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Weekend Newsstand: February 8, 2014

Weather, am I right? The only thing that could ruin this wonderful Olympics-filled weekend. In the news: police visited Rob Ford's office on Friday and won't say why, Thomas Mulcair thinks Rob Ford is a disappointment, some of Gawker's "crack video" money is going to be spent at the Somali-Canadian Association, and ideas on improving the city.

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Two police officers visited Mayor Rob Ford’s office at City Hall on Friday afternoon. They stayed for about 40 minutes and left without answering reporters’ questions. The visit was related to a “call for service” but nothing else has yet been released.

Some of the $202,000 raised by Gawker in an effort to purchase the much-discussed but never publicly seen “Rob Ford crack video” has gone to the Somali-Canadian Association of Etobicoke for a new mentoring program. Abdulrahman Elmi, a 23-year-old York University graduate, has been brought on the coordinate the new project, which will set up 12- to 16-year-olds with around a dozen mentors in their 20s. The groups will spend their time “discussing homework, talking about challenges, [and] playing basketball and other games.” While the program will be open to people of all ethnicities, it will be targeted at the Somali-Canadian community, which has seen drug- and violence-related upheaval in recent years.

Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, who called on Rob Ford to step down after Ford’s October admission that he has smoked crack, now says Ford is “affecting Toronto negatively.” He was also critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who Mulcair says “should stop making excuses for” Ford.

The Toronto Star lists 20 ideas for a better Toronto that were discussed at a Thursday conference organized by the Toronto Transit Alliance, CivicAction, and Evergreen. Toronto Region Vision 2014: Big Ideas for the Region brought together five speakers who were supposed to present 20 slides for 20 seconds each, in a practice known as Pecha Kucha. Some of the stand-out ideas: make Toronto a “teaching city” in the same way that some hospitals are “teaching hospitals” (and, in fact, 14 of the world’s 600 such hospitals are in the Toronto region). Incorporate rapid bus transit on all 400-series highways to connect nearby cities like Waterloo, Peterborough, Hamilton, and Barrie. Build a consensus that we need to tax residents “because we believe in the city.” Find ways to make all three levels of government accountable in how they interact. “Make Toronto the first [city] to publish its urban DNA” is a confusing but potentially genius idea, depending on what it actually means.

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