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Three winning tickets for Saturday night’s $7 million Lotto 649 jackpot

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 6th, 2017

There are three winning tickets for the $7-million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.

They were purchased in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — and each is worth just over $2.3 million.

The draw’s guaranteed $1 million prize was claimed by a ticket sold in the Prairies.

The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Mar. 8 will be approximately $5 million.

‘Logan’ slices box office with $85.3M, ‘Moonlight’ gets bump

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Mar 6th, 2017

The R-rated “X-Men” spinoff “Logan” slashed into the weekend box office, opening with a massive $85.3 million in North American theatres, according to studio estimates Sunday, while best-picture winner “Moonlight” got a significant, if far from superhero-sized, Oscar bump.

The debut of 20th Century Fox’s “Logan,” starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, ranks among the biggest March openings ever and top R-rated debuts. Like last year’s R-rated “Deadpool” (also a Fox release), the better-than-expected opening for “Logan,” a darkly violent, grittily dramatic movie applauded by critics, further proves moviegoers’ hunger for less conventional comic book films.

“’Deadpool,’ was to comedy what ‘Logan’ is to drama. The only common theme is that they’re quote-unquote ‘comic-book movies’ and they’re rated R,” said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson, who credited director and co-writer James Mangold and Jackman for executing their personal vision for the film.

Jackman has said it will be his final performance as Wolverine, whose claws he has worn for 17 years. “Logan,” made for about $100 million, also sold $152.5 million in tickets overseas.

“On a global scale, we’ve exceeded all pre-release expectations,” Aronson said.
Last week’s No. 1 film, Jordan Peele’s horror sensation “Get Out” slid just 22 per cent, a small drop for any movie but particularly in the horror genre. The acclaimed Universal Pictures release, made for $5 million by Blumhouse Productions, dropped to second place but still grossed $26.1 million. Its 10-day total is $75 million.

The Oscar best-picture winner “Moonlight” had its widest release yet, appearing on 1,564 screens. It turned in its biggest weekend, too, with an estimated $2.5 million. That accounts for roughly 10 per cent of the movie’s total domestic haul of $25.3 million.

“Moonlight,” made for just $1.5 million, is also out on DVD and on-demand. Indie distributor A24 said it will be its highest-grossing release in its five-year existence. “Moonlight” also ranks fourth on iTunes.

“That’s a true Oscar halo effect in full view,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “Usually the biggest bounce comes from the nominations. But this film hadn’t made a ton of money. A24 smartly expanded into more theatres, and it really worked for them.”

Barry Jenkins’ drama is nevertheless one of the least widely seen best-picture winners. Only Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” ($17 million) earned less at the domestic box office.

Though it memorably did not win best picture, Lionsgate’s “La La Land,” winner of six Academy Awards, is closing in on $400 million globally after adding another $11 million internationally and $3 million domestically.

Lionsgate’s “The Shack” also opened in North American theatres over the weekend and came in third with $16.1 million. The Christian tale, starring Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer, was slammed by critics, but it attracted one of the largest faith-based audiences in recent years.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Logan,” $85.3 million ($152.5 million international).
2. “Get Out,” $26.1 million.
3. “The Shack,” $16.1 million.
4. “The Lego Batman Movie,” $11.7 million ($10.4 million international).
5. “Before I Fall,” $4.9 million.
6. “John Wick: Chapter Two,” $4.7 million ($5.6 million international).
7. “Hidden Figures,” $3.8 million.
8. “The Great Wall,” $3.5 million ($6.5 million international).
9. “Fifty Shades Darker,” $3.5 million ($10.7 million international).
10. “La La Land,” $3 million ($11.1 million international).

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theatres (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. “Logan,” $152.5 million.
2. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” $18.4 million.
3. “A Dog’s Purpose,” $17.4 million.
4. “Sing,” $11.4 million.
5. “La La Land,” $11.1 million.
6. “Fifty Shades Darker,” $10.7 million.
7. “The Lego Batman Movie,” $10.4 million.
8. “Split,” $8.6 million.
9. “The Great Wall,” $6.5 million.
10. “John Wick: Chapter Two,” $5.6 million.

Federal cabinet set up for dealing with illegal border-crossers

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 6th, 2017

Federal cabinet ministers are set for an in-depth discussion this week of the practical and political pressures being placed on the Liberal government by a rising number of asylum seekers in Canada.

Border security, RCMP and immigration officials have been running scenarios to prepare for the possibility that a relative winter trickle of illegal immigration into Canada could turn into a spring flood.

The results of their table-top exercises will help form options being put before cabinet Tuesday, The Canadian Press has learned.

Officials are also studying links between distinct groups of border-crossers that might belie the common notion they’re all being pushed into Canada by the volatile U.S. political climate.

Two government officials confirmed to The Canadian Press that many of the people coming into Quebec hold American visas issued at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Interviews revealed the visas were obtained to use the U.S. as a transit point get to Canada and claim asylum, plans set in motion long before the U.S. election in November, the officials said, neither of whom were authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

But it is the pictures of RCMP officers hoisting small children above snow-covered fields along the Canada-U.S. frontier that have drawn global attention and placed political pressure on the Trudeau government from all sides.

The Opposition Conservatives are demanding a crackdown, and want those crossing illegally charged with crimes, something the government notes cannot happen until asylum claims are heard.

The fact those claims are being fed into a clogged system has others urging the Liberals to put more resources into the refugee-determination process and the agencies that support newcomers.

“We are the endpoint,” said Chris Friesen, director of settlement services for the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia.

The Immigration and Refugee Board reported in its last quarterly financial document that in the first nine months of 2016-17, there was a 40-per-cent increase in new claims compared to the same period the previous year.

Statistics provided to The Canadian Press show claim levels generally began rising in Canada before U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

In fact, the increase seems to have begun just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took power.

In October 2015, the month of the last federal election, 1,519 claims were lodged in Canada. The next month, when the Trudeau Liberals took office, there were 1,647 and – with the exception of two months in 2016 – they have been rising since.

Trump is pushing people into Canada, but the Trudeau government’s repeated messaging on welcoming diversity and immigration is a pretty strong pull factor, Friesen said.

“We are now the beacon of hope for desperate refugees.”

In B.C., there has been a 60-per-cent increase in the number of refugee claimants in the last 12 months compared to the previous one-year period. Most are Iraqi Kurds and Afghans, and there were also 18 undocumented Latin Americans from Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela who recently crossed the Canada-U.S. border, immigration agencies said.

The number of Mexican claimants is also starting to rise in B.C., following the end of a requirement for Mexican citizens to have a visa to enter Canada. During the last three months, there were 29 refugee claimants from Mexico, the agencies reported, compared to 30 who arrived between December 2015 and November 2016.

The Immigration and Refugee board is already adjusting to deal with the bigger numbers, but cabinet will consider giving it more resources.

Ministers will also consider whether there is room to alter the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. The agreement says a refugee claimant must apply for asylum in whichever of the two countries they arrive first, unless they qualify for an exception.

It is being singled out as the reason people are avoiding official border stations and crossing into Canada illegally, and there are calls for Ottawa to suspend the agreement.

Cabinet’s decision could depend on the next iteration of Trump’s executive order laying out a temporary ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The current order has been challenged by the courts and Trump is expected to release a revised version soon.

Not much can be done to stop the border-crossers, said Ward Elcock, who advised the former Conservative government on illegal migration after years running Canada’s spy agency.

Canada must keep talking to the Americans to find the source of the problem, but the reality is the numbers crossing into Canada remain a fraction of what countries in Europe are seeing, he said.

Still, no matter how many enter illegally, some voices will try to make it a political issue.

“It is seen as, you didn’t control the flow of people into the country,” Elcock said.

Taxi flips over on Roncesvalles streetcar tracks

CityNews | posted Monday, Mar 6th, 2017

A taxi ended up on its roof on the streetcar tracks on Roncesvalles Avenue early on Monday morning.

It happened between Wright Avenue and High Park Boulevard just before 5 a.m.

It’s not yet known how the taxi rolled over, or if any other vehicles were involved.

The TTC was holding in both directions as crews worked to clear the tracks.

 taxi ended up on its roof on Roncesvalles Avenue on March 6, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy

Trump expected to sign new travel ban order

Julie Pace and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Mar 6th, 2017

A White House official says plans to roll out the order are on track for Monday. The official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the order ahead of the official announcement.

The administration has repeatedly pushed back the signing as it has worked to better co-ordinate with the agencies that it will need to implement the ban. The new order has been in the works since shortly after a federal court blocked Trump’s initial effort.

Trump administration officials have said the new order aims to overcome the legal challenges to the first. Its goal will be the same: keep would-be terrorists out of the United States while the government reviews the vetting system for refugees and visa applicants from certain parts of the world.

Trump’s original orders temporarily blocked citizens of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya from coming to the United States and put on hold the U.S. refugee program.

The revised order is expected to remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a 90-day U.S. travel ban. That follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which had urged the White House to reconsider, given Iraq’s key role in fighting the Islamic State group.

According to a draft version of the new order outlined to lawmakers late last week, citizens of the other six countries will face the 90-day suspension of visa processing as the administration continues to analyze how to enhance vetting procedures.

Other changes are also expected, including making clear that all existing visas will be honoured and no longer singling out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban. Syrian refugees will now be treated like other refugees and be subjected to a 120-day suspension of the refugee program.

The new version is also expected to remove language that would give priority to religious minorities. Critics had accused the administration of adding such language to help Christians get into the United States while excluding Muslims.

Trump signed his original executive order in late January, sparking confusion and anger as travellers were detained at U.S. airports and barred from boarding flights at foreign airports.

The signing is expected to spark a new round of lawsuits and controversy.

Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

Ontario hydro bill reductions to ultimately cost ratepayers more

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 3rd, 2017

Soaring electricity bills in Ontario will see an average 17-per-cent cut this summer, a year before the provincial Liberals bid for re-election, but those savings will ultimately cost ratepayers billions in extra interest payments.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged Thursday that the bill for the across-the-board-relief will eventually come due for ratepayers.

“Over time it will cost a bit more. That’s true,” she said when detailing the plan. “And it will take longer to pay off. That’s also true. But it is fairer because it doesn’t ask this generation of hydro customers alone to pay the freight for everyone before and after.”

Electricity bills have roughly doubled in the last decade, rising faster than inflation since 2010, and have sparked increasing anger among Ontarians, leading to plummeting approval ratings for Wynne.

She said the increasing costs were due to investments in the grid, nuclear refurbishments and getting rid of coal. She also acknowledged that long-term contracts for green energy producers at above-market rates were “too generous.”

Ontario now has a clean and reliable system, Wynne said, but the entire burden of those investments was being shouldered by current ratepayers when the benefits will be seen over many years.

But Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the new plan just shifts the burden between the same group of people — “robbing Peter to pay Paul, but in this case, both Peter and Paul are taxpayers.”

Most of the electricity generation contracts in Ontario are for 20 years, so refinancing them is like re-amortizing a mortgage over 30 years instead. But that will come with up to $1.4 billion a year in extra interest payments over 10 years.

In the near term, rates will also be held to the rate of inflation, and the plan is for the 17-per-cent cut to be reflected in the Ontario Energy Board’s May 1 rates so customers see it reflected on their June bills.

But those extra interest costs will be added back onto bills in the future.

Legislation will be introduced to enable the Independent Electricity System Operator and Ontario Power Generation to refinance a portion of the global adjustment charge.

That’s the charge consumers pay for above-market rates for power producers. The auditor general has estimated the global adjustment charge cost $50 billion between 2006 and 2015 and increased by 1,200 per cent between 2006 and 2013 — meanwhile, the average electricity market price dropped by 46 per cent.

The across-the-board relief of 17 per cent comes in addition to an eight-per-cent rebate that took effect Jan. 1. That cut is estimated to cost taxpayers about $1 billion per year.

Several other measures were announced Thursday to help low-income and rural residents at a cost of $2.5 billion over three years to taxpayers.

Customers under a program that gives a rate subsidy to those in rural and remote areas will be expanded, so that ratepayers covered by local distribution companies with the highest delivery charges will see those rates cut.

The Ontario Electricity Support Program for low-income ratepayers will be funded through government revenues instead of other taxpayers. The benefits are also being increased, so that someone who qualifies for the smallest credit — a single person earning less than $28,000 — would save $45 a month instead of $30.

The delivery charge for on-reserve First Nations residential customers is being removed. The province is also establishing an affordability fund for electricity customers who don’t qualify for low-income conservation programs to make energy efficiency improvements.

The government will still meet its goal of balancing the next budget, Wynne said, though she admitted the new measures puts the government “a lot closer to the line.”

Batch of Georgian Bay Vodka recalled because alcohol level is too high

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 3rd, 2017

Some bottles of vodka are being recalled in Ontario because the alcohol content is about double what it should be.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario says labels on one batch of Georgian Bay Vodka shows 40 per cent alcohol by volume, but the alcohol content is actually 81 per cent.

The board says the batch was bottled before correct dilution was made to achieve the 40 per cent level.

It says an alcohol level of 81 per cent is “not safe for consumption” and could cause serious illness.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says so far, no illness have been reported.

The provincial agency says the batch of 654 bottles have been removed from LCBO shelves but any customers and licensees who have bottles from the affected batch should return them for a full refund.

The vodka is produced by the Toronto-based Georgian Bay Gin Company.

Confirmed cases of mumps in Toronto now at 22

CityNews | posted Friday, Mar 3rd, 2017

There are now 22 confirmed cases of mumps in Toronto, the City said Thursday.

The city typically sees about five cases of the mumps every year.

Most people affected are among people aged 18 to 35, and about 40 per cent of them were up-to-date with the relevant vaccines.

People in that age group may be under-immunized, and are urged to check their vaccination records for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccines.

Last month, experts said people in that age group need to ensure they’ve had two doses of the shots to bolster their immunity.

The vaccine is about 88 per cent effective.

Increased mumps activity has also been noted in Winnipeg and Western Canada hockey teams, the City said Thursday.

How is mumps spread?
The mumps virus is found in saliva and respiratory droplets. It is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and coming into contact with a person’s saliva by sharing drinks or utensils, food or water bottles, or by kissing. A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in a dormitory with a person who has the mumps.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can last up to 10 days and include swelling and pain in one or more salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and loss of appetite.

What are the dangers?
Complications from mumps can include encephalitis, meningitis, painful swelling of the testicles or the ovaries, pancreatitis and hearing loss. Pregnant women who become infected with mumps during the first three months of pregnancy are at risk of miscarriage.

Can you get mumps more than once?
No. Once you have had mumps you cannot get it again.

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