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✨ Good morning! Today is Tuesday, January 8, 2019 and who wants to be the one to tell these guys how out of touch they truly are?
BULLETIN: SWITCHING SIDES
• The Background
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro could be facing his most formidable foe yet. A top Venezuelan Supreme Court judge has defected to the United States in an effort to protest Maduro’s second term in office and expose some of the leader’s illegal behaviour. Up until this past weekend, Judge Christian Zerpa had been a key ally of Maduro’s, even going so far as to write a lengthy legal opinion in 2016 that tried to justify Maduro’s decision to strip the country’s congress of its power. Now, Zerpa’s turned on the president, telling a Florida radio station on Sunday that the last election (in which Maduro was re-elected) “was not free and competitive” and that Maduro has “systematically manipulated” the affairs of the Supreme Court (and that they no longer have any judicial independence). Yesterday, Zerpa said Maduro is an “incompetent president who is leading the once-wealthy country to ruins.” (Oh, is that all?) BBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
The judge appears to have confirmed many world leaders’ fears: Maduro is a dictator who’s using every tool at his disposal to run the country however he wants, even if it means breaking the law or hurting the country’s citizens. As for Maduro’s supporters, they claim Zerpa’s lying and that he fled Venezuela to escape allegations of sexual harassment.
• What’s Next?
Though Zerpa has yet to provide any evidence that supports the allegations against Maduro, he has agreed to work with the U.S. if they want to open an investigation into the corruption he says is running rampant in Venezuela’s government.
• Beachside Shootout
The violence in Mexico is showing no signs of slowing down. Yesterday, seven people were killed in a shooting attack in Las Virginias bar near Playa Del Carmen. Though the location of the incident is a fair distance from the tourist-packed resort area, it’s still shaken travellers. Six of the victims (all male) died on the scene, while a seventh died in hospital. The violence is just the latest in a string of brutal homicides that dominated headlines for most of 2018. Global News
• U.S.: Free At Last
While a good chunk of the U.S. government is still on a forced (unpaid) vacation, one lawmaker is putting in overtime: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Yesterday, Haslam’s office announced that it was granting full clemency to Cyntoia Denise Brown, a 30-year-old woman who’s served 15 years in prison for killing a man when she was 16. (Side note: that man bought her for sex.) Brown will be released to parole supervision on Aug. 7, thanks to high-profile pleas that got national attention from a U.S. congressman, several state lawmakers and A-List celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Kim Kardashian West and Ashley Judd. CNN
• World: Getting the Boot
Guatemala is apparently done fighting corruption. Yesterday the country’s president, Jimmy Morales, announced that he was withdrawing Guatemala from a UN-backed anti-corruption commission and had given the organization’s staff 24 hours to get the hell out of Dodge. According to Morales, the group doesn’t actually fight corruption, it just divides the country and puts its “security at risk.” He also said it violates human rights and accused the group of being connected to criminal structures and terrorists. Obviously not everyone agrees with the government’s decision — human rights groups and constitutional lawyers argue that there’s a conflict of interest and that the withdrawal is against the law. One lawyer, Oswaldo Samayoa, pointed out that the move removes lead investigators (who happen to be looking into Morales, his brother and his son) and said the decision is “disastrous for our country, for our democracy and our fragile institutions.” Al Jazeera
QUOTE OF THE DAY
There is nothing that we can offer that can fully restore what you have lost.
– Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, apologizing for the province’s role in the Sixties Scoop. CBC News
• Security Boost
BMO Financial Group customers are starting the year off with extra assurance their money is in safe hands. The Bank of Montreal announced yesterday the creation of a new financial crimes unit that brings together cybersecurity, fraud prevention and physical security. Working with the bank’s anti-money laundering group, the new unit aims to protect both customers’ money and their personal data. “Given a growing reliance on advanced digital technologies, the financial services industry is faced with more sophisticated financial crime activities that often exploit misaligned fraud and cyber security practices,” said BMO Financial Group CEO Darryl White in a press release, adding that it’s “critical” for the bank to invest in processes to protect customer information. (The move can’t come soon enough. Last May, BMO — along with CIBC-owned Simplii Financial — had its systems hacked by suspected foreign criminal hackers, exposing private information of nearly 50,000 of its customers.) Financial Post
• Gear Shift
“They” have been promising us flying cars for decades and that dream is now looking more like reality. Back in 2017, Uber partnered with Bell — the Texas-based company formerly known as Bell Helicopters and not to be confused with the Canadian telecomm giant — to develop the ride service’s air taxis. Now, the pair is promising that the Bell Nexus will be in the skies by the “mid-2020s.” The hybrid-electric propulsion aircraft uses tilting fans to take off and land vertically, making it perfect for urban flying. But until Uber’s aerial service launches (literally), we’ll have to be content with staying grounded — luckily, even your old dumb car can get a smart boost with a new gadget unveiled at CES yesterday: Created by consumer tech maker JBL, Link Drive is a new voice-activation adaptor device that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and pairs with your stereo to add the magic of Google Assistant to any vehicle. Planned to hit stores this spring and sell for just US $60, the device has built-in dual noise cancelling mics that enable you to ask Google for driving directions and weather, traffic and calendar updates while on the road.
• Tennis: On the Upswing
Canadian tennis fans have a new rising star to cheer for. Following a run to the final at this weekend’s ASB Classic in New Zealand, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu shot up a whopping 45 places in the WTA world rankings, landing at a career-high No. 107. Hailing from Mississauga, Ont., Andreescu beat former No.1s Caroline Wozniack and Venus Williams in the tournament’s qualifying rounds to face off against Julia Goerges of Germany (who ranks in 14th place) in the championship match. While Goerges won that one, Andreescu walked away from her first appearance in a WTA Tour final as the one to watch in future tournaments. CBC Sports
• Having a Ball
New year, new festival season. Yesterday, the lineup for the 2019 Governors Ball festival in New York City was revealed. Headlining this year’s concert are The Strokes, Florence + The Machine and Tyler, The Creator. Also on the bill are Lil Wayne, the 1975, Blood Orange, Vince Staples, Soccer Mommy, SZA, and Lily Allen, along with about 60 other acts you may or may not have heard of depending how hip you are. Canadians on stage will include Toronto’s Jessie Reyez and Vancouver-born Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard’s band Calpurnia. The three-day event will be held at Randall’s Island Park from May 31 to June 2; tickets go on sale next Monday at 8am. Rolling Stone
• Hooked on a Feeling
Next time you’re considering meeting a stranger off the internet, remember this story: A woman in Phoenix, AZ, has been accused of stalking a man she went on a single date with. (Must have been one hell of a date.) In the 10 months following this magical encounter, Jacqueline Ades allegedly sent her paramour 159,000 text messages. (How that’s even possible, we’re not sure.) The recipient finally had enough when he spotted Ades parked outside his house and called the police, but law enforcement’s intervention didn’t have the anticipated effect: Ades took things a step further (or closer) when she was arrested months later inside his home while her wannabe lover was out of town. (Talk about a stage five clinger.) CBS News
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump had a call yesterday, but sounds like they achieved absolutely nothing.
• Speaking of presidents, the World Bank is going to have a new one after Jim Yong Kim announced he’s resigning Feb. 1 (which is three years early).
• And speaking of resignations, the Pentagon’s chief of staff, Kevin Sweeney, is also calling it quits.
• Circle this: Mastercard is dropping its name from its logo, letting the red and yellow circles stand alone.
• Miniso is sticking around Canada a little longer. The Japanese chain has come to an interim agreement with its franchisee, allowing stores to stay open.
• Hot on the heels of this weekend’s Golden Globes, the Director’s Guild of America and American Society of Cinematographers both unveiled the nominations for their 2019 awards yesterday. The DGA Awards will be handed out Feb. 2, and the ASC ceremony will take place Feb. 9.
• Look Left
The Democratic Party of the United States is officially 191 years old today. The political party was founded on Jan. 8, 1828, making it the world’s oldest active political party
• Bowled Out
The things people will do for free food. 😱