, killing two more. BBC

What Else You Need to Know

The latest attacks were just two of four this week, as the Taliban continue to increase their terrorism efforts in the area. All four targeted the government’s security forces, killing at least 100 soldiers and military personnel. The first attack happened Tuesday when Taliban suicide bombers and gunman raided a police training facility in Gardez, killing 41 and injuring another 150. Thirty more died in a coordinated attack in the Ghanzi province — terrorists detonated car bombs before gunmen moved in.

What’s Next?

The U.S. is planning to increase its military presence there, so hopefully they can get the situation (a.k.a. these crazies) under control.

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Jeff Sessions Just Faced Off With the Senate Judiciary Committee

The Background 

It was Jeff Sessions’ turn in the hot seat yesterday, as the attorney general faced off with the Senate judiciary committee, answering tough questions about Russia and his time on the presidential campaign trail. The former Senator of Alabama once again denied any wrongdoing, saying he’s not “part of a façade” and that there wasn’t any “improper contact” between the Trump camp and the Russian government during the campaign. CNN

What Else You Need to Know

The hearing went on for a long five hours, and addressed everything from Russian election meddling to criminal justice reform to immigration. (Clearly a sore subject for the White House these days.) The most intense period of questioning came when Sessions refused to answer inquiries about his private conversations with POTUS, citing executive privilege. The committee was having none of it, telling Sessions both he and Trump have misunderstood the term’s meaning, pressing him to answer questions about Comey, Mueller and his conversations with the President. In the end, Sessions was able to skirt the issues, saying it wasn’t a “little matter” and shouldn’t be done so “casually.”

What’s Next?

More hearings…as the investigation continues.

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Trump’s Travel Ban Gets Trumped…Again

The Background

One step forward, two steps back — which is exactly how things are going for POTUS right now. (Or maybe just backwards, but who’s counting?) Less than an hour after U.S. senators announced a bipartisan deal which would allow the government to continue paying health insurers (a deal Trump actually approved of), a judge in Hawaii shut down Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban. Judge Derrick Watson blocked the ban, saying it “plainly discriminates based on nationality.” Like the versions that came before it, Watson said the White House failed to provide sufficient evidence that the banned nationals posed any kind of threat to the United States. CNN

What Else You Need to Know

The third version of the ban suggested that the government prevent residents of eight countries (six being muslim-majority countries) from entering the United States — Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen. While the restrictions on North Korea (obviously) and Venezuela still stand, Judge Watson has blocked the ban from coming into effect for the other six nations. In the 40-page ruling, he chastised the administration for not addressing all the concerns that had come up in earlier hearings.

What’s Next? 

The Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said they’ll “appeal in an expeditious manner.” (And here we go again.

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Ottawa Announces Big Changes for Small Businesses

The Background

After a s–t-ton of uproar, Ottawa has finally changed their tune on their proposed tax plan. The government announced yesterday that they’d be cutting the small business tax (like Trudeau originally promised on the campaign trail) from 11.5% to 10% in January and then to 9% in 2019. Clearly backpedalling on earlier ideas, Trudeau said, “This tax cut will support Canada’s small businesses so that they can keep more of their hard-earned money, money that they can invest back into their businesses, their employees and their communities.” (We’ll take it, thank you very much.) Financial Post

What Else You Need to Know

These aren’t the only changes coming to Canada’s tax system. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced other tweaks to Ottawa’s original plan, including making sure that angel investors and venture capitalists don’t end up facing “heftier tax burdens” and that the government doesn’t end up subjecting small businesses to unnecessary “red tape.” One of the biggest changes comes to the rules around capital gains exemptions. After originally suggesting substantial changes to limit access to the lifetime capital gains exemption, Ottawa has decided not to move forward with that proposed adjustment.

What’s Next?

The government plans to announce a series of changes to the original tax plan (which was proposed in mid-July) throughout the week. Stay tuned.

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Somalia Just Suffered Their Worst Terror Attack in History

The Background 

An extremist group took aim at the African country of Somalia over the weekend, detonating a truck bomb that killed at least 277 and injured another 300. The attack took place in the capital city of Mogadishu, on a busy street near key government ministries. While the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group hadn’t claimed responsibility, the Somali government was quick to place blame, with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire saying, “They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children. They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.” CTV News

What Else You Need to Know

The bombing is considered to be the “single deadliest attack” in the country’s history and has thrown the city of Mogadishu (and Somalia) into complete chaos. Doctors at area hospitals are completely overwhelmed by the severity of the injuries and officials are begging Somali citizens to donate blood to help the victims. The United Nations. and African Union are doing all the can to help, including sending in “logistical support, medical supplies and expertise.”

What’s Next?

Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of mourning to honour the victims of the deadly attack.

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