Daily Archives: October 3, 2007

Google Transit now public

Google Transit has moved out of Google Labs and officially into Google Maps. It makes public transit directions an option, including cost and time, as well the cost differential versus driving for some areas. If you extrapolate from Google Transit, at some point in the future Google will teleport you…

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An Open Letter to the Amiga Community – Is Amiga finally dead?

Is Amiga dead? All signs seems to point to this, but Bill McEwen, from Amiga Inc. has written an open letter explaining the current situation of the Amiga platform. You have to be confident and trust them, he says. Their “path of quietness” has a motivation. I did for years, but now I only trust facts and products.

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Hampton returns to familiar themes in Toronto blitz

Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton pushed across Toronto on Monday, staging a string of events in the city that has become his party’s stronghold.

“This election is about fairness for cities like Toronto,” Hampton told a crowd at an uptown coffee shop during his second stop during an 11-hour blitz across the city.

Hampton had nothing new to say to Toronto voters as he returned to familiar themes like hiking the minimum wage and providing more money for children with autism.

But the leader’s continued focus on Toronto highlights how important the city is to his party. While the Liberals control the vast majority of Toronto seats, half of Hampton’s 10-member caucus represents ridings within the city’s limits.

Furthermore, the NDP has been emboldened by a string of by-election victories since the 2003 vote, including an upset win in York–South Weston. The NDP claimed the seat in February after the retirement of Joe Cordiano, a former Liberal cabinet minister.

The NDP now contend there is no such thing as a safe Liberal seat in Toronto and have begun a push to turn their byelection momentum into long-term growth.

Hampton said the Liberals have failed to support Toronto’s low-income families. He used his first campaign stop Monday to trumpet his party’s plan to hike the minimum wage to $10 per hour, a promise the NDP believes helped them win York–South Weston.

In February, the Liberal government increased minimum wage to $8 per hour, up from $7.75. They also promised to continue hiking the wage by 75 cents each year until the minimum wage reaches $10.25 in 2010. But Hampton said the Liberals are making low-income families wait for relief while also voting to increase MPPs’ salaries by more than $22,000 annually and the Premier’s salary by more than $37,000 each year.

“Dalton McGuinty’s pay hike alone was almost twice as much as the average Ontario woman gets paid in a whole year,” Hampton said.

Most polls show the NDP support has been stagnant since the campaign began, an Environics survey released over the weekend showed the party making gains, with their popular support rising to 20% from 17% in the first week of September. The same survey reported the Liberals had 39% and the Progressive Conservatives stood at 34%.

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Innovation Key To Poverty Problem – Green Party

The Green Party of Ontario is proposing an innovative solution to poverty: using budget surpluses to help economically vulnerable families buy their own homes. “Paying rent keeps people poor,”. The Green Party doesn’t just want to make sure our poorest citizens have a roof over their heads; we want to help them own the roofs over their heads. “Encouraging and facilitating home ownership will help people break the vicious cycle of poverty and dependence, while creating further economic and employment opportunities.”

Under the Green proposal, future provincial budget surpluses would be used to build up a $5 billion Long-Term Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The interest generated by the fund would then be used to support and leverage the construction of affordable housing, including seniors’ housing, co-housing developments and sweat equity housing, where the buyers invest their own labour. “A government program to support home ownership is a viable long-term solution as well as a sound social and fiscal investment,” de Jong says. “By offering low-cost housing, manageable payment schedules and no down payments, we would give even those with the most modest incomes a way to build up equity.”

The plan is similar to the Habitat for Humanity model, which lets the economically disadvantaged buy affordable homes at cost, financed with affordable loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are then used to build more houses.

“Most housing programs are just stop-gap measures that cost taxpayers a lot of money without providing long-term benefits,” de Jong says. “Subsidized housing, for example, doesn’t address the root causes of generational poverty, and it doesn’t give people any real means to escape that poverty.”

The Green Party’s housing fund would benefit the working poor by helping them build a solid financial foundation that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. It could also give disabled people more independence, provide a way for the homeless to get off the streets, and give people on welfare the means to take control of their own financial futures.

“After the Affordable Housing Investment Fund reaches the target level of $5 billion, we would apply future surpluses to Ontario debt repayment,” de Jong says. “This sequence of policy priorities recognizes the fact that the cost of not eliminating Ontario’s current high social deficit is costing us all many times over in other costs what it would cost to fix the problem now. It is also the proper thing to do.”

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