By Sheldon Spackman
A full, city-wide fire ban is now in place for Red Deer. Continued hot, dry conditions have led to the ban in hopes of preventing any fires within the City, especially in it’s parks and forested areas, so all existing fire permits are now suspended.
This means the following fires are not allowed:
- Fires using charcoal, briquettes or wood in the City of Red Deer which includes parks and outdoor residential property
- Any source of open flame (i.e. Tiki Torches, backyard fireplaces)
The following fires are allowed:
- Certified gas fire pits
- Certified gas stoves or barbeques designed for cooking
- Certified cooking appliances utilizing charcoal, briquettes or wood pellets on residential property
Red Deer Emergency Services encourages residents to take extra caution to prevent fires. Proper disposal of smoking materials is very important as many fires are started by individuals throwing them out a window or discarding them in plants.
Any person contravening the fire ban will be subject to a $210 fine and applicable response fees. City officials say the ban will remain in effect until conditions change and further notice is given.
The Town of Penhold has also issued a fire ban for it’s community. In a release, Penhold Fire Chief Jim Pendergast says “Propane and natural gas BBQ’s and liquid fueled camp stoves are still permitted”.
Elsewhere, the Town of Innisfail has also issued a total fire ban. This means that open-air fires of any type are not allowed under any circumstance, until the Fire Chief indicates otherwise. This includes, but is not limited to, backyard fire pits and campfires.
For more information on fire bans across the province, visit https://albertafirebans.ca/
Biden says Putin will pay ‘dear price’ if he invades Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said he believes Vladimir Putin doesn’t want full blown war in Ukraine and would pay a “dear price” if he moves forward with a military incursion.
Biden, speaking at a news conference to mark his one-year anniversary in office, also said he believes that Russia is preparing to take action on Ukraine, though he doesn’t think the Russian president has made a final decision. He suggested that he would limit Russia’s access to the international banking system if it did further invade Ukraine.
“I’m not so sure that he is certain what is he going to do,” Biden said. He added, “My guess is he will move in.”
Biden’s comments came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Kyiv accused Russia of planning to reinforce the more than 100,000 troops it has deployed along the Ukrainian border and suggested that number could double “on relatively short order.” Blinken did not elaborate, but Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to its ally Belarus, which also shares a border with Ukraine, for major war games next month.
The U.S. president said he believes the decision will “solely” be Putin’s and suggested he was not fully confident that Russian officials with whom top White House advisers have been negotiating are fully informed about Putin’s thinking.
“There’s a question of whether the people they’re talking to know what he’s going to do,” Biden said.
Biden also suggested a “minor incursion” would elicit a lesser response than a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, saying “it’s very important that we keep everyone in NATO on the same page.” Biden later in the news conference sought to clarify that he was referring to a non-military action, such as a cyberattack, that would be met with a similar reciprocal response.
Ukraine, meanwhile, said it was prepared for the worst and would survive whatever difficulties come its way. The president urged the country not to panic.
Blinken’s visit to the Ukrainian capital came two days before he is to meet in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. That follows a series of inconclusive talks last week that failed to ease rising tensions.
Russian military activity has been increasing in recent weeks, but the U.S. has not concluded whether Putin plans to invade or whether the show of force is intended to squeeze the security concessions without an actual conflict.
Biden, who spoke with Putin twice last month, said he’s made it clear to him that Russia would face severe sanctions. Still, he said the decision for Putin could come down to “what side of the bed” he wakes up on.
“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves, No. 1,” Biden warned. “This is not all just a cake walk for Russia,” Biden said. “They’ll pay a stiff price immediately” and in the medium and long term “if they do it.”
In Kyiv, Blinken reiterated Washington’s demands for Russia to de-escalate the situation by removing its forces from the border area, something that Moscow has flatly refused to do. And, Blinken said he wouldn’t give Russia the written response it expects to its demands when he and Lavrov meet in Geneva.
Meanwhile, a top Russian diplomat said Moscow would not back down from its insistence that the U.S. formally ban Ukraine from ever joining NATO and reduce its and the alliance’s military presence in Eastern Europe. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow had no intention of invading Ukraine but that its demands for security guarantees were non-negotiable.
The U.S. and its allies have said the Russian demands are non-starters, that Russia knows they are and that Putin is using them in part to create a pretext for invading Ukraine, which has strong ethnic and historical ties to Russia. The former Soviet republic aspires to join the alliance, though has little hope of doing so in the foreseeable future.
Blinken urged Western nations to remain united in the face of Russian aggression. He also reassured Ukraine’s leader of NATO support while calling for Ukrainians to stand strong.
Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the U.S. and its allies were steadfast in backing his country and its democratic aspirations against Russian attempts to incite division and discord through “relentless aggression.”
“Our strength depends on preserving our unity and that includes unity within Ukraine,” he told Zelenskyy. “I think one of Moscow’s long-standing goals has been to try to sow divisions between and within our countries, and quite simply we cannot and will not let them do that.”
The Biden administration had said earlier it was providing an additional $200 million in defensive military aid to Ukraine. Blinken said more assistance is coming and that it would only increase should Russia invade.
Zelenskyy thanked Blinken for the aid, which was approved in late December but not confirmed until Wednesday.
“This (military) support not only speaks to our strategic plans of Ukraine joining the alliance, but more importantly to the level of our military, our military supplies,” he said, referring to Kyiv’s desire to join NATO.
“Your visit is very important,” Zelenskyy said. “It underlines once again your powerful support of our independence and sovereignty.”
Zelenskyy released a video address to the nation on Wednesday evening, urging Ukrainians not to panic over fears of a possible invasion. But he said the country has been living with the Russian threat for many years and should always be prepared for war. He called on all Ukrainians, especially the elderly, to “breathe” and “calm down.”
Ukraine’s president also gave assurances that the country was strengthening its defense capabilities and doing everything possible to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.
“Ukraine doesn’t want a war, but must always be prepared for it,” Zelenskyy said.
From Kyiv, Blinken plans a short trip to Berlin for talks with German and other European allies on Thursday before meeting with Lavrov.
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the European Union to draw up a plan to ease tensions with Russia, “We should build it among Europeans, then share it with our allies in the framework of NATO, and then propose it for negotiation to Russia,” he said.
Washington and its allies have kept the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures to reduce the potential for hostilities.
Ryabkov insisted, however, that there can’t be any meaningful talks on those issues if the West doesn’t heed the main Russian requests for the non-expansion of NATO with a formal response. He said the Russian demands are “a package, and we’re not prepared to divide it into different parts, to start processing some of those at the expense of standing idle on others.”
Blinken, though, said no such formal response was coming. “I won’t be presenting a paper at that time to Foreign Minister Lavrov,” he said. “We need to see where we are and see if there remain opportunities to pursue the diplomacy and pursue the dialogue.”
The Biden administration and its allies have accused Putin of creating the crisis and say it is up to him and the Russians to decide whether to invade and suffer severe economic consequences.
Russia has brushed off calls to withdraw its troops by saying it has a right to deploy its forces wherever it likes on its own territory. It also has rejected U.S. allegations that it’s preparing a “false flag operation” to use as a pretext for intervention. Russia has angrily denied the charge.
Before Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, a delegation of U.S. senators traveled to Ukraine to emphasize congressional support for the country.
Russia in 2014 seized the Crimean Peninsula after the ouster of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly leader and also threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting between the Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland, called Donbas.
Lee reported from Kyiv. Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv contributed to this report.
Matthew Lee And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
CP NewsAlert: Four people including baby found dead in Manitoba near U.S. border
WINNIPEG — Mounties in Manitoba say they have found the bodies of four people — including an infant and a teen — near the United States border.
They say the four died from exposure during a blizzard and freezing temperatures.
RCMP say American authorities first notified them about a group that had crossed into the U.S. from near Emerson, Man., and they had items with them for an infant but no baby.
Mounties went searching yesterday and located the body of a man, woman and infant.
They also found a teen’s body nearby.
RCMP are telling people not to attempt to cross the border in either direction because it can be deadly.
More coming …
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