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TSA Beats Beyoncé on Rolling Stone’s List of 100 Best Instagram Accounts



It’s hard to imagine the TSA winning a popularity contest. But there it is, sandwiched between Rihanna and Beyoncé on’s 100 best Instagram accounts.

Yes, the Transportation Security Administration — the government agency that rivals the Internal Revenue Service for unpopularity with the public — ranked No. 4 for its Instagram. It bested megastar Beyoncé (No. 5). The inescapable Kim Kardashian ranked first, followed by National Geographic. Even NASA only rated No. 6.

“We ranked the TSA in the top 5 as we found it fascinating, entertaining and terrifying as most of the feed is devoted to photos of items the TSA has confiscated from luggage at various airports,” Rolling Stone spokeswoman Kathryn Brenner said in an email. “It opened our eyes to what they have to deal with on a regular basis — from hatchets and brass knuckles to loaded handguns, live eels and a shocking number of batarangs (a bat-shaped throwing weapon) and we really enjoy seeing airport life from their perspective.”

The nod from Rolling Stone is a bit of a coup for the oft-criticized agency, which in the spring was the target of congressional ire after travellers complained of hours-long waits at security checkpoints at airports in Chicago, Atlanta and other cities.

It also is an acknowledgment at how adept the agency has become at using social media to engage the public. Whether it’s inviting travellers to tweet @askTSA for answers about what they can and can’t bring on their flight or using its blog to bust myths, these platforms have given TSA new ways to build goodwill, educate the public and shore up its image.

On Instagram alone, TSA has more than half a million followers, and its posts have garnered more than 150,000 comments. The images the agency has shared have generated more than 2 million likes.

“I knew it would be popular and I knew we’d have a never-ending source of content,” said Bob Burns, who runs the Instagram account. “But I didn’t know how popular we’d be.”

This isn’t the first time the TSA account has garnered attention. Burns recalled that shortly after it launched, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel good-naturedly joked that TSA used “ . . . more hashtags than a 13-year-old girl.”

That may be, but somehow TSA’s formula of weapons and dogs has proved to be an irresistible mix for its followers, who post comments such as “this instagram is absolutely amazing” and “this is the best Instagram account ever.”

Burns is a big, friendly bear of a man. He played rhythm guitar in a band called Big in Iowa and served five years in the Army before becoming a TSA officer at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, in 2002.

Although he had no formal social media experience when he launched the TSA blog, he’d always been fascinated by how technology connects people.

“I like to be able to engage people and give them things that would make them want to come back and read more of what we’re doing,” Burns said in an interview at Reagan National Airport.

The agency’s Instagram account showcases the hundreds of weird and wacky items that enter security checkpoints and baggage screening at airports throughout the United States.

There’s the dagger that was concealed inside a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the human skull in the clay pot and, of course, the knife hidden in an enchilada. And then there was the Chihuahua that sneaked into its owner’s checked bag.

“Sometimes you just wonder, what are people thinking?” Burns said.

He doesn’t post every day. With so many crazy and unique items making their way through checkpoints, he can afford to be choosy. Still, he said, it’s hard to go wrong with animals — the feed includes numerous pictures of TSA dogs at work — and guns.

Bob Burns, TSA's social media specialist, had no formal social media experience when he launched the TSA blog, he’d always been fascinated by how technology connects people.
Bob Burns, TSA’s social media specialist, had no formal social media experience when he launched the TSA blog, he’d always been fascinated by how technology connects people.  (Bill O’Leary)  

The agency’s most popular Instagram image, with more than 10,000 likes, is of a life-size prop dummy from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie from a security checkpoint at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The caption that accompanied the post? “Talk about deadheading.” Burns notes in the post that “he was screened and sent on his jolly way. #TSAOnTheJob”

It’s that kind of quirky sense of humour that former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley was looking for when he tapped Burns to lead the agency’s social media efforts in 2008. Most of TSA’s communications with the public were through official channels, and Hawley wanted a less formal way of reaching the public, written by someone travellers could relate to.

He’d gotten to know Burns when he served on an advisory committee Hawley had formed to get feedback from front-line TSA employees.

“He was always funny, always outspoken and when we’d talk about something he would crisp it up into one phrase that would describe it perfectly with a grain of humour,” Hawley said.

In those early days, Burns worked largely without an editor.

“Some of the stuff was crazy and I got a lot of grief for it,” Hawley said. “But it met the authenticity test. I am not the great Internet guru, but I do know that people appreciate authenticity.”

These days, Burns is no longer a one-man social media machine. There’s a team that manages the agency’s Twitter feed so he can stay focused on Instagram, the blog and the next platform. Pinterest, perhaps?

Even after years on the job, Burns said he never knows when he’ll be surprised by what lands in his inbox. Humans, he said, are an odd bunch.

Said Burns: “A lot of people say that our account has some weird formula because who would have thought of posting pictures of weapons and dogs?”

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Beauty Week is back at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto and it’s time to get glam



Beauty enthusiasts rejoice! Beauty Week at Hudson’s Bay is back in Toronto for another year. It’s time to stock up on all of your fall essentials and, maybe discover some new ones. 

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27, you can expect a truly elevated beauty experience in-store with incredible special offers, limited-time gifts, and exciting activations. 

If you’re a diehard beauty lover, you’ll already know that Hudson’s Bay is the place to shop thanks to its extensive range of over 195 skin and makeup brands from both luxury labels and masstige brands — including Tata Harper, Estée Lauder, YSL, Nars Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and so much more.

Throughout The Bay’s Beauty Week, visitors can take in some at-counter activations and interactive expert-led tutorials, where there will be chances to get makeup touch-ups from top-tier brands, try a spritz of the most alluring fragrances, and sample tons of new products.

This year’s Beauty Week highlight is the ‘Best in Beauty’ tote, a meticulously-curated selection of 30 deluxe samples from an array of top-tier brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Shiseido spanning skincare, fragrance, and makeup — all in a super sleek bag.

The tote, which is valued at over $300, is retailing for just $39 and is a fantastic way to explore new products (without breaking the bank). However, there is a limited quantity, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to be fast.

Wondering exactly what Beauty Week’s free gifts with purchases entail? If you spend over $95 at Lancôme, you will receive a six-piece set valued at $130. Or, you can get an Estée Lauder gift valued at $170 with purchases over $80. (And that’s just to name a few.)

If you’re a Hudson’s Bay Rewards member, you’ll also get $20 in Hudson’s Bay rewards when you spend over $100 on beauty.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have several non-combat jobs, some of which do not require a college degree or past work experience.

Life in the forces has several benefits, such as paid education plans (college, university and graduate-level programs), 20 paid vacation days, health and dental coverage for you and your family, maternity and paternal leave, and pension plans. You can learn more about the benefits in detail here.

And to make it easier to gauge if you qualify, the listings also include related civilian jobs to see if it’s your ideal role.

Financial services administrator

Related civilian jobs: Financial records entry clerk, financial manager, accounting technician, bookkeeper, budget officer, cashier clerk, business planner technician, and verification manager.

Description: You’ll help budget resources for all military activities besides providing financial assistance.

Education: You need to have completed Grade 10.

Duties: As a financial services administrator, you’ll be responsible for bookkeeping and managing budgets. You’ll also provide support in accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Work environment: Those in this role work at CAF bases, on ships or overseas. You might also be expected to help special operation units, recruiting offices, schools, and medical organizations.

Postal clerk

Related civilian jobs: Mail clerk, mail sorter.

Description: You’ll provide postal services to members and their families at bases and establishments.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: As the postal clerk, you’ll handle mail duties.

Work environment: Besides a postal office, you may work on a ship or a mobile postal van. You might be expected to serve with Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and abroad.

Dental technician

Related civilian jobs: Dental assistant, dental hygienist.

Description: You’ll be helping dental officers provide dental services to CAF members, their families, and dependents.

Education: Level II dental assisting diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate.

Duties: Those in this role will be responsible for various responsibilities, including disinfection and sterilization of dental equipment, applying rubber dams, placing cavity liners, and controlling bleeding. In addition, you’ll assist in laboratory procedures like creating casts, custom trays, and mouthguards.

Work environment: This role will require you to work in a military dental clinic, a Mobile Dental Clinic, an Air Transportable Dental System, or onboard a ship. You might be expected to work on a base in Canada or other operations in other parts of the world.

Human resources administrator

Related civilian jobs: Records administrator, data entry supervisor, receptionist, office manager, executive assistant, payroll clerk, and information management technician.

Description: Provide administrative and general human resources support.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: In addition to human resources administration and services, you’ll be handling pay and allowances, managing automated pay systems, and maintaining personnel records.

Work environment: HR administrators work at all CAF bases in Canada. They also work on ships and overseas to support the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations.

Medical assistant

Related civilian jobs: Emergency medical responder, ambulance and first aid attendant, registered nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and hospital orderly.

Description: Successful candidates will help treat the sick and injured in CAF units. You’ll be assisting and supporting nursing and medical officers.

Education: Minimum of Grade 11 biology, Grade 10 physics or chemistry, and Grade 10 math.

Duties: You’ll provide initial care and essential life support treatments in trauma cases. You’ll help with health assessments (hearing and vision tests, perform basic lab procedures, etc.) and initiate and manage medical records and reports. You’ll also be expected to provide support and first aid during training exercises.

Work environment: Medical assistants may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Those in this role are exposed to the same risks as the forces they support.

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Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status



Porter Airlines is once again stirring the pot among Canadian airline rivals, now going after Air Canada’s Aeroplan members by offering to match their loyalty status to an equivalent of their own.

The beloved airline, which recently ranked as having the best cabin service in North America, challenged the competition for the second time this year, after previously deploying a similar tactic against WestJet in the spring. 

Earlier in April, Porter presented customers with a limited-time offer to match the loyalty status of WestJet’s patrons with VIPorter levels.

Now, they’re offering Aeroplan members to seamlessly transition to an equivalent VIPorter Avid Traveller status based on their existing membership tier.

Members can then take advantage of an array of travel perks that come with flying Porter, including seat selection, baggage, and flight changes.

For those currently holding an Aeroplan membership, there are two ways to acquire the Avid Traveller status for the rest of 2023:

Status-Based Match:
  • Aeroplan 25K members = VIPorter Venture
  • Aeroplan 35K members = VIPorter Ascent
  • Aeroplan 50K, 75K, and Super Elite = VIPorter First
Flight Segments-Based Match:
  • 5 flight segments = VIPorter Passport
  • 8 segments = VIPorter Venture
  • 17 segments = VIPorter Ascent
  • 28 or more segments = VIPorter First

Members will have to first submit their applications on Porter’s website. Registration will remain open until September 6, 2023.

In order to maintain their membership level through 2024, customers will have until the end of 2023 to reach the following reduced qualifying spend (QS) targets:

  • Passport = $500 in QS
  • Venture = $750 in QS
  • Ascent = $1500 in QS
  • First = $2500 in QS

Over the past year, Porter has launched an aggressive expansion strategy, including everything from introducing longer flights on newly-purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson, free WiFi, and a new all-inclusive economy experience.

With Canadians losing both Swoop and Sunwing as WestJet incorporates both into their mainline business, Porter’s direct competition is welcome to keep prices competitive.

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