Ossuary the real thing?

One York professor waded into a debate this weekend over the authenticity of the ossuary and whether it contains the bones of James, brother of Jesus, reports The Globe and Mail Nov. 25. There is no clear consensus on the issue, or even on whether the inscription is wholly genuine on the limestone coffin, now on display at the Royal Ontario Museum. Detailed analysis of the script leads some epigraphers to think it probable that the second, less formal half of the inscription was carved by a different hand and at a different time than the first half. If that’s the case, as York Prof. Steve Mason, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Identity and Interaction in the Greco-Roman World, said, “All bets [as to its being the James] are off.” Mason, was one of five international scholars speaking about the ossuary at a public session during the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and The Society of Biblical Literature.

Subway line to York next?

The unveiling of the new Sheppard subway line last Friday, produced a flurry of stories and editorials speculating about future expansion. The Toronto Sun Nov. 23 quotes Toronto Transit Commission Chief General Manager Rick Ducharme saying TTC commissioners have identified the extensions of the Sheppard line to the Scarborough Town Centre and the Spadina line to York University as priorities for subway expansion. In a Nov. 25 story, the Sun quotes TTC Chair Betty Disero responding to critics who have dubbed the new line the subway to nowhere. “It’s a subway to our future,” she said…. “We got permission and money to build to Don Mills. And now we have to keep trying to extend it to Scarborough in the east and, hopefully, even to York University in the west.”

A Toronto Star editorial Nov. 25 said the TTC itself has done all the planning needed to complete the Sheppard line by extending it east to the Scarborough Town Centre and building the Spadina line north to York University, then asks “So where is the ambition and vision of our leaders today? Instead of decisions, we get political wheel-spinning and endless studies.” In a story about the plans for expansion, the Star says Ducharme is reluctant to talk about new rails and tunnels in Toronto. He’s more committed to keeping the system running, the newspaper said. Star columnist Royson James estimated in a Nov. 25 story on transit woes that it would take 10 years and $2.1 billion to complete seven stations over eight kilometres to Scarborough Town Centre and $1.4 billion for four stations from Downsview to York. “Combined, it would be the year 2016 before they are ready. That is, if construction began today.”

Give adoptees access to records: York survey

In the wake of the Nova Scotia government’s withdrawal from proposed amendments allowing adopted children who have grown up to more open access to adoption records, The Daily News (Halifax) Nov. 24 cites a survey done by York’s Institute for Social Research in 2000 that shows the most Canadians believe that once adopted children reach adulthood, they should be able to find out who their biological parents were without the consent of their adoptive parents or biological parents.

Distinguishing real threats from harmless rants

“One of the legacies of 9/11 has been a barrage of warnings and alerts of varying colours,” writes Alan Young, Osgoode Hall Law School professor and criminal lawyer, in his Nov. 24 Toronto Star column “Body and Soul.” “To avoid future claims of incompetence and myopia, the authorities now choose to warn us about ‘spectacular’ attacks designed to cripple the Western world…. We hear daily about Internet ‘chatter’ in which terrorists are planning some spectacular onslaught…. This constant chatter is the terrorists’ version of the boy who cried wolf, and after a sufficient number of false warnings, we will all become blind to the wolves whether or not they are disguised in sheep’s clothing.”