wires plance

Morning Brew: cell phone service on TTC subway platforms, world's biggest smoothie, OPP lays very rare hate crime charges, Deputy Police Chief welcomes a G20 inquiry, security zone saplings to be replanted in September

The TTC has launched a system that allows riders to obtain next streetcar arrival times for specific stops, by sending a text message via mobile phone. This will come in very handy when I'm wondering if I have time to snag something at the nearby convenience store or if I'd rather wait for the streetcar in an apartment lobby than in the rain. The introduction of mobile phone service on TTC subway platforms is also on the commission's radar. I really hope that this doesn't include the tunnels between platforms. Knowing how lax cell phone etiquette is in this city, I can already hear the incessant and obnoxious valley girl chats and hot shot trader talk on every subway car.

Toronto is a city hungry for Guinness world record titles, and yesterday we achieved yet another. This time it was the publicity stunt by dairy farmers, who used 550 L of milk, 300 kg of blueberries, 150 L of yoghurt, and 35 L of honey to make a record-breaking 1000 L blueberry smoothie (beating the previous record of 681 L set in London, ON in 2006). Hundreds of people showed up, it took three hours to make, and now...more people know about milk?

The OPP have become the first authority in Canada to lay charges for the advocating of genocide. In a press conference led by Fantino, charges against a Mississauga man (which seem to be somewhat symbolic given that the accused isn't even in the country to be arrested) were announced. Salman An-Noor Hossain is alleged to hosted web sites that promoted hatred and called for the extermination of the Jewish community.

Earlier this week, only two city councillors out of 44 had the courage and morals to stand up for the people of Toronto who were subjected to excessive police powers and were deprived of their right to peaceful protest during the G20 weekend. It just so happens that councillors Michael Walker and Brian Ashton are both poised to retire from city hall in the near future. Despite their concerns, both voted to commend the police force. Councillor Janet Davis abstained from voting, and tells the Sun why.

Toronto Deputy Police Chief Keith Forde, who is also nearing retirement (see the pattern here?), suggests that a public inquiry into police actions would be a positive. In addition to mending broken police-public relations, a full inquiry would also allow us to address and delve into the astronomical costs of policing the G20 and future events of this nature.

Why journalists were allegedly prevented from reporting on the G20 protests by being driven around for several hours in police vehicles and dropped off way out in Scarborough remains to be understood. Why a paralegal was allegedly snatched up by the RCMP, detained, not told what crime he was being arrested for and charged with, and forced to sit naked in a cell for 5 hours needs to be understood.

In the meantime, both @mayormiller and the @torontopoilce continue to be inundated by G20-related queries and concerns from civic-minded citizens (myself included) via Twitter. It's been two weeks since the G20 summit brought chaos to Toronto, but the voices of the people continue to generously pepper both of their feeds. It must be very difficult on their ends to have one weekend so drastically change the predominant nature and tone of their normally much more positive interactions with the public.

Trash bins and street furniture are slowly but surely making their way back onto the streets that were cleared of them for the G20 for security concerns. The saplings that were uprooted and transferred to a nursery for temporary housing, however, won't be brought back to the streets until September. Word has it that it's just too hot to transplant them now.

Photo: "Movement through the wires" by lathan_k, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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