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Fleeing B.C. fires and Canada's rising vaccination rate: In The News for July 12

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 July12 ... 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 July12 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new wildfire in British Columbia has forced the evacuation of nearly 80 properties, while residents of hundreds more homes around the south Okanagan lakeside community of Okanagan Falls have been ordered to be ready to go on short notice.

The BC Wildfire Service says flames in the hills on the southeast side of Skaha Lake, east of Okanagan Falls, were reported Sunday and had charred an estimated five square kilometres of the rural area within hours.

The wildfire service says fire crews were working through the night.

The suspected human-caused fire is one of more than 300 currently burning across B.C., 75 of them sparked since Friday, many by lightning.

The wildfire service says 25 fires are ranked as especially threatening or visible and include the newly spawned Okanagan Falls blaze, the devastating fire June 30 that destroyed the Village of Lytton, and another north of Kamloops that has scorched 402 square kilometres of bush in just two weeks.

Wildfire risk across most of B.C. is ranked high or extreme and Environment Canada has issued another round of heat warnings for parts of the central and southern Interior, including the region where crews are still battling the 88 square kilometre fire that levelled Lytton.

The BC Coroners Service has said heat was likely a factor in 719 sudden deaths, triple the usual number, recorded during an unprecedented, lengthy heat wave that gripped the province at the end of June and beginning of July.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — Canada is expecting vaccine shipments to keep rolling in this week as the country inches closer to matching the percentage of people in the United States fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The federal government expects another 1.4 million doses of the shot from Pfizer-BioNTech to arrive in the next seven days.

It also plans to distribute the 1.5 million doses from Moderna that came in last Friday.

By the end of the week, Canadian officials expect to have received a total of  more than 55 million doses including the latest shipments, though those figures may change. 

The federal government has promised that it would reach 68 million shots delivered by the end of July and says it's still on track to hit that target.

To date, around 42.7 per cent of eligible Canadian residents have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, giving them full protection against the virus. 

The U.S.'s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data tracker lists 48 per cent of that country's population as being fully immunized.


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

SAN FRANCISCO — Firefighters working in searing heat struggled to contain the largest wildfire in California this year while state power operators urged people to conserve energy after a huge wildfire in neighboring Oregon disrupted the flow of electricity from three major transmission lines.

A large swath of the West baked during the weekend in near 40 degree Celsius temperatures that were expected to continue into the start of the work week. 

The California Independent System Operator that manages the state’s power grid issued a five-hour ”flex alert” starting at 4 p.m. today and asked consumers to “conserve as much electricity as possible" to avoid any outages.

California and other parts of the West are sinking deeper into drought and that has sent fire danger sky high in many areas. In Arizona, a small plane crashed Saturday during a survey of a wildfire in rural Mohave County, killing both crew members.

In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire exploded to 580 square kilometers as it raced through heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The fire disrupted service on three transmission lines providing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity to neighboring California.

The largest wildfire of the year in California was raging near the border with Nevada. The Beckwourth Complex Fire grew by a third Sunday to 348 square kilometres. However, firefighters working in temperatures that topped 38 degrees Celsius were able to gain some ground, doubling containment to 20 per cent.

A wildfire in southeast Washington grew to almost 155 square kilometres as it blackened grass and timber while it moved into the Umatilla National Forest. 


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

AMMAN, Jordan — A Jordanian state security court has sentenced two former officials to 15 years in prison over an alleged plot against the Western-allied monarchy.  

Bassem Awadallah, who has U.S. citizenship and once served as a top aide to King Abdullah II, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, were found guilty of sedition and incitement charges. Each was sentenced to 15 years in jail. 

They are alleged to have conspired with Prince Hamzah, the king's half-brother, and to have sought foreign assistance for the plot. 

The verdict was announced today, following a closed-door trial that consisted of just six hearings.


Also this ...

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned the racist abuse directed at three Black England players who missed their penalties in the team’s shootout loss to Italy in the final of the European Championship on Sunday. 

Johnson tweeted that “those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.” 

Marcus Rashford’s penalty hit the post and spots kicks from Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were saved by Italy's goalkeeper.

The 19-year-old Saka missed the decisive penalty that gave the title to Italy and denied England its first major international soccer trophy since the 1966 World Cup.



TORONTO — It's a prickly question that pits personal safety concerns against respect for medical privacy: Are you vaccinated?

An evolving vaccine etiquette has polarized Canadians over whether it's appropriate to ask someone if they've gotten a shot to protect them against COVID-19.

Experts say taking a delicate touch to the vaccine question can maintain both public health and social harmony.

A University of Toronto epidemiologist says knowing someone's shot status can help people make informed decisions about how to limit the risks of in-person interaction.

Dionne Gesink says with the right framing, the vaccine question doesn't have to be contentious, and can even bring people closer.

But bioethicist Kerry Bowman has serious reservations about pressuring people to divulge personal health information.

Bowman says there are many reasons why someone might not be vaccinated, and ultimately, they're none of your business.

Etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau says one should consider how well and in what context someone knows the person they're questioning, and what the fallout would be if the interaction goes awry.


And this ...

DALLAS — An unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 has sold at auction for US$1.56 million.

Heritage Auctions in Dallas said the 1996 game sold Sunday, breaking its previous record price for the sale of a single video game.

Super Mario 64 was the best-selling game on the Nintendo 64 and the first to feature the Mario character in 3D, the auction house said in a statement.

The sale follows an unopened copy of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda selling at auction Friday for US$870,000.Valarie McLeckie, Heritage’s video game specialist, said the auction house was shocked to see a game sell for more than a $1 million two days after the Zelda game broke its past record.

In April, the auction house sold an unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. that was bought in 1986 and forgotten about in a desk drawer for US$660,000.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021

The Canadian Press

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