WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
U.S. making 'extreme' and unacceptable NAFTA demands, Freeland says
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said progress has been made on several fronts in the talks on the North American free-trade agreement and some chapters of the deal are nearly final, but the U.S. position includes some "extreme" demands that are unacceptable to Canada. The minister's comments come a day after stock markets fell following reports that Canada is increasingly of the view that the United States will move to formally withdraw from NAFTA later this month when negotiators meet in Montreal. (for subscribers)
Three Mexican sources with knowledge of the talks told Reuters Mexico will leave the NAFTA negotiating table if U.S. President Donald Trump decides to trigger a six-month process to withdraw from the trade pact.
Former Canadian diplomat Lawrence Herman writes that the post-NAFTA world is starting to take shape: "By bringing its WTO case now, the Trudeau government recognizes that NAFTA can't be repaired and that U.S. trade actions will only escalate with full encouragement under Mr. Trump's protectionist America First agenda. Canada is showing that it has offensive as well as defensive strategies."
Canada's move to take the U.S. to the World Trade Organization over its abuses of globally agreed rules is an indication that Plan B is now operative, writes Barrie McKenna. (for subscribers)
Lawrence Martin writes there is no need for NAFTA panic … yet.
Air Canada pilot blames switched radio channel for close call in San Francisco
The pilot of an Air Canada plane that landed at San Francisco International Airport despite repeated orders to abort the touchdown told U.S. investigators the crew could not hear the commands because the cockpit radio's frequency had been changed, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail. The flight from Montreal was within 2.1 kilometres of touching down in the evening of Oct. 22 when an air-traffic controller ordered the plane to abandon the landing. The FAA said the pilot's failure to monitor radio communications is a violations of federal aviation regulations, but "appears to not have been intentional." It is the second recent incident involving Air Canada passenger jets making nighttime landings at San Francisco and raises questions about Canada's rules governing pilot flight time and fatigue. (for subscribers)
Canada draws players from seven hockey leagues for Olympic team
With NHLers not taking part at the Winter Olympic Games, Hockey Canada drew talent from across North America and Europe and while the team may be missing the marquee value of recent Olympic champion teams, Hockey Canada coaches say it is long on heart. GM Sean Burke said "there won't be one guy who puts on that jersey that this won't be the highlight of their hockey career". The team is led by Chris Kelly, who won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins and includes a number of others who have played in the NHL. (for subscribers)
Six more women accuse conductor Charles Dutoit of sexual misconduct
The women are accusing conductor Charles Dutoit of sexually assaulting them in the United States, France and Canada. They say they were compelled to speak out after a story Dec. 21 detailing accusations from three singers and a musician who said Dutoit forcibly restrained them, groped them and kissed them without permission. The 81-year-old Grammy-winning conductor emphatically denied the accusations, but eight major orchestras immediately distanced themselves from him and two launched their own investigations.
Bitcoin plunges as South Korea plans to ban cryptocurrency trading
South Korea is a crucial source of global demand for cryptocurrency. So when that country's government said on Thursday it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading, the value of bitcoin plummeted. By Thursday afternoon, the price was down almost seven per cent.
Israel's central bank said on Monday it would not recognize virtual currencies such as bitcoin as actual currency and that it was difficult to devise regulations to monitor the risks of such activity to the country's banks and their clients. (for subscribers)
Here's a guide to bitcoin – everything from what it is and how it is created to how to buy it and what you can use it for.
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Canada's main stock index ended higher as gains for energy companies and miners offset falls among marijuana producers and in Shaw Communications, whose earnings disappointed. The Toronto S&P/TSX composite index closed up 38.99 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 16,286.94.
Wall Street closed at record highs as rising oil prices lifted energy stocks and investors bet on a strong U.S. corporate earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 205.6 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 25,574.73, the S&P 500 gained 19.33 points, or 0.70 per cent, to 2,767.56 and the Nasdaq Composite added 58.21 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 7,211.78.
Paris police have recovered most of the jewels stolen from the Ritz Hotel in a dramatic heist Wednesday evening. The thieves used axes to smash jewelry stands and grab jewels plus Rolex and Piaget watches. The suspects inside threw bags of goods out the window to accomplices outside before being blocked inside and arrested. Police are still searching for two thieves and any remaining missing luxury merchandise. The robbery is raising questions about security in one of the world's most prestigious neighbourhoods.
New York City is taking on the oil industry on two fronts, announcing a lawsuit Wednesday that blames the top five oil companies for contributing to global warming and saying the city will sell off billions in fossil fuel investments from the city's pension funds. The city alleges the fossil fuel industry was aware for decades that burning fuel was impacting climate change. It follows similar litigation filed by San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Cruz in California.
Record $100-million donation to CAMH underscores cultural shift
"A gift of this magnitude is impressive in itself. We tend to forget the important role philanthropy plays in funding health research and, increasingly, health services. But it is doubly noteworthy because it dramatically underscores a significant cultural shift, where it is as legitimate – and socially acceptable – for a philanthropist to embrace mental health as a cause as it is cancer or heart disease." – André Picard
Catherine Deneuve and the cultural differences that has #MeToo falling short in France
"In France, where the cultural elite long ago decided Roman Polanski's artistry trumped his rape of a 13-year-old girl, there is now a confusion, as those feminists point out, between sexual seduction based on mutual pleasure and respect and sexual violence." – Kate Taylor
While Quebec Muslims mourn, politicians play word games "The problem with this dickering is that the mosque attack, even if it was carried out by a single deranged person, wasn't aimed at religion in general. It was the wanton slaughter of Canadian Muslims, in a place that defined them as such. It was inspired by a prejudice against a specific religion – Islam – a prejudice which in Quebec has been inflamed by a history of political gamesmanship targeting the beliefs and practices of non-Christian religious minorities." – Globe editorial
If you need a nudge to stick with your exercise resolutions this year, a new study shows that working out may change the composition and activity of the trillions of microbes in our guts in ways that could improve our health and metabolisms. The results show how exercise can affect even those portions of our bodies that seem uninvolved in the workouts. Researchers found that these changes could improve our ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body and bolster our metabolisms.
LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE
A new generation of prenatal testing raises ethical questions Andrea Owens was 17 weeks into her second pregnancy when she learned she had a high risk of carrying a baby with Down syndrome. When she went for another test, the baby had already died in utero. Had the baby lived, he or she would have had Down syndrome. A few months after the loss, she got pregnant again and elected to take a new test. For about $800, an American lab would analyze fetal DNA and tell Ms. Owens as early as 10 weeks into her pregnancy if she was carrying a baby with chromosomal anomalies. The desire of women like Ms. Owens to know as much as possible as early as possible is behind a quiet revolution in prenatal screening in Canada and other countries. But, as Kelly Grant reports, these non-invasive procedures raise ethical questions, especially among proponents of sex-selective abortion and people with Down syndrome.
In the Jordanian desert, a 79-year-old Canadian is saving Syrian refugee kids from illiteracy and poverty
In a brightly painted prefab caravan on a desolate stretch of the Jordanian desert, Ghadaa Tinieh is teaching 15 Syrian refugee children. Three had never been to school before, more than half could barely read or write and nearly all were struggling under the weight of trauma, poverty and exile. Yet, as Sara Elizabeth Williams reports, they are thriving. The class is part of a school designed to teach basic skills to kids who have gone years without formal education or are struggling to stay afloat in Jordanian schools. It targets kids whom aid agencies warn are at risk of becoming a lost generation of unskilled adults and fills a critical gap in programs for refugees. And the benefactor behind the school – 79-year-old Canadian Martine Stilwell.