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✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, February 20, 2019 and after you’re done reading this, maybe put your phone down for a little while?
BULLETIN: NUCLEAR BOMBSHELL
• The Background
Turns out the U.S. is more involved with Saudi Arabia than anybody thought. (You know, aside from siding with a diabolical, murderous dictator.) Yesterday, the House launched a full-out investigation into the White House’s plans to build nuclear reactors across the kingdom. According to the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee’s initial report, the Trump administration is “rushing” to transfer “sensitive nuclear power technology” to the country, without doing the proper research — and experts are warning that the entire plan could destabilize (even further) the situation in the Middle East and “spark a dangerous arms race” in the region. BBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
All the president’s closest advisors appear to be involved in the plan, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Trump’s inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The report suggests that POTUS crafted this nuclear power plan (which is supported by “firms linked to the president”) right after he took the Oath of Office and has continued working on it ever since. If you’re wondering why this is such a BFD, it’s because Saudi Arabia has historically refused to agree not to use the nuclear technology for weaponry, and it’s unlikely it’s changed Its stance on the matter.
• What’s Next?
Based on the initial report, the committee hopes the investigation will determine whether the president’s plan is “in the national security interests of the United States or, rather, [to] serve those who stand to gain financially.” (Um, do we really need a full investigation to answer that question?)
• Roadblock From Red Deer
A caravan of pipeline supporters rolled into Ottawa yesterday, in an attempt to cause chaos in the capital. The group of truckers, known as United We Roll, left Red Deer, AB, last Thursday on a mission to spread their message: Pipelines are necessary to support the Canadian economy. (Oh, and they also don’t like the carbon tax.) The protestors, wearing yellow vests in a nod to the French group, rallied on Parliament Hill from 9:30am to 2pm yesterday, and are expected to be back at it today. (Though today’s protests will likely interfere with rush hour.) Ottawa Citizen
• Canada: On Track
With no solutions to the proposed pipeline challenges in sight, Alberta’s finally got another plan to ship crude oil out of the province: trains. While it was previously just a blue sky idea, Premier Rachel Notley announced yesterday that the provincial government signed contracts with Canadian National and Canadian Pacific to lease 4,400 rail cars to get its oil to both American and international markets. The first shipments (which will carry 20,000 barrels per day) will likely start shipping mid-July. Notley expects the cars to reach full capacity (120,000 barrels per day) by mid-2020. Alberta’s expecting the rail shipments to bring $2.2 million in net revenue over the next three years. CBC News
• World: Into the Fold
Is this Petro Poroshenko’s way of sticking it to Putin? Yesterday, the Ukrainian president signed a constitutional amendment committing to joining NATO and the European Union. While Poroshenko said he knows the country still has a “long way” to meet the membership criteria for both collectives, he referred to the move as his “strategic mission.” (It’s good to have goals. 🙌) Poroshenko hopes to make a formal bid to join the EU by 2023 and to also develop a detailed plan of action to get the country up to NATO’s snuff. From the sounds of it, Ukraine has the full support of European Council President Donald Tusk, who told Ukrainian Parliament “there is no Europe without Ukraine,” and reaffirmed that the EU does not recognize Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. National Post
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction.
– Democratic hopeful (and eternal optimist) Bernie Sanders launches his 2020 presidential campaign with some serious fighting words for Donald Trump. New York Times
• Priced Out
It seems Payless’s bottom dollar pricing strategy didn’t quite pay the bills. The Kansas-based discount footwear retailer is closing up shop on its 2,500 North American stores, including all 248 Canadian locations. The company filed for bankruptcy in the U.S on Monday and yesterday, its Canadian operation announced it’s following suit. Many stores are due to be shuttered by March-end, with some outlets remaining open through May to process liquidation sales. (This is probably the only time the phrase “shoe sale” hasn’t thrilled us.) Court documents filed yesterday reveal mounting debts, unpaid rents, an oversupply of inventory (too many shoes?!), and a 2018 operating loss of more than US $12 million. About 2,400 Canadian jobs will be lost with the closure. BNN Bloomberg
• Hardwired Control
It seems every darn inch of our homes is getting the smart device treatment. Wiring company Leviton is giving its Load Center circuit breaker box a 21st-century makeover. The first-of-its-kind box includes an integrated Wi-Fi or Ethernet hub, letting homeowners manage and monitor their electrical setup via a smartphone. The system, which can be outfitted with complementary smart circuit breakers, connects to the MyLeviton app to keep tabs on the individual energy use of each breaker. While we don’t think we want to know exactly how many kilowatt-hours our streaming habit eats up (thanks, but no thanks), getting an alert when a breaker trips does seem useful, as does the ability to remotely shut off a circuit breaker without running back and forth to the basement. Sadly, the pricing and release date remain a mystery. The Verge
• Chic Goodbye
The fashion world has lost its emperor. Karl Lagerfeld passed away early yesterday morning at the age of 85. The prolific designer and long-time Chanel creative director was rushed to hospital Monday night. Concerns about his health had been running rampant for several weeks, ever since he missed the Chanel haute couture show in Paris last month. Reports say he had recently been diagnosedwith pancreatic cancer. Along with his iconic designs and signature personal style — Lagerfeld once proudly proclaimed to have become, happily, “like a caricature of myself” — the German designer will no doubt be remembered for his shamelessly cutting insults and frequently controversial comments. (We can only assume the bulk of his fortune will be willed to Choupette.) Vogue
• What’s in a Name?
Big Dairy just isn’t giving up on its protectionist campaign against milk alternatives. In case you haven’t heard, dairy farmers aren’t content to share the word “milk,” — or even the quirkily spelled “mylk,” — with non-dairy beverages. In a story published Monday in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, farmer Al Overland helpfully offered up a novel name suggestion to market almond milk: Nut juice. (Appealing, right?) Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is taking a stand against vegan cheese, responding to a complaint about “products being labelled as ‘cheese’ when they are allegedly not” by demanding that a local vegan cheese shop find something else to call its savoury nut pastes. (And before you say it — no, “cheeze” isn’t okay either. 🙄) The Takeout
• Historic Spin
On Feb. 20, 1962, astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. blasted into space on board the Mercury Atlas rocket (which he fondly named Friendship 7) and became the first American to orbit the Earth. In a four-hour-and-55-minute-long flight, Glenn circled the Earth three times before landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Despite being bound by solicitor-client privilege, Jody Wilson-Raybauld will be called to testify in the parliamentary probe of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
• Just 24 hours after seven British MPs quit over anti-Semitism, France is taking a stand, too. Yesterday, former French presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy joined thousands in protests across the country.
• Netflix is doubling down on its Canadian investment. The streaming giant just announced that it’s setting up two production studios in downtown Toronto.
• Thank goodness someone’s investing in Canadian media (Netflix, 🙏🏼), ’cause yesterday, TVA Group basically canned its entire staff at popular Canadian titles like Style At Home, Canadian Living and Elle Canada. (On that note, why not show The Bullet some love and support us?)
• Bianca Andreescu isn’t the only professional tennis-playing teen making headlines this season — Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18, is on track to break into the top 100 with his performance at the Rio Open.
• In the least surprising news of 2019, Khloe Kardashian and perpetual cheater Tristan Thompson have split. (What is surprising is that the last straw was him cheating with Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods.)
• Buttered Up
We love being showered with puppy kisses as much as anyone, but even we think this crosses some kind of line.