Rejection Letter

Brexit is dealt another blow, two major stars are arrested as part of a college admissions scam and Britney heads to Broadway.

Rejection Letter

Brexit is dealt another blow, two major stars are arrested as part of a college admissions scam and Britney heads to Broadway.

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✨  Good morning! Today is Wednesday, March 13, 2019 and the Genie’s finally out of the bottle


• The Background

Brexit may not be much of an exit at all. Yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s beloved bill was dealt one helluva blow — again. MPs rejected the deal 391–242, a small improvement from January’s tally. (Forty-three MPs changed their minds since last casting their ballots.) Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn doubled down on the results, saying, “the government has been defeated again by an enormous majority and it must accept its deal is clearly dead and does not have the support of this House.” Corbyn also called for a general election. A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk echoed Corbyn’s sentiments, saying “with only 17 days left […], today’s vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.” BBC News

• What Else You Need to Know

There are two major things to note after yeterday’s vote: 1) Yes, Theresa May is still prime minister. She recently won a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons, so there’s been no talk of her resigning. 2) It’s this deal or no deal, as May said she cannot return to Brussels for further negotiations. She believes that the current Brexit deal is the best and only one the EU is willing to offer. 

• What’s Next?

Today, MPs will get the chance to vote on whether or not the U.K. should leave on March 29 without a deal and then, if that doesn’t work out, they’ll vote tomorrow on whether or not Brexit should be delayed. Tory MPs will also be given a free vote (meaning lawmakers won’t be pressured by majority leaders to vote with the party) on a no-deal Brexit. May also said the government will publish new information today about the impact of such a scenario, including how the U.K. will manage its border with Ireland if a deal isn’t reached. 


• Too Desperate

Hollywood stars Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with 42 other high-profile CEOs and college employees, have been charged in a college admissions scam. The parents involved are accused of paying off William Rick Singer (a.k.a. the “mastermind” behind the scheme) who then bribed coaches at top schools (think Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, USC, and Yale) so their children would be admitted as recruited athletes, even if they weren’t actually athletes. Singer also bribed two people who administered the SAT or ACT exams to allow Mark Riddell (another scammer hired by Singer) to “secretly take the tests or to replace the children’s answers with his own.” According to the indictment, Singer’s collected roughly $25 million in order to bribe coaches and university administrators to execute the scam. If convicted, the charges could see some big TV stars end up behind bars for up to five years. (Now that’ll be a full house.) CNBC


• U.S.: Dream a Dream

Democrats have a dream — and that dream is to protect Dreamers. Yesterday, House Democrats introduced the “Dream and Promise Act” in an attempt to protect Dreamers (undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children) and immigrants with temporary protected status (those who’ve had their deportation deferred because of natural disasters, armed conflicts and other dangerous events). Under the new legislation, Dreamers would receive conditional permanent status for 10 years (and would receive lawful permanent resident status if certain conditions were met), while immigrants with temporary protected status would also have the opportunity to become permanent along with having stronger protections on their temporary status. Though the bill will likely make it through the Democrat-controlled House, it’ll face a tough vote in the Senate. CNN

• World: No School For You

Anti-vaxxers in Italy have hit a major roadblock — and that roadblock is the Italian government. A 2017 law just came into effect that prevents unvaccinated toddlers from attending preschool or daycare, in an attempt to prevent the spread of certain diseases. Young children must now be vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, pertussis, measles, rubella, mumps, chicken pox and Haemophilus influenzae type B. Older children can attend without proof of vaccinations, but parents will face a fine of of 100 to 500 euros ($151–$754) if it’s discovered that they aren’t up to date. Health officials will then intervene and get them caught up. Global News


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot.

President Donald Trump tweets his (completely unsupported by fact) opinion that the Ethiopian Airlines crash was a result of airplanes “becoming far too complex to fly.” (In contrast, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau has decided to reserve judgment while meeting with a panel of civil aviation experts to become better informed before making any decisions “influenced by emotions” on grounding or banning the Boeing 737 Max 8.) The Hill


• The Jig Gig Is Up

In what could be a gig economy game-changer, Uber finally settled a six-year-long class-action lawsuit over its practice of classifying drivers as independent contractors in order to skirt minimum wage laws and avoid providing employee benefits. Uber will pay out US $20 million to settle the case — which is actually a good deal for them, as a judge previously rejected a US $100 million settlement offer from the company in 2016. (Hindsight is always 20/20.) One catch to this labour victory: Due to some legal technicalities, only about 13,600 workers in California and Massachusetts — out of the hundreds of thousands of drivers that hawk their services on the ride-hailing app — are eligible for the payout. Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, is now “activity pursuing” similar cases against other gig-economy businesses, including Amazon, GrubHub, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Handy. TechCrunch

• Enough Dicking Around

Another potentially precedent-setting move was announced yesterday by Dick’s Sporting Goods: The American hunting and fishing retailer is positioning itself on the “better safe than sorry” side of the gun control debate by pulling firearms at 125 of its 729 stores. CEO Ed Stack tread carefully in sharing the news; rather than making any clear political statement, Stack said the “gun-free model” is being applied at stores where the hunting category underperforms in sales. However, following last year’s Parkland high school shooting, Stack said the tragedy “moved us all unimaginably and […] we said, we need to do something.” At the time, that “something” was to cease the sale of assault-style weapons and impose a minimum age limit of 21 on all firearm purchases. In stores where guns are now being removed, shelves will be filled with other sports gear and outdoor recreation equipment. The Hill


• You’ve Got Files

Mozilla is getting into the file-sharing game with the launch of Firefox Send. Launched yesterday, the free Dropbox competitor provides end-to-end encrypted file-transfers of files up to 2.5 GB in size. Users can choose a set timeframe for how long after sending the file storage will expire, and can choose to add password protection for extra privacy. After uploading, the service generates a link to the file that you can give out to your friend or colleagues to download. Thanks to the added encryption, Mozilla says the service can be used to give an extra layer of security when sharing files with sensitive information, such as financial details. TechCrunch


• Gimme More

Britney’s getting the Broadway treatment. A new original musical called Once Upon a One More Time will match Britney Spears’ music with choreography by World of Dance stars Keone and Mari Madrid for what sounds like a delightfully whimsical tale of female empowerment. The show’s story “follows the exploits of a group of fairytale princesses who’ve gathered for a book club meeting — only to have a copy of Betty Friedan feminist touchstone [The Feminine Mystique] dropped into the mix by ‘a rogue fairy godmother.'” (Um, seriously, how do we sign up for this book club??) The production will take the stage at the James M. Nederlander Theatre in Chicago beginning Nov. 13 ahead of a later NYC debut. People


• Tinder Nightmare

We’d like to take this opportunity to express our sincerest sympathies to Kimberley Latham-Hawkesford, an English woman who recently endured every dating person’s worst nightmare. Three months after going on what she thought was just a run-of-the-mill bad date, Latham-Hawkesford received a followup message from her would-be beau, Luke James, detailing the many (many) reasons he says he chose not to ask her on a second outing. In the 15-point list, James shares all the ways Latham-Hawkesford “could have made the date much better,” including suggestions on her choice of conversation topics (“You need to keep your past to a minimum. I don’t care about it and what you went through”), meal choice (“I know you got a salad but having full fat coke is more calories you really don’t need”), and her lack of “sensitivity” to his feelings (“I didn’t get a kiss which messed with my ego”). The kicker? He concludes the deluge of criticism by offering to consider taking her on another date — if she makes his suggested changes. (Thanks, but no thanks.) Fox News


• Golden Hour

On March 13, 2008, the price of gold on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit $1,000 per ounce for the first time in history. 


• Heads-up Honda drivers: the company just recalled almost 84,000 Canadian vehicles.  

• It looks like Apple’s finally going to make it official: It’s set up an unusual event on March 25 (likely to launch its streaming TV and video service). 

• In what’s sure to be the most annoying news of the week, Vizio is working on an open standard to bring display ads like those that appear online to smart TV interfaces.

• Bust out the bat signal: The Dark Knight trilogy is coming to five IMAX screens (including Toronto’s Ontario Place) later this month. 


• From Angelfire to ZomboCom

If the internet was a person, it would be a fully grown adult. Here’s a look back at its first 30 years.

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