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Going for soccer gold and possible border woes: In The News for Aug. 6

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. 6 ... 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. 6 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

YOKOHAMA — After toppling the archrival Americans in the semifinal, Canada's women's soccer team is now set to go for gold against Sweden.

The gold medal match kicks off at 9 p.m. local time — 8 a.m. eastern — after both teams requested a later start to avoid the worst of the midday heat.

Organizers also changed the venue from Tokyo's Olympic Stadium to International Stadium Yokohama, about 20 kilometres to the southwest, to prevent a conflict with the track and field program.

The Swedes are slight favourites heading into the match, having started the Olympics ranked No. 5 in the world to Canada's No. 8.

They've also won all of their matches in Tokyo, going a perfect 3-0 in the group stage while Canada finished with a win and two ties.

Win or lose, the Canadian side will fulfil its promise of changing the colour of its bronze medal from the last two Olympics, while Sweden is looking to improve on its silver medal from Rio in 2016.


Also this ...

VANCOUVER — The White Rock Lake fire burning between Kamloops, B.C., and Vernon has jumped across Highway 97 just south of Monte Lake and continued growth is expected.

Fire information officer Hannah Swift says the BC Wildfire Service doesn't have an update on the perimeter of the fire, last measured at 325-square kilometres, because crews are focused on suppressing the blaze and helping people get out of the area.

Swift says "many" property owners remained in areas that are under evacuation orders from the Thompson-Nicola and Columbia Shuswap regional districts and wildfire crews were working with the RCMP on Thursday night to evacuate them. 

The smoke is "another reason why it's essential that we get anyone who's in an evacuation order out of the area and to safety as quickly as possible," she says.

The temperature is cooling off to the mid-20s, Swift says, but winds along with low relative humidity are fuelling "very active fire behaviour" and growth.

More than 100 new wildfires have broken out this week in British Columbia as lightning and hot weather helped push the number of active fires to nearly 300. 

Almost three dozen blazes have the potential to endanger people and property, including the White Rock Lake fire, which the wildfire service's director of fire centre operations has called particularly concerning.

The fire danger is rated high to extreme across B.C.'s southern Interior, Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast as well as much of Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada is calling for showers over most of the province this weekend, possibly aiding firefighting efforts, but the reprieve will likely be short lived as hot, dry weather is expected to return next week. Air quality statements remain in place across southeastern B.C. due to wildfire smoke.


And this ... 

About 9,000 Canadian Border Service Agency workers are preparing to begin job action across the country today and say travellers should expect long lineups and lengthy delays at border crossings and airports.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union, which represent the workers, served a strike notice to the government on Tuesday.

If a contract isn't reached by 6 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, the union has said its members will begin a "sweeping" series of actions at Canadian airports, land borders, commercial shipping ports, postal facilities and headquarters locations.

Ninety per cent of frontline border workers have been identified as essential so they will continue to offer services, if there is a strike, said the CBSA, in an email.

The CBSA "will respond quickly to any job action/work disruption in order to maintain the safety and security of our border, ensure compliance with our laws, and keep the border open to legitimate travellers and goods," said spokesperson Jacqueline Callin.

The dispute comes as Canada is preparing to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit without having to quarantine starting Aug. 9 and will open the country's borders to travellers from other countries with the required doses of a COVID-19 shot on Sept. 7.


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

BEIJING — China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday attacked a U.S. offer of temporary refuge for people from Hong Kong as a “vain attempt to stigmatize" the semi-autonomous southern city and China's central government.

The statement from the ministry’s office in Hong Kong came hours after President Joe Biden made the offer in response to Beijing’s increasing moves to tighten its control and crush the pro-democracy opposition.

Biden signed a memorandum allowing people from Hong Kong currently residing in the United States to live and work in the country for 18 months, in direct response to Hong Kong’s sweeping new national security law and other measures that undercut the rights promised when the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997. It also comes as China and the United States are at odds over a range of foreign policy and trade issues.

The Foreign Ministry said Biden’s move “slandered and smeared Hong Kong’s national security law, nakedly intervened in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and blatantly trampled on international law and the basic norms of international relations."

The safe haven offer is the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration in response to Beijing's crackdown, including suspending an extradition treaty with the territory and other special treatment not extended to the rest of China, along with imposing visa bans on Hong Kong and Chinese officials and cutting them off from the U.S. financial system.

Pro-democracy activists in exile pleaded with Congress last month to pass legislation to provide both temporary refuge and permanent refugee status in the U.S., after Hong Kong police confirmed they had a list of more than 50 people who would be arrested if they attempted to leave.


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

ATHENS — Thousands of residents fled to safety from a wildfire that burned for a fourth day north of Athens early Friday, during an overnight battle to stop the flames reaching populated areas, electricity installations and historic sites.

On the nearby island of Evia, the coast guard mounted a massive operation with patrol boats and private vessels to evacuate hundreds of people by sea.

With a protracted heat wave scorching the country, the blaze tore through forest areas 20 kilometers north of the capital, destroying more homes. Ground crews of several hundred firefighters dug fire breaks and hosed the flames.

Traffic was halted on the country's main highway connecting Athens to northern Greece, as crews tried to use the road as a barrier to stop the flames advancing before water-dropping planes resumed flights at first light. But sparks and burning pine cones carried the fire across the highway at several points.

Several firefighters and volunteers were hospitalized with burns, health officials said.

Nearly 60 villages and settlements were evacuated Thursday and early Friday across southern Greece, with weather conditions expected to worsen as strong winds were predicted in much of the country.

Fire crews, water-dropping planes, helicopters and vehicles from France, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland are due to arrive today and through the weekend. Fire crews and planes from Cyprus were already in Greece, as the European Union stepped up support to fire-hit countries in southeast Europe. The heat wave also has fueled deadly fires in Turkey and across the region.


On this day in 1945 ...

The U.S. B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths. (Three days later, the United States exploded a nuclear device over Nagasaki; five days after that, Imperial Japan surrendered.)


In entertainment ...

Amazon Prime Video is creating a comedy series shot in northern Ontario and set in cottage country.

The company says production has started on "The Lake," which stars Canadian actor Jordan Gavaris of "Orphan Black" fame and U.S. actress Julia Stiles of "Hustlers" and "The Bourne Identity."

The cast also includes the U.S.-based Madison Shamoun of "Black-ish" and Canadian comedian Jon Dore. 

Gavaris's character returns home to Canada from living abroad, looking to reconnect with the biological daughter he gave up for adoption in his teens. 

Shamoun plays the daughter he tries to bond with at the idyllic lake from his childhood.

Stiles plays his stepsister, who inherited his father's family cottage.

"The Lake" is the fourth announced Canadian Amazon Original series following the upcoming revival of the sketch series "The Kids in the Hall," docuseries "All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs" and comedy-variety series "LOL: Last One Laughing Canada." 



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for some federally regulated workplaces in a bid to boost Canada's vaccination levels.

Trudeau says he has also asked the country's top bureaucrat to look at whether any federal workers should be required to get vaccinated.

Almost 82 per cent of eligible Canadians at least 12 years old have their first dose, and 69 per cent have both doses. It is among the best vaccination rates in the world, but it still means almost six million eligible Canadians have no protection, on top of the 4.8 million children who haven't yet been approved for the vaccine.

“That's why I've asked the clerk of the Privy Council, who is responsible for the federal public service, to look at mandatory vaccinations for federal employees,” Trudeau said.

“And we're also looking at federally regulated industries, to encourage or perhaps even to mandate vaccinations for those industries.”

That would include airlines, railways, banking, Parliament and Crown corporations like Canada Post. There are almost one million workers in federally regulated industries, and close to half a million people who work directly for the federal government, a Crown corporation, the military or the RCMP.

U.S. President Joe Biden last week introduced measures requiring federal employees and contractors to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to new rules including mandatory masking and weekly testing for COVID-19.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2021

The Canadian Press