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✨ Good morning! Today is Monday, January 7, 2019 and we can’t believe we’re saying it but this actually seems like a step in the right direction.
BULLETIN: TOUGH NEGOTIATOR
• The Background
While the rest of us were eating and sleeping our way through the last days of 2018, the U.S. government was up to its usual tricks, a.k.a. not doing anything at all. Right before the holidays (how’s that for a merry Christmas?), lawmakers couldn’t agree on a budget bill and were forced to shut down the government. (POTUS demanded $5.6 billion for his border wall and has refused to settle for a cent less.) The government has now been partially shut down for 16 days, and despite a weekend-long negotiation led by VP Mike Pence, there’s no sign that things will reopen and get back to normal anytime soon. (Unless of course, POTUS bypasses the government altogether and declares a national emergency — which is apparently a very viable, though maybe illegal, option.) CNBC
• What Else You Need to Know
The shutdown is now tied for the third longest in history, and is quickly gaining on the 21-day shutdown that happened in 1995 when then-President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich couldn’t agree on spending cuts. While that lengthy shutdown eventually ended due to compromise, this shutdown doesn’t seem to be following the same path. This weekend, POTUS threatened to keep the government closed for months or even years “if Democrats refuse to provide more money to construct a wall on the border with Mexico.”
• What’s Next?
According to the president, the meetings have been “very, very productive.” (We’re not sure if anyone else agrees.) He also believes that everyone’s “on the same path in terms of wanting to get the government open.” Talks will carry on this week, and congressional leaders will continue to negotiate until they come to an agreement.
• Not-So-Mellow Yellow
It might be a new year, but France is still dealing with last year’s problems. Over the weekend, “yellow vest” protestors took to the streets in another round of violent protests, using a forklift truck to force their way into a government ministry compound, burning cars on the Champs Elysses and even coming to blows with police officers on a bridge over the Seine. The protestors are demanding that President Emmanuel Macron resign, as well as a higher minimum wage and a more participative democracy. Reuters
• Canada: A Wild Rose Withers
Canada lost one of its longtime politicians yesterday. Alberta’s Myron Thompson passed away at the age of 82. Thompson was a Conservative Party member who started out on the municipal level as a town councillor and mayor of Sundre in the 1970s before graduating to federal politics, serving as a member of parliament for 14 years. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer late last year. CBC News
• U.S.: Fighting On
In another incident of President Trump speaking before he
thinks actually has a plan, it seems American troops in Syria aren’t coming home anytime soon after all. Speaking in Jerusalem yesterday, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said there are several conditions that will need to be met ahead of the military’s withdrawal from the country. Among the objectives Bolton says his department wants to accomplish before pulling out: The full eradication of ISIS from Syria (something Trump says has already been achieved, despite claims to the contrary by his advisers and political allies) and a guarantee from Turkey on the safety of Kurdish fighters who’ve fought alongside American troops. Recent reports said Trump had agreed to extend his initial 30-day deadline for withdrawal to four months — but even that schedule is now in question, as a senior administration official reportedly says “there is no specific timeline for the withdrawal.” Washington Post
• World: I’m (Not) Gonna Be King
Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V unexpectedly abdicated the throne on Sunday following a two-month medical leave. Though no reasons for the sudden departure were given in the palace’s statement, it may have something to do with his rumoured recent marriage to a former Russian beauty queen. (Talk about doing anything for love.) Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957 and since then, nine hereditary state rulers have taken turns as the country’s king for five-year terms. The first abdication in Malaysia’s history, Sultan Muhammad V’s resignation, which was given with immediate effect, cuts short his reign at just two years. Malaysia’s Council of Rulers will soon be responsible for selecting the country’s next king. Global News
QUOTE OF THE DAY
At some point we might like to think about a space force.
– Canadian Matthew Overton, executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, acknowledging that Donald Trump might be onto something with America’s newly created military Space Force. CBC News
• Number Crunching
With December’s data added to the pot, the latest report from Statistics Canada gave us a look at Canadian employment trends in 2018. At the end of the year, the country’s unemployment rate remained at a 43-year low of 5.6% and low average hourly wage growth figures suggest the Bank of Canada is unlikely to hike interest rates any time soon. (Hallelujah.) November saw the biggest job growth with 94,100 net jobs, the largest increase since March 2012. Employment for women aged 25 to 54 increased by 2.2% compared to 1% for men in the same age group. Overall, Canada gained 163,300 net new jobs in 2018, predominantly in the services sector, an increase of 0.9%, compared to 2.4% in 2017 and 1.2% in 2016. BNN Bloomberg
• Come Together
An announcement from Samsung this weekend suggests Android’s relationship with Apple has gone from “mortal enemies” to “it’s complicated.” Announced just before this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas, Samsung’s spring line of smart TVs will offer support for both iTunes and AirPlay 2, giving consumers in more than 100 countries the ability to access their iTunes libraries, stream music, and rent and buy iTunes content directly through their Samsung smart TVs. It’s no surprise Apple chose to partner with Samsung, the world’s largest TV vendor, and is expected to offer new and revamped services this year as Apple device sales continue to decline. CNET
• Hockey: Win for the Finns
After being eliminated in the quarterfinals last year, Finland made a strong comeback and defeated America at the World Junior Hockey Championship on Saturday. Seventeen-year-old Kaapo Kakko, a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, scored the game-winning goal in the last minute-and-a-half of the game, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was named the tournament’s top goalie. This win marks Finland’s fifth gold at the tournament. “It’s been a long journey and we had such a great bunch of guys,” said Finnish coach Jussi Ahokas, who missed the birth of his son during Wednesday’s game against Canada. Russia was awarded the bronze after beating Switzerland 5–2. Sportsnet
• A Star Is Crowned
Last night, all of Hollywood (seriously, everyone was there) gathered in Beverly Hills to drink copious amounts of champagne and congratulate each other on another year of million-dollar performances, a.k.a. the Golden Globes. Saturday Night Live alum Andy Samberg hosted the show alongside Canadian Sandra Oh (who also won an award for her role in Killing Eve, making her parents very proud), while Idris Elba’s daughter took the role of Miss Golden Globe Ambassador, making her dad very proud. Big screen winners included Bohemian Rhapsody (the Queen biopic brought home the award for best drama and a trophy for its lead actor, Rami Malek) and Green Book (it won best musical/comedy, best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali, and best screenplay). The other awards were distributed amongst a handful of films, including A Star is Born(Lady Gaga picked up her first Globe for best original song, which was surprisingly presented by songwriting queen Taylor Swift), If Beale Street Could Talk, Roma and Vice. On the TV side of things, The Kominsky Method and The Assassination of Gianni Versaceboth continued to rake in the accolades, sending Michael Douglas and Darren Criss home with more hardware. And with its six-season run wrapped up (and Game of Thrones out of the running), The Americans finally won for best drama. You can see who won what here and who wore what here.
• Jiminy Cricket!
In 2017, a mysterious high-pitched sound had half the staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana (followed by several Canadian diplomats!) calling in sick with complaints of headaches and nausea. Speculation that the embassy was under some kind of sonic terror attack spread like wildfire but was never proven. The case was recently re-opened, which led scientists to discover the noise wasn’t caused by any sort of terrorist group or electronic device, but a group of devilish Indies short-tailed crickets. (The nerve!) Though scientists have now discovered the source of the sound, they still can’t quite connect the annoying shrill to the staffers’ symptoms. (Guess they were just buggin’.) The Guardian
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• At least 30 people were killed when a gold mine collapsed in north-eastern Afghanistan over the weekend.
• A Canadian and an Italian were reported missing in Burkina Faso and now Ottawa’s treating it as a kidnapping case.
• Poland has shut down 13 escape rooms for safety violations after five teenagers were killed in a fire at one in the city of Koszalin on Friday.
• A massive data breach has affected hundreds of German politicians at all levels, who have now had their personal data and documents posted online.
• Bye, Bill
Twenty years ago today, the U.S. Senate trial that led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton began, proving that yes, it is possible to impeach a sitting president — but it’s not easy.
• Love Letter
Proofreading is key when love is on the line (especially when it’s in permanent ink).