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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says deploying the military to the streets of Ottawa to help resolve the ongoing demonstrations is “not in the cards” but that the federal government will look at any formal requests that come from the city or province.

Trudeau also made it clear that there will be no changes to federally regulated vaccine requirements, and that he won’t be negotiating with protesters.

Meanwhile the protest enters its seventh day with demonstrators demanding an end to pandemic restrictions and refusing to leave Ottawa until their demands are met. Trucks continue to line streets and clog intersections. And residents say they feel unsafe and like they have been taken hostage in their own city.

Read more:

A person hold a sign as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada February 3, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick DoylePATRICK DOYLE/Reuters

Islamic State leader kills himself during Syria raid, U.S. officials say

The suicide bomb detonated by Islamic State’s leader when American forces closed in on him in Syria was so powerful that it blew the bodies of people who were inside the building into the surrounding neighbourhood, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The officials, providing details of the mission targeting Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi in a village on Syria’s border with Turkey, blamed the militant group for all civilian casualties in the operation while declining to offer an estimate on the number of those killed.

The officials said the operation was in the works since early December. Quraishi’s death marked another setback for a group that has been waging insurgent attacks in Iraq and Syria.

What does the Beijing Olympics’ machine-made snow tell us about climate change and the future of winter sports?

There’s something about this Winter Olympics that sets it apart from all others: Basically none of the snow fell from the sky.

In a way, it came from below, made with water from reservoirs that supply about 400 automated snowmaking machines. By the end of the Games, approximately 2.5 million cubic metres of machine-made snow will cover the ski and snowboarding venues.

Previous Winter Games have made use of snowmaking machines, known as snow guns or snow cannons, beginning with Lake Placid in 1980. But this year’s competition in Northern China will make history as the first to feature virtually 100-per-cent machine-made snow.

Read more Olympics coverage:

Follow all The Globe and Mail’s 2022 Beijing Olympics coverage here.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

RCMP union fighting plans to replace Mounties in Alberta and B.C.: The RCMP is facing questions about whether it should retreat from policing some municipal and provincial jurisdictions, but the union that represents the rank and file says there is a clear case for the Mounties to stay put.

Toronto’s average home price hits record $1.3-million: Toronto’s average home price set another record in January, nearing $1.3-million and marking the sharpest monthly price increase since 2017. But the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board expects price growth to slow this year as the Bank of Canada gets set to hike interest rates and raise the cost of borrowing.

NATO chief concerned about continued Russian troop buildup: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern today that Russia is continuing its military buildup around Ukraine, and that it has now deployed more troops and military equipment to Belarus than at any time in 30 years.

Canadian military cuts dozens of unvaccinated troops: The Department of National Defence says dozens of Canadian Armed Forces members who refused to get vaccinated have now been kicked out of the military. Release proceedings have started for hundreds of others facing the same fate, unless they roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 shot.

Facebook owner faces historic drop as stock tanks: Shares in Facebook parent company Meta plummeted more than 26 per cent today, erasing more than $200-billion of the company’s overall value. The social media giant reported a rare decline in profit due to a sharp increase in expenses as it invests heavily in its transformation into a virtual reality-based company.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index fell for the first time in five sessions as technology stocks slid after Facebook-owner Meta Platforms’ weak forecast sent its stock plunging. The S&P/TSX composite index was down 1.26 per cent to 21,094.01.

Wall Street snapped a four-session winning streak with all three benchmarks closing lower. The S&P 500 lost 2.45 per cent to end at 4,477.30 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 3.74 per cent to 13,889.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.49 per cent to 35,110.37.

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TALKING POINTS

Transition to EVs could be only hope for Canada’s shrinking auto industry

“The recent retooling of GM’s Oshawa, Ont., plant to produce gasoline-powered Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras to meet North America’s seemingly insatiable demand for pickups will help boost Canadian production this year. But the future of Canada’s auto industry will mostly hinge on how successfully it manages the transition to electric vehicles. So far, things are not looking great.” – Konrad Yakabuski

LIVING BETTER

Mortgages 101: Everything you need to know about mortgages

Selecting a mortgage is one of the biggest – and most stressful – financial decision made by many Canadians. But a clear understanding of a few basic terms and concepts can help allay some the anxiety. Here’s a primer on the basics of mortgages, along with insights into the current market.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Respiratory therapist Mehul Delvada, back centre, and health-care workers prone a ventilated COVID-19 patient who’s also an unvaccinated nurse in the intensive care unit at the Humber River Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteNathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Uptake of COVID-19 vaccine boosters slows in Canada despite Omicron’s risks, Globe analysis finds

Canada’s COVID-19 booster drive is slowing despite mounting evidence that an additional vaccine dose is needed to maintain strong protection from severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, according to a Globe and Mail analysis of uptake across the country.

While the dominant Omicron variant has been shown to cause less severe disease than the Delta variant before it, its hyper-transmissibility has walloped Canada’s health care system, pushing the daily national patient count above 11,000 for the first time in January. Three large studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscore the importance of boosters in preventing severe illness from Omicron and future variants, but as of Monday, only 41 per cent of Canadians had received an additional dose.

Evening Update is written by Omair Quadri. 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.