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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

As Hong Kong’s crackdown on opposition continues, role of foreign judges faces fresh scrutiny

The role of Hong Kong’s judiciary in a sweeping crackdown against the city’s opposition politicians, prodemocracy activists and civil society is coming under renewed scrutiny as the government seeks to expand the number of crimes designated a national-security threat. That includes the presence of foreign judges, including the former chief justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin, on the city’s top court, a British colonial legacy that some say is no longer valid.

Speaking at the opening of the new, opposition-free legislature Wednesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the list of crimes created by the Beijing-imposed national-security law (NSL) would grow to include treason, sedition and theft of state crimes. That list already includes subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces.

Since the law was passed, courts have been aggressive with sentencing. This week, delivery worker Jacky Su was jailed for 13 months for taking part in a peaceful rally against the NSL in July, 2020, which a magistrate called “secessionist” and “seditious.”

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Ontario schools to notify families of potential COVID-19 exposure when school absences hit 30 per cent

Families will be notified of a potential COVID-19 exposure only when their school’s absence rate reaches 30 per cent, under new Ontario guidelines that replaces daily reporting of cases in classrooms.

As students and educators return to in-person learning on Monday, principals will be required to report absences to the Ministry of Education. Local public-health units will only be contacted and families notified when 30 per cent of students and staff are absent. It is unclear if that would lead to temporary school closings.

Previously, families were notified when someone tested positive for COVID-19 in their child’s classroom, which would trigger a 10-day isolation period.

Catch up on our COVID-19 coverage:

NATO chief warns of ‘real risk’ for conflict as Russia talks hit an impasse

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Wednesday of the possibility of a “new armed conflict in Europe” after talks between the alliance and Russia ended without any agreements or concessions that might reduce heightened tensions on the continent.

Stoltenberg said that ambassadors of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had refused Moscow’s key demand of a a legally binding guarantee that Ukraine would never be a member of the 30-country alliance.

He said that while it was a positive sign that the two sides had met in Brussels to discuss their differences, the gap between their respective positions was wide, and the dangers were real. “There is a real risk for new armed conflict in Europe,” he said.


Ottawa allows Chinese acquisition of Canada’s Neo Lithium to pass with no national-security review: The federal government did not conduct a formal security review on the pending acquisition of Neo Lithium Corp, a Canadian lithium company, by Chinese state-owned firm Zijin Mining, paving the way for the $960-million deal to close. If Ottawa suspects a foreign takeover could be a threat to national security, the deal undergoes a more thorough review under the Investment Canada Act. According to Neo Lithium, no such review transpired.

UBC acquires Shakespeare’s First Folio in a ‘once-in-eternity’ purchase: The University of British Columbia has acquired an exceedingly rare and valuable complete first edition of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, known as the First Folio, after a relentless campaign by two determined UBC bibliophiles, deep-pocketed anonymous donors and a concerted international effort over Zoom. About 750 copies were believed to have been printed originally, and only an estimated 235 copies are known to remain.

Prince Andrew must face sex-abuse accuser’s lawsuit, U.S. judge rules: A U.S. judge has denied Prince Andrew’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, a woman who alleges the Duke of York sexually abused her when she was 17 and that she was trafficked by the late financier, Jeffrey Epstein. The decision clears the way for Giuffre’s case to stay on track for a trial, which could begin late this year.

Listen to The Decibel: Giving new life to a dying language in Canada: Only nine students are enrolled in the Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide – or the Bridge Schoolhouse in English – but they represent the future of Gaelic fluency in Canada. In the latest episode, The Globe’s Greg Mercer shares the story of how this school sprouted up from a small community that is passionate about regaining its Gaelic roots.


U.S. stock indexes rose on Wednesday after data showed that while U.S. inflation was at its highest in decades, it largely met economists’ expectations, easing some fears that the Federal Reserve would have to pull back support even more forcibly than already expected.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 12.70 points, or 0.27 per cent, to end at 4,725.77 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 34.27 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 15,187.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44.59 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 36,296.61.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 120.19 points to 21,395.00. And the Canadian dollar traded for 79.94 cents US compared with 79.33 cents on Tuesday.

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Russia and NATO are on a collision course over Ukraine. A Cold War deal from 1955 offers a way out

“Given that Moscow has already bitten off two chunks of Ukraine, negotiating an exit from the Russian orbit will be no easy thing. But Mr. Putin, a nostalgist for all things Soviet, might just be willing to embrace one of the few happy results of Soviet policy in postwar Europe: The Austrian solution.” - Editorial

Refusing the COVID-19 vaccine comes with a price

“Mandatory vaccination is not a yes/no question, but rather a question of degree. No one is proposing the unvaccinated be strapped to a table and forcibly injected. The real question is how far governments should go in restricting the freedom of people who refuse the vaccine.” - John Ibbitson


Rents are soaring. What does it mean for millennials and Gen Z?

If you’re a renter, you already know how unaffordable it’s getting. So how are people, especially young adults, dealing with the rising costs? In the latest episode of Stress Test, a 25-year-old renter in Kelowna, B.C., shares why finding a place to live was more stressful than finding a job.


Why Zimbabwe’s simple plaque with a not-so-simple history keeps getting destroyed and rebuilt

A memorial plaque in Maphisa, Zimbabwe, lies in ruins on Jan. 4 after state security agents destroyed it. It honoured the victims of Operation Gukurahundi, a crackdown on dissidents that ran from 1983 to 1987.Sakhele Hadebe/Handout

Two hours after sunset last Tuesday, the quiet darkness outside the Zimbabwean village of Maphisa was shattered by the crack of a loud explosion.

The villagers soon understood what had happened. State security agents had demolished, yet again, a memorial plaque for the hundreds of innocent people who were tortured and executed by Zimbabwean soldiers at the nearby Bhalagwe prison camp in the early 1980s.

In a country whose authoritarian rulers still seek to control historical memory, even a simple plaque can be seen as subversive. And so plaques have triggered their own war: an unending saga of destruction, replacement and destruction again.

Over the past four years, volunteers have tried five times to place a memorial at Bhalagwe, near mine shafts where the bodies of the prisoners were dumped. Each time, the security forces have chased them away or demolished the plaque. Read the full story by Geoffrey York.

Evening Update is written by Beatrice Paez. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.