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Decathlon medal in sight for Warner, senior benefits cut off : In The News for Aug. 5

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Aug. 5 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Aug. 5 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Canada's Damian Warner is two events from capturing his first Olympic decathlon title.

The 31-year-old from London, Ont., tied his personal best with 4.90 metres in the pole vault on Thursday afternoon, to maintain a commanding lead after eight events.

The javelin and 1,500 metres are the final two disciplines of the gruelling two-day event that crowns the "world's greatest athlete."

Warner had 7,490 points after pole vault, while Australian Ashley Moloney remained in second with 7,269 and Pierce LePage of Whitby, Ont., held onto the third spot, with 7,175 after clearing 5.0 metres in pole vault.

Warner started off his day with an Olympic decathlon record of 13.46 seconds in the 110-metre hurdles in the day's first event.

He waved and said hi to partner Jen Cotten, their son Theo and his mom after he crossed the finish line.

He followed that up with a solid third-place showing in discus, with a toss of 48.67 metres.

Warner has hit several milestones over the last two days in his pursuit of gold. He set the Olympic decathlon record in the long jump, and tied his own decathlon best mark in the 100 metres on Day 1.

Warner is the reigning Olympic bronze medallist and is also a world silver medallist, and he said watching Canada's Andre De Grasse win gold in the 200 metres on Wednesday night was inspiring. Like Warner, De Grasse had won numerous silver and bronze on the world stage before earning his gold.

Warner is coming off an extraordinary winter that saw him train in an empty, unheated hockey arena that his coaches converted to a multi-events facility after COVID-19 shut down the University of Western Ontario fieldhouse. He and his coaches built a long jump pit, brought in a pole jump pit, built a throwing circle and laid down a 40-metre section of track.


Also this ...

New Democrats say they've been flooded with calls from seniors who suddenly find themselves cut off from monthly government payments due to emergency benefits they received last year.

In a letter sent to three Liberal cabinet ministers and obtained by The Canadian Press, NDP MP Daniel Blaikie says many lower-income seniors who received the 2,000-dollar-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out their jobs are now ineligible for the guaranteed income supplement, or facing severe deductions to it.

"They're just not going to have enough income at the end of the month in order to pay their bills. And what we feared would happen last year will end up happening this year," Blaikie said in an interview.

"It's not right of us to do this to Canada's poorest seniors."

Blaikie is calling for a prompt solution and hoping that the government will change its approach to cutting seniors' guaranteed income supplement based on pandemic benefits.

Employment and Social Development Canada spokesman Samuelle Carbonneau says that the supplement, like employment insurance, is income-tested, and that emergency benefits count as taxable earnings that factor into calculations of payments to seniors.

But Chris Sherlock, a 65-year-old resident of British Columbia's Cowichan Valley who relied on the CERB last year, says he was never told his monthly income would drop by nearly 500 dollars as a consequence.

The former tree planter, who receives less than 800 dollars per month from old age security and Canada Pension Plan payments, says he put the emergency benefits toward dental work, car repairs and old bills, and now faces possible eviction.

"I've got no money and I can't pay my rent," he said.

"It's sort of like if you saw a little old dog in the street, offered it a treat and then hit it on the head with a baseball bat for taking that treat."


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

GREENVILLE, Calif. _ A fast-moving wildfire has engulfed a Northern California town, levelling much of the downtown and several homes.

The Dixie Fire tore through the Greenville on Wednesday evening, destroying businesses and homes as the sky was cast in an orange glow.

A photographer on assignment for The Associated Press described seeing a gas station, hotel and local bar burned to the ground in the town of 800 people.

"If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!!'' the Plumas County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook earlier Wednesday.

The three-week-old fire has grown to over 1,108 square kilometres across Plumas and Butte counties. 

Heat from the flames created a pyrocumulus cloud, a massive column of smoke that rose more than 30,000 feet in the air, said Mike Wink, a state fire operations section chief.

Dawn Garofalo watched the cloud grow from the west side of the lake, where she fled with a dog and two horses, from a friend's property near Greenville. 

"There's only one way in and one way out. I didn't want to be stuck up there if the fire came through,'' Garofalo said. 

From her campsite on the lake bed, she watched the fire glowing on the horizon before dawn. "The flames were huge. They must have been 500 feet high. Scary,`` she said. 

Similar risky weather was expected across Southern California, where heat advisories and warnings were issued for interior valleys, mountains and deserts for much of the week. 

Heat waves and historic drought tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

More than 20,000 firefighters and support personnel were battling 97 large, active wildfires covering 7,560 square kilometres in 13 U.S. states, the National Interagency Fire Center said.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

ANKARA, Turkey _ A wildfire that reached the compound of a coal-fuelled power plant in southwest Turkey and forced nearby residents to flee in boats and cars was contained on Thursday after raging for some 11 hours, officials and media reports said.

Strong winds drove the fire toward the Kemerkoy power plant in Mugla province late Wednesday, prompting evacuations from the nearby seaside resort of Oren. Navy vessels were deployed to help ferry away residents, while cars formed long convoys on roads leading away from the area, Haberturk television reported.

Turkey's worst wildfires in decades have raged for nine days amid scorching heat, low humidity and constantly shifting strong winds.

The fires have so far killed eight people and countless animals.

In coastal Mugla province, where tourist hot spot Bodrum is located, fires continued to burn in six areas on Thursday, officials said. Fires also raged in five districts of Antalya province, another tourism destination, where two neighbourhoods were evacuated on Wednesday.

Precautions were taken before the flames reached the Kemerkoy power plant. The plants hydrogen tanks were emptied, and workers were evacuated. Flammable and explosive substances had also been removed, according to state broadcaster TRT.

Turkish presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said an initial inspection of the power plant showed its main units suffered no serious damage. The privately run plant uses lignite to generate electricity, according to its website.

Television images showed dozens of fire trucks and water tankers surrounding the plant's main building, some dousing water as part of a cooling effort. The main building did not appear to have been affected.

Firefighters had been working for two days to protect the power plant from advancing flames. Videos from an adjacent neighbourhood in Milas showed charred, decimated trees.


On this day in 1986 ...

Canada became one of six Commonwealth countries to adopt economic sanctions against South Africa because of its apartheid policy. They included bans on air links, new bank loans and government contracts with majority-owned South African companies.


In entertainment ...

Airbnb says a 'misunderstanding' led to British actor John Cleese being left without a place to stay while working on a movie in Ontario's cottage country.

On Monday, Cleese issued a call on Twitter asking the residents of Huntsville, Ont., if they had a home he could stay in, as the house he had booked on Airbnb had been given to someone else.

Airbnb said Wednesday that Cleese's team requested a booking in a Huntsville home, but the host never actually accepted the request.

As a result, the lodging company says Cleese's charges were automatically refunded.

Cleese tweeted later on Monday thanking people for their lodging suggestions, and noted that all local hotels seemed to be full.

Airbnb said they've been in touch with Cleese's team and have offered a coupon for his next stay with the company.

“Wherever he stays, we hope Mr. Cleese and his team have an incredible experience in the beautiful Muskoka region,” read a statement from the company.



Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa remembers dressing up her Barbies as doctors, poets and performers when she was a young girl, but none of the dolls looked quite like the woman she aspired to be.

Now, the Canadian physician, spoken word poet and advocate is not only living out her childhood dreams, but has a Barbie made in her image to show for it.

Oriuwa says she hopes the launch of a doll celebrating her success as a Black female doctor will show kids there aren't any limits on their play or their potential.

The University of Toronto psychiatry resident is one of six women serving as inspiration for Mattel's new line of Barbies honouring health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The toymaker says Oriuwa is being recognized as a “role model” for her advocacy against systemic racism in health care.

Oriuwa says she worked with the Barbie team to design a doll with her skin tone, Afro-textured hair, a white coat and a stethoscope.

The 27-year-old says these authentic features help change “the narrative of what a doctor looks like.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2021

The Canadian Press