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Good evening, I’m S.R. Slobodian and here’s your update:


The latest on the U.S. bomb scares

Former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden and Robert De Niro, actor and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, have joined the list of those targeted to receive pipe bombs. This morning, police removed a suspicious package from a Manhattan building associated with Mr. De Niro. Investigators also seized two packages in Delaware addressed to Mr. Biden. The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed the packages were similar to others sent to former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and CNN offices, among others.

New reports today suggest the investigation is focusing on Florida, and now it is believed that all the packages went through the U.S. postal system. No one has claimed responsibility for the attempted attacks, and authorities have not identified any suspects.

The actions, which people across the political spectrum condemned as terrorism, come at a time of heightened political rancour before midterm elections on Nov. 6, leading to calls for Mr. Trump to curb his own often-violent rhetoric.

Changing story again, Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi’s killing was ‘premeditated’

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said today that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate was premeditated, reversing previous official statements that the killing was unintended. The death of Mr. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sparked global outrage.

The Saudi disclosure came after CIA director Gina Haspel heard an audio recording of the killing during a fact-finding visit to Turkey this week. It was the first indication Ankara has shared its key investigative evidence. She was due to brief U.S. President Donald Trump today.

Prime Minsister Justin Trudeau said today that suspending the federal permits that allow the export of a massive sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia would be a way to put pressure on Riyadh to offer more details on what really happened to Mr. Khashoggi, Steven Chase writes. At the same time, he is still resisting calls to outright cancel the $15-billion sale of weaponized light armoured vehicles, a contract he has previously said carried a kill fee of $1-billion.

Ending the arms deal would be an ineffective punishment, argues David Chatterson, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia. “If we truly want to have an impact, advance Canada’s interests and help the Saudi people change the behaviour of their rulers, and help other oppressed people suffering under authoritarian rule, we should lead a concerted and sustained effort to support and promote a free and vibrant press worldwide, and to track, publicize and condemn attacks on the press wherever they occur.”

Ontario will require student teachers to pass basic math test before being licensed

Ontario will require all student teachers to pass a basic math test before getting their teaching licence, according to legislative changes being proposed by the province’s Progressive Conservative government, Caroline Alphonso writes. Education Minister Lisa Thompson says the government would work with the Ontario College of Teachers to develop details of the regulation.

The move by the Ontario government to test teacher candidates runs contrary to a recommendation by those in the math community, who say an arithmetic course in university would be more beneficial.

Math has become a flashpoint in many parts of the country as falling test scores have ignited debate about how the subject is being taught in schools. Several math professors and parents say provincial curriculums fail to teach the basics, and instead encourage problem-solving and expressing ideas in a variety of ways. But experts and politicians are also looking at teachers' math skills and training.

Can you pass Ontario’s Grade 6 math test? Take the quiz.

Red flags raised as Ontario reinstates doctor’s note requirement for sick workers

The Ontario government’s proposal to reinstate the doctor’s note requirement for staff who call in sick is welcome news to many employers, but critics say the policy overburdens the medical system and spreads illness.

The proposed legislation, which could become law as early as next month, says employers “have the right to require evidence of entitlement to the leave” from a health professional. Under current law, they can’t ask employees to provide a medical note.

Many in the medical community argue that requiring employees visit a doctor to get a note puts additional strain on the health-care system. Some business owners are concerned employees will abuse the system if workers don’t have to get a medical note as proof of why they were off work.

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Canada’s main stock index rose slightly today as better corporate earnings helped the market recover from the biggest one-day decline in three years yesterday. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index unofficially finished up 14.95 points at 14,924.08.

U.S. stocks followed Europe higher as investors ventured into risky bets again with some encouragement from earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 401.13 points to 24,984.55, the S&P 500 gained 49.47 points to 2,705.57 and the Nasdaq Composite added 209.94 points to 7,318.34.

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Megyn Kelly was absent from her NBC News morning show this morning following this week’s controversy over her comments about blackface, amid indications her time at the network could be ending after less than two years. An NBC spokeswoman said that “given the circumstances,” the network was airing repeats of Megyn Kelly Today today and tomorrow. During a segment about Halloween costumes on Tuesday, Kelly defended the use of blackface while discussing a character on Real Housewives of New York City, saying it was acceptable when she was a kid when portraying a character. Social media condemnation was swift, and she opened yesterday’s show by saying she was wrong and sorry for what she said.


Kids are learning something useful: how to fight useless school dress codes

“If you tell a child who hasn’t even reached puberty that a flash of her stomach or thigh is immodest and deserving of punishment, then you’re telling her that her body will forever be the site of unwanted attention, and it’s her job to repel it. It is a toxic seed to plant in a child’s mind, and it blooms decades later in a society that continues to blame women for ‘attracting’ the abuses perpetrated on them.” - Elizabeth Renzetti (for subscribers)

Read more: Ontario high-school incident highlights dress code tensions in the age of #MeToo

Instant mortgages are coming soon – what could go wrong?

“The devil is in the details. Online credit applications are inherently risky because banks have a harder time verifying an applicant’s identity. Hacks of companies such as Equifax Canada, which handle confidential customer data, should also give us pause. To get up and running quickly, many banks partner with outside technology firms to enable real-time credit assessments and other online services. The trouble is those firms are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as banks.” - Rita Trichur (for subscribers)

Is Bill Maher the last sane man on American talk TV?

“Maher doesn’t get enough credit or attention for what he does on his show. It’s live, lively, serious-minded and unique. He’s funny, an iconoclast and, often, startlingly correct about politics.” - John Doyle


Homeowners, if yesterday’s Bank of Canada rate hike - and big banks following suit - has you reconsidering your mortgage financing, Robert McLister has this advice: You don’t throw out a good strategy because of five rate hikes in 15 months. Shrewd borrowers have chosen variable-rate mortgages for years. Here’s the key to maximizing success in a variable. You must be well qualified, and you must shop rates aggressively. Settling for an average rate can be the difference between winning or losing in any rate you pick.


Inside the charity network that has helped wealthy donors get big tax breaks – and their donations back

Wealthy business people used a little-known charitable foundation to shelter multimillion-dollar assets and save a fortune in taxes – until federal tax authorities shut it down this year, citing “serious” illegal activity, Kathy Tomlinson writes. (for subscribers)

Most Canadians have never heard of Theanon Foundation – short for “The Anonymous” – because it stayed under the radar. In specific cases going back a decade, the Vancouver-based charitable foundation “merely acted as a conduit” to provide tax relief to its donors, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Federal charity law dictates that public foundations such as Theanon are supposed to bring in donations solely to fund charities, while registered charities are supposed to spend money doing good works. Theanon doled out about $80-million in tax receipts to donors before it was stopped, but the bulk of that wealth did not go to working charities.

The Notorious PKP: How Pierre Karl Péladeau is doubling down on fortress Quebec

Over the summer, a fresh chapter of independence opened up for Quebecor when it bought back the remaining 18-per-cent stake in its Quebecor Media subsidiary from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for $1.7-billion, Nicolas Van Praet writes. (for subscribers) The question is: Now that Pierre Karl Péladeau is once again in sole control of Quebecor, what’s next?

If you thought there would be a master plan to take him into retirement, a blueprint for the next generation, you’d be wrong. ''There is no such huge and big plan – the plan of the universe or the plan of the century,'' Mr. Péladeau says.

No one at Quebecor seems particularly bothered by the absence of a grand multiyear scheme. With Mr. Péladeau, the company’s controlling shareholder, in charge, there’s a ''stronger, more definitional leadership'' at the helm, says company chairman Brian Mulroney, adding that no one understands Quebecor’s market better.

Forget about taking on the rest of Canada, as Mr. Péladeau once seemed determined to do. Now, he’s doubling down on fortress Quebec. Because if he can’t rule his home province as leader of the Parti Québécois, maybe he can rule it through Quebecor instead.

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