Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The Ghosn saga: Lebanon has received an arrest warrant as Turkey questions pilots
The arrest warrant from Interpol is just the latest development in the escape of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn from Japan – but he’s not expected to be extradited from Lebanon.
Turkey, meanwhile, detained seven people as part of its own investigation as flight tracking data shows Ghosn appeared to switch planes in Turkey en route to Beirut.
Sources close to Ghosn say he decided to flee Japan after learning one of his trials on charges of financial crimes would be delayed until April, 2021. He also reportedly expressed frustration about bail conditions that prevented him from seeing or speaking to his wife.
Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, has investments in the banking and real-estate sectors in Lebanon.
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Alberta has reported its first severe vaping-related illness as the U.S. announces a partial ban
The Alberta case brings the total number of vaping-linked lung illnesses in Canada to 15. The patient in question has received treatment and is recovering at home.
Pressure is growing on provinces and Ottawa to address teen vaping as U.S. health authorities reveal the number of deaths linked to vaping-related illness has reached 55, along with more than 2,500 hospitalizations. (Go here to learn about the crisis and the health risks of vaping.)
The Trump administration has announced it will ban most flavoured e-cigarettes popular with teens, including candy and fruit varieties. Menthol and tobacco-flavoured products will remain on the market.
Australia’s Prime Minister is facing criticism over his response to raging wildfires
Scott Morrison was confronted by angry residents who cursed and insulted him on a visit to a region of Australia that’s been hit hard by ongoing fires. Residents took aim at what they said was a lack of equipment to deal with the fires that have claimed eight lives in the country so far this week.
Temperatures are forecast to surpass 40 degrees celsius on the south coast this weekend, raising fears of renewed blazes on top of the 200 currently raging.
Tens of thousands of people fled seaside towns on the east coast today amid high winds, with military ships and helicopters sent to rescue those who were trapped.
Australian writer Jessica Friedmann says the fires are “the product of years of deliberate neglect, of the prioritization of coal and gas export markets over the lives of people and animals and forests.”
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University of Regina won’t cancel poet George Elliott Clarke’s talk: Some have criticized the celebrated poet over his working relationship with a convicted killer of an Indigenous woman. The university said it was unaware of Clarke’s relationship when it invited him, but said it would be against its principles to cancel the lecture.
Julian Castro drops out of Democratic race: The exit of the former U.S. housing secretary leaves 14 candidates competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The first state primary is just one month away.
Bombardier lands China contract: The Montreal-based company says its joint venture in China has won a US$427-million contract to build train cars for a massive high-speed rail network.
Israel’s top court postpones ruling on Netanyahu: The Israeli Prime Minister will be able to return to his post and run in March elections despite facing criminal charges. A three-judge panel delayed a decision until after the vote on the issue of whether an indicted member of parliament can form government.
News that China’s central bank was freeing another 800-billion yuan (US$115-billion) to prop up a slowing economy added to the outlook for economic growth, which has been fueled by easing U.S.-Sino trade tensions.
Canada’s main stock index inched higher in the first day of trading in 2020 while U.S. markets again set record highs to start the year. The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 36.52 points at 17,099.95.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 330.36 points at 28,868.80. The S&P 500 index was up 27.07 points at 3,257.85, while the Nasdaq composite was up 119.58 points at 9,092.19.
Wondering how the Canadian dollar fared against other currencies in 2019? Our chart shows it was a rebound year, with 132 currencies declining in value relative to the loonie.
Canada can rally world’s democracies to end China’s hostage diplomacy
Luke Patey: “To build a coalition against China’s hostage diplomacy, we must recognize that the world’s democracies are far from helpless. China is more susceptible to outside pressure than is commonly understood, with its leaders often prioritizing strategic and economic interests above their political demands of foreign governments.” Luke Patey is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, in Copenhagen.
NEW YEAR READS
The mall that Christmas forgot: Retail spaces built for Calgary’s last boom now lie mostly empty
Dreamed up during Calgary’s past economic boom, the $200-million New Horizon Mall promised to be a new beacon for shopping alongside the province’s busiest highway. Instead, nearly 80 per cent of the shop spaces in the bazaar-style centre remain empty, and shopkeepers don’t bother keeping regular business hours any more.
The 2020 Golden Globes: Who will win – and who should win
The Golden Globes may be considered out of touch and irrelevant by many critics, but the show continues to retain its position as the official kickoff to Oscar season. With that in mind, Barry Hertz offers his predictions for the Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Director categories.