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

13th vote and counting on the U.S. House speaker race

Developing story: Republican Kevin McCarthy managed to flip more than a dozen hardliners to vote for him as House Speaker. It was a major sign of progress for the embattled leader on the fourth day and 12th ballot of a grueling standoff - but not enough to end the drama that is testing American democracy. A 13th round also failed to deliver the necessary 218 votes. The House is adjourned until 10 p.m. ET and then will take another vote.

The scene is playing out on the second anniversary of another divisive chapter in U.S. politics: the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. President Joe Biden marked the occasion with an award ceremony for those who battled against attackers he said were “fueled by lies” about the 2020 presidential election.

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Shells fly at Ukraine front despite Russia’s claimed Christmas ceasefire

Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged artillery fire at the front line in Ukraine today, even after Moscow said it had ordered its troops to stop shooting for a unilateral truce that was firmly rejected by Kyiv.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the 36-hour ceasefire from midday on Friday to observe Orthodox Christmas. Kyiv has said it has no intention to stop fighting, rejecting the purported truce as a stunt by Moscow to buy time to reinforce troops that have taken heavy losses this week.

Hot jobs markets in Canada and the U.S. in December

Canadian employers went on a hiring binge to end 2022, the latest sign of a hot economy that could push the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates again on Jan. 25.

The economy added 104,000 jobs in December, far more than the 5,000 that financial analysts were expecting, Statistics Canada reports. As a result, the unemployment rate dropped to 5 per cent from 5.1 per cent.

Also today, the United States reported that it added 223,000 positions in December. Job creation there has been slowing after some outsized gains throughout 2022.

Read more: “Spectacular” jobs report has economists and credit markets shifting views on the Bank of Canada’s next moves.

“The brink of famine”: Drought puts an entire generation of Somalians at risk

Five consecutive rainy seasons have failed to arrive in Somalia, prolonging its worst drought in more than 40 years, and forecasts suggest that a sixth rainy season is likely to fail in the next several months, meaning that the country will endure three full years of drought. Soaring food prices, climate change and continuing clashes with Islamist insurgents are compounding the disaster.

By April, the number of Somalis facing acute food shortages is projected to climb to 8.3 million – about half of the country’s population – from about six million this month. More than a million people have abandoned their homes because of the drought, migrating to cities such as Baidoa and Mogadishu in search of help.

Anisu Ebow is held by her mother, Hanu Ibrahim, at a centre in Dolow, Somalia, run by Trocaire, an aid organization helping Somalis manage through a devastating famine.GORAN TOMASEVIC/The Globe and Mail


Canadians barricaded in Mexico: Canadian tourists in Mexico remained barricaded in their hotel today, a day after Ottawa advised them to limit their movements and shelter in place amid violence in the streets after the arrest of a major alleged drug cartel leader. “They’re safe in their hotel,” said Tina Dahl, an Edmonton woman with relatives stranded in the popular resort town of Mazatlan.

Damar Hamlin breathing on his own: The Buffalo Bills safety is also able to talk after his breathing tube was removed, his agent said today – the latest step in his remarkable recovery in the four days since going into cardiac arrest and being resuscitated on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He even joined the team meeting on Friday morning via video conference and and told them “love you boys.”

B.C. to reactivate COVID-19 centres: The British Columbia government plans to reopen Monday 20 hospital emergency operations centres set up for COVID-19 to deal with an expected surge in flu, respiratory illness and COVID cases.

U.S. okays Alzheimer’s drug: U.S. health officials have approved a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug, Leqembi, that modestly slows the brain-robbing disease, albeit with potential safety risks that patients and their doctors will have to carefully weigh.


Major North American stock indexes closed sharply higher today on news that while U.S. payrolls expanded more than expected, wage increases slowed and services activity contracted, easing worries about the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hiking path. The Canadian benchmark stock index had its best day in nearly two months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 700.53 points or 2.13 per cent to 33,630.61, the S&P 500 gained 86.98 points or 2.28 per cent to 3,895.08, and the Nasdaq Composite added 264.05 points or 2.56 per cent to end at 10,569.29.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index advanced 307.67 points or 1.58 per cent to 19,817.51. The loonie traded at 74.37 U.S. cents.

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Connor Bedard has lived up to the hype and is the NHL’s next big thing

“It is fairer to say that Connor Bedard is the best player in his cohort of teenagers. It’ll be 10, 15 years until we have any sense of where he stands among a generation.” - Cathal Kelly

Related: Canada beats Czechia in overtime to repeat as world junior champions

We cracked the happiness code. Why are humans still a mess?

“Personally, I’d welcome a revamp of society, of politics, and of me, a frowning fellow who’d hide in a cupboard rather than join a singalong of If You’re Happy and You Know It. To date, my formula for life could be summarized as tea, books and wallowing. I can’t entirely recommend it.” - Tom Rachman


Treat yourself to stunning images of an often unseen world with the winners of the Close-up Photographer of the Year 04 contest. They include Canadian photographer Samantha Stephens for her image, “Northern Pitcher Plant.”

Samantha Stephens/CUPOTY


Fewer meetings and no more ‘pineapple on pizza debates’: Shopify changes signal company’s renewed urgency

Shopify has made a flurry of strategic changes to kick off the new year, as the Ottawa-based e-commerce company strives to exit a slump that sharply diminished its stock price and led to a slashing of its global work force.

This week, employees returned after winter break to find smaller teams with tighter roles, and new rules in place. The internal changes include indefinitely barring any meetings of three or more people, according to company memos and e-mails. The company now forbids all meetings from being scheduled on Wednesdays, the memos say. Thursdays will be the only day staff will be allowed to hold big meetings or events.

Shopify is also reducing its use of instant-messaging program Slack. In an e-mail, COO Kaz Nejatian described Slack as “bloated, noisy and distracting.”

“We have endless channel updates mixed with broad announcements and pineapple on pizza debates.” he said in an e-mail to staff this week. He added that if the new changes “feel chaotic” for Shopify employees, it “is kind of the point.” Read Temur Durrani’s full story.

Opinion: Endless meetings are corporate hell – Shopify was right to gut them - Rob Csernyik

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