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Newsstand: March 10, 2014

The Monday after losing an hour's sleep to Daylight Saving Time has to be among the worst Mondays of all time. Today's news: "underground" dinner parties are a thing in town, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion is retiring, Rob Ford's last original staffer has resigned, and a Toronto photojournalist was killed in a Syria bombing.

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Closed-door restaurants are a big deal already in many parts of the world, and they appear to be making their mark, albeit slowly, in Toronto. Chefs and, in some cases, skilled amateur cooks serve home-cooked meals to customers who sign up ahead of time and find out the location of their dinner only a few days or hours in advance. Known as puertas cerradas in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the practice found one of its first toeholds, closed-door restaurants are increasingly popular in major cities, mostly in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

“Mississauga under Ms. [Hazel] McCallion is like Cuba under Fidel Castro or Venezuela under Hugo Chavez,” says the National Post in its write-up on the 93-year-old mayor’s impending retirement. McCallion has held the position for 36 years, since 1978. Her term has been marked by development and economic surpluses, as well as Machiavellian political maneuvers, and it’s all set to come crashing down on someone’s head shortly after October 27 of this year. Because of her strategy of rotating the deputy mayor position and committee chairmanships, McCallion has been the City’s only household political name for decades, and there are no clear successors to the throne. Toronto residents sick of watching the circus at their own City Hall may have a new circus to watch come 2015.

On Friday, Mayor Rob Ford’s office experienced a landmark event: Ford’s only remaining original staff member left his job. Tom Beyer was a special assistant, running the front desk and the mayor’s social media accounts. Beyer is friends with both Ford and Ford’s sometime-driver, friend, and possible drug dealer Sandro Lisi, and Beyer’s name came up in several police documents related to the Project Brazen 2 investigation. When asked why he had decided to leave his job, Beyer said, “It was just right for me in terms of leaving,” and told reporters his decision had nothing to do with the ongoing controversy and scandal enveloping the mayor’s office.

A Toronto photojournalist was killed during a Sunday bombing in Syria. Ali Mustafa, 29, traveled to Syria in February to collect photographic evidence of how the civil war there was affecting civilians. According to Mustafa’s friend Maher Azem, who spoke with Syrian activists after the bombing, Mustafa had begun by taking photos of Syrian families, but had more recently been helping rescue civilians in war-torn neighbourhoods. Mustafa’s death, along with those of seven other people, seems to have come after a government airstrike in the rebel-controlled Hadariyeh neighbourhood of Aleppo. Mustafa and others were assisting in the area when a second strike killed him. The Syrian war is currently the most dangerous conflict in the world for reporters; dozens of reporters have been killed or kidnapped since hostilities began in March 2011.

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