✨ Good morning! Today is Monday, February 11, 2019 and Brad and Jen are back together! (Uh, sort of.)
BULLETIN: LET THE MUSIC PLAY
• The Background
Soon-to-be former president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, said women needed to step up, and at last night’s 61st Annual Grammy Awards, they definitely did — and then some. Led by host Alicia Keys, who was quickly joined by a forceful foursome of Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michelle Obama and JLo, women picked up major awards all night. On top of their trophy collection, women dominated the night’s performances, with Camila Cabello opening the show, Miley Cyrus killing it on stage not once but twice (including with Canuck Shawn Mendes), and a lineup of talented ladies (including Katy Perry, Maren Morris, and Kacey Musgraves) paying tribute to the legendary Dolly Parton, who was honoured as MusiCares Person of the Year. Cardi B brought down the house with her performance of “Money,” while Gaga not only won for “Shallow” (from A Star Is Born) but blew everyone away with her animated performance. The Academy also honoured the late Aretha Franklin with a musical tribute performed by soul singers Yolanda Adams, Fantasia and Andra Day. CBS News
• What Else You Need to Know
It may have felt like a three-hour concert, but the Grammys actually are an awards show. (Surprise!) Former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell won an award posthumously for “When Bad Does Good” (best rock performance) and Ariana Grande won her first Grammy for Sweetener (best pop vocals), despite boycotting the show. Newcomer H.E.R. won for best R&B album, after slaying her first Grammy performance, Cardi B won for rap album of the year (becoming the first solo woman to ever do so), and Canadian darling Drake won for “God’s Plan” (best rap song). For the biggest awards of the night, two trophies went to Childish Gambino for “This is America” (song of the year and record of the year) and Kacey Musgraves for Golden Hour (album of the year).
• Justice Without Vengeance
Two of Canada’s most violent criminals were sentenced last Friday. Alexandre Bissonette was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 40 years for his 2017 shooting attack on congregants at a Quebec City mosque. The Crown had called for his first chance at parole to be set at 150 years, however, Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot argued that sentences exceeding the offender’s life expectancy (Bisonnette is 29) by such a degree are ”grossly disproportionate and totally incompatible with human dignity.” Based on the judge’s unusual move, it’s expected lawyers for both sides will appeal. Meanwhile, serial killer Bruce McArthurwas handed a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon reassured the court that while McArthur will serve his eight life sentences concurrently, his crimes were “pure evil” and his chance at parole is extremely unlikely. Last night, a community vigil was held in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood in the memory of McArthur’s victims. The vigil included LGBTQ, Indigenous, Hindu and Muslim participation in recognition of the many communities affected by the murders.
• Canada: Sir Spend-a-Lot
The government’s staffing costs have hit an 18-year high under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to the latest report from Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer. The government is expected to increase its annual spending in 2019 by $21 billion, which includes $3.1 billion towards public servants’ pensions and $323 million for veterans’ services and benefits improvements. (You got us there.) The increase also covers $3.5 billion for “personnel” (staffers) and $200 million towards collective agreements with the federal public service unions that include more than 206,000 employees. While it sounds like Ottawa’s rolling in cash, employees’ wage increase in 2018 was 1.6% – less than “comparable” wage increases and below the inflation rate. In total, these new estimates introduce 11 new budgetary measures, but include $1.1 billion that has yet to be allocated to anything. (We’ll gladly take it in the form of a tax rebate, thank you very much.) iPolitics
• U.S.: 2020 Starting Lineup
Two more Democratic senators have joined the race against the Trump presidency in the upcoming 2020 election — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — adding to an already diverse cast including four women, two black senators, an openly gay mayor, and a Latino former Cabinet secretary. (Honestly, the more, the merrier.) The announcements came alongside messages similar to those touted by other Democratic contenders, basically calling for rebuilding a sense of community in the currently divisive U.S. Klobuchar’s announcement marks the first Midwestern state official to campaign against the current POTUS. Both senators have popped up in the news this past week, for different reasons: Trump trolled Warren in a Tweet mocking her rumoured Native American ancestry after her presidential bid was announced on Saturday (the Tweet is just one part of the controversy surrounding her heritage), and Klobuchar made headlines for supposedly mistreating staffers, while her defenders (which include ex-staffers) have claimed that the complaints are steeped in sexism. (But the grass is stilllooking greener…)
• World: No Talking
Spain and Catalonia have been at odds since October 2017, when Catalan separatists voted in favour of independence. If you remember, it was a whole to-do with Madrid taking control of the region and issuing arrest warrants for Catalan leaders. Now, with new leaders in power, Spain is trying to make amends with Catalonia, offering to hold talks with separatists. But, the centre-right Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Citizens) aren’t too pleased with the plan, with more than 45,000 protestors taking to the streets this weekend, suggesting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s plan is treasonous, and demanding a new election “now.” There’s good news for those that are opposed: The separatists have thus far declined to participate in the talks, instead pushing for another independence vote. BBC News
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
There are real fears about the potential impact his chairmanship could have on the independence of regional human rights mechanisms and their future engagement with civil society.
– Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa campaign director, expresses concern over the appointment of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the new chair of the African Union. Al Jazeera
• The Not-So-Friendly Neighbour
Amazon is sizing up its future and things are looking good for Canada: after encountering opposition over its planned second HQ in New York, the tech giant is considering a $1-billion investment in its Amazon Web Services data centre based in Montreal. According to a secret provincial government document obtained by La Presse, the 155,000-square-foot data centre opened in 2016 under the code name Operation Zamboni on land previously owned by Hydro-Quebec. While Amazon hasn’t backed out of the New York deal just yet, anti-Amazon rallies that have been held across various local town halls have Amazon doubting the state’s neighbourliness. (In the meantime, we’ll get the guest room ready just in case.) CTV News
• Maps It
We all know that Google Maps is less than perfect, but it’ll soon be upping its game by utilizing your phone’s camera to overlay walking directions, business listings, and other standard Maps features in real time using augmented reality. (Facebook also wants to use your camera to spy on help you find IRL items online.) The new feature will come with an added “Start AR” button beside the regular “Directions” button currently in Maps. The majority of the screen will be the live camera view while the bottom third will display a circular traditional map with your route drawn out. Directional arrows, place markers, and other symbols overlay the screen in live camera mode to help users know exactly where they need to go. (We’re glad to know we’re not the only ones who are directionally challenged.) Unfortunately, since more testing is required, Google hasn’t announced a launch date (but it sure looks cool!). 9to5
• At the Finish Line
Two-time world champion and Olympic medallist Lindsey Vonn just earned her sixth World Championship medal, taking home bronze in her last-ever professional race at the Alpine World Championships in Are, Sweden. The American downhill skier has become the first female to win six championship medals before heading into professional retirement. She is also the most successful pro female skier of all time, leaving behind a hard record to beat of 20 World Cup titles and 82 circuit victories. “It was so fun, I was literally the most nervous I’ve ever been in my entire life,” Vonn said of her final race. She heads into retirement at age 34, and four victories short of the record held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark of 86 World Cup wins. (Is that all?) BBC Sport
• English Accolades
It wasn’t just the music industry that had a big night last night. Hollywood stars of the silver screen — and a couple special royal guests — gathered across the pond for the British Academy Film and Television Arts Awards (a.k.a. BAFTAs). Though it’s an English event, it was a Canadian film that took home the night’s most prestigious awards, with Roma winning best film, best cinematography and best director. The Favourite, starring Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, took home seven awards, including best British film, best production design, best makeup and hair, and best actress in a supporting role (for Weisz), best actress (for Olivia Colman) and best original screenplay. You can see a full list of the winners here and a look at what the stars wore on the red carpet here.
• Where the Streets Have No Name
The German town of Hilgermissen clearly has no desire to boost its tourism dollars. It’s hard enough navigating unknown streets in a town you’ve never been to with a language you don’t speak. But in Hilgermissen, located in northwest Germany, there’s an extra obstacle, insurmountable by GPS: No street names. Not just no street signs — no names, period. The town just held a referendum allowing residents to vote on whether council could give names to the streets, making it easier for visitors, delivery drivers and oh, you know, ambulances, police and fire trucks to navigate the town, but 60% of voters vetoed that plan, preferring to continue to live in total chaos use landmarks as their only wayfinding tools. (OK, so houses do have numbers, but we’re still at a loss…or just plain lost.) Sky News
• Remembering Pop Royalty
On Feb. 11, 2012, legendary pop singer Whitney Houston was found dead in the bathtub of a suite in the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the eve of the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Canada’s former finance minister, ambassador and businessman, Michael Wilson, passed away yesterday at the age of 81.
• Fans of Betty brand and Nancy’s Fancy Yummy in the Tummy brand bakery products beware: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency just issued a recallfor all products sold in Ontario and Quebec up to and including Feb. 8.
• Facebook’s in hot water — again. This time, with Canada’s privacy commissioner over the access the social media giant did or didn’t give to RBC.