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✨ Good morning! Today is Tuesday, January 22, 2019 and the nominees for worst picture are…
BULLETIN: Trickle Up Economics
• The Background
The 2019 World Economic Forum kicked off in Davos yesterday — but Oxfam stole the spotlight from the political and business leaders gathered in Switzerland. Ahead of the forum’s launch, the charity released a buzzy report on the state of wealth in the world, with the headline-making find being that the world’s 26 richest billionaires own a collective US $1.4 trillion — an amount equal to the combined wealth of the planet’s 3.8 billion “poorest” citizens. (That’s half the total global population, if you’re counting.) And, the divide is only getting worse: those billionaires are getting US $2.5 billion richer by the day, while the rest of us are, well, not. CNN
• What Else You Need to Know
The International Monetary Fund added to the pessimistic financial outlook with its latest report forecasting slow economic growth the world over. It’s predicting growth of just 3.5% for 2019 across both developed and emerging markets. Its forecast for the U.S. is down to 2.5% thanks to Trump’s tax cuts and trade war with China. (“America First,” right?) Europe is even worse off, with its growth outlook plummeting to 0.7% for this year, down from 3.8% in 2018. (The upshot: don’t throw all the money you have hidden under your mattress into the stock market just yet, no matter how promising the TSX has seemed this month.)
• What’s Next?
• Canada: Rules of the Road
The federal government is setting up a task force to determine whether to make seat belts mandatory on school buses. According to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, the task force will be comprised of provinces, territories, school boards, and school bus manufacturers. While the feds can mandate seat belts on all new buses, it’ll be up to the individual provinces and territories to retrofit any existing buses. Transport ministers have also announced plans to launch a national standard for semi truck driver training in January next year. As of now, mandatory training exists only in Ontario, although Saskatchewan and Alberta will launch protocols in March, a decision made in the aftermath of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April last year. Global News
• U.S.: The Time Has Come
Amidst the government shutdown, a special counsel investigation and thousands of children separated from their families, we’ve caught a glimmer of hope in our future. Kamala Harris has announced she’ll be running for president in the 2020 election (so close, yet so far) and released a short video through social media that gave a glimpse into her platform (not to mention her take on President Trump). “Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren’t just words. They’re the values we as Americans cherish. And they’re all on the line now.” Although Harris is the first African-American woman to announce her hopes for 2020, she joins three other women in the running (Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand). However, it’s Harris’s career as a prosecutor, the community she was able to cultivate through her recent book tour and her frank take on Trump (referring to his border wall as a “vanity project”), that has already made her a candidate to watch. CNN
• World: Campaign Complications
Presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu has urged the Congolese people to peacefully protest after the Constitutional Court refused his request for a vote recount, despite claims that leaked results show he won 60% of the vote. The African Union requested that the Congo delay the final results, citing “serious doubts,” but has since postponed its visit to the country. President-elect Felix Tshisekedi’s inauguration, set to take place today, has also been postponed. To the west, former Nigerian President Olusgen Obasanjo has accused incumbent President Muhammahu Buhari of conspiring to rig the Feb. 16 national election. President Buhari’s office has dismissed the accusations, calling them “outlandish and outrageous.” Al Jazeera
QUOTE OF THE DAY
There has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.
• Extra Ordinary
Brandon Truaxe, the founder of Canadian beauty brand Deciem, was found dead over the weekend. Deciem COO Stephen Kaplan announced the news yesterday in a statement lauding Truaxe, 40, as a “genius” and “friend.” After founding the convention-defying “Abnormal Beauty Company” which houses a collection of disruptive and innovative brands — the most successful of which is affordable skincare line The Ordinary — Truaxe struck a deal with cosmetics giant Estée Lauder. What followed was a series of increasingly erratic social media posts by Truaxe and a public struggle for control that eventually led to him being ousted from the company last year. The company did not disclose his cause of death. Kaplan closed his statement yesterday saying, “May you finally be at peace.” Global News
• Info Wars
We’re just three weeks into 2019, and so far, internet heavyweights don’t seem to be fairing any better this year than they did last in the eyes of international law. French data protection watchdog CNIL has slapped Google with a €50 million fine under the country’s new General Data Protection Regulation. Specifically, CNIL takes issue with Google’s onboarding process for Android users setting up a new phone, saying it doesn’t measure up to rules on transparency and consent concerning the use of user data. At the same time, Russia’s telecom regulator is targeting two birds with one stone, launching a civil case against Facebook and Twitter. A report issued by the state-run regulator alleges the two social networks have failed to provide details on how and when they’ll comply with local laws requiring all servers that store Russians’ personal data to be located in the country.
• Extra Credit
At a time when nearly half of Canadians are just $200 away from going broke on a monthly basis (gulp), staying on top of your credit score is crucial. Toronto-based fintech app Borrowell has launched a new AI tool that aims to make that easier. The new Credit Coach feature, introduced yesterday, breaks down users’ credit reports to explain what they need to do to improve their credit score — no complicated formulas required. Along with giving insights like how your credit score stacks up against your fellow Canadians’ and tips for areas of improvement, its real power comes from the notification feature. The Credit Coach sends alerts on important credit updates like new credit inquiries and missed payment warnings. The best part? While a membership is required, it’s entirely free to use, so you won’t have another bill pulling you deeper into dept while you try to get out of it. BetaKit
• Bobsleigh: Under Investigation
Three-time Olympic medalist Kaillie Humphries has filed a harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada, explaining why she won’t be competing this year. She told CBC, “I found myself in a position where my workplace environment was impaired and I couldn’t compete.” With an investigation currently underway, no further details have been released, but Humphries did share the challenge she faced in even coming forward, “It definitely took months for me to build up the courage, for me to have that strength, that internal strength to come forward. I’m a strong person…I’m strong enough to go through this process. I’m strong enough to stand up for what’s right.” CBC
• Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit
Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, a four-part docu-series directed by Sacha Jenkins, is set to air on Showtime this spring. The series will include archival footage and video from performances, as well as interviews with all nine of the group’s living members. (Russell Tyrone Jones — a.k.a. Ol’ Dirty Bastard — passed away from a drug overdose in 2004.) While we have to wait until the spring to binge the full series, festival-goers will be able to catch the first two episodes at Sundance next week. Wu-Tang Clan are back in the game and this series is the ultimate teaser for the hip-hop group’s U.K. tour kicking off this May. Pitchfork
• Working Stiff
The future is here! But it’s not all its cracked up to be. Henn na Hotel — a futuristic hotel in Japan opened in 2015 and staffed solely by robots — has had to fire half of its “employees.” Guests complained that the virtual assistant placed in each hotel room was constantly interrupting conversations, or speaking out during the night (apparently in response to snoring). As well, the concierge robots and bellhop robots were given the boot for being slow, noisy and cumbersome. Guess a hard reboot can’t solve everything. CNET
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• The death toll from a pipeline fire in Mexico on Friday has risen to 89, with 51 victims still in hospitals being treated for severe burns.
• More than 100 members of Afghan security forces were killed in a retaliation attack on a military base and police training centre near Kabul carried out by Taliban fighters yesterday.
• The remains of two Beothuk people – an extinct Indigenous people native to Newfoundland – are being repatriated from Scotland to the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.
• Buck up! Dollarama has joined the world of ecommerce with the opening of its online store in Canada yesterday.
• Spotify is adding a feature that really should have existed already: users will soon be able to mute and block artists that aren’t their jam.
• Out of this World
Astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman — and the first neurologist from anywere — in space when she took off with the crew aboard the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery on Jan. 22, 1992.
• See Spot Run
Apparently, long race training programs are overrated.