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Drake named Canada coach at 2016 all-star celebrity game

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2016

Toronto rapper Drake has spent plenty of time in his courtside seat next to his home team’s bench, listening to Raptors head coach Dwane Casey holler at his players during timeouts.

Now we’ll find out if any of Casey’s coaching acumen has rubbed off on the Grammy Award-winning rapper.

Drake, who also serves as the Raptors’ global ambassador, will coach Canada’s team at the 2016 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Feb. 12 at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum. Drake’s squad will take on an American team coached by comedian and four-time celebrity game MVP Kevin Hart.

Canada’s team has plenty of athletic talent, anchored at point guard by two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and complemented by Toronto Blue Jays all-star right-fielder Jose Bautista. The team also includes Natalie Achonwa, a star of Canada’s Olympic-bound women’s basketball team, seven-time NBA all-star and former Raptor Tracy McGrady and former Canadian international Rick Fox.

Drake can also look to Win Butler for some timely defence. The six-foot-four frontman of Montreal rock band Arcade Fire racked up 12 rebounds in last year’s celebrity game.

Tennis star Milos Raonic, actor and singer Kris Wu, actor Stephan James and Drew and Jonathan Scott from the TV show “Property Brothers” round out the team.

Hart’s team will include actor Michael B. Jordan of “Friday Night Lights” and “Creed” fame and Nick Cannon of “America’s Got Talent.”

Actors Anthony Anderson, Jason Sudeikis and Bryshere (Yazz) Gray, former Raptors Chauncey Billups and Muggsy Bogues, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne are also on the U.S. team.

The NBA All-Star game is set for Feb. 14 at Air Canada Centre.

The Weeknd, Rachel McAdams receive Oscar nominations

The Canadian Press and The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2016

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A dozen Canadians received Oscar nominations on Thursday in eight different categories.

Toronto-native the Weeknd had his song ‘Earned It,’ from the film ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ nominated for the best original song Oscar. Fellow Canadians Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio are also nominated alongside the chart-topping singer.

London, Ont.-born Rachel McAdams was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in ‘Spotlight.’

And Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue has picked up a best adapted screenplay Oscar nomination for ‘Room.’

Donoghue’s book won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and a Governor General’s Literary Award. The harrowing novel is about a young boy held captive in a shed with his mother. The child has no idea there’s a world outside that shed.

The film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it immediately began generating awards buzz.

Canadian co-productions ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Room’ are also among the eight films in the best picture race.

Video: B.C.-based visual effects whiz Cameron Waldbauer has received an Oscar nomination for achievement in visual effects for his work on ‘The Revenant,’ along with co-nominees Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway and Jason Smith.

Several Canadians were recognized for their work on the dark drama, including Edmonton-born Robert Pandini. He received an Oscar nomination in the makeup and hairstyling category.

Chris Duesterdiek received a sound mixing nomination for the same film, while set decorator Hamish Purdy of Vancouver has received a production design.

Click here for the full list of Oscar nominations.

A still of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. Twentieth Century Fox/Kimberley French.
A still of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. Twentieth Century Fox/Kimberley French.

The brutal frontier saga ‘The Revenant’ leads the 88th annual Academy Awards with 12 nominations, while the acting categories were again filled entirely by white performers. The strong showing for ‘The Revenant,’ including a best actor nod for Leonardo DiCaprio, follows its win at the Golden Globes.

It sets director Alejandro Inarritu for a possible back-to-back win following his best-picture winning ‘Birdman’ last year.

George Miller’s ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ followed with 10 nominations, including best picture. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic ‘The Martian’ landed seven nominations, including best picture, but no best director nod for Scott.

The other five movies nominated for best picture include ‘Room,’ ‘Spotlight,’ ‘Bridge of Spies,’  ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Brooklyn.’

Left on the outside were the acclaimed lesbian romance ‘Carol’ and the N.W.A biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton.’

The acting nominees notably omitted Idris Elba for ‘Beasts of No Nation’ and Benicio Del Toro for ‘Sicario,’ giving the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences an awkward repeat of the “OscarsSoWhite” backlash that followed last year’s acting nominees.

Alongside DiCaprio, the nominees for best actor are Matt Damon for ‘The Martian,’ Michael Fassbender for ‘Steve Jobs,’ Eddie Redmayne for ‘The Danish Girl’ and Bryan Cranston for ‘Trumbo.’

The best actress field is led by favourite Brie Larson for ‘Room,’ along with Jennifer Lawrence for ‘Joy,’ Cate Blanchett for ‘Carol,’ Saoirse Ronan for ‘Brooklyn’ and Charlotte Rampling for ’45 Years.’

British actor Alan Rickman dies

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2016

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British actor Alan Rickman, whose career ranged from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the ‘Harry Potter’ films, has died. He was 69.

Rickman’s family said Thursday that the actor had died after a battle with cancer.

Trained at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Rickman was often cast as the bad guy; with his rich, languid voice he could invest evil with wicked, irresistible relish.

His breakout role was as scheming French aristocrat the Vicomte de Valmont in an acclaimed 1985 RSC production of Christopher Hampton’s ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses.’

Film roles included the villain Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard’ in 1988; a deceased lover who consoles his bereaved partner in 1990’s ‘Truly Madly Deeply’; the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ in 1991; and a wayward husband in the 2003 romantic comedy ‘Love Actually.’

Millions know him from the Potter films, in which he played the Dark Arts teacher Severus Snape, who was either a nemesis or an ally – possibly both – to the titular teenage wizard.

Rickman is survived by his partner of 50 years, Rima Horton, whom he married recently.

$1.6 billion record Powerball jackpot to be split three ways

Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2016

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An eye-popping and unprecedented Powerball jackpot whose rise to $1.6 billion became a national fascination will be split three ways.

The winners’ identities remain a mystery, but they bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb where even lottery losers were celebrating Thursday that such heady riches were won in their modest city.

The winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on the numbers drawn Wednesday night, 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. They can take the winnings in annual payments spread over decades or a smaller amount in a lump sum.

The California ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told The Associated Press.

The store and its surrounding strip mall immediately became a popular gathering spot in the usually quiet suburb of 75,000 people. Hundreds of people, from news crews to gawkers, crowded the store and spilled into its parking lot.

They cheered and mugged for TV cameras as if it were New Year’s Eve or a sporting event. Many chanted, “Chino Hills! Chino Hills!” in celebration of the city.

“It’s history. We’re all so excited for our city,” Rita Talwar, 52, who has lived in Chino Hills for 30 years, told the local newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun.

Some took selfies with the store clerk on duty, who became an instant celebrity and may well have been the man who sold the ticket after being on duty for much of the run-up to Wednesday night’s drawing.

“I’m very proud that the ticket was sold here,” the clerk, M. Faroqui, told the Sun. “I’m very happy. This is very exciting.”

The 7-Eleven will get a $1 million bonus for selling the winning ticket, Traverso said.

No details were immediately available about the Florida and Tennessee winners. Traverso confirmed that winning tickets were purchased in those states, but officials there didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The estimated jackpot amounts had risen steadily since Nov. 4, when it was reset at $40 million. Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief has said this Powerball offered “absolutely” the world’s biggest jackpot.

Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

But residents in the six states that don’t participate found ways to get their hands on tickets. Some of the biggest Powerball sales have come from cities bordering states that don’t sell the tickets, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. The association oversees the Powerball Lottery, but management rotates annually among member states.

Chase away the winter blues with Winterlicious

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2016

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Do you have the winter blues? Join the club.

But you can chase away the bitter cold and snow with some comfort food at Toronto’s annual culinary event.

Starting Thursday, reservations can be made at Winterlicious, which runs from Jan. 29 to Feb. 11.

Food lovers can enjoy three-course prix fixe menus at more than 200 restaurants around the city, which is more than enough choice to tempt you out of your winter misery.

Participating restaurants are offering lunch menus priced at $18, $23 and $28, and dinner menus priced at $25, $35 and $45.

Click here for a full list of restaurants.

Click here to find a restaurant on an interactive map.

Baby born in car near Bathurst and Lawrence

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 14th, 2016

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A brand-new baby girl just couldn’t wait for the hospital.

Her mother gave birth in a car near Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Mom and dad were heading to the hospital and they were on the phone with emergency services when the operator warned them they weren’t going to make, and should pull over.

The baby was born just as firefighters arrived, with paramedics not far behind.

“Hypothermia is always a worry but everything seems to be OK,” Toronto fire captain Mike Harper said.

Harper said firefighters bundled up mom and baby, got them into the ambulance, and then paramedics transported the pair to hospital.

Cauliflower prices too high? Buy these 5 veggies instead

Heather MacMullin | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2016

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The California drought, the harbinger of bad food news, has taken another victim in the grocery aisles. Over the past month, the price of cauliflower has been on a steady rise, selling for upwards of $8 a head (and that doesn’t count for those buying organic). Local availability in Canada lasts from June to November, leaving stores to source this cruciferous vegetable from warmer climes like California over winter. Enter the price hike.

While California is actually experiencing rainfall lately, El Niño — the weather system responsible for the tropical temperatures of late fall — is bringing a torrent of the wet stuff to the state, there’s no quick rebound to the ravages of a five-year drought. With this in mind (as well as our wallets), here are five other vegetables you can throw into your grocery basket if you plan to put your cauliflower recipes on ice for a while.

1. Cabbage.
When properly stored, green and red cabbage can last from 3 weeks to 2 months. Note: This timeline will vary with other types of cabbage, and once cut, be sure to carefully wrap your cabbage with plastic wrap before returning it to the fridge to preserve the lifespan.

Try it:
Vegetarian cabbage rolls
Penne pasta with cabbage and mushrooms

2. Broccoli.
The cousin to cauliflower, this green, nutrient-dense vegetable is a star ingredient in some of our favourite dishes. It will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked, depending on your mood.Did you know? You want to look for dark green, dense heads of broccoli. If there are any flowers present, the broccoli has begun to turn fibrous and woody.

Try it:
Sesame beef and broccoli beef vermicelli bowl
Chipotle roasted chicken and broccoli

3. Rutabaga.
A relative of the cabbage, this root-like vegetable has a deep and sweet flavour and can be enjoyed fresh (in salads or on crudites platters) or cooked. It keeps well in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks. Boiling this vegetable will result in a milder flavour, while roasting it will heighten the sweetness as the rutabaga juices caramelize.Note: When purchasing, look for medium-sized, unblemished roots. Also, as rutabaga is often coated with wax to lengthen its shelf life, be sure to peel it cleanly before cooking.

Try it:
Spiced smashed rutabaga
Bangers with rutabaga salad

4. Celeriac.
Also known as celery root, this root vegetable — while unwieldy-looking with its rough, bulbous skin — is actually very light, crisp and fresh. It’s perfect for anything from crudites platters to a mashed potato alternative.Watch how easy it is to prepare here.

Try it:
Cottage pie with celery root mash
Apple and celery root slaw

5. Winter squash.
This vegetable can keep all winter long (so if you bought one a few weeks ago and forgot about it, it’s perfectly fine to use tonight), and each variety provides a wealth of options in the kitchen, from creamy soups to roasted, caramelized chunks to a faux-noodle tetrazzini. Popular varieties are spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, kabocha squash and pumpkin.

Try it:
Creamy butternut tagliatelle
Farro risotto with squash and hazelnuts

PM meeting with a Toronto mayor for first time in 18 years

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2016

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making history in Toronto on Wednesday with a visit to City Hall – the first such stop by a sitting prime minister since the city’s amalgamation in 1998.

Trudeau will be meeting with Mayor John Tory during the lunch hour.

The first item on their agenda is a photo-op next to the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square at 12:10 p.m. before a private sit-down where they’re expected to discuss issues like transit, housing and Syrian refugees.

“Investing in Toronto is the best thing Justin Trudeau can do to build the economy, help people and fight climate change,” Tory said in a tweet posted ahead of Trudeau’s visit.

During the 2015 federal election campaign, Trudeau committed $2.6 billion in federal funds for Tory’s SmartTrack plan.

Tory has already met with Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi, as well as the Toronto Liberal MPs.

At around 1 p.m., the two leaders will hold a joint news conference in the City Hall rotunda.

Trudeau’s visit to Toronto will begin with a tour of the MaRS Discovery District. The 9 a.m. announcement will focus on a life sciences and manufacturing initiative.

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