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✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, March 20, 2019, but June 19 can’t come soon enough.
BULLETIN: PLAYING THE MIDDLE
• The Background
The Liberals know who they have to suck up to in order to win the 2019 federal election, and yesterday’s budget announcement proved it. Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2019 budget (aptly titled “Investing in the Middle Class”) and it focuses on three key demographics: millennials, workers, and seniors. Attempting to woo these three groups, the feds are introducing a new skill-training program (Canada Training Benefit, a $250-per-year credit that can be saved to pay for up to $5,000 in training fees), a plan to lower the interest rates on student loans, new initiatives related to seniors’ savings, and new measures for first-time home buyers. (An RRSP withdrawal increase from $25K to $35K and a new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, which allows buyers to finance up to 10% on a new home or 5% on an existing home though a CMHC shared equity mortgage.) CTV News
• What Else You Need to Know
Besides who’ll benefit from the Liberals’ proposed budget, are the effects it’ll have on the country’s economy. The feds are projecting a $19.8 deficit in 2019–2020 (higher than the originally projected $19.6 billion) and haven’t said when (or if) they ever expect the budget to be balanced. (Side note: During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to never run a defecit higher than $10 billion and said the budget would be balanced by 2019. 🙄) The surge in spending includes a $3-billion “rainy day fund” (can we have some?); $3.9 billion for Canada’s supply-managed dairy, eggs, and poultry farmers; and $4 billion in new spending. The government has also earmarked $8.1 billion over the next five years to improve Indigenous services, $35 million over four years to establish a Canadian Drug Agency and $500 million beginning in 2022–2023 to improve access to drugs for rare diseases. It’s also promised, with a $6-billion investment over the next 10 years, that all Canadians will have access to high-speed internet by 2030.
• What’s Next?
The opposition wasn’t impressed with the plan (NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called it “very disappointing”) but since Liberals have a federal majority, it’s likely to pass through parliament.
• Excellent Equation
Whoever said women don’t belong in STEM studies (f*ck you, too) is eating their words right about now. Karen Uhlenbeck, a 76-year-old mathematician and professor at the University of Texas, was just awarded this year’s Abel Prize for her work with partial differential equations, becoming the very first woman to receive the honour. The Abel Prize is a mathematics prize modelled after the Nobels and comes with a six million Norwegian kroner (about US $700,000) cash prize. CNN
• World: Changing of the Guard
For the first time in 30 years, Kazakhstan’s going to have a new president. President Nursultan Nazarbayev abruptly announced his resignation yesterday, which will come into effect immediately (a.k.a. today). The 78-year-old gave no real reason for his decision, simply saying that it was his responsibility to ensure “the transition of power to a new generation.” Though the Central Asian country will have a new president, Nazarbayev will still retain a fair amount of political power: he’ll remain chairman of the nation’s Security Council and the head of the ruling Nur Otan party, and says he will continue to serve “until the end of [his] days.” Upper house speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will serve as interim president until the government can organize an election. Globe and Mail
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”
– New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern vows never to say the name of the attacker who killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch last week, acting to deny him the notoriety he apparently sought, while urging others to instead “speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them.” ABC News
• Quick Shop
Your late-night scroll sessions are about to get even more dangerous. Instagram is giving users the ability to put their money where their likes are with a new in-app shopping feature. Last year, the platform added a feature for businesses to link to products in their photos. Its new Checkout tool takes this a step further, allowing users to click to buy without the added hurdle of being redirected to the shop’s online shopping website. Payments can be made with Visa, Mastercard, Discover and PayPal. Nike and Revolve are two retailers already on board, with more anticipated to follow soon. BNN Bloomberg
• Caffeine Fix
If you love coffee but don’t like change, skip this next section. (If you’re still reading, don’t say we didn’t warn you.) Starbucks Rewards is revamping its rewards program and depending on how you like to get your caffeine fix, this could be good news or bad news. Taking effect April 16, the overhaul changes how points are redeemed. While you’ll still earn two “stars” for every dollar spent, you’ll now be able choose when to cash them in within five new tiers: 25 stars buy an extra flavour shot, espresso shot or a dairy substitute; 50 stars get a free basic brewed hot coffee, tea, or bakery item; 150 stars are needed for a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast, or yogurt parfait; sandwiches, protein boxes, and salad will cost 200 stars; and finally, 400 stars can be redeemed for bagged beans or “select merchandise.” One change everyone will agree is for the better: stars will no longer expire. Insider
• Play Time
While every other media company on Earth scrambles to launch streaming services for TV and film content, Google just announced a streaming service of a different kind: Yesterday, the tech giant unveiled Stadia, its new cloud-based gaming platform. The network is tailor-made for esports lovers on both sides of the controller, leveraging YouTube to let players easily stream live video feeds to spectators who want to watch. Players can access the platform’s games through the web browser of any internet-enabled device, including smart TVs, a phone, a tablet or a computer. For the full experience, Google will also release a specialized internet-connected gaming controller. The service launches later this year and Google is working with developers like Ubisoft and id Software to bring their games to the platform, as well as staffing up its own development studio with industry veterans to create new titles of its own. CNET
Sex True Crime Sells
Hold on to your stilettos — the wildest movie announcement of the year just came out and we are more than a little shook. Shooting starts this week for Hustlers, a sure-to-be-blockbuster flick starring a particularly bada$$ cast (are you sitting down? You should probably sit down…): Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and Cardi B (who will be making her acting debut). Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, the script is based on a 2015 article published by New York magazine’s The Cut penned by Jessica Pressler and titled “The Hustlers at Scores.” (You may also recognize Pressler’s name from last year’s viral story of a New York socialite who duped everyone.) Described as a “stripper revenge” tale, Pressler sums up the true story as “a modern Robin Hood…: a few strippers who stole from (mostly) rich, (usually) disgusting, (in their minds) pathetic men and gave to, well, themselves.” (Yep, we are here for this.) Shadow and Act
• The Spice of Life
If you’re a hot sauce-lover, you’re familiar with the common ailments that come with the love of spicy food. You’ve cried, you’ve drooled, and you’ve likely had to chug milk in order to calm the fire festival going on in your mouth, but muscle spasms? That might be a touch too far. However, that’s exactly what you can expect if you pick up a bottle of Scientific Steve’s Venom Chilli Sauce. The hotter-than-hot condiment has been made to mimic the bite of a venomous spider, specifically the Trinidad Chevron tarantula, which is known to leave its victims suffering from muscle spasms and burning pain. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, er meal, you’ll have to cross the Atlantic to get your hands on that kind of heat. The sauce is only available in the U.K. — for now. Mirror
• Spring Equinox
It’s officially the first day of spring! And it’s a special one: the galaxy is celebrating with the first supermoon on the spring equinox in 19 years. Here’s how to see it.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Albertans are heading to the polls. Premier Rachel Notley has called an election for April 16.
• DSW is rebranding. The shoe store — which is known for deep discounts on designer shoes — is changing its name to Designer Brands, and is adding a selection of its own products to store shelves.
• On the heels of its iPad announcement, Apple’s also making major changes to its iMacs.
• For the first time in history, an Indigenous filmmaker is set to openToronto’s Hot Docs festival, with a documentary about the Colten Boushie case.
• Another day, another music festival lineup announcement: Janelle Monae, Lil Wayne, and Tame Impala are all heading to Chicago’s Lollapalooza.
• Criminal Cargo
Never underestimate the value of hiring a professional getaway driver.