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

U.S. President Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin on Tuesday of “strong economic and other measures” if the Russian President issues orders to invade Ukraine.

Biden and Putin held two hours of virtual talks on the buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and other issues. Biden reaffirmed his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and called for de-escalation and diplomacy, according to the White House.

Television clips from Russia showed Biden and Putin offering friendly greetings at the start of the talks.

U.S. officials have told members of Congress they have an understanding with Germany about shutting down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, a senior congressional aide said.

Before the meeting, the Kremlin had denied that it intended to attack Ukraine and has said its troop posture is defensive.

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Ontario ICU admissions likely to rise again in January, straining the health care system, new modelling says

Ontario’s intensive-care units could see as many as 400 COVID-19 patients by January, putting hospitals under further strain as case counts continue to rise across most of the province, according to new modelling released on Tuesday.

Key findings from Ontario’s science and modelling advisory tables show that between Nov. 15 and Nov. 28, coronavirus cases rose in 26 out of 34 public health units. The new findings show that testing rates remain flat, but positivity is increasing.

Spread of the new Omicron variant, which reports suggest is more contagious than the dominant Delta strain, will likely drive cases even higher, the findings said.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Nature Conservancy of Canada acquires ‘remarkable’ Manitoulin Island site: The 18,000-acre property on the Ontario island provides pristine habitat for black bears, wolves, migrating birds and numerous species at risk living along the Niagara escarpment site. It also sits adjacent to a provincial park of similar size and, together, the two comprise a 248-square-kilometre area.

Instagram, ahead of U.S. Senate hearing, tightens teen protection measures: The photo-sharing app said Tuesday it will be stricter about the types of content it recommends to teens and will nudge them toward different areas if they dwell on one topic for a long time. In a blog post, the social-media service announced a slew of changes for teen users.

UAE to shift to Saturday-Sunday weekend to better align its economy with global markets: The oil-producing Gulf state currently has a Friday-Saturday weekend. From Jan. 1, however, the weekend will start on Friday afternoon. The Sunni Muslim-ruled country said work on Friday would end at 12 noon before Muslim prayers.

Rohingya refugees sue Facebook for $150-billion over Myanmar violence: A U.S. class-action complaint argues that the company’s failures to police content and its platform’s design contributed to real-world violence faced by the Rohingya community. In 2018, United Nations human-rights investigators said the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fuelled the violence.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index has its strongest two-day performance in more than 10 months on easing fears about the latest COVID-19 variant that helped push the price of oil above US$70 a barrel.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 301.55 points to 21,162.65. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 492.40 points at 35,719.43. The S&P 500 index was up 95.08 points at 4,686.75, while the Nasdaq composite was up 461.77 points or three per cent at 15,686.92.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.99 cents US compared with 78.25 cents US on Monday.

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TALKING POINTS

Why we’re still stuck with bad female bosses in TV and movies

“While there are some pretty good female bosses on TV right now – qualified, level-headed Gerri Kellman from Succession comes to mind (leaving aside the current situation with Roman Roy), as does Liz Lawrence on The Good Fight, who is both respected by her employees and granted a life outside of work – even they are subject to questions about complicity and the evils of capitalism.” - Stacy Lee Kong

Canada is suffering from a health care system resourcing crisis

“The responsibility of carving out time and space to reflect, to dig into the data, and to address issues in a systemic way does not belong to front-line workers; their job is to save lives. It is their leaders ... who can actually enact change. They’re the ones who will need to have agile, adaptable and innovation-oriented mindsets to extricate time for reflection, to look at data, and to propose solutions.” - Stéphane Brutus and Jaason Geerts

LIVING BETTER

These seniors show why you’re never too old to learn to ski

A decade ago, people aged 55-plus accounted for 17.5 per cent of skies in a season, according to the U.S.-based National Ski Areas Association. That percentage has grown steadily since.

Nancy Greene Raine is still an avid skier at 78. The Olympic gold medallist and former senator says the sport is a lifelong activity that it’s never too late to learn.

“If you can walk, you can ski,” says Ms. Greene Raine, who is the director of skiing at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops, B.C.

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TODAY’S LONG READ

How the health care system is healing its environmental sore points

The COVID-19 pandemic has put extreme pressure on Canada’s health care system, but it has also created opportunities for change and innovation.

Hospitals with clinical-grade disinfecting practices, for example, use energy around the clock. Personal protective equipment, medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs are among waste-producing items common in a system that’s been working toward sustainability by using environmentally and economically sound practices without compromising human health or aspects of the system.

Worldwide, the health care sector is responsible for about 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to research.

Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care initiatives include a Green Hospital Scorecard tool, which helps measure an institution’s energy and water conservation, waste management and recycling, pollution prevention and corporate leadership. Hospitals then report on their environmental and sustainability efforts and get a scorecard summarizing their performance relative to their peers.

Read the full story here

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