Monthly Archives: December 2018

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Microsoft teases new ‘Crackdown,’ ‘Halo’ at E3

LOS ANGELES – It’s all about the games for Microsoft at E3.

Microsoft focused exclusively on hyping titles coming to its Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles during its presentation Monday ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the game industry’s annual trade show.

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The new Xbox One games included a fresh installment of the open-world romp “Crackdown”; a reboot of the Xbox action game “Phantom Dust”; the original dragon-centric adventure “Scalebound” from developer Platinum Games; a sequel to the 2013 “Tomb Raider” reboot titled “Rise of the Tomb Raider”; and a “Halo” collection that will bring four prior installments of the sci-fi shooter to Microsoft’s latest console.

READ MORE: 5-year-old finds security flaw in Xbox Live

Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, began the 90-minute presentation by noting that Microsoft changed features of the Xbox One, which launched last November, after listening to consumer feedback.

“You are shaping the future of Xbox, and we are better for it,” Spencer told the crowd and cameras broadcasting the event. “Today, we are dedicating our entire briefing to games.”

When the company initially unveiled the Xbox One last year at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters, Microsoft billed the $499 console as an “all-in-one” entertainment hub for the living room.

Following criticism, Microsoft backtracked on several requirements for the console, including that it must be connected to both the Internet every 24 hours and to its motion-detecting Kinect sensor. The company began selling a Kinect-free version of the Xbox One on Monday for $399.

READ MORE: New PlayStation outpaces Xbox One sales in battle of consoles

Microsoft Corp. has lagged behind Sony Corp. since both companies began selling their latest consoles last November. Microsoft has sold 5 million Xbox One consoles to Sony’s 7 million PlayStation 4 units. However, both companies have outpaced the sales of their predecessor consoles — the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — during the same time period.

“We will continue to listen to you, our community, and will continue to make Xbox for you,” Spencer told the crowd at the conclusion of Monday’s event. “That’s not just my personal commitment, but the commitment of the entire Xbox team.”

Other upcoming games teased during the event included the futuristic “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” driving sequel “Forza Horizon 2,” original cartoony shoot-’em-up “Sunset Overdrive” and downloadable choreography game “Dance Central Spotlight.”

©2014The Canadian Press

New mandate, big headaches: Some of the challenges facing Premier Wynne – Toronto

TORONTO – The Ontario Liberals won their fourth straight mandate Thursday night.

And while many delirious Liberals likely spent the night celebrating, they’ll be back to work by July 2 when Wynne reintroduces her election-triggering budget.

She’ll have her work cut out for her.

Here’s a very short list of the challenges that might make Wynne and her MPPs wish they’d opted for skydiving careers instead.

Transit

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Wynne once promised an “adult conversation” on transit funding. It never happened. All three parties promised fancy new transit with zero new taxes on the average Ontarian.

Now that she’s in power with a majority, she may have the cojones to put in a road toll or two to back the $29-billion decade-long transit and infrastructure plan she’s promised – to be funded, she’s said, through debt, the feds and existing funds that are supposed to be made up by hiking taxes on the rich.

She’ll also have to contend with previously made promises that are still up for discussion – notably the Scarborough subway. Olivia Chow, one of the frontrunners to replace Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto, has promised to cancel the Scaborough subway if she’s elected, and replace it with the light rail line the province originally agreed to.

And she’ll have to decide what role Metrolinx, the arms-length expert body that keeps getting overruled by politicians, plays in all this.

But something’s got to be built: Right now the province that loses up to $11 billion a year thanks to gridlock caused by inadequate transit and crumbling infrastructure.

Health Care

Ontarians are old, and getting older. Government estimates find the number of people over the age of 65 will double from about two million (or 14.6 per cent of the population) in 2012 to roughly 4.2 million in 2036.

And a 2010 report from Cancer Care Ontario says the aging population is one of the main contributors to increased cancer rates – people are living long enough to die of cancer.

A huge proportion of the province’s ballooning health-care bill, which takes up roughly 41 per cent of the province’s funds, is spent on palliative costs. Calls are multiplying for better policy on managing end-of-life care.

At the same time, a growing body of evidence shows that if you really want a healthier population and a cheaper health-care bill, you need to invest in preventing illness to begin with. That means communities designed to reduce obesity, targeting poorer people more at risk of everything from diabetes to cancer to heart disease and improving health care education for kids.

Wynne’s also promised to expand the province’s mental health care system. A worthy goal, if her government has the will (and the cash).

The Federal Government

Wynne said early in the election she isn’t afraid of a fight with the feds. That’s a good thing, because she’s sort of set herself up for one.

Ontario, still getting used to being a “have-not province,” wants more transfer funds. It’s also peeved at getting less money for immigrant support as more new Canadians head to western Canada (although Ontario still gets the plurality of immigrants).

Wynne came out swinging against Harper, spending the first few days of the campaign loudly criticizing the Harper government while touting an Ontario pension plan she says wouldn’t be necessary if the feds expanded CPP like she asked. And Finance Minister Charles Sousa called the reduction of transfer payments to Ontario “a complete assault on the province.”

But these two levels of government need to learn to work together. Otherwise, how awkward would that make first ministers’ meetings?

Unemployment

Easier said than done: Cutting taxes doesn’t necessarily create jobs; neither do corporate grants, no matter how targeted. And as recent Statscan numbers show, the issue isn’t with the number of jobs but with their quality: Part-time gigs are replacing full-time ones. The pay’s lower, the uncertainty’s greater, there are no benefits. That new precarity of work has real impacts on communities, health and the economy. Tackling that will be beyond any election slogan.

Wynne’s vowed to keep giving corporations cash even though there’s no indication that creates jobs in the long run. She’s promised to help people with disabilities find work, which would be great if it worked and didn’t force people into a workforce that makes them sicker. But if she’s worried about Ontarians’ financial stability she’ll also have to figure out how to deal with precarious employment that’s become the new labour market normal.

Rob Ford

Sure, he was in rehab for the duration of the provincial campaign. But Ford’s brushes with the law, his unsavoury friendships and his all-too-well-documented episodes of bigoted drunkenness will haunt whoever is elected premier – more so if Ford is re-elected Oct. 27.

Wynne avoided any interaction with Ford ever since his crack cocaine admission last November. He apparently claims he tried to call her from rehab to say congrats; she didn’t take the call. Will she continue that silent treatment next fall if he wins the election?

Will she be able to push past the Ford noise to get things done in Toronto?

“Premier X, enough about health care. What do you think of Rob Ford’s return to city hall?”

The Pan-Am Games

Scandal-sparking tea, Union Station behind schedule and over budget, ongoing road closures, the extension of the Yonge-University-Spadina line, the Union-Pearson express, $239 million bill for security, and $478,000 in severance pay for the ousted Pan Am Games CEO are among the headaches associated with just getting ready for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Then there’s the more obvious question: As the Toronto region agitates for a second hockey team, or an NFL team, and some masochists advocate another Olympic bid, does anyone actually care about the Pan-Am games?

The curse of Premiers Past

Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath tried to tie Wynne’s time in government to the gas plants scandal – and well, any of the McGuinty governments many scandals.

But Ontario voters didn’t seem to care, electing Wynne to lead a majority government on Thursday. Now the question is, will the spectre of the McGuinty government continue to haunt Wynne or has his scandalous reign at Queen’s Park finally been exorcised?

So, good luck with all that.

Kings, Rangers facing fatigue in tough Stanley Cup final – National

NEW YORK – The New York Rangers had just suffered a difficult loss to the Kings in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, but coach Alain Vigneault didn’t use the long plane ride home from Los Angeles to drill his players on how to get back into the series.

Vigneault wanted the Rangers to rest and re-energize, and after a tiring start to the series the Kings had the same idea.

“You should’ve seen the plane ride over here,” Kings winger Justin Williams said. “It was all lights out and guys were sleeping.”

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter voiced some concern about fatigue earlier in the series, but the true test is how these teams will react moving forward after two overtime games and then cross-country flights Sunday. Neither team practised on the day before Game 3 because rest is now at a premium.

“I think the longer series go, the longer the playoffs go, (it’s about) courage, determination, extra effort,” Sutter said.

“You’re never going to feel fresh. You’re never going to feel as good as you did in November. That’s the way it works. That’s for sure. They’re people.”

Williams doesn’t consider fatigue a problem. For now.

“We’ll be fine,” he said. “It’s the Cup finals, there’s no excuse for not being ready or not being prepared or being tired. You can get yourself ready.”

That’s easier said than done after it took until midway through the second overtime before Dustin Brown finished off Game 2 to give Los Angeles a two games to none lead in the series.

Despite Williams scoring 4:36 into overtime in Game 1, there’s a build-up of extra hockey going on for the Kings. That was their third overtime game in a row.

“It’s pretty tough,” Kings winger Marian Gaborik said. “To play this many periods the last three games, it’s a lot of hockey. But everyone will find the energy.”

The Rangers had a handful of days off after beating the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference final, but that doesn’t mean players could immediately re-adjust to the time change by the time they took the ice at Madison Square Garden on Monday morning.

Trying to explain the mood around the team, forward Brian Boyle noted that it’s still early in the morning. But he wasn’t worried about being tired.

“You just try and get your rest and plenty of fluids,” Boyle said. “It’s the same for probably everybody. It’s an even playing field. So you just do your best.”

Even though it is an even playing field, it takes some work.

“I think on the days off is where you take care of a lot of the physical fatigue, get as much liquids into you as possible and take a step back and relax a little bit,” Kings forward Dwight King said Sunday at the team hotel. “As far as prepping for games, everybody has been in this situation long enough to know what they need to do to bring what they need to bring in order for our team to be successful.”

Defenceman Drew Doughty, who played a game-high 41:41 on Saturday night, has his own strategy.

“I’m the best couch-sitter in the world, so I make sure to do a lot of that,” he said.

That’s one way to physically re-charge. But 14 players in this series also participated in the Olympics, so the grind is no joke.

“I think it’s my longest season ever,” said Kings defenceman Slava Voynov, who played for Russia in Sochi. “But I feel like last season, a couple of years ago, same thing, it’s not big deal for me. Just try to play games.”

And there have been a lot of games. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has played 91, counting the Olympics. He thinks the bigger concern is the mental aspect of playing so many games, including the overtimes.

“Physically we can all do it,” Lundqvist said. “It’s about how you recharge mentally. You have to make sure you’re in the right place. No letdowns here.”

NOTES: Injured Rangers backup goaltender Cam Talbot did not skate Monday morning, and David LeNeveu is expected to continue serving in that role. Vigneault did not provide an update on Talbot’s status. … Injured Kings defenceman Robyn Regehr, who hasn’t played since May 3, continues to skate but his status is uncertain. Sutter said the team will continue to see what happens as warm-ups and games go on.

©2014The Canadian Press

Security measures loosened for Quebec inmates who escaped by helicopter

ABOVE: Quebec’s deputy premier said security measures for three men who escaped from prison in a helicopter were loosened just a day before their daring getaway. Global’s Caroline Plante has more. 

MONTREAL – Security measures for three men who escaped from prison in a helicopter were loosened just a day before their daring getaway, Quebec’s deputy premier said Monday.

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Lise Theriault said a judge granted a request by the trio on Friday to have more flexible detention conditions, including the possibility they no longer had handcuffs.

Theriault, who is also public security minister, told a news conference she doesn’t know why the judge agreed to the request.

“On Friday, the prisoners petitioned a judge to have their measures of confinement loosened and the judge agreed,” she said.

READ MORE: Massive manhunt for three inmates who escaped Quebec prison

Yves Denis, Denis Lefebvre and Serge Pomerleau escaped from the Orsainville Detention Centre in suburban Quebec City on Saturday evening when a chopper landed in a courtyard, scooped them up and quickly took off.

Police say the three men were originally arrested on drug-trafficking and gangsterism charges in 2010.

The Quebec provincial police website also says Denis, 35, is facing first-degree murder charges, while Lefebvre, 53 and Pomerleau, 49, are facing charges of murder and conspiracy to murder.

Watch: Three inmates escape Quebec prison

“The No. 1 priority right now is to capture the three fugitives and get them back behind bars,” Theriault said in Nicolet, Que.

Theriault defended police as they continued their search for the convicts.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “Quebec is big. There are a lot of places where people can hide.”

Watch: Provincial police update on prison helicopter escape

Saturday’s helicopter escape had similarities to another bold jailbreak in Quebec.

A helicopter pilot was forced at gunpoint to fly to a prison in a St-Jerome in March 2013.

Two convicts climbed a rope ladder into the hovering helicopter and fled.

The two escapees and the two men accused of hijacking the chopper were picked up by police in Mont-Tremblant, about 85 kilometres away, within a few hours of the escape.

Police cars are shown in front of the Orsainville Detention Centre near Quebec City on Saturday June 7, 2014. There has been another jailbreak in Quebec involving a helicopter. Quebec Provincial Police say three inmates have escaped from the Orsainville Detention Centre.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis Vachon.

Yves Denis is shown in this police handout photo

Surete Du Quebec

Serge Pomerleau is shown in this police handout photo.

Surete Du Quebec

Denis Lefebvre is shown in this police handout photo.

Surete Du Quebec

Police cars are shown in front of the Orsainville Detention Centre near Quebec City on Saturday June 7, 2014.

Francis Vachon/The Canadian Press

©2014The Canadian Press

Violent start to the week in Edmonton – Edmonton

EDMONTON – A man was sent to hospital after being stabbed in central Edmonton.

The victim suffered non life-threatening injuries after being stabbed Monday morning in the area of 106 Ave. and 124 St.

Edmonton police investigate stabbing that has sent one man to hospital, Monday, June 9, 2014.

Morris Gamblin, Global News

Police say the suspect and victim know each other, but no arrests have been made.

Police continue to investigate the incident.

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