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Newsstand: April 3, 2014

It is Thursday. So close to Friday and yet so far away. A blue police box that is bigger on the inside would really come in handy right about now, wouldn’t it? In the news: Joe Cressy doesn’t think the oilsands are evil anymore, Olivia Chow doesn’t think that the downtown relief line should be an election issue, it turns out it is not as easy as you would think to move a Victorian coach house, and a Toronto man who helped pioneer amnesia research has died.

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Joe Cressy, a former environmental activist who is the expected NDP candidate in the upcoming Trinity-Spadina byelection, is backpedaling on some of his past criticisms of Alberta’s oilsands. Cressy has gone on the record in the past saying that the “dirty oil” has no place in the Canadian economy, and has also helped develop a tarsands video game that targeted both Liberals and Conservatives. The term video game is used loosely here, because it is pretty boring and unfun to play. Cressy recently softened on his previous stance, telling Global News, “The debate over the oilsands has changed over the years and certainly my approach has changed. I have serious concerns, as do many people in my generation, about the environmental impact of unregulated development.” Cressy also said that the federal government should not be spending millions of dollars to promote the oilsands abroad when Canadian cities like Toronto have more pressing issues that require funding, such as housing, public transit, and infrastructure.

In a radio interview yesterday, mayoral candidate Olivia Chow said that while she fully supports the downtown relief line, it should not be an election issue, because nothing is projected to break ground for another five to six years at this point, and it will not be completed until at least 2031. Fellow candidates John Tory and David Soknacki both countered that the relief line should be an election issue, with Tory saying Chow’s statements demonstrate a total disinterest in the relief line. Soknacki took to Twitter to say that a 17-year construction timeline should not be accepted as is, and planning should begin now. Mayor Rob Ford has yet to comment, possibly because he is busy going on a Tim Hortons run with deadmau5.

Just because a historic 3,000-square-foot coach house is free to anyone who can move it, it does not mean it is logistically possible. According to Greg McCulloch, a Whitby-based project manager who has worked on several similar projects, moving a home usually takes between three to five years to plan. Even if proper timelines had been followed to try to save the Victorian brick house on Isabella Street from demolition when Casey House expansion gets underway on Labour Day, McCulloch says that it would be impossible to move the home more than a few blocks in any direction because of bridges and other obstacles. Free housing always comes with a catch these days, doesn’t it?

When Torontonian Kent Cochrane was 30 years old, in a motorcycle accident he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to form new memories. He died last week at 62, having become one of the most studied cases of amnesia in the world, and assisting medical researchers from around the world to better understand human memory. Over the years, tests showed that Cochrane could not form new memories or recollect events prior to his accident. Scientists were surprised to learn that he could also not imagine a future, which lead to discovering the link between remembering past experiences and imaging future ones in the same area of the brain. Fascinatingly, scientists say that Cochrane was able to learn skills through rote repetition, even though he would have no memory of how he had learned the tasks. At the time of Cochrane’s death, he had been the subject of 32 research papers, with five more pending publication.

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