Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Toronto Man Arrested Trying To Export Transducers

A man is being held under the on charges under the Customs Act and Export Import Permits Act . The Toronto Star has reported that a Toronto man is being held for trying to export nuclear technology. Transducers, while not always innocuous as a lab beaker, can be used for legitimate as well as mad scientist purposes. Caution is not a bad thing but it will be interesting to see whether these charges stick and the intent of this man was to export weapons or restricted goods.

Feds And Ontario Give GO A Boost

Earlier today Premier McGuinty and PM Stephen Harper announced that GO Transit will receive an additional $500 million in funding. This funding is to be split between the province and the federal government and targeted on station parking lots and upgrading rail lines to increase service reliabiliity.

It would be nice if local municipal transit could be better integrated into GO Transit (so many of these city systems work outside the realm of the big transit picture). Sadly few offer service that can meet up with evening trains let alone most rush hour trips. For now more spacious parking lots will have to be the incentive for car happy commuters connecting to Toronto via transit (rather than local buses). I’ve seen the huge surge in GO ridership over the last year first hand due to high gas prices. These are baby steps sure, but steps in the right direction.

United In The Fight

It’s official. The opposition has united to defeat the government and the policies presented by the Minister of Finance. Uncharted territory here. Amazing to see how fast differing viewpoints could draft an agreement and proposal to stimulate the economy over the weekend. Mr. Flaherty has called it “a deal with the devil”?

Canada is stronger together, perhaps a coalition government might actually work together toward rebuilding Canada during these trying times. I think that we are in for more concrete action than the Conservatives are willing to admit since ALL opposition parties have committed to unite until June 30, 2011! (The Bloc are supportive of this coalition for 18 months and can extend support after that time since they are not formally part of the coalition). The economy and the environment are front and centre. The coalition will pursue prudent policies to stimulate the economy through investments in infrastructure, boosts to struggling economic sectors as well as home construction and retrofit (low income housing? green tax breaks?). Most important, long term deficits are not in the interest of the coalition.

“Today we respectfully inform the Governor General that, as soon as the appropriate opportunity arises, she should call on the Leader of the Official Opposition to form a new government, supported as set out in the accompanying accords by all three of our parties.

Respectfully,

Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader, the Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader, the New Democratic Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe
Leader, the Bloc Québécois”

– from the agreement signed by Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Monday Dec. 1, 2008

It will be interesting to see how the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada reacts.

TSX – WTF

The largest point drop ever! The TSX is hurting after news in America spooked the market. Is the sky falling? Not sure just yet but it I’m sure it will be a bumpy ride. Some economists saying we have 3 quarters worth of slow to negative growth ahead in Canada. OUCH!

Praying for the best. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the debates. Jack Layton, in Toronto campaigning, called for a meeting of all parties on the potential Canadian crisis but this was rejected.

U of T + IBM = Supercomputer

The University of Toronto is joining forces with IBM. They hope to build a supercomputer among the top 20 in the world and the fastest in Canada. The computer has been optimized with respect to energy use and will have a dedicated building to house it at a projected cost of C$50 million over 5 years.

Not the first time that a major university has set their sights on a supercomputer. Good to see U of T stepping up to the likes of Virginia Tech and Indiana University who have long enjoyed the use of and prestige of managing such a system.

Toronto Explosions – Sunrise Propane

In the early morning, a propane fire started at Sunrise Propane, a propane depot. The site is along Murray Road. The power has been cut in the local area to avoid additional issues as the fires are still raging and have been since about 4am. The 401 has been closed from the DVP to the 400 and the TTC has closed Downsview, Yorkdale and Wilson subway stations. The following TTC bus routes are also being diverted: 29 Dufferin, 84 Sheppard, 96 Wilson, 107 Keele North, 108 Downsview, and the 165 Weston.

At least 5 houses in the area have been damaged and a perimeter (Keele to Dufferin north of the 401 to Sheppard) have been evacuated. The situation has improved but burning tires and smoke from the fire still force a no fly zone in the area. Major airlines are NOT effected and flights continue to move in and out of Toronto Pearson Airport. Although one person is still unaccounted for the city has been lucky this didn’t happen on a work day. About 12,000 people live in the area. Kudos to the Toronto Fire department,
Toronto Police, the OPP and the TTC. Your co-ordinated efforts have many saved lives.

Youtube footage posted by bcochrane14

CHUM FM Off the Air

Well, this is a rare one. The CN Tower’s radio transmitter went kaput all of a sudden at lunchtime. (It must’ve been the heat.) Radio stations have backup transmitters offsite in case of an anticipated-but-not-expected event like this, and they all kicked in but one. CHUM FM’s backup transmitter refused to work.

I first knew something had gone awry when I was one moment listening to a song, then suddenly static, buzzing, and then nothing. Google is useless for finding out about breaking news like this; unfortunately, so were CTV and Citytv online news, at the time I searched anyway. I eventually got through to the source, and as I learnt when speaking to DJ John Woodlock, that “nothing” is because CHUM’s backup transmitter did kick in, but for some reason is not receiving the signal to broadcast out to the world. Their engineers are working on it feverishly. Meanwhile Woodlock is broadcasting to an audience of, um, one, cause he did get a winner in the contest. Lucky person — they obviously can listen online. Me, not even the online player works! There’s probably a heavy demand for the online player, and so some of us are going to get the “busy” signal. Stay tuned!

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Update: CHUM FM back on the air, seemingly for good, just before 13:04.

Rogers Seems to Have Caved on iPhone Pricing

The hype of the iPhone has not yet died.  If you didn’t already know Rogers will be the main service provider for your iPhone (if you haven’t hacked one already).  Rogers’ pricing plan has been adjusted as of today and some of their stores will be open early for the drooling masses at 8am on launch day, July 11th.  If you are lucky you might get breakfast and a prize too (check Rogers Plus stores like the one on 112-10 Dundas Street East).

One small victory for consumers. YEAH! Sites like RUINED I PHONE . COM were hot on the backlash trail.  Their “petition” for this product (not officially released yet) has swollen to over 57,000 names and climbing.  Rogers were smart to act.

Not in any rush to grab a new cell phone or mp3 player but at least the plan is “more” in line with those found south of the border.  Apple does have good customer satisfaction. Perhaps their pressure along with consumer outrage turned the tide on Rogers.  I’ll be watching this hype machine from the sidelines for now. Good to see that the “little guy” can better afford their nearly $1,000 phone habit. Will this mean Crackberry’s get tossed? Check your TTC or GO platform in the coming weeks for details.

Leslie Roberts Leaves CFRB

Times, they do keep on changing here in the big T.O. There’s another sudden loss on the local airwaves as of yesterday. Leslie Roberts is leaving his hosting duties on CFRB. He used to hold down the 10:00 am to Noon time slot, but no more. Global, his main and first employer in Toronto, is expanding their news division — holy cow! I thought for sure that the CRTC-inspired (as in, you want a license, you gotta…) Global National with Kevin Newman would die into oblivion once the CRTC looked the other way. Instead Global is going against CTV’s current drive and doing  more Canadian. Shocking! And Leslie Roberts, formerly of Montréal and now of Toronto, is going to be a big part of that.

He will continue to anchor the Six O’Clock Global News show, but we will soon see him contributing to a new public affairs show a la 60 Minutes. Well, OK, there’s a little American inspiration instead of Canadian, but since I discovered how cleverly the Fifth Estate colours their stories and since CTV buried W5 in the schedule, I’m not surprised Global would look south of the border. Perhaps this new show is an outflow of Global Currents that Kevin Newman hosts? That would be neat. I hope too that with this change that Global will start to film all their original news productions in HD.

Anyway, congrats to Leslie Roberts on his big promotion and big raise, and now I know too what happened to Troy Reeb: he’s Leslie’s boss.

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Meantime, CFRB Operations Manager Steve Kowch has to find a new host for the 10:00 am to Noon slot. May I suggest a radical departure from the CFRB norm? A sole female host.

I realise a sole female hosting a regular, weekday talk show on CFRB may spark controversy, but I say you’re about a couple of decades behind the times. We’ve listened to capable and entertaining female hosts leave CFRB or be  relegated to weekends at the same time as we’ve heard newbie Ryan Doyle come on the air and assault our eardrums with stereotypical and uninformed spouting. He’s obviously a good producer, but he’s not nearly the same calibre as the female talk show hosts I’ve heard. Furthermore, there must be a lot of women chomping at the bit to have a shot as sole host of a good time slot. It’s about time CFRB provided that.

So Mr. Kowch, you’re not sure what to do with this time slot. Here’s my suggestion: Hire a woman. And for good measure put Doyle back on producing duties only and find another good woman to take over his current slot.

Tragedy on Fleet

When I commented on Adam Giambrone’s laissez-faire attitude to streetcar collisions, I had no idea that someone would be killed by one mere days later.

Even when the intersection of Fleet, Bathurst, and Lakeshore is not under construction, it can be confusing to drivers when turning from Bathurst onto Lakeshore or Fleet. Sometimes, one is aiming for Lakeshore and ends up on Fleet. Still, it is shocking that a woman died because there has been an ongoing problem with drivers not understanding quickly where they should aim their cars (fast flowing traffic does not usually allow one to ponder all the signs and make a thoughtful decision as to where to go). Clearly, signage is inadequate.

“The signage is definitely lacking. People who live in the area know better than to turn down there, but people who aren’t necessarily familiar with it, they do it all the time.” (Jason Jeffcock, a local, The Toronto Star 28 June 2008)

“Certainly if part of that investigation indicates that signage is an issue, then we will of course work with the City of Toronto to improve that.” (Brad Ross, TTC spokesperson, The Toronto Star 28 June 2008)

If locals see drivers heading down the wrong way on Fleet many times a day, why does the TTC and Toronto traffic services not know about it? Clearly, there’s a disconnect between the community and officialdom, such that officialdom apparently does not know what’s going on with the streetcars. Even if locals aren’t calling the TTC or their local Councillor, have not streetcar drivers not noticed the cars heading towards them? Have they not filed reports with the TTC? Is this the very first time the police have been made aware of this dangerous intersection? I think not. The lack of communication between locals and officialdom is not the only problem here; so is the lack of response. Clearly, locals are concerned, yet the TTC is continuing to take a wait-and-see attitude. Meanwhile, laissez-faire equals one dead woman, and one badly injured woman.

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