The End Is Near

The battle against ISIS is almost over, pot continues to be a hot commodity and a Fox News host is in the line of fire — again.

The End Is Near

The battle against ISIS is almost over, pot continues to be a hot commodity and a Fox News host is in the line of fire — again.

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✨  Good morning! Today is Thursday, March 14, 2019 and this may just push the tension between MTL and YYZ to its boiling point.


• The Background

One of the worst terrorist organizations in history has finally, almost been defeated. Yesterday, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that the battle they’ve been fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (a.k.a. ISIL or ISIS) is “as good as over.” For the third night in a row, SDF pummelled Baghouz with both air strikes and mortar fire, leaving a trail of thick black smoke in the air. Since Monday, three Yazidi women and four children have been rescued from captivity, and more than 3,000 ISIL fighters and their families have surrendered (though it’s believed there are still hundreds of militants holed up in the city, willing to “fight to the death”). Al Jazeera

• What Else You Need to Know

Baghouz was the last remaining city that’s part of ISIL’s so-called caliphate — the organization lost both Raqqa and Mosul in 2017. While there are definitely believers and followers around the world, losing its territory is a huge blow to the group. (At one point, it controlled almost one-third of Iraq and Syria.) With the victory, it’s likely that the majority of U.S. and Turkish forces will be able to go home.

• What’s Next?

While SDF is confident that the end of this battle is near, ISIL isn’t going down quite as easily. Remaining members of the group put out a new video this week calling on international supporters to “keep the faith” and doubling down on its claim to leadership of all Muslims. (Still not sure what’s going on over there? We’ve got a full explainer here.)


• Totally Grounded

It took them a little longer than everyone else, but both Canada and the U.S. finally banned the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. According to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, his panel of experts poured over the available evidence and found too many similarities between October’s Lion Air crash and Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash in Ethiopia to allow the airplane to continue flying. Garneau also noted that they had seen some similar flight patterns between Max 8 aircrafts operating in Canada and the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed. (So, only slightly terrifying.) The U.S. was quick to follow, with President Trump issuing an emergency order that banned all Boeing 737 Max 8s and 9s from American airspace. Boeing also followed both announcements with one of its own, saying it was grounding all 371 operational models of the aircraft. Early investigations seem to be pointing towards a new sensor in the Max 8 aircraft’s autopilot system (which pilots have apparently been complaining about since the model’s early days).


• U.S.: Conspiracy Theory

Things have gone from bad to worse for Paul Manafort. Trump’s former campaign chairman was just ordered to serve three-and-a-half additional years in prison on top of his original sentence. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the second federal judge in Manafort’s case, explained that Manafort has “spent a significant portion of his career gaming the system,” as she added two counts of conspiracy to his conviction. The new counts of money-laundering and obstruction of justice are on top of the bank and tax fraud charges for which he’s already received a 47-month prison sentence. While it’s unusual for the prosecution to be divided into two cases, at this point, unusual has become usual. An issue still up for debate regarding the case: whether or not Manafort will receive a presidential pardon for his crimes (which — let’s be honest —would shock no one). New York Times

• U.S.: Satellite Radar

If you’ve been wondering how America’s upped its deportation game since Trump took office, we finally have some answers. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a.k.a. ICE) has been tracking immigrants “using mass location surveillance.” How is said surveillance being gathered, exactly? Illegally, naturally. According to the ACLU’s report, at least 80 local governments (including those of supposed “sanctuary cities”) have been sharing residents’ personal information with ICE, even when it violates privacy laws or policies. This includes the use of an automated license plate reader (ALPR) database, which has been used by more than 9,000 ICE officers. Thanks to a $6.1-million contract with the ALPR’s parent company Vigilant Solutions, ICE will have access to the database through September 2020. (Just in time for the next presidential election.) ACLU


“There is every reason to be hopeful.”

– The UN’s newly released Global Environment Outlook report strikes an optimistic tone — while adding that the window of time is closing fast to reverse ”unsustainable human activities“ that have ”degraded the Earth’s ecosystems” and “endangered the ecological foundations of society.” (That’s quite a kicker.) CBC News


• The New Money Plant

Aurora Cannabis Inc. has welcomed some big money into its business. Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz just joined the company’s board as its new strategic advisor, sending share prices through the roof. Peltz, who’s a founding partner of New York-based Trian Fund Management LP, currently manages more than US $10 billion in funds. The 76-year-old has been offered 20 million options to purchase shares in Aurora, and could replace ETF provider Vanguard Group Inc. as the pot firm’s second-largest shareholder. In his new role, Peltz will be helping Aurora “evaluate its many operational and strategic opportunities, including potential engagement with mature players in consumer and other market segments.” Peltz, who likes to call himself a “highly engaged shareowner” also happens to be the highest-profile financial investor to take a job with a pot firm to date. Martha Stewart, advisor at Canopy, and Kiss singer Gene Simmons, chief evangelist officer at Invictus MD Strategies Corp., are some of the other bigwigs who have recently put their cash into cannabis. (Oh, and in other pot news, Hexo Corp. is buying Tragically Hip-backed Newstrike for $263 million.) BNN Bloomberg


• Ad(d) It Up

In case you need another reason (besides portrait mode and actually being a part of the group chat) to switch to an iPhone, here’s one: more than 200 apps in the Google Play store were just found to have malicious adware that would subject users to persistent, widespread ads and even unwanted app downloads. The adware made it into the Play store through the hackers’ clever trick: they disguised the infected code as legitimate advertising software, so unknowing app developers would use it in their apps thinking it was no more than your typical annoying (but lucrative, for them anyway) adware. The infected apps were downloaded onto 150 million phones before the rogue coding was caught and the apps removed. While the Google Play store has made leaps and bounds since its accidental porn scandal, it clearly has a ways to go in making sure its apps stay safe. The Verge


• Extreme Makeover, Calgary Edition

Calgary has secured the X that marks the spot. Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced that the city has obtained the rights to host the annual Winter X Games for at least three years. Not only will the X Games bring in athletes from around the world, but the ESPN-sponsored, four-day competition will bring more than 500 jobs to the city annually, and an expected $75 million in annual economic activity. Calgary’s Board of Tourism hopes that the Winter X Games will make Calgary a two-event destination, with the Stampede in the summer and X Games in the winter. And just in case you’re not the most athletically-inclined, alongside the sports spectacle (Big Air, Slopestyle and Superpipe, oh my!) will be a full-festival lineup of music and food for everyone to enjoy. Global News


• Read

Grown-up fairytale fans will lose themselves in Gingerbread by author and “feral fairy godmother” Helen Oyeyemi, who uses the Grimm classic Hansel and Gretel as the jumping-off point to craft the creepy, magical and evocative novel.

• Watch

The second half of the fifth (and final?) season of Arrested Development ands on Netflix this weekend, so we can finally get some closure on the Bluth family’s antics.

• Listen

Indigenous songstress and force of nature Tanya Tagaq has unleashed a “polar score” in the form of a five-song EP titled Toothsayer.


• Sit Down and Shut Up

Another good man total sleaze-bag has fallen to the #MeToo movement. TV host and political commentator Tucker Carlson has been dropped like a sack of hot garbage by dozens of companies he formerly had ties with, thanks to his inability to stop saying offensive sh*t. The latest damning soundbite to surface focuses on lewd comments Carlson made about a 2007 Miss Teen USA contestant. In the radio show recordings, Carlson comments on the teenage girl’s sexual attractiveness, calls her “so dumb,” and says she’d “probably be a pretty good wife.” In response to these and other homophobic and racist commentspreviously unveiled by media watchdog group Media Matters, drugmaker AstraZeneca and bedding company Sheex have added their names to a growing list of businesses pulling their advertising support for his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson TonightUSA Today


• Te Vuelve Loco

If you don’t already have an irrational fear of fast food drive-thrus, we’re here to help. A woman in Omaha was recently taken for a wild ride while innocently trying to order some late night Taco Bell. As she placed her order, she “felt a jolt” from behind caused by a Volkswagen Jetta rear-ending her Kia SUV. She got out and asked the driver to back up so she could inspect the damage, to which the driver responded by denying everything (Um, but his car was still touching her car?) and becoming hostile. The woman began filming the interaction on her phone, which filled the rear-ender with rage. After grabbing the woman’s phone away and trying to take a swing at her (which was blocked by a hero Taco Bell staffer), he “got back in his car and began going full speed ahead, ramming my car,” says the victim. After she ran to safety inside the restaurant, the man then got out of his car and into her SUV and “drove it into the concrete base around a pole,” before returning to his own car and speeding off into the night. The attacker is still at large (so you might want to avoid drive-thrus in Nebraska for the near future). The Takeout


• Pi Day

Today, we honour Archimedes’ mathematical constant as it was meant to be celebrated — with deeply discounted pizza.


• The justice committee hearings are over — and the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is facing a huge hurdle, too. Commissioner Mario Dion just announced he’s taking a “prolonged” medical leave.

• To make Brexit even messier, yesterday British MPs voted against leaving the EU without a deal. (They just don’t want the deal they have.)

• Following BuzzFeed’s lead, Gimlet staff have voted to unionize following the news that the company was being acquired by Spotify.

• If you have a PC, listen up: there’s another recall on HP laptop batteries.

• Despite a promising start, Canadian tennis darling Denis Shapovalov is out of the 2019 BNP Paribas Open.

• Straight off her stint as Grammys host, Alicia Keys is adding another title to her resume: author. Her memoir, More Myself, will be out in November.


• Seeing Red

Opportunity’s 15-year-long photoshoot of Mars is over. Here’s the planet’s final close up.

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