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Happy Friday.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

‘Soft annexation’ of South Ossetia seen as part of Putin’s plan for Russia

In a move critics see as a step toward a “soft annexation” of more former Soviet lands, almost the entire population of South Ossetia – roughly 50,000 people – is expected to vote in Russia’s election Sunday, as though the territory was just another part of the Russian Federation, reports The Globe’s Mark MacKinnon from Vladikavkaz, Russia. While the West has focused its concern on Ukraine – where Putin has already annexed the Crimean Peninsula and backed separatist militias that have taken over chunks of the country’s southeast – Russia has made a series of quieter moves that open the door to absorbing South Ossetia, as well as Abkhazia, another breakaway region of Georgia.

Former South Africa president Jacob Zuma faces 16 charges

South African prosecutors have announced that they will purse a long-delayed corruption case against former president Jacob Zuma, ordering him to court to face 16 charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering, reports The Globe’s Geoffrey York from Johannesburg. Zuma is also accused of helping the controversial Gupta family to earn millions of dollars in inflated contracts from state-owned companies.

Dollar sinks to 76 cents, costing March breakers and snowbirds more

It’s expected to be 26 degrees and sunny in Orlando today. If you happen to be there for March break, enjoy it. Because you won’t enjoy the cost of dinner tonight. The Canadian dollar is near 76.5 U.S. cents today, driven lower by a stronger greenback and economic indicators at home. Thus, the buying power of a Canadian on vacation is that much less.

Britain treating death of Russian businessman Glushkov as murder

British police said on Friday they had launched a murder investigation after the death this week of a Russian associate of the late tycoon Boris Berezovsky. The police said in a statement that at this stage there was nothing to suggest a link between the death of businessman Nikolai Glushkov and the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4 or that poison was involved. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had made the decision to use a military-grade nerve toxin to strike down Sergei Skripal.

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MARKET WATCH

TSX ends on positive note as U.S. crude remains strong

Canada’s main stock index ended higher on Friday as strength in the price of U.S. crude oil helped drive up shares in energy companies. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 40.71 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 15,711.33. Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. The TSX posted nine new 52-week highs and five new lows. Across all Canadian issues there were 77 new 52-week highs and 21 new lows. South of the border, U.S. stocks rose, boosted by strong industrial output numbers though Wall Street’s three major indexes posted losses for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 72.91 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 24,946.57, the S&P 500 gained 4.51 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 2,751.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.25 point, or 0 per cent, to 7,481.99. For the week, the Dow lost 1.57 per cent, the S&P fell 1.04 per cent, and the Nasdaq shed 1.27 per cent.

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WHAT’S TRENDING

In Toronto, a house sells for $98,000 under the asking price

Done Deals: Take a look at this large, custom-built, detached home in a sought after school district in Toronto that sold for $98,800 under asking after spending 25 days on the market the second time it was listed.

TALKING POINTS

Social conservatives can thank immigrants for recent victories

“What our political elites have a hard time admitting is that diversity is not a one-way street toward harmonious living – what the French call le vivre-ensemble – but a multilane expressway of competing and often colliding values, norms and ideas. Nowhere has this become as apparent as in the emergence of social conservatism as a political force in Canada.” - Konrad Yakabuski

Russian spy poisoning: Has Putin has crossed the red line?

“The Kremlin may have not have anticipated the international reaction to this brazen murder attempt of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in Britain along with his daughter on March 4. In violating the 192-member Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans nerve agents, Russia has crossed a red line.” - Amy Knight

Has NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh gone far enough ?

“It was a cowardly and heinous crime, which makes it easy for anyone who aspires to be prime minister of a nation of laws to condemn automatically. Yet for months federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh entertained an artful ambiguity regarding blame for the bombing of Air India Flight 182, which claimed 329 lives on June 23, 1985, and stands as Canada’s deadliest act of terrorism. This week, Mr. Singh admitted the obvious and denounced both Mr. Parmar and the attack in the pages of this newspaper. The question now is, has he gone far enough?” - Globe Editorial

LIVING BETTER

Why it’s positive to be a positive person

What best describes your general outlook on life: positive or negative? Interestingly, being positive or negative requires the same amount of energy, but with two different outcomes that affect your mental health: intention and choice. A growing field called positive psychology is looking at how people can learn to become more positive and happy, promoting positive mental health as well as physical health by creating a healthy immune system.

LONG READS FOR THE WEEKEND

Genome part II: How genetic tests could make prescriptions more precise

Science still has a staggering amount to learn about the workings of human DNA. Yet the specific genes that shape a person’s response to drugs are a remarkable exception – they’re well understood. And now that unravelling DNA is not only possible, but commonplace, pinpointing the genes that affect drug reactions has become one of medicine’s hottest areas.

I would run 100 miles

The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra is billed as the world’s coldest and toughest ultramarathon. Why would I sign up for a 150-km winter trail race when I’ve never run further than 12K before? The race offered an opportunity, it seemed to me, to learn something fundamental about myself – to test myself physically, emotionally and mentally and come out the other side with a new understanding of how I react under pressure.

Evening Update is written by Globe and Mail editors and reporters. 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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