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✨ Good morning! Today is Thursday, October 17, 2019, and we’re feeling uber inspired today.
BULLETIN: THE WARPED WEB
• The Background
Hundreds of people around the globe were arrested yesterday as part of a global criminal investigation into what is being called the world’s largest child-pornography operation. Those participating in the online network were charged by law enforcement officials in several countries, including Canada. The South Korean-based website, which was taken down in March of 2018, used Bitcoin cryptocurrency to sell 250,0000 videos featuring the sexual abuse of children, toddlers and infants. The English-language site, called “Welcome to Video,” had processed 7,300 Bitcoin transactions worth more than $730,000. Law enforcement officials have arrested a total of 337 suspected site users so far. NBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
Prosecutors say the online marketplace was run by Jong Woo Son, a South Korean man who is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence for charges related to child pornography. (That’s all??) The website incorporated a rewards system, wherein users were able to redeem the digital currency in exchange for “points” they could use to download more videos or unlock all-you-can-watch “VIP” accounts. Users could also earn points by uploading new content. (Disgusting, we know.)
• What’s Next?
The ongoing investigation has helped rescue 23 underage victims in the U.S., Britain and Spain, although many children in the videos have not yet been identified.
• From Mourning to Madness
Mourners and police clashed across Haiti yesterday, while thousands gathered for the funerals of 11 of the 20 protestors who were killed in demonstrations to oust President Jovenel Moise. Demonstrators have been protesting corruption, 20% inflation, poverty, and the lack of basic supplies. The funerals were held just one day after the United Nations ended its official mission in Haiti, marking the first time in 15 years that there won’t be a peacekeeping operation within the country. Moise, meanwhile, held a news conference earlier this week saying he will not step down and called for dialogue with opposition parties, who have refused. CBC News
🇨🇦 CANADA VOTES 2019
From now until Oct. 21, we’ll be bringing you all the updates from the campaign trail (including who’s making promises and who’s breaking ’em).
• Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer claims he’ll add fines of up to $20,000 for politicians who violate ethics laws. (Justin Trudeau, he’s talking to you.)
• And, perhaps in direct retaliation, the Liberals posted a video of Andrew Scheer sitting and looking at his phone during “O Canada“ while members of Parliament sang the anthem. (O oh.)
• Snapchat is joining forces with Elections Canada in an attempt to urge young Canadian users to vote on Monday.
• U.S.: Blurred Lines
In an extremely rare occurrence, Democrats and Republicans are actually agreeing. A bipartisan House majority delivered a scathing condemnation of the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria by overwhelmingly backing a resolution condemning the move. The 354–60 vote included all Democrats and more than two-thirds of Republicans. Meanwhile President Trump’s been busy tooting his own horn in defense of his decision, calling the move “strategically brilliant” because the Kurds are “much safer now” and, regardless, were “not angels” themselves. New York Times
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbours to the north support him for another term.”
– Former President Barack Obama, showing his support for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau with only four days left until the Canadian federal election. CBC News
• Back to Work
General Motors and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have reached a tentative deal, putting an end to a 31-day strike. The deal still needs official approval, which could be difficult to get from the union workers at GM despite mounting pressure from the 50,000 members who’ve gone four weeks without a paycheque. The strike was the largest at a U.S. business since the last GM strike in 2007, and was also the longest auto strike in 20 years. Layoffs were rampant across Canadian and Mexican GM plants, and projections suggest GM’s lost US $1.5 billion so far. (Ouch.) CNN
• Call Waiting
We all know the agony of waiting on hold for extended periods of time — but believe it or not, there’s a way out of the torture. The DoNotPay app will now sit on hold for you so you don’t have to. After calling a company for you (you just have to type the name of the company in the app), and through brilliant trickery, the app does its best to get you talking to a real, live person as quickly as possible, and calls you when the line opens up. But wait, there’s more — if the company tries any funny business, you can use the app to share a (totally legal) audio recording of your conversation to social media. (Nothing like the threat of putting someone on blast to make sure a company’s customer service is on point.) TechCrunch
• Let’s Be Friends
Remember those imaginary friends you used to play with? No? Well, they remember you, and some of them may be a little bit angry at being discarded. That’s part of the premise behind a new fantasy comedy that is in the process of being picked up by Paramount. Imaginary Friends, which would star real-life friends Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski, is about a man who can see and talk to other people’s imaginary friends, including the ones who have turned dark and bitter. Guess who will have to save the world from these frenemies? Reynolds of course, who will play the leading role if the project is confirmed. Krasinski will write, direct, produce and star in the film. People
📖👀🎧 THE WEEKEND PLAYLIST
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow is known for exposing the sexual misconduct allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. His new book, Catch and Kill, details the extreme measures Weinstein went to, to keep Farrow from reporting the story.
Two of the ladies from The Office — Jenna Fisher (Pam Beesly) and Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) — have reunited for a new podcast, where each week, they discuss a different episode of the beloved series.
• Rotten Milk
A 26-year-old man in Oklahoma may want to switch to milk bags. Cody Gregg, who had been facing 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking cocaine, got good news this week. His conviction and plea was overturned after lab results showed the supposed “cocaine” he’d been charged with possessing turned out to be powdered milk from a food pantry. Police, who field tested the substance after chasing Gregg down on his bike, may be crying in their milk now that the story has hit the headlines. Not only did they get the test wrong, but it’s also put a spotlight on the reportedly common practice of accused defenders pleading guilty just to get out of jail. (It almost makes us want to take our coffee black.) NBC News
• The Munchies
Just in time for the one-year anniversary of cannabis legalization in Canada, edibles are ready to roll out of the oven. Today marks the first day cannabis edibles and topicals will be legal in Canada. Products are expected to hit the shelves in December.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Canadian police have laid over 300 charges and made 31 arrests in a multi-province human trafficking criminal investigation.
• And in another investigation conducted by nearly two dozen journalists, certain drinking water in Quebec was found to have dangerous levels of lead.
• The 737 Max won’t be back in the air anytime soon. Air Canada just announced that it’s keeping the aircraft grounded till Feb. 14, 2020.
• Something’s fishy with Canadian fish. A shocking 47% of fish is mislabelled in retailers and restaurants across the country.
• Two big stars are set to receive big honours: Harry Connick Jr. is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Alessia Cara is getting Canada’s Walk Of Fame’s 2019 Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour.
• (Not So) Green with Envy
There’s nothing relaxing about this.