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Morning Brew: TTC Riders' Strike, Smitherman and Tory Square Off, Road Tolls Suggested, Bed Bug Infestations

Photo: "Fly a kite" by Lizzie's Libation, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

What's happening in the GTA (and sometimes beyond):

2010 mayoral hopefuls George Smitherman and John Tory squared off face-to-face on CFRB Newstalk 1010 last night, in what was being touted as the first opportunity for battle lines to be drawn. Smitherman wasn't impressed that Tory allowed the media into the studio, and declined a follow-up interview, but they did manage to chat briefly about healthy eating habits.

Toronto is losing its economic edge, and road tolls may be a way to help reverse the trend. A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says billion of dollars are being lost in the GTA because 71% of us rely on cars and are tied up in traffic rather than being productive. In-car offices could probably also help solve the problem but would surely introduce new ones.

Bed bugs are back, and a big problem in the city. Infestation by these little critters can be a real pain, especially on the psyche. It's best to get a pro to come in to solve the problem, but not everyone can afford the service or to replace pricey household items.

Back in October it was the Bathurst & Dundas area, and now other areas including the Annex and Yonge & St. Clair are being cited. Ground floor dwellers, all single women, have reported being awakened at night to find a stranger lurking over their beds and in one case, the intruder has made sexual touching his motive. Lock those windows and doors.

Police have stepped up the investigation and are conducting a massive door-to-door search for clues in the ongoing case of missing teen Mariam Makhniashvili. Her backpack was found last month, and library computers were scoured for clues, but her whereabouts still remain a mystery.

And with a looming fare hike and token purchase limits being imposed, frustrated Torontonians are making an attempt to be heard by making this Friday TTC-free. A TTC Rider Strike is being planned and people are being urged to "for one day, find a better way." But the truth is, people need to get to work and to play, and I'm not all that convinced that it'll be easy to get enough people on board to have much of an effect.

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