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

A 24-year-old Czech student killed his father before going on a shooting rampage at his university in Prague, leaving 14 people dead and 25 others wounded, police said, in the country’s worst-ever mass shooting.

The gunman, who possibly killed himself as well, is also suspected in the killings of another man and his two-month-old daughter who were found dead last week in a village outside of Prague, the city’s police chief said.

Authorities – who discovered a large arsenal of weapons at a downtown Prague Charles University building – were tipped off earlier in the day that the man was likely heading to Prague from his town in the Kladno region outside the capital with intentions of taking his own life.

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Students of Charles University are being evacuated by police at the location of the shooting on December 21, 2023 in Prague, Czech Republic.Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

Israel intensifies Gaza strikes, Hamas fires rockets amid truce talks

Israeli bombing of Gaza was at it most intense over northern Gaza today and Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv, even as the two parties engaged in serious talks about a truce.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said that northern Gaza has been left without a functional hospital because of a lack of fuel, staff and supplies. Also, a UN-backed organization released a report saying the entire 2.3 million population of the Gaza Strip is facing crisis levels of hunger and the risk of famine is increasing each day.

As the war nears its 12th week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said that the Israel-Gaza war has been the deadliest recorded for journalists, with 68 killed in the first 10 weeks.

In Canada, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced a new temporary immigration program for Canadians desperate to bring extended family members in the Gaza Strip to safety. But the federal government added it can’t guarantee they’ll be able to escape.

In Ukraine, Christmas lights defy darkness of war amid prayers for peace and victory

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians will mark Christmas this year in muddy trenches amid the sounds of war. And millions of others will celebrate more quietly than usual in Ukrainian cities away from the frontlines, but under the constant threat of Russian airstrikes.

This year, almost all Ukrainian Christians will mark Christmas on Dec. 25 as part of what President Volodymyr Zelensky has called a national effort to “renounce Russian heritage.”

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine announced in May that it would adopt the Revised Julian calendar in an effort to further separate itself from the Russian Orthodox Church, which has supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Science: Scientists agree that Earth’s rotation has slowed dramatically over time, but what they disagree over is exactly how the transition from shorter to longer days occurred. Two separate studies published this year claim the length of a day was fixed at about 19 hours for much of Earth’s history.

Crime: A Dutch man, who was convicted of charges including extortion and harassment in the death of Amanda Todd, had his sentence cut Thursday by an Amsterdam court to six years from 13. The B.C. teen took her own life after he blackmailed her online.

Cyberattack: A service reduction at the Toronto Public Library system is expected to last months after it was hit by a ransomware attack demanding tens of millions of dollars.

Weather: David Phillips of Environment Canada says most of the country has been unusually dry and warm this year, owing to a strong El Nino pattern this fall coming after a spring and summer that was already unusually warm.

Health: The “pop” of a Champagne cork is associated with celebration, but there is a dark side to uncorking the festive drink. Researchers at the University of Cambridge say corks can travel up to 80 kilometres an hour and cause serious eye injuries, including blindness, retinal detachment and lens dislocation.


Canada’s main stock index rose today despite a sharp drop in the shares of BlackBerry. The S&P/TSX composite index ended up 0.8 per cent at 20,765.73, after falling more than 1 per cent yesterday. The Canadian dollar extended recent gains against the U.S. dollar, trading at 75.26 US cents, its strongest level since August.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks closed higher as economic data fueled optimism that the Federal Reserve would ease monetary policy and revived investor risk appetite. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.87 per cent to 37,404.16, the S&P 500 gained 1.03 per cent to 4,746.72, and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.26 per cent to 14,963.87.

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This Christmas, Bethlehem’s anguished Christian community has a message for the world

“If there is something that the Christians in Bethlehem want the church around the world to know, it is that they exist, that their faith is authentic, that they are serving the Lord against all odds, and that they are a vital part of the global church. Bethlehem Christians also would like the wider church to realize that uncritical political support of Israel makes their lives much more difficult.” – Andrew F. Bush

Why Louis St-Laurent might serve as a cautionary tale for Joe Biden

“But St-Laurent, whose remarkably accomplished nine years as Canada’s prime minister began in 1948, offers a bracing cautionary tale for Mr. Biden, who at 81 now is preparing for his re-election campaign. St-Laurent was repelled from 24 Sussex Dr. in 1957 in large part because he was … too old.” – David Shribman


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Digital feature image for PUR-BUYS2023-1222The Globe and Mail

Last-minute gift ideas: These 18 items made our lives better in 2023

We polled Globe staffers about the items that made their lives just a little bit easier in 2023. From a $3 IKEA bag to a fancy Dyson vacuum. From a microwave steamer to the best outerwear this season. Here are our best buys of 2023.


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Amanda Belanger and teammates work to complete a jigsaw puzzle, during the Competitive Team Puzzle Night, at Goblets & Goblins in Newmarket, On, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

Inside the fast-paced, obsessive world of Canada’s competitive speed puzzlers

At kitchen tables, bedroom desks and on the floor, they sit anxiously with their boxes, waiting for the signal. Inside, a 500-piece puzzle – and the chance to win the Canadian Jigsaw Puzzle Association’s virtual speed puzzle competition, and a $50 gift card to the online store Puzzles Canada.

The clock starts and suddenly the 40 competitors from Vancouver to Halifax open their puzzle boxes and dump out 500 jigsaw pieces. From sorting the puzzle by colour to isolating the border pieces, players employ different strategies.

For the past year, the Canadian Jigsaw Puzzle Association has organized monthly virtual competitions, attracting a wide swath of retirees, university students and families from across Canada, who all share one obsession – jigsaw puzzles.

Evening Update is written by Omair Quadri and Sierra Bein. 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.

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