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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Third Canadian detained in China is being held for working illegally, Beijing says

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This Facebook photo shows Sarah McIver, a Canadian detained in China. Facebook/Sarah McIver

Sarah McIver has been identified as the third Canadian detained in China this month. Beijing says the Albertan who had been teaching English in China is under “administrative punishment.”

The detentions follow the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited on fraud allegations related to sanctions against Iran. Ms. Meng has denied the accusations and is free on bail.

Ms. McIver’s detention does not appear to be further retaliation for Ms. Meng’s arrest, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday. Details obtained so far suggest this case is more of a routine matter, unlike the detentions for former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

Today, the Canadian government has joined its U.S. and British allies in calling out China for a state-sponsored hacking campaign to steal data from military service members, government agencies and private companies in the United States and nearly a dozen other countries.

Canada can reach Paris emissions target with faster adoption of electric cars, public transit: McKenna

Canada is still 79 million tonnes of greenhouse gases shy of hitting its existing promise to cut emissions. Environment and Climate Change Canada officials believe faster adoption of things like electric cars and better public transit will get Canada to that goal by the 2030 deadline set in the recent Paris climate agreement.

Canada is promising to cut current emissions nearly 200 million tonnes a year by 2030 but recent reports suggest it has to do almost twice that to do its part in curbing global warming. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Canada will increase its goals by 2020, as is required under the Paris agreement.

Toronto gets $7-million in federal funding to fight gun and gang violence

The federal government says it will give Toronto and its police force more than $7-million over the next five years to help fight an increase in gun violence in the city. Most of that will go toward community programs that address why young people turn to gangs. Police will receive $400,000 to help officers work with young people in eight neighbourhoods who are vulnerable to involvement in gangs and violence.

The news comes following a violent 48 hours in the city that left at least two dead and multiple people injured in gunfire. Toronto’s homocide tally for this year is up to 95, a month after it eclipsed its previous annual record of 89 killings. Fifty homicides this year have involved gunfire.

U.S. likely to end air war against Islamic State in Syria as allies raise concerns

The United States will likely end its air campaign against Islamic State in Syria when it pulls out troops, U.S. officials said today, sealing an abrupt reversal of policy that has alarmed Western allies as well as Washington’s Kurdish battle partners.

NATO allies France and Germany said Washington’s change of course on Syria risks damaging the fight against Islamic State. Some Republicans said the troop pullout also strengthened the hand of Russia and Iran in the country.

President Donald Trump’s announcement yesterday about the withdrawal of U.S. troops upended a central pillar of American policy in the Middle East. At home, some lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle urged him to reverse course.

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MARKET WATCH

U.S. stocks tumbled today as the Federal Reserve’s plan to continue its balance-sheet reduction and the threat of a partial government shutdown fueled investor anxieties (for subscribers). The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 464.06 points to 22,859.60, the S&P 500 lost 39.54 points to 2,467.42 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 108.42 points to 6,528.41. The S&P/TSX composite index hit a two-and-a-half year low, closing down 122.29 points to 14,141.77.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Drones flying near London’s Gatwick airport grounded flights throughout today, stranding thousands of Christmas travellers in what the government called a reckless attempt to cripple Britain’s second busiest airport.

A New York state judge today denied Harvey Weinstein’s motion to dismiss criminal charges that he sexually assaulted two women, rejecting the movie producer’s argument that the case was tainted by police and prosecutorial misconduct (for subscribers).

Tim Morgan, a former WestJet executive, says he plans to relaunch his Enerjet charter airline as a low-cost carrier by late next year, joining a growing list of no-frills fleets competing for Canadians’ travel dollars (for subscribers).

A user of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in Germany got access to more than a thousand recordings from another user because of “a human error” by the company.

New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon took to social media today to say he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health (for subscribers).

TALKING POINTS

Are you oppressed by Christmas? Blame the patriarchy!

“Why, after 40 years of feminism, has so little changed? The feminist explanation is that patriarchal oppression extends its stranglehold down through the generations. My explanation is that too many women are masochistic perfectionists. The Christmas juggernaut isn’t spread by men. It’s spread by women’s publications and by Pinterest, which bedazzle you with images of Stepford wives dressed in hand-knit reindeer sweaters decorating cunning little Christmas cookies.” - Margaret Wente

Forget saving Ethiopians – let’s learn from them

“Our popular imagination is trapped in a time warp where Do They Know It’s Christmas? still gets radio airplay. ... Back then, Ethiopia was a formerly flourishing country caught in a murderous political interlude that led Westerners to see it as a permanent charity case – a misleading image that afflicted much of Africa. In 2018, Ethiopia became something else entirely – an example of hope and transformation.” - Doug Saunders (for subscribers)

Doug Ford’s PCs believe in free speech – and those who don’t like it can shut up

“Many rights and freedoms are often in conflict, and at some point, someone has to decide who and what gets priority at any given time. On campus, that should be a community decision, an ever-evolving conversation that always involves faculty and students. Instead, administrators have handed over that power to a clearly ideological government, one whose actions speak louder than words when it comes to free speech.” - Denise Balkissoon

LIVING BETTER

If the last-minute gift shopping panic is starting to set in, here are some suggestions for the gym lover in your life. Consider a pair of minimalist shoes: Traditional running shoes elevate the heel with a thick layer, which is great for the road, but not the weight room where you need to plant your feet on a firm, stable surface to generate maximum power. Not all gym gadgets are junk: With the Stealth Core Trainer, users download the gaming app to their smartphones, assume a plank position on top of the balance board, then game their way to a six pack. Don’t forget a cerebral workout: Part instructional guide, part historical encyclopedia, The Purposeful Primitive is a contemporary classic of weightlifting literature.

LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE

The 10 best theatre productions of 2018: Toronto, Stratford and Shaw

I don’t imagine I’ll ever forget the past year in theatre, J. Kelly Nestruck writes. It began, after all, with the #MeToo movement hitting Toronto theatre hard in the form of four civil suits filed against Soulpepper and its founding artistic director on Jan. 3.

I’m hopeful that what happened over the ensuing 12 months will change theatre and theatre training for the better across the country – and I’m rooting for a new year in which I can spend more time writing about on-stage successes than behind-the-scenes failures.

Sometimes, compiling a year-end list feels like a chore. This year it was therapeutic, reminding me that the show went on (at Soulpepper, and elsewhere) and there was a lot of great theatre to be found in tumultuous times (for subscribers).

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The Stratford Festival's production of Coriolanus.David Hou

Leafs’ Matthews, Marner kick off home stretch with a little showbiz

The NHL schedule shows the Toronto Maple Leafs begin a long home-stand tonight against the Florida Panthers, David Shoalts writes. But it really started last night when forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner took to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts stage in the National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker.

Teammates were expecting their turns as Cannon Dolls to provide enough comedy material for them to get their run of seven of their next eight games at home off to a lighthearted start. “I think they’ll be outstanding,” head coach Mike Babcock said. “So they’ll have a good laugh. And then we’ll have a good laugh at it.”

The appearance by Mr. Matthews and Mr. Marner is part of the National Ballet’s tradition of having a couple of celebrities play the roles of the Cannon Dolls, who are dressed as Russian Petrushka dolls and help shoot a cannon. While there can be some dancing with the role, it seems to depend on the nerve of the celebrity.

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Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews, right, and Mitch Marner appear as Cannon Dolls in a production of The Nutcracke.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

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