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✨ Good morning! Today is Tuesday, March 12, 2019 and we’re waiting to hear when Disney’s going to snap up the rights to this story of unlikely friendship.
• The Background
The world knows Donald Trump likes to spend money (the man’s NYC condo is covered in 24K gold, for goodness’ sake) but we now know exactly how much he wants to spend in 2020. The president presented his budget proposal to Congress yesterday, which includes $4.75 trillion in spending. The funds will go towards causes near and dear to POTUS’s heart (think the military and his beloved wall) and cuts will come to services he deems less important (think education, environmental protection, and social services). The proposal also ups funding of said wall from the originally requested $5.7 billion to a whopping $8.6 billion. New York Times
• What Else You Need to Know
Unsurprisingly, the budget plan is the largest in federal history, despite the $1.9 trillion in cost savings the White House is touting as a financial win. The cost savings come from programs that are considered “mandatory safety-net programs,” like Medicaid and Medicare, which provide health care programs for the elderly and the poor. Trump also recommends spending $26 billion less on Social Security programs, cutting funding for the Environment Protection Agency by 31%, spending 10% less on education and 70% less on renewable energy research. (Oh and he wants to eliminate the majority of climate science programs.) One area where Americans might find relief: prescription drug prices. The budget proposes several options that would put a cap on costs, saving the government $69 billion over 10 years. Despite the savings, Trump’s budget projects that the U.S. will run trillion-dollar deficits through 2025, and that the budget won’t be balanced for another 15 years.
• What’s Next?
Now that the Democrats control the House, it’s unlikely Trump’s budget will actually go anywhere — but it does give Americans insight into what Trump plans to campaign on over the next 18 months. It doesn’t seem like he’s changing his tune, and will continue to push forward his usual agenda.
• Dark Days Ahead
The dire situation in Venezuela has gotten even darker — literally. The country (which currently has two presidents) has been dealing with rolling blackouts since late last week, with 70% of the country going without power. Now, as unstable power threatens the health and wellness of hospital patients, opposition leader Juan Guaido said yesterday in a special session of parliament that he plans to call for a “state of national emergency.” According to Guiado, the country’s lost more than $400 million (which it really can’t afford) thanks to the power outages. Maduro, of course, blamed the U.S. for the power problems, saying that it’s “sabotaged” the country’s power grid. CNN
• Canada: Strong Plan
After having a rather rough year (remember those ridiculous “national security” tariffs?), Canada’s steel and aluminum industry is getting a boost from the federal government. Yesterday, Liberal MP Navdeep Bains (who’s also the minister of innovation, science and economic development) travelled to Hamilton (a.k.a. Steeltown) to make the announcement, revealing that both small- and medium-sized manufacturers would be eligible. According to Bains, the investment will “help businesses innovate to drive productivity, scale up and expand into new markets to create good middle-class jobs.” Each business will be eligible to receive anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million to cover up to 45% of the project’s cost. CBC News
• World: Message Received
Algerian President Abdelaziz Boutefilka is giving the people what they want (maybe, eventually). Following weekend-long protests over his plans to run for a fifth term, the President has announced that he will no longer be seeking reelection. Why the change of heart? Aside from the demonstrations, suspicions over the president’s health (he has not spoken publicly since 2014), and a statement from more than 1000 judges in opposition to his reelection seem to have influenced this decision. While many Algerians are taking his withdrawal from the race as a win, there’s one major problem: President Bouterfilka has indefinitely postponed the spring elections, leaving the country’s political future in a state of uncertainty. BBC News
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
We really want to be over with it now. […] There is not much patience or goodwill left on our side.
– An unnamed EU official expresses the European Commission’s exasperation with the lack of meaningful progress in negotiations going into today’s planned vote on the Brexit deal. CBC News
• Up in the Air
Boeing is in big trouble following this weekend’s catastrophic Ethiopian Airlines crash. While investigators are still working to determine the specific cause of the crash, the aircraft manufacturer’s shareholders are wasting no time trading with their guts. The company’s share value had plummeted more than 5% by the end of the trading day yesterday — which is actually pretty good, considering it was down nearly 13.5% at midday. The drop correlated with announcements from various international air transit authorities, with many vowing to ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in the wake of the second devastatingly deadly crash involving the model. (They do say bad things come in threes, after all.) Canada and the U.S., however, aren’t among them: both Canada’s Federal Transport Ministry and the American Federal Aviation Administration say the planes are airworthy and local airlines are continuing flights with those in their fleets as scheduled. Passengers aren’t convinced — many airlines are fielding calls from anxious customers hoping for alternative transport. In the meantime, a small comfort: the FAA is promising to mandate design changes to automated systems and signalling on board the Boeing planes by April.
• Let Your Finger Do the Shopping
Get ready to start shopping without lifting a finger…OK, well, maybe just one finger. NatWest, a British bank, announced it’s trialling a brand-new payment card with built-in fingerprint recognition. Rather than spending (pun-intended) more time at the card reader entering in your pin or scribbling your signature, the card will use biometric fingerprint data that is stored locally on the card (making it safe from hackers and card thiefs alike) to verify your identity, allowing you to quickly make purchases without worrying about the under £30 limit that’s typically associated with other “contactless” cards. Natwest is hoping that this card will provide the same ease and accessibility as Apple Pay or Google Pay to those who may not be able to afford a smartphone. The Verge
• Soccer: Real Rewind
There’s nothing like being kicked out of a tournament early (like really early) to make a championship team want to turn back the hands of time. But for Real Madrid, that’s exactly what it’s doing. Just hours after it sacked its manager Santiago Solari, the club announced that a very familiar face would be taking over: Zinedine Zidane. The former player led the team to three straight Champion’s League titles as head coach before abruptly quitting nine months ago, but has agreed to return through 2022 to try and get the team back to its winning ways. Sportsnet
• We Slay, OK
Our own king and queen, Beyonce and Jay Z, are about to add yet another (well-deserved) feather to their (very stylish) caps: the Carters have been selected to be honoured at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The two are in good company for this prestigious award that honours allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of the LGBTQ community, joining Cher, Jennifer Lopez, and Britney Spears, to name a few. This award shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given that both Beyonce and Jay Z are openly committed to supporting LGBTQ artists, with countless collabs and the duo frequently speaking out on inclusivity for all individuals during performances and public appearances. The two will be honoured twice — once in L.A. on March 28, and in their very own concrete jungle (where dreams are maaaade of) on May 4. Deadline
• Sex Sells
Oblivious flub or brilliant viral marking con? A barbershop owner in Texas, Jake Gamez, decided to try an unconventional way of advertising his services by giving out business cards with a free condom attached. In a Twitter post explaining the sexy stunt, Gamez wrote, “Gotta include one of these with every card! You’re going to need it after I cut your hair…Trust me.” (You know, because your hair will look so good, you’ll be irresistible to potential partners.) One problem: he stapled the condoms to the cards, leading us to wonder if Gamez even knows how condoms work (we know the state of most schools’ sex-ed. curriculums is bad, but we’d hoped it wasn’t that bad), or if he’s just pranking his customers — and perhaps plotting the opening of a kid’s salon in, oh, say about nine months? Mirror
• World Day Against Cyber-Censorship
Founded by Reporters Without Borders, March 12 marks the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship and the fifth year of what the foundation calls Operation Collateral Freedom. The initiative works to promote press freedom and reduce media censorship by creating accessible “mirrors” for news websites blocked by governments in their own countries.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Since there isn’t enough scandal in Ottawa, a former Conservative candidate from the 2015 federal election has been charged with theft over $5,000.
• What does Google do when one of its executives is accused of sexual harassment? Apparently it coughs up a $35-million exit package.
• Tesla has reversed plans to close many of its stores — but now, it says it’s raising car prices instead.
• Because life’s never a fairytale, J.Lo and A.Rod’s engagement has already been clouded with rumours of infidelity.
• Couple of Commenters
What’s that saying? Couples that comment together, stay together…?