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✨ Good morning! Today is Monday, January 21, 2019 and “Brarlize” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but we’ll take it. (On second thought, maybe we’ll just call them “Chad.”)
BULLETIN: Rough Waters
• The Background
History is repeating itself in the Mediterranean Sea. This weekend two separate migrant boats capsized while attempting to make the crossing from Africa to Europe – one off the coast of Libya transporting 120 people, and another carrying 53 people, which departed from Morocco and suffered a collision in the Alboran Sea. A total of about 170 people are feared dead in the shipwrecks; three survivors from the Libyan vessel were rescued by an Italian Navy helicopter after their rubber dinghy was spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft. The Telegraph
• What Else You Need to Know
Meanwhile, a private rescue boat managed to rescue 47 people from yet another distressed migrant vessel in the waters – but remains in search of a port willing to let it dock and bring the migrants ashore in Europe. One country it won’t be looking to for help: Italy, whose Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, posted a video on Facebook calling out this weekend’s shipwrecks as “proof that by reopening the ports, more people will die.” He’s urging the rescue boat, the Sea-Watch 3 – which is run by a German NGO – to take the “long way around” to bring the rescued migrants directly to Hamburg to make landfall.
• What’s Next?
Sadly, most likely more of the same. In 2018, more than 2,200 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean from the northern coast of Africa into Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 4,216 migrants made the same journey in the first three weeks of 2019 – more than double the number from the same period last year.
• Call Me By Your Name
Some 60,000 angry Greeks took to the streets of Athens yesterday, in a protest that quickly devolved into a full on riot. The demonstrators gathered outside Greece’s parliament to rally against a recent deal between Greece and Macedonia that strives to settle a decades-long dispute over Macedonia’s name. Greece claims its northern province is the one true Macedonia, and the country of the same name agreed in June to amend its moniker to go by “North Macedonia;” the deal is set to be ratified this week. But for outraged citizens of Greece, that’s not good enough. They say any use of the word Macedonia is “a usurpation of ancient Greek heritage and implies territorial claims on Greece” – and yesterday, they threw rocks, flares, firebombs, paint and other objects at riot police to defend it. Police responded with volleys of tear gas. In the end, at least seven people were arrested and 25 officers were injured. Associated Press
• Rest in Peace
Ten Chadian United Nations peacekeepers were killed and 25 injured in a deadly attack led by Al-Qaida jihadists on a peacekeepers’ camp in Mali on Sunday. According to Global Affairs, no Canadian Forces members were involved. The U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in Mali is one of its deadliest as extremist groups Al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization threaten the country. Fifty-one Chadian peacekeepers have been killed in service since the mission was established in 2013. The U.N. secretary-general condemned Sunday’s attack, saying it may constitute a war crime. CTV News
• U.S.: Busy Bees
Investigative reporter Anthony Cormier and BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith took to CNN’s “Reliable Sources” yesterday to defend a “bombshell” report published last week. Cormier’s BuzzFeed report alleges President Donald Trump instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a potential hotel project in Moscow. In fact, Trump was quoted instructing Cohen to “make it happen” and sources revealed Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. were receiving regular updates from Cohen about the project. So, is it true? Although BuzzFeed refuses to reveal their sources, they do assert the information came from two “federal law enforcement officials” involved in the investigation, and claim the report went through months of rigorous vetting. However, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which is currently investigating the possibility of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, is challenging the accuracy of the report (but won’t say exactly what it takes issue with). So we’ve got unnamed sources, unnamed inaccuracies, and all in the name of unprecedented behaviour by a President. This is just the beginning, folks. CNN
• World: Meeting of the Minds
The Arab Economic and Social Development Summit held in Lebanon this weekend culminated with each of the 20 participating members signing the Beirut Declaration, a joint statement calling for the establishment of an Arab free-trade zone and support for countries hosting refugees. Opening the summit, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun encouraged the “safe return of displaced Syrians,” but political analysts say there need to be clear signs of political resolution before refugees can return home. At the summit, Kuwait’s foreign minister launched a $200 million fund to invest in technology and digital economy across the region. Arab leaders were divided on whether to allow Syria to rejoin the Arab League, and discussions will likely continue at the Arab League Summit in March. Al Jazeera
QUOTE OF THE DAY
They were brought up to believe I’m less than human.
– Vietnam War veteran and Native American tribal elder Nathan Phillipsdescribes being taunted by a group of students from a Kentucky all-boys Catholic high school during the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington this weekend. The boys – shown in a video of the incident wearing Make America Great Again hats and chanting “build the wall,” – were in Washington with their school to attend the March for Life, an anti-abortion event. NBC News
• Buckle Up
It’s rough roads ahead for Elon Musk and Tesla Inc. After cutting more than 3,000 jobs (7% of the company’s workforce), Tesla shares fell 12.97% and Musk warned, “the road ahead is very difficult.” Though the electric car company was able to post a profit in 2018, the company failed to hit production targets and is buckling under the pressure of producing lower-cost versions of its Model 3. All of this comes after increasing its staff by 30% last year, which Musk admitted was “more than we can support.” (Hindsight, right?) This couldn’t come at a worse time for the once-boastful CEO, as companies like Audi and Volkswagen pop up in Musk’s rearview with their own take on electric cars. (Careful Elon – competitors in the mirror are closer than they appear.) BNN Bloomberg
• New Normal
Despite facing potentially record-setting fines for privacy violations, Facebook just keeps rolling out one new feature after another. The latest in the social network’s Pied Piper-esque mission to attract younger users is LOL, a hub of funny memes and videos divided into categories such as “Animals,” “Fails,” and “Pranks.” According to a spokesperson, the concept is in the early stages and is currently being tested by a group of 100 high school students. Starting today, Facebook is rolling out Community Actions across the U.S., a feature that will allow users to develop petitions that garner support by going viral. And while it’s fun to see which of your friends have been sipping from the fountain of youth, you might want to beware the #10yearchallenge. A recently published Wired opinion piece suggests Facebook may have ulterior motives.
Blades of Glory
At the National Figure Skating Championships this weekend, 14-year-old Stephen Gogolev landed early (known as ‘popping’) on a quadruple Lutz, which cost him the chance to become the youngest skater in history to win a Canadian men’s title. In the end, Nam Nguyen took the gold, leaving Gogolev to take silver and Keegan Messing took home bronze. Alaine Chatrand, who narrowly missed making the Olympic team last year, got the redemption she was looking for when she won the women’s singles title. Gabrielle Daleman led the competition but dropped all the way to fifth place after falling twice in her free skate. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who won national titles in 2015 and 2016, took the gold in ice dancing, while Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro won the pairs gold. CBC
• Silent Treatment
The U.S. government isn’t the only thing shut down this week. The #MuteRKelly movement finallyy got the attention of RCA Records and parent company Sony Music, which made the decision to drop the artist on Friday. While Kelly’s back catalog will remain with RCA, he has been removed from the label’s list of signed artists. Despite not releasing anything with RCA since 2016, Kelly tweeted earlier this year that he had a new album on the way. “We understand RCA’s position,” said Kelly’s adviser, Don Russell, who added that the artist “has no issue with” the record label. “I think he’s outgrown RCA. He’s ready for the next level of life, anyway.” Perhaps with the several labels who are (allegedly) “very interested” in working with him. Variety
• The Addiction is Real
After a long workday, we don’t want anything to come between us and our Netflix, not even the chill, and especially not…eating? Because eating is apparently so distracting, a Kickstarter page has been created to bring the Sphoon_phork to life. On top of having the worst product name in history, the Sphoon_phork is a phone case complete with a removable fork and spoon built into it, so you can easily shovel food into your face without breaking your gaze. Can’t wait to get your hands on it? (Seriously, who are you?) The Sphoon_phork is due to ship June 2019 for $39 a case, but having only reached 0.0083% of its Kickstarter goal, we wouldn’t hold our breath on this one. Mobilesyrup
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government continues its massacre of legislation with a new review of the Endangered Species Act that aims to find “efficiencies for businesses.”
• A United Airlines flight left 250 passengers stranded aboard a plane on the tarmac of a frigid Labrador airport after a medical emergency forced its landing while en route from Newark, N.J. to Hong Kong.
• The 2019 Detroit auto show wrapped up this weekend… and basically no one cared.
• It’s official: The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will face off for Super Bowl LIII glory. (Our sympathies to the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.)
• Tony Mendez – the former CIA officer who was the focus of 2013’s Oscar best picture winner Argo – has passed away from Parkinson’s disease at age 78.
• Rapper Cardi B and conservative commentator Tomi Lehren are in the midst of a politcal Twitter feud, and it’s every bit as OTT as you’d imagine.
• Still Dreaming
Fifty-six years after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech sharing his “dream” for America, we continue to honour his legacy annually on MLK Day (or if you’re Mike Pence, twist his words to advance your own political agenda.)
• Howlin’ For You
If you’ve ever wondered what a Super Blood Wolf Moon looks like (and didn’t get outside last night to catch it), here you go.