Monday, March 31, 2008

Ontario cracks down on payday loans

Ontario cracks down on payday loans
The Liberal government is cracking down on payday loan companies by limiting how much they can charge customers.
March 31, 2008
Ontario is cracking down on payday loan companies in an effort to protect the province’s “most economically vulnerable,” but those in the industry suggest the Liberal government is misreading exactly who uses their services.

Legislation introduced today seeks to limit how much payday loan companies can charge Ontario customers and enhance consumer protection by licensing all operators.

If passed, the new law would see a cap placed on the total cost of borrowing and the establishment of an inspection and enforcement regime.

Operators will also be required to contribute annually to a public education fund aimed at ensuring consumers make informed decisions.

Government Services Minister Ted McMeekin says that cap will be set by an independent advisory board in the coming months.

McMeekin says the Liberal government is committed to addressing poverty in Ontario.

“We cannot and we will not allow people to take further advantage of those most economically vulnerable consumers in our society,” McMeekin said today.

But The Canadian Payday Loan Association says the majority of their customers don’t fall into that category.

The association says research it conducted last November, based on a telephone poll of 503 payday loan customers, suggests most of its clientele have household incomes equal to the general population of the province.

Last year, Ontario established rules requiring payday lenders to post large signs in their shops that outline all the interest rates and fees that apply to loans.

The federal government also granted provinces the right to set maximum interest rates for the payday loan industry.

Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have all passed legislation to establish a fee limit.

Quebec is alone in banning payday loan outlets.

A series of articles concerning the payday loan industry, called A Matter of Interest, was published by the Toronto Star in 2004. Additional stories and editorials since have called for increased government control of the industry.

Religion's evolution tests tolerance

Religion's evolution tests tolerance
March 31, 2008

Europe's largest mosque was built in Rome – right in the wheelhouse of Christendom.

If the Vatican looked askance at this religious arriviste three kilometres from St. Peter's Basilica, it made no comment.

That sumptuous mosque, opened in 1995, cost $50 million to build, a cost borne by 23 Muslim donor nations, though the bulk of funding – $35 million – was contributed by Saudi Arabia.

A country which, by the way, allows no Christian churches on its soil, even with an ever-expanding influx of Christian migrant workers from such places as the Philippines and Indonesia.

An estimated 800,000 Catholics work in Saudi Arabia now. Indeed, celebrating non-Muslim holidays in the cradle of Islam is forbidden, as are crosses and the wearing of a crucifix.

The Vatican quietly made it known, earlier this year, that high-level discussions were underway with Saudi officials – this after King Abdullah made a first ever visit to St. Peter's last November – aimed at some kind of reciprocal arrangement that might, once diplomatic relations are fully secured, allow for the construction of churches in the kingdom.

The mosque in Rome, which welcomes tourists, is a place of education as well as prayer. And there certainly needs to be a lot more education, on both sides, to combat ignorance and mutual distrust.

Rome has, in fact, three mosques and three Islamic prayer centres. A fourth mosque, in an ethnically mixed neighbourhood, was halted mid-construction last summer. There had been outrage from Roman Catholics because the structure was a conversion of a building situated right next door to a Catholic church.

Municipal officials insist that was not the reason for kyboshing the project; rather, the Muslim constituency that had commissioned the mosque had failed to secure proper building permits. Which, yes, sounds quite lame.

Relative to other European capitals such as Amsterdam, Rome doesn't have a huge Muslim population. But, given the Vatican's history and the Christian crusades that spilled so much Muslim blood, it behooves the papal state – and the secular city surrounding it – to be as tolerant of other faiths as possible.

In truth, the Vatican is intensely envious of Islam, not only as the world's most rapidly growing religion, but also for the ferocity of its adherents and the way in which faith invests every aspect of their daily life.

For most who bow at least symbolically to Rome, Catholicism is a cafeteria-tray buffet, pick what you like off the menu, ignore the rest, and pull out all the stops only at Christmas and Easter. And maybe on your death bed, for last rites, the absolution of all sins.

Pope Benedict XVI was severely criticized last week for the very public and perhaps gratuitously showy conversion of a Muslim man – a journalist outspoken in his criticism of "radical" Islam – in what has been described as a "triumphalist'' episode, pointlessly provocative.

But there was a point.

Catholicism is as evangelical – if not capital-E Evangelical – as any other religion. Baptizing a convert from Islam was a celebratory moment for the pontiff, and there haven't been many lately. By contrast, converting from Islam is an act of apostasy in some Muslim countries, subject to a death sentence.

A friend of mine in Afghanistan was jailed last year after revealing to friends that he was considering converting to Christianity. It took great effort by Western intermediaries to spring him and he has sought asylum in Germany.

The secular world, which the Vatican fears as much as its Islamic counterpart, has learned how easily provoked some Muslim societies can be. This is piety run amok, not faith.

All religions are opiates. You should at least get to pick your poison.

Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour Toronto Success-City exceeds goal for power savings

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Adaptability is strength. Inconsistency is weakness. A compromise you are considering is best described by the former adjective. There is a subtle difference; keep that in mind and you will prevail.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

No longer can a certain someone oppose your every suggestion, challenge every contribution or dismantle every attempt to be constructive. Halcyon winds are blowing your ship in a different direction. Power is on your side.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

You are beginning to wonder if your life is really your own. There is a temptation to give up hope of living it for yourself. It would be better now to establish your own agenda and keep control of it.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

It is as if you have an inner glow. You are exuding lovely charisma. So be careful what you say and to whom. You may find yourself inadvertently winning hearts and captivating minds. Use this power wisely.

Read Phil Booth at or at

City exceeds goal for power savings
Toronto Hydro officials monitor Toronto's power consumption eight minutes into Earth Hour at Hydro's control centre, March 29, 2008.
March 30, 2008

Staff Reporter

The numbers flashed on a huge digital clock: 20:00 hours, or 8 p.m. as we know it.

In Toronto Hydro's top-secret control room – so secret that reporters are forbidden from revealing its location – a dozen heads turned toward one of many giant screens watching for any sign of change in the city's electricity use.

It started at 2885 megawatts (the average for this time on a Saturday is closer to 3000 megawatts, according to the power company), perhaps reflecting the fact that a lot of big consumers began powering down before the hour began.

Toronto's goal for Earth Hour was a 5 per cent drop, to about 2745 megawatts. The line dipped a little, and then a little more. Within five minutes, the city's power use had dipped by close to 50 megawatts, or close to one-third of its target.

The control centre is where Hydro staff monitor the city's electricity consumption, minute by minute, 24 hours a day, ready to act at any sign of trouble. Excitement buzzed in the air as staffers bet on how low the numbers would drop. While most expected a sudden drop, it was more a slow, steady decline.

Earth Hour began just as the sun set and the street lights turned on, which may have offset the drop, a manager said. By 8:15 p.m., the line had dropped to 2810 megawatts, halfway to the goal.

"It's still dropping," said supervisor John Fletcher. "People may have been watching TV or forgotten to turn the lights off. And it takes large buildings a long time to power down."

It seemed to level off halfway through the hour, but the downward trend continued until the very end. At 8:36 p.m., Toronto reached its goal. The numbers hit their lowest – 2738 Megawatts – at 8:54 p.m. That's an 8.7 per cent drop.

When the giant clock jumped 21:00, then 21:05, the numbers rose as surely as they dropped.

"People will forget to put out the lights ... but they won't forget to put them back on," Fletcher said.


100 million
Number of people Earth Hour officials hoped would turn off their lights worldwide

Number of Danish cities that took part, including 160 major companies and organizations

Number of lights turned off on the Ferris wheel at Chicago's Navy Pier

Number of Canadians who signed up for Earth Hour as of yesterday

Number of Canadian towns and cities expected to participate

Number of Earth Hour Toronto Facebook members

Number who participated in Zamboanga, Philippines, where the power utility simply imposed an hour-long brownout

One third
Buildings account for about one-third of the carbon emissions scientists say will boost global temperatures by between 1.4 and 4.0C this century

Number of floating candles in the pool at the Fairmont Royal York's candlelight swim

2,738 mw
Lowest Hydro measure in Toronto last night

Amount Christchurch, N.Z., cut energy consumption, enough to power 420 homes for a week

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Five months to the day he died in a plane crash, son crashes and dies

Five dead in Alta. plane crash, cause not yet known

Officials investigate the scene where a Piper PA-46 Malibu crashed, claiming five lives en route to Winnipeg from Edmonton on Friday, March 28, 2008.

Officials investigate the scene where a Piper PA-46 Malibu crashed, claiming five lives en route to Winnipeg from Edmonton on Friday, March 28, 2008.

Reagan Williams in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Reagan Williams in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Phil Allard in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Rhonda Quirke in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Phil Allard in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Phil Allard in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc. News

Updated: Sat. Mar. 29 2008 8:32 AM ET

Five months to the day after the founder and CEO of an Edmonton engineering company died in a plane crash, the son who replaced him at the firm, along with four others, died when their aircraft crashed in Alberta Friday morning.

Reagan Williams, president of A.D. Williams Engineering Inc., was killed along with two senior staff and two passengers, when the company's Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft went down 12 kilometres northeast of Wainwright, in Battle River valley.

Company spokeswoman Sue O'Connor identified the two company staff as Phil Allard, CFO, and Rhonda Quirke, director of business integration and strategy.

The two other men have not been identified. The company said it would release more information over the weekend.

O'Connor said that Williams, 41, and father of one, was the pilot of the single-engine plane.

Williams' father, Allen Williams, died when the Cessna 172 aircraft he was flying crashed near Golden, B.C. in October 2007.

Also killed in that crash was the company's CFO, Steve Sutton. Amazingly, Williams' three-year-old granddaughter, Kate Williams, survived that crash with only cuts and bruises.

Dubbed 'Super Kate,' the girl's story made national headlines. After hanging upside down in a car seat in the crashed plane for five hours, her first motion to rescuers was to reach for her beloved stuffed penguin, Pablo.

Kate was Reagan's niece.

Crash details coming in

The aircraft took off from Edmonton Friday at about 7:30 a.m. local time en route to Winnipeg.

Air traffic control in Edmonton saw the plane behaving erratically on radar and contacted the pilot, who said the plane had technical problems.

Air traffic control then watched the plane rapidly descend on radar right before it disappeared at about 8:15 a.m.

The wreckage was discovered in dense bush around 12 p.m. by a Griffon helicopter operated out of CFB Cold Lake.

The Transportation and Safety Board of Canada is investigating the crash and is on scene. Some trees have been cleared to assist in the operation.

The search and rescue operation was co-ordinated out of CFB Trenton and involved both military and RCMP personnel.

Capt. Nicole Meszaros, spokesperson for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, told CTV Newsnet earlier Friday afternoon that the airplane debris was spread over a 1.5 kilometre range.

Company confronting tragedy

O'Connor told CTV Edmonton that the most recent tragedy is hard to comprehend.

"It's obviously incredibly difficult and impossible to imagine," she said. "(Our staff) is coming together. The company will be sourcing grief counselling for the staff but at this time everyone is still in shock."

O'Connor said Naseem Bashir, the firm's vice-president, was travelling to Edmonton from Calgary to take control.

The company's website said they own the plane because it "allows our project teams to reach project sites in a timely and cost-effective manner, outside of the restrictions of commercial airline schedules."

The site adds, the plane "is of great benefit for remote sites, and in situations when timely access to a city or project site is critical."

With a report from CTV Edmonton and The Canadian Press

Lotto winner still 'Joe the butcher'

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

The sky is intending to use any trick in the book to get you where you need to be. It hardly matters what motivates you as long as you do something constructive about an opportunity that lies before you. Take hold of this real, immediate change for the good.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

You have recently been forced to sideline activities that mean a lot to you. But now, at last, a welcome breath of fresh air is blowing through the dusty corridors of a stale situation. There's a chance to get back to what your heart wants.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

You are about to get what you really want, but if you don't know what that is, you may miss it when it comes. Clear your mind of troubles and do your best to relax, even if it's only for a few minutes. An epiphany will deliver the clarity you need.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Your endurance will soon be rewarded. After weeks of delays, the stars are about to say yes to your most cherished ideas. Expediency may necessitate further compromises, but they will be minor. Daylight can definitely be seen at the end of the tunnel.

Read Phil Booth at or at

Lights go dark Down Under
Earth Hour Down Under: Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House are illuminated by lights in the top photo, then seen with the lights turned off on Saturday, March 29, 2008, in Sydney, Australia.
Australia follows New Zealand and Fiji as Earth Hour creeps across the globe
March 29, 2008

Special to the Star

MELBOURNE–Lights were switched off across the nation as Australians marked Earth Hour – the global call to action against climate change.

Thousands gathered in Melbourne's Federation Square for an hour of entertainment and celebration, joining famous landmarks throughout the country including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Parliament House in Canberra.

Vantage points across the city and surrounding suburbs were crowded as Melburnians sought to catch a look at the darken sky. Melbourne's Crown Casino, Arts Centre and its two tallest buildings all powdered-down for the event.

Australia has had an enthusiastic response to the hour, with all the capital cities as well as dozens of regional centres taking part in both going dark and hosting a range of themed events. Almost all of the top 100 companies on the Australian Stock Exchange committed to turning off the lights and reduce their carbon emissions by 5% and in recent days the Australian-hosted Earth Hour website has crashed due to the large amount of web traffic.

The first Earth Hour was held on March 31, 2007, as part of a campaign by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to bring attention to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 2 million Sydney residents participated, resulting in a 10.2 per cent drop in energy for the hour, according to Energy Australia.

"We have been overwhelmed by the success of this event," said WWF spokesman Charlie Stevens. "I think it is the simplicity of that has made it such a huge success. It is a small thing but such a fantastic message."

While participants wait in anticipation for the results of how much energy was saved over the hour, organizers are quick to point out that the ultimate goal was to encourage people to be more aware of the energy they use and how it contributes to global warming.

New Zealand was the first country to mark the hour, with church bells ringing out from Christchurch Cathedral. It was followed an hour later by Suva, the capital city of Fiji and then the east coast of Australia.

Maria Sousa, a customer for 32 years, congratulates lottery winner Jose Lima March 28, 2008, at the butcher shop he manages on Bloor St. W., near Dufferin St.
Despite $14M windfall, Jose Lima doesn't want people to see him as 'Joe the rich guy'
March 29, 2008

Staff Reporter

Every time he bought a 6/49 lottery ticket, Jose Lima prayed he'd win the big prize and promised God to share his boa sorte, good fortune.

He's doing just that.

Canada's newest millionaire – the 52-year-old father of two who won $14.5 million in the 6/49 draw – is giving each of his 50 employees at O Nosso Talho butcher shop $5,000.

On April 3, the fifth anniversary of his father Joao's death, his generosity will spread even further when he gives away 22,680 kilograms of chicken legs to thank his customers and help Toronto's needy.

Gilberto Andre, a 10-year veteran behind the meat counter, was with Lima, who manages the busy shop, when he checked his numbers.

"When I told him he'd won, he hugged me," said Andre who described Lima as a very caring, kind man.

"For me, he's a great person who never says no. We're all very happy for him. And it's such a good thing that he's doing, sharing his good luck with us. I don't know if anyone else would do that."

Lima admitted he's still in a state of shock and it's too early to decide what to do with the money.

"The first thing I will do is to keep my promise to my employees and the people. I'll decide what to do with the rest of the money later."

Also at the top of his list is his immediate and extended family. There are two sisters and four brothers, one in Brazil.

"I believe that if you can help, you should help," Lima said as customers stopped him in the aisles yesterday to shake his hand, slap his back and offer their congratulations.

It was business as usual. He picked up a java at the coffee shop next door and then went to the butchery to prepare for the 8 a.m. opening. He slipped a white lab coat over his jeans and sweatshirt, and donned a company baseball cap embroidered with the words "King of Meat."

And then, as he's done for umpteen years, Lima scrubbed the sidewalk in front of the shop.

But somehow, "the air is more fresh today," he said, smiling.

Lima said he's been lucky since the first day he arrived in Canada.

"I wish everybody had my life and it has nothing to do with money," he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

"I have two beautiful kids and a wonderful wife. I have a house. We're all super healthy. What else could you want?"

And he's always had a heart as big as his new bank account. Lima said he believes in reaching out to those who need it. A few weeks ago, an elderly customer asked for his help – a $60 loan so she could buy groceries to feed her family.

He didn't hesitate.

She promised to repay him by March 27 – the day his multi-million-dollar ship came in.

"My customer came to the store crying and wishing me all of God's blessings," he said, wiping tears.

And though he's reached Freedom $14.5 million, Lima said he won't leave the business.

"It's in my blood. I love to come to work. I have a great team of employees – they are like family – and great customers.

"And everyone from 5 kilometres this way or that knows me. I'm 'Joe from the butcher shop.' I want people to know me as that because it's who I am. I don't want them to think of me as 'Joe the rich guy.' I'm the same as I was 10 years ago, 10 months ago, two days ago."

Friday, March 28, 2008

B.C. acquittal deals blow to efforts against Hells Angels

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

The cosmos has not selected you for punishment, but you have an uncomfortable sense of impermanence to life at the moment. Mercury is working on sharpening your critical faculties and thus allowing you to outfox your perils.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

It would be better to have an urgent issue settled swiftly, so you can get on with your life. It's taking a long time. Haste, however, is inadvisable. Stay calm, stay determined and you'll get the best result.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Do the opposite of what you would normally do. Push where you think you are supposed to pull. Try everything, even the illogical. By breaking the normal patterns, you will release the creative impulse you need.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Venus's current harmonious angle to your sun sign is as auspicious as walking into a field full of four-leaf clovers. This doesn't mean a lottery win is in store, but you are about to have a secret wish granted.

Read Phil Booth at or at

B.C. acquittal deals blow to efforts against Hells Angels

VANCOUVER -- In a case police hoped would be the beginning of the end for the Hells Angels in B.C., a veteran, full-patch member of the notorious motorcycle club was acquitted yesterday of drug-trafficking charges and acting on behalf of a criminal organization.

Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie of B.C. Supreme Court ruled the Crown's case against David Francis Giles, 58, based on myriad intercepted messages and bugged conversations, was too much speculation and not enough fact.

The verdict dealt a heavy blow to the largest police operation against the Hells Angels in the province's history, lasting two years and costing an estimated $10-million.

For the first time in Canada, police had set out with the prime goal of amassing evidence that the Hells Angels, in this instance the club's prosperous East End chapter in Vancouver, was a criminal organization.

Ahead of yesterday's judgment, police and Hells Angels experts had said the organization feared such a finding, because of the damage to its reputation and the increased arsenal it would give the law against the group's alleged widespread involvement in the criminal underworld.

But the acquittal of Mr. Giles on the drug charges also meant he was not guilty of acting on behalf of a criminal organization, Judge MacKenzie said.

Her ruling also meant she did not have to decide on the critical, landmark issue of whether the Angels' East End chapter itself is a criminal organization.

"I am very, very disappointed," RCMP Chief Superintendent Bob Paulson, who headed the police operation, told CTV News. "I strongly disagree with the judge's decision."

Mr. Giles, meanwhile, whose relatively slight physique belied the beefy stereotype of a Hells Angel biker, walked out of the courthouse with a big smile.

"Am I happy with the way it turned out? One hundred per cent," he said, before the cameras.

"Wouldn't you be?"

Despite Mr. Giles's acquittal, two associates of the Hells Angel member, David Revell and Richard Rempel, were found guilty of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. But like Mr. Giles, they were cleared of acting on behalf of a criminal organization.

The three men had faced the 10-month trial together.

Julian Sher, co-author of two books on the Hells Angels, said the verdict indicates just how difficult it is for the police to nail ringleaders of the group.

"They are going to be shining their Harleys tonight," Mr. Sher said. "The Hells Angels are so impregnable. They isolate themselves [from the criminal activity]. It's their classic modus operandi."

But the fight isn't over, he said, because the judge did not rule on whether the renegade bikers are a criminal organization. "The game is merely postponed. The Angels know there are still big battles ahead."

Charges in this case were laid after police found about nine kilos of cocaine in a storage locker and a secret compartment in a car on a Kelowna used-car lot in April, 2005.

Video surveillance cameras connected Mr. Revell and Mr. Rempel to the drug stashes, Judge MacKenzie concluded. But she questioned the Crown's allegation that the two associates were directed by Mr. Giles as part of the East End chapter's strategy of expanding its involvement in the drug trade to the Okanagan.

Evidence tying Mr. Giles, known as Gyrator in the biker world, to the cocaine was weak, she said, with much of it based on police-recorded conversations containing mumbles, yawns and inaudible passages.

The judge pointed to one occasion when a discussion took place in a room at Mr. Giles's home that had been bugged by police. It was hard to hear, Judge MacKenzie said, because a DVD of the movie Meet the Fockers was playing loudly as Mr. Giles and Mr. Revell appeared to talk about the cocaine bust.

A police transcript of the conversation had Mr. Giles saying: "We'll get back up," implying that he had been involved in the drug trade.

But the judge agreed with defence lawyers who claimed Mr. Giles had actually said: "He'll come back around."

"This demonstrates how unsafe it is to rely on poor quality recordings ... when the context is not clear," she told the crowded courtroom.

All told, 18 arrests were made in the swoop against the Hells Angels in July, 2005. Two more trials arising out of the operation are to begin later this year.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How old is Grandpa???

How old is Grandpa???

Stay with this -- the answer is at the end. It will blow you away.

One evening a grandson was talking to his grandfather about current events.
The grandson asked his grandfather what he thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and things in general.

The Grandfather replied, 'Well, let me think a minute,

Hmmm well I was born before:



polio shots

frozen foods


contact lenses

Frisbees and

the pill

There were
credit cards
laser beams or

ball-point pens

Man had not invented:


air conditioners


clothes dryers

and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and

man hadn't yet walked on the moon

Your Grandmother and I got married first, . . . then lived together.

Every family had a father and a mother.

Until I was 25, I called every man older than me, 'Sir'.
And after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, 'Sir.'

We were before gay-rights, computer- dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.

Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.

We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.

Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.

We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.

Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.

Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends-not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.

We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios.

And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.
If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan ' on it, it was junk

The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee was unheard of.

We had 5-&10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.

Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel

And if you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.

You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, . . . but who could afford one?
Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day:

'grass' was mowed,

'coke' was a cold drink,

'pot' was something your mother cooked in and

'rock music' was your grandmother's lullaby.

;'Aids' were helpers in the Principal's office,

' chip' meant a piece of wood,

; 'hardware' was found in a hardware store and

'software' wasn't even a word.

And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby.

No wonder people call us 'old and confused' and say there is a generation gap... and how old do you think I am?

I bet you have this old man in are in for a shock!

Read on to see -- pretty scary if you think about it and pretty sad at the same time.

Are you ready ?????

This man would be only 59 years old

The Scope Of Things Today

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Philosophical platitudes won't help much . The desire to take action is positive, even if you fear the consequences of that action. Maybe you can't make your move right now, but within days you will first see a real, safe opportunity.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

What you want now is to see a physical, material, measurable change in a situation. You are tired of adapting yourself, psychologically, to a situation in which when all is said and done, you are just not comfortable. With this realization in mind you will get what you need.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

A stressful experience has left you irritated, aggravated and short-tempered. As this moon continues to wane, you will receive some critical insights that will help you appraise what has recently transpired and see it in a better light.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. With Venus still trundling along in your sign, the best or almost the best is probably what you've got in store. So, aim high and you'll wind up with something far better than the worst.

Read Phil Booth at or at

The 'Cashman' finds the Midas touch
"Hello, do you have something to sell? Do you have gold?' wacky jeweller Russell Oliver asks his customers.

Back in his heyday as the proprietor of Oliver's Jewellers on Cumberland St., Russell Oliver had tens of millions of dollars of bling out in cases, and made a killing. The reason he now has his doors locked is that he was shot in the foot in 1984 fighting off young robbers who walked right in a front door propped open with a big sign.

The market later soured in the recession and he declared bankruptcy in 1991, reopening on Eglinton a couple years later. In the mid-'90s he donned his superhero outfit for commercials and "the Cashman" was born.

But Time-Warner later sued him, claiming he was using the Superman trademark without their permission. They settled out of court, and now he no longer jumps out of phone booths in a cape, but he kept the moniker.

Local publicity hound Russell Oliver is back in the bling biz, but this time he's only buying
March 23, 2008

Business Reporter

He's known from his cheesy TV commercials as "The Cashman" and "The Loan Arranger," but the parade of characters and oddballs trying to get through jeweller Russell Oliver's locked double doors on Eglinton Ave. W. these days is no publicity stunt.

"Hello, do you have something to sell? Do you have gold?" he asks bewildered-looking customers at the entrance before they are allowed into the wacky Cashman's world. He buzzes you in through the second door if you look and sound on the level.

Frankly some folks don't, but with bullion on a bull run – despite last week's dip from the recent $1,000 (U.S.) an ounce milestone – he knows it's more lucrative to give people a shot at turning their gold into cash than it is to turn them away.

"I'm negotiable on everything. I'm flexible, and it's brought me so much extra business," he says, noting that business has doubled in the last year as word spread that gold was inching up.

"It's ridiculously busy," Oliver cheerfully boasts in his trademark South African accent. "It used to be that Christmas was the crazy time in the jewellery world, but this February and March has been like Christmas for me."

Surprisingly, there isn't one piece of jewellery for sale in the place, located just west of Avenue Rd. The felt-lined glass display cases are empty. That's because Oliver, along with his eldest son Justin (jokingly nicknamed the "Cash Kid" for obvious reasons), only buys items now or loans money against them – like a pawn shop – finding it more profitable in the midst of boom times for precious metals.

"The '80s and the mid-'90s were all about selling. People still come here thinking they can buy and they're looking for a steal," says Justin, who also buys and sells to other jewellery dealers and is trying to establish a business in Miami.

Of course as a big-time buyer, his dad is trying to convince everyone that the gold price is heading further down, despite the fact that the trend is up. Some analysts say it will reach upwards of $2,000 in this metals cycle while gold investment guru Rob McEwen is even saying it could hit $5,000 in the next five years.

"It's either going to go down or stay the same for a while. If it goes up too fast it always comes down," says Oliver, in a crystal ball-like prediction the day before gold went into a tailspin.

And after 40 years in the bling business, Oliver has seen and heard it all. Last Monday, just before the price of gold dipped 8 per cent, was no exception.

There were the couples who needed money to pay the mortgage, some people who inherited coins and jewellery, mothers with kids in strollers looking for diaper money, seniors with old dentures and gold teeth, competitors masquerading as customers, and even sad stories of life-threatening illnesses.

One 40-something man wearing a nearly new Rolex Yachtmaster makes the strange request for a $4,000 loan – all in 20-dollar bills – on his shiny steel and platinum watch in order to help out "a friend" who needs to refill an independently owned automatic teller machine of all things.

With an interest rate of 5 per cent a month on pawns, Oliver goes for it, and the lady at the cash window counts out piles of bills and takes the timepiece. Cashman says 90 per cent of people who want a loan will return for their items.

"It's their stuff," he explains.

Linda Benns, whose husband recently died, drove in from Alliston to visit a sick relative in hospital and decided it was time to cash in her spouse's 10-carat-gold bracelet that he bought on vacation in Martinique five years ago, along with some other trinkets she had that were collecting dust in a jewellery box.

"It's no use to me, and gold is valuable now," she notes.

Another woman and her husband come in from Georgetown, explaining they want to go on vacation in Tuscany before he succumbs to a recent diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. They dump two zip-lock bags full of gold jewellery – including a gold thimble with an amethyst tip, pocket watches and costume jewellery – on one of the trays and Oliver quickly sifts through it all.

He carefully studies it through the foldable magnifying glass hanging around his neck, making offers on some big chains and rings and tossing aside the gold-plated stuff with a line from Johnny Depp's character in Donnie Brasco: "It's a fugazi" – meaning it's a fake.

"We spent our lives raising our children and sending them off to school, now it's our turn to do something for us," explains Christy Graham.

"These sob stories are expensive for me, but I'm in a good mood today," says Oliver, sending the couple on their way with about $2,000, enough for the plane tickets to Italy.

Another guy comes in with close to $5,000 in loonie-sized, gold Iranian coins. He's asked to return Saturday when the coin expert is in. Then a college student in jeans and a ski jacket produces a commemorative gold coin from the 1976 Montreal Olympics, saying he found it while he was spring cleaning.

"Take it easy, Cashman," he says, waving goodbye to Oliver after stuffing his wallet with a couple hundred dollars.

One man walks to the counter with a woman and yanks the diamond ring right off her ring finger, demanding to know what they'll give him. Justin, the Cash Kid, regrettably has to tell them the diamond isn't worth much because it's brown and has a line in it, so they leave without a deal.

Then a cheerful elderly man and his wife dump a box full of stuff on to the tray, including his old dentures that have some gold fillings. But he didn't have enough in the tooth department to translate into coin.

"Every day I get bars, bricks, coins, chains and teeth," Oliver says, laughing. "As you can see there's a steady stream of people and we are not even a jewellery store anymore."

Later, when a woman unsuccessfully tries to push a stroller through the double doors, Justin goes outside to check out her necklace and bracelet. They do a cash deal right on the sidewalk.

"That's what you call curb-side service," jokes the Cashman.

Oliver doesn't mind wheeling and dealing on diamonds, platinum and palladium, but he's mainly into gold, so much so that he's thinking of changing his name to "GoldMan" so people get the point.

He doesn't have much use for silver either.

With some of the questionable characters swinging by, Oliver is happy he's not still in the sales business (see "A Gold Bug's Life," left).

People come from far and wide to visit, thanks to the $10 million he's spent on corny ads since 1995, including his latest with what he calls "sizzling hot" girls dancing in the background while he sings: "I'm the Cashman . . . Give you money for your gold."

"It's paid off. The people don't stop coming."

Adds son Justin: "I'm always amazed by how many people know him, from Muskoka to Miami. They even ask for his autograph."

"They quickly find out how accurate I am and how fast I am. It really only takes a matter of seconds to do a deal," notes Oliver.

Once he gets your gold, it's quaintly separated in muffin tins by carat, from 10 to 24. Pure gold is 24 carats, and everything is weighed in grams. Then it's sent off to the refiner where it gets melted into bars and bricks that eventually land in the market all over again.

He factors in a commission on sales of about 20 per cent. And don't expect a receipt on a sale, but you must bring in some ID to prove you are at least 18 years of age.

At 60, Oliver's living a comfortable life with his wife and dogs in a "nice house" that gold built in Rosedale.

"This has been the best year yet for the Cashman."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Scope Of Things Today

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

You have developed techniques and strategies for coping with your problems. While your methods may not be entirely satisfactory, they have worked well enough. This week brings a valuable discovery and a liberating decision.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

It's not the first time you have had to face the kind of problem with which you are now confronted. Your instincts are good as long as they are not clouded by guilt or fear. Remember your hard-earned lessons and apply them accordingly.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

It's hard for you to pretend that you're not upset when you are. Certain people are refusing to discuss issues that are important to you. With a little pressure, they will open up and clear the air. Then life will return to normal.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

It is fine to want what you cannot possibly have. It is sometimes better to do that than to get what you don't want. But first, the stars are making sure you get what you need.

Read Phil Booth at or at

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flurries could make winter 3rd snowiest ahead of 1964-65, which saw 190.6 centimetres.

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

You have made impressive progress lately. This has intensified your appetite for further growth. It appears that much more is possible than you first thought. Amazing things will happen if you give your heart and soul to the pursuit of major change.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Something unfair has just occurred, leaving you pondering the merits of a heartfelt dream. Don't ruminate too much or too long. Your mood will quickly change once you realize that your problems are not nearly as bad as you fear. Proof will come.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Extreme mood swings must be avoided in this volatile cosmic climate. A bit of good news could lead to delusional optimism. Bad news might bring on a sense of doom and gloom. But a balanced viewpoint will pay you big dividends.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Don't feel frustrated if current circumstances are difficult. Within a short while, there will be a real chance to alter your direction. Remain in a state of readiness but appreciate the opportunities that you have.

Read Phil Booth at or at

Flurries could make winter 3rd snowiest
City workers dump snow removed from Toronto streets on a huge pile at Unwin Dr. in the Portlands.
March 25, 2008

Staff Reporter

Snow forecast for today promises to snatch third place for the current winter in Toronto's snowfall record book.

With a light dusting early yesterday, total accumulation for this winter hit 189 centimetres, said senior Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips.

That locked in fourth place – ahead of the 188.9 centimetres in 1971-72.

A further 5 centimetres in today's forecast would move the current winter into third place, ahead of 1964-65, which saw 190.6 centimetres.

"(Tuesday) we will get the bronze medal," Phillips said, "and we'll be aiming for the silver."

Currently holding second place is 1949-50 with 196.4 centimetres.

The snowiest winter on record, since measurements began at Pearson airport in 1937, is that of 1938-39 with 207.4 centimetres – "the gold measure," Phillips said.

That means another 18-plus centimetres of snow must fall on Toronto if this winter is to seize top spot.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Centrality of the Resurrection

LEO (July 23 — Aug. 22)

There are some positive developments due to come. These will have their side effects, but the good will outweigh the bad by a factor of 10 to one. An exceptional sky is determined to bring help.

GEMINI (May 21 — June 21)

Changes are taking place in an area of an important relationship that has been dormant for too long. You are in the midst of a much needed opportunity to examine what you have and where you want to take things.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Someone is waiting for you to make a key commitment. Much as you'd like to make them happy, avoid making promises that you're unsure you can keep.

PISCES (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Often, you just can't tell if a new idea is a stroke of genius or the onset of madness. A crazy yet somehow feasible one needs to be examined, if you believe you have the courage to undertake it.

The Centrality of the Resurrection

Sun, Mar. 23, 2008 Posted: 10:10:17 AM EST

This Sunday Christians around the world will celebrate Easter as a memorial of Christ's resurrection. If Christians are correct about what happened on the first Easter morning, then the resurrection is the single most important event in human history. If true, then in this single event Christ's teachings were validated. He is the Son of God who came to earth as a sacrifice for our sins, and those who accept him by grace through faith will have eternal life. On the other hand, if the resurrection did not occur, then Christianity is a hoax and the claims of Christ were false.

According to some people today, however, whether or not the resurrection actually occurred is of little importance. Confronted with the bold truth claims of Jesus Christ—for example, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)—they try to obscure or avoid Christ's declaration by saying they simply revere him as a great moral teacher, nothing more. If archeologists unearthed Jesus' occupied tomb, it would not change their opinion of Christ at all.

Compare this mentality to that of the Apostle Paul: "...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men..." (1 Cor. 15:17-19) Paul understood the centrality of the resurrection to the Christian faith. He avowed, "...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Cor. 14:15) If all we have is this earthly existence, the Apostle affirms "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (1 Cor. 15:32) Paul understood clearly that ideas have consequences and that what we believe determines how we behave. If we believe that Christ is who he claimed to be and that he defeated death and the grave, we must live for him—in his presence, under his authority, and for his glory. But if all we have is this earthly existence, we might as well just live for ourselves because the grave is truly our final resting place.

In this age of relativism, tolerance, and inclusion, Christ's claims of absolutism and exclusivity make many uncomfortable. It is deemed to be in poor taste to assert that there is only one way to God. Therefore, acknowledging Jesus as a great moral teacher is a convenient way of partially embracing him, while at the same time keeping him at a distance. But Jesus doesn't allow us to have it both ways. Christ did not come to earth to merely usher in a new morality. C. S. Lewis explains, "...Christianity is not the promulgation of a moral discovery. It is addressed only to penitents, only to those who admit their disobedience to the known moral law." In other words, Christ did not come to teach morality to those who are ignorant of it. He did not come to offer a new moral law. He came to save those who had fallen short of the existing one. Ultimately, Christ came to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)

The Scriptures teach that salvation comes through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. In perfect, loving obedience to the Father's will, Christ bore the curse of man's sin. He paid the price of our salvation with his own death. Had the story ended there, one might think that God himself had been defeated, and that there is no hope for any of us. But the story does not end there. On Easter morning, light burst forth from the tomb. Christ conquered death and was risen to new life. Just as Jesus died a physical death, his physical body also rose again. It was the ultimate act of redemption, for in Christ's resurrection, all things were made new.

For Christians, then, there is eternal hope in the death and resurrection of Jesus. With Christ we die to our sins, and in Christ we rise to new life. Christ has promised to restore all things; there is hope even for our aching bones and wrinkled flesh in the resurrection of the body. In that one historical event—the most important event in human history, when Jesus' dead body was restored to life—the whole world was given hope that, in Christ, we too can live again. The reality of the resurrection is what prompted St. Augustine to declare, "We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song."

Had Christ simply told mankind of the many ways in which we all fall short of God's perfection, the life of Jesus would have brought only despair, not hope. Who could bear seeing the stark contrast between the perfection of God and the sinfulness of men? But Christ did not bring sorrow and despair, but hope. Our hope is an Easter hope: that in the face of death and deterioration, when confronted with the many sorrows of this world, Christ has triumphed over the grave. In conquering death, Christ promised to renew all things.

This is the one true and lasting hope. Without the resurrection, the Christian religion would be cruelly deceitful. And far from being a great moral teacher, Jesus would be a malicious charlatan.

During this Easter season, we do well to confront the claims of Jesus Christ. We should run with Peter and John to the tomb to see if it is really empty. If it is not, then we should grab all the gusto we can in order to anesthetize us from hopelessness and despair. If it is, we can sing "Alleluia!" for the curse has been broken, death has been defeated, and life eternal is available to those who believe.

God grant that we might proclaim with the apostles of old: "He is risen! With our own eyes we have seen it, he is risen indeed!" .

This article was originally published on April 7, 2007.

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC and a nationally recognized trial lawyer who represented Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case. Connor was formally President of the Family Research Council, Chairman of the Board of CareNet, and Vice Chairman of Americans United for Life. For more articles and resources from Mr. Connor and the Center for a Just Society, go to Your feedback is welcome; please email

Ken Connor
Christian Post Guest Columnist

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Scope Of Things Today

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

You're wrestling with doubts for which even you have no answers. A startling event will present you with a solution.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

You will soon be swept away by a dynamic period of planetary benevolence, so sort out the boring details quickly as a preparation.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

A plan you once had will be recalled this week. You'll realize that it is in the process of coming true.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Constructive criticism, even if it's intended to be constructive, can have a negative impact. So, take someone's remarks to consideration but don't take them to heart.

Read Phil Booth at or at

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Too Much Winter=I'm Off To Mexico Again

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Challenges and difficulties teach us what we are really capable of. They also help us to better understand our fears. You have successfully moved beyond the worst stage of a certain problem. The only way to go now is toward happiness.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

The highest rewards are reserved for those who are most determined. It seems a particular situation or issue you are dealing with is too convoluted to sort out. The reward for all your effort is very close.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

There are few genuine individuals in this age of mass production. Be proud, today, of what makes you different and special. It may cause controversy sometimes but, without you, the world would be a little less vibrant.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

There is something you need to find out and this week's powerful cosmic climate will help you. Be grateful because this is all leading to a positive change that will ultimately bring the very improvement you're hoping to see.

Read Phil Booth at or at

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Scope of Things Today

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Fresh starts are daunting propositions. We can all make a minor adaptation, drop a part of our old routine or adopt some mildly different policy for the future. Big changes require greater courage. Be brave and innovative. You are ready for success.

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22) Thurs.

When you fully understand what you are dealing with, it is much easier to cope with difficulties. You are about to be granted a much more detailed picture of a situation that, up until now, you have been seeing only as a hazy outline

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

You are as old as you think and as young as you want to be. Your biggest and best adventures are only just starting to take place and you haven't yet come anywhere close to the peak of your potential to be vibrant and attractive.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

You're working on a plan to burrow your way out of your current dilemma like those prison breaks we see in the movies. Well, it just so happens that luck is digging toward you from the other end and it looks set to meet you halfway.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Most problems get worse if we give them too much attention or take them too seriously. Worrying won't improve things. Venus is working to get you out of your quandary. Encouraging news is imminent.

Huge nuclear plant in works
Critic says plans for a giant new nuclear power plant likely means the reactors at the Pickering B generating plant, shown here in a 2004 file photo, won't be refurbished.


How the proposed nuclear plant, which will have generating capacity of between 2,000 and 3,500 megawatts of electricity, compares to the generating capacity of other plants in Ontario, as well as other sources of power:

Pickering stations
megawatts of electricity

Nanticoke station
megawatts of electricity

Wind power

Solar power
less than 1

Ontario's total capacity
megawatts (from all sources)

Critics cry foul as Ontario considers Darlington-scale station, enough for all homes, businesses in Toronto
March 14, 2008

Energy Reporter

The first nuclear power plant to be built in Ontario in more than 20 years could be more than three times larger than what the Liberal government said was needed when it first outlined its nuclear plan in 2006.

Environmentalists are calling it a classic "bait-and-switch" aimed at avoiding a public backlash when the plan was first announced.

According to a request for proposals to build the new plant, the province is now looking to construct "a stand-alone, two-unit nuclear power plant ... to provide roughly 2,000-3,500 (megawatts) of baseload generation capacity."

The call for bids was issued last week to federally owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and three foreign nuclear-reactor companies that made a short list.

A 3,500-megawatt plant would be one of the largest nuclear projects in the world, roughly equal to the size of the existing generating station at Darlington, and would be big enough to power all homes and businesses in Toronto. It would be located either at Darlington or the Bruce generating station near Kincardine. The document also asks that proposals give the government the "option" to build one or two additional reactors.

Energy Minister Gerry Phillips told the Star yesterday that the original target was to build 1,400 megawatts, envisioned at the time as two 700-megawatt Candu reactors.

"It's always been that we're going to build a plant with two reactors," Phillips said. "The average size of the plants has gone up. At the time (reactors) were 700 megawatts ... Now reactors are more 1,000 megawatts to 1,600 megawatts."

Estimates for new nuclear plants are anywhere between $8 billion and $15 billion. But rising costs for labour and materials make the figure a moving target. Electricity customers will foot the bill, but Queen's Park is adamant that the bulk of any cost overruns is expected to be shouldered by the winning bidder.

Phillips said it's more economical to build reactors in pairs. "People expect us to plan for contingencies, so I don't really apologize for what's in the request for proposal," Phillips added. "It's just good planning to ask for those numbers."

But former energy minister Dwight Duncan, in an Aug. 26, 2006, interview with the Star, made the government's original intention clear. "The best advice we've had is right now we need 1,000 megawatts of new nuclear built, and we'll go from there."

Duncan said then that the numbers could go up if existing plants were deemed uneconomical to refurbish, but that overall nuclear capacity would not exceed 1,400 megawatts. Most reactors under consideration at that time, both foreign and domestic, ranged in size from 1,000 megawatts to 1,600 megawatts each.

Keith Stewart, an environmentalist with WWF-Canada, said past talk of refurbishing existing plants has been masking the government's real intentions around nuclear.

"Politically, refurbishments are a much easier sell," said Stewart. "So you say it's only going to be a little bit and then `Oops!' – it's much more. We're going to see this more down the road when the costs start coming in."

He added that a process that asks for at least 2,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity is an admission that the reactors at Pickering B won't be refurbished, even though a decision from Ontario Power Generation isn't expected until next year.

The request to build more nuclear capacity may be controversial for electricity consumers, but it means more business for the winning bidder, which will emerge from a short list of four reactor companies that include AECL, France's Areva NP, and U.S. nuclear-power giants GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric.

The decision last week to open the process to the international community represents a ground-shift in a province that in the past has fulfilled its duty to shop locally, even if it meant being a guinea pig for projects such as Darlington, that were late and dramatically over budget.

A winner is expected by the end of this year, with the goal of getting shovels in the ground in 2012 and electricity on transmission lines by 2018.

The government is also expected to decide by year's end whether Ontario Power Generation or Bruce Power will be the operator of the new plant.

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