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Morning Briefing: French tax scofflaw Depardieu a no-show at court

Actor Gerard Depardieu speaks during a news conference to promote the movie "Mammuth" at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 19, 2010.

Christian Charisius/Reuters

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Jan. 8, 2013.

French tax scofflaw Depardieu misses drunk-driving charge court appearance

Gérard Depardieu appears to have been too busy basking in his new status as tax rebel and freshly-minted Russian citizen to show up for court in Paris today. The Oscar-nominated actor failed to appear in court over a drunk-driving charge, linked to a November incident in which he crashed his scooter. Police say a blood test revealed a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. Mr. Depardieu, who has been waging a very public battle with the French government over a plan to boost taxes on the rich, accepted the Russia President Vladimir Putin's offer of citizenship, picking up his passport last weekend. Mr. Depardieu's lawyer said the court date clashed with his client's professional commitments, and suggested that the actor is in talks to  play the disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

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Federal court to rule on Métis status

The status of Métis in Canada will face a critical test today. A Federal Court is expected to rule today whether Ottawa is required to negotiate with the Métis on a range of issues from health care to land claims, which could place a huge financial burden on the federal government. The case, which may end up before the Supreme Court, would determine whether the Métis – people of mixed European and aboriginal heritage – fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government or provinces.

Harper faces pressure to support Mali mission

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to face pressure today from the head of the Africa Union to join efforts to intervene in the brewing crisis in Mali. AU head Thomas Boni Yayi will meet with the Prime Minister in Ottawa, and the crisis in Mali – which has received a huge amount of Canadian aid over the years – is expected to dominate the discussion. Mali , roiled by a military coup last spring, faces a threat from al-Qaeda linked rebels in the north. The UN has backed a plan for a Africa-led interventions, but Canada has so far ruled out sending troops.

Former diplomat Robert Fowler, who was kidnapped in Africa and held for 130 days, argues why Canada should intervene in the crisis.

Two suspects in India gang rape case to plead not guilty

Two of the men accused of the rape and murder of a 23 year old university student will plead not guilty to all charges, their lawyer said today. The trial for five of the men charged in the attack got under way Monday, a hearing so chaotic it prompted the judge to close proceedings. The case, which has sparked protest around the world, resumes Thursday when a judge is expected to move the trial to a fast-track court. Here is India correspondent Stephanie Nolen's account of Monday's proceedings.

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Euro zone unemployment

Another day, another grim milestone marking the intractable economic malaise in Europe. Unemployment across the Euro zone hit a record 11.8 per cent in the November. That amounts to nearly 19 million people out of work. Despite a woeful employment picture, confidence appears to be recovering – a survey of consumers and businesses rose for the second straight month after a year of declines.

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