This weeks edition of the Thursday Thirteen focuses on 13 new stories which matter to this urban daddy living in North America’s 7th largest city.
You may recognize some and others may be new to you. Please take the time and see what matters.
Here we go!
13. Anyone find the irony here? TaxMasters, a firm that advertises it can help consumers facing problems with taxes, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
TaxMasters, earned revenue by getting their customers to pay advance fees of $2,000 to $8,000 allegedly by misstating the help they could provide people with unpaid IRS tax bills. It has been reported that in some cases, TaxMasters claimed they would reduce people’s tax bills by up to 90% but when they were not able to, they kept the advanced fees and moved on.
The Better Business Bureau says it has received more than 1,000 complaints about TaxMasters over the course of the last three years. In their bankruptcy filing, TaxMasters stated their liabilities – money owing to creditors - between $1 million and $10 million and their assets to be less than $50,000. This is what happens when you have commissioned sales people pitching services which involve the government. No one can truly appreciate the inner workings of a government agency or departments unless they have working in one, or worked with one over a period of time.
12. Library workers in Toronto go on strike over job security for the full-time and part-time workforce.
For those of you not in Toronto, you should know that recently, the Toronto government has been looking at libraries – in addition to all other public bodies – as an area to save city taxpayer dollars. As the 7th largest city in North America, Toronto has a conservative mayor who wants to tighten up spending, reduce waste and not have to keep increasing taxes in order to meet obligations and this is not being accepted by the strong left-wing contingent in the downtown core.
As a result of this mention of libraries, a rallying cry came out about how much libraries are used in this day and age even though people are using iPads, and Kobo readers and downloading reading materials. Internet has reduced the reliance on libraries much in the same way that Wikipedia spelled the end for encyclopedia’s.
Unionized library staff, clearly concerned, started campaigning to keep libraries open and began to justify some of the very large – over $100K salaries – and reinforced the need for libraries in the City of Toronto. The mayor clarified that there was no intention to close libraries, but are librarians really worth $100K/year.
The issue had since did down until they went on strike – closing the libraries as of Monday.
If there ever was a way to show the mayor and the local government that the City can do some cost cutting in the library system, it will become perfectly clear when the public show they can live without libraries.
Nice job union!
11. Some wack-job, now identified as being Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old member of al-Qaeda who had escaped from prison in Afghanistan is behind the killing of 3 French soldiers one who was Muslim, and a Rabbi and 3 children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
Police found explosives his brother’s car, and have arrested his brother, mother and an acquaintance of the brother. He said he wanted to kill the Jewish kids in revenge for Palestinian children being killed in Israel, and the soldiers for France’s participating in the war in Afghanistan.
This morning he jumped out of the apartment building he was in while shooting, only to become a pancake upon his bodies arrival to the ground. Oh well. I hope he suffered.
10. Reports out of Israel indicate that several of the prisoners returned to the West Bank and Gaza strip in the Gilad Shalit swap have been re-arrested during failed attempts to kidnap Israeli citizens… How does that expression go? “Stupid is as stupid does”.
9. Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has signed a $96 million dollar, 5-year contract to play for the Denver Broncos, meaning current QB Tim “G-d Bless Me” Tebow has not been traded to the New York Jets. It’s not that I’m against athletes getting that kind of money – I am – but that almost billion dollars would help build a lot of stuff in these tough times… Like maybe Toronto’s subways.
Huh? What?!? Peyton Manning, not Preston Manning… Oh. Move on. Nothing to see here.
8. The Toronto Maple Leafs are falling. The Toronto Raptors are falling. The Toronto Rock… falling. Go Jays Go, 16-4 in MLB spring training coming into Thursday which puts them second to the 14-3 Detroit Tigers for the best record in the entire league!
7. Show of hands for who wants to bring back the death penalty for the killers of Tori Stafford. I have both hands up…
6. Quebec students are planning a “massive protest” against rising tuition hikes. Really? I’m sorry I must not be paying enough taxes so that I can provide you with subsidized tuition. Poor baby. When I went to university, I – gasp – got a job to pay for my tuition. I even worked during the school year. I think we’re really getting a glimpse into Generation “me”, with the G20 riots against capitalism, then the “Occupy” movement against greed, and the protests against rising tuition… This generation really does just want to get things for free and not have to work for it, or put in any time. It’s not like the Internet kids, where you just go download stuff for free. you’ll see once you grow up, when the next generation starts stealing your hard work that it really sucks. Life’s not fair. Deal with it!
5. Some employers have been asking potential applicants for access to their Facebook accounts during the hiring process. I suspect with all that has gone on in social media, people posting nude pictures, or inappropriate things about their jobs or drug pictures employers want to make sure they’re hiring solid candidates who can grown with the company and represent it well. I 100% do not agree with this policy, however, as a huge user of social media, the candidate should be able to communicate the messages that I have always done, that my Facebook profile only has pictures of my family. I do not identify my employer. I never, ever blog or tweet about my employer and representing your employer your number one priority.
Let them look. They probably already have, but don’t give them reasons to pass you over. Keep your profile clean. You want a friend to see you drinking, or in a bathing suit, send it to them. Don’t post it online!
4. Torontonians and suburban 905ers will be seeing new area code overlays with 437 being added to 416/647 exchange and 365 being added to the area now served by the 905/289 codes. Did you know that the 416 area code is one of 86 original area codes established in North America in 1947. The western part of the original 416 code was split into the 519 area code in 1953 and the remaining portion outside of the city was split into 905 in 1993. This geographic split made it easy for people referring to the suburbs rather than the city because it could simply be called the 905. 647 and 289 came on board in 2001.
Area code 387 has also been reserved for future use in what will soon be the 416/647/437 area.
3. An “abnormal” amount of a protein – called prostaglandin D2, found in the bald spots of the scalp of men who are losing their hair - causes male pattern baldness, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania discovered.
Knowing what causes male pattern baldness could lead to new treatments.
A different prostaglandin, F2alpha, is known to increase hair growth.
2. Google announced today that through their Street View technology, we can now all explore portions of the Amazon Rain Forest. The pictures were taken along the Rio Negro in Brazil last year using camera-mounted three-wheeled bicycles have been woven into Google Maps, allowing users to virtually venture on waterways and trails and in even villages.
Some key things to look out for; Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded, enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail, see where Brazil nuts are harvested, and you might even see an animal or 2
1. Air Canada. Ahh, to be unionized. Air Canada has been bailed out by the Canadian government and Canadian taxpayers so many times its ridiculous, but then out of nowhere on Thursday the ground workers staged a wildcat strike meaning they held up over 70 flight. People were trapped in airplanes on Toronto’s Pearson International Airport runway and baggage was slow to move from plane to terminal. As a result of this illegal strike, 37 workers were fired.
As a payback to Canadians who has contributed hard-earned tax dollars into this carrier to allow they baggage handlers to keep their jobs, the union backed off the strike only if the workers were re-instated and the airline promised not to punish them now or in the future.
What a gig.
And union leaders wonder why the majority of citizens how come to be fed up with unions. Take this as yet another example.
Toronto viewed south from Bloor (Photo credit: Small)