The wildfire burning near the B.C. community of Tumbler Ridge is now moving away from the municipality due to a shift in the winds.
Winds in the area of the B.C. community of Tumbler Ridge have done a 180-degree turn and are now blowing east — something that has wildfire officials optimistic in the fight against the nearby West Kiskatinaw wildfire.
“We had a bit of cooler temperatures overnight, and we caught a really big break,” Forrest Tower said, a fire information officer.
“We have (also) had a reduction in fire activity.”
On Friday, there was a forecast of strong winds that were expected to push the fire extremely close or even possibly into the community of Tumbler Ridge, but, thankfully, those winds never materialized.
“We caught a really big break, honestly, with those winds not materializing. Things are looking quite a bit better (Saturday),” Tower said.
“We didn’t actually see a lot of fire growth towards the community on Friday.”
The new winds have also cleared out a lot of the smoke that was hindering fire suppression efforts, making it easier for crews to target areas of most importance.
Tower said they are not “out of the woods, yet,” as winds could shift back. But he also said the shift in winds on Saturday is allowing crews to work on the west front of the fire to create a fire break, which will hopefully hold the fire from growing west if winds do switch again.
The fire is an estimated 19,714 hectares, which was previously recorded at more than 24,000 but wildfire officials say the new estimated size is much more accurate.
Firefighting crews have gathered in Tumbler Ridge from across the province. Firefighters are in the community, dousing homes with water and working on structural protection.
“We are doing the best we can, trying to get as prepared as we can for what might come this way,” said Quesnel firefighter Bart Schneider.
“With the fire so close, we are hoping we can do whatever we can to save this community.”
Tumbler Ridge Fire Chief Dustin Curry, who is also leading the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), thanked the bulk of residents heeded the evacuation order issued Thursday.
About 150 people have opted to remain in the community, he added. A few are working at the EOC, he said, but the rest have ignored the order.
“At this point in time, our message to those individuals who have chosen to stay and are not part of the EOC, is that our sense right now is to public safety, and really the best way you can help us and help the public and the responders and everyone in town here is to evacuate yourself,” he said.
“We understand that that’s not an easy decision for everybody to make, but we really want to stress the importance of having everybody leave so that we can make sure that we’re focusing our efforts in the right places.”
Curry said RCMP had warned people still in the community that there was no BC Ambulance crew in town in the case of an emergency, and that there may be no one to help them if it turns out they need to flee in a hurry.
Evacuees have been directed to a reception centre at the Ovintiv Events Centre in Dawson Creek. Anyone evacuating is being asked to register and stay put once they have done so, so officials can keep track if anyone is missing.
Fire has forced the closure of Highway 52 to the north and east of the community, and all evacuees have been directed to take Highway 29 instead.
Evacuees are also being advised that hotels are fully booked in Dawson Creek and Chetwynd, and that if they need accommodations they can find them in Fort Saint John.
A southern Mississippi homicide that has gone unsolved for 40 years has now been declared solved due to the confessions of a man convicted in three California murders but long suspected in dozens of deaths.
Kaczynski died at the federal prison medical center in Butner, North Carolina, Kristie Breshears, a spokesperson for the federal Bureau of Prisons, told The Associated Press. He was found unresponsive in his cell early Saturday morning and was pronounced dead around 8 a.m., she said.
A cause of death was not immediately known.
Before his transfer to the prison medical facility, he had been held in the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, since May 1998, when he was sentenced to four life sentences plus 30 years for a campaign of terror that set universities nationwide on edge.
He admitted committing 16 bombings from 1978 and 1995, permanently maiming several of his victims.
Years before the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax mailing, the Unabomber’s deadly homemade bombs changed the way Americans mailed packages and boarded airplanes, even virtually shutting down air travel on the West Coast in July 1995.
He forced The Washington Post, in conjunction with The New York Times, to make the agonizing decision in September 1995 to publish his 35,000-word manifesto, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” which claimed modern society and technology was leading to a sense of powerlessness and alienation.
But it led to his undoing. Kaczynski’s brother, David, and David’s wife, Linda Patrik, recognized the treatise’s tone and tipped off the FBI, which had been searching for the Unabomber for years in nation’s longest, costliest manhunt.
Authorities in April 1996 found him in a 10-by-14-foot (3-by-4-meter) plywood and tarpaper cabin outside Lincoln, Montana, that was filled with journals, a coded diary, explosive ingredients and two completed bombs.
As an elusive criminal mastermind, the Unabomber won his share of sympathizers and comparisons to Daniel Boone, Edward Abbey and Henry David Thoreau.
But once revealed as a wild-eyed hermit with long hair and beard who weathered Montana winters in a one-room shack, Kaczynski struck many as more of a pathetic loner than romantic anti-hero.
Even in his own journals, Kaczynski came across not as a committed revolutionary but as a vengeful hermit driven by petty grievances.
“I certainly don’t claim to be an altruist or to be acting for the `good’ (whatever that is) of the human race,” he wrote on April 6, 1971. “I act merely from a desire for revenge.”
A psychiatrist who interviewed Kaczynski in prison diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic.
“Mr. Kaczynski’s delusions are mostly persecutory in nature,” Sally Johnson wrote in a 47-page report. “The central themes involve his belief that he is being maligned and harassed by family members and modern society.”
Kaczynski hated the idea of being viewed as mentally ill and when his lawyers attempted to present an insanity defence, he tried to fire them. When that failed, he tried to hang himself with his underwear.
Kaczynski eventually pleaded guilty rather than let his defence team proceed with an insanity defense.
“I’m confident that I’m sane,” Kaczynski told Time magazine in 1999. “I don’t get delusions and so forth.”
He was certainly brilliant.
Kaczynski skipped two grades to attend Harvard at age 16 and had published papers in prestigious mathematics journals. His explosives were carefully tested and came in meticulously handcrafted wooden boxes sanded to remove possible fingerprints. Later bombs bore the signature “FC” for “Freedom Club.”
The FBI called him the “Unabomber” because his early targets seemed to be universities and airlines. An altitude-triggered bomb he mailed in 1979 went off as planned aboard an American Airlines flight; a dozen people aboard suffered from smoke inhalation.
Kaczynski killed computer rental store owner Hugh Scrutton, advertising executive Thomas Mosser and timber industry lobbyist Gilbert Murray. California geneticist Charles Epstein and Yale University computer expert David Gelernter were maimed by bombs two days apart in June 1993.
Mosser was killed in his North Caldwell, New Jersey, home on Dec. 10, 1994, a day he was supposed to be picking out a Christmas tree with his family. His wife, Susan, found him grievously wounded by a barrage of razor blades, pipes and nails.
“He was moaning very softly,” she said at Kaczynski’s 1998 sentencing. “The fingers on his right hand were dangling. I held his left hand. I told him help was coming. I told him I loved him.”
When Kaczynski stepped up his bombs and letters to newspapers and scientists in 1995, experts speculated the Unabomber was jealous of the attention being paid to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
A threat to blow up a plane out of Los Angeles before the end of the July Fourth weekend threw air travel and mail delivery into chaos. The Unabomber later claimed it was a “prank.”
The Washington Post printed the Unabomber’s manifesto at the urging of federal authorities, after the bomber said he would desist from terrorism if a national publication published his treatise.
Patrik had had a disturbing feeling about her brother-in-law even before seeing the manifesto and eventually persuaded her husband to read a copy at the library.
After two months of arguments, they took some of Ted Kaczynski’s letters to Patrik’s childhood friend Susan Swanson, a private investigator in Chicago.
Swanson in turn passed them along to former FBI behavioral science expert Clint Van Zandt, whose analysts said whoever wrote them had also probably written the Unabomber’s manifesto.
“It was a nightmare,” David Kaczynski, who as a child had idolized his older brother, said in a 2005 speech at Bennington College. “I was literally thinking, `My brother’s a serial killer, the most wanted man in America.”’
Swanson turned to a corporate lawyer friend, Anthony Bisceglie, who contacted the FBI.
David Kaczynski wanted his role kept confidential, but his identity quickly leaked out and Ted Kaczynski vowed never to forgive his younger sibling.
He ignored his letters, turned his back on him at court hearings and described David Kaczynski in a 1999 book draft as a “Judas Iscariot (who) … doesn’t even have enough courage to go hang himself.”
Ted Kaczynski was born May 22, 1942, in Chicago, the son of second-generation Polish Catholics — a sausage-maker and a homemaker. He played the trombone in the school band, collected coins and skipped the sixth and 11th grades.
His high school classmates thought him odd, particularly after he showed a school wrestler how to make a mini-bomb that detonated during chemistry class.
Harvard classmates recalled him as a lonely, thin boy with poor personal hygiene and a room that smelled of spoiled milk, rotting food and foot powder.
After graduate studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, he got a job teaching math at the University of California at Berkeley but found the work difficult and quit abruptly. In 1971, he bought a 1 1/2-acre parcel about four miles ( six kilometers) outside of Lincoln and built a cabin there without heating, plumbing or electricity.
He learned to garden, hunt, make tools and sew, living on a few hundred dollars a year.
He left his cabin in Montana in the late 1970s to work at a foam rubber products manufacturer outside Chicago with his father and brother. But when a female supervisor dumped him after two dates, he began posting insulting limericks about her and wouldn’t stop.
His brother fired him and Ted Kaczynski soon returned to the wilderness to continue plotting his vengeful killing spree.
The Green in London’s Wortley Village was jam-packed with people, Pride flags and a group of anti-drag storytime protestors on Saturday.
The protest and a counter protest took place at the corner of Elmwood Avenue East and Wortley Road, just outside the Wortley Pride festival.
Meanwhile, an anti-drag protest is occurring at the corner of Elmwood Ave. and Wortley Road. One of the group’s signs read, “Why do drag queens feel the need to perform in front of our children???” Pride activists can be heard chanting, “trans rights are human rights.” pic.twitter.com/PIq6IlBcTZ
The protesters had a sign that read, “Why do drag queens feel the need to perform in front of our children???” while counter-protesters were heard chanting, “trans rights are human rights.”
Alex Ogilvie attended the event with a homemade sign that read, “LGBTQ+ = HUMAN.”
He told 980 CFPL he was attending to counter protest.
“Pride is support. It’s a safe place for people who are part of the community who haven’t had it before. It’s important to everyone,” he said. “(We) have to keep fighting or else it’s never going to get better.”
A London man was charged last year with causing a disturbance and possession of a weapon after disrupting the event.
Due to this incident as well as the protest, the president of Wortley Pride, Kathy Bell-Campbell, says extra security was called-in for this year’s festival.
“(The protestors) have attacked us on social media and advised us they’re coming, so we took extra precautions to make sure everyone would be protected,” she said. “We’ve had some instances where people have spray-painted on the ground, but we’ve covered it with hearts so people can’t read it.”
Over on the Green, Jordan Lock was taking her young daughter to Wortley Pride so she can meet drag queens for the first time.
“She had never seen drag queens in real-life before, and that just happened, so it’s pretty awesome,” she said.
“I’ve grown up in the gay community my whole life. I’ve been around many drag queens and they’re some of the kindest people,” Lock said in response to the anti-drag storytime protest. “People that are scared (are) fear-driven, they don’t really know. That’s sad, but hopefully people will come around to that.”
Also on the Green was Marcel Barnd, a trans man from Montreal.
He told 980 CFPL he travels across Canada to attend Pride festivals to support the LGBTQ+ community.
He advised the public to not pay any attention to the protest.
“If you go after them, that’s what they want, so just ignore them because you’re going to get that wherever you go,” he said. “If they get you upset, just say ‘have a good day’ and move on.”
The event will run until 5 p.m. Saturday.
It will feature a drag storytime, over 50 vendors and musical performances.
Alex Ash and Mariah Darling say the last two weeks have created a lot of exhaustion and anxiety.
The two are part of Chroma NB, an advocacy group for the LGBTQ2 community in the Saint John Region.
“While we were worried about the changes that were coming, we all knew that we were in the dark,” Ash said in an interview on Saturday. “We’ve been in the dark since the beginning.”
Chroma NB was not consulted prior to the changes being made to policy 713, which is intended to protect and create safe, gender-affirming spaces for queer youth in New Brunswick.
One of the biggest changes was requiring parental consent for children under the age of 16, to change their name or pronoun at school, which advocates say could lead to students being misgendered or dead-named.
“We felt that when it was posed to the reviews, we assumed, erroneously assumed, that multiple groups would be contacted in order to help foster a sense of inclusion and to make sure that the review is done ethically and transparently,” Ash said.
The New Brunswick government has defended its decision to review the policy and make changes citing parental rights, adding parents deserve to know. It also argued it allowed teachers to maintain professionalism and not go against parental wishes.
“To assume that a child under 16 doesn’t know themselves enough to know how they would like to identify and or what name they want to be called is ludecris, and it’s really upsetting and it also takes away agency from young people,” Darling said.
But for them, and Chroma NB, this is far beyond who wasn’t consulted, it is a human rights issue. They said it feels like this issue isn’t really parental rights, but parental comfort.
“It might be parental discomfort,” Ash said. “It’s OK to ask for help. If, as a parent, you need help to understand some of those shifts and challenges in your child’s development then definitely reach out to some of the organizations, because we would love to help.”
Manny Travers, also with Chroma NB, said he felt a lot of emotions when the changes were released on June 8.
“This is harmful to both the teachers and all students, not just the trans students in question, because it shows that discrimination is acceptable, even under certain “protective” clauses,” he said in an email. “This should never be tolerated, not in a school environment, not in an educational environment, and not in a social environment.”
Travers said the change in the policy gives permission to people, whether in positions of authority or not, to harm others.
“This shouldn’t be about other people, this should be about trans students,” he said.
Ash and Darling said any policy that removes the ability for students to demand their dignity and anatomy lead to high rates of depression, self-harm, youth suicide and homelessness.
“We’ve seen it. You know we run programming in the city. We run a rainbow club drop in as a brave space for youth at lunch times and after school programs and while our hope is every school experience and home experience is wonderful, where everyone is able to thrive, it’s just always the case,” Ash said.
Chroma NB is part of a growing list of groups not consulted on the changes, which include the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, the New Brunswick Women’s Council, and Pride in Education.
In the end, though, Ash, Darling and Travers said the focus must be on restoring the human rights of queer youth.
“The louder you are, the better, because you’re not just fighting for what’s right, but you’re fighting for those who don’t have the privilege to stand up,” Travers said. “Don’t ever settle for anything less than what you need in order to prosper.”
A group of graduating high school students and their parents marked the end of the school year by doing their part in providing Canadian Blood Services with Halifax’s largest group blood donation on Saturday.
The students from Halifax West High School, calling themselves the “333 lifesavers,” said regularly donating blood together will be a way for them to stay in touch following high school while also giving back to their community.
The day kicked off with the group gathering for a healthy breakfast before the families and friends were brought to the donor centre on the Canadian Blood Service LifeBus.
Jocelyn Melanson, one of the parents who participated in the day’s activities, said the events were organized by close friend, Patti Martin.
“She’s been notorious through all of the kids’ lives for planning some great adventures together for all of the kids and parents to spend time,” she said. “And we know that there’s a big need for blood donations so it’s something that she combined the two ideas together and came up with this.”
Melanson said there will be 70 participants throughout the entire process, with about 56 donating on Saturday.
“It’s a way for us to get together and continue to get together in the years to come as they (the students) go on their separate journeys,” she said. “Gathering with a cause is what I like to call it.”
Melanson said with next week being National Blood Donor Week, which also runs parallel with World Blood Donor Day on June 14, she’s encouraging more groups of families or friends to come out and donate.
Jesse Mcginn, another graduating student, said he’d like to see this become a tradition for future graduating classes.
“We’re all going on after graduating to different things, some of us are going to the same university, some of us are doing other things, so it’s great to come together and do things like this before grade 12 is over,” he said, adding that it wasn’t the first time donating blood for many students.
Krysta Hanakowski, Halifax’s community development manager with the Canadian Blood Services, said the 333 lifesavers offered their first blood donation in March when a group of about 16 participated. She said interest continued to grow as they began planning their second donation.
“Now we’re at a group of almost 65 people coming up to donate which is a huge amount of blood that we need to collect today,” she said, noting that the large group contribution is a “great example” of the organization’s “Shine A Light” campaign, which is intended to draw attention to a current need for new donors.
Hanakowski said she hopes the group’s notable effort on Saturday will energize others to step up and give, as the Halifax location still has 400 appointments remaining to be filled between June and September.
“Having a group of teenagers now that already know the process of donating … this is the kind of thing that we need to help improve our blood donor levels and turn things around.”
RELATED: The G7 Leaders’ Summit kicked off on Friday in Hiroshima, Japan with Canada joining other members to announce new sanctions on Russia, as well as new funding to guard against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The federal government announced the planned seizure of the Antonov 124 on Saturday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Kyiv. Officials said the plane will be taken as a direct response to Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.
“Today, we are demonstrating that Russia’s actions continue to have consequences,” transport minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement Saturday. “We stand with Ukraine and will take any and all necessary actions, including this seizure, to put pressure on President Putin.”
The massive Russian cargo plane has sat on the tarmac at Toronto’s main airport since Canada banned Russian aircraft from entering its airspace in February 2022.
In an April Facebook post, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he understood Canada was “preparing for (the) confiscation of the AN-124” and that it, along with other assets, it would be transferred to Ukraine.
That is something Canadian authorities confirmed they are working toward. “Should the asset ultimately be forfeited to the Crown, Canada will work with the Government of Ukraine on options to redistribute this asset to compensate victims of human rights abuses, restore international peace and security, or rebuild Ukraine,” the federal government said in a statement.
The plane is owned by a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC and Volga-Dnepr Group, Canada believes. Both entities recently had sanctions imposed against them as part of Canada’s response to the war in Ukraine.
The sanctions were levelled by the Canadian government on April 11 as part of a raft of measures rolled out against 34 entities that the federal government said are “complicit in Putin’s war of choice, including several security targets linked to the Wagner Group” and parts of the aviation sector.
“By authorizing the seizure of the Antonov 124, Canada reaffirms that impunity is not an option for those who have profited from Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine,” the federal government said in a statement.
Air quality has improved on the U.S. east coast, where wildfire smoke from Ontario and Quebec choked several cities like New York and Washington, D.C. this week. In Quebec, the wildfire situation still isn’t great but it has stabilized. What’s really needed there is rain. As Mike Armstrong reports, that could still be days away.
The next 48 hours will be crucial in Quebec’s wildfire fight in northern and western parts of the province, with rain forecast for Tuesday but warmer, less humid temperatures expected until then.
Public Security Minister François Bonnardel says authorities are concerned for Normetal, located 720 kilometres northwest of Montreal in the Abitibi region, where fires are burning nearby.
Another major fight is taking place in Lebel-sur-Quevillon, a northern municipality where the province’s largest fire is about five kilometres southeast of the community but also within a few kilometres of the Nordic Kraft pulp mill.
The situation remains stable in Chibougaumau, Mistissini, Chapais and Ouje-Bougoumou, where numerous teams are deployed.
According to Environment Canada, conditions are favourable on Saturday for the development of severe thunderstorms capable of producing strong wind gusts and heavy rain.
Areas under the severe thunderstorm watch include the South Thompson, Nicola, Okanagan and Boundary regions. The weather warning was issued at 9:45 a.m.
Saturday’s forecast for the Okanagan is calling for mainly cloudy skies with a 40 per cent chance of showers in morning, followed by showers and then a risk of thunderstorms.
The mercury is projected to reach 23 C before falling to 15 C overnight.
Sunday’s forecast is projected to be mostly the same.
The national weather agency says it issues severe thunderstorm watches are issued when atmospheric conditions are favourable for the development of thunderstorms that could produce one or more of the following: large hail, damaging winds, or torrential rainfall.