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Mega Millions hits $1.6B

DES MOINES, Iowa - If it seems like lottery jackpots are getting larger and larger, it's because they are getting larger and larger.

Tuesday night's Mega Millions estimated grand prize has hit a staggering $1.6 billion, continuing a trend of giant jackpots. It will be the largest lottery prize in U.S. history when someone finally hits it and will join five other top 10 drawings in the last three years.

Lottery officials changed the odds in recent years to lessen the chance of winning a jackpot, which in turn increased the opportunity for top prizes to reach stratospheric levels. A look at how the numbers work out:

WHY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF JACKPOTS?

The theory was that bigger jackpots would draw more attention, leading more players to plop down $2 for a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket. The more tickets sold, the more the jackpots grow, leading to more players and ... you get the idea.

Powerball was the first to try the theory in October 2015, when it changed the potential number combinations. In doing so, Powerball changed the odds of winning the jackpot from one in 175 million to one in 292.2 million. Officials at that time also increased the chances of winning small prizes. Mega Millions made similar moves in October 2017, resulting in the odds worsening from one in 259 million to one in 302.5 million

DID IT WORK?

States have generally reported increased Mega Millions and Powerball sales since the change. But the ever-increasing jackpots have left them ever-more dependent on those massive payouts because prizes that once seemed so immense now seem almost puny in comparison. Consider the current $620 million Powerball jackpot. That's an incredible amount of money, but compared to the Mega Millions prize hovering at an estimated $1.6 billion, it barely seems worth the bother of buying a ticket.

WHEN THE JACKPOT GETS ENORMOUS, WHAT ARE SALES LIKE?

It's hard to overstate how fast lottery tickets fly out of the mini marts when the top prizes get so large. In California, for example, the lottery sold $5.7 million in Mega Millions tickets during the first half of the day Thursday. The height of sales came during the lunch hour, when people were buying 200 tickets per second.

IF I WIN, WHAT MAKES IT INTO THE BANK?

Don't count on making a deposit for anywhere close to $1.6 billion if you win the Tuesday night drawing. Nearly all winners take the cash option, which was about $904 million as of Monday morning. After federal taxes and state deductions, which vary across the country, winners will generally end up with around half that amount to pay for their yacht shopping. The annuity option guarantees more money, but it's paid over 29 years and also would result in a hefty tax bill.

GIVEN THE AWFUL ODDS, AM I A SUCKER TO PLAY?

The probabilities are overwhelmingly not in your favour. Mathematically, you're not being rational if you think you have a chance of winning the jackpot, whether it's with one ticket or 100 tickets.

How bad are the odds? Cornelius Nelan, a math professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, notes the odds are about the same as rolling a die and getting a one, 11 times in a row.

Most people don't expect to win and instead think the $2 ticket is a small price to dream and be part of a wishful conversation with co-workers or family. As Jane L. Risen, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, puts it: When the jackpot grows so large, "it creates this sense of community. It creates this sense of camaraderie. I also think that it creates a potential sense of regret to not be the one playing."



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Robber wore horror mask

Police in Maryland say an armed robber wore a hockey mask like the one in the "Friday the 13th" horror movie — but the victim saw him put it on and was able to identify him.

The Frederick News-Post reports police say a woman saw a man walk out from behind a dumpster Oct. 18, don the mask and order her out of her car. She said he had a knife and threatened to kill her.

The man fled with her cellphone and purse. She followed, but lost sight of him in the woods, just as police arrived.

Police arrested 29-year-old Jamar Laray Scott. He denied involvement, but the woman identified him and police found the mask nearby.

Scott faces multiple charges. It's unclear whether he has a lawyer.



'Blowing Bloody Doors Off'

Michael Caine has been looking back, and on the whole he likes the view. Regrets? He's had few.

The 85-year-old star of "Alfie," ''Get Carter" and "The Dark Knight" — among many, many others — reminisces fondly in "Blowing the Bloody Doors Off," whose title adapts a line from his 1969 heist caper "The Italian Job." Being published Tuesday in the United States by Hachette, it's part memoir, part advice manual for aspiring actors and anyone else nursing an elusive dream of success.

Most of the advice is resolutely old-fashioned. Learn your lines. Work hard. Be nice to people. And be lucky. Caine knows he has been extremely fortunate.

"The luck I've had, you couldn't make it up," Caine said during an interview in his riverside London apartment, with a panoramic view up and down the Thames. "I mean, even once I was a success, I made a lot of flop movies. But I only made three at a time before I had a hit."

In print and in person, Caine describes his success as sequence of lucky breaks. His first big movie break, as a British Army officer in "Zulu" in 1964, was followed by a role as a world-weary spy in "The Ipcress File." On the back of that came his breakthrough as a callous man-about-town in "Alfie." That film made blond, bespectacled Caine a symbol of Swinging London, brought him American fame and earned him the first of six Academy Award nominations.

He went on to win two Oscars — for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "The Cider House Rules." Later came a stint as butler and mentor Alfred in three Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan. Along the way, he became an icon, and his signature glasses and Cockney accent spawned a thousand imitators.

Caine says his optimistic outlook is rooted in his hardscrabble early years. Born Maurice Micklewhite into a working-class London family, he was a child during the London Blitz and later, as a teenage conscript, was sent to fight in the Korean War.

"I have found it pretty easy to be happy since then," he notes in the book. "Once you've been on manoeuvrs in Korea, everything else seems like quite a lot of fun."

When he returned to London and a dead-end job in a butter factory, Caine resolved to be an actor, although he had little idea how to go about it.

"I was nobody from nowhere who knew nothing about anything," he said. His drive to succeed came from "desperation — the determination to become something other than a factory worker.

"My father was an example of what I was and how lucky I was to have been born all those years later," he said. "My father was an extremely clever, intelligent man but completely uneducated and a complete waste of a brain — and that's what was happening to me, and I could see that."

Answering a classified ad led to small parts in a provincial repertory company. Then came work on the London stage, television parts, movie roles and global stardom. If he has a secret, he says, it's that he kept going when others gave up.

"If someone rejected me, I never worried about it," he said. "I tried again, because my only alternative was working back in the butter factory.



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2nd suspect sought

The search continued Monday for the second of two teenage suspects in the fatal weekend shooting of a police officer near a school in the Atlanta area.

Authorities said Sunday they believe 18-year-old Tafahree Maynard fatally shot Officer Antwan Toney a day earlier as he checked a report of a suspicious car parked near a school in the Snellville area, Gwinnett County Police said in a statement.

Maynard remained at large Monday morning and should be considered armed and dangerous, police said. He faces charges of aggravated assault and felony murder. The shooting happened near a middle school about 25 miles (40 kilometres) northeast of Atlanta.

"Tafahree Maynard needs to turn himself in," Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers said at a weekend news conference.

Police said Maynard wasn't at a Gwinnett County house Sunday evening where a SWAT team deployed to serve a search warrant for him. An official statement appealed to the public for tips on Maynard's whereabouts.

A second suspect, 19-year-old Isaiah Pretlow, was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing a gun at an officer during the pursuit after Toney's fatal shooting, police had said earlier.

Toney died at a hospital over the weekend from his wounds, police said. The 30-year-old from Southern California had been with the Gwinnett County Police Department for nearly three years, serving in his first police job.

"The people that worked with Officer Toney on a daily basis recalled a very jovial person who was dedicated to his job and dedicated to his community," Ayers said.

Toney and other officers initially responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle near a school, police said. When the officers approached, someone in the vehicle opened fire and Toney was hit. Then the vehicle sped off.

According to police, Pretlow drove the vehicle away after the shooting, crashed a short distance away and fled along with other occupants. An officer searching the area later encountered Pretlow around p.m. Pretlow pointed a gun at the officer, who fired shots, according to a statement. Pretlow was not hit and fled into some woods. He was subsequently taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.



Hurricane aims for Vallarta

Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an "extremely dangerous" near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path to smash into Mexico's western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta by Wednesday.

The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close on Monday and began preparing emergency shelters ahead of the onslaught.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Willa could "produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday." It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday, generating life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.

A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico's western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan, including the Islas Marias, a nature reserve and federal prison directly in the forecast track of the storm.

Tropical storm warnings ranged from Playa Perula north to San Blas and from Mazatlan north to Bahia Tempehuaya. The centre said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

By early Monday, Willa had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and was centred about 200 miles south-southwest of the Islas Marias. It was moving north at 7 mph.

The hurricane centre said 6 to 12 inches of rain should fall — and some places could see up to 18 inches — on parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states. It warned of the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.

Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.

By early Monday, its core was about 195 miles southeast of Acapulco. The hurricane centre said it could produce 3 to 6 inches of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.



Hawking's chair for sale

Stephen Hawking was a cosmic visionary, a figure of inspiration and a global celebrity.

His unique status is reflected in an upcoming auction of some of the late physicist's possessions: It includes complex scientific papers, one of the world's most iconic wheelchairs and a script from "The Simpsons."

The online sale announced Monday by auctioneer Christie's features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, some of his many awards, and scientific papers such as "Spectrum of Wormholes" and "Fundamental Breakdown of Physics in Gravitational Collapse."

Thomas Venning, head of books and manuscripts at Christie's, said the papers "trace the development of his thought — this brilliant, electrifying intelligence."

"You can see each advance as he produced it and introduced it to the scientific community," Venning said.

Of course, Hawking's fame rests only partly on his scientific status as the cosmologist who put black holes on the map.

Diagnosed with motor neuron disease at 22 and given just a few years to live, he survived for decades, dying in March at 76.

The auction includes one of five existing copies of Hawking's 1965 Cambridge University Ph.D. thesis, "Properties of Expanding Universes," which carries an estimated price of 100,000 pounds to 150,000 pounds ($130,000 to $195,000).

Venning said the thesis, signed by Hawking in handwriting made shaky by his illness, is both a key document in the physicist's scientific evolution and a glimpse into his personal story.



Headless chicken monster?

A rare sea creature, only ever caught on tape in the Gulf of Mexico, has now been filmed for the first time in the Southern Ocean off east Antarctica.

The creature is dubbed a “headless chicken monster,” otherwise known as a deep-sea swimming cucumber or it's scientific name Enypniastes eximia had previously only been captured on camera swimming in the Gulf of Mexico before this new footage was released.

The Australian government’s Antarctic division for commercial long-line fishing captured the exotic animal via their underwater camera operation.

“Some of the footage we are getting back from the cameras is breathtaking, including species we have never seen in this part of the world,” Australian Antarctic division program leader Dr. Dirk Welsford said.

“Most importantly, the cameras are providing important information about areas of seafloor that can withstand this type of fishing and sensitive areas that should be avoided,” he added.

The footage and data that has been collected is set to be presented at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart, Australia.

According to the group’s website, the commission was “established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life.”

Over the next 10 days the commission will look at the best ways to respond to climate change.

-with files from CTV



Lion kills mate at zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo is trying to determine why a lion killed its mate.

The zoo said Friday that an adult female, Zuri, attacked 10-year-old male Nyack in their outdoor yard Monday before the zoo opened for the day.

The zoo says the two had been housed together for eight years and produced three cubs in 2015. Nyack was on loan from the San Diego Zoo.

It says that staff heard an unusual amount of roaring from the yard and tried to separate the two but that Zuri held Nyack by the neck until he stopped moving. A necropsy confirmed Nyack died of suffocation from injuries to his neck.

The zoo says daily logs kept by staff previously showed no unusual aggression, injuries or wounds between the two.



Harry and Meghan changes

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took separate boats Monday to Queensland's Fraser Island as their tour of Australia and the South Pacific continued with a reduced schedule for the pregnant duchess.

Prince Harry took a barge for the 43-mile (70-kilometre) crossing from Australia's mainland to the island, while the former American actress Meghan rode in a far more comfortable cruiser.

Meghan is some four months pregnant and has had her schedule reduced after a hectic start to the 16-day tour.

The Duchess rested for the first part of the day while Harry undertook several engagements focusing on environmental issues. Meghan then delighted onlookers by emerging for a waterside stroll with her husband.

Harry and Meghan touched down midmorning at Hervey Bay, 745 miles (1200km) north of Sydney, in a Royal Australian Air Force plane. The couple descended the stairs hand-in-hand, before going their separate ways: Harry boarding a bus and Meghan a car.

After their boat crossings, Harry was scheduled for a range of engagements on the world's biggest sand island, known as K'gari — or "Paradise" — in the local indigenous language, on day seven of their Australian tour.

After taking part in a traditional "Welcome to Country" smoking ceremony with representatives of the local Butchulla indigenous people, Harry unveiled a plaque dedicating the popular holiday island's pristine rainforests to Queen Elizabeth's Commonwealth Canopy project.

Harry's itinerary also touched on the history of logging on Fraser Island, whose famed hardwood trees were used to build the London's docks in the 1930s.

After their afternoon stroll, the royal couple met locals including Hervey Bay paramedics Graeme Cooper and Danielle Kellam.

The paramedics made headlines last year after a photo of them granting a dying woman's wish to see the ocean at Hervey Bay one last time went viral and captured hearts around the world.

Harry and Meghan are due to leave Australia for Fiji and Tonga on Tuesday. They will return to Sydney on Friday night for the final days of the Invictus Games, Harry's brainchild and the focus of their tour, before finishing off with a visit to New Zealand.



6 shot before NFL game

Six people have been wounded in a street shooting blocks from the Florida stadium where the NFL's Houston Texans played and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

Ron Lendvay, director of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said several shots rang out about 12:35 p.m. Sunday on a boulevard in the stadium's general area and that five men and one woman were hit by gunfire. All were rushed to hospitals, and the sheriff's office tweeted that three of the victims were in critical condition. The victims ranged in age from their 20s to the 70s, according to Lendvay.

The shooting broke out before the scheduled 1 p.m. start of play. Lendvay reported no link to the game, which went on without incident, and said investigators were investigating whether it was gang-related.

The Texans won their fourth consecutive game Sunday, defeating the Jaguars 20-7 to take a one-game lead in the AFC South at the stadium, TIAA Bank Field.

Local media reports cited authorities as saying the shooting had had no impact on game day activities though some fans headed to the game reported hearing the gunfire.

Lendvay told reporters that a shooter fired from the passenger side of a grey, four-door sedan driven by a companion and that the victims were hit outside on the sidewalk near a laundromat. He said the car immediately drove off and that detectives had been checking surveillance video in hopes of identifying the vehicle and those involved.

"There were at least two people in the car," Lendvay said. He added that investigators didn't know if any others were in the car and he didn't rule out the possibility of other shooters elsewhere.

"This may be gang-related based on information obtained in the early stages of the investigation," he told reporters Sunday, declining to elaborate.

Some fans told local broadcast outlet New4Jax that they heard shots as they headed to the stadium.

"We had just parked our cars," Vanessa Holmes told the new outlet, adding she and some family members were walking when it happened. "We heard the shots. We didn't know if we should fall to the ground. We didn't know what to do," she said.

Others told the broadcast outlet that they saw people running out of the coin laundry business when the shots were fired.

Some said it was a series of shots.

"We were over there talking and suddenly, it was like ten gunshots. We ran and went for cover and then I saw the police, and people were crowding down there," a woman identified as Yvonne Lee told News4Jax.

An update on the conditions of the wounded wasn't immediately available late Sunday and they were not identified by name.

"A couple of them were in very serious condition on their arrival at the hospital," Lendvay said. He added that five of the wounded were rushed by paramedics for emergency care and the sixth by private vehicle.

He said authorities have been unable to immediately determine whether there was any relationship among the wounded, noting none could be immediately interviewed though authorities hoped to do so later.

"It's hard to say if they are all associated or not," he added.

Lendvay spoke near the scene Sunday afternoon even as the game was in progress, saying investigators had cordoned off the area but fans who had cars parked in the area could expect an escort to their vehicles so they could leave unhindered after play was over.

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who represents the district where the shooting occurred, told local media he was aware of crime problems in the neighbourhood and urged a greater law enforcement presence there.

"In talking to the sheriff's department; they are going to beef up patrols ...We have a crime issue," Gaffney said. "Every other week and every other month out there, it's too much."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also said in a statement that he had reached out to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, offering any state resources that the city may need.



Khashoggi case not credible

A man appearing to wear Jamal Khashoggi's clothes left the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following his killing there, according to a surveillance video, while a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage made four calls to the royal's office around the same time, reports said Monday.

The reports by CNN and a pro-government Turkish newspaper came just a day before Prince Mohammed's high-profile investment summit is to begin in Riyadh and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that details of Khashoggi's killing "will be revealed in all its nakedness."

That yet again adds to the pressure Saudi Arabia faces over the slaying of the Washington Post columnist. The kingdom's claim on Saturday that Khashoggi died in a "fistfight" met international skepticism and allegations of a coverup to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.

Turkish media reports and officials maintain that a 15-member Saudi team flew to Istanbul on Oct. 2, knowing Khashoggi would arrive for a document he needed to get married. Once he was inside the diplomatic mission, the Saudis accosted Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, killed and dismembered the 59-year-old writer.

CNN aired surveillance footage on Monday showing the man in Khashoggi's dress shirt, suit jacket and pants. It cited a Turkish official as describing the man as a "body double" and a member of the Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer. The man is seen in the footage walking out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice, then taking a taxi to Istanbul's famed Sultan Ahmed Mosque, where he went into a public bathroom, changed back out of the clothes and left.

The state-run broadcaster TRT later also reported that a man who entered the consulate building was seen leaving the building in Khashoggi's clothes.

In the days after Khashoggi vanished, Saudi officials initially said that he had left the consulate, implying premeditation on the part of the Saudi team.

"After Turkish authorities and the media were allowed to inspect the consulate building in its entirety, the accusations changed to the outrageous claim that he was murdered, in the consulate, during business hours, and with dozens of staff and visitors in the building," Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of the crown prince, wrote on Oct. 8. "I don't know who is behind these claims, or their intentions, nor do I care frankly."

A separate report by newspaper Yeni Safak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed's entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate. The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed's office. It said another call went to the United States.

Yeni Safak cited no source for the information. However, pro-government newspapers have been leaking information about Khashoggi's killing, apparently with the help of Turkish security forces. Yeni Safak reported last week that Saudi officials cut off Khashoggi's fingers and then decapitated him at the consulate as his fiancée waited outside.

Officials in Saudi Arabia have not answered repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press in recent days, including on Monday. Saudi Arabia so far has not acknowledged or explained Mutreb's presence in Istanbul — nor that a forensics and autopsy expert was also on hand for Khashoggi's arrival at the consulate.

Last week, a leaked photograph apparently taken from surveillance footage showed Mutreb at the consulate, just ahead of Khashoggi's arrival. Mutreb's name also matches that of a first secretary who once served as a diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in London, according to a 2007 list compiled by the British Foreign Office.

Meanwhile, Saudi state media reported that both Prince Mohammed and King Salman made calls to Khashoggi's son, Salah, early on Monday morning. Statements from the agency said both the king and the crown prince expressed their condolences for Khashoggi's death.



Russia probe revival?

House Democrats are expected to reopen the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election if they win the majority in November. But they would have to be selective in what they investigate.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, has said his party would have to "ruthlessly prioritize the most important matters first."

The Republican-led Intelligence Committee was the only House panel to investigate Russian meddling, and its investigation is now closed. Republicans say they found no evidence of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign.

Democrats say Republicans ignored key facts and important witnesses and want to restart parts of the investigation if they win the House. But some Democrats also worry that there could be a political cost if they overreach.

Schiff and other lawmakers say they are closely watching special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and the Senate's Russia probe to look for gaps that they could fill. And if Mueller issues any findings, their investigative plans could change.

"My sense is that we want to be precise," says California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the intelligence panel.



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