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European Union policy-makers on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to tackle climate change, aiming to turn green goals into concrete action this decade and set an example for the world’s other big economies to follow.

The European Commission, which represents the bloc’s 27 countries, pushed forward its plan in an effort to meet its collective goal to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030 – a step toward “net zero” emissions by 2050.

Measures include raising the cost of emitting carbon for heating, transport and manufacturing, taxing high-carbon aviation fuel and shipping fuel that have not been taxed before, and charging importers at the border for the carbon emitted in making products such as cement, steel and aluminum abroad. It will consign the internal combustion engine to history.

The “Fit for 55” measures will require approval by member states and the European parliament, a process that could take two years.

Opinion: EU’s sweeping climate plan serves notice to the world

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveils proposals to govern transition to low carbon economy dubbed "European Green Deal" during a press conference at the EU Parliament in Brussels on July 14, 2021.JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

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Finance committee hearing to address confusion over potential delay to small-business tax breaks

The Liberal chair of the Commons finance committee is calling a special one-day sitting next week to sort out the confusion over whether the Finance Department can freeze small-business tax breaks that have already received royal assent in Parliament.

Wayne Easter, the Liberal MP who chairs the finance committee, said in an interview he was “surprised and shocked” when Finance issued a news release on June 30 stating that more generous tax treatment for intergenerational transfers of small businesses would not take effect until the new year, even though the private member’s bill had received assent the day before.

Under the federal Interpretation Act, legislation comes into force once it receives royal assent, unless a commencement date is specified. However, Finance asserted it could delay the enactment of C-208 because it did not specify a commencement date.

For Mr. Easter, that assertion raised questions about parliamentary supremacy that need to be addressed immediately.

He is taking what he says is an unusual step of convening a committee hearing while Parliament is adjourned, with the Commons law clerk and Finance officials scheduled to appear.

South Africa expands its military deployment to fight a domestic crisis years in the making

In a last-ditch bid to quell some of the worst looting and destruction in the country in decades, about 25,000 soldiers are currently being mobilized in South Africa to tackle the violent unrest.

Less than two days after authorizing 2,500 troops, the South African government swiftly doubled the number to 5,000 soldiers on Wednesday and then announced a new plan for a tenfold increase, a move that will require an extraordinary call-up of military reserves.

While the official death toll stood at 72, there were reports that hundreds may have died in stampedes and shootings as many thousands of people attacked shopping malls and set factories ablaze.

In Durban alone, some 45,000 businesses have been affected by the unrest, officials said, and food and fuel shortages were worsening. At least 200 shopping centres across the country have been ransacked by looters, and national highways have been shut down, endangering South Africa’s supply chains.

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Alcohol linked to thousands of cancer cases in Canada last year: Canadian researchers partnering with the World Health Organization say alcohol was linked to thousands of cancer cases in Canada last year, and that even mild to moderate drinking poses risk of developing the disease in the future. The study found that most of those alcohol-related cancer cases worldwide were associated with heavier drinking patterns, but researchers estimated that light to moderate drinking – around one or two drinks per day – contributed to more than 100,000 cases in 2020, or one in seven.

Green party executive launches membership review of leader Annamie Paul: Dana Taylor, interim executive director of the Greens’ main governing body, has kicked off a review that could suspend Annamie Paul’s membership in the party she leads and bar her from representing the party while it is under way, according to three senior party sources. The process could end in Paul’s party membership being revoked, freezing her ability to lead a political party she would no longer belong to, ahead of a likely federal election this year.

Britney Spears allowed to hire new lawyer in conservatorship case: A judge allowed Britney Spears to hire a lawyer of her choosing at a hearing Wednesday in which she broke down in tears after describing the “cruelty” of her conservatorship. Spears has hired former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, who called on Spears’s father to resign as her conservator immediately.

Toronto to rename Dundas Street: Toronto city council has voted to rename Dundas Street and other public infrastructure bearing Henry Dundas’s name. Dundas was an 18th-century Scottish politician who delayed Britain’s abolition of slavery by 15 years. The city will hold a public consultation to find a new name for the street, which is expected to wrap up in the second quarter of next year.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro may need intestinal surgery after 10 days of hiccups: After 10 straight days of hiccups, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was admitted to a hospital Wednesday with what doctors said was an intestinal obstruction. The surgeon who operated on Bolsonaro after he was stabbed in the abdomen during the 2018 presidential campaign has decided to transfer him to Sao Paulo for additional tests to evaluate the need for an emergency surgery.

Latest from The Decibel, Coming Soon: Going to the movies post-lockdown: Ontario represents a big chunk of the Canadian box office, which has been hurt badly by lockdowns, public health restrictions, and the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ offering movies at home. Film editor Barry Hertz talks about what Ontario movie goers can expect when they return to theatres, why go back to the movies at all if you’ve got used to streaming on your couch, and what summer blockbusters he’ll be seeing on the silver screen.


Markets sputter: Europe’s share markets spluttered and government bond yields burrowed lower on Thursday after the head of the Federal Reserve dampened taper talk and traders struggled with the rapid global rise in COVID-19 Delta variant cases. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.23 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.75 per cent and 0.46 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.15 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.75 per cent. New York futures were mixed. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.92 US cents.


Indoor dining is back, but the staffs are not. Without them, restaurants can’t return to normal

“So while things are starting to feel normal, please be patient. Restaurants are trying really hard to return to what we used to be able to offer guests, but many businesses need a lot more people than they currently have. We need time to develop the next generation of hospitality professionals so the industry can truly recover.” – Stephen Beckta

The cornerstone of U.S. democracy is crumbling

“As with so many other things in the U.S., extreme partisanship has taken over the voting-rights debate. It was thought that the Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol Hill, encouraged by Mr. Trump, would make Americans come to their senses over how their democracy was at the precipice. It didn’t. GOP lawmakers and their supporters have dug in.” – Lawrence Martin

The new security research rules threaten universities’ ability to be open and inclusive

“Consider Canadian university professors who are working on artificial intelligence research, but who hold Chinese citizenship and thus could potentially be subject to compulsion under China’s national security legislation. Under the assessment criteria, it would seem that such researchers are now to be regarded as inherently riskier than colleagues who pursue similar topics, but who hold Canadian, American or European citizenship. The assessments will almost certainly reify biases against some Canadian researchers on the basis of their nationality, something that has become commonplace in the United States as Chinese researchers have increasingly been the focus of U.S. security investigations.” – Christopher Parsons


David ParkinsDavid Parkins/The Globe and Mail


Six Canadian destinations to unwind and shake off pandemic stress

The Yukon could be your best spot to decompress after more than a year of the pandemic.Tobin Seagel

To say we all need a break is putting it mildly. After a year of pandemic burnout, there’s a case to be made that our next vacation (when it’s feasible) should be as stress-free and uncomplicated as possible. The Globe maps out destinations from the Yukon to the Maritimes that promise peace, nature, a place to let out a yearlong sigh and an opportunity to safely return to travel when the time is right.

MOMENT IN TIME: July 15, 1799

Rosetta Stone is discovered

The Rosetta Stone undergoes the last stages of its conservation by Senior Stone Conservator Nic Lee, in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery at The British Museum, in London, July 2004.EDMOND TERAKOPIAN/PA via AP

Egyptian hieroglyphics were in use for thousands of years until the 4th century, but for the following 1,500 years their meaning was completely lost. It was not until Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt that a construction project led to a serendipitous find. While digging foundations for an extension to a fort near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) on this day in 1799, soldiers came across a fragment of a black stone slab measuring 1.12 metres by 75.7 centimetres. An officer suspected the inscriptions on it could be of some significance and authorities were notified. A scholar at the Institut d’Égypte in Cairo made the correct assumption that the three sets of script on the ancient slab’s surface contained the same text in different languages: hieroglyphics, which were used most commonly by the Egyptian priestly caste; vernacular script, used by Egyptians in everyday life; and ancient Greek, the language favoured by administrative officials. Knowledge of Greek enabled scholars to use the text to decipher the hieroglyphics. After Napoleon’s defeat by British forces, the stone was taken to England, where it now resides in the British Museum. Of the roughly 80,000 objects on display there at any one time, the Rosetta Stone is the most frequently viewed. – Ian Morfitt

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