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Weekend Newsstand: January 12, 2013

Pack away that parka for another day and get your spring-like Saturday on. Today: News for hockey fans, weird weather, feet dragging on the casino vote, firefighter protests, fake news goes viral in South Korea, and a new loyalty reward program is in the works.

Since you’ve had to go so long without national-level pro hockey, many of you are likely lapping up all the NHL-related news you can. We will oblige. First, you may be happy to learn that players have now finished casting their votes to ratify or reject the tentative collective-bargaining agreement that will end the hockey lockout. The results of that vote will be released tonight (spoiler alert: it is expected to pass). If it does pass, the 48-game season will start next Saturday and likely see the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal on opening night. Second, if you haven’t gotten enough of the Brian Burke coverage, The now former Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager will hold a news conference today at noon to discuss his recent dismissal.

Onto other things that Torontonians like to talk about: The weather! Cold enough for you? Well, actually, probably not considering it is, you know, January and you can get away with wearing a fall coat. The weirdly warm weather trend continues today with temperatures expected to top 12C in Toronto by mid-afternoon. The abnormally mild temperatures (average temperature for this time of year is -2C) will continue through the weekend before dropping down to seasonal levels on Monday.

Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18, Davenport), who is still undecided about how she will vote on a casino in Toronto, doesn’t want to be rushed into making a decision. Though City staff has said that council must make a decision on a casino by March or April, Bailão thinks that the OLG will wait if Toronto needs more time to get more facts on the issue, and suggests that the City take its time and do its due diligence.

Toronto’s firefighters are hot and bothered. Upset about cuts that will affect front-line firefighter jobs, the number of firetrucks on the roads, and will close a west-end station, firefighters are planning a “show of force” at next week’s city council meeting. The plan, as directed by the firefighter’s union, is to have 101 firefighters wearing T-shirts with the union’s “Seconds Count Toronto” slogan fill the public gallery. Wait… T-shirts? This kind of wrecks the fantasy, guys!

News of a Toronto-based sexual assault and bizarre murder-suicide are making headlines in South Korea. There’s one slight problem to note…the story is fictional. After a University of Toronto student posted on his Facebook page claiming his friend, a female Korean student, was sexually assaulted in the Yonge and Finch area by three Korean men who later (caught up in their own guilt?) died as a result of a murder-suicide, the story was picked up by Toronto’s Korea Times. A number of Korea-based publications have since run the story, and it has gone viral as it was quickly shared by Toronto’s Korean community. The Facebook-poster has since admitted that the story was fake. Oops.

Perhaps loyalty reward programs have gone a little too far. Toronto Animal Services is planning to partner with a variety of pet-related businesses across the city in order to offer discounts to owners who comply with the City’s annual licensing program. The City has trouble getting people to comply with the law that says they must license their pets. A 2011 auditor general report found that only 30 per cent of dogs and 10 per cent of cats were licensed. This program aims to change all that by offering, say, discounted doggy daycare in exchange for getting your pet his papers. What’s next? Deeply discounted catnip in exchange for neutering?

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