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In The News for June 6 : Feds say Canada on track to have worst wildfire season ever

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 June 6 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
People look on from an observation platform as wildfire smoke engulfs the skyline in Ottawa, Monday, June 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

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 June 6 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Canada's emergency preparedness minister says images of wildfires burning across the country are some of the most severe ever witnessed in Canada and the current forecast for the next few months indicates the potential for continued higher-than-normal fire activity.

Bill Blair and six other federal cabinet ministers provided an update Monday on Canada's wildfire situation, even as smoke from fires north and west of the city covered Parliament Hill's Peace Tower in a grey haze.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Donnie Creek wildfire, which has grown to more than 2,400 square kilometres in size, is now considered the second largest in provincial history, while Nova Scotia's Barrington Lake fire, the largest ever in the province, continues to burn out of control.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for a large section of southern Ontario, with the agency warning of high levels of air pollution as a result of smoke plumes from local forest fires as well as forest fires in Quebec.

As of late Monday afternoon, 424 fires were burning across Canada, more than 250 of which are considered out of control.

A new fire risk forecast shows that risk remains well above average in parts of every province and territory except Newfoundland and Labrador, where the risk in most of Labrador is still above average, while the risk in Newfoundland is just average.


Also this ...

Members of the Muslim community in London, Ont., are to host a vigil today to mark the second anniversary of the worst mass killing in the city's history.

Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were run down by a pickup truck on June 6, 2021. The couple's nine-year-old son was seriously hurt.

Prosecutors allege the attack was an act of terrorism targeting London's Muslim community. Nathaniel Veltman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

He is set to stand trial in September.

Maryam Al-Sabawi, who is 16-years-old and was friends with Yumna, is helping to organize the vigil and says the theme for this year is "resilience."

The event begins at 7 p.m. in London. Mayor Josh Morgan, Canada’s special representative on combating Islamophobia Amira Elghawaby, and members of the Afzaal family are among those expected to speak at the vigil.


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

NEW YORK _ A New York writer who won a $5 million jury verdict against ex-President Donald Trump can't win a pending defamation lawsuit against him because the jury agreed with Trump that he never raped her, his lawyers told a judge Monday.

The lawyers urged Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to reject columnist E. Jean Carroll's bid to win $10 million or more in a second judgment by rewriting the four-year-old lawsuit against Trump to conform with the findings of the jury that last month concluded Trump sexually abused Carroll but did not rape her.

The lawsuit was filed after Carroll said in a 2019 memoir for the first time publicly that Trump attacked her in the dressing room of a midtown Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.

The lawsuit has been stalled because the U.S. Justice Department wants to substitute the United States for Trump as the defendant on the grounds that he was acting in his capacity as a president when he spoke on the issue in response to questions by reporters in 2019.

After the civil jury concluded Trump had sexually abused and defamed Carroll with comments last fall and awarded $5 million in damages, lawyers for Carroll, 79, asked Kaplan to amend the original defamation lawsuit to seek $10 million in compensatory damages and "very substantial'' punitive damages.

They also sought to add defamation claims to the original lawsuit, citing comments Trump, 76, made at a CNN town hall shortly after the jury verdict.

Trump's lawyers wrote that the jury verdict favours Trump's position in the pending lawsuit that he never defamed Carroll by claiming that he never raped her because the jury rejected the rape claim at trial. Trump, who never attended the trial, is appealing the jury verdict.

Kaplan must decide whether to accept the rewrite of the original defamation claim and Carroll's assertion that the pending defamation case could go straight to the penalty phase of a trial because a jury had already concluded that Trump sexually abused Carroll. He also must decide whether the United States can be substituted as the defendant in place of Trump, which would effectively nullify the action.


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

KYIV, Ukraine _ Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russian forces of blowing up a major dam and hydroelectric power station in a part of southern Ukraine that Russia controls, sending water gushing from the breached facility and risking massive flooding. Ukrainian authorities ordered hundreds of thousands of residents downriver to evacuate.

Russian officials countered that the Kakhovka dam was damaged by Ukrainian military strikes in the contested area.

Ukrainian authorities have previously warned that the failure of the Kakhovka dam could unleash 18 million cubic metres of water and flood Kherson and dozens of other areas downriver where hundreds of thousands of people live, as well as threatening a nearby Russian-occupied nuclear power plant.

Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom said in a Telegram statement that the blowing up of the dam "could have negative consequences for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,'' but at the moment the situation is "controllable.''

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency wrote on Twitter that its experts were closely monitoring the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant upstream, and there was "no immediate nuclear safety risk'' at the facility.

According to the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Working Group, a total collapse in the dam would wash away much of the left bank and a severe drop in the reservoir has the potential to deprive the nuclear plant of crucial cooling, as well as dry up the water supply in northern Crimea.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis, Ukrainian officials said.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry wrote on Telegram that the Kakhovka dam had been blown up, and called for residents of 10 villages on the river's right bank and parts of the city of Kherson downriver to gather essential documents and pets, turn off appliances, and leave, while cautioning against possible disinformation.


On this day in 1944 ...

The greatest combined military force ever assembled launched the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France, during the Second World War. Allied soldiers scrambled ashore as planes attacked German positions, and paratroopers secured a hold further inland. Total casualties of the D-Day invasion have been estimated at 10,000 dead or wounded.


In entertainment ...

NEW YORK _ Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. faces the start of a civil trial Tuesday on accusations that he raped a woman in a New York City hotel a decade ago, an encounter that he contends was consensual after the two met at a nearby restaurant.

The trial was scheduled to begin with jury selection in Manhattan federal court as the Oscar-winning "Jerry Maguire'' star confronts allegations that he met the woman in Manhattan, persuaded her to join him at a hotel, and convinced her to stop at his room so he could change clothing.

The woman, who has proceeded anonymously but has been told she must reveal her name at trial, said in her lawsuit that Gooding raped her in his room. His lawyers, though, insist that it was consensual sex and that she bragged afterward to others that she had sex with a celebrity.

The lawsuit seeks $6 million in damages. It was filed against a man who authorities say has been accused of committing sexual misconduct against more than 30 other women, including groping, unwanted kissing and other inappropriate behaviour.

Late last week, Judge Paul A. Crotty ruled that he will let three women testify that they also were subjected to sudden sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults after meeting Gooding in social settings such as festivals, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

One of the women planning to testify at the trial is Kelsey Harbert, who told police Gooding fondled her without her consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square in 2019. 

Harbert said last year after Gooding pleaded guilty in New York state court to a charge that spared him from jail or a criminal history that never getting her day in court was "more disappointing than words can say.''

Gooding, a star in films including "Boyz n the Hood'' and "Radio,'' was permitted to plead guilty in April 2022 to a misdemeanour, admitting that he forcibly kissed a worker at a New York nightclub in 2018.

By staying out of trouble and completing six months of alcohol and behavioural counselling, Gooding was permitted to withdraw his guilty plea and plead guilty to a non-criminal harassment violation, eliminating his criminal record and preventing further penalties.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ The Trudeau government is earmarking $1.5 million for LGBTQ community organizations to boost security measures at Pride parades and other events this summer.

The money matches a request by a national umbrella group, Fierte Canada Pride, which will distribute it to local committees that apply.

The funding can be used for expenses such as vehicle and crowd control, barricades, fees for paid-duty police or private security.

Organizations supporting gender and sexual minorities across Canada have ramped up their security after a documented rise in hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people, and physical confrontations between protesters at drag-queen events.

Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien says the funding comes at a time when LGBTQ people need tangible support from politicians instead of empty words and platitudes.

She also is challenging Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to attend the raising of a Pride flag on Parliament Hill this month.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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