Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
McConnell abruptly eases proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly eased his restrictive proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, backing off the condensed two-day schedule to add a third for opening arguments.
The trial got under way today as the President’s lawyers opened arguments in support of McConnell’s plan. Democrats objected loudly, and some Republicans made their concerns known in private.
Without comment, McConnell quietly submitted an amended proposal after meeting behind closed doors with his senators. The handwritten changes would add the extra day and allow House evidence to be included in the record. There is still deep disagreement about calling additional witnesses.
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Trudeau rejects ‘prisoner exchange’ of two Canadians in China for Meng Wanzhou
As the extradition hearing of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou continued in Vancouver today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the idea of a potential “prisoner exchange” for two Canadians while speaking to reporters at a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained in China on Dec. 10, 2018, in apparent retaliation for the arrest of Meng at the Vancouver airport at the request of U.S. officials.
Meng’s lawyers have argued before a B.C. Supreme Court judge that the crimes she’s accused of in the United States – lying to financial institutions to skirt U.S. sanctions against Iran – would not be illegal here because Canada lifted its sanctions against Iran years ago, so the extradition should not be allowed.
The latest on the Wuhan coronavirus
The first U.S. case of the SARS-like virus was confirmed today after a traveller from China was diagnosed in Seattle, a spokesman from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
That news comes as China says its number of coronavirus deaths has risen to six and confirmed cases to 291. A social-media post from Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said 15 medical workers had been infected.
Meanwhile, Canadian hospitals and airports are putting in place enhanced infection-control measures as they prepare for the Wuhan coronavirus’s possible arrival here.
Background: What we know so far about the Wuhan coronavirus.
Trump, Thunberg and climate change at Davos
While his impeachment trial unfolded in the Senate today, President Donald Trump was in Davos, Switzerland, touting the success of the U.S. economy and dismissing “perennial prophets of doom” on climate change. Environmental issues top the agenda at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Trump did not refer directly to teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who responded to his speech by referring to “empty words and promises” from world leaders. She was joined onstage by other teen activists, including clean-water advocate Autumn Peltier of Ontario’s Wiikwemkoong First Nation, who said she doesn’t feel this country’s federal politicians are focused enough on climate change.
Opinion: "[Former British prime minister – and Trump hero – Margaret] Thatcher would no doubt have sided with Greta Thunberg, who spoke at Davos before Mr. Trump and decried the failure of governments and industries to reduce the output of greenhouse gases. The Swedish teenager said 'pretty much nothing has been done’ – and she was right.” - Eric Reguly
Prince Harry, Meghan issue warning over harassment by paparazzi
Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, have issued a warning over harassment by paparazzi photographers after stepping back from their royal duties, a royal source says.
The warning came after British media published images of Meghan taking a stroll through a park in Canada.
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Charest nixes Conservative leadership bid: Former Quebec premier Jean Charest has decided not to seek the federal Conservative leadership, he told Radio-Canada today. He said one of the main factors in his decision were leadership rules that he said “do not favour external candidates." He left it in 1998 to enter provincial politics as Liberal leader.
Clinton pans Sanders: Hillary Clinton criticized her former Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders in a new documentary to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, saying he was an ineffective U.S. senator who accomplished little because “nobody liked him.”
Iran acknowledges use of Russian-made missiles: Iran has acknowledged that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 that crashed near Tehran earlier this month, killing 176 people, many of them Canadians.
North Korea abandons nuclear-freeze pledge: North Korea said today it was no longer bound by commitments to halt nuclear and missile testing, blaming the United States’ failure to meet a year-end deadline for nuclear talks and “brutal and inhumane” U.S. sanctions.
OSC chief resigning: Maureen Jensen, the first woman to oversee the Ontario Securities Commission, is resigning as chair and CEO effective April 15. The resignation follows well-documented friction amid differing priorities of the OSC and the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford.
Forcillo granted full parole: James Forcillo, the police officer who fatally shot Sammy Yatim on an empty Toronto streetcar more than six years ago, has been granted full parole. A two-member panel said he is a low risk for reoffending, but renewed a restriction barring him from contacting any of Yatim’s relatives.
Ozzy Osbourne reveals Parkinson’s diagnosis: British rocker and former Black Sabbath front-man Ozzy Osbourne, who last year postponed a world tour due to health issues, said in a TV interview today that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
North American stock markets fell today amid global jitters about the virus outbreak in China. The slide followed losses in global markets as concerns deepened that the spreading Wuhan coronavirus could hurt tourism, affecting airline stocks, and ultimately economic growth and corporate profits.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 152.06 points to 29,196.04, the S&P 500 lost 8.83 points to 3,320.79 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.13 points to 9,370.81.
In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index lost 25.11 points to 17,572.28.
Now more than ever, Peter MacKay is the right choice for Conservative leader
“We don’t just need a leader who can make sacrifices; we need a winner to undo the damage that the Liberals have done to the West. Peter MacKay has been a political winner all his life, and he can be again.” - Tom Flanagan, a former Conservative campaign manager
In the latest episode of The Globe’s I’ll Go First podcast, meet fertility hacker Alyssa Atkins. Finding out about her own fertility was taking way too long, so she started Lilia, a company that provides people with accessible and reliable at-home fertility testing.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Starbucks to phase out black plastic in Canada as part of global push to reduce waste
Starbucks is promising to cut its carbon emissions and landfill waste in half by 2030, a goal that would require major changes from the global coffee chain that sells the vast majority of its products in disposable packaging – including its iconic to-go cups that end up in landfills in most markets.
The company also revealed to The Globe and Mail that it is working to find an alternative in its Canadian stores to black plastic cutlery – which is not recyclable because there is no market for black plastic, and also because the optical sorters at waste-management facilities do not recognize it on the conveyor belt. Canadian customers should expect to see white plastic cutlery by the summer.
Today, the company released the findings of a recent assessment of its environmental footprint. In 2018, Starbucks’s own global operations as well as vendors in its supply chain produced 868,000 tons of waste, used one billion cubic metres of water, and emitted 16 million tons of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of the emissions from nearly 40 billion miles driven by the average passenger vehicle. Read Kathryn Blaze Baum and Susan Krashinsky Robertson’s full story here.