✨ Good morning! Today is Wednesday, August 14, 2019, and Christmas has truly come early.
BULLETIN: ISLAND INFERNO
• The Background
More than a thousand firefighters and helicopters have descended on the Greek island of Evia, just north of Athens, and are working tirelessly to extinguish a massive wall of flames. A state of emergency has been declared in central Evia, and four villages nearby had to be evacuated due to the blazing fire. Dozens of firefighters are also tackling another forest fire on the island of Thassos, and a third wildfire was extinguished near Thebes. New York Times
• What Else You Need to Know
Thick billows of smoke from the fires have already reached the capital of Athens, some 110 kilometres away. Greece’s government has warned those in affected areas, particularly the elderly and young children, to remain inside and set air-conditioning units to recycle internal air only. Officials have also warned the public to avoid outdoor activities that could cause fires, since Greece is particularly prone to forest fires during hot, dry summer months.
• What’s Next?
Four firefighting planes are being sent from Croatia and Italy to help extinguish the flames. So far, there have been no reports of deaths or injuries.
• Totally Grounded
The international airport in Hong Kong has (mostly) returned to normal operations after two days of chaos amidst violent clashes between anti-government protestors and riot police. Hundreds of flights were cancelled yesterday after protestors stormed the terminals, preventing travellers from accessing their flights, using luggage trolleys to build barriers, and staging a mass sit-down in the departure areas. In response, the Airport Authority obtained a temporary injunction banning protesters from entering certain areas of the airport. BBC News
• Canada: Fight or Flight
Ever find yourself paying a ridiculous, ungodly amount of money for a flight? Well, we have a possible explanation, folks. A Quebec Superior Court judge authorized a class-action lawsuit against Air Canada, for illegally overcharging customers by more than doubling the cost of fuel on certain flights. The suit cites an example in which AC charged business and economy passengers 105% more than the fuel cost on a flight to Paris in 2014. The plaintiff states that Air Canada, in a number of cases, has misrepresented fuel charges, and thus reaped a large profit from doing so. Air Canada says it disagrees with the allegations and will aggressively defend itself in court. CTV News
• U.S.: Trade War Toll
The White House is moving forward with its plan to impose a 10% tariff on $300-billion worth of Chinese imports. The list, however, has been narrowed down, to exclude cellphones, laptop computers, toys and other goods to avoid excessively high prices during the back-to-school season and winter holidays. The tariffs will be enacted as of Sept.1, 2019, through Dec. 15, a move that will undoubtedly have a negative impact on American consumers. New York Times
📣 QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The honour is all mine.”
• Another Media Merger
After years of off-and-on talks, Viacom and CBS have finally agreed to join forces. The new merged company, which will be named ViacomCBS, marks the reunification of the two media companies, which are controlled by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements. The merger will add Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and BET to CBS, which owns Showtime, among other assets. The combined company says its primary focus now is to accelerate its streaming strategies and expand globally. (Watch out, Netflix.) CNBC
• A True Spectacle
Snapchat has announced a new version of its augmented reality sunglasses, featuring a sleeker appearance and an added HD camera to add depth perception. Like previous versions, the new shades — called Spectacles 3 — allow users to capture photos and videos, which can then be transferred to other devices by tapping a button on top of the glasses. The glasses are twice as pricey as last year’s model (US $380 vs. US $150), come in “carbon” (black) and “mineral” (between beige and gold), and will be available online in November. The Verge
• Pantsed by Perry
There are fresh sexual misconduct allegations against pop star Katy Perry, after her “Teenage Dream” music video co-star accused her of exposing him at a party. Josh Kloss, the model in the music video, spilled the beans in a series of Instagram posts yesterday, just a few days after the ninth anniversary of the video’s release. Apparently, Perry pulled down Kloss’s pants in public to expose his naked body. This isn’t the first time Perry has been accused of sexual misconduct — in an episode of American Idol last year, Perry kissed a 19-year-old contestant without his permission. Vice
• Brat Boy
This next story makes even the most spoiled brat look like a humble, frugal child. A man in India threw a temper tantrum, after his parents got him a brand new BMW for his birthday, rather than the Jaguar he’d been hoping for. So, he did what any reasonable person would do: he pushed his brand new, US $49,000 car into a swamp. (Perhaps he’s the one who belongs in the swamp.) Daily Mail
• Lights Out
Today marks 16 years since the Northeast Blackout, a widespread power outage that spanned nearly two weeks, and hit parts of the Northeast and Midwest in the United States and Canada. More than 55 million people were left in the dark. (Happy birthday to all the 16-year-olds out there! 😉)
⚡️ STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
• Everything is not irie in Jamaica. The government just extended its state of emergency through Oct. 28, 2019, due to high levels of violent crime.
• Two charities just rescued another 81 migrants off the coast of Libya, bringing the total to 211 since Friday.
• Brookfield is getting into the mortgage insurance business. It’s spending $2.4 billion to acquire a 57% stake in Genworth Financial Inc.
• Uber’s getting a little competition in B.C. Lyft announced that it’s applying to operate in Metro Vancouver.
• In one helluva ridiculous request, Bill Cosby’s lawyers have asked that a Pennsylvania appeals court toss his sexual assault conviction. (Cosby is current serving a three- to 10-year sentence.)
• The Limit Does Not Exist
Well, there goes our summer diet.