Hidden Agenda

Another Canadian goes missing in China, Trump's lawyer is sentenced to three years in prison and Google's Play Store gets a much-needed update for the holidays.

Hidden Agenda

Another Canadian goes missing in China, Trump's lawyer is sentenced to three years in prison and Google's Play Store gets a much-needed update for the holidays.
Thunder Bay Police Investigation The Bullet

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✨  Good morning! Today is Thursday, December 13, 2018 and we’re willing to bet good money you googled at least one of these things this past year.


• The Background

In Thunder Bay, Ontario, First Nations residents come last. That’s the finding of a report released yesterday by a provincial police watchdog, which recommends that investigations into the deaths of at least nine Indigenous people be reopened. The 200-plus-page report cites widespread “racist attitudes” amongst members of the Thunder Bay police force as a key motivating factor behind “inadequate” investigations into the deaths. Independent Police Review Director Gerry McNeilly wrote that officers drew “premature conclusions” in the cases and “repeatedly relied on generalized notions about how Indigenous people likely came to their deaths and acted, or refrained from acting, based on those biases.” Along with the nine cases it recommends be reopened, the report also found “serious deficiencies” in dozens more death investigations where Indigenous people were the victims. CBC News

• What Else You Need to Know

The review examined 37 sudden death investigations spanning the past nine years. The investigative failures included officers “not interviewing or following up with witnesses or persons of interest”; “poor collection and management of evidence”; “lack of communication with coroners and pathologists”; and in several cases of death by drowning, not thoroughly investigating whether someone else could have pushed or thrown the victim into the water.

• What’s Next?

The report makes 44 recommendations, including reopening investigations into the deaths of nine victims (at least four of whom were teenagers), making in-car and body-worn cameras mandatory, and having the Thunder Bay police be peer reviews by another force for at least three years. And, in the age-old Canadian tradition of saying sorry, it also calls for police leadership to “publicly and formally acknowledge that racism exists at all levels within the police service,” and declare it “will not tolerate racist views or actions.”


• Missing in Action

Following the news that China had detained Canadian former diplomat Michael Korvig as suspected retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she has reason to believe the country is holding a second Canadian citizen. At a news conference yesterday, Freeland said a Canadian man had contacted government officials to inform them he had been questioned by Chinese authorities — but Canadian officials haven’t been able to get back in touch with him since, leading them to declare him missing. While Freeland didn’t name names, that man is believed to be Michael Spavor, who runs a company that brings tourists and athletes into North Korea. Spavor is said to be pretty buddy-buddy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and to have been the one to organize basketball star Dennis Rodman’s trips to the country. Spavor posted on Facebook on Monday that he was travelling to Seoul for work, but according to friends there, he never arrived. Kovrig’s whereabouts are also still unknown. Globe and Mail


• Canada: New Gig

There are four new faces heading to Parliament Hill. Yesterday, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau appointed to the Senate of Canada, Dr. Stan Kutcher, an adolescent mental-health expert from Nova Scotia; Margaret Anderson, a public servant from the Northwest Territories; Pat Duncan, the former premier of the Yukon; and Dr. Rosemary Moodie, a Toronto doctor who specializes in newborn health. Each one will sit as an independent, and was recommended by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. Trudeau said that the four new members “bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience that will greatly benefit Parliament and all of Canada. They know what it means to serve, and have dedicated their careers to making a difference in the lives of others.” Global News

• U.S.: Punitive Measures

Donald Trump’s former lawyer is going to jail. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III sentenced the president’s former “fixer” to three years in prison, after he admitted that his “blind loyalty” to the president forced him to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds.” Though Pauley did commend Cohen for eventually coming clean (in the summer, he admitted guilt and agreed to co-operate in the Russia investigation), he said it didn’t “wipe the slate clean.” He also said the 52-year-old “lost his moral compass” somewhere along the way and that as a lawyer, “he should have known better.” (Ya think?) But it’s not just the jail time that’s going to hit Cohen where it hurts — he’ll also have to pay $1.39 million to the IRS, forfeit $500K and pay $100K in fines. He’ll report to prison on March 6, 2019. CTV News

• World: Still In

Theresa May is not going anywhere — at least not yet. The British prime minister survived a no-confidence vote yesterday by 83 votes (200 voted in support of the current leader, while 117 voted against her). The vote was triggered by members of May’s own party, who are less than impressed with the way she’s handled Brexit. (Most of it has to do with the Northern Ireland backstop, which would allow Ireland to maintain an open border with the EU if the U.K. leaves without a proper deal.) Now that she’s still the prime minister, May is heading back to Brussels to try and re-negotiate with EU leaders, who have made it very clear that they won’t budge. CNN


The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host.

Ellen DeGeneres, toying with the possibility of ending her talk show in pursuit of a more fulfilling career and the opportunity to play “someone unappealing” in a movie role. New York Times


• Overseas Deal

Via Rail has decided who it’s hiring to build new trains to update its aging fleet. Rather than local standby Bombardier, the rail service has awarded the $989-million contract to German-owned Siemens. The 32 new trains Via Rail has ordered will be built at Siemens’ North American manufacturing hub in Sacramento, California. In addition to the rolling stock refresh, the two companies also announced a 15-year deal that will have Siemens provide technical services and parts to Via at a cost of $335.5 million. But while critics are in a huff over Via taking the work outside Canadian borders, Transport Minister Marc Garneau wasn’t fussed, saying the deal holds true to Canada’s free-trade commitments. Via Rail chief executive Yves-Desjardins-Siciliano emphasized that the promise of timely delivery (and Bombardier’s habit of falling behind schedule) was a key factor in the decision. Bombardier’s not dwelling on the loss either — it just scored a (nearly as lucrative) US $669.1-million contract to provide rail cars to New Jersey Transit. (Let’s hope it can keep those trains running on time.) CBC News


• Easy Giving

‘Tis the season for giving — and Google knows it. The world’s favourite search engine is putting its popularity to good use, announcing that Android users will now (or soon, depending where you are in the world) be able to donate to various nonprofits right through the Play Store, and 100% of the donation will go straight to the charity. (No 30% processing fee here, friends.) The company is waiving its traditional fee as part of the “Giving Season on Play” program which it hopes will encourage users to donate to “inspiring nonprofits.” The new feature launched yesterday in the U.S., but will be rolling out “in the coming days” to users in Canada (yay!), Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The Verge


• Basketball: Clean Sweep

The Toronto Raptors routed Golden State Wednesday night without their top scorer, Kawhi Leonard, to complete the season sweep of the two-time NBA champs. Kyle Lowry had 23 points and 12 assists, while Serge Ibaka added another 20, in the decisive 113-93 victory over the Warriors in California. Leonard sat out his second straight game due to hip issues, and was ruled out less than 30 minutes before tip-off, and Jonas Valanciunas went down in the first half with a dislocated thumb. But the Raptors now hold an NBA-best 23-7 record, which matches the 2014-15 team for the best start in franchise history. TSN


• Read

Now that things are starting to wind down, it’s time to pick up this year’s best reads. Show your patriotism and start with the top Canadian fiction of 2018.

• Watch

If you’re anything like us, you binge-watched these popular titles with the rest of the world — but if you didn’t, there’s no better time than the present to get caught up.

• Listen

2018 brought a lot of bangers. From Ariana Grande to Halsey to Khalid, these are music critics’ 100 favourite songs of the year.


• Peer Review

It’s that time of year when every week brings a new batch of award nominees, and this week, it’s the Screen Actors’ Guild bestowing the honours. Yesterday, SAG Awards committee chair JoBeth Williams and SAG Awards committee member Elizabeth McLaughlin announced who was being recognized by their fellow actors, and there were very few surprises. Award season darlings A Star is Born, BlackKKlansman and The Favourite all received multiple nominations. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were both nominated for their performance in A Star is Born, along with best ensemble and best supporting actor (Sam Elliott). BlackKKlansman received nods for lead actor, supporting actor and ensemble, while The Favourite picked up lead actress and two for supporting actress. On the TV side, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel continued its award show reign with another four nominations, along with Netflix hit Ozark (also with four). They were followed by The Handmaid’s Tale, Glow, Barry and The Kominsky Method, which were all nominated for three awards. Hosted by Megan Mullally, the SAGs will air live on Jan. 27, 2019 at 8pm ET. Hollywood Reporter


• Not Fooled

At a recent state-sponsored technology forum in Russia, one company took the idea of faking it until you make it a tad too far. The company, called Show Robots, showed off its latest invention in a showcase that was broadcast on Russian television. Robot Boris appeared to be a life-sized humanoid robot that could walk, talk and even dance. But journalists were skeptical, asking some hard-hitting questions: How did Russian scientists build the robot so quickly? Why was there no past internet coverage of the creation? “Why did it look like a man would fit perfectly inside it?” Then, pictures posted on social media clearly revealed a glimpse of a man’s neck between the plastic casing. (Surprise!) The “robot” was revealed to be just a costume — albeit a very expensive, 250,000-rouble one (that’s about $5K). The makers say the costume creates “an almost complete illusion that you have a real robot.” BBC News


Four worshippers were shot dead by a gunman who opened fire following Mass at a cathedral in Brazil yesterday.

• French and German police are still searching for the gunman behind Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.

• If you’re a fan of Kotex tampons, beware: the brand is part of a nationwide recall after reports of serious injuries.

• If you can’t build out, build up. That’s the thinking behind Intel’s groundbreaking new stacked computer chip that revolutionizes the way the semiconductors are designed.

• The International Olympic Comittee is throwing its weight behind the fight against climate change and is urging the rest of the sports world to do the same.

• Nothing funny about this: The founder of the Just For Laughs festival, Gilbert Rozon, has been charged with rape and indecent assault.


• National Hot Cocoa Day

While we’re pretty sure the “national” in the title of this so-called-holiday refers to the U.S., the chocoholics in us can’t resist joining in the celebration with a rich, steaming cup of cocoa. (Cheers!)


• Masked Man

South Korea’s latest beauty icon is a bit unexpected (to say the least).

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