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Canadian women mine more Olympic gold and B.C.'s killer heat: In The News for July 30


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 July 30 ...

What we are watching on the world stage ... 

TOKYO—The Canadian women's eight rowing crew has captured gold at the Tokyo Olympics. 

They crossed the line first in Friday's final with a time of five minutes 59.13 seconds at Sea Forest Waterway. 

It's Canada's first gold in the event since the 1992 Barcelona Games, the first women's gold at the Olympics since 1996, and the program's first podium-topping performance since 2008.

New Zealand grabbed silver, while China took bronze. 

"We had some really tight races," said Lisa Roman of Langley, B.C. "We built up every race. We decided today was going to be the best race. We knew if we laid down our best race we could probably win the gold medal. 

Canada will leave the Tokyo Olympics with two rowing medals, after Victoria's Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Surrey, B.C., secured bronze in Thursday's women's pair. 

The double-podium performance comes after Canada won just one medal — in the lightweight women's double sculls — at the Rio Games five years ago. 

“It’s huge," Roman added. "We’ve worked so hard. I’m so grateful I got to be a part of this ... It’s wonderful."


What we are watching in Canada ...

VANCOUVER — Two groups focused on environmental issues are calling on the British Columbia government to come up with a plan to track "heat dome injuries" following record-setting temperatures that are also linked with 570 deaths in the province over a one-week period.

Representatives of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the West Coast Environmental Law Association said thousands of people across the province sought medical help for conditions like heat stroke, dehydration and even brain injury but there's no way to track the extent of the problem.

Doctors submit a billing code based on a patient's condition so they can be paid by the province, but no code exists for illness related to heat waves.

Dr. Melissa Lem, incoming president of the physicians' group, said she was using a code for headache for some of her patients suffering from the effects of heat in late June, but it didn't include symptoms linked to temperatures hitting 31.7 C in Vancouver and into the high 40s elsewhere in B.C.

She said while the B.C. Coroners Service tracked deaths related to the heat, no one was tracking severe illness associated with the "heat dome" — where high pressure parks over an area and warm air sinks — that covered the province.

"I saw more heat-related illness than I had ever seen in my career. For example, healthy 20-year-olds who were at the beach all day and unable to cool off when they returned home to their apartments," said Lem, a family doctor in Vancouver.

Doctors should be directed to use a specific billing and diagnostic code for heat illnesses so accurate data are collected to support patients, Lem said, adding Doctors of BC, the medical association for the province, instructed physicians to use a code for any services related to COVID-19, for example.

The B.C. Health Ministry said the province "is developing a plan to prepare and adapt to climate change" that builds on steps it has already taken to protect public safety.

Lem estimates nearly 10 people suffered some kind of heat-related sickness for every person who died in B.C., amounting to between 5,000 and 6,000 visits to doctors' offices and emergency rooms after 911 callers overwhelmed paramedics.


Also this ...

OTTAWA —Transactional clues — from hotel bills paid in cash to purchases of escort-service ads — are helping Canada's financial intelligence agency detect human trafficking in the sex trade. 

The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is now learning from its sleuthing efforts in recent years to make pinpointing traffickers a little easier.

Fintrac identifies cash linked to money laundering by sifting through millions of pieces of information each year from banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, money service businesses, real estate brokers, casinos and others.

It says data received from these organizations has enabled it to disclose 979 packets of intelligence to police and other law-enforcement agencies about suspected cases of sex trafficking, almost all involving exploitation of young women, in the last five years.

The disclosures, flowing from an initiative dubbed Project Protect, are helping Fintrac zero in even more closely on signs of money dealings linked to the crime.

The project, a public-private partnership initiative launched in 2016, is led by the Bank of Montreal and supported by Fintrac and Canadian law enforcement.

Fintrac is issuing a new operational alert to banks and other reporting organizations, advising them to be on the lookout for certain kinds of transactions now known to be associated with trafficking women and girls.

"The goal is to save lives, and every single one matters," said Fintrac director Sarah Paquet. "So we really want this to succeed and continue to improve on strengthening the regime." 


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

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has announced sweeping new pandemic rules for federal workers and some contractors. 

It is requiring that any federal civilian worker who does not verify being fully vaccinated will be subject to universal masking, weekly testing, physical distancing from other employees and restrictions on official travel. 

The guidelines are aimed at boosting vaccination rates among the millions of Americans who draw federal paychecks and to set an example for private employers around the country.  

Biden said, “This is an American tragedy. People are dying who don’t have to die.”

The administration encouraged businesses to follow its lead on incentivizing vaccinations by imposing burdens on the unvaccinated. Rather than mandating that federal workers receive vaccines, the plan will make life more difficult for those who are unvaccinated to encourage them to comply.

Biden also directed the Defense Department to look into adding the COVID-19 shot to its list of required vaccinations for members of the military. And he has directed his team to take steps to apply similar requirements to all federal contractors.

Biden also urged state and local governments to use funds provided by the coronavirus relief package to incentivize vaccinations by offering $100 to individuals who get the shots. And he announced that small- and medium-sized businesses will receive reimbursements if they offer employees time off to get family members vaccinated.


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

TOKYO — Japan is set to expand the coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo to neighboring areas and the western city of Osaka in the wake of a record-breaking surge in infections while the capital hosts the Olympics. 

A government panel approved the plan putting Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, as well as Osaka, under the state of emergency from today until Aug. 31. 

The measures already in place in Tokyo and the southern island of Okinawa will be extended until the end of August. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is scheduled to officially announce the measures later today. 

Tokyo has reported a record rise in cases for three days in a row, including 3,865 on Thursday. The cases have doubled since last week. 


Also this ... 

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister has announced that the country will offer a coronavirus booster to people over 60 who have already been vaccinated. 

Thursday's announcement by Naftali Bennett makes Israel the first country to offer a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine to its citizens on a wide scale. The decision came at a time of rising infections and concerns that the vaccine’s efficacy dwindles over time. 

Israel's president, Isaac Herzog, is to be the first to get the booster on Friday. It will be offered to the general public beginning Sunday.

“Reality proves the vaccines are safe," Bennett said in a nationally televised address. "Reality also proves the vaccines protect against severe morbidity and death. And like the flu vaccine that needs to be renewed from time to time, it is the same in this case.”

Anyone over 60 who was vaccinated more than five months ago will be eligible.

Neither the U.S. nor the EU have approved coronavirus booster shots. It’s not yet proven if a third dose helps and, if so, who needs one and when.

But Bennett said that a team of expert advisers had agreed overwhelmingly, by a 56-1 margin, that it made sense to launch the booster campaign. He said the recommendation was made after “considerable research and analysis” and that its information would be shared around the world. 


On this day in 1962 ...

Prime minister John Diefenbaker officially opened the Trans-Canada Highway to traffic at ceremonies at Rogers Pass, B.C. The public had begun demanding a national road in 1910, but the work wasn't started until 1950. The opening of the 7,821-kilometre road, the longest national highway in the world, meant Canadians could drive from St. John's, N.L., to Victoria (with the services of ferries at either end). The toughest challenges to the builders of the road included the avalanche-prone Rogers Pass and the tunnel under the St. Lawrence River near Montreal.


In entertainment ...

OTTAWA — An Ottawa drummer with a passion for collecting reel-to-reel tapes deserves applause for the coming release of a Joni Mitchell performance recorded over half a century ago by none other than legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

The impromptu 1968 recording session of blossoming singer-songwriter Mitchell at Ottawa's Le Hibou Coffee House has long been the stuff of pop music lore, documented in Hendrix's diary.

But the tape's fate was a mystery for decades.

Mitchell announced this week that selections from the Ottawa gig would be included on a volume of archival recordings from 1968-71 to be released in October.

A 24-year-old Mitchell was performing at Le Hibou on March 19 1968, when Hendrix, playing the nearby Capitol Theatre, phoned the Alberta-born songstress, whom he would dub "fantastic girl with heaven words" in his diary.

Hendrix asked Mitchell if he could record her on his reel-to-reel tape machine -- and she yes.

Sadly, the resulting tape was stolen from a vehicle a short time later, but more than 30 years later it surfaced in the possession of drummer Richard Patterson.

And before he died in 2011 Patterson included the Mitchell tape in a stash of about 300 others that he gave to fellow musician Ian McLeish to digitize.


Also this ... 

MONTREAL — The acclaimed TV series "Mohawk Girls" has been picked up by NBC's streaming service Peacock.

The series, which originally aired on APTN from 2014 to 2017 and  follows four women in their 20s as they try to find a balance between work, love, sex, culture and community.

The half-hour dramatic comedy was created by Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight, based on Deer's 2005 documentary of the same name. 

Rezolution Pictures says all five seasons of "Mohawk Girls" started streaming in the United States earlier this month.

Canadians can stream the show on CBC Gem.



LONDON — A slice of one of Prince Charles and Diana's wedding cakes is up for auction decades after the nuptials. 

The slice of iced cake came from one of the 23 official wedding cakes marking the marriage of the heir to the British throne and his shy bride on July 29, 1981, which was 40 years ago on Thursday. 

It features a marzipan base and a sugar onlay coat-of-arms, coloured in gold, red, blue, and silver, on top. 

The piece of cake was given to Moyra Smith, a member of the Queen Mother’s household at Clarence House, who kept it in a floral cake tin.

Smith’s family sold the cake to a collector in 2008, but it is up for auction again Aug. 11. 

It's expected to fetch between 300 pounds ($520) and 500 pounds ($868), together with an order of service, ceremonial details and a royal wedding breakfast program.

Chris Albury, auctioneer and senior valuer at Dominic Winter Auctioneers, says the cake appears to be in exactly the same good condition as when it was originally sold — but adds ''we advise against eating it.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021

The Canadian Press

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