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Morning Update newsletter: Health leaders call for drug-industry transparency; Chronicle Herald staff approve new contract

A still life of an open bottle of prescription medicine and its content of pills.

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TOP STORIES

Canadian health leaders call on Ottawa to mandate drug-industry transparency

Seventeen physicians and other health-policy leaders are calling on the federal government to force drug companies to reveal their payments to doctors. Signatories include the former president of the University of Toronto and the current chief executive of Canada's largest mental-health and addictions hospital. "It is long past time for Canada to follow the lead of other developed nations in bringing transparency to the financial dealings between pharmaceutical companies and prescribers," the letter says.

Corporate Canada giants vie for Ottawa supercluster funds

In collaboration with postsecondary institutions, smaller companies and other organizations, some of Canada's largest companies are leading efforts to win $950-million in federal funds. According to government sources, approximately 50 consortia submitted letters of intent to establish "superclusters" in fields such as agriculture and cryptocurrency. The government expects to announce as many as five winners by 2018. "We do believe this has triggered and been a catalyst for private sector investment and will go to create high quality jobs for Canadians," said one government official. (for subscribers)

Canadian, U.S. diplomats in Cuba suffer unexplained hearing loss

A "sonic emission" is believed to have caused unexplained hearing loss for Canadian diplomats and their families in Cuba. The news follows reports that some U.S. diplomats were faced with unexplained hearing loss last year. It remains unclear if the two situations are related. "We are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana. The government is actively working – including with U.S. and Cuban authorities – to ascertain the cause," said Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Natasha Nystrom.

Halifax Chronicle Herald staff approve new contract after 18-month strike

Newsroom employees at the Halifax Chronicle Herald have approved a new contract, ending an 18-month strike. The workers voted 94 per cent in favour of the eight-year deal. "It's been a long haul," said Ingrid Bulmer, the head of the Halifax Typographical Union, after the vote. "Most people are just relieved to have this chapter closed." The workers will return to a changed newsroom: Of the approximately 60 staff who went on strike, just 25 will return next week.

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MORNING MARKETS

Global stocks tumbled for a fourth day and were on course for their worst week since November, as the escalating war of words over North Korea drove investors on Friday toward the yen, the Swiss franc and gold. Tokyo's Nikkei was closed, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 2 per cent, and the Shanghai composite by 1.6 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.3 and 1.1 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down, and the Canadian dollar was stuck at about 78.5 cents (U.S.). Crude futures extended losses on fears of slowing demand and lingering concerns over global oversupply.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Don't fear Ottawa's new border preclearance law

"The proposed law makes it clear that U.S. preclearance officers are subject to Canadian law and the Charter of Rights, and that they will not 'exercise any powers of questioning or interrogation, examination, search, seizure, forfeiture, detention or arrest that are conferred under the laws of the United States.' In short, Canadian law reigns. The powers of U.S. preclearance officers will come from Parliament. If abuses occur, the law that led to them can be challenged in Canadian courts." – Globe Editorial

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall gets going while the going is good "Mr. Wall has every reason to be proud. Saskatchewan is no longer a place people look to leave; there are more people, working more and in better jobs, and enjoying better services than under previous governments. But after a long stretch of solid growth, Saskatchewan faces significant challenges thanks to a slowing resource sector. A great politician – a description certainly affixed to this Wall – knows when the mood is about to shift and gets ahead of it or, failing that, gets out of the way." – Andrew MacDougall

When alcohol and driving combine, less is always more "Impaired driving is a middle– and upper-class crime. It is committed mostly by people well off enough to afford cars and overpriced drinks in bars, driving distance away. The same people who can afford these things can also afford top-drawer legal talent. And they are highly motivated to hire that talent because the penalties are severe. So impaired driving cases clog the courts with brilliant but highly technical arguments devised by clever, expensive lawyers." – David Butt

HEALTH PRIMER

Is 'watchful waiting' safe with breast cancer?

"Both doctors and patients have traditionally believed that cancers and precancerous growths should be treated once they are discovered. It was felt that prompt action would greatly reduce the risk of the condition spreading and ending the patient's life. In recent years, however, research has suggested that not all cancers or early-stage lesions will become life-threatening. Some are so slow-growing that the patient will likely die of another cause – such as heart disease – before the cancer turns lethal. This means some patients may have undergone aggressive cancer treatments that weren't really necessary." – Paul Taylor

MOMENT IN TIME

Total solar eclipse dazzles Europe, Middle East and India
Aug. 11, 1999: The last total solar eclipse of the 20th century was also one of the most viewed in history. Following a track that began off the coast of Nova Scotia at dawn, the moon's shadow swiftly raced across the Atlantic and clipped the southwestern tip of Cornwall before crossing the English Channel. Millions of Europeans found themselves along the path of the eclipse from Normandy to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, though the weather did not always co-operate. In Turkey, a popular destination for eclipse chasers that year, cloudless skies made for a dazzling event. After sweeping over Iraq and Iran, the eclipse finished the day by crossing through Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent. In astronomical reckoning, the eclipse belonged to saros cycle 145. The next eclipse in that series comes in just 10 days' time when a total eclipse will trace a remarkably similar path across the continental United States. – Ivan Semeniuk

Morning Update is written by James Flynn. If you'd like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday morning,
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