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British PM Theresa May delays key Brexit vote

British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed a critical vote in the House of Commons on her Brexit deal with the European Union. MPs were supposed to vote on the deal tomorrow, but it was widely expected to go down to a resounding defeat. She did not set a date for the deferred vote, but it must be held by Jan. 21.

The main sticking point is the “backstop” provision. Under the withdrawal agreement, the backstop will be invoked if both sides can’t reach an agreement on the future relationship within three years of the U.K. leaving the EU on March 29. It would also tie Northern Ireland even closer to the EU to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

Also today, the European Court of Justice ruled that Britain can revoke the EU exit mechanism, known as Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, and return to the bloc at any time during the three-year withdrawal process.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to Vancouver courthouse for bail hearing

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou returned to a Vancouver courthouse for the second day of her bail hearing. To get out of jail, she is proposing that she wear a GPS tracking device and pay for a private 24/7 security detail that will ensure she doesn’t leave the area.

Ms. Meng was detained Dec. 1 by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face criminal proceeding for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran. Her arrest prompted Beijing to threaten “serious consequences” if Ottawa does not immediately release her.

While the British Columbia government has pulled out of a forestry trade trip to China amid the threats, Canfor CEO Don Kayne is among a provincial delegation’s business component that still expects to land in Beijing tomorrow. (For subscribers)

Meanwhile, Canada’s spy agency is warning the country’s top universities to be cautious about research relationships with Huawei amid growing cyberintelligence concerns about the Chinese telecommunications-equipment giant. (For subscribers) CSIS has shared its concerns about Huawei’s development and deployment of next-generation 5G wireless technology in Canada.

University of British Columbia professor Paul Evans on why the bigger strategic picture is most alarming: “Behind the arrest is a U.S.-China conflict that is not just a trade war, but a technology war in which Canada is caught in the middle – and that war’s headlong geopolitical competition is hurtling toward a crisis.”

Black residents of Toronto more likely to die during police interactions: report

Black people living in Toronto are grossly overpresented in incidents where city police use force resulting in injury or death, and are 20 times more likely to die in a police shooting than their white counterparts, Ontario’s Human Rights Commission said today. The findings are part of an interim report on a probe into racial profiling and discrimination by the Toronto Police Service. Much of the data was derived from cases probed by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit.

The report found that although black residents comprised 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s total population, they accounted for 25 per cent of SIU investigations during the time period studied. Black complainants were involved in 28 per cent of all use-of-force investigations, with their representation trending sharply upward as the seriousness of the force used increased.

The report also suggested black people are overrepresented in cases of inappropriate stops, searches or charges, adding that those issues would be explored more thoroughly in its next report on the issue.

Canadian researcher Donna Strickland collects Nobel Prize for physics

Donna Strickland, a professor at the University of Waterloo, is one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for physics and collected the award with a big smile in Sweden today. The Nobel committee says she and French scientist Gérard Mourou will each receive a quarter of the US$1.01-million prize for their joint work on laser physics. Dr. Strickland’s win makes her only the third woman to win the physics prize, and the first Canadian female scientist to do so. Here’s a look at her path to the Nobel stage.

Co-laureate of the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics, Canada's Donna Strickland receives her prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the award ceremony on Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

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The S&P 500 turned positive this afternoon with help from technology stocks in a volatile session as investors remained worried about global growth, the U.S.-China trade war and uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The S&P 500 rose 4.64 points to 2,637.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34.31 points to 24,423.26, after being down 507 at one point during the day. The Nasdaq rose 51.27 points to 7,020.52.

Canada’s main stock index fell after crude oil prices dropped more than 2 per cent and pressured shares of energy companies. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 66.85 points at 14,778.28.

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President Donald Trump is considering at least four people to serve as his next chief of staff, after plans for an orderly succession for departing John Kelly fell through.

Tokyo prosecutors indicted Carlos Ghosn, the ousted chairman of Nissan, for underreporting his income, and officially charged the automaker for its role in the financial-misconduct scandal that has shocked the industry. (For subscribers)

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr wants to be granted a Canadian passport to travel to Saudi Arabia and permission to speak to his controversial sister.


Alberta First Nations ‘unanimously’ support Bill C-69? Hardly

“I’m no proponent of roughshod, indiscriminate development that damages our collective environment, health and safety. But given all the consultation that’s mandated at the start-up of a project, why is it that when new federal policy is introduced that restricts a band’s access to resource development, it requires no consultation whatsoever? Restricting my community’s livelihood should warrant some level of discussion with us.” –- Roy Fox (Maikiinima), Chief of the Kainaiwa (Blood Tribe)

The British are axing the fax. Will Canada follow suit?

“A principal reason the fax endures is habit. Change is always slow in the ultra-conservative health system, especially when it costs money. But the single biggest impediment to banning the fax is that the computer systems and electronic health records that we have are rarely able to communicate with each other. Interoperability has not been a priority and that has left us beholden to largely paper-based technology.” – André Picard

French proficiency shouldn’t be mandatory for Canada’s Supreme Court judges

Supreme Court judges must come from the highest echelons of the legal profession, where the requirements of entry are massive talent and massively hard work. However in many legal communities across the country, mastering French is not required to excel. So by excluding those legal luminaries, the government is draining the talent pool. – David Butt, criminal lawyer


Women don’t need to follow a rigid schedule for breast-cancer screening and doctors should inform patients of the potential risks mammograms pose, according to new national screening guidelines released today. The new guidelines recommend women aged 50 to 74 who don’t have a family history or other risk factors get mammograms every two to three years – but they should decide for themselves, with guidance from their health-care provider, whether to get screened.


Their pain is real – and for patients with mystery illnesses, help is coming from an unexpected source

The people Allan Abbass and his small team see at QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax are some of the most expensive in the health-care system, and often among the longest-suffering, Erin Anderssen writes. Research suggests they account for up to half of all visits to family doctors and about 15 per cent of specialist appointments, reporting ailments that are often surprisingly common, such as migraines, lower back pain and upset stomach, but that can’t be traced to a medical cause. As employees, they rack up sick days. Many end up on long-term disability. They are often unfairly suspected of faking. But their pain is real, says Dr. Abbass. It’s just been caused, or made worse, by psychological factors.

Dr. Abbass, the head of Dalhousie University’s Centre for Emotions and Health, treats patients with these unexplained medical symptoms, a phenomenon also known as somatoform disorder, with an innovative form of talk therapy that’s producing impressive results. Called Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, or ISTDP, the psychological approach deals with unconscious negative emotions – often guilt or anger linked to an emotional trauma suffered years or decades earlier – which have manifested as a physical symptom. Once the devastating event is addressed, the unexplained symptom can disappear or be significantly reduced, Dr. Abbass says, in as many as three-quarters of patients. In some cases, all it takes is a handful of sessions.

Kim Hawes is a public servant who returned to work after eight years on disability following 45 sessions with Dr. Abbas. She compares the therapy to “emptying pockets” of emotion one by one, “until they were all gone, and I walked out a free woman.” Following an accidental chemical exposure at work, she developed debilitating sensitivities to certain environments. At one point, she could barely handle leaving her house. Last year, she took the train across the country. She has become a spokesperson for expanding the treatment to more patients. “I thought I would be on disability forever.”

Kim Hawes for more than a decade suffered from a chemical sensitivity, agoraphobia, anxiety and depression that left her on disability from a job in the Justice Department. After participating in therapy with Dr. Abbass, Ms. Hawes was able to return to work, is off her medication, and no longer suffers from panic attacks. (Darren Calabrese for The Globe and Mail)Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

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