Newsstand: December 21, 2009
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Newsstand: December 21, 2009

We’ve all learned from South Park that owning a hybrid vehicle causes people to like the smell of their own farts, but did you know that going green can also make you a lying, cheating thief? It’s true—at least, according to a soon-to-be published Psychological Science paper by University of Toronto researchers Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong. They found that, long story short, students who were asked to buy environmentally friendly products were more likely to keep a portion of money in an envelope from unknown individuals, lie about a bunch of dots on a screen, and/or steal money from another envelope than those who either simply looked at green products or chose to buy their more earth-killing counterparts. “What has been shown so far,” concluded Mazar, “is that when we engage in actions that give us some kind of moral, warm glow—let’s call it that—that afterwards we are more likely to transgress.” And use the word “green” as a verb. And make a Facebook group about it. Do we really want to live in a world like this?
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is proud of the fact that major crimes have dropped this year about 10% overall for a combination of crimes including murder, assault, and robbery (having dropped 9% in 2008 and 4% in 2007), and attributes it to the three-year-old Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, though critics have blasted the program for racial profiling. “We’ve gone into those places where we’ve seen a lot of crime, and we’ve tried to reach out…to the young people and build some partnerships,” he claims, though a Post reporter found that TAVIS officers had a penchant for harassing west-end residents with questions for no apparent reason other than their presence in the neighbourhood. “If people are afraid—they stay in their houses, they don’t use their public spaces, they don’t know their neighbours, they don’t engage in a positive interaction with the police or other community agencies,” he explains, “then those tend to become unsafe neighbourhoods.” So in order to make our neighbourhoods safe, we need to start standing in front of our house and talking to that creepy guy who whistles the theme song to Chariots of Fire and giggles at everyone who walks by? We’ll get right on that.
More than 128,500 Toronto households may be paying less rent by December 31 due to an assessment of property values this year coupled with Toronto council’s decision in 2005 to reduce the property taxes paid by businesses. Under the provincial Residential Tenancies Act, tenants of private rental buildings (including multi-residential dwellings) built before 1991 are entitled to a rent reduction when the property tax on their building has been lowered by at least 2.49% during the previous year. Tenants will receive notices this week, encouraging them to inform their landlords of their intention to reduce their rents. Oddly enough, landlords have had this information since September and, apparently, were given no impetus to let tenants know. So you might want to check your mail very carefully this week. Just sayin’.
And finally, remember when we told you about how our sexy friend Adam Giambrone wanted to take away the right to strike? The Globe is picking up the story (well, it does look like a slow news day…), though they added something interesting: at the same meeting where the motion was passed to try to keep unions from striking during key dates, the commission voted that city buses must include at least 40% made-in-Canada materials! Yeah…sorry. We said it was a slow news day.