Five strikes and he’s out

Israelis head back to the polls, Facebook wants to replace smartphones and NBCU unveils details of its new streaming service.

Five strikes and he’s out

Israelis head back to the polls, Facebook wants to replace smartphones and NBCU unveils details of its new streaming service.

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✨  Good morning! Today’s Wednesday, September 18, 2019, and let’s hope this Devil likes musicals.

• The Background


Israeli citizens took to the polls yesterday, for the second national election in only five months, after Prime Minister Benjamain Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition in April. Netanyahu’s right wing Lukid Party is competing against his toughest rival, former Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White Party (a.k.a. Kahol Lavan). The election is being widely regarded as a referendum on Netanyahu, who became the country’s longest-serving prime minister in July. If he wins this election, he’ll secure a record fifth term in office. Voter turnout was the highest it’s been in decades, despite the close proximity of the previous election. CNN

• What Else You Need to Know

The first round of exit polls pointed to a similar situation as the April vote: Netanyahu failing to get a 61-seat majority. Gantz appears to have a narrow lead, but things are truly neck-and-neck. (With 90% of the vote counted, Gantz’s party is coming out one seat ahead.) All the while, Netanyahu is facing a pre-trial hearing for three separate corruption cases, all of which he denies being involved in.

• What’s Next?

Final certified results are expected to take a few days. But in the meantime, Gantz thinks he’s got it in the bag. Last night, he said his party was already working on nailing down the support of smaller parties to form a coalition in Israel’s 120-seat parliament. Netanyahu, on the other hand, isn’t ready to concede, saying today, “Israel needs a strong, stable, Zionist government committed to Israel as a national state for the Jewish people,” and assuring supporters he could deliver that.


• Hot Spots

While fires continue to ravage the Amazon rainforest, Indonesia is also dealing with violent blazes. Borneo and Sumatra are battling hundreds of wildfires, as thick billows of smoke have disrupted air travel, caused school closures and left thousands of people ill. The big difference between the fires in Indonesia and the Amazon is that 80% of the fires in Indonesia were set intentionally to make room for new palm oil plantations, before burning out of control. The fires in both locations are contributing to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide and destroying trees and vegetation. New York Times 


From now until Oct. 21, we’ll be bringing you all the updates from the campaign trail (including who’s making promises and who’s breaking ’em). 

• Andrew Scheer was in Ottawa yesterday, where he shared that the Conservatives would contribute more to Canadians’ Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) — increasing the government’s contribution from 20% to 30%, up to $2,500 per year.

• Meanwhile, the Liberals had good and bad news: Justin Trudeau told supporters in St. John’s, N.L., that his party would boost the existing child benefit and make parental benefits tax-free, while the federal finance department also revealed that they ran a $14-billion deficit during the 2018–2019 fiscal year.

• NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also made a stop in Ottawa to announce that his party would allocate $5 billion to new affordable housing during its first 18 months in office. 


• World: Oil Offence

Things between Iran and the U.S. just went from bad to worse. Yesterday, the U.S. revealed that it had determined with near certainty the exact locations in Iran from which the drones and cruise missiles were launched in Saturday’s attack against Saudi Arabia’s oil industry. (Iran has denied perpetrating the attacks.) The blasts knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, causing gas prices to temporarily skyrocket and then (thankfully) plummet back down. American officials are on the ground in Saudi Arabia to analyze the wreckage in an effort to determine the appropriate response. BBC News


“We as a nation would be better served if elected officials like you concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country. “

– Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, during a congressional hearing to determine whether or not to impeach the president. Lewandowski was the first impeachment witness to testify. CBC News


• A New Lens

Step aside, smartphones: you might soon be replaced. Facebook has been secretly working to develop augmented reality glasses for several years, and is partnering with Luxottica (Ray-Ban’s parent company) to make them. The glasses, which are internally called Orion, are being designed to replace phones, allowing wearers to take calls, show information to users in a small display and live-stream their vantage point to social media friends and followers. The glasses will also come equipped with an AI voice assistant to help users input information. Facebook hopes to get the smart glasses to consumers by 2023. CNBC


• Bobsleigh: Bad Sport

Despite Canada’s many strengths, yesterday it proved it’s not great at sharing. Three-time Canadian Olympic medallist Kailie Humphries was denied release from Bobsleigh Canada, halting her from competing for another country. Humphries has been living and training in San Diego, where she married an American bobsledder last week, and is looking to represent the U.S. in the next Olympics (which can only happen if she’s released by Canada). Humphries’ lawyer said they’re not giving up the fight yet, but she must be granted her release by Sept. 30, 2019, if she wants to compete as part of Team USA this year. CBC News


• Peacock Programming

NBCUniversal officially unveiled its plans for its new streaming platform yesterday, aptly called Peacock. The new service, which is set to launch in April 2020 (no word yet on a Canadian date), will feature an array of news, sports, cable unscripted and Spanish-language divisions to make for a wide array of programming. With both ad-supported and ad-free subscription options, Peacock will incorporate a mix of live-viewing content as well as a deep library of classics. Peacock will also be home to a long list of reboots, including Battlestar GalacticaSaved by the Bell (starring series originals Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley), and a Punky Brewster sequel. Variety 


• Footing the Bill

In a brief distraction from the civil lawsuit filed last week accusing Antonio Brown of rape, the NFL star is also being sued by his former doctor. Dr. Victor Prisk said Brown repeatedly farted in his face and laughed about it during an appointment that he showed up for three hours late. Not to mention, Brown never paid the $11,500 fee he still owes. And this doctor isn’t lying: there’s video proof of Brown farting during a body fat test. (What a gas.) CBS Local 


• Burger Bonanza

Today is National Cheeseburger Day, and to celebrate, McDonald’s is giving away free cheeseburgers for an entire week. Registered McDonald’s app users get a free cheeseburger when they purchase food or beverage products worth $1 or more.


• Two suicide bombings in Afghanistan — one at a campaign rally and one a few hours later near the U.S. embassy in Kabul — killed at least 46 people

• Tropical Storm Imelda made landfall in Texas yesterday afternoon, spurring excessive, blinding rain. Flash flood warnings are currently in effect. 

• These are tariffs you might actually care about: wine, whisky and cheese will be hit by new taxes

• A terrifying new study shows that air pollution travels through mothers’ bodies, harming unborn babies.

• Next year’s going to be a big year for big tours: Taylor Swift is hitting the road (albeit in a different way than fans are used to) and Whitney Houston’s controversial hologram tour finally has a schedule. 


• The Royal Treatment

If it’s good enough for the Crawleys

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