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✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and the cutest sports tournament of the year has crowned its victor as the very best boy.
BULLETIN: RUSSIAN ROULETTE
• The Background
The verdict is in — at least according to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. Yesterday, both Democrat and Republican committee members said they hadn’t found any “direct evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, what that means is the part they can’t seem to agree on. Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said, “If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.” However, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia expressed some concern with Burr’s analysis, saying that despite the lack of a direct connection, “there’s never been a campaign in American history … that people affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign did.” (Translation: it looks like collusion, but nobody can prove it.) NBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
The committee has yet to come to an official conclusion, but the investigation is nearing its end after two years and nearly 200 interviews. While many members weren’t willing to speak to reporters on the record, they did express their doubts about the validity of the findings. (One aide said, “We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude.'”) One thing that is official and on the record: Trump and his associates had more than 100 contacts with Russians before the January 2017 presidential inauguration.
• What’s Next?
Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the special investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller are coming to a close, but Mueller hasn’t said much of anything related to his findings. (Except for the indictments, and those speak for themselves.) However, the House just announced an expanded probe into the president’s financial holdings and whether there are any conflicts of interest and New York prosecutors are investigating if and when the president paid off women to keep quiet. So even though some presidential probes are coming to an end, there’s still a lot to uncover. (Just another day in the swamp.)
• Locked Up
Drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, once the leader of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel, is officially heading to the slammer. Guzmán, 61, was convicted yesterday on all 10 counts that he faced, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise; conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds; international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other drugs; and use of firearms. (Really? Is that all?) He’ll be sentenced on June 25, and is facing a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for leading a continuing criminal enterprise, and a second life sentence for the remaining drug counts. Federal prosecutors said they’ll seek a forfeiture judgment of $14 billion, but it’s still up to the court to decide how much money Guzman will be forced to cough up, based on arguments from both the prosecution and defence. “It is a sentence of which there is no escape and no return,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Richard Donoghue said. He also added that the case represents a “victory for the American people, for Mexicans who had lost loved ones in drug wars, and for every family who has lost someone to drug addiction.” CNN
• Canada: Stepping Down
Just 24 hours after the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner announced he was opening an investigation into the Prime Minister’s Office’s involvement with the SNC-Lavalin case (we’ve got the full lowdown here), one of the key parties has resigned from her position in Trudeau’s cabinet. Yesterday, MP Jody Wilson-Raybould announced she was resigning “with a heavy heart” as Veterans Affairs minister, and that she had retained former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to advise her on how to move forward with the investigation. Wilson-Raybould acknowledged that many Canadians (including NDP and Conservative leaders) want her to speak publicly, and that Cromwell would help her figure out what she’s “legally permitted to discuss.” In response to the news of her resignation, Trudeau held an emergency meeting to talk about her departure. While things get sorted out, Wilson-Raybould said she intends to stay on as the MP for Vancouver-Granville, while Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has been named acting Veterans Affairs minister. CTV News
• U.S.: Stepping Up
While most of the focus of the last few weeks has been on presidential hopefuls, there are a number of seats in Congress that will be up for grabs come 2020. Yesterday, a brand-new candidate threw his hat, er, helmet in the Arizona Senate race, and it’s bound to make things interesting. Former NASA astronaut Mike Kelly announced that he would be running for senator, hoping to unseat Rep. Martha McSally, who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the late John McCain until the next election. Kelly shared a video to announce his campaign, which prominently featured his wife, former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a shooting in 2011. In addition to being an astronaut, Kelly also served as a pilot in the Navy and is a trained engineer. CNN
• World: Internet Outage
Yesterday, Russian legislators tentatively approved draft legislation that could take Russia off the global internet network. With 334 votes in favour to 47 against (so, close?), the bill passed the first of what will be many readings in the lower house of parliament. The bill proposes “better” positioning so the country is more prepared to fend off potential cyber attacks from abroad — particularly from the U.S. As a measure of protection, the bill would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install “technical measures to withstand threats,” along with submitting a report by April 1 with suggested ways to shield the country against any cyber attacks. The bill, which is co-drafted by Andrei Lugovoi (one of the prime suspects in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006), is getting major flak from minority parties for not being “vetted by experts” and say it will not only limit internet freedom but will do so at a huge cost to both the public and private sectors. Al Jazeera
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt.
– Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson in an essay chastising the culture of bullying online and in the media, and defending her friendship with the late Princess of Wales (and by extension, between Meghan and Kate). Global News
• Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
We live in the era of the perpetual hustle. Thankfully, two organizations have plans to help support career advancement for worthy professionals. The Big Push, a Toronto-based accelerator that caters to female founders, is launching a mentorship program across Canada for the second year in a row. The Pitch and Pair initiative, which debuted last year, “matches up-and-coming women-led startups with industry-leading mentors.” This year’s events are planned in Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa, with a finale event in Toronto that will give 10 of the most promising startups the opportunity to pitch nearly 1,000 participants willing to “roll up their sleeves and provide the services” they require to be successful. Meanwhile, co-working office innovator WeWork is beefing up its career-boosting services (and taking an obvious page out of LinkedIn’s book) with a newly added feature on its mobile app. In a bid to foster “collaboration and real-life communities,” members will be invited to create “skills-based profiles” on the app, creating a channel for freelancers and service providers to offer up their skills to fellow tenants.
• Executive Assistant
There’s good news for wannabe software developers: it turns out in the future you don’t actually need to know how to code. Glide — a new tool created by former employees of a mobile development company that was acquired by Microsoft — aims to help companies and individuals with their mobile strategy. Using your basic spreadsheet, the innovative program will build users a mobile app based on the data that’s been added. On top of that, the developed app is built iteratively, so it’ll be continuously updated as the data in the spreadsheet is updated. (You get an app, and you get an app and you get an app!) TechCrunch
• Football: Soft Landing
We finally know what this season’s CFL teams are going to look like, and who’s going to be throwing for who. Yesterday, on the opening day of CFL free agency, several big names made major moves around the league. Quarterback Mike Reilly decided to head west, signing a huge four-year, $2.9-million deal with the B.C. Lions. Following Reilly’s announcement, the Edmonton Eskimos (clearly in need of a QB) signed Trevor Harris to a two-year deal worth $1.1 million. Unlike Reilly and Harris, Bo Levi Mitchell decided to stay put, signing a four-year deal worth $2.8 million with Calgary (despite receiving offers from both Toronto and Saskatchewan). But it wasn’t just the league’s QBs who signed on the dotted line yesterday. Defensive end Willie Jefferson agreed to go to Calgary. Receiver Greg Ellingson, offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers, receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebackers Don Unamba, Larry Dean, and Jovan Santos-Knox, and defensive back Anthony Orange all went to Edmonton. Offensive lineman Sukh Chungh and defensive back Aaron Grymes went to B.C. American defensive end John Bowman agreed to stay in Montreal, and fullback Christophe Normand, linebacker Bo Lokombo and American receiver DeVier Posey are joining the team. Hamilton signed receiver Brian Jones, while Sasketchewan signed linebacker DyShawn Davis. Finally, Winnipeg re-signed receiver Nic Demski. CBC Sports
• Culture Shock
David Spade, that famous comedian you haven’t thought about in a while, is staging a comeback. Spade is coming full circle from his rise to fame on SNL in the ’90s with a new late-night show, set to debut on Comedy Central later this year. The series will air at 11:30pm Mondays through Thursdays, in the timeslot immediately following the Daily Show. The network says the show will offer Spade’s “signature take on the pop-culture news of the day” with a “rotating group of Spade’s comedian and celebrity friends, while also incorporating field segments that mirror his popular Instagram stories.” Spade elaborated in an announcement video, saying he plans to cover “whatever’s funny; whatever’s stupid; whatever’s dumb,” (we’re in, in, in.) adding that discussions on politics are off the table — “unless Cardi B runs for something.” Vanity Fair
• Coming Clean
If you had any doubt that Fox News staffers are scum, hear this: Pete Hegseth, co-host of Fox & Friends’ weekend edition, proudly proclaimed on air this past weekend that he hasn’t washed his hands in 10 years (so he’s literally covered in a decade’s worth of scum). Why not? “I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore, they are not real,” he explained. “So you’re becoming immune to all the bacteria?” asked (appropriately aghast) co-host Jedediah Bila, to which Hegseth replied, “Exactly, I can’t get sick.” Hegseth, a Harvard and Princeton graduate (nope, they haven’t revoked his degrees yet), later told USA Today that his deadpan comments were intended as a joke, but the damage had already been done: The Twitter peanut gallery and thinkpiece-writing news media were already out in full force, praising and/or condemning Hegseth for his purported hygiene habits. (In a world where being an anti-vaxxer is seen as a philosophical choice, you’d like to think he’d know better than to feed the trolls.) Still, somehow, Hegseth got the last laugh. (Twice.) BBC News
• Girls’ Night Out
Every February 13, Leslie Knope — a.k.a. the patron saint of Galentine’s Day — and her lady friends (and now, millions of real life women/Parks & Recreation fans worldwide) “leave their husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• At least 17 are dead after a fire broke out yesterday morning at Hotel Arpit Palace in Delhi, India.
• According to reports, the Toronto Transit Commission and the province of Ontario have come to an agreement on how discussions will proceed over the Ford government’s plan to take over the subway system.
• In light of January’s much-publicized layoffs, Buzzfeed News staffers have officially unionized.
• A former Toronto Raptor is hanging up his basketball shorts. Chris Bosh officially announced his retirement yesterday.
• The inaugural Critics’ Choice Real TV Awards has finally revealed the categories shows will compete in, along with its timeline for submissions.
Honestly, at this point Chrissy Teigen is the entire reason we’re even still on Twitter.