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What you need to know about net neutrality

Net neutrality is all over the news. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with the support of U.S. President Donald Trump, wants to repeal the net neutrality laws put in place to create a more equal and open Internet. People gathered in 700 different cities across the United States (mostly outside Verizon stores) to protest these changes.

But, what exactly does this mean and why are people so upset? Women’s Post has you covered with this super easy to understand (and perhaps overly simplistic) primer:

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is essentially equality on the Internet — all data must be treated the same by all providers, browsers, and platforms. It prevents these companies from slowing down service (or preventing access entirely) to website, applications, and other features from competitors. Internet providers can deny access to certain sites either because you don’t pay enough or because they have their own service they would rather customers use.

For example, in 2014, Comcast got caught slowing down streaming on Netflix, and AT&T started a program that required apps to pay more money in order to ensure they used less data. All of these things gave certain platforms and applications an advantage over others.

What happened in 2015?

In 2015, President Barack Obama encouraged the FCC to regulate broadband Internet providers as a public utility, recognizing the Internet as a service necessary for economic and social growth, as well as a tool for innovation. Internet was reclassified as a telecommunications service in order to justify the change. Telecommunication companies are exempt from any kind of price control. It also led to more government control over broadband traffic.

In short: companies were not allowed to block or slow down the content of their rivals.

What is happening now?

Trump was elected and wants to overturn everything Obama has done. This includes net neutrality. What are the arguments for net neutrality? Republicans believe the government oversight associated with Open Internet was slowing investment in the technology.

Without net neutrality, it would also allow carriers like Verizon and AT&T to offer tiered pricing for Internet access — the more a person pays, the faster they get their Internet. Those who agree with the appeal say this will create a more stable marketplace and remove barriers for investment.

However, without net neutrality it becomes difficult for emerging technology companies or startups to get the same amount of speed as other sites. There will be no guarantee your site wouldn’t be blocked or that it won’t lag when potential customers come to use your product. There is also a socio-economic concern — if you have to pay more for Internet access that works; what will this mean for those who can’t afford it?

The new rules are scheduled to be voted on next Thursday, December 14.

What do you think? Should the U.S. repeal net neutrality? Let us know in the comments below!

What’s in the title “First Lady”?

The title of First Lady is widely recognized around the world as the descriptor of the wife of the President of the United States. But, what do you call the partner of the Prime Minister of Canada? This question actually popped into my head when editing a piece for Women’s Post. When addressing Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau do you use a title or do you just call her by her name?

In Canada, the spouse of the Prime Minister has no title. While some have mistakingly referred toSophie Grégoire-Trudeau as the “First Lady of Canada”, the fact of the matter is that the partner of the leader of this country has no official responsibilities in parliament. They can be as active as they want to be.

I have to wonder if the title of First Lady creates an image that American’s can’t shake — that the role of a woman is to be sitting at the side of her man. That there is a President, and there is a First Lady. The First Lady has a very specific role within the White House, to be involved in political campaigns, to manage the White House, to champion social causes, and to represent the president at official events and ceremonies. This is an important job to be sure, but it also creates a dangerous association between women and the role of managing a household and representing your spouse’s interests.

Whenever a woman gets close to running for president, there is always discussion about what her husband would be called. Is it First Gentleman, First Man, First Husband? It boggles everyones mind. People become consumed with this idea – of what that man’s title would be and what his role would be, as if it would be different than that of a woman.

In Canada, this association is non-existent. There is the Prime Minister, and then there is his or her spouse. This person does not receive special standing simply because of who he or she married. Most choose to take up social causes and to attend events, but it is not mandatory. And there is no gender-association with the role.

I guess to answer my first question — it’s simply Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, no title, no fuss.

Why you should make Bermuda your next travel destination

Bermuda is a tiny island paradise located in the north atlantic ocean closer to the outer regions of North Carolina and near the north-east of Miami, Florida — or more famously north of the Bermuda Triangle. This British overseas territory is home to only roughly 65,000 people, and while it is viewed as a single country, it actually consists of 181 small islands, with two main areas being St George’s and the capital Hamilton. Bermuda was discovered in 1508 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez.

Bermuda is often confused with Barbuda, which is a part of Antigua and Barbuda in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. During Hurricane Irma, the island of Barbuda was completely ruined and almost all the residents evacuated. Many people who were unaware of the difference and kept confusing the two islands, though they are completely different and miles apart. This makes sense why Bermuda, which depends heavily on tourism, has boosted their tourism efforts by use of an ad campaign and a deal with Air Canada. Travellers can save 20 per cent if they book a flight by Dec 12 2017. If you are willing to take advantage of this deal, here are five things Women’s Post suggest you do in Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay Beach

One of the most popular places to go in Bermuda is Horseshoe Bay beach, known for its pinkish and smooth sand in juxtaposition to bright blue crystal waters. As the name suggests, this beach has a curved stretch similar to a horseshoe. It is located in the parish of Southampton and is one of the hottest tourist spots.

Crystal Caves

if you’re in the mood for exploring caves lined with heart stopping stalactite formations that look like droplets of crystals, Crystal Cave is the place to go. Travel underground to admire the natural beauty of these crystal straws. The formations are delicate and it’s a rare occurrence where water seeps through the cracks in rocks. The water, when combined with minerals overtime, hardens as each droplet expands. The result is the stunning clusters of natural crystal chandeliers hovering above light blue waters. The Crystal Caves are referred to as Bermuda’s true hidden treasure.

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse

Build in 1844, this lighthouse is one of the first in the world to be made with cast iron. It takes 185 steps to get to the top. This lighthouse was originally operated by the British army. The stunning structure stand 245 feet high and offers stunning views of Fairmont Southampton. The foot of the former lighthouse keepers cottage is now a restaurant that draws many tourists wishing to look out onto the sea as they have lunch.

Royal Naval Dockyard

If you are interested in exploring one of the more historic parts of Bermuda, consider visiting the Royal Naval Dockyard located on Ireland island. This base served as the site for the British royal navy during American independence and the cold war. The dockyard is a popular port for cruise ships well as the home of various sporting events, including the America’s cup which is won for yacht sailing races and this event was held in June of this year

Any Water/Outdoor activity

While Bermuda has a subtropical climate, these milder conditions make it comforting to take part in many activities while outside without fear of overheating. Water sports are big in Bermuda. You can try sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving or a long list of boat tours offered on the island. The main thing is to get out there and have fun while exploring this unique and picturesque country.

Get out there and explore ! Comment below if you will make Bermuda your next destination

Toronto mayor moves to create 400 new shelter spaces

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced over the weekend his desire to create 400 new spaces within existing shelters for the city’s homeless “as soon as possible.” This statement was made at the tip of Toronto’s homelessness crisis, in which one of four children live in poverty.

As of October 30, 2017, 70 homeless people have died on the streets. Over 5,400 people on average used a shelter night in the month of November.

“We’re already underway, talking to each of the shelters that exists in the city of Toronto, asking them to add capacity wherever they possibly can,” he said. These new spaces would include motels, shelters and drop-in centres.

It was previously suggested that Toronto open up armouries at Fort York and Moss Park to use as shelters, but that idea has been dismissed as they are under federal jurisdiction. The mayor also said he would not be declaring an official emergency. The plan would cost about $10 million from the city’s reserves.

Housing advocates have said this plan will put a strain on facilities already suffering from overcrowding. Most shelters are 96 to 100 per cent at capacity, especially during the winter months. Statistics also show that 95 per cent of motel beds in Toronto are used to house homeless people. Advocates say it would be easier and cheaper to open up the armouries.

This response caused a little bit of a stir at city council on Tuesday, with the mayor coming forward with facts from staff that say opening the armouries would be expensive and problematic.

“I will be bringing together private and non-profit housing providers to work with staff and the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness to rapidly house as many people as possible,” he said in a statement. “Homelessness is a complex issue that we cannot ignore. While I know for some, our concrete solutions will never be enough – I know we can’t simply do nothing, we must take decisive action and I’m confident Council will join me in taking decisive action.”

Under the mayor’s plan, the city hopes to find space for 200 people by January.

This announcement is the first of a number of steps the City of Toronto is going to take to combat poverty. City council has also pledged to create more low-income and social housing, and hopes to get funding and support from the federal government under the new National Housing Strategy.

Have a Caribbean inspired Christmas in Toronto

What’s Christmas like in your home country ? I recently started thinking about the way people hold different Christmas traditions close to their heart. Some people dream of snow on Christmas and look forward to icy winters and warm hot chocolate. Christmas for me, however, has been different, growing up in a tropical country. If you can’t physically go to the Caribbean and experience the holiday season for yourself, here are some ways to have an island-inspired Christmas.

Caribbean Foods

Everyone loves good food — it’s one of the driving factors at every holiday celebration, no matter the culture. One of the more popular Christmas dishes you can expect to find in mostly all the islands is Christmas rum cake. This is a sponge cake with various dried fruits that has been soaked in rum, after baking. Splash more rum on the cake to add delicious flavour as well as preserve the cake for almost up to a year. Just don’t go too heavy on the rum or you’ll  become intoxicated from eating to much cake. Also, try Caribbean classics like sorrel punch and ginger beer.

Caribbean Decor

When you think of the islands, you think of warm sunshine and lots of palm trees! Palm trees are an amazing way to add a tropical touch to any room. Certain design ideas include making a Christmas wreath out of palm leaves or the funniest one that’s been circulating  on social media is a Christmas pineapple. For people that don’t want, or have time for a tree, a pineapple can easily be decorated to invoke that Christmas island feel. For the record, I have never done this and I don’t believe this is a Caribbean tradition, but its certainly festive and island-like.

Caribbean Music

Just like for any other season of the year, the creative geniuses and musical talents originating from Trinidad and Tobago know how to make Christmas in the Caribbean lively. There is a special genre of music called Parang that originated in Venezuela and Trinidad. The music revolves around an island christmas. Soca-Parang is a mixture of Soca beats and traditional Christmas songs. Similar to carolling , in some places in Trinidad people go home to home singing parang music in exchange for treats of sorrel drink or rum punch.

Caribbean Christmas Pop-up

If you’re considering what it would be like to experience a Caribbean island Christmas, there is a special Christmas pop up market coming to Toronto on Dec 16. The pop-up market is presented by Jamaican Eats Magazine and inspires  the taste, shop and style of the Caribbean. The event will be held at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre on Queen Street East. Expect to find more rum cake, a special treasure hunt and Caribbean inspired greeting cards.

Australian MP proposes to partner on House floor

Be prepared to tear up!

As Australia’s Parliament debated a bill that would legalize same sex marriage, conservative MP Tim Wilson proposed to his partner on the House floor.

“”In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands, and they are the answer to a question we cannot ask. There’s only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?”

His partner, a primary school teacher, sat in the public gallery and mouthed the word “yes” to the applause of other members of the House. He was grinning from ear to ear while Wilson, still trying to remain professional on the floor, tried to keep it together, albeit unsuccessfully. The proposal was recorded in the official parliamentary record.

“I should let Hansard note to record that that was a ‘yes’ — a resounding yes,” said the deputy speaker. “Congratulations.”

Wilson and Bolger have been partners for a long time, but did not want to get officially engaged until it was legal for them to get married. Wilson was one of the first lawmakers to support the bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

The bill is expected to pass based on a non-binary referendum took place in which 61.6 per cent of respondents voted to approve the legislation by Christmas. However, the Senate is fighting to include amendments to the bill that would allow those affiliated with the church, including wedding celebrants, to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages.

Surprisingly, the Australian Prime Minister is supporting these amendments under the coin of religious freedom If the amendments aren’t approved, the bill could be delayed further.

Same-sex marriage was banned in Australia in 2004 when the Marriage Act was amended to define the union as being between a man and a woman. The government has received a lot of pressure to change the Act, especially after Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015.

While couples throughout Australia wait to find out of they can finally marry the people they love, lets take the time to congratulate Wilson and Bolger on their engagement! And for making history as the first person ever to propose on Australia’s Parliament floor!

5 places in Toronto for chocolate lovers

Winter and chocolate go together like…summer and ice cream. Canada experiences some truly brutal storms throughout December and January, so to make up for it I like to consume as much chocolate as possible. What’s the relevance, you may ask? There is none — I just love chocolate!

Last week, Women’s Post profiled Jennifer Snider, founder of SugarMommy, and it got us thinking: sending chocolate is great, but what if you just want to eat chocolate on your own? While I’m sure Snider would have no objection to creating a personalized basket for one…it is a little awkward. So, where do you go if you  If you are looking to indulge in some tasty chocolate, here are five place you can go!

Cacao70

There are three locations in Toronto – that isn’t enough! Cacao70 is a chocolate lover’s paradise. There are no canned or powdered hot chocolates to be found in this restaurant. Originating from Montreal, Cacao 70 specializes in fondue, crepes, waffles, and of course, dessert pizzas. It started with sipping chocolate, melted pure cacao that you could drink in a shot glass. It has since transformed to become one of the most talked about chocolate-themed restaurants in the city. I’ve eaten at this restaurant a few times, once for fondue and the other for a breakfast waffle and it was divine! The fondue is thick, creamy, and comes with loads of dip-able items like fruit, cookies, brownies, and marshmallows you can grill at your table. For brunch, I tried the apple bacon waffle, which has vanilla ice cream, white chocolate, bacon, and apples on top of a fluffy waffle with caramel drizzle. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back!

SOMA

This chocolate factory has a “bean to bar” philosophy that ensures top quality products you can’t get anywhere else. Founded in 2003, cacao beans are roasted and winnowed on site. Creators David Castellan and Cynthia Leung love to play around with different concoctions and mixtures of dark and milk combinations. Their bars are truly unique, topped with real ingredients like coconut, ginger, orange peels, or nuts. These ingredients aren’t mixed into the chocolate as is typical of a bar you would get from a regular grocery store. Instead, they are placed on top of the chocolate so as not to take away from the pure taste. There are two stores in Toronto, with the one in the distillery district being the most popular, especially around the holidays. They also have drinking chocolate, ice cream, truffles, cookies, and toffee.

Soul Chocolate

Chocolate really does affect the soul — in all the best ways that is!  This storefront specializes in single-origin chocolate bars, which means every bar is unique. They roast and refine beans from around the world, making sure to keep each bean’s special flavour and history in tact. The owners also pay top price for the beans they use in what they call a 100 per cent Direct Trade business model. Everything is ethically sourced and pure in taste. All of the bars sold at Soul Chocolate is vegan, with only cacao and organic cane sugar as ingredients. Visit their storefront on Gerrard and Broadview for a speciality coffee or a sipping chocolate shot.

MoRoCo Chocolat

While many will mourn the loss of MoRoCo Chocolat’s restaurant in Yorkville, where you could go and experience high tea like any self-respected Brit, their new storefront on Madison Ave is worth checking out. The owners now specialize in small chocolate delicacies like truffles and macaroons. This french-inspired boutique is beautifully classy, and will make you feel like purchasing a treat is a luxury you absolutely CAN afford. All the products are made in small batches to ensure freshness and quality.

Peace Treats

This is for the kid in all of us. Think back to your childhood and remember sitting down with your mom or dad and sharing a giant chocolate milkshake. Well, these milkshakes aren’t your typical childhood drink. Peace Treats on Ossington have a variety of incredibly gourmet concoctions available. They also have some pretty amazing hot chocolates if you aren’t feeling like ice cream in the winter (although who doesn’t feel like ice cream?)!

Do you have a favourite chocolate store in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below! 

Peace Treats milkshake.

What is a boutique hotel?

I’m currently looking for hotels in New York and I saw this term “boutique hotel” listed. To me, a boutique is a small, independent shop often found in a quaint neighbourhood that sell handmade items you can’t find anywhere else.

A boutique hotel is similar in a fashion. It is not operated by a large chain or brand. Instead, it is independently owned that provides individualized and custom service. Most have less than 100 rooms, meaning the experience can be quite intimate. At the same time, boutique hotels usually have a lot of character. The building may have a theme that seeps into every room.

Don’t be fooled though. This doesn’t mean the hotel is tacky. Most boutique hotels are actually quite luxurious. Because they are smaller than the typical hotel, it means more care is taken in the decor. Designer furnishings and unique pieces of art are common in each room. The best part is that, unlike your typical hotel, no two rooms are alike. Some rooms may have a quirky sense of humour while others may have a warm and cozy ambiance.

Because of the size of boutique hotels, owners are usually able to find prime locations to build upon.. This can result in some truly breathtaking views.

Each room will also have some luxury, hand-made and unique items available for use, like organic soaps, bath pillows, or even a linen selection. Prepare to enjoy some locally-grown foods as well as some art by local artisans.

There are also a few different kinds of boutique hotels. Historic or country boutiques, for example, offer accommodations with rustic charm — think stone walls, big fireplaces, detailed wood carvings, and homemade comfort food.  These buildings often have some sort of historic significance and rooms are designed to feel homey, yet still rich in culture and comfort.

Urban boutique hotels are often found in a city’s centre and caters too younger travelers looking for a tech-savvy and comfortable place to stay. They are generally located in neighbourhoods with lots of culture and nightlife. The rooms themselves use Smart technology and there are common areas for people to mingle.

Then there are the luxury boutiques. The rooms in this accommodation use high-quality materials and exclusive designer furnishings. They may have infinity pools, skylights, or even spa services available. Luxury boutiques pride themselves on personalizing your vacation experience, and ensuring you have the most fine wining and dining available.

Check out these boutique hotels in Toronto: Thompson Hotel, Le Germain, or The Drake (Nook room featured in photo above).

Luxury boutique hotel Barcelona Duquesa de Cardon
Boutique Hotel Bali

Would you donate to support Toronto’s roads?

Toronto’s roads needs your support!

Every day, these roads suffer. After decades of neglect and abuse, they deserve to be nurtured. There are too many car accidents and too many road deaths. But does anyone think of the roads themselves — they have gone through hell each time. They need your help! Without your support, they will continue to live in these terrible conditions.

Donate now!

Imagine you read this on a pamphlet or saw an advertisement on television asking you to donate funds to the city to help develop safety infrastructure for your neighbourhood. It sounds ridiculous right? And yet, not ridiculous enough to avoid becoming a recommendation to city council.

At this week’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, a report on the city’s Vision Zero Road Plan actually recommended accepting donations from residents for local projects. It reads: “In addition, this report considers the feasibility of accepting donations from the public to provide funding support for local projects and recommends commencing the detailed planning and implementation process for an automated speed enforcement program to operate in school zones and community safety zones.”

City staff said that an additional $6.303 million in capital funding will be needed between 2019 and 2021. These funds can help “further accelerate” the Road Safety Plan. The cost of Vision Zero is already $80.3 million.

This report will be heading to city council on Dec. 5.

Now, I know funds are tight. There are very few outside revenue sources available to city staff, so it kind of makes sense they would resort to these type of suggestions.

HOWEVER, there is a serious socio-economic problem with this recommendation.

First of all, the report indicates the funding will support “local projects”. This means that donations in Regent Park will be used in Regent Park and donations in Forest Hill will be used in Forest Hill. The wealthier neighbourhoods — whose residents may be more inclined and able to make those donations to the city — will reap the benefits. The other neighbourhoods will be left behind.

This is unacceptable.

The whole idea of Vision Zero is to reduce fatalities and injuries on roads, aiming for zero traffic-related deaths and injuries. This will never happen if some neighbourhoods are safe and others are not. Instead, it will just reinforce the economic divisions within this city.

The truly disappointing part about this recommendation is that there was no amendment proposed by any committee member that would change this section of the report. No one said – well why don’t we look at increasing taxes or looking at outside revenue sources for this $6 million instead of asking people to donate funds to a government they already pay for.

We can only hope that council sees past this and is able to have an actual conversation about what crowd-funding for road safety really means. Because at the end of the day – safety is about the people, not the roads.

5 food trends you need to leave behind in 2017

Another week and another chance to list five irritating things to leave behind in 2017. Last week, Women’s Post decided to target five beauty trends and this week it’s all about those ‘insta-worthy’ food trends we have been seeing on our timelines. Let us give food a chance to be food in 2018@

Charcoal Ice Cream

I love ice cream. It’s the perfect creamy treat in the summer (and in the winter). But, then something happened in the summer of 2017 I didn’t quite understand. ‘Charcoal infused’ found its way to this delicious dessert. Ice cream became dark — literally the colour of midnight. While this made for lovely images and witty captions like ‘an ice-cream to match my soul’, it kind of left you with a black tongue, which is never attractive. Plus, standing in line for hours for a pile of black sweet cream was not worth it.

Oversized Foods

While we are on the topic of ice cream, I came across a food video featuring a cafe in Chicago that serves up an ice cream sundae with 25… yes 25… scoops. Are we living in an age where we are so gluttonous we need 25 scoops of ice cream at once?. Maybe this works for a table of 20, but for one or two people, this is definitely insulting. Other oversized food trends include giant pizza slices offered by Lamanna Bakery in Toronto. It has 3 cups of cheese, 50 pepperoni slices, and weighs 5,5lbs.

Rainbow Bagels

The Bagel Store in Brooklyn, New York had been known to offer their famous rainbow bagel. This is not just any rainbow bread, The unicorn rainbow bagel offers rainbow, or funfetti, cream cheese, rainbow sprinkles, and rainbow sugar. While this bagel looks fascinating, many people are just getting these bagels to post an ‘insta-worthy’ picture. It is also closely related to the unicorn trend, which seems un-ending.

Gold Flaked/Crusted – ‘ I just want to show off my money’ anything

Edible gold. What is this ridiculousness? A few sprinkles of some 24-carat edible gold leaves on your food and you’ve turned it into the most expensive food. I am talking about the $2000 pizza topped with flakes of edible gold. While it looks good, nutritionists deem it tasteless and just decorative. There is the $666 ‘Douche Burger’ that features a beef patty wrapped in 6 sheets of gold leaf, and topped with lobster, caviar and truffles. Are all these overly expensive foods necessary?  I rather wear my gold than eat it.

‘Poke’ me one more time 

I’m talking about those poke bowls (pronounced po-kayy). Over the months, I’ve been slowly watching this food trend gain momentum. Shop after shop has opened up on Yonge street in downtown Toronto. Maybe it’s because I am not a fan of sashimi, but I just don’t get the appeal of colourful raw fish and vegetables displayed beautifully in a bowl. In my opinion, the poke bowl has taken the place of several other trending bowls we have seen over the years — acai bowl, chia pudding bowls? While I have full respect for this popular dish in Hawaii, why is it suddenly so popular in this form?

What other trends would you like to see left behind in 2017. Comment below!