Europe

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Business

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With Canada’s coins getting lighter, we geekily measured loonies against other currencies

The Royal Canadian Mint has weighed in: Canadian dollar and two-dollar coins need to go on a diet. New coins, with a new metal composition, will be released with the next mintage. Canadians, however, don’t have the heaviest pockets in the world—that honour goes to Brits, whose pound coins weigh two grams more than the loonie. Here, a quick survey of major currencies and how they measure up our golden birds.

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The Informer

Business

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What does the TSX-LSE merge mean for Toronto?

Big news on Bay Street this morning as the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and London Stock Exchange (LSE)  announce merger plans, with the LSE holding the majority stake of the new entity (that we’re hoping is going to be called “TL-SEX”). So as Canada gets ready for its 145th anniversary next year, capital in the British capital will be calling the shots once more. It makes us all nostalgic for the bygone days, but there are actually more serious things to consider here. Below, a sampling of them.

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The Informer

Business

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Measured against other countries, are Canadians getting hosed by their ISPs? Let’s compare

One of the biggest questions raised by this week’s usage-based billing fracas is whether Canadians are getting ripped off by their Internet service providers (ISPs). The problem is that comparing Internet service between countries raises all sorts of apples-to-oranges objections—regulations are different, infrastructure is different, markets are different. We’ve put together a chart with three factors (cost, speed, location) that should give an idea of what a dollar can get you in different countries around the world. The fairest comparison is between Canadian and American ISPs, but we’ve included several European countries to give a wider view, and a couple of Asian countries just to make ourselves cry. Oh, and Australia.

Our comparisons, after the jump.

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The Goods

Best Dressed

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Rating Rachel McAdams: we judge the star’s fashion choices as she walks the red carpets for Morning Glory

One of the things we love about Rachel McAdams is her adventurous fashion sense. It’s easy to look good when the risk is minimal, so in the endless sea of LBDs, our girl almost always stands out—even if it’s not always for the right reasons (ahem). Recently, McAdams has been earning frequent flyer miles in service of her movie Morning Glory, gracing red carpets in New York and all over Europe. Here, we rate her efforts, which—phew!—seem to get better as time goes by.

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The Informer

Politics

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For once, winter weather snafus not Toronto’s fault (but Torontonians still getting screwed)

"Heathrow is a war zone," reports David Armano, the photographer

Call in the army to clear snow just once, and a city’s reputation for being winter-competent is ruined forever. Between the mess in Sarnia (where someone actually died of exposure) and the unfolding mess in London, Toronto can, at least for now, hold its head high and be proud that we’ve handled our snow pretty well so far.  According to the CBC, among many others, air travel throughout Europe is being disrupted because the snowfall at London’s Heathrow airport has been thick enough to choke traffic. Lineups at Pearson are bad and getting worse.

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The Goods

Stores

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Introducing: Calligaris, King Street East’s newest home decor shop

Calligaris is home to sleek, multifunctional Italian-made furniture

The place: Toronto’s largest selection of Calligaris merchandise is housed in a heritage building, originally built in 1907 for the Sovereign Bank of Canada, on King Street just east of Jarvis. Of course, King East needs more furniture stores like Queens Quay needs more condo buildings, but this Italian import offers a sleek alternative to the more traditional styles of Up Country and the antique stores that dot the strip.

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The Informer

Politics

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Comparing cab rates: Toronto has the 20th most expensive taxis in the world

Prices are for a five-kilometre trip by taxi in 14 major cities

We all know that taxis are expensive in Toronto, but today’s Globe goes one step further and proves it. According to the paper and a new survey, our city has some of the most expensive taxis in the world. Toronto cabs tied with Montreal’s as the most expensive in North America, pricier than those in both Los Angeles and New York. The most expensive, with few exceptions, are in European cities, where it’s not uncommon to be escorted around in a Benz. Zurich’s cabs, apparently, are the most exorbitant.

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The Informer

Politics

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First minority governments, now Mean Girls-style back-stabbing: British politics continues to steal from Canada

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has a biography coming out this week, and in it he compares his poisonous relationship with Gordon Brown to the drama that dominated so much of Canadian politics for about 15 years: the on-again, off-again rivalry between Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. According to the Globe, Blair explicitly compares a scandal late in his career to the sponsorship scandal here in Canada, saying Brown was worried he had been given a “ticking time bomb.”

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Custom-made chocolate bars come to Canada

The German chocolate company Chocri caught our eye this week with an announcement that its made-to-order chocolate bars are now being shipped to Canada. Local chocoholics can now design their own confections using Chocri’s Web site createmychocolate.com, which allows users to choose from four types of base—white, milk, dark and mixed milk and white—and over 100 toppings of fruit, nuts, spices, gold flakes and grains. We’ve never tasted the products, but were intrigued since the European company uses only organic, ethically-produced chocolate from Belgium. Seems like a great way to develop either an extremely complicated chocolate fix or a gross-out monstrosity. Current examples on the site include:

“________’s Specialty PMS Bar” (Milk Chocolate with Blueberries, Sour Cherries, Cornflakes and Toasted Hazelnuts)

Nuts and Jolts (Milk and White Chocolate with Coffee, Macadamia Nuts, Bourbon Vanilla, Cocoa Nibs and Roasted Cashews)

The Informer

Random Stuff

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Hogtown versus the world: how does Toronto’s G20 compare with previous summits?

"Do-little summit": Stephen Harper delivers his opening remarks while other world leaders presumably listen to World Cup coverage

The G20 summit has mostly wound down, and the result is pretty mediocre: for billions in spending and a few torched police cars, we got a statement that’s almost Zen in its blandness. The G20 leaders agree to work toward financial stability—but each one gets to decide what that means. They’re committed to economic growth—but different countries need different strategies. They agree on a bank tax—except for Stephen Harper and a few others, so not every country will have one. Reuters calls it a “do-little summit.”

Given that so little of importance has been settled, how does Toronto stack up against previous summits and global meetings?

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Welcome, G20 leaders! Now, spend some money here

Yes, you can spend money in Toronto (Image: Sweet One)

The long-anticipated G20 summit has arrived in Toronto and has not been an unblemished joy for the people who live here. Between expensive security and shuttered businesses and Karl Rove and riots, many Torontonians now wish the summit had gone elsewhere. What would soothe the city’s irritation at having to play host to the world’s rich and powerful? How about if the foreign delegates spent some fat cash while they’re in town partying?  For the leaders of the G20, here is our guide to where they should leave their money as they breeze through Toronto.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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U.K. PM Cameron sucks up to Canada and Harper in Globe opinion pages

David Cameron awaits a hug from Stephen Harper (Image: bisgoveuk)

One of the newest national leaders to be visiting Toronto as part of the G20 is Kirk David Cameron, recently elected to head up the coalition Conservative–Liberal Democrat government in the U.K. Like our own Stephen Harper, Cameron came to power after humiliating the sitting PM, a man who had spent years in the shadow of a more popular and more politically successful leader. With so much in common, Cameron and Harper are apparently getting along like a house on fire, and he took to the pages of the Globe and Mail to tell us all about it:

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The Informer

Culture

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Q&A: Talking World Cup with Brendan Canning

Brendan Canning and the rest of the BSS crew headline play Olympic Island this Saturday (Image: Athena Kay)

Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning is also a footie fanatic. With the World Cup just underway and Canning’s squad playing Olympic Island on Saturday for their almost annual summer mini-festival (which will feature a handful of outfits, including Band of Horses, Beach House and indie legends Pavement), we thought we’d take our interview opportunity to chat with the bassist exclusively about the beautiful game.

What appeals to you about soccer?
No ice skates. I was kind of a smaller kid, and it seemed like a sport where you could get away with being smaller.

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Cellphones may be killing bees, disrupting food supply

Can you hear me now? (Image: David Blaikie)

In addition to making humans dumber, cellphones might be contributing to an ecological and culinary disaster known as electrosmog. Indian researchers recently released a study that links cellphone radiation to the drastic drop in bee populations occurring throughout Europe and North America. The implications of a rapidly declining bee population are far-reaching, seeing as how about one third of the food we eat depends on pollinators, according to bee expert Laurence Packer from York University. That includes apples, avocados, nuts and squash, to name just a few.

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The Informer

Politics

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Not as sexy as it sounds: five things the U.K. can expect from a hung parliament, from a country that’s been there many times before

LIMPFIFE: the U.K. election joins the ranks of the electorally ambiguous (UK map: uni-bielefeld.de)

Welcome, Brits, to the 21st-century club known as Lands Irked by Minor Political Fiascos Immediately Following an Election (LIMPFIFE). First, it was the Americans in Florida, then Italy in 2008, then Ottawa two winters ago, and now the United Kingdom is busy trying to figure out who, exactly, will be its next prime minister.

There’s nothing more fun than electing a “hung parliament,” the country’s delightfully naughty term for the situation in which no party wins a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Of course, Canada has had a minority government (our name for it is predictably duller and more emasculating) for years now, and along the way we’ve had plenty of opportunities to pick up some hints of what’s coming for the Brits between the chaos, bickering, and near-constant brinkmanship of a Parliament where nobody’s really in charge. Here, our top five things to watch out for after your electile dysfunction.  (No need to thank us. You look pretty busy.)

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