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Canada Evening Update: Senators pave the way for Kavanaugh confirmation; Nobel Peace Prize winners fight sexual violence as weapon of war

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Senators Collins, Manchin back Kavanaugh, paving way for confirmation

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Both Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin have announced they will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, paving the way for his confirmation.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Senate approved a procedural motion to end debate on his nomination. The final confirmation vote could take place as early as Saturday.

Today’s action comes after the FBI delivered an updated background check to the Senate on Justice Kavanaugh, accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexually assaulting her while the two were in high school.

Retired Canadian Supreme Court justices weighing in on the matter say the politically charged nomination hearings reflect badly on the impartiality of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Elizabeth Renzetti’s take: “The optics are not good. They are, in fact, really bad. Even if you accept that this is all theatre staged for the voters who will turn out in the November midterm elections, it seems likely that there will be a fair few rotten tomatoes thrown from the cheap seats.” (for subscribers)

Nobel Peace Prize marks fight against sexual violence as weapon of war

Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery, have won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. They were awarded the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

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Denise Balkissoon spoke with Ms. Murad last year. The UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, she was kidnapped by the Islamic State in 2014 in northern Iraq and became one of thousands of Yazidi women and girls sold as sex slaves.

Stephanie Nolen has chronicled the work of Dr. Mukwege, who repairs the injuries of the legions of women gang-raped as a war tactic: “He is a determinedly optimistic healer, a man who spends his day facing the worst of what humans do and yet still laughs often in a booming baritone.” Unfailingly modest, he also knows he is the most powerful advocate Congolese women have, she writes, and to the patients he treats, he is one step short of God.

Taking the temperature of Canada’s economy

The Canadian economy added 63,300 jobs in September, although all of them were part-time, cementing market expectations that the Bank of Canada would raise interest rates again later this month (for subscribers). Statistics Canada said the jobless rate had edged down to 5.9 per cent from 6 per cent in August. The BoC’s next rate announcement is set for Oct. 24.

Separately, Statscan reported Canada had a trade surplus of surplus of $526-million in August, its first in more than 18 months, as unusually timed shutdowns at auto plants helped cut imports at a greater rate than exports.

David Parkinson’s view: “But while the headline numbers in both reports were impressive and considerably better than forecasters had anticipated, the details painted a less rosy picture.”

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Weapons charge withdrawn against killer Paul Bernardo ahead of parole hearing

A minor weapons charge against notorious killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo was withdrawn today, almost two weeks before an expected parole hearing at which he’ll plead for release. As a dangerous offender, he became eligible for parole in February after serving 25 years behind bars, almost all of it in protective custody or solitary confinement.

The prosecution said there was no reasonable prospect of convicting him of having a “shank” in his maximum-security cell – a five-centimetre deck screw attached to a ballpoint pen his lawyer suggested was planted either by other inmates or guards.

PACE credit union placed under regulatory administration amid governance probe

A provincial regulator has taken control of PACE Savings & Credit Union Ltd. amid an investigation into governance issues, James Bradshaw writes. (for subscribers)

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The Deposit Insurance Corp. of Ontario has placed PACE “under administration," invoking a rare measure typically reserved for firms that are in serious financial or operational distress. Administration allows the credit union to continue functioning under the regulator’s watch to protect depositors. PACE’s two most senior executives – chief executive Phillip Smith, and his father, Larry Smith, the former CEO who now serves as president – have been placed on administrative leave.

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MARKET WATCH

Stock markets dipped around the world today after U.S. jobs numbers signaled a continued tightening of the labour market and increased inflation pressures, while Treasury yields rose to multiyear highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 180.43 points to 26,447.05, the S&P 500 lost 16.04 points to end at 2,885.57 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 91.06 points to 7,788.45.

Canada’s main stock index also fell despite gains in industrial and health care shares and strong jobs data. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 60.50 points at 15,946.17.

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WHAT’S TRENDING ON SOCIAL

B.C. is warning mushroom lovers not to forage in urban areas of Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island because death cap mushrooms have been identified in 100 locations in the area. The BC Centre for Disease Control has issued an advisory saying death caps, which are easily mistaken for other edible mushrooms, are the deadliest on the planet. The centre handled 30 mushroom exposure calls between June and August, but saw 16 in September alone as wet weather helped all types of mushrooms to flourish.

TALKING POINTS

If we learn from Europe, we can secure the Canada-U.S. border

“The European lesson suggests that suspending the Safe Third Country Agreement would not, as some Canadians say, create a rush to the border. Combined with better efficiency, promotion and openness in our work-visa system, and an emergency staffing program to slash refugee-claim delay times, it could be part of a program to shift people back to safer official entry points, reduce numbers and end a controversial problem.” - Doug Saunders

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The lessons women are asking men to learn

“We’ve heard a lot, in recent weeks, from men accused of assault by multiple women about their feelings of persecution and frustration. What are women – especially their victims – supposed to do with that, exactly? Forgive them? Absolve them? At this point, our best hope is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg lives forever.” - Samantha Nutt, author and physician

Quebec’s far left movement can no longer be ignored

“Québec solidaire finished fourth in the popular vote in this week’s provincial election. But the far-left party’s co-spokesperson Manon Massé, the openly gay social activist who energized young voters during the campaign, was entirely correct in declaring QS’s freshly elected 10-member caucus the “real official opposition” to a new Coalition Avenir Québec government.” - Konrad Yakabuski (for subscribers)

LIVING BETTER

The kitchen can be an intimidating place for newbie cooks, or when you’re just too busy to think of anything but the pizza joint on speed-dial. Set yourself up for cooking success by stocking your pantry with essential ingredients. Throw out ground spices more than nine months old – they lose their pungency (whole spices last about a year). Buy small quantities to reduce waste. Heat and light can destroy spices, so store in cupboards away from the stove. Whole spices are better quality, so invest in a spice grinder, Lucy Waverman advises. (for subscribers)

LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE

True crime is booming as entertainment. How do victims and families feel about that?

Entertainment based on true tales of crimes have been a quiet mainstay of popular culture for centuries. (Millennia, if you count Cain and Abel.) But now, fuelled by social media, shifting tastes and new technologies that enable almost anyone to become a podcaster, true crime may be the dominant genre of our time, Simon Houpt writes.

But behind those giddy thrills are gutting stories of psychological harm, of families and communities left irreparably shattered. Fans and those who produce true-crime content often speak about the care that is taken to ensure victims’ stories are told with respect; they will note that those left behind often find it therapeutic to think that the death of their loved one might spur a change in, say, law-enforcement practices or domestic-violence laws.

Yet it is also a fact that many families – known in the profession as secondary victims – are retraumatized when the stories of their loved ones are plucked from the case files without their consent, to become grist for the entertainment mill. And as the industry continues to expand, searching ever wider for the raw material to feed fans’ evidently insatiable hunger, it needs to grapple more forcefully with that black hole at its core: Harm as a byproduct of entertainment may be the true cost of true crime. (for subscribers)

Breaking bald, or how I coped with losing my hair

Recently I went bald. Not necessarily unusual given my age and sex, but generally when a man loses his hair, he sees it coming. Or going, as it were. It’s unsettling but at least time to prepare for the inevitable – to grieve, make arrangements, say goodbye.

Mine disappeared overnight. Okay, it might have been months but I didn’t actually see it happening. Sure there’s been some natural thinning since the lustrous 1990s but one morning I woke up to what could pass for a crop circle on the right side of my head; it was as if tiny loggers had clear-cut a section of old growth while I slept. - Graeme McRanor

Evening Update is written by S.R. Slobodian. 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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