These are the top stories:
Iran vows harsh revenge for U.S. ‘criminals’ who killed top Iranian commander Soleimani
Iran threatened to hit back at the United States after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East. Soleimani was a general who was regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed early on Friday in an air strike on their convoy at Baghdad airport, an Iraqi militia spokesman said.
“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles, killing and injuring several people.
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Alberta reports first case of vaping-related lung illness
The province’s chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, confirmed the case on Thursday, bringing the total number of Canadians made severely sick by e-cigarettes to 15.
The patient is recovering at home after a stay in hospital. Dr. Hinshaw added that the case is a crucial reminder that vaping is not without risks.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on fruit- and dessert-flavoured liquids in prefilled vaping cartridges.
Military ships, helicopters help rescue the stranded as thousands flee wildfires in Australia
One of the largest evacuations in Australia’s history is underway ahead of hot weather and strong winds that are forecast to worsen devastating wildfires raging across the country.
The Australian navy began the evacuations of some of the thousands of people stranded on the east coast as a searing weather front was set to whip up more blazes across the states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the fire-devastated NSW town of Cobargo where he was not entirely welcome. Video showed him confronted by a group of angry locals, one of whom shouted that he should be “ashamed of himself” and said he had “left the country to burn.”
Lebanon receives Interpol arrest warrant for former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn has become an international fugitive after he revealed on Tuesday that he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system in Japan, where he faces charges relating to alleged financial crimes.
Turkey also launched an investigation into his daring escape from Japan via Istanbul.
The Interpol red notice, which calls on authorities to arrest a wanted person, was received by Lebanon’s internal security forces and has yet to be referred to the judiciary, a Lebanese judicial source told Reuters.
- The Carlos Ghosn saga: What we know so far about his escape to Lebanon, and the charges in Japan
Venice’s identity is threatened by mass tourism and flooding. The city is fighting back, but is it too little, too late?
There is no city like it on the planet. Venice attracts 25 million to 30 million visitors a year.
Long before this fall’s superfloods damaged artistic and architectural treasures, Venetians saw worrying signs that too many visitors were harming their way of life. Now, both crises are at a tipping point. Read our European Bureau Chief, Eric Reguly’s story here.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Canadian researchers combat arsenic poisoning with Saskatchewan-grown lentils: Bangladesh was an obvious location for the trial, as the WHO had deemed the country’s arsenic crisis the “largest mass poisoning of a population in history.”
Study finds poor customer behaviour a top reason for high turnover in service jobs: They found a significant correlation between customer mistreatment and the rate at which employees quit, even when taking into account other factors such as low pay or poor working conditions.
Yukon opens hunting for caribou herd without support from local First Nation: A plan would include details such as timing, geographic areas and the allowable harvest for a particular hunting season, said Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph.
Oil prices rose over $2 a barrel and gold and other safe-haven assets jumped as the U.S. killing of a top Iranian commander in an air strike in Iraq ratcheted up tensions between the two powers. Traders were clearly spooked. Europe’s stock markets fell 0.5% in early trading as hopes for a lengthy New Year rally vanished. Safe havens gained, with Japan’s yen rising half a percent to the dollar to a two-month high and the Swiss franc hitting its highest against the euro since September.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Why Ottawa must say no to Huawei on building Canada’s 5G networks
Matthew Lombardi: “The federal government must demonstrate the political courage to make such a choice, and accept the potential monetary cost as the price of safeguarding Canadians’ privacy and our country’s security." Lombardi is a fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, focused on the impact of emerging technologies on trade and foreign affairs.
The fate of Taiwan hangs in the balance
David A. Welch: “There is no guarantee that strong international signals would deter Beijing if China ran out of patience, but the consequences should clearly be put on the table.” Welch is the university research chair and a professor of political science at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo.
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
What food trends will we see in 2020?
There have been some crazy food trends in recent years and it seems they have more to do with looking good on Instagram than anything else. But some trends are more substantial.
Faux “meats” will be even bigger. New alternative diets will pop up. Sour flavours are a new approach to seasoning. And savoury ingredients are being featured in desserts. And with the legalization of cannabis, look for CBD-laced drinks and food on menus.
Here is Lucy Waverman’s highly personal list of what we’ll see in 2020.
MOMENT IN TIME
Bitcoin network is launched
Jan. 3, 2009: Little is known about Satoshi Nakamoto, the person – or people – responsible for creating bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency secured with cryptography. Someone using the pseudonym registered the bitcoin.org domain name and published a paper outlining the protocol behind the peer-to-peer payment system in 2009, launching the bitcoin network by mining the first block. (“Mining” refers to the process of using computing power to add transactions to bitcoin’s public ledger.) Referred to as “block number 0” or the “genesis block,” it came with a reward of 50 bitcoins and a text message embedded within it: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” The text refers to a headline in the British daily and has been interpreted as an expression of contempt for the financial instability caused by fractional reserve banking. Bitcoin has been on a wild ride since its inception, with its value peaking at nearly US$20,000 in late 2017. (Today, it trades at roughly US$7,000). Some predict that if it goes mainstream, the value of each coin could soar to six or even seven figures – but without any central bank or economy backing it, it’s about as predictable as a roulette wheel. — Alexandra Posadzki