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✨ Good morning! Today is Thursday, December 6, 2018 and this would make the current houseplant craze a little easier on our black thumbs.
BULLETIN: CRACKING DOWN
• The Background
The Italian mob is facing its most worthy adversary yet: European police. Yesterday, authorities in four countries (Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) arrested 84 suspected mobsters in one of the most well-coordinated crackdowns in recent history. The raids, which were sparked by the mob’s suspected role in an international cocaine trafficking ring, resulted in seized drugs (cocaine and ecstasy pills) and cash worth an estimated €2 million (US $2.3 million). According to reports, those that have been detained allegedly work for the Italian ’ndrangheta criminal network, which is involved in both global drug trafficking (specifically cocaine), money laundering, bribery and violence. Associated Press
• What Else You Need to Know
This is the second mob takedown this week, with Italian authorities arresting 46 on Tuesday, all of whom are supposedly part of the “rebuilt upper echelons of the Mafia” including its new provincial kingpin. Filippo Spiezia, the vice president of Eurojust (which is the EU prosecution agency that coordinated the raids), said they hoped to send a “clear message to organized crime groups across Europe”: if criminal networks can work across borders and continents, so can the authorities. The crackdown was the result of a two-year investigation (codenamed Pollino) that traced four tonnes of cocaine across Europe. It was the biggest probe of its kind. (With drama like this, who needs Netflix?)
• What’s Next?
Though the raids were successful, Italy’s top Mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero De Raho, said authorities have only “scratched the surface” of the ’ndrangheta network, whose operations are spread all over the world. Cafiero De Raho said there are still “thousands of people who should be arrested and billions of euros that should be seized.”
• Please Hold
The Bank of Canada isn’t feeling all that confident with the Canadian economy. Yesterday, the central bank announced that it was holding the key interest rate at 1.75%, one of the only pauses in a year full of hikes. According to the official statement, the decision was based on several factors, including the energy industry (policy makers are worried its contribution to the national economy will be “materially weaker” than they expected), POTUS’s trade wars (which are “weighing more heavily on global demand”) and the GDP (apparently our economy is smaller than they thought). The next rate decision is expected on Jan. 9, 2019. Financial Post
• Canada: The Coast is Clean
Following on the heels of Ontario’s big climate change news (Premier Ford’s government plans to meet the 2030 targets set in the Paris Accord), British Columbia is following suit. Yesterday, Premier John Horgan, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall unveiled the province’s plan, which includes offering tax breaks for home retrofitting and zero-emission vehicles. Called Clean B.C., the plan will also use the money the province makes from the carbon tax to create incentives that will encourage big companies to develop cleaner operations. The government hopes the plan will help the province reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. By 2032, the government also plans to implement a “net-zero energy” reading for all new buildings, meaning their total energy needs can be met with renewable sources. CBC News
• U.S.: Leaving Behind a Legacy
Yesterday, a who’s-who of Washington elite (think presidents, vice presidents, and foreign officials) gathered at the National Cathedral to bid farewell to the country’s 41st president: George H.W. Bush. Former president (and Bush Sr.’s son) George W. Bush pulled himself together long enough to deliver an emotional eulogy (and share some much-needed sweets with bestie Michelle Obama — again) as did former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney, who could barely contain his own emotions talking about his pal. Bush’s body is now in Texas for a smaller, private funeral service, which will be held today. CBS News
• World: Breaking the Rules
Russia’s just fighting with everybody. With the situation between Russia and the Ukraine escalating by the minute, President Vladimir Putin has set his sights on his favourite frenemy: the United States. After U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to withdraw from a Cold War-era treaty called the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (which, according to NATO, Russia’s already broken several times), Putin made a threat of his own: Russia will develop the short and medium-range missiles that are banned under the 1987 agreement should the U.S. exit. Should Russia develop the banned missiles, it would be able to launch an attack on Europe with little to no prep time. BBC News
QUOTE OF THE DAY
It threatens the basic elements we all need for good health — clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter — and will undermine decades of progress in global health.
– The World Health Organization adds its voice to the choir calling for progressive action on climate change in a report released at the COP24 climate summit. The agency says meeting the 2015 Paris Accord’s goals would save a million lives each year by 2050. CBC News
• Job Hunting Made Easy
If you’re looking to make a career change in 2019, look no further than Glassdoor’s list of the 25 best employers in Canada. Released yesterday, the ranking charts the top companies to work for with 1,000 employees or more based on criteria such as opportunities for career growth, compensation and benefits, culture and values and the company’s six-month business outlook. Topping the list at number one is Microsoft, followed by PointClickCare in second place (who?) and SAP in third (what?). It should come as no surprise that the top three firms are in the tech industry. PointClickCare is cloud-based software company targeting the senior care industry, while SAP’s software focuses on B2B and internal business management solutions. The rest of the list spans a mix of different industries, including past year mainstays like Keg Restaurants, Starbucks, Ubisoft, RBC, and IKEA. HuffPost
• Go It Alone
The dream is almost a reality: Waymo has launched its first commercial self-driving car service, called Waymo One. Though the service comes with a backup human driver for now, eventually the plan is to offer autonomous rides, complete with price estimates and trip reviews. (Think Uber, but without the awkward small talk.) For now, the self-driving rides are only available to a select group of “early riders” (who’ve already participated in Waymo’s test programs) and are only available in Phoenix, AZ, but Alphabet (a.k.a. Google) plans to gradually introduce the service to the general public. Engadget
• Football: Less Stall, More Ball
One week after the 2020 Super Bowl, football fans will have reason to get back in front of their TVs — that’s when the newly re-formed XFL is set to kick off (pun intended) its first season. Founder Vince McMahon (yep, the pro wresting promoter) and commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck presented their plans for the league yesterday, with Luck explaining the “football, reimagined” concept as “a game that’s fast-paced, high octane, up-tempo, with a great rhythm, a great flow, with fewer stoppages in play.” Also announced were the U.S. cities chosen as homes to the eight inaugural teams in the rough-and-tumble, totally-not-concerned-about-concussions football organization: New York City, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston (of course Texas gets two teams — Tim Riggins would be proud), Los Angeles, Seattle (making it two new sports teams announced in as many days for the sports-obsessed city), Tampa Bay and Washington D.C. FB Schedules
• Gymnastics: No Money (or Morals)
USA Gymnastics is bankrupt (in more ways than one). Yesterday, the 200,000-member organization filed for bankruptcy, in an effort to “expedite an equitable resolution of the claims made by the survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Larry Nassar.” But according to attorney John Manly, filing for bankruptcy means that all the lawsuits filed by Nassar’s victims will be suspended (along with their inquiries into “who at USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee knew about Nassar’s criminal conduct and failed to stop it”) and eventually moved to bankruptcy court where the survivors’ claims will be paid out by insurance companies. CNN
• The Headliners
Continuing with the influx of year-end rankings, People magazine revealed its list of the 25 “most intriguing people of the year” yesterday. In first place is former first lady Michelle Obama, who’s memoir Becoming sped to the top of the charts to become the best-selling book of the year in just 15 days. Runners up are Todayduo (and total bestie goals) Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, who were named as the talk show’s first female co-anchor’s after Matt Lauer’s unceremonious ousting in January. And fans clearly can’t get enough of former HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, People‘s third place picks; the Fixer Upper couple had a banner year despite putting an end to their show. They welcomed their fifth baby, Joanna authored two books (a cookbook and a design book) and they announced their own TV network. (What a way to spend your maternity leave.) Also on the list are Meghan Markle (no surprise there), Ariana Grande (ditto) and the survivors-turned-student-activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Hear, hear.) People
• Too Far
While we usually totally support PETA’s mission to save the animals (we love them, too), the organization’s latest memo has everyone a little miffed. According to the animal rights group, humans need to stop using “anti-animal language” and shared some common phrases it hoped would “become as unacceptable in society as racist, homophobic, or ableist language.” (Seriously.) If you’re wondering what exactly constitutes “anti-animal language” and “speciesism” (join the club), think common phrases like “bringing home the bacon” and “be the guinea pig.” Obviously, the response was fast and furious with animal-lovers everywhere freaking out over PETA’a asinine comparisons (“I’m sorry did PETA just compare the phrase ‘bring home the bacon’ to racism or am I reading this wrong?” and “Yeah because animals speak English so saying sh*t like that really hurts their feelings. Good looking out #PETA.”). And once followers stopped dragging PETA for the ridiculousness of the request, they went after the group’s suggestions — which, by the way, make zero effing sense. (Birds do not eat scones.) BuzzFeed News
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• A massive 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the southern Pacific Ocean yesterday, worrying surrounding regions of resulting tsunamis. (Luckily, no destructive waves were reported.)
• At the U.S.’s request, Canadian authorities just arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer in Vancouver. (She’s accused of violating America’s trade sanctions against Iran.)
• The U.S. FDA just recalled eight different kinds of dog food (including one sold in Canada) for deadly levels of vitamin D.
• Turns out Facebook definitely plays favourites. A new report revealed that the social media giant provided user data to tech giant besties like Airbnb, Bumble, Lyft and Netflix — and shut out competitors like Vine. (RIP.)
• Halifax really wants a CFL team — and singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane thinks they should get one.
• Lives Lost
Today is the day Canada remembers the 14 women murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal on December 6, 1989, along with all missing and murdered Aboriginal women, trans-women and women around the globe who’ve been victim to senseless gender-based violence.
• Pointing Fingers
Can you tell who won this argument?