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✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, March 27, 2019 and while we’d never want to be put in this situation, we’ve got to admit we’re still kind of jealous.
BULLETIN: DRAMATIC CONCLUSION
• The Background
In what may go down as the most confusing criminal case of the year, Chicago prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett yesterday. To recap, way back on January 29, the star said he was the victim of a hate crime, and that two MAGA hat-wearing individuals beat him up (including putting a noose around his neck) while hurling “racist and homophobic slurs” at him. Then, in an insane turn of events, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report, after police began to suspect that he may have staged the attack in order to elevate his profile and increase his salary. NBC News
• What Else You Need to Know
Smollett’s lawyers were the first to reveal that the charges had been dropped, saying the star’s “record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him” and that he was simply “a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.” Smollett also spoke after the news broke, doubling down on his innocence (“I’ve been truthful since day one”) and calling it one of the worst times of his life. Police were quick to respond to the Smollett camp’s statements, saying that the charges being dropped did not amount to an exoneration, and that it was a “whitewash of justice.”
• What’s Next?
No word yet on Smollett’s future on Empire (his final scenes were cut from the last episodes of the fifth season) or if the two brothers accused of the attack (Ola and Abel Osundairo) will press any charges of their own.
• U.S.: The Dream Is Dead
It looks like the Green New Deal’s 15 minutes of fame are over. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate blocked the deal by a vote of 0–57, with all Republican senators voting against taking up the climate change resolution. Forty-three Senate Democrats voted “present” (which is really no vote at all) and four voted with Republicans (Sens. Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Doug Jones, and Angus King) against the deal. With a Republican majority in the Senate, the bill fell short of the 60 votes it would’ve needed to make it through. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has not said whether she’ll hold a House hearing on the plan. The Hill
• World: Exerting Control
If Brexit is going to go through, Theresa May won’t be responsible. Yesterday, British lawmakers voted to take control of the separation process away from the government. Thirty Conservative MPs split from their party to support the amendment, which gives parliament control of the government’s agenda on Wednesday, allowing them to table several alternative options. Among the possibiltiies? A second referendum, leaving with no deal, and a Norway-style deal with the EU, which would give the U.K. full access to the single market and the European Free Trade area. CNN
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I expect we’ll continue to have a conversation about health care into the indefinite future.”
• Clean Up Your Act
McDonalds is going all in on its digital push with the acquisition of tech startup Dynamic Yield Ltd. Mickey Ds ponied up more than US $300 million for the buyout, the largest sum it’s paid for an acquisition in 20 years. At that price, it’s clear Dynamic Yield’s digital menu boards are more than just brightly lit screens with yummy pictures. So what’s in the secret sauce? The company specializes in “personalization and decision-logic technology,” allowing restaurants to tweak the screen’s displayed items based on the time of day, regional preferences, or even the weather (how much longer ’til McFlurry season?) or current restaurant traffic (promoting faster prep items at busier times). McDonald’s has been testing the technology in the U.S. for the past year, and plans to widely integrate it into in-store and drive-thru menu screens, self-order kiosks and its mobile app. Financial Post
• Going Pro
Despite being in the midst of an international sh*tstorm, Chinese tech company Huawei has its eye firmly on the prize — and that prize is the smartphone market. Just 24 hours after Apple’s amazing A-list event, Huawei unveiled what it’s been working on and it’s nothing to sneeze at. First up on the announcement agenda was a new smartphone model, the P30 Pro Android, that promises super fast performance, extra-long battery life (24 hours!), a bezel-less 6.47-inch screen, and a new four-camera system that offers incredibly clear 10x zoom and a super-wide-angle lens. There’s also the regular ol’ P30, which offers many of the same features, but on a slightly smaller (and flat) 6.1-inch screen. The Pro model skips the earpiece speaker in favour of electromagnetic levitation that vibrates the screen to generate call sounds (seriously) resulting in more discreet sound projection, and has improved its software so launching an app is now 52% faster and response time is 69% faster. In addition to the innovative new devices, the company also revealed that it’s partnered with Korean fashion brand Gentle Monster to launch a line of stylish smart glasses this summer. Engadget
• MMA: Not So Tough
Conor McGregor tried to beat the media to the punch (pun intended) when, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, he tweeted that he’s retiring from MMA. As much as a shocker as that news was to UFC fans, the notorious fighter neglected to mention another bit of info: McGregor is reportedly under investigation in his native Ireland for allegations of sexual assault. According to the New York Times, police haven’t formally charged McGregor with a crime, but he was arrested and questioned in January before being released. The assault is said to have taken place in December at a hotel in Dublin. In response to yesterday’s media reports, McGregor’s publicist said the “rumour” of the assault “is absolutely false” before changing the subject back to the athlete’s retirement to take a dig at the UFC, saying, “Should Conor fight in the future it must be in an environment where fighters are respected for their value, their skill, their hard work and their dedication to the sport.” Business Insider
• Listen Up
Rolling Stone has long been in the business of telling the stories behind the music of our favourite bands — making the magazine a natural partner for audiobook network Audible to enlist in producing its new series on the lives of musical icons. Says Rolling Stone president and CEO Gus Wenner, “Audio journalism represents a great step forward in longform storytelling for” the magazine. The first installation, The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks, profiles the legendary Fleetwood Mac singer and will be released on the Audible app on April 4, narrated by Rolling Stone journalist and author Rob Sheffield. (We wouldn’t be surprised if this move puts Audible at the top of Spotify’s acquisition hit list; the music streamer just picked up narrative podcast studio Parcast, its third podcast buy this year.) Variety
• High Times
There are a number of ways to make use of a big batch of marijuana. You could smoke it, eat it (weed brownies, ftw) or gift it to a very grateful pal. One thing you shouldn’t do? Set the whole thing on fire in your yard. Yet, that’s exactly what 64-year-old David Frederick Ellis decided to do with the leaves of his beloved pot plants. According to Florida’s Indian River County Sheriff’s Department, Ellis was caught “tending” to a massive backyard blaze, measuring five or six feet in diameter and two or three feet high. His response to being caught red-handed? Well, he was only burning “the leaves, it’s trash,” and proceeded to explain to deputies that it’s not the part you smoke and all his good stuff was inside. Thanks to Ellis’s tip, officers discovered six ounces of weed and a bit of THC wax. (What a stoner.) The Takeout
Today is International Whisk(e)y Day, celebrating the beloved drink (duh). Raise a glass with a bottle of the (homegrown) best.
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• As the death roll rises in Mali, the UN is looking into the “horrific” attack that’s left at least 160 dead.
• Nova Scotians are worried about their healthcare system, so the McNeil government is boosting its spending in the area by $200 million this year.
• If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em? Uber’s scooping up its Middle East rival, Careem, for $3.1 billion.
• You’ll soon be able to stay and pay in Gmail, thanks to Google launching AMP support for interactive emails.
• One of the most popular movie musicals of the ’50s is coming back to the big screen. Guys and Dolls is set for a remake.
• Bath Time
When stock photographers meet self-care, chaos ensues.