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What are the odds of winning Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot?

News staff | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2016

So, just how lucky are you feeling?

Apparently Canadians have been swept up in the Powerball madness affecting our American neighbours, as thousands of us are snapping up tickets to Wednesday’s estimated US $1.5 billion jackpot.

It’s the largest jackpot in US lottery history, easily surpassing the March 2012 Mega Millions payout of US $656 million. But make no mistake, the odds of your numbers being drawn are astronomically long – about 1 in 292 million.

To put that in perspective, the odds of getting struck by lightning are a measly 500,000 to 1, and the odds of being killed by lightning are a slim 2.3 million to 1. Even getting hit by parts falling off an airplane on your way to work one day is 29 times more likely, at 10 million to 1.

The likelihood of some unlikely events.

But don’t let the long odds dissuade you. Scientists say the odds of a planet being in just the right location to sustain life is roughly 400 billion to 1, and we nailed that billions of years ago!

So if you should happen to win the big jackpot, how much will you be able to bring home?

The $1.5 billion is intended to be payed out in annual payments, with adjustments for inflation, but if you want to get it all in one lump sum, you’ll be getting about $930 million. Not quite Mark Zuckerberg territory anymore, but still a pretty healthy chunk of change.

The United States treat lottery winnings as income, and could take 25 per cent of it right off the top if an American resident wins the jackpot. Canada does not consider lottery winnings as taxable income,according to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, so you don’t have to worry about that haircut.

But the Internal Revenue Service wants its cut, and you can’t avoid the IRS. They’ll happily take 30 per cent of your winnings, thank you very much.

And each state charges state lottery taxes, so if you happen to have bought your ticket in New York, they want their 8.82 per cent cut.

In the end, that means your $1.5 billion could end up being as little as US $576 million – leaving you in Marissa Mayer’s neighbourhood instead of Warren Buffett’s.

On the flip side, with today’s currency exchange rate of 1.43, that works out to $824 million Canadian.

And even at 929 million to 1, that’s worth a $2 investment, no?

Another blast of winter weather blowing through GTA

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 11th, 2016

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A snow squall watch is in effect for Newmarket, Georgina, northern York and Durham regions, Uxbridge, Dufferin, as well as up to Barrie and Orillia.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the GTA could receive between 3-8 centimetres of snow by the afternoon with another 2-7 centimetres possible this evening. Wind speeds of 30-50 km/h will blast through the region with higher gusts expected.

She said the GTA could get up to 15 centimetres of snow by Tuesday night if there is some “lake enhancement.”

Prepare to bundle up not just for the blowing snow but also frigid temperatures. Although the high is -1 C it will feel like -8 C with the wind. Windy conditions are expected to continue into the evening as the temperature drops to -10 C with a wind chill near -20.

In Toronto, crews were out bright and early, salting the roadways.

Commuters and transit riders are being advised to give themselves extra time for the morning commute.

Air Canada and WestJet have issued travel advisories warning flights might be impacted by the snow.

So far, there are no school bus cancellations or schools to report. Check here for updates.

Looking to share a ride in Toronto? uberPOOL arrives Wednesday

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 11th, 2016

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A new Uber service will hit Toronto’s streets on Wednesday, allowing users to get around the city using a combination of carpooling and ride-sharing.

UberPool will allow customers to share a ride and split the cost by being matched with one or two rides traveling the same way.

The company estimates it will cost 30 per cent less than UberX.

“We want to reduce the number of cars on the road, while providing Torontonians with transportation that’s more affordable than ever,” the company writes on its website.

“When two people share their ride, that’s one less car on the road and a cheaper fare for both riders.”

The service will launch at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

In an exclusive story last February, CityNews reported Uber was preparing to expand its service with uberPOOL. A two-week trial was conducted during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

uberPOOL will be available from Jane Street and Victoria Park Avenue up to Highway 401, as well as the Yonge corridor north of the 401 to Finch Avenue between Bathurst Street and Bayview Avenue.Click here to view the coverage map.

“Fares are quoted in the app before you request, so you always know exactly what you’ll pay,” the website reads.

The minimum uberPOOL fare is $4 and it includes a $1.50 Safe Rides Fee. It has a maximum of two passengers per request, and the second passenger will add $1 to the fare.

Click here to find out how to request a fool.

uberPOOL is the latest offering aimed at appealing to users of the ride-sharing service.

Last December, Uber launched a transit-like option called uberHOP, which lets users pay a flat $5 to travel with other commuters along four specific routes. The service uses large SUVs or mini vans that can carry up to five passengers from the same spot on a fixed route.

And just last week, insurance company Aviva Canada said it plans to support Uber drivers with special coverage that will be available for Ontario drivers in early February. It is also working to expand it across the country.

The coverage will protect those contracted with UberX from the moment they initiate looking for passengers through to collecting and dropping off those passengers.

Innovative and iconic David Bowie dies at 69

Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Jan 11th, 2016

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David Bowie, the iconic and shape-shifting British singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades with hits like “Fame,” “Heroes” and “Let’s Dance,” died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.

Representative Steve Martin said early Monday that Bowie died “peacefully” and was surrounded by family. He had battled cancer for 18 months.

“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” the statement read. No more details were provided.

Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day he released a new album called “Blackstar.”

The singer, who was born David Jones in London, came of age in the glam rock era of the early 1970s. He had a striking androgynous look in his early days and was known for changing his looks and sounds. He had launched a provocative alter-ego named Ziggy Stardust, and the stuttering rock sound of “Changes” gave way to the disco soul of “Young Americans,” co-written with John Lennon, to a droning collaboration with Brian Eno in Berlin that produced “Heroes.”

He had some of his biggest successes in the early 1980s with the stylist “Let’s Dance,” and a massive American tour.

“My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter,” Bowie told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. “The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety — all of the high points of one’s life.”

At a concert for rescue workers after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, his performance of “Heroes” was a highlight.

“What I’m most proud of is that I can’t help but notice that I’ve affected the vocabulary of pop music. For me, frankly, as an artist, that’s the most satisfying thing for the ego.”

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, but he didn’t attend the ceremony. Madonna, another artist who knew something about changing styles to stay ahead of the curve, accepted for him and recounted how a Bowie concert changed her life when she attended it as a teenager. David Byrne, of the art rockers Talking Heads, inducted Bowie and said he gave rock music a necessary shot in the arm.

“Like all rock ‘n’ roll, it was visionary, it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was crass, it was sexy and it was confusing,” Byrne said.

Bowie kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart attack in the 2000s. He made a moody album three years ago called “The Next Day” — his first recording in a decade which was made in secret in New York City. “Blackstar,” which earned positive reviews from critics, represented yet another stylistic shift, as he gathered jazz players to join him.

He released a music video on Friday for the new song “Lazarus,” which shows a frail Bowie lying in bed and singing the track’s lyrics. The song begins with the line: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.”

Tributes poured in for the singer. British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted about his sadness from outer space aboard the International Space Station, saying “his music was an inspiration to many.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that Bowie’s death is “a huge loss.” He wrote he had grown up listening to and watching Bowie and called the singer a “master of reinvention” and a pop genius who kept on getting it right.

Kanye West said on Twitter that Bowie “was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”

Bowie felt uneasy about some of his greatest material, once embarking on a “greatest hits” tour saying it would be the last time performing much of his old material. He later relented, however.

“I’m not a natural performer,” he said in the 2002 interview. “I don’t enjoy performing terribly much. Never have. I can do it and, if my mind’s on the situation, do it quite well. But five or six shows in, I’m dying to get off the road and go back into the studio.”

Bowie was married to international supermodel Iman since 1992.

Power outages, slippery roads as winter weather blasts through southern Ontario

News staff | posted Sunday, Jan 10th, 2016

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A blast of winter weather hit the GTA Sunday afternoon, causing Environment Canada to issue a snow squall warning for parts southern Ontario.

The warning is in effect for areas including Newmarket, Uxbridge, Dufferin – Innisfil, Grey – Bruce and Barrie.

A snow squall watch is in effect for areas including Pickering, Oshawa, Cobourg, Peterborough, Lindsay.

Temperatures fell rapidly late in the afternoon, meaning that ponding water, slush, and any falling precipitation froze as the temperature dropped closer to zero.

Drivers are being warned to take precautions on the roads. The city began to prepare salt trucks on arterial and collector roads early Sunday morning.

Strong northwest winds brought snow squall activity inland towards the region on Sunday night.

High winds downed some power lines and trees around the GTA.

We’re No. 7! We’re No. 7! Toronto makes New York Times list of ‘Places to Go’

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 8th, 2016

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52 weeks in a year, 52 places to go – but there’s one less trip for Toronto residents.

The Big Smoke made it to the New York Times’ list of 52 Places to Go in 2016, coming in at a very respectable No. 7.

The city was praised for its film festival, its bike and pedestrian paths, the much-maligned Union Pearson link, and its neighbourhoods. The Junction was named “Toronto’s most stylish neighborhood for its bars, live music and coffee shops.”

We also received kudos for the Queens Quay on Lake Ontario, which the newspaper called “the largest continuing urban revitalization project in North America,” and we took home accolades for something we knew already: Toronto’s cultural diversity and major artistic and sporting events.

They didn’t mention Drake directly, but we can thank him now: Another draw for Toronto is the 2016 NBA All-Star game, held outside the United States for the first time.

Click here to read the full list, and check out the Top 10 below.

10. Vinales, Cuba (Now open to more Americans; nearby valley a Unesco World Heritage site; mountain climbing)

9. Skane, Sweden (Great food; organic farms)

8. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Incredible architecture; nature conservation; stunning art)

7. Toronto (See above)

6. Mozambique (Beautiful coastline; homosexuality has been decriminalized; surfing and snorkeling)

5. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (Bison; vistas; solitude)

4. Coral Bay, St. John (Go before big development hits the quiet community)

3. Malta (Great weather; great beaches; temples)

2. Bordeaux, France (New wine and trade museum to open; largest urban World Heritage site; great restaurants)

1. Mexico City (Excellent food; lots of museums; beautiful design)

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