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

Ontario’s new projected deficit of $38.5-billion in 2021 is almost double the amount that was predicted in March, according to a new report released today. Provincial Finance Minister Rod Phillips has also declared that Ontario, and likely the rest of Canada, is now in a recession.

The Progressive Conservative government released its first-quarter financial report today, which included a revised $30-billion recovery plan, up from $17-billion announced in March. The province lost nearly 1.2 million jobs between February and May, which Phillips said was significantly larger than in previous recessions.

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Phillips also acknowledged that the restaurant, tourism and travel industries will be hardest-hit as Ontario prepares for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall. Despite the economic outlook, the Ontario government insists it is not looking to raise taxes.

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Women dressed in white clothes stand barefoot as they protest against police violence during recent rallies of opposition supporters, who accuse strongman Alexander Lukashenko of falsifying the polls in the Belarus presidential election, in Minsk on August 12, 2020.

SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of women rally in Belarus to protest election results, police crackdown

In response to a brutal police crackdown over the past week, hundreds of women formed human chains in Minsk to call for an end to the violence. Protestors have been on the streets since Sunday to challenge the re-election of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko won 80 per cent of the vote in an election that many Belarusians and international observers say was not legitimate.

What happened? The police response to the protest has been violent, and the women who took to the streets today were calling for an end to the heavy-handedness. Hesitant to use force against all-women protests, the police ended the rally without violence.

Some context: The protests are continuing even though the main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, left the country on Tuesday. Her aides said she made the choice under duress, as her husband, an opposition blogger, has been jailed since May as he had been planning to run for president.

Outcry in Somalia as parliament considers bill that would allow child marriage

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Somalians are expressing outrage over a proposed bill that could allow a child marriage once a girl’s sexual organs mature and could allow forced marriage if the family gives their consent.

Thousands of Somalians have signed a petition calling for the withdrawal of the new Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes Bill, which is currently under consideration in parliament.

The United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, said the bill would be a major setback in the fight against sexual violence, especially since it also weakens protections for victims. In Somalia, more than 45 per cent of girls are married or “in union” before 18.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Australia records its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic as cases rise: Hopes that a second wave in Australia was stabilizing are fading away, as the state of Victoria recorded 21 deaths and 410 new cases in the past 24 hours. City officials in Melbourne were prompted to impose a night curfew and tighten restrictions last week.

Gregory Rich, Grand Chief for the Innu Nation, said in a statement Tuesday that Canada’s child welfare system has had devastating consequences. The northern Labrador community was established five years ago when the residents, living in squalid conditions, moved from Davis Inlet. Rich lost his six children in a tragic house fire in the coastal community in the 1990s.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Innu Nation files human rights complaint over federal government’s child protection funding: The Innu Nation has filed a complaint against the federal government for giving Newfoundland and Labrador more money for its foster care system than it does on services to help families stay together. The suit follows a 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision that found the federal government’s unequal funding for child welfare services discriminated against children who live on reserves.

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Federal government says pandemic may delay Indigenous rights law: Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the Liberals are still committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but could not say whether they would keep a promise to do so by the end of 2020. Canada was one of four countries to vote against UNDRIP when it was proposed in 2007, and since coming into power Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it is one of his priorities to adopt the declaration, though he has not done so yet.

Sentencing hearing held for two police constables convicted in 2016 Halifax jail cell death: Sentencing will soon be announced for Halifax police constables Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, who have been found guilty of criminal negligence in the death of Corey Rogers. Rogers died of suffocation while lying in a narrow individual cell with a spit hood covering his mouth as he appeared to be vomiting while extremely intoxicated.

MARKET WATCH

The S&P 500 jumped on Wednesday but finished just short of its February record closing high, in a broad rally led by tech stocks.

The Nasdaq and Dow also rose sharply. The Nasdaq was the first of the three major indexes to bounce back to a historic high in June. The Dow remains below its February peak.

In Toronto, S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 78.27 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 16,575.28.

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The energy sector climbed 2 per cent as crude prices rose more than 2 per cent on Wednesday after government data showed U.S. oil inventories fell across the board, bolstering hopes that fuel demand in the world’s biggest economy will withstand the coronavirus pandemic.

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TALKING POINTS

Kamala Harris is Biden’s best bet. Will it pay off?

Debra Thompson: “A Black woman is running for vice-president of the United States, but as the former top prosecutor in California, she bears responsibility for many of the injustices that ignited the protests in the first place. A Black woman could be the vice-president, but it’s been five months since Breonna Taylor was murdered by plain-clothes police officers who barged, unannounced, into her home, and they have yet to be held accountable.”

LIVING BETTER

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Canadian actor Michael Greyeyes on ‘groundbreaking’ Indigenous focus of Rutherford Falls

The Peacock streaming service announced this week that Greyeyes is among the cast members in the coming series Rutherford Falls, which touts the largest Indigenous writing staff for an American TV show.

Ed Helms, Sierra Teller Ornelas and Mike Schur created the comedy, about a small town in upstate New York that borders a reserve.

TODAY’S LONG READ

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February, 2020, shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

HO/The Associated Press

How does COVID-19 affect the nervous system? Canadian and international scientists want to find out

Canadian and international scientists are joining forces to promote research into how COVID-19 affects the central nervous system, as they strive to understand whether and how the new coronavirus and other respiratory viruses could lead to lasting brain damage.

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The study of how viruses invade the brain receives relatively little attention, but the group of scientists brought together as part of a new initiative called VINEx are trying to shed more light on this subject.

Evening Update is written by Josie Kao. 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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