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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The U.S. and Israel Just Pulled Out of UNESCO

The Background

The United States and Israel announced yesterday they are bailing on UNESCO over allegations the agency is biased against Israel. The Paris-based organization, which designates World Heritage Sites for special U.N. status and protection, has come under fire from both the U.S. and Israel in recent years over “discrimination” against the Jewish state. UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said she’s disappointed by the withdrawal, calling it a “loss to the United Nations family.” CBC

What Else You Need to Know

For those who weren’t quite sure, this is a pretty clear indication that the U.S. and Israel are thick as thieves. The U.S. was the first to announce that it would be leaving the organization, with Israel quickly following suit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was obviously impressed by the U.S.’s bold move calling it “brave and moral” — though it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The U.S. has been withholding its funding for UNESCO since 2011, when the group gave Palestine full-member status, a move that both the U.S. and Israel voted against. Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, was also quite pleased with the announcement saying, “Today is a new day at the UN, where there is price to pay for discrimination against Israel.”

What’s Next?

These two nations may have been the first to withdraw, but they may not be the last. Britain, Japan and Brazil have not paid their dues to UNESCO for 2017, though it’s apparently for different reasons.

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NAFTA Talks Continue — But Things Aren’t Looking Good

The Background 

Fresh off his meeting with POTUS, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down with reporters to talk NAFTA and what he, realistically, sees for its future. His main message? “We have to be ready for anything.” (That’s not comforting.) While our PM tried to maintain his positive outlook, also saying it’s “very possible to get a win, win, win,” the likelihood seems to be getting slimmer by the day. (Trump told reporters in an interview this week that the deal “will have to be terminated.”) Basically, Trump’s White House is totally unpredictable and our government knows it. (And according to Vanity Fair, so does everyone on Capitol Hill.) CBC

What Else You Need to Know

Despite the uncertainty surrounding NAFTA’s future, it’s not all bad news. In one of his predictably unpredictable rants, POTUS said he’d be open to a bi-lateral trade deal with Canada should they end up terminating the three-nation agreement. (Sorry, Mexico.) Even though the prez is clearly not on board, our PM managed to make a pretty good case to the House of Representatives committee that oversees trade negotiations. He proudly pointed out that we’re already the U.S.’s biggest customer (they sell more to us than “China, Japan and the U.K. — combined”) and that the deal we have in place is definitely mutually beneficial.

What’s Next?

Our dairy sector is still a matter of contention, and will be a hot topic as negotiations continue this week in Washington.

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Inside The Harvey Horror Picture Show

The Background

Just days after the New York Times ran an exposé alleging decades of sexual harassment at the hands of one of Hollywood’s most successful men, the New Yorker doubled down with even more harrowing tales of Harvey Weinstein. It took writer Ronan Farrow 10 months to collect the information, and this time, the report included three instances of rape. While Weinstein has denied the allegations made by 13 women (and counting), it looks like Hollywood, and other friends of the producer, are finally reacting, after decades of turning a blind eye. Weinstein was fired from his own company, and members of the Democratic party, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton, have been refunding donations made by Weinstein (totalling more than $1 million) or donating the funds to charities. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. CBC

What Else You Need to Know

In an act of solidarity with the women who’ve come forward, big stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have shared their own accounts of unwanted advances at the hands of Harvey. Paltrow shared that Brad Pitt even threatened the movie exec after she confided in him about what had happened. Jolie also opened up with a similar experience from the ’90s, and stated she never worked with Weinstein again following the incident, and warned women of his sexual advances. She told the New York Times, “This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.” Another person who thinks his behaviour is unacceptable? His wife, Georgina Chapman, who announced yesterday that she’s leaving Weinsteinafter 10 years of marriage.

What’s Next?

According to reports, Weinstein left for Europe last night where he’ll attend sex addiction rehab.

(“Don’t understand the Conservative glee over the #weinsteinscandal. He’s been exposed and fired. Instead of, you know, elected president.” – @Josh_Moon)

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Catalonia Votes to Get the F Out of Spain

The Background 

It’s been a rough few weeks for the people of Spain. On October 1, the citizens of Catalonia voted to secede from Spain and create their own nation. The vote, which thus far, hasn’t been recognized by the Spanish government, is causing quite an uprising, resulting in mass protests and police violence. National Post

What Else You Need to Know

Rumours are swirling that Catonalia will submit an official declaration of independence to parliament later today, as government officials discuss the recent vote. But it’s certainly not straightfoward: Not only has the Spanish government refused to acknowledge the vote or its results, Spanish loyalists marched through the streets of Catalonia over the weekend, in an effort to show their support for unity and the mother country. Chanting, “Don’t be fooled, Catalonia is Spain,” the group also called for Catalan’s regional President Carles Puigdemont to go to jail for holding the referendum.

What’s Next?

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated his government’s commitment to unity yesterday, saying “Spain will not be divided and the national unity will be preserved. We will do everything that legislation allows us to ensure this.” On the flip side, Puigdemont plans to address parliament today to try and figure out how to proceed with the separation.

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Canada’s Citizenship Rules Are Getting a Major Makeover

The Background 

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced major changes to our Canadian citizenship rules yesterday, in an attempt to “undo barriers the former Conservative government put in place.” Hussen said that the changes the Conservative government made were unnecessary and simply made it more difficult for permanent residents to obtain Canadian citizenship. He didn’t hold back when asked about the Harper government’s approach to citizenship saying, “Something happened in the last number of years whereby the previous government had deliberately put obstacles, real barriers, to citizenship for permanent residents.” Clearly, those days are over. CTV News

What Else You Need to Know

The new rules (which take effect October 11) allow residents to apply for citizenship as long as they’ve spent three of the last five years in Canada. Ottawa’s also scrapping the requirement that permanent residents spend at least 183 days of the year in the country in order to be eligible for citizenship — residents can now travel as much as they want while still being eligible (no more suffering through Canadian winter.). Another key change comes to the way the federal government counts eligible years in Canada. In the past, years foreigners spent here working, traveling, studying or as refugees didn’t count towards their eligible years…but under the new rules, it will. Lastly, only newcomers between the ages of 18 and 54 will be forced to pass a citizenship knowledge and language test (reduced from the previous range of 14 to 64).

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