Is Anybody Out There?

Stargazers discover a new planet, the Bank of Canada makes its first interest rate decision of 2019 and Jeff Bezos is heading to divorce court.

Is Anybody Out There?

Stargazers discover a new planet, the Bank of Canada makes its first interest rate decision of 2019 and Jeff Bezos is heading to divorce court.

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✨  Good morning! Today is Thursday, January 10, 2019 and this could change everything.

BULLETIN: The World Out There

• The Background

Leave it to your average stargazers to make one of the most important planetary discoveries of the decade. This week, at the semi-annual meeting of the American Astronomy Society, researchers announced that citizen scientists had spotted a new, rare type of planet beyond our solar system. Named K2-288Bb (that just rolls off the tongue), the planet is twice the size of Earth and is located in the “Goldilocks Zone,” which is believed to be inhabitable. (Liquid water could potentially exist on the planet’s surface.) CNET

• What Else You Need to Know

According to Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student and lead author on a paper describing the discovery, the find is exciting for several reasons: “how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon.” On top of all that, is the fact that the planet could — theoretically — support alien life forms (as long as it’s not getting blasted by radiation). Harvard’s Abraham Loeb and postdoctoral researcher Mansavi Lingam discovered that planets like K2-288Bb need to be one-fifth as massive as our sun to sustain photosynthesis, and lucky for K2-288Bb, it meets the criteria. (Its mass equals about a third of our sun’s.) So according to Loeb and Lingam, the planet is “theoretically capable of sustaining biospheres with the same productivity as the Earth.” (Hopefully with less of the drama.)

• What’s Next?

Scientists plan on studying the newfound planet to determine what kind of surface it has. Two papers will soon be published on its discovery: one in the Astronomical Journal and one in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


• On Hold

Interest rates are staying put — for now. Yesterday, in its first announcement of 2019, the Bank of Canada (BoC) decided to hold the key interest rate at 1.75%. The decision didn’t come as a surprise to economic experts, who had been expecting the rate to stay put amidst a questionable financial forecast. In addition to its rate announcement, the bank adjusted its projection for 2019, saying it expects the economy to grow at a “slower pace” than it previously anticipated. It’s now expecting the GDP to expand by just 1.7% as opposed to the originally projected 2.1%. According to the BoC, it’s expecting to continue hiking the key rate in the future, but said the pace “will depend on how the outlook evolves, with a particular focus on developments in oil markets and the Canadian housing market.” Global News


• Canada: Droning Off

Federal regulations are finally playing catchup with modern technology. Yesterday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced new laws governing the use of drones. Starting June 1, owners will have to register their drones and operators of “larger” drones — both recreational and professional — will be required to pass an exam to earn their pilot’s certification, which is broken out into “basic” and “advanced” levels and introduces age minimums of 14 or 16 years old. Use of drones will be restricted within a set distance of airports, and a “special flight operations certificate” will be needed to fly the devices over concerts or sporting events. Limits are also outlined on what drones can carry (no living things, plus restrictions on transporting explosives, weapons or ammunition). Another important rule: No drinking and droning. (With all the ruckus going on at Heathrow airport, maybe England should consider implementing similar laws.) CBC News

• Canada: Cast Your Votes

After a lengthy process, Canadians in several ridings are finally getting the opportunity to elect a representative to the House of Commons. Prime Minister Trudeau called three by-elections yesterday, giving voters in Burnaby South, B.C., Outremont, Que., and York–Simcoe, Ont., the chance to elect new MPs. The announcement was met with much excitement from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who’s been pushing for a by-election ever since he declared his candidacy in Burnaby South. Members of Maxine Bernier’s newly formed People’s Party were also excited, as it’ll be the first time the party will be able to put forward candidates. All three elections will be held on Feb. 25. CTV News

• World: Locked Up

A former Israeli cabinet minister is going to prison. Yesterday, Gonen Segev was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he was convicted of spying for Iran. (Technically, he was convicted of espionage and relaying information to the enemy.) It’s believed he provided information about Israel’s energy industry and security sites, and political and defence officials. Segev served as the country’s energy and infrastructure minister in the ’90s before he was arrested for trying to smuggle 32,000 Ecstasy tablets into Israel from the Netherlands. The court hearing to approve his sentence is scheduled for Feb. 11. National Post


I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t, I might go that route.

– President Donald Trump, on whether he’s still considering declaring a national emergency to get his border wall funding without Congress’s approval (after he stormed out of a meeting with Democrats). CBC News


• Red Lights Ahead

Workers at the Oshawa GM plant are doing everything they can to convince the car manufacturer not to shutter the facility — but General Motors is holding firm. Union members staged a five-hour sit-down at the plant Tuesday evening and followed it up with a second two-hour work stoppage yesterday morning. (And baby boomers say millennials are entitled…🙄) The protest followed a meeting between union president Jerry Dias and GM execs that saw the company hold its ground on the planned closure, saying Unifor’s suggestions to keep it open aren’t economically viable. Despite Dias’ argument the closure will have major economic impacts on the Oshawa area and cause “a direct hit to the GDP,” Bank of Canada Governor (and Oshawa native) Stephen Poloz defended the city’s ability to bounce back in a news conference yesterday, noting that GM’s operations there have been on a steady decline for the past 40 years, “and yet Oshawa has grown and people live there and they all have jobs. So this is what happens in economies.” CTV News


• A Quiet Place

While electric cars are making roads quieter (some argue too much so) on the outside, one company is aiming to do the same for the inside of your vehicle. Yesterday at CES, Bose introduced its innovative QuietComfort Road Noise Control system. The built-in noise-cancelling technology uses “a combination of accelerometers, proprietary signal-processing software, microphones and the vehicle’s audio system to electronically combat unwanted sounds.” (Does this include screaming children?) When accelerometers mounted on the body of the car sense a potentially noise-making vibration, the system kicks to deliver an acoustic cancellation signal through the vehicle’s speakers. The system will be made available to car makers for customized integration into new vehicle models with a goal of being on the road by the end of 2021. Engadget


• Tough Testing

After years of skirting the law (and missing the Dec. 31 deadline to comply), Russia has finally buckled to the power of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Yesterday, the Kremlin announced that it had come to an “understanding” with the anti-drug organization on how (and when) it’ll submit Russian drug sample data. The decision comes just as inspectors arrived in Moscow for a third time trying to access laboratories and test national athletes’ samples. It’s believed Wada representatives will spend three days in the capital to conduct their inspection. The Telegraph


• Breach of Contract

It could be the most expensive divorce in history. After 25 years of marriage — and building a US $160 billion empire — Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie are getting divorced. The couple announced the relationship development yesterday in a joint statement on Twitter, focusing on the “great life” they shared together as a married couple and saying they “see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends,” and “partners in ventures and projects.” Jeff Bezos started Amazon just one year after he and MacKenzie were married and she worked as an accountant for the company in its early days. According to Washington state marriage laws, any wealth made during their marriage is “community property” and could be split equally between the two in a divorce settlement. The couple have four children together. They closed out the message by saying “we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.” (Guess they haven’t had the money talk yet.)  USA Today


• No Ifs, Ands or Butts

There are few times that “it wasn’t me” will fly as a defence — especially when you’ve been caught with your proverbial hand in the cookie jar. But that didn’t stop a 40-year-old Florida man from trying it anyways. Wesley Dasher Scott was arrested last Friday on an outstanding warrant. He was then transported to Pinellas County Jail where authorities were forced to do a strip search as part of his intake processing. According to police reports, during the strip search, Scott removed three syringes from his tush and passed them to an officer, at which point he swore they weren’t his. (What a crack crock.) Obviously, since the needles were up his bottom, that defence didn’t go over so well — Scott’s now been charged with introducing contraband in a county detention facility and is being held in lieu of $5,000 bail. Tampa Bay Times


• Norwegian authorities say kidnappers are demanding US $10 million in ransom for the return of the wife of one of the country’s richest people.

• Iran’s foreign ministry has confirmed the arrest of a U.S. Navy veteran, but it’s unclear why.

• Shoppers Drug Mart’s medical cannabis e-commerce platform is now live for Ontarian tokers.

• Bad news for Canadian Netflix users — the streaming giant’s previously announced price hike will officially take effect Feb. 9.

• Instagram is shaking things up with its latest update, which allows iOS users to post to multiple accounts at once.

• Nominations for the upcoming iHeartRadio Music Awards were announced yesterday, and Cardi B continues to dominate the music world.


• National “Cut Your Energy Costs” Day

Paying your monthly utility bills is a necessary evil. Here’s how to keep them as low as possible.


• Country Living

TBH, we’ve never understood the British definition of the word “cottage.”

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