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✨ Good morning! Today is Friday, January 18, 2019 and this is a serious contender for the least shocking scientific study of the year.
BULLETIN: Relationship Status: It’s Complicated
• The Background
The situation between Canada and China just keeps getting worse. Chinese representatives spent the day hurling veiled threats and insults at the Canadian government. In an interview with Canadian journalists, Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye called Canada’s Dec. 1 arrest of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou an act of “backstabbing” by a friend – and warned of unnamed “repercussions” should Canada attempt to ban the telecomm firm from connecting to the country’s new 5G network. Meanwhile, Huawei Canada announced expansion plans to hire additional software engineers and invest in R&D over the next five years to “make its equipment more secure, resilient and efficient.” (Mixed messages much?) Global News
• What Else You Need to Know
Lu also warned that PM Justin Trudeau should back off on efforts to drum up international support for Canada in the feud – a threat that echoed commentsmade earlier in the day by Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. In a press conference of her own, Hua rhetorically asked “What threat has China posed to Canada?” (Has she not been reading the Bullet?). She added that while it’s “understandable that Canada is a little worried,” regarding her country’s recent treatment of Canadians within its borders (that’s two detainees and one death sentence, if you’re counting) Canada’s politicians should “avoid speaking freely without thinking because its reputation and image would be badly damaged by such behaviours.” Lu also said it would be a “bad idea” for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to bring up the case at the upcoming World Economic Forum summit in Davos.
• What’s Next?
Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, is scheduled to appear before a House of Commons committee in a closed door meeting today to brief members on efforts to secure the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been detained in China since December (and, presumably, the extradition of Robert Schellenberg, who was handed a death sentence for drug smuggling on Monday).
• Unsafe Travels
Kirk Woodman of Halifax has been found dead two days after being kidnapped in Burkina Faso. The husband, father and respected geologist was in Africa working for Vancouver-based mining company Progress Minerals when he was abducted Tuesday night by a dozen gunmen in Tiabongou. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed yesterday that “his family has the sympathy of our whole country,” adding that the Canadian government is working with authorities in Burkina Faso to ensure the gunmen are brought to justice. Woodman is the second Canadian to be abducted in the country – Edith Blais of Quebec disappeared in Burkina Faso on Dec. 15. Her whereabouts are still unknown. It’s suspected Islamist militants are behind the kidnappings; attacks by Jihadists have surged in the country, and as of Dec. 31 a state of emergency has been declared in several northern provinces as a result. CBC News
• Cold Snap
Hope you’ve got your toque out and your snow tires on — winter is finally coming, and it’s coming on strong. Environment Canada has issued extreme weather alerts for much of the country going into this weekend, with predictions of major snowfalls and/or frigid temperatures across the board. (Remind us again why we choose to live here?) Parts of the Maritimes and Quebec are expected to be slammed with an “intense winter storm” bringing 30cm (or more!) of snow. Meanwhile, an extreme cold weather warning is in place spanning all the way from northern Ontario to the Yukon; wind chill temperatures may drop to feel like -40 or even -50, and residents of Nunavut are being warned of risk of frostbite “within minutes on exposed skin.” Not even the typically mild Pacific coast is safe – wind warnings are in affect for parts of B.C. (Our advice? Stay inside this weekend.) CTV News
• Canada: Quebec First
After seven listless months without a captain at the helm, one of Canada’s federal parties finally has a new leader: Yesterday, Yves-Francois Blanchet was acclaimed as the head of the Bloc Quebecois. A former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, Blanchet was uncontested in his pursuit of the top spot, making him a shoe-in for the gig. (If only all job interviews were so easy.) Blanchet, 53, served as the province’s environment minister from 2012 to 2014 and has since appeared as a regular on a public affairs TV show. Under his leadership, Blanchet promises his party’s votes will be “only for Quebec’s interests,” without regard for concerns of the rest of the country. (He realizes the Bloc is a federalparty, right?) HuffPost
• Canada: Penny Pinching
Ontario’s $12 billion deficit has the Progressive-Conservatives looking to cut back. Yesterday, the government’s decision to lower tuition fees for university and college students was well received, but was accompanied by the closure of a program that provided free tuition to low-income students. (One step forward, two steps back.) According to the auditor general, the program’s costs had grown by 25% and were likely to reach $2 billion by 2020-2021. The province’s 14 local health integration networks (LHINs)could be next for the chopping block. According to sources close to the government and health-care sector, the PCs are considering dissolving the LHINs, citing unnecessary bureaucracy that hasn’t made accessing healthcare any easier for patients. The PCs have in mind five or fewer oversight bodies to replace the LHINs in monitoring healthcare spending. CTV News
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.
– President Donald Trump, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a letter informing her he’s postponing her planned diplomatic trip to Afghanistan – which was to depart yesterday afternoon – due to the shutdown (and likely in retaliation for her suggested cancellation of his State of the Union address). CNN
• Another One Bites the Dust
Another retail chain is closing its doors in Canada. (Looks like another recession might be on the horizon…) Kids clothing company Gymboree Group, which also owns Crazy 8 and Janie and Jack in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy for the second time and announced it will be halting operations permanently. All 49 of its Canadian locations will be closing, as well as its Gymboree and Crazy 8 locations in the States, while the company looks to sell its Janie and Jack business along with its intellectual property and online operations. The company was bought by private equity firm Bain Capital back in 2010 but, like many other mall-based retailers, has continued to struggle against steep declines in mall traffic and competition with online consumption. CBC News
• Data Dump
Maybe Grandma is right in not trusting her computer. Troy Hunt of the data breach-notification service “Have I Been Pwned” just discovered the world’s largest ever collection of breached data, comprised of more than 770 million email addresses and passwords, posted to a popular hacking forum last December. (Brb as we double-down on our online security software.) The upload has been named Collection #1 by Hunt, who says that some of the data has appeared in previous breaches, such as the 2008 MySpace hack, and so is likely an amalgamation of data from thousands of different hacking sources. (That doesn’t make us feel any better, Troy.) The discovery has put emphasis on password managers that generate and store random, unique passwords for every service and are meant to curtail the problems that come with using and reusing the same password across multiple online services. The Guardian
• Training Camp
It’s a good time for startups in any industry – and sports are no exception. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and Toronto’s Ryerson University have partnered up to fund a bunch of tech startups with the aim of driving innovation and industry in the field. (Looks like jocks and geeks do play nice together.) Six startups have already been chosen, including three Toronto-based businesses, and will receive mentorship through the Future of Sport Lab Incubator in addition to pilot opportunities with MLSE. The incubator is four months long and provides the startups with access to all of Ryerson’s resources. (Not too shabby.) BNN Bloomberg
FEEL GOOD FRIDAY
• Not to Be Cheesy, But…
The makers of Canada’s “de facto national dish” warmed American hearts this week when Kraft opened a pop-up grocery store in Washington, D.C. to help feed the families affected by the relentless government shutdown. (Aww!) Workers are asked to show “Kraft Now Pay Later” their government ID and they’ll get a bag of Kraft products in exchange, including Kraft Dinner (of course), Kraft Singles, Kraft salad dressings, and Kraft BBQ. By “Pay Later,” Kraft is asking the families to “pay it forward” by helping out another family in need or donating to a charity of their choice when they are financially able to do so. The pop-up, located at 1287-4th Street NE, will be open until Jan. 20. (That warms our hearts…and our stomachs.) Delish
• Not Safe for Work
The U.S. is in the middle of the longest government shutdown in its history and what are public servants doing to keep their hands busy? According to this NSFW report – slapping the salami. (Well, that’s one way to relieve the stress.) Pornhub has noticed a bump in traffic since the shutdown began, with people most often getting down to business in the early afternoon (after re-runs of The Price is Right) and late at night (the pros of missing morning cabinet meetings). Want to know what gets public servants hot under the collar? The outdoor, threesome, and young/old categories showed the biggest increases in traffic. (How’s that for politically incorrect?) Mashable
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• In a unanimous vote, Vancouver City Council declared a climate emergency, and will now work on new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set new targets for climate change.
• Turns out there’s a good chance the Trump administration severely underreported the number of children separated from their families at the border. (Shocker.)
• Royal Bank has cut its five-year fixed-term mortgage rate, a move that’s bound to incite other banks to follow suit.
• Harvey Weinstein has shown his lawyer Ben Brafman the door. Although the split appears amicable, sources guess the shamed producer is seeking a defense team with a more aggressive strategy. (Because aggression has gotten him so far in life.)
• After a 20-season career with the Calgary Flames, former captain Jarome Iginla’s number (12) will be retired on March 2.
• Winnie-the-Pooh Day
Today marks the 137th anniversary of the birth of acclaimed author A. A. Milne. His legacy lives on in his character Winnie-the-Pooh, who is as beloved now as ever.
• Invited Guests
Talk about having major FOMO.