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Canada Evening Update: The latest on Trudeau and the SNC-Lavalin affair; Israel bars visit by U.S. congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

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

The latest on Trudeau and the SNC-Lavalin affair

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is repeating what’s sure to be his go-to election campaign message on the SNC-Lavalin affair: He’s not about to apologize for what he calls standing up for Canadian jobs, communities and citizens.

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During an event in Fredericton this morning, he reiterated that he accepts the damning report from federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion released yesterday and takes full responsibility for what happened.

But apologize is what Jane Philpott says he should do. The independent MP – who quit the Liberal cabinet in March in a show of solidarity with former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and was kicked out of caucus a month later – says Trudeau needs to apologize not for how he treated the two women, but for violating the Conflict of Interest Act.

Meanwhile, Conservative and New Democrat MPs are requesting a briefing from Dion at an urgent meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee.

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Israel bars visit by U.S. congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

Israel says that it will bar two U.S. Democratic congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from entering the country ahead of a planned visit over their support for a Palestinian-led boycott movement.

U.S. President Donald Trump had earlier urged Israel not to allow the visit by Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. They are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is “open to critics and criticism,” except for those who advocate boycotts against it.

Omar denounced the decision as “an affront” and “an insult to democratic values.”

China will not ‘sit on its hands’ if Hong Kong protests intensify, ambassador says

China will use its power to quell Hong Kong protests if the situation deteriorates further after some protesters have shown signs of terrorism, China’s ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming told reporters today.

“Should the situation in Hong Kong deteriorate further … the central government will not sit on its hands and watch,” he said. “... We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of [the] Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly.”

His comments come as hundreds of China’s People’s Armed Police conducted exercises at a sports stadium in Shenzhen. The U.S. State Department has expressed concern that they could be deployed across the border in Hong Kong to break up protests wracking the city.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Epstein’s autopsy reportedly finds neck was broken in several places: An autopsy of the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, found his neck had been broken in several places, according to two law enforcement sources. Such injuries can occur to people who hang themselves or who are strangled.

July sets global heat record: July was the hottest month measured on Earth since records began in 1880, the latest in a long line of peaks that scientists say backs up predictions for man-made climate change.

U.S. Rep. King defends call for abortion ban: U.S. Representative Steve King has defended his call for a ban on all abortions by questioning whether there would be “any population of the world left” if not for births due to rape and incest.

Berkshire Hathaway boosts Amazon stake: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway says it boosted its stake in Amazon 11 per cent during the second quarter, while billionaire William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management revealed a US$749-million stake in Berkshire.

Dozens of new GO train trips: Metrolinx says it is adding 84 weekly GO train trips in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area to increase rush-hour, midday and evening availability.

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MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index hit a five-month low today, as the inversion of the country’s yield curve by the most in nearly two decades raised fears of a looming recession, adding to worries over slowing global growth. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 33.41 points at 16,012.53.

Wall Street stock were mixed after choppy trading, as concerns about global growth offset investor optimism over a surge in U.S. retail sales last month and strong Walmart earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 99.97 points to 25,579.39, the S&P 500 gained 7.00 points to end at 2,847.60 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.32 points to 7,776.62.

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TALKING POINTS

Putin’s bragging, combined with public embarrassment, makes for a dangerous Russia

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“Of course, nuclear weapons are a mug’s game, since everyone loses if they are used. ... Only generals, politicians and arms manufacturers pretend that a nuclear war could ever be won.” - Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia

On nuclear protection, Japan gets a wake-up call from Trump

“Mr. Trump’s position not only emboldens [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] but also gives him virtually a free hand in developing and testing short-range missiles that can potentially deliver nuclear warheads.” - Brahma Chellaney, geostrategist and author

Germany’s economy is in trouble. That’s bad news for everyone

“This slump speaks – loudly – to just how bad the slump in world exports is becoming. Not only is the U.S.-China trade war no longer a ‘what if’ in terms of its massive impact on global trade activity, but its effects are spreading in a highly interconnected global economy.” - David Parkinson

LIVING BETTER

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Start your weekend planning early with The Globe’s guide to every feature film arriving this weekend, from would-be blockbusters to under-the-radar indies. This week’s fare includes the poignant Mine 9, the formlessly entertaining The Angry Birds Movie 2 and the sloppy Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

‘Like a punch in the gut’: Scientists find micro plastic in remote Arctic ice

Tiny pieces of plastic have been found in ice cores drilled in the Arctic by a U.S.-led team of scientists, underscoring the threat the growing form of pollution poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.

The researchers used a helicopter to land on ice floes and retrieve the samples during an 18-day icebreaker expedition through the Northwest Passage, the hazardous route linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

“We had spent weeks looking out at what looks so much like pristine white sea ice floating out on the ocean,” said Jacob Strock, a graduate student researcher at the University of Rhode Island, who conducted an initial on-board analysis of the cores.

“When we look at it up close and we see that it’s all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools – it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut,” he said. Read the full story here.

Microplastic found in ice core samples taken from the Northwest Passage is shown on a screen. (Photo handout/Reuters)

HANDOUT/Reuters

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