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✨ Good morning! Today is Tuesday, December 11, 2018 and you might want to sign on to Reddit’s Canada page at 4:45pm ET today.
BULLETIN: STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
• The Background
For months, the relationship (or lack thereof) between China and the U.S. has been inching closer to catastrophe, and now the arrest of Huawei Technologies’ CFO might just push things over the edge. Arrested at the behest of the U.S. government on Dec. 1 while changing planes in Vancouver, Meng Wanzhou has been held on Canadian soil ever since. Her situation appears to be ruffling quite a few feathers in China: a Communist Party newspaper called Canada’s treatment of the tech exec “inhumane” and Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said her detention was “extremely egregious.” China has threatened retaliation if the U.S. does not vacate the arrest warrant. (Meng is accused of using a a Hong Kong shell company to skirt U.S. trade sanctions on Iran.) CBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
Though most of the beef appears to be between the U.S. and China, Canada’s gotten caught up in the middle by acting on America’s behalf. Canadian Ambassador John McCallum has also been warned by the Chinese government: If Canada doesn’t release Meng, there will be “grave consequences.” In fact, Canadian officials are so worried about Beijing’s plans for retaliation (which may include detaining Canadians in China) British Columbia cancelled a planned trade mission to the Communist country.
• What’s Next?
Meng’s currently in the midst of a bail hearing, where she’s assured Canadian authorities that she won’t flee if she’s released. She’s agreed to wear an ankle monitor and to be monitored by a surveillance company. To complicate things further, police were called to Meng’s home in Vancouver early Sunday morning, after someone reported a break-in. Authorities are now investigating.
• Canada: Government Payback
If you thought rounding down on your taxes wouldn’t hurt anyone (aka you) let this be a warning to do it right. The Canada Revenue Agency is deploying new measures against tax evasion: Freezing culprits’ assets and seizing their property. The step uses the law’s proceeds-of-crime provisions to hold tax dodgers to account, and has previously only been used in cases of suspected terrorist financing or money laundering. But in a landmark case, the CRA is targeting an Ottawa couple accused of under-reporting income received on rental properties they own by $3.1 million over the span of five years, evading $523,532 in taxes. Warns Stéphane Bonin of CRA’s criminal investigations division, “I can say that this is indeed the first time, but I can promise you that this is not the last time that we [will use] those provisions of the Criminal Code to restrain or seize assets that tax evaders have acquired through their illegal behaviours.” CBC News
• U.S.: Surprise Vote
It was a surprising ruling literally nobody saw coming, but the Supreme Court of the United States (which now enjoys a conservative majority) sided with Planned Parenthood yesterday. In a 6–3 vote, the court decided not to hear a case brought forward by Kansas and Louisiana, who were both upset that they could not end Medicaid contracts for any reason they like. (They tried to terminate contracts with PP affiliates after videos surfaced that apparently showed officials talking about the price of fetal tissue.) The decision meant leaving two lower court rulings in place — each of which determined that “states may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit, especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the health care it provides.” The three justices that voted to hear the case (and possible overturn the other rulings) were Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the Liberal justices on the issue. CNN
• World: Bending the Knee
After four weeks of violent and destructive demonstrations, French President Emmanuel Macron is putting his money where his mouth is, and bending to protestors’ pressure. In a televised address, Macron announced that the minimum wage would rise in 2019 by 100 euros per month, and that he was cancelling a planned tax increase for low-income pensioners. He also said that overtime pay would no longer be taxed and that he would be encouraging employers to pay a tax-free bonus to employees at the end of the year. In addition to his government’s financial commitments, he promised to meet with mayors from all regions of France, where he would encourage “unprecedented debate” and “tackle the question of immigration,” but also asked that the nation do its part by coming together to “change in order to take into account climate change and other challenges.” BBC News
QUOTE OF THE DAY
A smocking gun sounds like something a well-prepared contestant would bring to Project Runway.
– Twitter user (and Time Out New York theatre editor) @FeldmanAdam speculates on the true meaning of a tweet by President Trump in which he misspelled the phrase “smoking gun”…twice. Twitter
• Riding High
The gig economy’s struggle for legitimacy is about to pay off, big time. Both Uber and Lyft have made confidential filings to the U.S. Securities Commission in preparation to go public. Timing for each of the competing ride-hailing companies’ initial public offerings is uncertain, but they’re expected to materialize early in the new year. Wall Street experts anticipate that top dog Uber could become one of the largest IPOs in history, with a potential value of US $100 billion — making Lyft’s expected value of just US $15 billion look piddly in comparison. CBC News
• An Epic Fail
Google+ never became the social media juggernaut its parent company hoped it would be, and now it never will. The barely used platform just suffered its second data breach in the last three months, exposing more than 52.5 million users’ information, including names, email address, occupation, gender, birthday, relationship status and age. Though Google said it found no evidence that the information was being used nefariously, it won’t risk suffering another setback — Google+ will shut down in April 2019 (four months earlier than its planned closure in August) and its API will will stop working in 90 days. (Combine that with the news that Allo’s closing up shop, Google really isn’t having a good December.) Engadget
• Basketball: All For One
There’s no “I” in team, and no one knows that better than the roster of the Golden State Warriors. The three-time NBA champions have just been named Sports Illustrated‘s “sportsperson of the year,” making them the fourth ever team to be bestowed with the honour. “There is something transcendent about the team where the sum of their parts was apparent from the beginning,” says the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Chris Stone, of the pick. “I don’t know if, in my lifetime, there has been a team where the pieces have blended so beautifully together.” The award will be given out at a ceremony in Los Angeles today, which will air on NBCSN on Thursday. CBC Sports
• Expert Picks
The nominations for this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards were revealed yesterday, and the picks were (surprisingly) full of surprises. Director Yorgos Lanthimos’s Queen Anne-era period piece, The Favourite, racked up 14 nods to lead the pack on the film front, with superhero blockbuster Black Panther trailing with 12 chances to win. First Man (10 nominations), A Star is Born (nine) and Roma (eight) round out the leader board. The television picks were a bit more of a mixed bag, with The Americans, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and Escape at Dannemora nabbing five nominations each. In terms of network domination, Netflix and HBO are neck and neck with 10 nominations each. See the list of nominees for each category here. The Vulture
• Bad Behaviour
They may be doing “God’s work” but that doesn’t mean church employees are above a little retail therapy. In fact, turns out they enjoy overpriced luxury goods as much as us plebeians do. Case in point: Vyacheslav Baskakov, a priest in the Tver region near Moscow, Russia, who is now under investigation for flaunting his “Gucci lifestyle” on Instagram. Think pictures of Louis Vuitton slides and several luxury bags. (God bless his sense of style.) According to a church spokesperson, “such an immodest and unrestrained lifestyle should not be characteristic of priests in the church.” But turns out Baskakov isn’t alone in his love for the finer things in life: Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang stole $500K from St. James Catholic School over the course of 28 years to foot the bill for gambling weekends and girls’ trips to Las Vegas. (Guess even saints enjoy Sin City.)
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Faced with the probability that her Brexit deal wouldn’t pass through parliament, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May delayed the vote, promising to once again negotiate with EU leaders.
• Forty-four former U.S. senators have written a letter to their Senate colleagues, urging them to “stand in defence of democracy.”
• A former Russian police officer has been convicted of killing 56 women, though it’s believed the actual number is closer to 80.
• The soon-to-be closed GM manufacturing plants have a glimmer of hope for their future: Elon Musk has said Tesla may consider buying them up.
• Samsung officially unveiled its new Galaxy A8 yesterday (even though leaks had already ruined the surprise).
• Ariana Grande isn’t quite ready for a break. Billboard‘s woman of the year just announced that she’s adding more shows to her Sweetener World Tour.
• Child Care
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund — better known as UNICEF — was established on Dec. 11, 1946.
• Thumbs Down
YouTube is losing at its own game.