Subscribe to The Bullet to get a quick shot of daily news to your inbox.
✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, May 1, 2019, and you know what that means…
BULLETIN: IS ANYBODY LISTENING?
• The Background
Facebook held its annual F8 developer conference yesterday and, boy, did it have a lot of news to share. After an especially tough year (for all of us, really), Mark Zuckerberg and his team seem intent to prove that the conglomerate of social networks can reform itself as a privacy-focused company while also creating a plethora of new ways for users to engage with Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. (We’re not sure those two things can go hand in hand, but maybe that’s just us?) BuzzFeed News
• What Else You Need to Know
Along with enhanced encryption and more secure data storage, the Facebook of the future puts more emphasis on private interactions. Just about every aspect of Facebook’s business is getting a refresh. Here’s a quick summary of the key makeovers for each platform (or if you have 12 minutes to spare, you can watch this keynote supercut):
- Facebook’s mobile app has been redesigned to move away from the established newsfeed to focus more on the most-used features: events and groups. Facebook Dating is finally rolling out to more countries, along with a (questionable) new “Secret Crush” feature to get you out of the friend zone. Facebook also wants to help you make new friends based on what it knows about you (but only if you want to — the tool is opt-in).
- The Messenger app has been re-engineered to be both faster and smaller, and provide end-to-end encryption by default. Mac and PC desktop apps will be introduced. It’s also getting a slew of new features, like the ability to watch videos with friends, business tools like appointment bookings, and a “Close Friends” tab that hopes to encourage more offline hangs by showing your pals’ status via emoji.
- Instagram has chosen Canada as a testing ground for hiding like-counts (our self-esteem thanks them). It’s also given the in-app camera an overhaul with “Create Mode” for artsy photo editing and the ability to add product tags to tie in with its new shoppable post tool.
- New hardware is also creating a buzz: Portal, a standalone video calling device quietly launched last year, is coming to Canada and Europe, and Facebook-owned Oculus has two new models of its VR headset ready for preorder, along with supporting subscription services.
U.S.: Bank Business
In case you thought the Trumps didn’t care if anybody looked into their financial history, here’s another reminder that they really, really do: the president just sued not one, but two banks (Deutsche Bank and Capital One) in an effort to prevent them from responding to congressional subpoenas. According to the suit (which was filed Monday in federal court by POTUS, his three oldest children, and his business, The Trump Organization), the investigations behind the House-ordered requests “are over broad and serve no purpose beyond harassment.” Which kinda makes sense, since apparently, Trump thinks everyone hides their money. Case in point: the president also just announced a new fee structure to slow the flow of families seeking asylum in the U.S. (Because, you know, those fleeing for their lives always have a stack of Benjamins lying around.) NPR
U.S.: Scarlet Letter
And while we’re on the topic of Trump, it turns out Robert Mueller’s report wasn’t exactly as William Barr described it. According to the Justice Department and several sources close to the special counsel, Mueller was so unimpressed with William Barr’s summary of his report, that he wrote him a letter complaining about it. The DOJ admitted that Barr had received a letter from Mueller expressing “a frustration over the lack of context” in how Barr presented the counsel’s findings on obstruction of justice but reiterated that “nothing in the attorney general’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading.” There’s no doubt we’ll hear more, as both Barr and Mueller are expected to testify in front of Congress. New York Times
• World: Standing in the Streets
Yesterday, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido almost got his wish. According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Nicolas Maduro was close to fleeing the country, leaving Guaido to become president, before Russia stepped in and convinced him to stand his ground (🙄). The development started early in the day when Guaido began encouraging his supporters and the military to stage an uprising. Violence quickly broke out across Caracas as troops loyal to Maduro began firing tear gas at Guaido’s supporters, and Guaido’s supporters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at an air base, eventually setting a government bus on fire. A medical facility near the centre of the violence said it was treating at least 50 people with injuries, most of which had gunshot wounds. The country is now preparing for today’s march, which Guaido has called “the largest march in Venezuela’s history.” CBC News
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If you’re feeling stuck or at a crossroads, there’s no need to waste another moment wondering if there is more to life. Of course there is. And it’s yours for the finding.”
– Oprah Winfrey, on what attendees can expect to learn at her just-announced book tour, hitting five Canadian cities this summer. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10am local time. (All hail the big O!) Global News
• Drink Up
As Canada ramps up for cannabis legalization 2.0, the edibles edition — coming this October — another brewery is getting set to take their hops higher. Saint John, N.B.-based Moosehead is teaming up with Sproutly Canada Inc., a cannabis producer and extractor, to create marijuana-infused beverages. The magic will come from Sproutly’s proprietary technology for extracting water-soluble cannabis to be infused into the finished bevvies. According to Sproutly CEO Keith Dolo, “this is a research and development-like contract between two organizations, but for a cannabis company, it’s almost a finalization of who our partners are going to be to get our products on the shelves quickly.” For that, it will rely on Moosehead to build the infrastructure for R&D, operations, procurement and distribution. To lead the team, Moosehead is bringing over its former vice president Matthew Oland, who previously ran the company’s supply chain operation. BNN Bloomberg
• Baseball: High-Pitched Stream
Major League Baseball is heading to YouTube. The streaming giant announced yesterday that it had signed a new deal with the league, allowing it to live stream 13 games in the second half of the season. Though the company didn’t announce exactly which games would be available online, it did share that it would have exclusive rights to those games in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Streamers will be able to access the games from the MLB’s main YouTube page, along with a soon-to-be-launched channel for subscribers of YouTube’s upcoming TV service. The games will feel a lot like what you’d find on traditional broadcast (they’re being produced by MLB Network) but they’ll have a little extra flair for YouTube: according to the announcement, “all 13 matchups will include a pre-game and post-game show and contain MLB- and YouTube-themed content, with some of the highly popular YouTube creators scheduled to be part of the action.” The Verge
• Stage Right
It’s almost time for the 73rd edition of the song and dance celebrating, well, song and dance. The nominees for this year’s Tonys were announced yesterday ahead of the awards show on June 9 in NYC, and Hadestown: The Myth. The Musical is set to be the toast of the town with 14 nominations. Written and composed by Anaïs Mitchell, the production is only the second ever Broadway musical to feature an all-female principal creative team. It’s up against four others for best musical: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, Beetlejuice, The Prom and Tootsie. Competing for best play are Choir Boy, The Ferryman, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, Ink and What the Constitution Means to Me. Some Hollywood favourites are up for the acting honours, including Adam Driver (Burn This), Annette Bening (Arthur Miller’s All My Sons), Bryan Cranston (Network), Jeff Daniels (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Laurie Metcalf (Hillary and Clinton). You can see all the nominees here.
• Garbage Deal
If there’s one thing you’d never, ever want anywhere near your house, it’s likely a used trash can salvaged from one of the world’s dirtiest public transit systems — yet, that’s exactly what New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) wants to sell you. According to the MTA’s sales pitch (which isn’t half-bad, to be honest), it’s “authentic, unique, and probably one of the most useful items in every home, work or office.” If you’re one of the few people who finds used trash cans an appealing collectible, you better be ready to shell out a pretty penny to take this fine antique home: It’ll set you back a ridiculous US $300 plus(!!) a US $75 processing fee. Oh, and that doesn’t include shipping (you have to pick it up in person), insurance, sales tax or handling fees. NBC News
• Hip to be Square
On May 1, 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants premiered on Nickelodeon after the Kids’ Choice Awards. It later became the highest rated series to ever air on the network.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• If you’re going to run an international drug-trafficking ring, don’t do it in China (or elsewhere, tbh). A Chinese court just sentenced a Canadian to death after he (or she) was caught with 139 pounds of methamphetamine.
• A new CBC News report has called out the SNC employees and executives who shelled out thousands in illegal donations between 2000 and 2011.
• Another print title bites the dust. After 21 years, ESPN’s magazine is shutting down in September.
• Talk about Vinsanity! Former Raptor Vince Carter just confirmed he’s planning to play a record-setting 22nd season in the NBA.
• The Biebs is back — maybe. The Canadian singer just teased something with Ed Sheeran, though nobody’s sure what exactly.
• Off Track
And here we thought Bigfoot called the Rockies home.