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✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, May 15, 2019, and we’re feeling vindicated by this study.
BULLETIN: UNDER HIS EYE
• The Background
Alabama just passed the strictest abortion law in the United States. (Yes, it’s still 2019 last time we checked.) Last night, the state’s Republican-led Senate voted 25 to 6 in favour of a near total ban on abortion, with no exceptions even for cases of rape or incest. The bill one-ups similar measures recently passed in other states; 16 states have introduced legislation to restrict the medical procedure this year, and four of those — including the highly-contested bill passed in Georgia last week — have been so-called “heartbeat” abortion laws, banning abortion as soon as embryonic heartbeat is present, regardless of whether the woman knew she was pregnant yet or not. Reuters
• What Else You Need to Know
Once Alabama’s new law comes into effect six months from now (which, to be fair, still needs to be signed by Governor Kay Ivey, but that’s basically a gimme), the only exceptions allowed will be in cases where pregnancy puts the health of the mother at risk. While women who do manage to receive illegal abortions won’t be held criminally liable, anyone found to perform the procedure in the state will be subject to felony charges punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison.
• What’s Next?
While there’s a good chance the state legislations will be challenged by abortion rights groups and escalated to the federal level before ever going into effect, getting the issue in front of SCOTUS is exactly the point. It’s widelybelieved that this bill and the others are “part of a multistate effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court reconsider a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”
• Canada: Sorry, Not Sorry
The House of Commons issued a formal apology to Vice Admiral Mark Norman yesterday, bringing an end (sort of) to the legal battle the top Canadian naval officer has endured over the past two and a half years. The motion, proposed by Conservative MP Lisa Raitt and supported unanimously by all members of the House, sought to recognize Norman “for his decades of loyal service to Canada, express regret for the personal and professional hardships he endured as a result of his failed prosecution and apologize to him and his family for what they experienced during their legal conflict with the government.” The breach-of-trust charge that had been levied against him was dropped last week. On Monday, it was revealed that Norman had been authorized by the previous Harper government to make the $668-million leasing deal with a Quebec shipyard that was at the centre of the case. During yesterday’s Question Period, PM Trudeau continued to dodge calls from Conservative and NDP MPs to apologize to Norman himself, instead saying his party “continue[s] to respect the independence of the judiciary.” Trudeau left the chamber before the group apology was passed. Globe & Mail
• U.S.: The Saga Continues
The Russia investigation is the unrelenting saga that occupies the majority of headlines across North America, and yet again, it’s making news. (It doesn’t seem like this case will ever be put to bed.) Attorney General William Barr is working closely with the CIA to examine the origins of the Russia investigation in order to gauge whether the FBI’s intelligence collection regarding the Trump campaign should be considered “unlawful or inappropriate.” John Durham, a U.S. attorney in Connecticut, will be at the forefront of the new inquiry. Trump has long demanded this kind of measure be taken by all major national security agencies, and he often called on the Justice Department to investigate how exactly the FBI carried out its investigation. So in his eyes, this is a win (unlike yesterday’s other big news about his son’s subpeona). Dems, on the other hand, say Trump is using this as a diversion from Robert Mueller’s findings that Russia did, in fact, help Trump win the election. CTV News
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Now would I do that? Absolutely. But I have not planned for that. If we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
– President Donald Trump delivers a disconcertingly wishy-washy answer in response to a rumour that his administration is planning to send 120,000 war-ready troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Bloomberg
• In the Weeds
Bayer, the company that owns the world’s most commonly used weed killer, is facing more than $2 billion in damages after a California court ruled in favour of a couple who claimed the herbicide gave them cancer. The German pharma giant bought the infamous Roundup from Monsanto just last year, and are thus liable for the health ramifications associated with the very popular product. (Not sure what they were thinking signing off on that deal, tbh.) Now, Bayer is drowning in hot water as it faces lawsuits in the United States from roughly 13,400 plaintiffs. The California court’s decision will set the precedent for future cases. The company says it will fight back, though it seems unlikely that it will recover from this crisis. Bayer’s shares dropped more than 2% on Tuesday, and have plummeted a whopping 45% in the last year. (Looks like Roundup is good at killing businesses, too.) CNN
It’s time to update your WhatsApp, people! All users are being urged by its owner, Facebook, to do this, after reports surfaced that hackers were using the messaging app to discreetly and remotely hijack dozens of consumer phones. A flaw in the app allowed hackers to install a surveillance software without users’ consent. The Financial Times is reporting that the hack was carried out by an Israeli cyberspace company called NSO Group, claiming that the attackers injected malicious spyware onto victims’ phones. The app is used by 1.5 billion people worldwide, but it’s still unclear how many were impacted. WhatsApp has since updated its software and corrected the issue. Global News
• Basketball: First Dibs
The NBA playoffs are far from over, but the teams sitting on the sidelines are already looking ahead to next season — the New Orleans Pelicans especially. The team lucked into the number one pick at last night’s 2019 Draft Lottery. New Orleans will have first pick in the draft on June 20, and it’s a safe bet they’ll be adding top prospect Zion Williamson, a forward at Duke University, to their roster. The Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers will pick next, in that order. CBS Sports
• A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Game of Thrones fanatics will be pleased to know that this season isn’t completely the end. Well, it is for the series, but not for the creative geniuses behind the show. It’s been revealed that the brilliant co-producers, -writers, and -directors of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, are already working on the next Star Warsmovie, set to be released in December 2022. Despite confirming the announcement, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger was tightlipped on details: “We did a deal with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are famous for Game of Thrones, and the next movie that we release will be theirs,” he said. “And we’re not saying anything more about that.” Stay tuned, dragon lovers. Variety
• What’s in a Name?
Speaking of Game of Thrones (aren’t we always?), one mom is going public with her regrets following this past Sunday’s episode. (Stop reading now if you’re worried about spoilers — and don’t say we didn’t warn you.) Jasmine Estrada has been a fan of the series since the beginning — so much so that when she gave birth to her daughter six years ago, she named her after her favourite character: Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen. (Well, sort of; Estrada’s mother mispronounced “Khaleesi” as “Khalessi,” and the name stuck.) But after the penultimate episode’s fiery plot twist, Estrada says the “cool and powerful” name she thought she’d given her daughter has her disappointed. “I definitely don’t like the outcome of what she represents,” Estrada told The Daily Beast, adding “I’m kind of in shock.” (Thankfully for Khaleesis everywhere, Estrada seems to be in the minority.) The Daily Beast
• Happy Birthday, Mickey!
Everyone’s favourite mouse made his world debut on May 15, 1928 in the Walt Disney “sound cartoon,” Plane Crazy
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• NASA’s mission to get the first woman astronaut to the moon has a name: The Artemis Program.
• A report on threats of foreign interference in Canada’s national security and intelligence agencies that was due to be completed on May 3 apparently now won’t be ready until after the October election. (Little late, guys.)
• Disney is taking over control of Hulu in a new deal with co-owner Comcast.
• It’s been a sad week in Hollywood. Actor Tim Conway, know for roles on The Carol Burnett Show and SpongeBob Squarepants, has died at age 85.
• Birthday Bear
Must we be kept waiting on all the baby names??