Tag Archives: terror

WATCH: Perseverance Lands on Mars Today in ‘7 Minutes of Terror’

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About eight and a half years ago, I stayed up until well after midnight to watch Curiosity make Marsfall. At the time, all eyes were glued to what is euphemistically referred to as the “seven minutes of terror.” It took Curiosity and will take Perseverance approximately that long to descend from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the ground below. It takes 11 minutes for a signal from Mars to reach Earth, which means the entire descent will be over before we receive the first signals it’s begun.

“The Perseverance team is putting the final touches on the complex choreography required to land in Jezero Crater,” said Jennifer Trosper, deputy project manager for the mission at JPL. “No Mars landing is guaranteed, but we have been preparing a decade to put this rover’s wheels down on the surface of Mars and get to work.”

If you want to watch the Mars landing live, starting at 3:48 PM EST, you can do so on the NASA YouTube channel linked below. We’ll continue discussing some of what Perseverance faces after the jump:

At 3:38 PM EST, the cruise stage and entry capsule will separate. Atmospheric entry begins at 3:48 PM. The fact that Mars has an atmosphere in the first place allows NASA to use some of the same tactics it uses to return spacecraft to Earth, but Mars’ atmospheric pressure at sea level is less than one percent of Earth’s. Small, light objects can parachute down from orbit the same way they would here, but larger, heavier craft require special tools.

Note: NASA actually has a term for “Purposefully hurling your spacecraft at the ground in an attempt to stop it.” While most of us would refer to this as “crashing,” it turns out that’s only the appropriate term when you hit the planet accidentally. When you throw yourself directly at the planet intentionally, it’s called “lithobraking.” Perseverance is much too heavy for lithobraking, so NASA will deploy a tool it last used for Curiosity: A rocket-powered hover crane.

NASA technically calls this its “Sky Crane,” but in a survey of myself, “Rocket-powered hover crane” polled higher. It’s also a more accurate description of what the Sky Crane actually does.

It’s got rockets. It hovers. It’s a crane. (It’s a ship. It goes through the gate). Random deep cut sci-fi references provided free of charge.

This image from Curiosity’s landing shows exactly the same procedure NASA plans for Perseverance. After it enters the upper atmosphere, Perseverance will brake itself via parachute and retro-rockets. Retro-rockets, however, kick up a tremendous amount of dust if used too close to the surface, potentially damaging the rover. The surface descent stage will lower Perseverance to the surface of the Red Planet from an altitude of ~25 feet. If all goes well, the rover will signal its own survival at approximately 3:55 PM EST.

Perseverance carries its own unique payload of scientific instruments compared with Curiosity and will conduct its own investigations of Jezero Crater as it uncovers past and present conditions on Mars. It also carries the helicopter Ingenuity, intended to be the first powered aircraft to fly on another planet.

Feature Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Lab tech who found B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 recalls ‘sheer terror’ of discovery

In the early days of the pandemic, Rebecca Hickman would carefully watch each sample being tested for the novel coronavirus in her lab at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

“I was so afraid of getting a positive,” the public health laboratory technologist told CBC this week.

That meant she was paying close attention as the first test came back positive at about 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2020.

“I actually started to see it get positive within a few seconds,” Hickman recalled. “My first feeling was sheer terror, from a personal point of view.”

The co-designer of B.C.’s test, medical laboratory technologist Tracy Lee, was in a meeting as the results were coming in. She remembers getting a call from Hickman and rushing to the lab to watch the test complete.

Lee felt “both fear and relief” as the test came back positive — fear for what this meant for the people of B.C., but relief that the test was working as planned.

Hickman shared those mixed emotions.

“To design, validate and implement a molecular laboratory test usually takes months if not years, and so to do that in the span of days is a huge achievement,” Hickman said.

There was also some excitement. She said she “felt like I was a part of something huge.”

Hickman spent the rest of that first afternoon sequencing a portion of the genome from the positive sample, and by midnight the lab had confirmed it was SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.


B.C. CDC laboratory technologists Tracy Lee and Rebecca Hickman worked together to design the initial COVID-19 test to detect the virus in B.C. It is still being used today. (Michael Donoghue/BCCDC)

It had been a 16-hour workday.

“I went home and slept for five hours, then came back,” she recalls.

The next day, British Columbians watched as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the inevitable. The virus was here in B.C.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve ever found things out before I read it in the news,” Hickman said.

‘Instability and craziness’

A year later, B.C. has confirmed 66,779 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,189 people have died.

Hickman has gone from anxiously checking the totals after the daily afternoon update from health officials to barely noticing as B.C. records hundreds of cases each day. She says COVID fatigue is real.

There have been difficult times, like in the spring when lab supplies and personal protective equipment began to run out.

“The instability and craziness of it all has been the hardest part,” Hickman said.

Watch: Rebecca Hickman recalls finding B.C.’s first case of COVID-19

Rebecca Hickman was just nine months into her new job at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control when she confirmed B.C.’s first case of the novel coronavirus. 1:11

Today, much of her time is spent doing whole genome sequencing for about 15 to 20 per cent of COVID-19 cases.

That work helps health officials track the new, more infectious variants that have popped up in different parts of the world. It’s also used for outbreak response — scientists can determine how the virus is spreading through a community or health-care facility and whether cases are being introduced from new sources.

Hickman was just nine months into her job at the B.C. CDC when she discovered the first case.

She said she’s proud to have played a part in such a major moment in history.

“It has been easily the most difficult year of my life but also the most fulfilling. What we have achieved here over the last year is huge,” Hickman said.

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Central Vienna rocked by gunfire in suspected terror attack

Gunmen opened fire on people enjoying a last evening out in Vienna before a coronavirus lockdown Monday in a terror attack that left at least two dead — including one of the attackers — and 15 wounded, authorities said.

“I am glad that our police were able to neutralize one of the attackers,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. “We will not never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks with all means.”

Police said that several shots were fired shortly after 8 p.m. local time on a lively street in the city centre and that there were six shooting locations.

Austria’s top security official said that authorities believe there were several gunmen involved and that a police operation was still going on hours later.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told Austrian broadcaster ORF that the attack was believed to have been carried out by several people, with several still at large, and that all six locations were in the immediate vicinity of the street housing the central synagogue.

“At the moment, I can confirm we believe this is an apparent terror attack,” he said.


“We believe there are several perpetrators. Unfortunately there are also several injured, probably also dead.”

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig said 15 people were hospitalized, seven with serious injuries.

Authorities gave no indication of the identity of the assailants or the reason for the attack.

President Emmanuel Macron of France, which has seen two deadly knife attacks in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow.

“This is our Europe,” he said. “Our enemies must know with whom they are dealing. We will not retreat.”

WATCH | Unclear whether attack specifically targeted synagogue, reporter in Vienna tells CBC News:

Freelance reporter John Cummings tells CBC News from Vienna that several people there are reported injured in multiple locations after several exchanges of gunfire. The interior minister said it’s believed to be a terror attack. 8:31

French officials have ramped up security after the attacks in Paris and Nice, which had suspected Islamist motives. Macron has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as places of worship and schools, and ministers have warned that other Islamist militant attacks could take place.

A spokesperson for the ambulance service said at least one person had been killed and several injured. One of the suspects and a bystander had been shot dead and a police officer was among those injured, local news agency APA said.


Police block a street near Schwedenplatz square after exchanges of gunfire at six different locations in Vienna, Austria, late Monday. (Lisi Niesner/Reuters)

Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said on Twitter that it was not clear whether the Vienna synagogue and adjoining offices had been the target of an attack, and said they were closed at the time.

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told The Associated Press that he saw at least one person fire shots at people sitting outside bars in the street below his window.

“They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,” Hofmeister said.

“All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown,” he said. “As of midnight, all bars and restaurants will be closed in Austria for the next month and a lot of people probably wanted to use that evening to be able to go out.”


Austria’s interior minister says the shootings are believed to be a terror attack. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Kurz said these were “difficult hours for our republic” and vowed: “Our police will act decisively against the culprits of this despicable terror attack.”

Videos circulated on social media of a gunman running down a cobblestone street shooting and shouting. Reuters could not immediately verify the videos.

Vienna police urged people not to share videos and photos via social media. “This jeopardizes police forces as well as the civilian population,” they said on Twitter.

In 1981, two people were killed and 18 injured during an attack by two Palestinians at the same synagogue. In 1985, a Palestinian extremist group attacked Vienna airport with hand grenades and assault rifles, killing three civilians.

In recent years, Austria has been spared the sort of large-scale attacks seen in Paris, Berlin and London.

In August, authorities arrested a 31-year-old Syrian refugee suspected of trying to attack a Jewish community leader in the city of Graz. The leader was unhurt.


A large-scale police operation was underway Monday evening in Vienna after gunmen opened fire in 6 locations around Vienna’s city centre. (CBC News)

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U.K. park stabbings that killed 3 was a terror attack, police say

A stabbing rampage that killed three people as they sat in a British park on a summer evening is being considered a terrorist attack, police said Sunday. A 25-year-old man who is believed to be the lone attacker is in custody.

Authorities said they were not looking for any other suspects and they did not raise Britain’s official terrorism threat level from “substantial.”

Three people were killed and three others seriously wounded in the stabbing attack that came out of the blue Saturday in Forbury Gardens park in Reading, a city of 200,000 people 64 kilometres west of London.

“Motivation for this horrific act is far from certain,” said Neil Basu, Britain’s top counterterrorism police officer, as police forensics officers combed the park for evidence.

Chief Const. John Campbell of Thames Valley Police said officers were called to reports of stabbings just before 7 p.m. and arrived to find a “horrific” scene. He said a suspect was apprehended within five minutes.


A man places flowers next to a fence at the scene of multiple stabbings in Reading, just west of London. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Basu said “incredibly brave” unarmed officers detained a 25-year-old local man at the scene. The Thames Valley force later said counterterrorism detectives were taking over the investigation.

“There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public,” said Det. Chief Supt. Ian Hunter.

Reports say suspect lived in Reading

Police have not identified the suspect, but Britain’s national news agency, Press Association, and other media outlets named him as Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan asylum-seeker living in Reading.

A Reading man of that name who is the same age as the suspect was sentenced to two months in prison last year for assaulting an emergency worker. The same man was also charged last year with assaulting a judge who had sentenced him.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who met security officials, police and senior ministers on Sunday for an update on the investigation, said he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack.

“If there are lessons that we need to learn” or legal changes needed to prevent such attacks, “then we will learn those lessons and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary,” Johnson said.

Police officers patrolled cordons on the roads leading to the park on Sunday, and blue-and-white tents were erected near the attack site. Overnight, heavily armed officers entered an apartment about a mile away, and a loud bang was heard.

Notes and bunches of flowers had been left Sunday by the police tape in tribute to the victims.

“There are no words that anyone can say to express how horrible and senseless this was,” one said. “Our prayers are with all the victims and their families and friends.”


A police officer stands behind a barrier on Sunday near the scene of the stabbings. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

The attack came hours after a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Forbury Gardens, but police said there was no connection between the two events.

Personal trainer Lawrence Wort said the park was full of groups sitting on the grass Saturday evening when “one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them.”

“He stabbed three of them severely in the neck and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running,” Wort said.


Armed police officers investigate near apartment units off Basingstoke Road in Reading early Sunday after the stabbing at Forbury Gardens park. (Steve Parsons/Press Association via The Associated Press)

Britain has been hit by several terror attacks in recent years, both by people inspired by the Islamic State group and by far-right extremists. Islamist-inspired attacks include a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed 22 people in 2017 and two deadly vehicle and knife attacks in London the same year.

In several cases, attackers have been known to police. In November, a man who had been released after serving a prison sentence for a terrorism offence stabbed two people to death at a justice conference in London.

In February, a man recently released from prison after serving time for terrorism-related offences strapped on a fake bomb and stabbed two people on a busy London street before being shot to death by police. No one else was killed.

Britain’s official terrorism threat level stands at “substantial,” the middle level on a five-rung scale, meaning an attack is likely.

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New Fossils Prove Spinosaurus Was an Underwater Terror

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We’re all familiar with Tyrannosaurus Rex, a massive theropod dinosaur from the Cretaceous period and star of several movies about dinosaurs eating people. However, there were even larger, potentially more terrifying beasts on Earth all those millions of years ago. Spinosaurus was even bigger than the T-rex, and new discoveries indicate you wouldn’t have been safe even in the water. Spinosaurus, it turns out, was an excellent swimmer thanks to its large, paddle-like tail. 

Spinosaurus was a theropod like the Tyrannosaurus — that just means it had hollow bones and three-toed limbs. The descendants of theropods most likely evolved into modern birds, but Spinosaurus was more dangerous than any bird. Adults could weigh as much as 7.5 tons and grow to more than 50 feet in length, making them among the largest theropod dinosaurs. 

Researchers first proposed that Spinosaurus was primarily an underwater predator several years ago, but the scientific community was unconvinced. Donald Henderson, a paleontologist at Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, noted that Spinosaurus was probably top-heavy with its distinctive back sail and would not have been able to dive underwater. Nazir Ibrahim, lead author of the study, believed the answer would be found in fossils. Previous excavations had only uncovered a few Spinosaurus tail sections, but the team uncovered an almost full set of tail bones at a fossil site in Morocco between 2017 and 2018. 

The newly reconstructed Spinosaurus was undeniably at home in the water. Rather than having a tapered whip-like tail, Spinosaurus had a giant fin attached to its backside. Some of the fossil bones were 12-inches thick, indicating the tail would have been a powerful mode of underwater propulsion. The team speculates Spinosaurus might have spent most of its time in the water. 

The team created a computer model to assess the capabilities of Spinosaurus’ tail, comparing it with modern land-dwelling dinosaurs and semi-aquatic creatures like crocodiles. Unsurprisingly, the Spinosaurus tail fin was about 2.6 times more efficient in the water than the tails of other theropods. 

Museums around the world will have to update their Spinosaurus models in the wake of this discovery, but that’s nothing new. The fossil record is incomplete, and sometimes we get details wrong when trying to reconstruct an entire animal from partial remains. The Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in New York stood in the incorrect upright posture until 1992 before adopting the correct parallel position. Oh, the developers of Animal Crossing will have to update their inaccurate Spinosaurus fossils, too.

Top image credit: Kumiko/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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How ‘absolute terror’ led this P.E.I. man to start a podcast about mental health

Feeling alone is a common theme on Matt Burke’s podcast about mental health.

The 24-year-old started Matty’s Mental Health Podcast about 10 months ago and since then has recorded 21 episodes in his Charlottetown home, covering a wide range of topics including his own story.

“The purpose of the podcast is to provide a platform where people can share their stories with mental health.”

He said a lot of people feel like they have to fight their mental health battles on their own, and through the podcast, he wants to show them they don’t have to. 

On the podcast he has spoken to people about things such as depression, anxiety and how concussions can affect a person’s mental health.


‘I just knew right away that I was just looking to make a positive out of it somehow,’ says Matt Burke, of his own experiences. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“I’ve had counsellors on there. They talked about mental health from their side,” he said. 

“A lot of interesting people. I’ve learned a lot from them.”

Burke said he is not a mental health professional “by any stretch of the imagination,” but he has had his own struggles with mental health and revealed his story on Episode 9.

‘Absolute terror’

When Burke was 20, his girlfriend took her own life.

The couple was having a difficult time and while he was out one night his cellphone died as the two were texting back and forth.

I just knew right away that I was just looking to make a positive out of it somehow.— Matt Burke

The following morning he was cleaning off his car to go check on her when her parents pulled into the driveway and told him his girlfriend had killed herself.

“It was just absolute terror,” Burke said.

He couldn’t wrap his head around it. He was a mess and he got sick to his stomach.

“I completely lost it. I went into a rage. I punched the ground. I went into my house and I punched holes in the wall,” he said.


Mark Burke, left, was on the latest episode of the podcast. Mark opened up about playing hockey on P.E.I. and how concussions affected his mental health. (Matty’s Mental Health Podcast/Youtube)

His girlfriend’s family insisted he come with them for the day and he went. He said they talked him down from his emotions.

“I was lucky they took me in right away and treated me as family,” he said.

Now, with the podcast he is hoping to provide similar support by discussing mental health with others.

When you do tell your story it really does help.— Mark Burke

“I just knew right away that I was just looking to make a positive out of it somehow,” he said. 

“Like ‘How can I help? How can I move this forward? Take this experience and help somebody else that was in the same situation she was in,'” Burke said.

He said he wasn’t sure what form that help would take until he found podcasting and decided to start inviting Islanders to discuss mental wellness.

‘Anxious, like constantly’

Mark Burke — no relation to Matt — was on the latest episode of the podcast. He played hockey on P.E.I. for about 16 years, from squirts to junior, he said.

In December of 2016 he suffered a concussion and returned to the ice after two weeks. Two-and-a-half months later he suffered another concussion. That’s when he realized they were taking a toll on his mental health.


In December of 2016 Mark Burke suffered a concussion playing hockey and returned to the ice after two weeks. (Debbie Hall)

“Anxious, like constantly. I’d go through bouts of depression from it. Just almost felt sort of stuck in a fight or flight state,” Mark said. 

“Mood swings would randomly happen. I would go from somewhat happy, to mad as crazy over something silly to almost being in tears and that could all happen in a span of 15 minutes.”

While he was experiencing this, he was going through changes in his life and had just moved out on his own, so he attributed the mental health issues to that.

He said he didn’t really think his mental health was impacted by the concussions until he heard former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas talk about how his mental health was affected by concussions.


Mark only told his parents about a month ago and the family went to see a mental health professional together.

“He referred me to a neurologist, so we are in line for that,” Mark said. 

Mark also struggles with small talk following the concussions and appearing on the podcast was a way of addressing that issue.

“That felt real good, just to kind of air it all out,” he said. “I got to keep moving forward and make myself better every day to kind of set a good example — that when you do tell your story it really does help.”

Mark said he was able to relate to Matt knowing he also struggled with mental health.

‘Tornado of emotions’

The year after his girlfriend died Matt was in shock. He couldn’t sleep or focus.

“It is kind of a tornado of emotions,” he said. “You know, a big thing for me, I started therapy right away and that was huge for me. That probably saved my life.”

Matt said just talking about what was going through his mind helped.

I think by them sharing it’ll just benefit anyone who listens.— Matt Burke 

One thing he started to do, that he still does, is go on hikes with his dogs for hours at a time.

“I just work through everything that is going on in my mind,” he said. “It’s kind of like a meditation time, and I always felt a little bit better.”

Matt said he hopes his girlfriend would be proud of the work he is doing now.

He said if what he’s doing helps one person, “it’ll be worth it for me.”

Gaining confidence from others

Ronnie McPhee, a community liaison for the city of Charlottetown, was a recent guest on the podcast.

McPhee said listening to Matt and his guests open up about their mental health troubles inspired him and gave him the confidence to take his turn at the microphone.


Ronnie McPhee, left, says he was inspired by hearing Matt and his guests open up about their mental health troubles, and that made him want to open up too. (Matty’s Mental Health Podcast/Youtube)

When McPhee was younger he struggled with his mental health, and at one point, he spent time in the hospital.

“It gave me the opportunity to put myself in a comparable setting to other people who had challenges like this,” he said.

“It just showed me how I could offer up my advantages to support others.”

The main thing I try to do is get out of the way and let them tell their story.— Matt Burke

Being able to talk and help others deal with their mental health struggles has helped him cope with his own, McPhee said.

“That was always a good feeling to me. That’s kind of how I found my way of coping with the challenges I kind of grew up with,” he said.

Guests keep coming

Burke hasn’t had to look for guests very often because many people have asked if they can be part of the podcast.

“I’m just like honoured to do it and I am so thankful for all the guests that reach out to me,” he said. “I know how hard it is to tell your story.”

Bringing these things to light and being more compassionate about it is 100 per cent the way to go in the future.— Matt Burke

He said organizing a traumatic story, to “go back to that point and really dive into it,” can be difficult.

“The main thing I try to do is get out of the way and let them tell their story and I think by them sharing it’ll just benefit anyone who listens who is going through the same thing,” he said.

“And even people who aren’t going through the same thing, just to understand what people go through.”

One takeaway he hopes listeners walk away with is that mental health issues are common.


Burke says he hopes his girlfriend would be proud of the work he is doing now, by helping others tell their mental health stories. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Having lost someone very close to suicide, Matt does worry about some of the people he interviews.

“I never try to force anyone to come on,” Burke said. “I want to make sure they are in a good enough place to come on.”

When referring to his girlfriend’s death, Burke said “mental illness took her life.”

He said in the last few years the discussion around mental health has become more compassionate.

“Bringing these things to light and being more compassionate about it is 100 per cent the way to go in the future.”

Matty’s Mental Health Podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

Anyone needing emotional support, crisis intervention or help with problem solving in P.E.I. can contact The Island Helpline at 1-800-218-2885, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information about mental health services on P.E.I., find resources from Health PEI here, or from the Canadian Mental Health Association P.E.I. Division here.

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Atlanta bombing movie brings back memories of terror for Canadian Olympians who were there

Donovan Bailey awoke on the morning of July 27, 1996 with two items on his personal to-do list.

The first was to set a world record in the men’s 100-metre Olympic final. The second was to claim Olympic gold as the world’s fastest man.

“My coach, Dan Pfaff, felt I was going to break the world record,” says a reflective Bailey, now 52. “So the time really was not going to matter to me. I knew I was going to run faster than I had ever run before.”

Initially, Bailey thought Pfaff was playing a mind game when he told him a bomb had exploded at 1:25 a.m. in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, the free concert zone with no metal detectors, no scanners and no controlled access 

Without another word, Pfaff left the room.

“That’s just the relationship between Dan and myself,” Bailey says. “Dan is always trying to test me.”

WATCH |  News coverage of Atlanta 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing:

CBC News’ Eric Sorensen reports on the infamous Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27, 1996 from Atlanta. 5:16

So Bailey sat down to eat his omelette, fresh fruit and toast, while sipping his English breakfast tea with milk and honey. The house manager flipped the television on and the mind game became real.

“I didn’t know how many people had died,” Bailey says of the carnage he saw on the screen. “I didn’t know if they were going to cancel the Olympic Games. I didn’t know what was happening.”

That same morning, Marnie McBean woke up and saw a yellow Post-it note slipped under her door by her coach, Al Morrow.


Jewell was hounded by media after an erroneous report linked him to the bombing. Jewell died in 2007. (The Associated Press)

The note read: Last night, a bomb went off at Centennial Olympic Park. People were injured and/or killed. Expect security delays and/or cancellations. You might want to get an earlier bus.

“Personally, I had 30 family members come down to Atlanta,” McBean says. “And my family, they’re all precarious adventurers. People barely had cell phones, so I couldn’t call them up and make sure everyone was okay.

“So we got on an earlier bus. We didn’t know what was going on, and we’re on the bus that’s supposed to go to our Olympic final.”

Bailey and McBean are among scores of Canadians who remember the terror depicted in the new Clint Eastwood movie, Richard Jewell. The film is based on the true story of Jewell, the Atlanta security guard wrongly suspected in the Centennial Park bombing.

Jewell likely saved many lives that night when he discovered an unattended backpack containing three pipe bombs during a rock concert attended by about 50,000 people. He helped clear the immediate area before a bomb exploded, killing a woman and injuring 111. (A Turkish television camera operator also died when he suffered a fatal heart attack as he rushed to the scene.)

I didn’t know if they were going to cancel the Olympic Games. I didn’t know what was happening.– Donovan Bailey, 1996 100-metre champion

Initially hailed as a hero, Jewell’s life fell apart on July 30 when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran the headline: ‘FBI suspects hero guard may have planted bomb’.

Though police never charged him, many people still thought Jewell — who died in 2007 from complications of diabetes — was responsible for the bombing. It wasn’t until 1998 that authorities charged Eric Rudolph, who pleaded guilty to the bombings in 2005 and is serving a life sentence.

“I think most of us still had the feeling in Atlanta that Olympic security would keep everybody safe and sound and that nothing like this could happen,” says Mark Lee, a broadcaster who worked the 1996 Games for CBC. “It was pre-9/11. You still thought with all the security, you would be safe.”

After a long day of calling volleyball, Lee and commentator Charlie Parkinson arrived back at the International Broadcast Centre. In a scene familiar to every Olympics, they stood outside waiting for a bus that never came.

They managed to arrange a ride, and at around 1 a.m., less than half an hour before the bomb would explode, the pair found themselves about 100 metres from the sound tower at Centennial Olympic Park waiting to be picked up.

At 3:30 a.m., Lee’s phone rang.

“Are you okay?” a CBC manager asked.

“Yeah, I’m asleep,” Lee replied. “What’s going on?”

The manager told Lee he was listed as last being seen leaving the broadcast centre around the time of the explosion.

We started chasing people down. We were trying to find everybody.– Dave Bedford, Canadian Olympic Committee media attache at 1996 Olympics

It was also where Canadian Olympic Committee media attaché Dave Bedford had trudged through Centennial Olympic Park at around the same time before heading back to his sleeping quarters at Clark Atlanta University.

The ringing phone interrupted his slumber with an order to report to the Main Press Centre as soon as possible.

Half asleep, Bedford rushed back but shortly after arriving, the facility received a bomb threat and went into lock-down.

“That kind of scares the hell out of you,” he says. “You’re in there by yourself and none of the other COC staffers can get in or out. It’s a little disconcerting.”

The phone in the COC office rang constantly, with panicked parents calling to check on their loved ones.

“We started chasing people down,” he says. “We were trying to find everybody.”

Olympic security protocols are much more sophisticated these days, but back in Atlanta, Bedford and his colleagues connected with the manager assigned to each team. The manager then physically went out and found each team member.

No injuries to Canadian team members

“Once we determined everyone was accounted for then the messaging was really simple,” he says. “It was just, ‘hey, you, everyone’s accounted for and there are no injuries with Canadian team members.’

“Parents and family members were very happy to hear that.”

Lee woke up around 7:30 a.m. — he had willed himself back to sleep for fear of not being at his best on air — and immediately called his wife.

“I needed to let her know I was okay,” he says. “The Olympics are such a huge undertaking. When you have your loved ones away from an Olympics and they hear something has happened — like a bombing or shooting — everyone thinks you’re right in the middle of it even though it was nowhere near you.”

Except in this case, Lee was way too close for comfort.


Marnie McBean, right, and Kathleen Heddle won gold in the double sculls on the morning after the bombing. (Bongarts/Getty Images)

That morning, all was quiet when the bus pulled up to the Olympic rowing venue at Lake Lanier. At the entrance, the driver killed the engine and crews conducted their routine bomb sweep before granting the vehicle entrance.

McBean looked over and saw actual spectators in the grandstand — which she saw as a good sign. After all, they wouldn’t let people in if the event was cancelled.

Once inside, McBean huddled with her coach and found out the band Jack Mack and the Heart Attack was performing the night before at Centennial Park.

“[The band] was nobody my family had ever heard of,” McBean says. “So I was like, ‘Odds are super high that my family never went.’ It was just a guess that my family was fine and then we went on with the race day.”

In Lane 4 for the women’s double sculls final, McBean and her partner, Kathleen Heddle, sat in their boat with gold in their sights. Heavy favourites, the Canadians lived up to the hype.

‘Huge chunk of perspective’

Holding off the Chinese and Dutch at the finish, McBean leaned over and kissed her oars in sweet celebration of Canada’s first gold of the Atlanta Games.

Around 2 p.m., McBean and Heddle walked into the lounge in the athlete’s village and saw Olympians from around the world glued to the TV in hopes of learning more about the bombing.

“Kathleen and I were staring at real life,” McBean says. “We had just done this sporting thing, but there was this huge chunk of perspective that came into that moment.”

Already guarded by the RCMP at a safe house in the upscale district of Buckhead, Donovan Bailey received word mid-morning that his 100-metre race was on. From that moment, he intentionally banished any thought of the bombing.

“The 100 metres is the biggest event of every Olympic games since 1896,” he says. “So, for me, coming in being the reigning world champion, and obviously, being a favourite to win, my responsibility was to stay focused and compartmentalize as best as I could the events of that day so that I could really get the job done.”

WATCH |  Donovan Bailey reacts to news of Atlanta bombing

Donovan Bailey discusses his reaction to the infamous Centennial Olympic Park bombing, in an interview with CBC Sports’ 1996 Atlanta Olympic host Brian Williams. Bailey won 100 metre Olympic gold on the same day the bombing took place, on July 27, 1996. 1:01

Competing in spite of a torn left adductor, Bailey concentrated on his game plan.

“I felt that the semifinals and obviously the finals would kind of undo the negativity and the clouds around the Olympics,” he said. “And I’m no stranger to that because I did compete for Canada.”

On Bailey’s ample shoulders rested the hopes of Canadians still scarred by memories of 1988 when Ben Johnson was stripped of his Olympic gold after testing positive for steroids at the Games in Seoul, South Korea.

That night, Bailey rode to the stadium in a motorcade with police vehicles both in front and behind him.

“I was the king of the world.” he says with a chuckle.

In the final, the king was the second last man to burst out of the blocks.

“I realized I had a terrible start,” he says. “What I had to do was step back, breathe a little bit and get into my drive phase knowing that when I hit top speed, I would pass everybody.”

And pass everybody he did. Knowing he would win at 70 metres, Bailey glided over the finish line and saw a sea of Canadian flags to his right.

He looked at the clock: 9.84 seconds — a new Olympic and world record.


Canada’s Donovan Bailey won the gold medal and set a world record in the 100 metres hours after the Olympic bombing in 1996. (Getty Images)

“I opened my mouth,” he says. “It was a reactionary thing. I got it done. Let me take my flag and take my place in history.”

Standing to the right of that historical moment was an exhausted Dave Bedford, still working after the terrifying experience at the Main Press Centre.

“Donovan ran right by me with both his arms down going at his side and his mouth gaping open,” says Bedford, now the chief executive officer of Athletics Canada. “It was wild for sure. Highs and lows to the extremes.”

All these years later, Bailey hopes people will look back at the highs of Atlanta even when reliving the lows while watching Richard Jewell at the local movie theatre.

“The Olympic Games should never be about politics — about somebody with some sort of agenda,” Bailey says. “The Olympic Games are all about sports and celebrating the greatest athletes on the planet.”

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‘A nation of terror’: Trump accuses Iran of involvement in tanker attacks

U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed the assessment of his top advisers and publicly accused Iran of responsibility for recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Trump said on Friday that Iran’s culpability was “exposed” by the United States. While calling into Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, he said of the Thursday attacks, “Iran did do it.”

“They are a nation of terror, and they’ve changed a lot since I was president,” Trump said.

Iran rebuffed blame for the attacks and affirmed its responsibility for security in the nearby Strait of Hormuz, where almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes, state radio reported Friday.

“Obviously, accusing Iran for such a suspicious and unfortunate incident is the simplest and the most convenient way for [U.S. Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and other U.S. officials. These accusations are alarming,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying by Iran’s state radio.

“We are responsible for ensuring the security of the strait and we have rescued the crew of those attacked tankers in the shortest possible time.”

Trump did not preview any potential U.S. response to the attack, saying the U.S. has been “very tough on sanctions.” He added: “They’ve been told in very strong terms we want to get them back to the table.”


Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions that forced the crews to abandon ship and leave both the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous adrift in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran.

The U.S. military released a video late on Thursday it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese-owned oil tanker.

Watch the video released by the U.S. military:

The U.S. military says this video shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz. 1:52

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected the U.S. accusations as part of “sabotage diplomacy.”

The blasts, south of the Strait of Hormuz, followed last month’s attacks on vessels off the Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs.

About 17.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil pass through the strait. Consumption was about 100 million bpd in 2017, data from analytics firm Vortexa showed.

Brent crude futures rose 0.6 per cent to $ 61.69 US per barrel in Asian trade on Friday, having gained 2.2 per cent the previous day.

One source said the blast on the Front Altair may have been caused by a magnetic mine. The firm that chartered the Kokuka Courageous tanker said it was hit by a suspected torpedo, but a person with knowledge of the matter said that was not the case.

‘The region doesn’t need further escalation’

The European Union called on Friday for maximum restraint amid the mounting tensions between the U.S. and Iran

“We are gathering more information and we are assessing the situation,” a spokesperson for the EU’s foreign service told reporters. “We have said repeatedly that the region doesn’t need further escalation, it doesn’t need destabilization, it doesn’t need further tension and therefore we call for maximum restraint and to avoid provocations.”

IRGC commanders have said Iran would block all exports through the strait if countries heed U.S. calls to stop buying its oil. In April, Washington designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization.

The U.S. military’s Central Command also released photographs showing the apparent mine, which attaches to the side of a ship magnetically, before it was removed later in the day.


This still image taken from a U.S. military handout video purportedly shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of the Kokuka Courageous tanker. (U.S. Military/Handout via Reuters)

Comprising an estimated 125,000-strong military with navy, army and air units, the Guards control Iran’s missile programs. The Guards’ overseas Quds forces have fought Iran’s proxy wars in the region for decades from Yemen to Syria.

Relations between Tehran and Washington took a turn for the worse last year, when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the deal in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear work.

Without mentioning the attacks, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told leaders of a China-led security bloc in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek that U.S. withdrawal from the deal posed a serious threat to stability in the Middle East.

Tensions have spiked further since Trump acted last month to force Iran’s oil customers to slash their imports to zero or face draconian U.S. financial sanctions.

Iran’s oil exports, its economic lifeblood, have dropped to about 400,000 bpd in May from 2.5 million bpd in April last year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Rouhani on Friday that Beijing, a signatory of the nuclear pact, will promote steady development of ties with Iran no matter how the situation changes, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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