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Canada is expected to wind down its efforts to airlift Afghan evacuees and expats within days, after U.S. President Joe Biden told G7 leaders Tuesday that he has decided to withdraw American forces from Kabul’s airport by Aug. 31.

A senior government official told The Globe the Canadian military has only about three to four days to fly people out of Kabul before the U.S. starts to reduce its military presence at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Complicating the final days of that mission is the Taliban’s pronouncement on Tuesday that they do not want any more Afghans leaving on evacuation flights. They have blocked access to the airport for Afghans.

Retired major-general David Fraser, a former commander of NATO coalition troops in Afghanistan, said the U.S.’s looming departure directly affects Canada’s rescue operations.

“Given the fact it takes days to pull out thousands of troops, it means we have literally a few days left at best,” Fraser said.

More coverage of Afghanistan:

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People gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan early on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. The U.S.' evacuation of its citizens and allies in Afghanistan is nearing a dangerous new phase as time runs out to rescue people it pledged to protect from violent Taliban reprisals.JIM HUYLEBROEK/The New York Times

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Chinese state-owned shipbuilder selected to supply ferry for Crown corporation

A Chinese state-owned shipyard in China was awarded a $100-million contract to build a passenger ferry for use by a Crown corporation, over the objections of Canada’s shipbuilding industry.

Marine Atlantic Inc. gave the five-year contract in late July to Sweden’s Stena North Sea Ltd., which subcontracted construction of the vessel to China Merchants Industry’s Jingling shipyard for delivery in 2024. The Crown corporation has an option buy the vessel from Stena North Sea at the end of the five-year charter. The 1,000-passenger ferry would operate between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The deal comes at a time when two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, have been imprisoned in China for nearly 1,000 days, as victims of what Ottawa has decried as “hostage diplomacy.” The two were arrested in December, 2018, not long after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request.

Colin Cooke, president of the Canadian Marine Industries and Shipbuilding Association, said he finds it “very difficult to stomach” that the federal contract was approved while the two men were incarcerated. He also questioned whether Marine Atlantic’s procurement process was fair, because the Swedish company can take advantage of China’s heavily subsidized shipping industry to reduce expenses.

Liberals pledge billions for housing, join Conservatives in proposing foreign homebuyer ban

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is promising a suite of measures aimed at addressing access to affordable housing, including a policy that echoes the Conservatives’ recent campaign pitch to ban would-be foreign home owners from the market.

The Liberal Party’s proposals also include a new tax-free savings account for first-time home buyers, a $1-billion program to increase rent-to-own projects and 25-per-cent lower rates on CMHC mortgage insurance.

The Conservatives and Liberals’ pledges to ban foreign nationals from buying residential properties in Canada mark an escalation in efforts to address concerns that international speculation is partly contributing to the uptick in home prices.

Both the Conservatives and the NDP have released platforms in which housing figures prominently. The Liberals have yet to release a full platform.

More coverage of the election campaign:

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How Project Watershed’s dream of turning an abandoned sawmill into a thriving wetland became reality: Together with K’ómoks First Nation, Project Watershed, a Vancouver Island conservation group, was able to raise enough money to buy and revitalize an old industrial site. The site is home to an abandoned sawmill that was considered an eyesore in the Comox Valley area on Vancouver Island. Project Watershed plans to restore the site’s pre-industrial splendour and create a wetland that salmon, herons and otters can live in.

Shopify eyes expansion across social media with TikTok partnership: Canadian software giant Shopify has expanded a 10-month partnership with TikTok that gives consumers the ability to buy directly through the social-media platform from the Ottawa company’s merchants. It’s the first time the Chinese-owned platform has enabled selling directly through its app, which boasts more than one billion users globally.

Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine boosters show signs of taming Delta: Less than a month into its COVID-19 vaccine-booster campaign, Israel is seeing a decline in infections, particularly among those over the age of 60, who were the first recipients of the third dose. More than a million people within that demographic have received booster shots. Scientists say other factors are also likely contributing to the drop, including uptake of the vaccine among people who had yet to receive a first dose.

Legendary Rolling Stones drummer dies: Charlie Watts, widely seen as one of the coolest men in rock, died “peacefully” Tuesday in a hospital in London surrounded by his family, according to his spokesperson. Three weeks ago, he dropped out of the Rolling Stones’ upcoming tour for health reasons. He was 80 years old.

Listen to The Decibel: Should judges consider race as a mitigating factor in sentencing? In a ruling last week, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said they should. Toronto lawyer Tanya Walker joins the show to discuss how systemic racism shapes legal outcomes, the importance of rehabilitation and what this ruling could mean for the future of Canadian law.


Markets subdued: European markets were subdued on Wednesday, with Germany’s weaker economic sentiment data failing to inspire investors who remained on the sidelines ahead of a Federal Reserve speech on Friday. Just after 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.18 per cent. Germany’s DAX fell 0.06 per cent while France’s CAC 40 added 0.17 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei slid 0.03 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed down 0.13 per cent. Wall Street futures were modestly positive. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.30 US cents.


The political landscape has changed as O’Toole’s big risk appears to be paying off

“The Liberals have been employing this hidden-agenda bogeyman, with varying degrees of success, for decades. But this time Mr. O’Toole has moved to insulate himself from such attacks. It appears to be working.” - John Ibbitson

Foreign policy failures produced the chaos we’re seeing in Afghanistan

“The fact that armed Taliban militants have now sealed off access to the Kabul airport speaks volumes about what Mr. Trump’s negotiations failed to focus on, including the rights of Afghan citizens who would need to be evacuated before Taliban patrols became house-to-house hit squads, as is now being reported in some regions.” - Hugh Segal, Mathews fellow in global public policy at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies


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Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


Five new books on how COVID-19 is reshaping the world – from the personal to the political

The first wave of books delving into how the pandemic is reshaping society has started rolling in. From High Conflict by Amanda Ripley to novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Notes on Grief, these titles’ explorations of loss, toxic partisanship and inequality offer illuminating examinations of the pandemic’s impact.

MOMENT IN TIME: Aug. 25, 2015

Boy trips, punches hole in work of art

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A 12-year-old Taiwanese boy is seen accidentally tripping and consequently punching a hole the size of a fist in a valuable 17th-century Paolo Porpora painting at an exhibition in Taipei, Aug. 25, 2015, in this screen grab from surveillance footage released by the gallery.Courtesy of TST Art of Discovery Co. / YouTube

It’s like a horror film, except the monster is a 12-year-old schoolboy with two (metaphorical) left feet. During a visit to Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius, an exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei, a surveillance video shows a kid in a Puma T-shirt and shorts, carrying what appears to be a soda, ambling along with a small crowd when he loses his balance and, thrusting out his hand to steady himself, punches a hole in a canvas: Paolo Porpora’s mid-17th-century still life, Flowers. Valued at $1.5-million, the painting thus unwillingly joined a growing collection of works that have been accidentally damaged by art-lovers who got too close, the most famous of which is likely Picasso’s Le Rêve, which its owner, Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, had put an elbow through while showing it off to guests in 2006. Curators announced insurance would cover the cost of the Porpora’s delicate repair job. Still, only so much could be done. As The Guardian reported, a post on the Leonardo exhibition’s Facebook page acknowledged: “Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged.” Simon Houpt

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