Stories we’re watching: Harper is one step closer to his EU trade deal

And other top stories making headlines this afternoon

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, right, looks at Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a media conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. Canada and the European Union finalized a landmark free trade agreement to boost growth and employment in both economies. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, right, looks at Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a media conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

Here are five of the top stories making headlines this afternoon:

Text of Canada-EU free trade deal finalized.  One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s key economic policy planks is a step closer to fruition after both sides signed off on the text of a Canada-EU free trade agreement Tuesday. Harper made the first deal to work towards a free-trade agreement in Brussels last October, but there has been much disagreement over the exact wording of the deal up to this point, with sticking points around investor protection from lawsuits and Canadian agriculture quotas. This is hardly the end, however. The text now goes back to the provinces and the 28 EU member countries for feedback.

Nelson Hart won’t face a new murder trial for the 2002 deaths of his twin girls. Nelson Hart will be released from prison after the Newfoundland and Labrador director of public prosecutions confirmed today that the first-degree murder charges against Hart had been withdrawn. Hart confessed to the drowning deaths of his daughters during an elaborate police sting using undercover officers posing as criminals. Hart’s admission of guilt was deemed inadmissible during an appeal in 2012. The Supreme Court upheld that decision in July, in a ruling that said so-called “Mr. Big” undercover police operations should be more closely regulated, as they have the potential to violate Charter rights.

Two Canadians held in China, suspected of espionage. The son of two Canadian citizens who have been detained in China, and are being investigated for stealing state secrets about the country’s military and national defence, says there is no way his parents could have done anything of the sort. Kevin Garratt, 54, and Julia Dawn Garratt, 53, have worked in China for 30 years and currently run a coffee shop. They were arrested while out for dinner Monday in Dandong, a city near the North Korean border. “They’ve been there for a long time and everything they’ve done has always been above board,” the couple’s son, Simeon Garratt, told the Canadian Press.

Becky Hammon makes NBA history as first paid female full-time coaching staff member. WNBA star Hammon will join the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday, making history as the first woman to do so. Currently, Hammon plays for the WNBA San Antonio Stars, but plans to retire after this season to coach full time. The Spurs are seen as a forward-thinking team, which has added international players to its team and coaching staff in recent years.

Ebola case in Nigeria prompts eight more health workers to be isolated. The deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has now spread to Nigeria, where the government says one sick airline passenger died and eight others health-care workers who came into contact with the patient are now in isolation. Patrick Sawyer, an American citizen of Liberian descent, flew from Liberia to the Nigerian city of Lagos in late July, where he died of Ebola. Two other American citizens who contracted the disease are now back in the U.S., where they were placed into isolation and are receiving treatment for the disease. Here’s more on the current Ebola virus outbreak and why it’s proving so difficult to contain the disease.

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