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Cute alert: Toronto Zoo releases new photos of baby cubs

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2015

The Toronto Zoo has released new photos of its baby pandas and they are exactly as adorable as they sound.

A baby panda is seen at The Toronto Zoo on Oct. 17, 2015. TORONTO ZOO.
A baby panda is seen at The Toronto Zoo on Oct. 17, 2015. TORONTO ZOO.
This little baby panda can't even handle how cute it is. TORONTO ZOO.
This little baby panda can’t even handle how cute it is. TORONTO ZOO.

The six-day-old panda cubs are covered in fur but still appear quite pink, with nearly translucent tails.

They are “becoming quite vocal, active and bright,” the zoo said in a statement.

“Their white fur appears to be fuzzier and hints of black pigment can now be noticed on their skin over their ears, around their eyes and even over their shoulders. While their eyes are still closed, they are wiggling and demonstrating all of the right behaviours looking for nourishment from mom.”

Er Shun tends to one of her cubs at The Toronto Zoo on Oct. 16, 2015. TORONTO ZOO.
Er Shun tends to one of her cubs at The Toronto Zoo on Oct. 16, 2015. TORONTO ZOO.

The Zoo said Er Shun “continues to demonstrate strong maternal instincts, cradling, nursing and continuing to form a bond with both cubs.”

The pandas were born on Oct. 13 and it is still a critical time, the Zoo cautioned.

It may take several months to determine the cubs’ sex and they have not yet been named. There is no immediate plan to show them to the public, but the zoo has been updating its FacebookTwitter andInstagram feeds with photos of the cubs.

For now, they are living between their mother’s care and an incubator set up in a quarantined room next to the panda’s maternity ward, which is closed to the public.

Sperm from three different donors – Da Mao and two pandas in China – was used during the one-day fertility window back on May 14, and it’s unclear whether the cubs are twins.

If they survive, the cubs will live at the zoo for about two years and will likely return to China once they are weaned from Er Shun.

With files from The Canadian Press 

Uber offers a free ride to and from polling stations for first-time customers

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2015

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Uber is offering new users free rides to and from polling stations on Election Day in the cities where it operates.

A representative from Uber says the company will cover rides to the polling station and back again, for first-time customers only, up to $15 each way.

Uber says the offer will be available in Edmonton, Calgary, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, London, Hamilton, the Waterloo Region, Quebec City and Montreal.

The ride-hailing app has been embroiled in controversy since it initially launched in Canada last year.

Taxi companies say it is an unfair competitor.

Blue Jays hoping to erase 2-0 deficit as ALCS shifts to Rogers Centre

Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2015

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The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t letting themselves get fazed by a 2-0 deficit in a post-season series.

They dealt with one just last week.

Down 2-0 to Texas in the American League Division Series, the Blue Jays rallied to win the next three games of the best-of-five set and advance to the AL Championship Series. Now, after dropping the first two games of the best-of-seven ALCS in Kansas City this weekend, they’re back in that familiar hole.

Any comeback this time will have to come against a tough Royals team that finished the regular season with an American League-best 95-67 record.

But the Blue Jays are up for that challenge.

“We’ve played from behind before,” second baseman Ryan Goins said at a workout day at Rogers Centre on Sunday. “Playing from behind in a five-game series is different than playing from behind in a seven-game series. We have more life than we had last time. It’ll be fun and I think we’ll get back in this series.”

“We seem to play a lot better when we’re down 2-0, I think,” added first baseman Chris Colabello. “You just go out and play the game. Whether or not we won or lost (Game 2 on Saturday), we’re still going to go out and figure out a way to win the game.”

Game 3, scheduled for Monday night at Rogers Centre, is the first of potentially three consecutive games at the Toronto stadium where the Blue Jays enjoyed a 53-28 record during the regular season.

The familiar artificial turf, the retractable roof, and of course, the loud Toronto fan base all help give the Blue Jays a true sense of home-field advantage.

“Any time we can play at home we’re comfortable here,” said centre-fielder Kevin Pillar. “We love the support we get, we love the enthusiasm, we love how loud it is. … We’re excited. It’s always nice to be home for a couple days, sleep in your own bed, have our families in town, get back into our routine of doing things we like to do when we’re home.”

None of that will matter if the Blue Jays’ bats fail to get anything going against Kansas City ace and Game 3 starter Johnny Cueto.

Cueto, who was acquired by the Royals in a deadline trade with Cincinnati, went 4-7 with a 4.76 earned-run average through 13 regular-season starts for Kansas City. But he was dialed in for the Royals’ Game 5, ALDS-clinching win over Houston last week, giving up just two runs on two hits and striking out eight over eight solid innings.

“He’s one of the best in baseball,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “They focused on him in the trade deadline as one of their prime targets and they went out and got him for these type of games. … He’s another one of those guys that can overpower you. When he’s on, he’s awful tough.”

Toronto will counter with its own hard-throwing right-hander – 24-year-old Marcus Stroman.

Stroman, pitching in just his seventh game of the year after tearing his ACL during spring training, has come up huge for the Blue Jays already this post-season.

While he doesn’t have a victory to show for either of his two starts – including an impressive performance in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS – Stroman held the Rangers to six runs (five earned) and struck out nine Texas batters over 13 innings.

He also seems to thrive in high-pressure situations like the one he’ll head into on Monday.

“This is fun,” Stroman said, flashing a bright smile. “This is what you dream about when you’re a young kid growing up. I’m happy to be in this position. I want to be the one to have the ball in these games.

“That’s what all the preparation and all the hard work is to be able to take the ball and go out in pressure situations. And I feed off the energy of the crowd and my teammates and I’m looking forward to being out there.”

The crowd may be on Toronto’s side over the next few games, but history favours Kansas City.

Since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1985, the team that has won Game 2 of the ALCS has advanced to the World Series 23 times in 29 series (79 per cent).

But with the way the Blue Jays have played all season – leading the league in runs, home runs, total bases and slugging percentage – and with the way they flipped the ALDS around on Texas earlier this post-season, Kansas City manager Ned Yost won’t be taking any chances.

“We know that this club is capable of getting on a run and putting together two or three or four wins in a row,” Yost said. “You have to keep your guard up. You’ve got to continue to stay focused and you’ve got to be able to stay on the attack. And it doesn’t matter if you’re home or you’re on the road.”

Ticket sold in Ontario claims record $64 million Lotto 649 jackpot

CityNews | posted Sunday, Oct 18th, 2015

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TORONTO – Ontario residents should really check their Lotto 649 tickets this morning.

A single winning ticket was sold in the province for last night’s 64$ million grand prize — the biggest jackpot in Canadian lottery history.

The winning ticket was sold in Mississauga.

A guaranteed prize of $1 million was also offered in last night’s draw, and it went to a ticket holder in Quebec.

There were four secondary prize winning tickets worth $116,915.80 sold in Ontario, two were in Toronto, one in Kitchener and one in the Barrier area.

The previous Canadian lottery record was $63.4-million for a 6-49 draw in April, 2013.

That pot was split among four ticketholders, with each banking nearly $16-million.

As lottery fever gripped the country ahead of last night’s draw convenience stores and lottery kiosks from coast to coast to coast were packed with customers dreaming of striking it rich.

Click here for all winning numbers.

Biggest lottery jackpot in Canada history up for grabs tonight

The Canadian Press | posted Saturday, Oct 17th, 2015

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It’s the stuff dreams are made of — the biggest lottery jackpot in Canadian history is up for grabs tonight.

The grand prize in the Lotto 6-49 draw will be an estimated $64-million, and Canadians across the country have been lining up for their tickets.

Of course the odds of walking this road to riches are pretty slim, to put it mildly — estimated at about one-in-14-million.

The lottery’s grand prize has rolled over 11 times since a $7-million jackpot was last won Sept. 5 by a ticketholder in Ontario.

The previous Canadian lottery record was $63.4-million for a 6-49 draw in April, 2013.

That pot was split among four ticketholders, with each banking nearly $16-million.

On the Lotto Max front — no one had the winning ticket for Friday night’s $43-million jackpot.

The jackpot for next Friday’s draw will be $50-million, and there will also be four MaxMillion prizes of $1-million each available.

Blue Jays mania, Toronto Waterfront Marathon takes over weekend roundup

Patricia D’Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Oct 16th, 2015

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Let’s play ball! The Toronto Blue Jays continue their quest to the World Series Friday and Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.

With fans out and about watching the games, drivers can expect extra traffic on city streets.

Meanwhile, several road closures will be in effect this weekend for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

And there’s a partial subway closure to contend with.


Toronto Waterfront Marathon

More than 25,000 runners from 60 countries will be lacing up to take part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday.

The 5K event starts at 8 a.m., while the marathon and half-marathon gets underway at 8:45 a.m.

Road closures

With runners hitting the city’s streets, drivers will encounter road closures starting on Saturday.

Bay Street from Queen to Dundas streets, and Bay from Dundas to Lake Shore Boulevard, will be closed from noon on Saturday to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Drivers also won’t be able to access University Avenue from Dundas to King Street West, as well as Armoury and Chestnut streets from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Lake Shore will be closed from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday from Bathurst Street to Windermere Avenue. As well, Lake Shore from Bathurst Street to the Don Roadway is off-limits from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the roadway between Carlaw and Woodbine avenue will shut down from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

There are other road closures on several roadways including Bathurst, Front Street, Queens Quay West, Queen Street East, University Avenue, and Bloor Street West, to name a few. Click here for a full list.

Road closure sign for the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 680 NEWS/Amber LeBlanc
Road closure sign for the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 680 NEWS/Amber LeBlanc

 

Marathon officials have also posted this road closure list.

Click on the image below, or here, for an interactive road closure map.

Road closure map for the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Image via racepoint.ca.
Road closure map for the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Image via racepoint.ca.

 

680 NEWS will have traffic reports to help drivers navigate the closures.

Blue Jays head to ALCS

#ComeTogether: The Toronto Blue Jays have captured the country’s hearts as the team claimed the first post-season series in 22 years. The boys in blue now move on to the American League Championship Series, facing the Kansas City Royals. Game 1 is at 8 p.m. on Friday, while Game 2 is at 4 p.m. Saturday. Both games are being held in Kansas City. Game 3 heads back to Toronto, taking place at 7 p.m. on Monday. Go Jays Go!

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista, centre, celebrates with Edwin Encarnacion, right, and Marcus Stroman after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning of game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista, centre, celebrates with Edwin Encarnacion, right, and Marcus Stroman after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning of game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Oct. 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

 

Other events

Horror-Rama
Toronto’s only all-horror convention returns for two days this weekend at the Hyatt Regency on King Street. Organizers say this second edition of the event will be bigger, bloodier and weirder than ever with celebrity panels and movie screenings.

Central Tech anniversary
It’s a milestone weekend for Central Tech Collegiate, marking its 100th anniversary this weekend! Alumni will gather for a full slate of events including a pub night, a gala dinner dance and a Sunday brunch.

Central Technical School at Bathurst Street and Bloor Street West. 680 NEWS/Amber LeBlanc
Central Technical School at Bathurst Street and Bloor Street West. 680 NEWS/Amber LeBlanc

 

Scarborough Hall of Fame
Some of Scarborough’s most famous sons and daughters will be honoured Saturday. 5 new names will be officially inducted on Scarborough’s Walk of Fame at a special ceremony at 11 a.m. at Scarborough Town Centre. This year’s honourees are TV host and home improvement guru Mike Holmes, music promoter Farley Flex, newspaper maven Betty Carr, three time Olympic gold medallist Cherie Piper and family doctor and dermatologist Dr. Sophie Hofstader.

Inductees from the 2013 Scarborough Walk of Fame. Photo via scarboroughwalkoffame.com.
Inductees from the 2013 Scarborough Walk of Fame. Photo via scarboroughwalkoffame.com.

 

Paul McCartney concert
The legend himself is here in Toronto for a show at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. It’s part of his “Out There” tour. The show starts at 8 p.m. Fans can expect the 73-year-old former Beatle to play a mix of his classics and material from his latest album, New.

Paul McCartney performs during the first U.S. concert of his "Out There!" world tour in Orlando, Fla., on May 18, 2013. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/John Raoux
Paul McCartney performs during the first U.S. concert of his “Out There!” world tour in Orlando, Fla., on May 18, 2013. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/John Raoux

 

TTC closure

Partial subway shutdown
A long stretch of the Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) is closed this weekend for ongoing signal work. Shuttle buses will be running both ways between Bloor-Yonge and Lawrence stations on Saturday and Sunday. Regular service is set to resume Monday at 6 a.m.

A TTC subway train. Courtesy of Nile Livesey.
A TTC subway train. Courtesy of Nile Livesey.

Get ready for the white stuff: Parts of GTA could get snow this weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 16th, 2015

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Let’s face it, we’ve had it easy for a while when it comes to the weather. That ends now: Brace yourselves for some snow.

A special weather statement has been issued for parts of the GTA calling for lake-effect flurries late Friday night and into Saturday.

Areas covered in the statement include Newmarket, Georgina, northern York Region, and Caledon.

Environment Canada says cold air will make its way into southern Ontario Friday night and last through the weekend. Rain is expected to change over to flurries late Friday and continue into Saturday.

At this point, it’s not yet clear how much snow the GTA will get.

“Should the snow bands remain over a particular location for an extended period, local snowfall amounts could reach 15 centimetres by Saturday afternoon,” the weather agency said in its statement.

Snow squall watches are in effect for some areas outside of the GTA, including Dufferin, Barrie, Owen Sound, and Collingwood.

Environment Canada says snow squalls could develop late Friday night and continue into Saturday. The affected areas could see up to 15 centimetres of snow by Saturday afternoon.

Click here to see if your area is affected.

And what can Toronto expect on Friday and into the weekend?

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor says it will be cloudy on Friday with a few showers and a high of 12 C. There’s a chance of flurries overnight as the temperature drops to 1 C.

Taylor says accumulating snow is possible over higher elevations like northern York Region, Orangeville and areas near southern Georgian Bay.

It will be a cold one on Saturday and Sunday in the GTA with a low of near -1 C. There’s a chance of early-morning flurries on Sunday.

Don’t stop believin’: Estrada to pitch in Game 1 against Royals

The Associated Press | posted Friday, Oct 16th, 2015

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The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays promise plenty of fireworks in their AL Championship Series, and not just because one team features power arms and the other power bats.

Marco Estrada will start Game 1, which gets underway at 8 p.m. on Friday in Kansas City.

Left-handed ace David Price will start Game 2, followed by young righty Marcus Stroman and veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

The Royals and Blue Jays already have played a contentious set of games this season, including a matchup in Toronto marked by two bench-clearing incidents. And while both sides said during Thursday’s workouts that previous rancour has been forgotten, the emotionally charged atmosphere of playoff baseball means there could be some short fuses in the opener Friday night.

“It’s over with. We’ve got to move forward,” insisted the Royals’ Edinson Volquez, who will start Game 1 and was arguably the biggest instigator when the teams met in August.

It was Volquez whose inside pitching drew the ire of the Blue Jays, eventually leading to the first of those bench-clearing moments. And after the game, he called Blue Jays star Josh Donaldson “a little baby” for complaining about his inside pitching.

Asked whether he intends to pitch inside again Friday night, Volquez replied: “Of course.”

Royals manager Ned Yost was one word more succinct: “Absolutely.”

Even if it might mean more bad blood.

“I’m not a mind reader. I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t know if it’s going to be an issue,” Yost said. “But we’ll pitch inside aggressively. That’s a power-laden club over there. We’re going to formulate a really good game plan and try to go out and execute.”

The Blue Jays won three straight elimination games against Texas to reach their first AL Championship Series since 1993. The last of those games Wednesday was as tense as they come.

After the Rangers took the lead on a fluke play, the Blue Jays stormed back thanks in part to three Texas errors. Donaldson’s blooper tied the game, and Jose Bautista capped the comeback with a long three-run homer, emphatically flipping his bat nearly as high in the air.

Bautista’s reaction wasn’t taken well by the Rangers, who essentially called it bush league, and the entire affair touched off a wide-spread debate about decorum.

“You look at all professional sports in general, everybody celebrates more so than they used to,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “In our particular sport, if it’s happening for your team, your guy gets a big hit, nobody minds it. If you’re on the other side, nobody likes it.”

It’s not just what has gone on this post-season, or even in the regular season, that makes this ALCS matchup so juicy. It’s also the history the two franchises share.

They met once before in the ALCS, with the Royals rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the first year of seven-game series. The last two wins came in Toronto, providing the Royals with so much momentum that they went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals for their only World Series triumph.

There was plenty of emotion in that series, too.

“I think you just see so much drama at times because it’s the post-season,” Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “Obviously, that series in Toronto (earlier this year) was two competitive teams. I think that’s why we’re here right now, because it’s two teams that really take pride in doing things to protect their teammates, to show that the team has a better club.”

The two best teams in the American League go about things in different ways.

Much like that ’85 Royals team, this one is built upon pitching and defence – hard-throwing starters and relievers, and enough speed to track down just about anything that stays in their park.

That was a big reason why they were able to down the Astros in their divisional series.

“A big part of their success is they flag the ball down, because a lot of teams can’t, because the outfield is so big here,” said Gibbons, a former bench coach in Kansas City. “We’re built a little bit differently. I think a lot of it has to do with where we play.”

The Blue Jays play in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, so naturally they’re among the best in baseball at scoring with a single swing. Bautista’s shot against the Rangers was proof, but so were the major league league-leading 232 homers that Toronto hit during the regular season.

That’s why the Royals intend to pitch the Blue Jays inside, to mitigate their power. And also why there could be some testy moments when the teams begin their best-of-seven showdown.

“We all know Toronto is a better team than Houston. They’ve got more veteran guys and more power hitters,” Volquez said. “We’re going to play our game. We’re going to stay with the plan and do it. Like I said, do our best to win the game.”

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