Denmark, Rise, New Old Wall

Denmark builds a superhighway…to a greener future

Yes! If only Canada was so forward thinking. I’m so sick of being honked at, yelled at and even had litter hurled at me while I try to cycle precariously on the edge of the asphalt without falling into the ditch! I used to ride (according to Yahoo maps) 15km each way to work.

“The cycle superhighway [so far 11 km], which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes scheduled to be built to encourage more people to commute to and from Copenhagen by bicycle. More bike path than the Interstate its name suggests, it is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day.

‘We are very good, but we want to be better,’ said Brian Hansen, the head of Copenhagen’s traffic planning section.”

>> Brian Hansen, have I told you I love you?

Rise

Well, who knew movie reviewing wasn’t the safest occupation of them all? Seems tearing at the edges of a summer blockbuster’s hype can land you death threats. Critic poo-poos Dark Knight get rotten tomatoes thrown at them.

I personally don’t put much stock in reviews. It’s all up to personal preference. I do want to see this movie, though I know it must be difficult The Dark Knight – which was excellent. At first glance Bane disappoints… Heath Ledger’s joker made me cringe more.

  A wall to divide all nations..
at least the ones that are skeptical of Chinese claims

For those of you who haven’t heard China’s previous claims such as ‘we invented golf’ and ‘we taught Italians how to make pizza’, thismay come as a surprise.

“In early June, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced that it now believes the Great Wall is a stunning 21,196 kilometres long, if you put all of the discovered portions end to end. That’s more than half the circumference of the globe, four times the span of the United States coast to coast and nearly two-and-a-half times the estimated length in a preliminary report released in 2009, two years into a project that saw the Chinese measure it for the first time.”

Oh China, you really must get over your preoccupation with size.. and length.. and circumference. : /
It is very telling you know.

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Canada good fur people, not fur dogs and cats

“Are we morally superior because we are rich enough to throw them away, unused?”– Alan Herscovici, VP The Fur Council of Canada

All of the following quotations/snippets are from this article in the Toronto Star, July 3, 2012.
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1218580–how-canada-gets-dog-and-cat-fur-from-china

Alan Herscovici, a council executive vice-president, says garments sold in reputable fur stores in Canada carry accurate labels that indicate the type of fur.

Herscovici also argues it is hardly Canada’s place to judge the source of fur.

“Who are we to impose the values of our rich and well-fed societies on developing nations with different customs?” the council asks on its website. “And, of course, we also kill millions of unwanted dogs and cats each year; are we morally superior because we are rich enough to throw them away, unused?”

Cat and dog fur is not being exported as full-length Cruella de Vil Dalmatian coats.

It is typically found on inexpensive garments, like the trim on a jacket, the lining in a pair of children’s boots, the plush exterior of a toy.

[Speaking to one vendor]: When asked if he had ever labeled cat and dog fur as rabbit he confirmed it was common practice, then volunteered: “If the garments don’t sell within six months send me an email and I can send labels that say mink.”

So what’s the answer?

Last November, Brian Masse (NDP, Windsor West) introduced Bill C-349 to amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Textile Labeling Act. It calls for products with cat and dog fur to be labeled as such.

[Libby] Davies [NDP] has delivered numerous petitions to the House of Commons to support her bill C-296, also an act to amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Textile Labelling Act to ban the importation of dog and cat fur. It would require all animal skins to be labelled. Like Masse’s bill, it has received first reading.

 … um guys, didn’t we just go over the fact fur is routinely mislabeled in the country of production. What makes you think Canadian law will affect Chinese production?

So far, the Canadian government has declined to change the current legislation. The Canadian Textile and Labeling Act requires only that fur products be labeled “fur.”

“As with all bills, our government will study this when the time comes.”

– Christian Paradis, [Fur] Industry Minister

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Bust a move… or not *shrug*

oh.. my guess is this isn’t going to go well – for either side.

Diane Finley wants more Canadians working at McDonald’s

Think about it, anyone who has had a factory job is less likely to take a crappy customer service job (why should they? They used to make 12, 14, 20 bucks an hour and not have to smile or talk to people). I’m not saying ALL E.I. are from that background but… think of the people you know.
Then there’s the employers; the reason they import people, a lot of the time, is because they will work for less. How many people are there painting, building, cleaning… who lack basic English skills yet are working … do you think they know their rights under the labour law?
The kicker “Finley’s officials say less than 1 per cent of claimants are expected to be ultimately cut off under these rules.”

So what’s the point of this? You make it sound tough, like you’re going to make everyone get out there and find a job… yet.. you’ll keep doling out … : s

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it doesn’t do much for the future either

Headline: Job Cuts hurt Preservation of Canada’s Past.

So, you thought it was worthwhile to write a store about how Canadian parks are losing funding, therefore losing people, therefore losing our history? Well that’s dumb for two reasons. 1. Go to any lovely home of past articles and ask how many volunteers work there – tons. I don’t know why.. museums especially attract volunteers.. go figure. And 2. I really think we should be worrying a little more about our future. Things aren’t magically going to turn around by themselves. There is no sudden ‘economy karma’ and if there is.. well shit this is it. We had our boom(s?) … here’s your bust (figeratively, not literally) (imagine that, giving busts away hahah).

 

Like, is this seriously the future?  Ottawa looking to relocate unemployed to other areas. Lose your job, gain a new address?
Somehow I think this .. infringes on basic rights.. choices… freedom, maybe?

Imagine a world 50 years from now where you are told where to go according to your skill set (assuming you have any ‘skills’ at that time). Plastic and paper bags have been banned, so you better be able to afford a box. And be prepared to work til your 80… I’m just guessing retirement will hit that age.. if it still exists : (.

I don’t know about you but.. waking up in an eclipse sounds a little sunnier than that picture. Speaking of eclipse…  May 20th my North American friends. Always remember to protect your eyes when viewing a full eclipse.

Disclosure: I am just as pessimistic as ever. I do now own stocks in eclipses, Canada Parks (though I do pay taxes.. perhaps more than I should), nor do I wish to relocate according to the government’s research indicating the Prairies is where it’s at.

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This week in the News!

Wow, I found a lot of interesting stuff this week. Perhaps because I kept my head under a pile of dust and dirt last week and forgot there was a world outside the basement?

If you read one thing this week I suggest this article:

Sex-deprived male fruit flies seek solace in alcohol, bump into walls and pass out

I’m not even joking, that is in fact the title of the article as printed by the Star (full text below). This article has it all: sex, humor, experimentation and video. I highly recommend you see for yourself. Oh and maybe sign up for future experiments though I’m not sure if you can select which ‘group of males’ you’re placed in.
“And she [Ulrike Heberlein] hopes others will take up the mantle and do similar studies with mammals.”


End of an era
Going to the library to thumb through dusty encyclopedias may be a dinosaur action sooner than we thought. Encyclopedia Britannica has decided after 244 years to kick its paper habit. They downplayed the lack of enthusiastic door-to-door salesmen as the main reason for the change. 😉
(full article below if original posting has disappeared).

Speaking of new information…
Kettling is wrong.
Yep, contrary to what Europeans and teetotalers believe – Kettling is wrong. At least that’s what the Toronto police decided. And frankly, this is one of the few good things I’ve heard come out of that city in a while.

This is an age old question “Why products are more expensive in Canada” .. yes you could read the article but I think I can safely sum it up using one of its own sentences: Vote with your feet!

No no that’s not it.. though that is good advice for stomping out Conservatives.
“Retailers charge whatever the market will bear for their products.” That’s right, so stop baring everything Canada and standup for yourselves! Grow a backbone and complain like everyone else in the world does, no COMPLAIN Directly to the ones inflicting this crap on us. Not just amongst yourselves at Timmie’s.

If you don’t know how to stand up for yourself take a lesson from Egyptians (technically Wind is Russian now.. go Russia!).

“Wind Mobile, a relative newcomer to Canada’s telecom industry, will likely boycott an upcoming auction of wireless spectrum because the rules do not give smaller players enough bandwidth to build the most advanced network.”

“This is a classically Canadian solution, which on the surface looks like they gave all market players an opportunity, but at the end of the day what they’ve actually done is hurt the Canadian wireless industry and therefore hurt Canadian consumers” Anthony Lacavera, Wind Mobile chief executive officer.

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. I have little interest in Canadian telecommunications but this sums up the “classic” well. Demonstrating that people outside our country can see its flaws clearly. Forest for the trees people.

One more no-brainer for any frogs in a pot of boiling water out there; Newbies getting shortchanged – more so than before. Yes, we now have data to back up your inadequacies as a breadwinner. Seems you really ARE making far less than your parents made when they started out. But don’t worry, it’s not a down and out story for all – the guys at the top are making up the difference. (Full story below, Newbies Shortchanged)

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Sex-deprived male fruit flies seek solace in alcohol, bump into walls and pass out

Published On Wed Mar 14 2012
Debra Black Staff Reporter

Sex-deprived male fruit flies are more likely to drink alcohol to excess than those who’ve had sex, new research finds.

And it seems that a tiny molecule in the fly’s brain – known as neuropeptide F – is responsible for the behaviour, according to the study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

According to a study published Thursday in http://www.sciencemag.org/Science MagazineEND, as the levels of this neuropeptide change in the brain so does the fly’s behaviour – with lower levels of it causing increased drinking.

This neuropeptide in the fruit fly’s brain is similar to a human molecule called neuropeptide Y. Researchers hypothesize that this neuropeptide Y may play a similar role in people – connecting social triggers like sex or the lack of sex to behaviours such as excessive drinking and drug abuse.

Some studies have already shown that reduced levels of neuropeptide Y play a role in people with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression – both risk factors for alcoholism. And there is some evidence from human genetics – although it’s still preliminary – that neuropeptide Y may be involved in alcoholism as well.

If that’s the case it could mean that therapies could be developed to inhibit neuropeptide Y receptors, the researchers believe, as a way to deal with alcohol and drug abuse.

Ulrike Heberlien and her lab at the University of California decided to look at how social experiences affect addiction after studying how genes affect alcoholism since the mid-1990s.

But since in humans only 50 per cent of the risk factor for alcoholism is genetic, Heberlein, a professor of anatomy and neurology, decided it was time to expand the investigation and look at what role social factors play on drinking.

So she along with post-doctoral fellow and lead author Galit Shohat-Ophir and others began conducting experiments on fruit flies to see whether not having sex would increase their consumption of alcohol.

Designing the experiments was fun, said Heberlein and watching the fruit flies get drunk eye-opening. “The first time I saw a drunk fly, I thought: ‘Oh my god, this is just like humans,” she recounted.

According to Heberlein the flies become uncoordinated, hyperactive and uninhibited.

“They bump into each other and the walls. If you give them more alcohol they become lethargic and uncoordinated. They fall over, pick themselves up and fall over again. Eventually they pass out.”

In the experiments conducted for the study, one group of male fruit flies was put in with female fruit flies that had sex already, Heberlein explained in an interview with the Star.

These male flies were rejected because of a sex peptide that is transmitted in male fruit fly seminal fluid. This sex peptide does something to a female fruit fly’s brain and causes it to reject all other sexual advances.

Meanwhile, another group of male flies was put in a container with virgin females with their choice of sexual partners.

Shohat-Ophir took the rejected and non-rejected flies and put them in a vial where there was plain liquid food and liquid food mixed with ethanol, monitoring how much the groups of flies drank during the day.

The study found the males that had been rejected showed a much higher preference for the alcohol laced food compared to the regular food, Heberlein said.

The team then made an educated guess as to why this was happening and decided to see if neuropeptide F might be involved.

Shohat-Ophir and the team of researchers then measured the levels of this neuropeptide in the brain of the flies.

The results: the levels of this neuropeptide were low in the rejected male fruit flies and high in mated males.

“This means the lack of this neuropeptide may be related to their increase in drinking alcohol,” said Heberlein.

Then the team to set out to figure out if the relationship was causal. “The beauty of working with flies is that we have so many tools to manipulate the fly’s brain genetically,” Heberlein said.

Shohat-Ophir, now a research specialist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Centre, reasoned that if neuropeptide F is in fact responsible for the change in drinking behaviour she should be able to transform mated males who have high levels of neuropeptide F into rejected males simply by inhibiting the receptor for this molecule.

So she did that and found that even though the flies had mated they began to drink a lot. “That proves the neuropeptide F is responsible,” said Heberlein.

And when she did the exact opposite in the rejected males – activating the neuropeptide F system – she found they reduced their dinking, Heberlein said.

“We think it’s the act of sex itself that affects their reward system or neuropeptide F and this in turn affects drinking,” Heberlein said.

The authors conclude in the study: “Our findings are thus not only consistent with known functions of mammalian NPY (neuropeptide Y) and its mode of regulation, but also provide evidence for NPF (neuropeptide F) functioning as a key molecular transducer between social experience and drug reward.”

Next Heberlein, who is to become the scientific program director at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Centre, plans to look at whether other social experiences have an affect on drinking.

She wants to test whether increased drinking is a phenomenon restricted to sexual rejection or whether other social experiences trigger a similar reaction.

And she hopes others will take up the mantle and do similar studies with mammals.

END OF AN ERA ******************************************************************************************

Britannica goes Electric

By Irene Moore

NBCLosAngeles.com
updated 3/14/2012 8:45:49 PM ET

After nearly 250 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica is kicking the paper habit.

In the digital age, the granddaddy of general knowlege, where anyone could go and look up seemingly anything, has been rendered obsolete, at least in paper form.

The 244-year-old company, announced on Wednesday that it will no longer issue a print version of its 32-volume compendium of life on earth. It’s been available online for 18 years.

The editors at Britannica were philisophical about the change.

“A momentous event? In some ways, yes; the set is, after all, nearly a quarter of a millennium old,” the editors posted on the encylopedia’s website. “But in a larger sense this is just another historical data point in the evolution of human knowledge.”

From its inception in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1768, the Encyclopedia Britannica was the gold standard for reference resources.

But the advent of the Internet and its ever-more-endless stream of information struck a resounding blow to the paper-bound tradition.

Encyclopedias were the first of the publishing business to be affected by new technology, said Tom Panelas, director of communications for Encyclopedia Britannica.

The news to move solely to an electronic version did not come as a surprise to employees of the iconic reference book company.

In 1981 it produced a text-only version of a digital encyclopedia for the Lexis Nexis database. Then in 1989 it made a multi-media encyclopedia, and in 1994 launched the first version of Britannica online.

The announcement to stop printing was not about Britannica’s past but about its move into the future, said Jorge Cauz, president of the company, in a statement posted online.

“I would like to point out that no single medium, neither books nor bits, is at the core of our mission,” Cauz said. “That mission is to be reliable, up-to-date, and scholarly source of knowledge and learning for the general public.”

Even so, the announcement struck a sentimental chord among those with cherished childhood memories of flipping through informative, colorful pages.

“So Sad!! Nothing like holding a real book in your hands… and I, too, remember just going page after page and trying to soak up what the pages held!!” Kathie Bretches-Urban posted on the NBC LA Facebook page.

Encyclopedias were the great equalizer– if you could afford the cover price (or had a library card) you gained easy access to a depth and range of information previously unavailable to the masses.

“It was a way of providing education to yourself and your children. It helped supplement what they would be learning in school,” said Lise Snyder, collections management coordinator for the undergraduate library at UCLA.

“My parents bought the Encyclopedia Britannica for us. Many times I randomly grabbed a volume and sat alone, turning pages. Bye old friend,” Sean Patrick posted on the NBC LA Facebook page.

Britannica’s accessibility was manifested in its door-to-door sales strategy, an approach it ceased in 1996 two years after it first launched in digital format.

Doris Raymond, who sold a encyclopedias across California and the nation for a Britannica competitor in the 1970s, said her job offered a glimpse into the heart of American home life.

Raymond, who now owns the La Brea Avenue vintage shop The Way We Wore, said despite her affinity for old things, she would “absolutely not” feature any of the old encyclopedias in her shop.

“I love encyclopedias, they were a part of my childhood but this is the 21st century,” Raymond said.

Even the digitial format of the encylopedia is unnecessary, she said. Choosing to go electronic is “redundant” in her eyes because now “you can get everything on Google.”

But unlike the Internet, where misinformation can be perpetuated without substantiation, the encylopedia in digital form continues to offer a trusted source of information, with contributors who include Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Desmond Tutu and Bill Clinton.

With such notable brain power behind it, many institutions had long used the books as a strong point of reference for students and the public.

Unfortunately, for some universities and libraries the cost of the electronic version is too high. Individual subscriptions run $70, but institutions are charged a set fee per student, which can run into the thousands of dollars.

“It’s not one of the most in-demand resources. There are so many options now for scholarly information online and it is quite expensive to order the electronic version,” said Giovanna Mannino, interim director of the central library for the Los Angeles Public Libraries.

“One of the ways we compete with all other sources out there is simply by being better,” Panelas said.

*************************** Newbies Shortchanged ***********************************
Original post: http://www.everydaymoney.ca/2012/03/entry-level-pay-down-8-from-a-decade-ago-report.html

March 09, 2012

Entry-level pay down 8% from a decade ago: report

It’s a bit unfortunate that anytime new data emerges on worker compensation, we feel the need to compare it to what top CEOs earn.

Stock-photo-12072893-time-sheet-on-a-desktopWhat we know, though, is that executive pay is among the only data set we can track over a period of time.

For instance, the total compensation paid the highest-ranking five executives of a public firm between 1993-1995, according to the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, amounted to five per cent of that company’s earnings. By 2001-2003, that total had nearly doubled, to 9.8 per cent of a firm’s company earnings.

Add that to what we know CEOs earn now, and what we have is a complicated way of saying the earnings of top executives have risen and risen, with few interruptions.

We cannot say that, however, about the rest of the workforce.

In what’s surely some of the most troubling data for young people, a new study shows that entry-level pay has not only failed to increase since the recession, but has reverted back to levels seen some 15 years earlier.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, inflation-adjusted pay for university/college graduates has slumped by nearly eight per cent since 2000, and is almost as low as it was at its dearth over a 40-year period, in 1995.

In 2011, entry-level pay for a post-secondary graduate* scored in at $21.68 in the U.S., down from $23.47 in 2000. In 1995, when wages for fresh graduates were lower than they were even as far back as 1973, hourly pay was $19.51.

What entry-level workers earned last year was about the same, on an inflation-adjusted hourly basis, as they made in 1973.

So what we’ve got here, then, isn’t just a story of how the recession has slammed graduate earnings. The trend, regrettably, has been heading downward for more than a decade.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Figures above represent male pay. Female pay is slightly lower, but reflects the same negative pattern as seen in male compensation.

Posted at 12:12 PM

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To nuke or not to nuke?

That is a very good question.
No, I’m not on about nuclear warfare today. No, this issue is much closer to home – probably in your home right now.

Check this out:

usahitman.com/microwave-test/

All science projects (besides the homemade hovercraft) will be lame in comparison.

It’s so simple but, if it’s true.. the implications are huge.

I’m even more paranoid about using microwaves now, thanks a lot Sussex student!

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Found thanks to a co-worker, originally posted here: usahitman.com/microwave-test/

Microwave Test – an eye opener

Below is a Science fair project presented by a girl in a secondary school in Sussex. In it she took filtered water and divided it into two parts.

The first part she heated to boiling in a pan on the stove, and the second part she heated to boiling in a microwave.

Then after cooling she used the water to water two identical plants to see if there would be any difference in the growth between the normal boiled water and the water boiled in a microwave.

She was thinking that the structure or energy of the water may be compromised by microwave.

As it turned out, even she was amazed at the difference, after the experiment which was repeated by her class mates a number of times and had the same result.

It has been known for some years that the problem with microwaved anything is not the radiation people used to worry about, it’s how it corrupts the DNA in the food so the body can not recognize it.

Microwaves don’t work different ways on different substances. Whatever you put into the microwave suffers the same destructive process. Microwaves agitate the molecules to move faster and faster. This movement causes friction which denatures the original make-up of the substance. It results in destroyed vitamins, minerals, proteins and generates the new stuff called radiolytic compounds, things that are not found in nature.

So the body wraps it in fat cells to protect itself from the dead food or it eliminates it fast. Think of all the Mothers heating up milk in these ‘Safe’ appliances. What about the nurse in Canada that warmed up blood for a transfusion patient and accidentally killed him when the blood went in dead. But the makers say it’s safe. But proof is in the pictures of living plants dying!!!

FORENSIC RESEARCH DOCUMENT
Prepared By: William P. Kopp
A. R. E. C. Research Operations
TO61-7R10/10-77F05
RELEASE PRIORITY: CLASS I ROO1a

Ten Reasons to dispose off your Microwave Oven
From the conclusions of the Swiss, Russian and German scientific clinical studies, we can no longer ignore the microwave oven sitting in our kitchens. Based on this research, one can conclude this article with the following:

1). Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term – permanent – brain damage by ‘shorting out’ electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].

2). The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.

3). Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.

4). The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.

5). Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.

6). The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.

7). Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumours]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in UK and America .

8). The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.

9). Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.

10). Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.

Source

Last updated on February 13, 2012.

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How to kill a province

Hi, my name is Ontario.
I have a variety of interests both outdoor and indoor. I feel at home in a variety of climates; blustery grey days in Ottawa, frigid white winters on James Bay, humid summer afternoons in Muskoka. I am especially fond of basking on beaches like Wasaga. Sure there are people hanging around all these places, almost every part of me. But what really gives me life are the many visitors. I don’t know where they come from but I know they are here to see me – I wouldn’t want to let them down.

Ontarians sometimes forget just how important these guests are to us. Without people making the trip to boat and fish in our Great Lakes, drop by our theatres and opera houses, drink in our Maple Syrup Festivals … where would be? And more materialistically, how would we exist? The Holland Marsh is great and capable of great things but we cannot survive on that alone.

So, it puzzles me how we expect to flourish let alone survive while hacking away some prominent boughs. My largest city, Toronto, is being squashed by a large American made truck who sees little value in libraries/a literate populace. Making transport decisions which may make the city more or less user friendly, time will tell. Education is limited by cashflow, which is limited by this whole cycle.. and now you tell me we’re going to cut up and sell our jewelry to the highest bidder?

Wait, haven’t we done this before: PetroCanada, Ontario Hydro ? Those worked out so well..

What makes you think that closing and selling our assets will help me? After the Caterpillar catastrophe do you really think a California-based cruise company will have our best interests in mind? And who in their right mind would expect an overnight profit after years of neglect? Well that seems to be what’s happening on the water here; give $10 million for upgrades, attendance doesn’t double the next year, you decide it’s a waste of time. Feel free to correct my math.

Come on Canada, I’m just one province. I’ve seen better days, I can work it out but I need patience and support. I’ve got a lot of people depending on me and a lot of minds to please. It’s not easy. You know in 2010 I was North America’s top producer of automobiles.. now look at me. What am I going to do if people stop visiting? I can’t exactly go out and look for work, can I?

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Original articles: Ontario Place
http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1136753–employees-and-supporters-rally-to-keep-ontario-place-open?bn=1

   Employees and supporters rally to keep Ontario Place open

Published On Sat Feb 25 2012

Jesse McLean Staff Reporter

More than 100 Ontario Place employees and supporters called on the province to keep the waterfront facility open while a panel tries to find ways to rejuvenate the underused landmark.

The government’s recent decision to shutter the money-losing park is short-sighted, the protesters said, pointing out the closure comes less than a year after $10 million was invested for new rides and upgrades.

“After years of neglect, they actually invested some money into it. They were turning the park around and now they’re going to close it without giving a chance for those investments to take effect,” said Eddy Almeida, a vice-president and treasurer with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Ridership of the park’s amusement rides increased to 2.3 million in 2011 from 1.5 million in 2010 — the largest percentage increase in the facility’s history, the rally’s organizers said.

“Closing it is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Almeida said.

However, former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, who was chosen to lead the latest attempt at rejuvenating the park, said the financial reality just doesn’t support keeping it open during the revitalization process.

The government gives Ontario Place about $20 million a year in subsidies, Tory said.

“If you’re having trouble paying for health care and education, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to put $20 million a year into subsidizing an attraction with a decreasing number of visitors,” he said.

“It’s time to stop, take stock and make good with the revitalization.”

Ontario Place, dubbed by a newspaper report as a “waterfront tiara” when it opened in 1971, has since lost its shine.

It hasn’t turned a profit since its inaugural season. Attendance has sunk from 2.5 million in its heyday to roughly a million visitors per year — about half of whom are walking through the park simply to get to the privately run Molson Amphitheatre.

Facing a $16 billion deficit, the province announced it was closing the park until at least 2017. By shuttering the water park, amusement rides and the iconic Cinesphere — and eliminating at least 48 full-time jobs and 600 summer positions in the process — Queen’s Park predicted it could save $20 million a year.

Jaime Carnevale, who has worked at Ontario Place for eight years, compared the current plan to close the site to “spending millions of dollars on a car just to put it in the garage.”

She said a better plan would be to include the workers in the revitalization. Carnevale oversaw the overhaul of the park’s solid waste removal system. Ontario Place saved almost $100,000 by selling its recyclables, such as glass or cardboard, she said.

“For so long, we’ve had to stretch a dollar into $10,” she said. “We just want to be here for the revitalization. We want to participate in it.”

The privately run attractions, such as the Atlantis pavillion, the Amphitheatre and the marina, will remain open during the rejuvenation process.

Eb Zeidler, the architect who designed the futuristic waterfront park in the late 1960s, urged Tory and those on the revitalization team to make the park once again “the honour of Ontario.”

“It’s not that it can’t be rectified. It needs a strong hand and vision to do it.”

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Maid of the Mist original article: http://www.canada.com/travel/boat+company+bumps+Niagara+Falls+iconic+Maid+Mist/6200097/story.html

New boat company bumps Niagara Falls’ iconic Maid of the Mist

By Sheila Dabu Nonato, Postmedia News February 29, 2012

Sporting the Maid of the Mist’s trademark royal blue ponchos, the late Princess Diana and her young sons boarded Canada’s celebrated Niagara Falls tour ship in 1991, bolstering its historic list of famous guests.

Yet the 165-year-old boat tour businessâ which has carried politicians, royalty, Hollywood stars and countless other tourists, could soon be ferrying its last group of passengers near the falls, one of Canada’s premier tourist attractions.

The Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company was recently passed over for a California-based cruise company, which was awarded a 30-year lease by the Niagara Parks Commission.

More than one million visitors have experienced the “up close” boat tour of the Falls, including the future King Edward VII, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe in 1950 when she filmed the movie “Niagara.”

In a statement Wednesday, the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company Ltd. said its bid for a renewal of its lease with the Niagara Parks Commission has been rejected by the Ontario government.

“As a result of this decision, our business, with a 165-year history of service to tourists from around the world, may soon come to an end,” said company president Christopher Glynn in the statement.

Maid of the Mist has been a Glynn family business since 1971.

Glynn said it is not certain whether a boat tour service will be offered this year. The Maid of the Mist has two more years to run tours until the new boat operator’s contract begins in the Spring 2014.

“We are carefully assessing our position and will be consulting with other affected parties as we attempt to address the many serious issues resulting from this decision,” Glynn said in a statement.

The Maid of the Mist Company could not be reached for further comment.

In the face of public concerns over awarding an untendered contract to Maid of the Mist, the Niagara Parks Commission opened a competitive bidding process for the boat tours in August 2010. A Fairness Commissioner was hired to oversee the bidding process.

“The agreement provides better-value-for-money for Ontarians and will bring new investment to the Niagara Region,” the Niagara Parks Commission said in a statement.

“It not only marks the beginning of a new era for all of us, but it continues to build on what Niagara and Niagara Parks is all about, building memories and creating experiences that will last a lifetime,” said commission chair Janice Thomson.

Kim Craitor, Liberal MPP for Niagara Falls, said he’s “disappointed” to hear Maid of the Mist may not finish the last two years of its contract.

Craitor said he’s sympathetic to the Glynns because of their long-standing community contributions. But he added that the process of giving an untendered contract is “totally inappropriate.”

This is the first time that the Niagara Parks Commission has undertaken a procurement process, he said.

“I’m staggered the amount of revenue the (Niagara Parks Commission) is going to make. I’m sitting here thinking how much could they have been making all this time but it’s water over the falls now,” Craitor said.

“I just hope it’s a knee-jerk reaction,” Craitor said, referring to Glynn’s suggestion that the tour may not operate in 2012. “They’re an important asset to the community and have (provided) great service for all these years.”

Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, said he hopes Maid of the Mist continues to run until 2014.

“It would be a shame because it’s one of our most popular attractions in the city,” he said.

“I could see how their nose could be out of joint, but I’m sure when the sun sets, businesses are motivated about making money,” Diodati said, adding Maid of the Mist has had a “great reputation for safety and providing a great attraction.”

The Niagara Parks Commission is an agency of Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture, but it relies upon tourism dollars to operate, not public funds, he said.

According to Craitor, the issue of competitive bidding first arose when a U.S. company asked if it could place a bid on the Niagara Falls tour boat contract.

Craitor he said he and others soon discovered that the 25-year contract awarded to Maid of the Mist in 2008 was given without competition, prompting calls for a public bidding process.

The winning bid from Hornblower Canada Company is forecast to generate more than $500 million in revenue, an increase of more than $300 million compared to past agreements.

The contract will guarantee a minimum $67 million in revenue in the first five years, and the company will upgrade passenger facilities and build new boats.

The first Maid of the Mist, which was a side wheel steamboat ferry with twin smokestacks, sailed from 1846 until 1854.

The boat was replaced and upgraded 11 times over the years. In 1997 a 145-tonne, steel double-decker boat with room for 600 passengers was christened the “Maid of the Mist VII.”

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