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Morning Briefing: The United Maritime Provinces? Huh?

May 3, 2012: Peggy's Cove light house, Nova Scotia's famous tourist attraction looks great from a distance, but is in need of some repair and maintenance.

Sándor Fizli for The Globe and Mail/sándor fizli The Globe and Mail

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Dec. 3, 2012

Israel housing plan sparks diplomatic row

Israel's plan to build 3,000 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has prompted France and Britain to summon their ambassadors and drawn a sharp rebuke from staunch ally United States. The plan – announced Friday just one day after the UN voted overwhelmingly to upgrade Palestinians diplomatic status – would be an "almost fatal blow" to any hopes for a peace agreement, said UN chief Ban Ki Moon. Ottawa – one of the few countries voting against the Palestinian resolution – was much more measured in its response to the housing plan saying only that "unilateral actions on either side do not advance the peace process."

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The United Maritime Provinces ... or not

The idea of uniting Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island into a single province is being floated again. The notion – now being shopped around by three Tory senators – has little hope of getting any traction, The Globe's John Ibbitson writes, but drastic action of some sort is needed to deal with the region's myriad challenges.

Is Canada losing its immigrant advantage?

Canada ranks near the top in integrating immigrants, but high housing costs and the inability to match skilled immigrants with jobs in their fields threatens our high standing. The study of 34 wealthy countries compares outcomes for immigrants based on factors including income, health and education.

Egypt's wheels of justice grind to a halt

The highest court in Egypt shut down Sunday completing a full-out revolt by the judiciary against president Mohammed Morsi. The court, spooked by crowds of protesters, suspended work, joining other branches of the judiciary who have walked out in protest over a decree granting the president sweeping power and limiting legal checks and balances. Opponents of Mr. Morsi plan to march on his office Tuesday.

Autopsies show brain damage in pro athletes

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A study to be released today of the brains of 85 dead professional athletes shows that most suffered from a degenerative brain condition that is linked to depression, memory loss, aggression and dementia. Four of five hockey players in the study – Reggie Fleming, Derek Boogaard, Bob Probert and Rick Martin – were found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease brought on by repetitive hits to the head.

Graham James case back in court

The Graham James case returns to court this morning as the prosecution launches its appeal of the former hockey coach's sentence for sexual abuse. Mr. James was sentenced to two years in jail for sexually abusing two of his former players, NHL star Theo Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt, when they were teenagers in the 1980s. The Crown is asking for a six-year sentence.

Ukrainian cabinet quits

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov's government resigned today. The move was expected after several government members, including Mr. Azarov, were elected to parliament in October, requiring them to give up their ministerial roles, Reuters reports.

Texting is 20 years young

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It was 20 years ago today that Neil Papworth, now a Montreal engineer, sent the first text message. "Merry Christmas," he wrote a colleague attending a holiday party. Little did Mr. Papworth know that he was launching a communication revolution: Canadians now send 268 million texts a day.

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