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✨ Good morning! Today is Friday, April 5, 2019 and we’re already planning our move.
BULLETIN: MODERN(ISH) MORMONS
• The Background
The Mormon church (known officially as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is taking a (small) step towards inclusivity and positivity. In a move meant to help “reduce the hate and contention so common today,” the church will no longer label same-sex couples “apostates” (a.k.a. heretic) and will allow children of such couples to be baptized into the church without special approval from its leaders. This is a change from its former policy, introduced in 2015 (yes, you read that right), which had angered liberal and LGBT members of the church, sparking some 1,500 members to leave in protest. CNN
• What Else You Need to Know
The change is just one of many policy changes implemented by the church’s new 94-year-old president, Russell Nelson. Last month, after claiming God had urged him to drop the nickname “Mormon,” he updated the group’s websites, social media accounts, email addresses, and even the name of its famous “Mormon” Tabernacle Choir.
• What’s Next?
The changes are expected to take effect immediately. (Thank God.)
• Not-So-Natural Selection
A disease spread by humans that harms amphibians is being called “the deadliest disease that has ever struck wildlife in all time.” (Awkward sentence, but scary sentiment.) The disease, called chytridiomycosis, has wiped out 90 species of frogs and toads in the past 50 years and is responsible for significant declines in 411 other species. Caused by a pathogen that spreads through contact and in water, it eats away at victims’ skin until they eventually experience heart failure. (Um, what?) Amphibian population declines due to the disease spiked in the 1980s, a decade before it was discovered in 1998, but only 12% of the species affected have shown signs of recovery. Researchers found the disease originated in Asia and was spread worldwide by the amphibian pet trade. Biology professor Wendy Palen warned that the numbers will worsen if the disease spreads to amphibian-rich areas of the world that have previously been untouched by chytridiomycosis, such as Papua New Guinea. (In other words, let’s leave nature alone, shall we?) CBC News
• Canada: Debate Club
With less than two weeks until Albertans go to the polls (April 16!), the province’s main political leaders faced off in the only pre-election debate. Premier Rachel Notley (leader of the NDP), Stephen Mandel of the Alberta Party, David Khan of the Liberals, and United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney traded jabs for most of the event. Notley said Kenney’s moral compass is off (and brought up the RCMP investigation into his campaign) and Kenney said Notley can’t run the economy (or the province, for that matter). In addition to the insults, Mandel said he’d cut the corporate income tax rate from 12% to 10%, keep minimum wage at $15, launch a two-year corporate tax holiday for companies that move large head offices to Alberta, impose mandatory vaccinations and implement a voucher system to help low-income families with the cost of child care. Khan promised to end provincial income tax, lower the corporate income tax to 10% (from 12%), introduce a new sales tax and pilot a universal basic income project. Global News
• U.S.: The Pull-Out Method
The U.S. government just took one more step towards ending its role in the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen. Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a bill (by a vote of 247–175) that would pull American support, a decision that’s sure to ruffle POTUS’s SA-supporting feathers. (The military’s been providing aerial refuelling of jets, reconnaissance, targeting and intelligence information since 2015.) The Senate also voted in favour of the bill, which means it’s now on its way to the Oval Office for the president’s signature — but it’s unlikely to get it. Trump’s already made it clear that he’ll veto the bill. This marks the first time the government’s acted under the War Powers Act of 1973 (a measure implemented to limit a president’s ability to deploy military forces without Congress’s approval). Al Jazeera
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“All I know is she came back pounds thinner, with lice and a hacking cough, and she cried for days.”
– Sindy Flores explains in an op-ed why she fled Honduras, what happened to her when she crossed the U.S.-Mexico border (hint: she was separated from her children) and how she feels about the whole experience now. New York Times
• Royal Business Move
Adidas has tapped one of the most stylish stars in the world to help the brand create new products. The athleticwear brand announced yesterday that Beyoncé (affectionately known as Queen B) will join the team as “creative partner,” and will help create performance gear, shoes and lifestyle apparel. This isn’t the superstar’s first rodeo when it comes to activewear — Beyoncé launched Ivy Park in 2016 with Topshop (and recently acquired the remaining shares from her former partner) and plans to relaunch the brand with Adidas. CNBC
• Colour Coordination
Scientists at Tufts University in the United States have created “smart” clothing that can detect the presence of different types of gases. (Sorry, we’re not talking flatulence.) The study published in the journal Scientific Reports states that the smart, gas-detecting dye could be read visually or with a smartphone camera to detect changes in thread colour when in contact with gaseous analytes as low as 50 parts per million. The innovative clothing could be a reusable and affordable uniform option for workplace, medical, military and rescue personnel. Because the scientists used a method wherein the dye is trapped by, rather than bound to, the threads, a wide range of dyes can be used to detect a variety of gases. Gadgets Now
• Racing: Championship Debut
The first female Saudi driver, Reema Juffali of Jeddah, will be making her F4 British Championship debut this weekend at Brands Hatch less than one year after Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women’s driving licenses. (That’s some quick learning.) Saudi Arabia resumed issuing driving licenses to women in June 2018 after a decades-long ban and Juffali was making her racing debut by October 2018. Juffali is driving for F4 British Championship defending champions Double R Racing. BBC News
• And the Nominees Are…
Billboard has released its full list of 2019 nominations and Cardi B just narrowly missed breaking the record for most nominations. The rapper is nominated 21 times across 18 categories, almost hitting the record of 22 set by Drake and The Chainsmokers. This year, Drake is up for 17 along with Post Malone; Travis Scott is up for 12; and XXXTentacion is up for 10. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are nominated in three categories for both the A Star Is Born soundtrack and its hit single “Shallow.” Gaga is, of course, nominated separately for top song sales artist. Kelly Clarkson will host the 2019 awards live from the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 1, and this year’s awards feature two fan-voted categories: top social artist and chart achievement. The full list of nominees can be found on Billboard’s website. (To be honest, we only recognize some of them — are we showing our age?) Billboard
• Seeing Seaweed
File this under more cool sh*t that might save the world. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have found a way to make biodegradable seaweed-based plastics. Traditional plastics are made from petroleum products that don’t disintegrate, whereas seaweed is grown in the sea without using arable land or drinking water, according to Dr. Alexander Golberg of the Porter School of Environmental Studies. With Canadians alone using nearly 3 billion plastic bags per year and recycling less than 11% of those (for shame!), it’s no surprise that nearly 3 million marine mammals die due to trash-related causes each year, and while this new formula may be the answer, Canadian environmentalists are cautiously optimistic, paying heed to not cause another problem down the road. (The Tel Aviv researchers have yet to determine how long it will take for the seaweed plastics to break down.) CTV News
• Barking Mad
We’ve all had moments of feeling like we don’t quite belong, but one man has taken that to a whole new level by switching species. Kaz James, the “human pup” who says he’s never felt human, lives life as a dog, going as far as barking at, licking and biting his friends. (Dog-gone it.) A store manager from Manchester by day, James is a member of an online “pup play” community and even owns a £2,000 fur suit that he says helps him really feel like himself. He let his pup side shine in his late teens and is now the co-founder of Kennel Klub and author of How to Train a Human Pup. While he enjoys a good human-friendly dog treat, he draws the line at eating dog food, saying, “I eat regular food like a normal person.” (Sure, pal pup.) Mirror
• Women’s Wellness
On April 5, 1922, the American Birth Control League was officially incorporated in New York City. It had been founded a year earlier by Margaret Sanger at the First American Birth Control Conference. And in 1942, it was renamed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Despite requests from Congress, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada won’t be reopening USMCA trade talks.
• Another Democrat is running for president. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryanannounced his candidacy yesterday.
• Amazon is taking on Apple’s AirPods. The company’s apparently getting ready to release earbuds with built-in Alexa access later this year.
• She may have left Sin City behind, but Celine Dion has set her sights on the rest of the continent. On Wednesday, the Canadian superstar announced her first North American tour in 10 years, along with a new album.
• Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos have finalized their divorce settlement, and while MacKenzie only getting 25% of their Amazon shares may seem cheap, US $36 billion is nothing to sneeze at.
• Loves Me, Loves Me Not
Why does nothing about this list surprise us? (OK, maybe the Weather Channel.)