Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The United States has promised to give Russia a written reply to its security demands next week, a document that may well determine whether President Vladimir Putin decides to order an invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously said the U.S. would not provide a written answer to Moscow’s demands, which the Kremlin published last month. Among other things, Russia is seeking a guarantee that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The concession came after a 90-minute meeting Friday in Geneva between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But Blinken suggested that putting Washington’s position to paper would not involve any surprises. He said the U.S. and its allies remain firm in their opposition to giving Moscow any kind of veto over who joins NATO.
Next up might be another meeting between Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden. The two met in June, also in Geneva, after Russia built up an invasion-sized force around Ukraine, only to have Putin pull some of the troops back after securing the summit.
Meanwhile, Canada is lending Ukraine up to $120-million as it readies for possible war with Russia.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced the loan Friday, signalled there will be more support to come as the Liberal government toughens its tone on the threat of Russian invasion and mulls more soldier training and defensive military gear for Ukraine.
“Canada has been and will continue to be a friend and ally of Ukraine and we will continue to be there to support them and ensure Ukrainian people get to determine their future – not Vladimir Putin,” he said.
Trudeau said the loan is intended to help “support Ukraine’s economic resilience. He said money will help Ukraine weather efforts by Moscow to damage its neighbour through “economic destabilization.”
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How elders from Nunavut end up in long-term care thousands of kilometres from home
The Government of Nunavut has for years transferred seniors who need round-the-clock care to a retirement home in Ottawa, a former hotel called Embassy West Senior Living that specializes in treating dementia patients. The transfers take place because Nunavut does not have enough long-term care beds overall, and because there is no secure ward for high-needs dementia patients anywhere in the territory.
The people of Kimmirut and other Nunavut communities say that practice must end. Many Inuit are asking the territorial government to open at least a few elder-care beds in each of Nunavut’s 25 communities, all of which are accessible only by plane or boat.
Elders such as Joe Arlooktoo, once an accomplished carver and a member of the Northwest Territories legislature before Nunavut’s founding, should not have to leave the North to receive long-term care, they say. “It’s important for the kids and grandchildren and great grandchildren to know that he is their grandpa,” his wife, Peepeelee Arlooktoo says. “I want them to know where they come from.”
But long-term care beds don’t come cheap, particularly in the Arctic, where everything from supplies to food to staff wages tends to be more expensive than in the south.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
China’s effort to force the return of citizens who emigrated is a ‘growing problem,’ Canadian police force head Brenda Lucki says: RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki calls Beijing’s interference and intimidation operations targeting people who immigrate from China to Canada a “problem,” and says victims can report the harassment to Canadian authorities without fear.
Truck headed to Kinross gold mine in Ghana explodes, reportedly kills 17 and injures dozens: A subcontractor of Kinross Gold Corp. is under investigation in Ghana after one of its supply trucks collided with a motorcycle causing a massive explosion in a residential area that reportedly killed many people in the West African country.
Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ rock superstar, dies at 74: Meat Loaf, the heavyweight rock superstar loved by millions for his “Bat Out of Hell” album and for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” has died. He was 74.
Norway’s radically different approach to sports helped it climb to the top of the Olympic podium: When the Winter Olympics start next month in Beijing, there will be plenty of upsets and surprises. But there’s one thing you can count on: The country most likely to top the medal standings won’t be the United States, Russia or Canada, it will be Norway – again.
Travellers fear punishment as China begins Lunar New Year travel rush under Omicron cloud: According to the Ministry of Transport, more than 1.18 billion trips are expected this holiday travel period, which began Monday. But while the government is doing all it can to facilitate travel for what is known as the Spring Festival in mainland China, officials are also nervous all those trips could lead to new COVID-19 outbreaks.
Wall Street’s main indexes ended sharply lower on Friday as Netflix shares plunged after a weak earnings report that also weighed on rivals, and stocks ended a gloomy week on a sour note. Canada’s TSX was fully swept up in the selling action, closing down by more than 2 per cent. Shopify weighed heavily on the Canadian benchmark index, losing 13.4 per cent.
It was the worst slide in the TSX since Nov. 30 of last year.
The benchmark S&P 500 posted its third straight week of declines, while losses deepened for the Nasdaq after the tech-heavy index earlier in the week confirmed it was in a correction, closing down over 10 per cent from its November peak.
Netflix shares tumbled, weighing on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, after the streaming giant forecast weak subscriber growth. Shares of competitor Walt Disney fell, dragging on the Dow, while Roku also slid.
Why would the unvaccinated reject a COVID-19 vaccine, but accept a new antiviral pill?
“Taking pills is something familiar to many of us. People do it every day, and the medication follows the natural metabolic pathway of the body. Many vaccine-averse people have enthusiastically embraced swallowing the antiparasitic treatment Ivermectin or handfuls of vitamin C tablets to treat or prevent COVID-19, although there is little to no scientific basis for doing so. But receiving an injection, as is required of a vaccine, is not an everyday experience; it signals something different and exceptional, and it is an intervention that relies on another person to actually administer the treatment.” – Robyn Urback
Inflation is about a lot more than just the rising cost of living
“Inflation is not rising prices. Rising prices are not inflation. They can be evidence of inflation, but are not necessarily so. Likewise, inflation can exist even where prices are not rising, as under price controls. Inflation, properly understood, is not a phenomenon of prices at all. Inflation is a decline in the value of money.” – Andrew Coyne
On Ukraine, NATO and more, Russia’s Vladimir Putin lives in an alternative reality. How did he get there?
“As the Biden administration and its Western allies decide how to respond next to Russia’s threatening military presence on the borders of Ukraine, it’s worth probing Vladimir Putin’s psyche. Is he a rational leader who grasps the realities of his country’s current standoff with the West? Does he fully understand what is happening within Russia and the world outside? Or is he operating under serious delusions?” – Amy Knight
How a group of young journalists got a taste of life in quarantine a decade ago
“Likely hundreds of essays have been published since March, 2020, comparing COVID-19 to illnesses past: the 1918 Spanish Influenza, the bubonic plague, various smallpox outbreaks. I don’t dare count the Norwalk NASH of 2012 among them, nor do I suggest that the young conference organizers’ failures come close to governments’ general dysfunction these past two years. The thing that separates this outbreak from its more historic predecessors is that most of us are alive to remember it, or more curiously, to forget it.” – Christina Colizza
Organic Bytes values quality, health when it comes to dietary allergens and baked goods
With increased awareness of dietary allergens, options at the dessert counter are becoming both tastier and healthier. At Organic Bytes, co-founders and sisters Yasaman and Samira Haj-Shafiei follow the values of quality and health. A graduate of the Rotman School of Business and a chemical engineer, respectively, last March the pair launched their collection of cakes that are made with ingredients that are organic, vegan and free of gluten, lactose and dairy. Based in Toronto and Calgary, Organic Bytes cakes are available for two-day delivery in both cities.
Upon realizing that gluten- and dairy-free cakes typically make use of starches, gums and flour combinations to replace the traditional ingredients, the sisters worked to create their own recipes that were free of these allergens and irritants. Instead of artificial substitutes, they incorporate nutrient-dense and organic ingredients such as monk fruit sugar, sweet potatoes and oils and flours from coconuts and almonds. Much of their inspiration comes from growing up in a household where healthy and wholesome foods were valued for both their flavour and nutrients.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Anna Maria Tremonti carried the secret of an abusive marriage for decades. In ‘Welcome to Paradise,’ she’s ready to share her story
While building her career as a CBC star, Anna Maria Tremonti kept gravitating to the same types of stories – gender-based violence, trauma, conflict, survival. She won awards for her skill at drawing out people in pain. Yet the entire time, she was harbouring a secret: In the early 1980s, she was married for a year to a man who beat her.
Forty years later, she’s telling her story in a six-episode CBC podcast called Welcome to Paradise. (She’ll be interviewed on opening night of the Hot Docs Podcast Festival, Jan. 25, and the series arrives Feb. 15.) The title comes from a photograph of 23-year-old Tremonti and her new husband – about whom she will share no identifying details – posing giddily by a sign welcoming people to the town of Paradise, N.S., on the day they eloped.
“We thought it was the best picture ever,” Tremonti, 64, told Johanna Schneller in an in-depth Zoom interview. “Later I’d look at it and think, ‘Oh my god.’” Here are highlights from that conversation.