Why's everyone still scared of Russia?

The Great Barrier Reef is in serious trouble, a new music festival takes a cue from the '90s and NATO takes on Congress.

Why's everyone still scared of Russia?

The Great Barrier Reef is in serious trouble, a new music festival takes a cue from the '90s and NATO takes on Congress.

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✨  Good morning! Today is Thursday, April 4, 2019 and while we’re excited for hockey playoffs, is it wrong to admit we’re even more excited for this?


• The Background

It’s the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (a.k.a NATO) this week, and to celebrate, the organization is holding a series of events in Washington, D.C. On the agenda? Speaking to U.S. Congress about how important the treaty is, despite what the president thinks. Chief Jens Stoltenberg addressed lawmakers yesterday, warning them of “a more assertive Russia,” which is building up its military, committing cyber attacks, intervening in the activities of sovereign states, and using nerve agents to attack its enemies. (Nasty.) With such threats, Stoltenberg argued, NATO needs to stick together and avoid a protectionist mindset: “We must overcome our differences now because we will need our alliance even more in the future. We face unprecedented challenges — challenges no one nation can face alone.” CNN

• What Else You Need to Know

In addition to trying to convince Congress that America needs its allies (“Through NATO the United States has more friends and allies than any other power. This has made the United States stronger, safer and more secure”), Stoltenberg also called on Russia to calm the eff down. On the top of his list of demands? The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, from which both Russia and the U.S. are threatening to withdraw. The speech followed a larger event that featured foreign ministers from all 29 NATO nations. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addressed that group, and took it as an opportunity to slam those who weren’t spending enough on defence (a.k.a. Germany). 

• What’s Next?

The group is holding several meetings today. Jens Stoltenberg will wrap up the week-long anniversary event with a press conference this afternoon at 1:55pm ET.


• Deep Issues

If you haven’t already figured out our oceans are in big trouble (thanks, single-use plastics), there’s another study to prove it’s true. Released this week in the scientific journal Nature, the new report reveals just how screwed up things are below the surface. Marine biologists have discovered that thanks to two widespread coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest coral system — is having a serious issue repairing itself. In fact, things are so bad that after the bleaching events, newly born corals landing on the reefs dropped 89%(!) below the historical average. Lead author Terry Hughes pointed a finger at climate change, saying “If we don’t control global warming, we’ll still have a tropical ecosystem but it won’t be dominated by corals.” PBS


• U.S.: Report Back

The world may get a peek at Robert Mueller’s report sooner than expected. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted in favour of allowing its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, to issue a subpoena forcing the Justice Department to release the report in its entirety. The vote was largely along party lines (surprise, surprise) with Democrats voting in favour and Republicans voting against. Despite the committee’s approval, Nadler said he won’t issue the subpoena right away; he’ll wait to see what Attorney General William Barr decides to do before making his move (if Barr decides not to release enough of the report Nadler will subpoena it). The committee also plans to subpoena five former White House aides who Democrats believe are relevant to an investigation into possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power and corruption within POTUS’s administration. New York Times

• World: Sticks and Stones

Despite the fact that we’re one quarter of the way through 2019 (how did that happen?), Brunei has opted to stay deep in Medieval Times. The Southeast Asian nation has been under modified Sharia law since 2014 (despite major condemnation from both its citizens and the global community), but as of yesterday, the nation is under full Sharia law. That means it’s implemented strict laws that punish sodomy and adultery with fatal public stoning. And those aren’t the only behaviours that will get you in serious trouble. Bruneian citizens who are caught stealing risk having a limb amputated and those who support and encourage a religion other than Islam risk jail time. Some Bruneian citizens and human rights organizations believe that the sultan is trying to appeal to more extreme Muslim nations by joining them in a more religious lifestyle. Needless to say, the global community is abhorred (rightly so!) and shocked by the change in policy. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres have started a movement to boycott the sultan’s hotel chains, and the UN has spoken out, calling the change “cruel, inhumane, and degrading.” BBC News


“I’ll always believe governing, quite frankly — life for that matter, — is about connecting with people. That won’t change, but I’ll be more mindful and respectful of personal space.”

– Former U.S. Vice President (and presumed 2020 Democratic hopeful) Joe Biden, addresses the growing media buzz about his overly friendly touching of colleagues and constituents throughout his political career. Twitter


• Once in a Lifetime

Great-West Lifeco is breathing some new life into the life insurance industry. (Say that five times fast.) The Winnipeg-based umbrella company will merge its subsidiaries Great-West Life Assurance, London Life Insurance and Canada Life Assurance all under the newly named Canada Life banner. By amalgamating the three brands, Canada Life will unify its marketing efforts to simplify its image, but it won’t be making any structural or operational changes — meaning all 11,000 existing employees will keep their jobs. (Hooray!) The collective of companies represents the insurance needs of one third of the nation (13 million Canadians) and will operate from five main offices across Canada (Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, London, and Regina), with regional offices in all provinces. CBC News


• Book Club

As if there isn’t enough on the list of digital content services to subscribe to (at this point, money’s already coming out of bank accounts faster than it goes in), reading platform Scribd has decided to fancy itself a publishing company, too. In an effort to compete with the likes of Audible, yesterday’s launch of Scribd Originals brings exclusive new ebooks and audiobooks to your eyes and ears, penned by notable authors like Roxane Gay, Garrett Graff, Hilton Als, Paul Theroux, Peter Heller, and Mark Seal. Although readers will have to commit to a monthly subscription fee of US $8.99 (for unlimited access), the “new and experimental works” are crafted for a more casual reading experience, with “binge-worthy” pieces that “can often be read in one sitting.” The Originals add to Scribd’s ever growing library of content, which includes ebooks, audiobooks, and graphic novels. The Verge


• Women Helping Women

Gather up your besties for the girls’ trip of the year: the just-announced Yola Fest music festival is basically 2019’s answer to Lilith Fair. Founded by Swedish electro-pop star Lykke Li, the inaugural one-day festival features an a$$-kicking all-female lineup. Alongside the event’s headlining founder, the concert will include sets by Courtney Love and the Chateau Band, Charli XCX, Cat Power, with more acts to be named soon. Named for title sponsor Yola Mezcal, the festival will be more than just a great party (but you know it will be that too): organizers have partnered with Plus1 — a charitable organization co-founded by former Arcade Fire member Marika Shaw — to donate a portion of proceeds from every ticket to the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles to support and empower women affected by homelessness. The festival will take place June 8 at Los Angeles State Historic Park and tickets go on sale Friday. Rolling Stone


• Read

In her eighth novel, Women Talking, award-winning Canadian author Miriam Toews reflects on her own Mennonite ancestry while telling a fictionalized account of a true crime case of women who suffered in silence through a series of rapes within their strict Mennonite community.

• Watch

In a less disturbing but equally riveting take on the true crime theme, YouTube Premium documentary The Boy Band Con explores the fraud, manipulation, and dance moves lies manager Lou Pearlman used to dupe the members of the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC out of millions of dollars.

• Listen

CBC’s crime podcast Uncover has returned for its third season, titled “The Village,” which follows the investigation in the heinous crimes of recently convicted serial killer Bruce McArthur and his possible connections to several unsolved homicides in Toronto’s LGBTQ community.


• Oh, Brother

Somebody get Maury on the phone. A Brazilian judge just ordered a pair of identical twin brothers to split child support for a nine-year-old girl, after paternity tests came back inconclusive between the two men. Both men will have to pay 30% of Brazil’s minimum salary (about CAD $100) to the (confirmed) mother to share in the costs of the child’s medical, dental, clothing, and school fees. Apparently, the brothers sorta had this coming: the two are known in their community as serious bad boys, constantly switching identities to pick up women. The mother in this story had no idea beforehand that her baby-daddy was a twin. Now that the truth is out, both men are paying (literally and metaphorically) for their bad behaviour. The Guardian


• That’s a Wrap

Each year on the first Thursday in April, we celebrate our most beloved of all wraps, the burrito. This year show your devotion not only by eating a burrito, but also by becoming one.


• The Ethiopian government said Thursday that the pilots of doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 followed “expected procedures” before the plane crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa on March 10, killing everyone on board.

• In a move Canada’s leaders should have seen coming: Between 25 and 40 women turned their backs on Trudeau and Scheer during yesterday’s Daughter of the Vote event.

• It was a star-studded day in an L.A. court yesterday, as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman appeared to face charges related to the college admissions scandal.

• In order to “boost competition in the market,” Toyota is giving free access to the 24,000 hybrid and electric vehicle tech patents it holds. 

• Beats is one-upping parent company Apple’s AirPods with its just-announced Powerbeats Pro, wireless earbuds that fit better and apparently offer improved sound. 

• Faced with the mounting stress of dealing with a sick parent, Britney Spears has checked herself into a psychiatric facility


• Bienvenue Chez Moi

Who ever gets lucky enough to stay at this Airbnb will probably have to be dragged out kicking and screaming (and we won’t blame them).

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