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Hours before U.S. President Joe Biden said he expected a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was delivering his own speech, asking his country to remain calm amid all the talk of war.

Experts who have been studying the months-long Russian military buildup around Ukraine (and in the occupied Crimean Peninsula) say Biden’s blunt assessment is the more realistic one. There’s a consensus among Western and Russian military experts that President Vladimir Putin has assembled a force that is too large to be explained away as any kind of training exercise.

If it’s all a bluff or a bargaining ploy, it’s an expensive one that will leave the Russian leader looking weak if he backs down without securing his stated aim of ensuring Ukraine will never be a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

More coverage:

Satellite images show battle group deployments on Jan. 16 at the Pogonovo training area in Voronezh, Russia, a city north of Ukraine's separatist-held Donbas region.The Associated Press

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Four people found dead in blizzard near Manitoba-U.S. border

Two adults, a baby and a teenaged boy are dead and two other people are seriously injured after apparently trying to walk across the Manitoba border into the United States in extreme winter conditions, through an area that has become known for treacherous irregular border crossings.

A Florida man has been charged in the United States in relation to the case, though not specifically in connection with the deaths, and RCMP say the investigation is ongoing in Canada.

According to information in the criminal complaint against Steve Shand, who is from Deltona, Fla., American border-patrol officers pulled over a white van on a rural road in Minnesota, just south of Emerson, Man., on Wednesday morning. They were responding to a tip from the driver of a snow-removal vehicle who had helped free the van out of a snowy ditch.

How Canada’s fragile food system is being disrupted

Thinly stocked produce shelves. Handwritten signs apologizing for empty freezer racks. Customers on the hunt for certain items, but who are forced to leave with a hodgepodge of substitutions.

There have been a growing number of disruptions to the country’s food supply: everything from extreme weather, to labour shortages, to the ongoing pandemic.

For most Canadians, these disruptions will translate into fewer options, rather than actual food shortages. Still, the situation once again highlights the vulnerability of Canada’s food system.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Ottawa, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation sign deal on handover of residential-school documents: The federal government and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation have signed an agreement that outlines how Canada will share thousands of previously undisclosed residential-school documents. The transfer of documents will take place according to a schedule that works for the centre.

Climate scientists urge Ottawa to cancel proposed carbon-capture tax credit: More than 400 Canadian climate and energy scientists and academics are calling on the federal government to scrap its carbon-capture investment tax credit, arguing that it undermines efforts to hit net zero by 2050.

Universities to stick to online classes for now to slow spread of COVID-19: Most of Canada’s research universities have decided to hold classes online until the end of January or even later in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, a move that has left some campuses divided over how and when to reopen.

Somali troops committed atrocities in Tigray as new alliance emerged, survivors say: New revelations about atrocities by Somali soldiers in Ethiopia’s Tigray war are casting a spotlight on an emerging military alliance among Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia that has reshaped the Horn of Africa, weakening Western influence in a strategically important region. Officially, the three governments have denied any alliance.

In the latest Decibel: Hot desks are not cool with office workers: As companies start to think about what work will look like as COVID-19 restrictions ease, one trend seems to be emerging: Hot-desking. While the idea of scrapping assigned seating saves companies money, the question of whether employees will be happy in this environment is up for debate.


MORNING MARKETS

World stocks tumble: European shares dropped on Friday, following on losses in Asia and a late slump in the U.S. as fears about the pace of monetary policy tightening and a batch of weaker-than-expected earnings knocked investor confidence again. Just after 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.73 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were off 1.34 per cent and 1.18 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.90 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.05 per cent. New York futures were mixed. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.91 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

A warning sign of government bloat

“Once upon a time, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals weren’t so carefree about Ottawa’s increasing use of consultants. In 2015, they promised to cut back on them. The problem now isn’t so much the broken promise. It’s the lack of concern for discipline. The promise was part of a package of ideas to establish some efficiency controls, such as reviewing programs and cutting inefficient ones – not to reduce overall spending, but to make it more effective.” - Campbell Clark

Stimulating the economy was easy. Taming inflation will be much trickier.

“Even if snarled supply chains are in part responsible, extraordinarily loose fiscal and monetary policies have served to artificially raise demand for everything from fridges to houses. Labour shortages are forcing businesses to raise wages, passing on the extra cost to consumers.” - Konrad Yakabuski


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

Learning to cook with plant-based ‘meats’

It’s that time of year when many people resolve to eat less meat. The reasons are varied: worries about the toll animal agriculture takes on the planet, health considerations and ethical concerns about the treatment of animals.

Increasingly, many are adding “plant-based meat” to their grocery lists as an alternative. These products aim to imitate meat in taste, texture, appearance and smell, and the likenesses are now pretty impressive.

Angela Campbell, a pescatarian living in Portland, Me., said “veggie meats are an easy substitute” and can be used in pasta sauces, stir fries, casseroles and fajitas.


MOMENT IN TIME: Jan. 21, 1976

Concorde takes off on its first scheduled flights

Concorde takes off on its first scheduled flight at Heathrow Airport in London on Jan. 21, 1976.Evening Standard/Getty Images

Most air travellers are happy to arrive on time. The Concorde dangled a seemingly impossible carrot: “Arrive before you depart.” That promise, in a sense, was kept. A joint venture by Britain and France in the 1960s, aiming to speed up long-haul flights, resulted in a supersonic jet that carried 92 to 128 passengers at up to 2,179 kilometres an hour – twice the speed of sound. On this day in 1976, the Concorde took to the air for its first scheduled services when British Airways flew London to Bahrain and Air France left Paris for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Flights on the busiest routes – London and Paris to New York and Washington – took about 3½ hours. The five-hour time difference between London and New York, for example, meant a traveller arrived at a local time that was an hour and a half earlier than the departure time. After an Air France Concorde crash in 2000 that killed all 109 people on board, a drop in demand and rising maintenance costs, the 13 Concordes still in service were mothballed three years later. In 27 years, the Concorde carried 2.5 million passengers over the course of 50,000 flights. Ian Morfitt

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