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Canadian Twitter sensation pokes fun at Sochi Games

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Feb 10th, 2014

Athletes trapped in bathrooms. Hotel rooms still under construction. Clowns wandering the streets.

Alexander Broad is doing his best to document everything wrong and weird at the Winter Games with Twitter’s latest satire-of-the-moment account, @SochiProblems.

The Internet sensation, which began Tuesday, had already amassed over 331,000 followers by Sunday.

Broad hoped for at most 30 followers. By Wednesday morning he had 11,000 and a spotlight he wasn’t expecting.

“Never in a million years. I made it as a joke. The entire idea of this came as a joke, something to laugh at,” says the Pickering, Ont., native.

The idea came to Broad on Tuesday morning as he sat in a journalism class at Toronto’s Centennial College while looking for breaking news. By then Canadian and international journalists were arriving in Sochi, Russia to find facilities still under construction, and pictures of the debacle were trending on Twitter.

Broad had his idea. Now he needed a moniker.

Before the class, Broad spilt Tim Hortons coffee on a plaid jacket, which seemed like a uniquely Canadian problem to the 20-year-old. Now he was searching for what there was to worry about in Sochi.

“From there on it just kind of grew. It’s sprouted into this giant thing,” he says.

The word giant doesn’t do Broad’s popularity justice — @SochiProblems has more followers than either the official Sochi Games profile or the Canadian Olympic team’s account.

Satirical accounts are the norm on Twitter. Fake feeds for celebrities, politicians and fictional characters proliferate on the social media website, even if many only last as long as the zeitgeist they’ve captured allows them to remain relevant.

That’s got Broad under pressure to watch the Olympics all the time for material.

“I think the biggest thing, I feel like it’s just like I’ve got to stay alert to everything a lot more,” he says, adding he draws the line at staying up through the night.

Broad’s favourite Olympic mishap so far was a series of tweets from a Canadian journalist who arrived at his hotel room late at night only to find the locks had been changed.

“I was just sitting on my couch reading them and absolutely, I had tears flowing from my eyes,” he said. “I was laughing quite hard. I don’t know why it triggered that but I thought it was quite funny.”

Broad was quickly outed as the mind behind @SochiProblems. All the popularity means he is taking Twitter more seriously than his readers might know.

After realizing one of the pictures he posted wasn’t taken at Sochi, Broad tweeted a correction and now does his best to verify all his material is real.

Now he’s wondering if a Twitter account started as a joke should become about something more.

“The whole idea of this entire account was a satire,” he said. “I think that’s what a lot of people are calling it. I made the entire thing out of a joke, and I have tweeted things that have … some political-ish type things.

“But a lot of the things I’ve tweeted there’s a lot of humour in it as well. So I’m still not entirely sure.”

With files from The Canadian Press

Week of Feb. 10, 2014

BT Toronto | posted Sunday, Feb 9th, 2014

Coming up on Breakfast Television this week:

Mirvish’s newest addition, Arrabal, stops by BT Monday with a look at what’s to hit the Toronto stage.

On Wednesday, The Wild Feathers is in studio with a rockin’ performance.

And of course, on Friday, it’s Valentine’s Day! We have everything covered from food to fun. You can’t miss that!

Be sure to watch BT weekdays 5:30 to 9 a.m. on City, right here at BTtoronto.ca, or on our Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android!


Connected City: Top 3 Olympic apps

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Feb 5th, 2014

Connected City

City digital media correspondent Winston Sih takes a look at 3 apps that will help you stay in the loop during the Sochi Olympics.

Catch Connected City with Winston Sih on his weekly segment airing on CityNews: The 5.  View all previous segments by clicking here.

Toronto under snowfall warning, extreme cold weather alert

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 5th, 2014

A snowfall warning is in effect for Toronto and the GTA, triggering many delays and cancellations on Wednesday.

Environment Canada issued the warning in the morning for Toronto, Halton Hills, Milton, Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Pickering, Oshawa and southern Durham Region. Total snow amounts of 15 centimetres are likely in those areas.

On Wednesday, the City of Toronto issued an extreme cold weather alert, which will be in effect until further notice.

Such an alert is issued in the morning when Environment Canada predicts extreme weather conditions such as a blizzard, ice storm or a sudden drop in temperature. It also allows the city to open up more shelters for the homeless.

This is the fifth alert the city has issued this winter, officially covering 19 days. In 2008-2009, the season with most extreme cold alerts, the city was under an alert for 27 days.

A snowfall warning was already issued Tuesday for Burlington, Oakville, Niagara and Hamilton, with up to 20 centimetres possible in the Hamilton and Niagara regions.

The TTC said it will be temporarily shutting down the Scarborough RT at 12:30 p.m. to allow its work crews to clear ice and snow from the system. Shuttle buses will be running between Kennedy and McCowan stations. Train service is scheduled to resume at 3 p.m.

Drivers in the GTA encountered a slow and messy morning commute on Wednesday due to the accumulating snowfall.

680News airborne traffic reporter Darryl Dahmer said at one point, there was a 55-kilometre backup on the westbound Highway 401 heading out of Oshawa. Although the backups are not as extensive as that one, they are still problematic.

Environment Canada had warned the heaviest snowfall was expected on Wednesday morning and the city said that would be an issue.

“[The snow] is unfortunately going to cause some problems not only for commuters, but also for ourselves in trying to plow the snow on the main roads,” Peter Noehammer with Toronto Transportation Services said.

Plowing operations are already underway on the city’s expressways. The city has 200 salt trucks, 600 road plows and 300 sidewalk plows in its snow-clearing arsenal.

Beck Taxi said it expects to receive around 2,000 calls an hour for a taxi and that wait times for some areas are up to 70 minutes. Meanwhile, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has received over 450 calls for service, but warns that callers can expect delays due to the road conditions. The wait for a tow truck in the GTA is over an hour.

Snow continues to fall over the region due to a low pressure system that tracked from the United States. The weather agency said several centimetres of snow fell overnight from Sarnia to the GTA and east to Kingston.

The forecast calls for gusty northeast winds to develop and could lead to blowing snow.

Drivers were advised to allow for extra time due to continuing snowfall and reduced visibility due to blowing snow.

Across the region, the snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday afternoon, according to 680News meteorologist Jill Taylor. She said the winds will gust northeast to 40-60 km/h and a high of -5 C.

School buses have been cancelled in Halton, Peel, York and Dufferin-Peel. Click here to see our full list of school bus cancellations and school closures. The Toronto District School Board said buses are running but delays are possible.

GO Transit warns it expects possible service delays due to overnight snowfall. Click here for service updates.

Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines have all issued travel alerts warning of delays and cancellations, due to the weather in the GTA and also in the U.S. Northeast.

More than 190 flights have been cancelled at Pearson International Airport due to the storm in the U.S., affecting Chicago, New York and Boston. Click here to check your flight status.

There are a handful of cancellations at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport but only affecting Air Canada flights. Click here to check your flight status.

Ford started using drugs after father died in 2006, new book alleges

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Feb 3rd, 2014

One of the journalists who claims she’s seen the video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking from a crack pipe is out with a new book, detailing Ford’s rise to power and his family’s history of criminal activity and substance abuse.

Robyn Doolittle’s book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story takes a close look at the personal life of the mayor as it traces his upbringing and the dynamics of a family that became wealthy through the hard work of his father. Doug Ford Sr. first built a successful label-printing business and later became a cabinet minister in the Mike Harris government of Ontario.

It was the death of the mayor’s father in 2006 that Doolittle claims triggered the substance abuse that has recently come to light.

“He was just utterly devastated by the death of his father. Also, that was the kind of person that they never wanted to let down and suddenly that figure was no longer there. So you didn’t have the guilt and you also had the grief. That seems to be the moment he went off the rails,” Doolittle told 680News political reporter John Stall.

Doolittle also documents the concern of Ford’s wife Renata who told a confidante during a recorded conversation that Ford said he would give up the pills but not the cocaine when he was elected mayor.

Click to buy on Amazon.ca.

Click to buy on Amazon.ca.

With files from John Stall, 680News.com

Weekend winter storm to wallop GTA with snow, rain and freezing rain

CityNews | posted Saturday, Feb 1st, 2014

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for much of southern Ontario as a low pressure system moves through the area Saturday into Sunday morning.

The GTA could see five to 10 centimetres of snow before the snow turns to rain later in the day and then potentially turns back to snow Saturday night.

Periods of freezing rain are possible during the changeovers but are expected to be brief, said Environment Canada.

Roads in the city will be slick this afternoon according to 680News meteorologist Harold Hosein.

“This will be fairly heavy, wet snow, so it will make for slippery walking conditions, and very slippery driving conditions. And visibility will be severely reduced during the afternoon hours,” said Hosein.

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for parts of York and Durham regions, including Vaughan, Richmond Hill, and Markham.

Fifteen to 20 centimetres could fall in these areas throughout Saturday and into Sunday night.

Snowfall warnings continue for other areas in the region including Newmarket, Uxbridge, and Northern York Region.

The OPP is asking drivers to stay off municipal roads in Dufferin County as snow and high winds continue to cause visibility problems and road crews struggle to clear snow drifts that reach 12 feet in some places.

Six of the eight municipalities in the county are under a state of emergency, which was called to unlock extra resources to help those areas dig out.

Some flights from Pearson and Billy Bishop airports have been cancelled. Click here or here to check your flight status before leaving for the airport.

Week of Feb. 3, 2014

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jan 31st, 2014

It’s an exciting lineup on next week’s Breakfast Television!

On Monday, it’s poutine madness! It’s the Canadian eat we all love, and we’ll be making some in studio.

Whether you’re a brand new or an expectant parent, we’ll have the top money-saving tips for you Wednesday.

And on Friday, Daniel Carman has five new denim trends for 2014, plus a special performance from Cassadee Pope!

Be sure to watch BT weekdays 5:30 to 9 a.m. on City, right here at BTtoronto.ca, or on our Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android!

Social Stream: BT at the GRAMMYs

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Jan 21st, 2014

Breakfast TelevisionEntertainment CityCityline, and CityNews are live from the GRAMMY Awards with coverage from the red carpet in Los Angeles all week long.

City will be the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of music’s biggest night, and BT will have wall-to-wall coverage of the show with correspondents reporting on location.

For behind-the-scenes updates and more, check out our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine postings using the hashtags #CityGRAMMYs and #GRAMMYs, as well as in the social stream below.

Go to GRAMMYs.ca for the latest news, interviews, and interactive content. Plus, we have a full recap of the night’s highs and lows here.

For a mobile-friendly version, click here.

Video blogs:

GRAMMYs.ca: How to interact with us on music’s biggest night!

In this web-exclusive clip, City digital media correspondent Winston Sih goes through the various ways you can stay in touch with us during the 56th-annual GRAMMY Awards on City.

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