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✨ Good morning! Today is Monday, January 28, 2019 and people may soon be able to reincarnate as trees. (Really.)
BULLETIN: OPEN FOR BUSINESS
• The Background
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is finally over – for now. On Friday, POTUS caved agreed to sign a short-term budget bill that would fund the government through Feb. 15, allowing thousands of federal workers to get back to work and many to actually get paid. The 35-day shutdown – which was all over the $5.7 billion Trump demanded for his border wall — looked dire for most of January, as neither side seemed willing to budge. (Democrats weren’t willing to fund a $5-billion concrete wall, and Republicans weren’t willing to accept less.) And then, out of nowhere, Trump announced that they had reached a deal. Global News
• What Else You Need to Know
The “deal” is barely a deal at all. Reopening the government and paying federal workers is pretty much all that’s been agreed to, and all the hoopla around border security and the wall is still unresolved.
• What’s Next?
While things are getting back to normal for the U.S. government, there’s no chance it’s going to last. Over the next three weeks, a bipartisan panel has been tasked with figuring out how Congress can move forward after this short-term deal expires. There’s been talk of building a smart wall (versus Trump’s requested concrete wall) and passing legislation that would outlaw any future government shutdowns. Democrats promised that if Republicans reopened government, they would be willing to negotiate “in good faith on full-year government funding that would include a significant investment in urgently needed border security measures, including physical barriers.” So, only time will tell if these two parties can find some way to get along.
• Mass Massacre
Two bomb blasts killed at least 20 people and wounded 111 others attending Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the southern Philippine island of Jolo yesterday. On Jan. 21, the Philippines voted to establish a new autonomous region, the country’s only Muslim-majority region, to promote peace after more than 50 years of separatist rebellion. A rebel faction opposed to the deal is based in Sulu province, where Jolo is located, and is one of several Muslim militant groups being investigated in relation to Sunday’s attack. President Rodrigo Duterte’s office made a statement saying it “will pursue to the ends of the earth the ruthless perpetrators behind this dastardly crime,” adding that “the law will show them no mercy.” Global News
• Canada: Controversy at the Capital
John McCallum has resigned as ambassador to China at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s request. While the PM did not give an explanation, the now former ambassador has spoken controversially about the United States’ extradition request against Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou. He is quoted as having said it would be “great news” if the U.S. were to drop the request and has said that Wanzhou has “quite good arguments on her side.” Wanzhou is currently being detained in Canada for allegedly lying to multinational financial institutions about business dealings in sanctioned countries. Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, has been appointed to take McCallum’s place as Canada’s new ambassador to China.National Post
• U.S.: A Stone’s Throw
On Friday, one of Donald Trump’s closest allies, Roger Stone, was indicted on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. According to reports, Mueller alleges that Stone worked with WikiLeaks to obtain stolen emails that would damage Trump’s opponents’ chances of becoming president. It also alleges that Stone did so in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials. After news broke of his arrest, Stone initially said he wouldn’t testify against Trump — however, yesterday he appeared on ABC’s This Week, where he said his attorneys would need to “discuss the subject” of cooperating with Mueller, but that he would “testify honestly” about any “wrongdoing” that happened during the campaign. CNN
• World: Glimmer of Hope
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro may be closer to retirement than he thinks. According to self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaidó, the opposition is in talks with both military and civilian officials to force Maduro out of power. (Quite the assertion considering Maduro held military drills this weekend.) According to Guaidó (who’s now been backed by the U.S., Canada and a slew of other Latin America countries), if Maduro is successfully forced out, the opposition will bring in food and other aid to help the country through the crisis. The news comes just 24 hours after a top military envoy to the United States, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, announced that he would no longer support Maduro, and urged all Venezuelans (including those in the armed forces) to support Juan Guaidó. Washington Post
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
At stake is not the leadership of our party and our country. It is the right to moral leadership of this planet.
– U.S. presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, who offically launched her bid to be the Democrats’ candidate in 2020’s election race last night with a speech sounding off against “age-old forms of hate” like racism sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and transphobia. Twitter
• Work Wonders
It’s not just another day in the office for Airbnb. The vacation rental company, which announced its move into the workplace market, called Airbnb for Work, back in September, has acquired Gaest, a Danish startup that rents spaces for meetings, team building, and relocations. When people spend more than half their waking hours at work, it’s time to say goodbye to the dusty boardrooms and conference centres of the past in favour of more flexible work spaces that meet the needs of today’s increasingly remote and diverse company cultures. “This acquisition will fuel our vision of helping all professionals feel a sense of belonging at work by connecting them with the unique spaces they need for meetings and events,” said Airbnb in a blog post. CNET
• Mixed Messages
Facebook is integrating all three of its messaging services (Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger) in hopes of making it easier for users to communicate across networks and to increase the amount of time people spend on the apps. (As if we needed help with that.) Each will continue as a standalone app, but they’ll soon be linked in a way that will allow messages to travel between them. The development will allow Facebook to compete with Apple’s iMessage and Google’s messaging services, while also bringing end-to-end encryption to Instagram messages. The integration, which Facebook has called “a long process,” is expected to be finalized by the end of the year or in early 2020. BBC News
• Tennis: Crushing the Slam
We’re halfway through the NHL season, and while anyone who follows the sport knows who’s playing their best, the halfway point means it’s time for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to officially name the league’s biggest stars. More than 125 writers representing all 31 teams vote on 10 categories, which range from MVP to best defenceman. This year, the Hart Trophy (a.k.a. MVP) went to Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, with runners-up Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. The Norris Trophy (a.k.a. best defenceman) went to Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, with runners-up Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks. And the Selke Trophy (a.k.a. best forward) went to Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, with runners-up Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators. You can see the rest of the award winners here.
• Peer Review
Award season continued last night as a who’s-who of Hollywood stars gathered at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium to pat each other on the back. There was a lot of the same at the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards: Film darlings like Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther continued to rack up the awards (for actor, supporting actor and cast performance, respectively). On the TV side of things, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ozark, Killing Eve and This is Us (which finally won for best ensemble in a drama series!) were the night’s big winners. You can see who wore what here and who won what here.
• Best of the Fest
The lineup of premieres at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival is proving to be provocative. The documentary on everyone’s lips this weekend was Leaving Neverland, in which two men recount their alleged experiences being molested by Michael Jackson as children. The screening’s (apparently tireless) audience gave the four-hour(!) film a standing ovation — but the late pop star’s estate had a different reaction, denouncing it as “tabloid character assassination.” In Honey Boy, a not-quite-autobiographical film written by actor Shia LaBeouf, the quirky star plays his own abusive father. Yet another film based on real-life events, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, casts former-teen heartthrob Zac Efron (of all people!) as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. On the lighter side of things, funny lady Mindy Kaling’s buzzy comedy hit, Late Night, snagged a US $13 million distribution deal with Amazon Studios following its premiere on Saturday. Sundance continues through Feb. 3.
• Sink or Swim
You might think snakes and obesity go together like oil and water (isn’t being svelte kind of their thing?) but believe it or not, snake obesity is real. Helping our slippery friends shed their skin — and a few extra pounds — Australia’s Melbourne Zoo has opened a “world-first water gym for reptiles.” The zoo’s rotund rattlesnakes can improve their muscle tone and endurance by swimming against a current. (Maybe they should watch what the rats they’re eating are eating, too.) The cold-blooded critters no doubt appreciate that the pump-powered spa is equipped with inline heating for a sauna-like effect. While the gym is closed to the “public” (as if we’d willingly dive into snake-infested waters anyway 😳), all bodies from the zoo’s reptile community are welcome: lizards and turtles can also take a dip in the pool — provided they pay their monthly feessss. Charlotte Observer
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• With Canadian-Chinese relations on shaky ground, Japan’s Ambassador to Canada Kimihiro Ishikane is looking to take the opportunity to strengthen trade relations.
• At least 58 people have been found dead as rescue crews continue to search for survivors of a massive dam collapse at a mine in Brazil on Friday. Up to 300 are still missing.
• No longer content bringing you just fast food and takeout, Uber Eats Canada is working on plans to expand its food delivery services into groceries, meal kits and catering.
• Attention iPhone owners: If you haven’t upgraded to iOS 12.1.3 yet, don’t.
• Canadian teen soccer sensation Alphonso Davies made his professional debut with German team Bayern Munich yesterday.
• The Maple Leaf Forever
On Jan. 28, 1965, Canadian Parliament agreed on the now-iconic 11-pointed maple leaf and red-and-white triband design of our national flag.
• From Screen to Stage
Jack and Ally forever.