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✨ Good morning! Today is Thursday, November 15, 2018 and we’re thinking 52 times a day seems low to us.
BULLETIN: DISCOVERY CHANNEL
• The Background
We’re pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before we wake up to the confirmation of aliens, but until that day, this is kind of the next best thing. Yesterday, scientists confirmed the existence of a “Super Earth” — a planet that’s “much bigger and colder than Earth” — that they discovered orbiting a nearby star. And while we can’t abandon this civilization with questionable ethics just yet (the planet is 238 degrees below zero), it is a pretty big freaking deal. Super-Earths are hella big planets with masses larger than Earth’s (this particular one has three times the mass of our planet) but not quite as big as the known ice giants in our solar system (think Neptune and Uranus). USA Today
• What Else You Need to Know
Scientists have named the new planet Barnard’s Star b (named for the star its currently orbiting, Barnard’s Star) and it’s the second-closest known exoplanet (a.k.a. a planet outside our solar system) to Earth. Though there hasn’t been any actual photographic evidence of BS b, the study’s lead scientist, Ignasi Ribas of Spain’s Institute of Space Sciences, said they are “99% confident” that it exists — and coming to that conclusion was no easy feat. The discovery took 20 years and seven different instruments making it “one of the largest and most extensive data sets ever used.”
• What’s Next?
Not much. The planet isn’t even close to inhabitable — it only gets 2% of the energy Earth gets from the sun and lies “well beyond” the zone where liquid water could exist. (We can’t even deal with the cold here.) Even though we can’t relocate, it’s still being called “extremely exciting” and apparently provides “a key piece in the puzzle of planetary formation and evolution.”
• The Offer’s in the Mail
It’s a bad time of year to slow parcel delivery, and Canada Post knows it. Yesterday, the Crown corporation issued a “time-limited” offer to employees in an effort to end the rolling strikes and get things back up to speed. The new four-year offer includes an annual 2% wage increase, signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee, new job-security provisions (including for both rural and suburban carriers who have voiced concern about job uncertainty) and a $10-million health and safety fund. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has until Saturday, Nov. 17 to accept the deal. iPolitics
• U.S.: Power Moves
We now know who will succeed Paul Ryan to lead the Republican party in the House of Representatives. While it wasn’t much of a surprise, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was elected to the position, defeating Rep. Jim Jordon of Ohio 159–43. It was a big win for the GOP, as Jordan co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative group that has caused so many headaches for the party in recent years. Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was also elected minority whip (a.k.a. the No. 2 Republican), and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming (yes, she’s Dick Cheney’s daughter) was elected to replace Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (who opted not to seek a fourth term). The Hill
• World: Not-So-Amicable Split
Hours after Brexit took an enormous step forward, the British government became embroiled in controversy that led five cabinet ministers, including the chief Brexit negotiator, to step down Thursday. On Wednesday, after a five-hour cabinet meeting (which included a “long, detailed and impassioned debate”) parliament approved the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement between the U.K. and the EU. Though some politicians weren’t on board and grilled her over the details in the Commons Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “in the best interests of the entire U.K.” and said it “brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our Union.” In addition to the Irish Republic border issue, the deal also protects the rights of Brits working and living in the EU, and EU citizens working and living in the U.K.; includes a 21-month transition period after the U.K. leaves the EU in March 2019; and a £35-billion to £39-billion “financial settlement” from the U.K. (Cheerio!) BBC News
• World: Standing Firm
While most of the world saw the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza as a good thing, one very important person did not: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The longtime politician announced his resignation yesterday, saying that he could not support Israel’s decision to accept the Egypt-brokered ceasefire and that its acceptance amounted to “surrendering to terror.” Lieberman also noted that Hamas is a widely recognized terrorist organization (the U.S., EU and U.K. all say so) and that it’s a big mistake to negotiate with its leaders. On the other hand, Hamas called the resignation a “victory for Gaza” and said it “signalled a recognition of defeat and failure to confront the Palestinian resistance.” Though Israel isn’t due for a general election until November 2019, Lieberman’s resignation could bring it about much earlier. Al Jazeera
QUOTE OF THE DAY
We were discriminated against, even in the caravan. People wouldn’t let us into trucks, they made us get in the back of the line for showers, they would call us ugly names.
– Honduran-native Erick Dubon, 23 — who’s travelled with his boyfriend, Pedro Nehemias, 22, as part of the caravan of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border — describing the treatment of LGTBQ individuals within the group. National Post
• Rider Rewards
Soon, Uber users could be spending money to make money. The company just started testing a new rewards program which allows loyal users to rack up cash back on rides and food deliveries, along with other perks. Uber Rewards was launched yesterday in nine American cities, with plans to expand through the rest of the U.S. over the coming months (no word yet on when it will come to Canada). The program is broken down into four tiers (labeled Blue, Gold, Platinum and Diamond) with different levels of benefits. Bonuses include the likes of locked-in, surge-free pricing between frequent travel locations (say, home and work), priority airport pickups and — as an exclusive for Diamond-rated users — customer support over the phone. (Only in 2018 would live phone support be considered an elite service 🙄.) BNN Bloomberg
• Screen Time Saviour
For stressed parents (so, every parent), giving your iPad to your child for an hour of peace and quiet exists somewhere between sanity-saving grace and guilt-inducing offence. Virtual reality startup Within aims to change that with its new app Wonderscope. Targeted to ages seven and up, the reading app reimagines children’s literature through the magic of augmented reality (AR), where virtual graphics are overlaid onto real-life scenes (think SnapChat filters and Pokémon Go) paired with voice-recognition technology. Through the screen, characters in Wonderscope’s stories leap around the child’s bedroom or living room and speak directly to them, and the child has to read the words displayed out loud in response in order to advance the story, which may take them crawling around the room in search of new characters or hidden items (maybe they’ll find some of their lost ones while they’re down there). The app launched yesterday with its first two stories, Little Red and Stunts, both written and developed in house specifically for the app. Vogue
• All Woman
Serena Williams just can’t catch a break. On Monday, the tennis star was revealed on Twitter as one of GQ magazine’s four 2018 “Men (and Woman) of the Year” (alongside male actors Michael B. Jordan, Henry Golding and Jonah Hill). Each of the honourees got their own feature cover for the occasion — only on Williams’s, the word “Man” in the title was crossed out and amended with the word “Woman” — quotation marks and all. Predictably, the internet erupted with not-unjustified outrage; Williams has, after all, fought tooth and nail against body shaming critics calling her “masculine” for her entire career. GQ defended the text styling, saying it had been hand-written by fashion designer and Nike collaborator Virgil Abloh (who designed Williams’s “LOGO”-adorned U.S. Open uniform). Abloh’s penchant for ironic quotation marks had become a signature, but taken out of context, the message definitely didn’t translate. (They’ve got some man-splaining to do.) Business Insider
• Festival Season
Chicago’s newest music festival is taking the concept where no (or at least, few) music festival has gone before: indoors. The inaugural edition of Pitchfork’s just-announced Midwinter festival will take place between Feb. 15 and 17, 2019. The three-day festival is being produced in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago — which will also serve as the venue for the event — and marries together contemporary musical acts with visual art for a unique interdisciplinary experience. The musical line-up features a who’s who of so-cool-you-probably-haven’t-heard-of-them-yet acts like Panda Bear, Tortoise, Perfume Genius, Deerhunter, Mount Eerie and Weyes Blood. (We are definitely not cool.) Tickets start at US $50 and go on sale tomorrow. Uproxx
• Body Art
They say skin is like an artist’s canvas, but there’s always been one major difference: one hangs on the wall and one doesn’t — until now. After a popular Saskatoon tattoo artist passed away late last month, his widow knew exactly what to do to honour his memory: she would send his tattoo-covered body off to an American company, where they would preserve and frame his tattoos. The process takes around three months, and involves surgically excising the skin and coating it in a special formula to preserve it. According to the company’s founder, Kyle Sherwood, having tattoos preserved and framed is actually quite common. (In which alternate universe?) He compared body art to famous works by other artists, saying “You wouldn’t bury a Picasso, and that’s what some of these pieces are.” For anyone looking to leave their epidermis to their family members, you can contact Save My Ink Forever. CTV News
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT…
Sometimes there’s just too much news and not enough space.
• Former New Brunswick premier (and leader of the Liberal party) Brian Gallanthas decided to call it quits.
• CNN has found an unlikely ally in its fight for the return of White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass: Sworn rival, Fox News.
• In its latest smartphone update, released yesterday, Google has blessed its devices’ cameras with night vision — no hardware upgrades required.
• Come 2019, if you start seeing millennials in the streets waving their smartphones around wildly and shouting Latin incantations, this is why.
Grab the antibacterial wipes and hold your breath — today is the day to face the Tupperware. (For reference, when checking the expiry dates on all those condiments you used once and never again, it’s Nov. 15, 2018.)
THE WEEKEND PLAY LIST
• Read: Former first lady Michelle Obama’s hotly anticipated memoir, Becoming, has finally arrived on store shelves, and getting our hands on a copy is literally all we can think about right now. (See below.)
• Watch: Obama sat down for an interview with fellow former White House resident and The Today Show host Jenna Bush Hager to talk about why it was so important to her to tell her own story (and some cute AF tidbits about her friendship with George W.).
• Listen: Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson — a.k.a. the two dope queens behind the podcast 2 Dope Queens — used the final episode of their acclaimed show to sign off in style with an interview with (you guessed it) Michelle Obama.
• Smart Gifting
It’s a creepy new world, and Mozilla is doing God’s work this holiday shopping season.