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✨ Good morning! Today is Tuesday, February 19, 2019 and we’ll have our eyes on the skies for tonight’s super snow moon.
BULLETIN: CALLING OUT CORRUPTION
• The Background
This weekend, anti-corruption protestors in Haiti ramped up their demonstrations in Port-au-Prince, burning tires and setting up blockades throughout the city. The violent protests — which have now left at least seven people dead — began earlier this month, as residents are struggling to survive off less than $2 per day while inflation rates continue to soar. The protestors have called for an independent investigation into claims that government officials misappropriated funds (at least $2 billion worth), and also demanded the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, who’s been in power since 2017. (Of course, Moise rejected the calls.) In the meantime, Canadians have been urged not to travel to the country and the government has recalled all non-emergency personnel. BBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
The country’s been in crisis ever since it was devastated by two natural disasters in the last nine years — and thousands of residents are still displaced, three years after Hurricane Michael badly damaged the country’s infrastructure in 2016. On Saturday, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant warned of a humanitarian crisis due to blocked roads and the rising costs of basic survival needs like food and water. To try and calm protestors, Céant announced that the government would be reducing its expenses by 30% and that government officials would no longer be receiving allowances for gas, telephones and trips abroad.
• What’s Next?
The protests are expected to continue this week.
• Chicago Violence
It was a bright spot in an incredibly tragic situation. Three days after a gunman opened fire at a manufacturing plant in Aurora (a suburb of Chicago, Illinois), 1,700 residents gathered in bitter cold and freezing rain to attend a vigil to honour the five victims. On Friday, shortly after Gary Martin was fired from Henry Pratt Company, he returned with a gun and began firing at his fellow employees. (And guns aren’t the problem?) The 45-year-old managed to fatally shoot Trevor Wehner, an intern who had just started that day; Clayton Parks, the human resources manager; Russell Beyer, a mold operator; Vicente Juarez, a stockroom attendant and forklift operator; and Josh Pinkard, the plant manager. He also injured five police officers and another plant employee, all of whom are expected to survive. Global News
• Canada: Leaving Office
It certainly hasn’t been business as usual in Canadian parliament for the past week (they tend to be a fairly easygoing bunch); amidst fresh allegations that the higher-ups in the PMO pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould in what could be a significant corruption case, a main member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s team, former principal secretary Gerald Butts, just resigned. In a statement to reporters, Butts vehemently denied that he or any of the PMO staff had anything to do with the allegations. (Why the hasty exit then, sir?) CBC News
• U.S.: Faking It
In case you (somehow) missed it, Donald Trump threw a temper tantrum declared a national emergency on Friday after he wasn’t able to get his infamous border wall funded through the traditional channels (a.k.a. the United States government). The declaration allows the White House to secure the needed $8 billion to build the physical structure at the country’s southern border without Congress’s approval. It took exactly 72 hours for the American people to organize and revolt. Yesterday, more than 260 protests took place in 48 states, in cities like Washington, Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, and Austin. Protestors held signs saying things like “Trump is the emergency” and “No wall, offer asylum.” (And it’s not just American citizens that are pissed about it. Sixteen states are suing the president over the declaration.) The hashtag #FakeNationalEmergency was also trending on Twitter. HuffPost
• World: Musical Chairs
Canada’s not the only country seeing a parliamentary shuffle. Seven lawmakers have quit the United Kingdom’s Labour party due to their unhappiness with party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s direction. Among the cited issues include the party’s stance on Brexit and existing anti-Semitism within the party. There are 256 lawmakers within the Labour party and 650 in parliament, so the seven quitters seem like small potatoes. However, they mark the biggest departure from the party since 1981 when four senior members left to create the Social Democratic Party. True to form, the group of seven (not to be confused with the painters) will continue to sit in on parliament as an Independent Party. Global News
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
As a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, ‘Why would a president of the United States do that?’
– Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe rhetorically accuses Trump of firing former FBI Director James Comey as an attempt to ”negatively impact or shut down our investigation of Russia’s malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign.” (Can you say “obstruction of justice”?) Global News
• Bonus for BlackBerry
BlackBerry has its eyes on the prize, and apparently Canadian taxpayers the Canadian government is helping them get there. PM Justin Trudeau announced Friday morning that Canada would be granting BlackBerry $40 million to help it become the sole source for QNX software. To break it down, all cars’ infotainment systems currently use QNX software that’s independent of each other and comes from a bunch of different developers; the hundreds of electronic control units (ECUs) are a conglomeration of different parts from different places. “The car of the future is going to be a consolidation of these functions on what we call a high-performance computer platform,” John Wall, the head of BlackBerry’s QNX division, said. BlackBerry employs 2,000 people across Canada and the government’s $40 million investment will add at least 800 jobs to its Ottawa campus. Financial Post
• Sound the Alarm
Scientists at the University of California San Francisco might have found the answer to stem cell transplants. The (occasionally controversial) CRISPR gene editing tool has allowed scientists to moderate the human immune system so that it doesn’t reject foreign stem cells. There are currently drugs on the market that can suppress the immune system’s reaction to foreign stem cells so that transplants work, but these drugs also leave the individual open to a variety of diseases that can actually make things worse. CRISPR tech, on the other hand, deletes the major histocompatibility complex class I and II genes that would normally ring the immune system’s intruder alert so that a stem cell transplant has a higher chance of taking. This discovery marks the first time lab-grown cells have survived inside the subject without an immune response. Engadget
• Basketball: Shooting Stars
Basketball’s biggest stars gathered this weekend to face off in the 2019 All-Star Game. Big names like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Dwayne Wade, and Toronto favourites Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard put on quite a show for the fans: Despite being down by 20 at the half, Team LeBron managed to beat Team Giannis 178–164 in the flashy, high-scoring game. First-time captain Giannis Antetokounmpo led in scoring (he racked up 38 points) followed by Klay Thompson, Paul George and Khris Middleton, who each scored 20, and James and Kawhi Leonard, who each had 19. Kevin Durant was named All-Star MVP. The Score
• A Shocking Twist
The assault case on Empire actor Jussie Smollett has taken a turn for the unbelievable. Last week, Chicago police apprehended two “potential suspects” in connection with the Jan. 29 attack, which was being treated as a hate crime. (Smollett is black and gay.) But on Friday, the men — brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who have both appeared as extras on Empire — were released from custody, with police citing “new evidence.” Since then, rumours have been swirling in the media that the evidence shows the attack was a hoax orchestrated by Smollett himself. Reports say Smollet paid the alleged perpetrators to stage the attack after a racist letter he received failed to gain much media attention. (Oh, and the letter is said to have been faked, too.) Smollett and his lawyer vehemently deny he was in any way complicit in the crime, and are apparently refusing requests for a follow-up interview with police. CNN
• Short Seller
Look, we don’t expect that most criminals get into the, ahem, *line of work* that they do because of their A-plus math skills, but there’s no way someone should reach adulthood and still think this is a good deal: A man in Arizona was arrested after trading a US $160,000 diamond he stole for US $20 worth of marijuana. Walter Earl Morrison, 20, has been charged with felony theft for supposedly swiping the package containing the pricey rock while at his job unloading a UPS cargo plane. He must have been jonesing for a high pretty bad after that, as police say he then swapped the diamond with a dealer for just enough weed to roll himself up a pair of joints. It should go without saying, UPS has fired Morrison in light of the crime. (What a dope.) ABC News
• Let the Music Play
On Feb. 19, 1878, Thomas Edison patented the phonograph (a.k.a. a very early version of the modern record player, a device that allowed the recording and reproduction of sound).
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• In more unbelievable news, border patrol agents in Arizona have found a catapult that’s being used to launch marijuana into the U.S.
• Robert Mueller may be close to wrapping up his Russia investigation, but he’s not done just yet. Over the weekend, Cambridge Analytica’s former director, Brittany Kaiser, confirmed that Mueller subpoenaed her to determine how the data company may have been involved.
• Saudi Arabia is making money moves in Pakistan. Yesterday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that SA would be investing $20 billion in Pakistani projects to help its “fragile economy.”
• Better check your produce drawer. Eat Smart brand Sweet Kale Vegetable salad bags are being recalled due to a possible Listeria contamination.
• Hold onto your purity rings: Rumour has it that the Jonas Brothers (who now will apparently be known as just JONAS) are getting back together.
• One of Those Faces
If you hate that feeling when you just can’t place where you recognize someone from, this is not the website for you.