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✨ Good morning! Today is Thursday, May 2, 2019, and we have been waiting 12 years for this moment to come.
BULLETIN: TO THE LETTER
• The Background
Less than 24 hours after news broke that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, had written a letter to Attorney General William Barr criticizing his “interpretation” of the Mueller report, Barr found himself testifying on that exact subject in front of Congress. It wasn’t an easy day for the AG, who faced some tough questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, including whether he reviewed Mueller’s evidence before writing his report (he didn’t), whether he lied to Congress (Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said he did and that he should resign), and whether his report exonerated Trump. (He said it didn’t, and wanted the American people to decide for themselves.) CNN
• What Else You Need to Know
Obviously, Republican senators did their best to defend Barr’s position, encouraging Mueller to “come and tell us [the committee]” if there’s anything that he disagrees with. However, Senator Lindsay Graham later backtracked, telling reporters that he’s not bringing Mueller before the committee, and that [the investigation] is “over.” But Barr said he had no problem with Mueller testifying, and even offered Mueller the opportunity to read his four-page summary before he gave it to Congress, but Mueller declined.
• What’s Next?
Hopefully, a testimony from the man himself: Robert Mueller. Thus far, Congress has been unable to fit into his schedule. (Wouldn’t you need a break after putting together a 448-page document?)
• Canada: Making the First Move
Jason Kenney has been the premier of Alberta for exactly two days, and he’s already tackling the province’s biggest issue: oil. The newly minted leader (he was sworn in on Tuesday) signed Bill 12 into law yesterday, which gives the province the power to “turn off the taps” (of natural gas, crude oil and refined fuels, such as gasoline and diesel) to B.C. should the West Coast continue giving Alberta a hard time over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Obviously, B.C. Premier John Horgan quickly freaked the eff out, filing the paperwork for an injunction and a constitutional challenge in Albertan court. Kenney worked Horgan hard on the issue, saying that continuing to block the expansion is not only hurting Alberta but “ordinary families in British Columbia.” The request for an injunction hearing is scheduled for May 7. CBC News
• Canada: Sweet Relief
The federal government is doing its best to help canola farmers out of their financial jam. In response to China’s recently implemented ban on Canadian canola due to “pests” (🤷🏼♀️), the feds are providing some much-needed support to the farmers who’ve been impacted. Farmers will now be able to borrow $1 million (up from $400,000) against the expected value of their crops, and $500,000 of that will be interest-free, up from the previous $100,000. Before the ban, China was importing about one-quarter of Canada’s canola exports (seeds and oil) — which amounted to around $2.7 billion. International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr said he also hopes to help farmers find new buyers, leading a trade mission to Japan and South Korea in June. CTV News
• World: Spill the Tea
On today’s episode of “you had one job,” U.K.’s Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson was fired after his failure to protect the U.K. from Huawei’s involvement in its 5G network. Williamson, a close friend of Prime Minister Theresa May and other government officials, was relieved of his service after May claimed to have “lost confidence in his ability to serve in the role of
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world.”
– Emperor Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne as Japan’s newest monarch, ushering in the Reiwa era one day following his father’s abdication and upholding the Yamato dynasty’s reign as the world’s oldest continuing hereditary monarchy. CTV News
• Hey Google, WTF?
While the game rooms, nap pods, and gourmet food are nice, what Google employees really want is to be treated fairly. Google employees around the world held sit-ins yesterday to protest retaliation against workers. Despite being planned in less than 24 hours, the sit-ins brought together thousands of employees, all of whom are upset about the repercussions they’ve faced for voicing their opinions. Members who participated in the sit-ins shared stories of having their job responsibilities cut after organizing protests (there was a big one last year regarding Google’s handling of sexual harassment allegations) or having a promotion taken off the table after having a problem with certain managers. Google denied the accusations, saying assignment changes (a.k.a. demotions) are not retaliatory, and that it’s investigating “all allegations of retaliation.” (Will they Google it?) The Verge
• No Fake IDs
Data security is the name of the game these days and SecureKey Technologies wants to make it foolproof. The Toronto-based company’s newly launched “digital identity system,” called Verified.
• Running: Like a Girl
Being a woman in track and field just got even harder for those with a difference in sex development (DSD). The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled against the challenge brought forward by two-time Olympic medallist Caster Semenya. The South African runner is hyperandrogenous and new regulations will force her to take medication (with untested side effects) to lower her naturally elevated testosterone levels if she wants to compete in any race between 400 metres and one mile — which, coincidentally, is exactly the distance she excels in. Starting next Thursday, athletes with DSD will have their hormone levels closely monitored before, during, and after competition season as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) believes these athletes have a competitive advantage. While CAS acknowledged that its ruling was discriminatory (ya think?!), the Court maintains the restrictions are necessary to ensure an even playing field (pun intended). Semenya’s home country is on her team; the South African Ministry of Sport plans to appeal the CAS ruling to prevent the implementation of the new rules. CNN
• Music Medley
If there’s one thing TV’s told us this week, it’s that girls really do run the world — and last night’s Billboard Music Awards was no exception. From Taylor Swift’s killer opening performance (we’re talking confetti, flying seats, and sparklers) to Kelly Clarkson’s epic rendition of this year’s top hits (including “Meant to Be,” “Tequila,” “The Middle” and “Girls Like You”), female artists stole a good chunk of the spotlight. Cardi B picked up an award for top rap song (“I Like It” with Bad Bunny and J Balvin), top rap artist and top 100 song, top selling song, top radio song, and top collaboration for Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You”; Ella Mai won for best R&B artist; and Ariana Grande won the top Billboard chart achievement award, along with top female artist. Canadian Drake picked up a sh*t ton of awards, winning 12 last night — which is actually the most in history — bringing his lifetime total to 27. (Oh, and he also gave Arya Stark a much-deserved shoutout.) Other winners include BTS (top duo/group), Imagine Dragons (top rock artist), and Beyonce & Jay Z (best R&B tour and best rap tour). You can see more of who won what here and who wore what here.
📖👀🎧 THE WEEKEND PLAYLIST
While we’re still wondering when spring is going to get here, acclaimed British author Ali Smith has just released Spring, the third installment in her “Seasonal Quartet” of novels and according to The Guardian, “her best book yet.”
The animator behind Netflix’s BoJack Horseman is back with Tuca & Bertieand, personally, we could not think of anyone better to voice a pair of co-dependant bird-women best friends than comediennes Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong.
After a six-year hiatus, indie rock darlings Vampire Weekend are back with Father of the Bride, which Rolling Stone is calling a “modern California pop masterpiece.”
• Pasta-la-vista, Baby
Chicago police exercised “an abundance of caution” on Tuesday when they blocked off road and pedestrian traffic to a busy downtown street and shut down a transit station after spotting a suspicious package in the middle of the road. The package in question: a can of Chef Boyardee pasta attached to what looked like a set of skateboard wheels with wooden dowels and green tape. After investigating and speaking to witnesses, the cops calmed the eff down and let traffic return to normal. Rather than a ticking time bomb of mushy pasta and too-sweet tomato sauce, it turns out the rig was a car prototype made for a DePaul University student’s design class. In search of the perfect photo op, he’d placed the “car” in the middle of State Street — but instead of an epic ‘gram, the student landed himself a ticket for disorderly conduct and breach of peace. Block Club Chicago
• Potterheads Unite
In the world of J.K. Rowling’s beloved books, May 2 marks the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, in which Harry Potter fulfills his destiny by finally defeating Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Named).
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Julian Assange has found a new home: prison. A London judge just sentenced the WikiLeaks founder to 50 weeks in jail for jumping bail and holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy.
• Despite the president’s push, the Federal Reserve has decided not to cut interest rates, leaving its benchmark rate in a target between 2.25% and 2.5%.
• If you’re hoping to invest in a 4K TV, you may want to hold off for a few months. Turns out 4K is old news, and Huawei’s planning a 5G 8K TV to be released later this year.
• We now know what the Obamas are up to on Netflix. The duo just revealed their upcoming projects, which include series focused on “race and class, democracy and civil rights and much more.”
• Sesame Street finally has a real-life location. The intersection of West 63rd and Broadway in NYC has officially been renamed in honour of the show’s 50th anniversary.
• Working Offsite
We’re all for the rise of co-working spaces, but this takes the concept too far.