Cutbacks would hurt severe-storm predictions

The Meteorological Society of Canada needs funding to ensure it can accurately anticipate severe weather and climate changes, according to a group of weather experts, reported Canadian Press in a story that appeared in The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) June 18. The group’s newly released report arrives after a string of tornadoes and thunderstorms struck the southern regions of Ontario, killing one man near Gananoque. “One of the things that feeds into the forecasting of these events is research that (universities) have done jointly with the meteorological service,” Peter Taylor, atmospheric scientist with York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, told a news conference on the report. “If there are cutbacks, this sort of collaborative project will suffer and the significant advancements that we’ve made over the past few years in terms of the ability to forecast the precise location of where tornadoes and severe weather are expected will suffer.”

The report, Beyond the Breaking Point?, was compiled by 21 meteorologists and university professors over a 2 1/2-year period. New scientists are veering away from weather analysis due to cutbacks in the industry, according to their research.

Taylor also told CBC Radio that the professors from five Canadian universities are worried that cuts to Environment Canada’s budget are affecting the accuracy of weather forecasts, on a news item aired on “The World at Six” and other CBC news programs June 17.

For prisoners, a chance to vote

More than 400 of the Kingston area’s 2,028 prisoners are registered to vote in the first federal election since the Supreme Court ruled two years ago that forbidding inmates to vote violated their Charter rights, reported The Kingston Whig-Standard June 18. It’s possible inmates may vote in higher numbers than the general population because they have such a large stake in issues around the justice system, said Robert Drummond, a political science professor and dean of the Faculty of Arts at York University. But he predicted they’ll actually turn out in fewer numbers. Drummond doubts that politicians are seriously underestimating the impact the prison vote will have on the election. “I guess we’ll find out,” he said. “If they are, then I’m among them.” Prisoners aren’t likely to vote as a block for a single party and some might even vote for the Conservatives despite the party’s promise to revoke their voting rights, Drummond said. “Prisoners may have firm views on a number of issues including child pornography, where they may have harsher views than the average person,” he said.

‘It’s crucial to not give up’

As the Toronto Star’s Get Healthy Challenge participants approached the June 25 finale of their twice-a-week gym sessions with their own personal trainers, they’re figuring out how they’ll keep going on their own, reported the newspaper June 18. “One of the most critical things in personal training is helping clients learn to get back on track,” said personal trainer and York University graduate in exercise physiology Colleen Wiebe (BA ’95, M.Sc.’98). “It’s crucial to not give up, to watch what you eat for the rest of the week, to get back to working out,” Wiebe said. “You should keep making changes in your routine,” she says, “so that the body keeps progressing, especially if you need to lose weight. If you do the same thing all the time, you’ll maintain – which is fine, if you’re happy with the results.” Wiebe preaches the virtues of variety in exercise and having fun outdoors. “You don’t have to go to a gym to keep fit.”

Canada must help Africa’s refugees

Across Africa, refugees are increasingly “warehoused” in isolated and insecure camps, cut off from local communities and fully dependent on international assistance. There is a crisis of asylum in Africa, writes James Milner, a University of Oxford doctoral student and visiting scholar at York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, in a Toronto Star opinion piece June 18 to mark World Refugee Day. The plight of today’s refugees is a global problem, and requires a global solution, he suggested. But the common response by the West is to isolate itself from refugees, he wrote.

Student’s short film is ‘captivating’

XTRA! reviewer Suzy Malik praised a fourth-year York University film student’s award-winning short dramatic film in the April 1 issue. “With a minimal script – almost without dialogue – Gilbert Kwong‘s A Moth and A Butterfly focuses on two gay brothers from Hong Kong reunited after four years and set primarily in a bachelor apartment in Toronto. The 40-minute film follows this awkward reunion day after uneventful day. With such a set-up, this short by the York University film student had to transcend some initial skepticism. But I found it captivating with its devastatingly real portrait of two human beings and their ability to connect.”

Higher education keeps student at home longer

A study released last month revealed that today’s youth are taking longer to finish school, leave home, start full-time work, marry and have children, primarily because of more focus on higher education and on training and career perspectives, reported the Toronto Star June 18. Dina Gabay, 22, will start the last year of a four-year degree in business and sociology at York University next fall. She lives at home in North York with her parents and two younger sisters. She also works part-time during the year and throughout the summer for the family business, a kitchenware wholesale operation. Gabay is happy to be at home and says leaving is out of the question while she’s still in school. She pays for her car insurance, school books and half her tuition. She’s not in a hurry. “If I’m not married in the next three years, then I’d like to move out.”

Bilingualism keeps you alert

Two languages are better than one when it comes to keeping the brain young, say York University researchers, reported Reuters news service in a story printed June 18 in the Toronto Star. Older adults who grew up bilingual had quicker minds when tested than people who spoke only one language, the researchers found. They showed less of the natural decline associated with aging.

From mean girl to lovelorn girl

The glamour and the excitement of a movie star’s life is something to behold. And some day, perhaps, Rachel McAdams will behold it, suggested the National Post in a profile of the York theatre grad June 18. But right now, the Toronto actress is far from the opulent crowd. She’s also between homes, and wondering how long she’ll “be taking this gypsy ride.” It’s not exactly the lifestyle one would expect from the actress who stole the show as the nasty Queen Bee in the hit comedy Mean Girls, and who is already receiving pre-release Oscar buzz for her so-in-love rich girl in The Notebook, the bittersweet love story that opens June 25. While she never wanted to be a movie star, she always yearned to be an actress even as a shy and awkward St. Thomas, Ont., teenager engrossed in local and high school theatre. Eventually, her obsession took her to York University, where she graduated with an honours degree in fine arts in 2001.

A CanWest News Service profile of McAdams that mentioned her graduation from York’s theatre program also appeared June 18 in newspapers across Canada, including Saskatoon’s The StarPhoenix

On air

  • CBC Radio’s “The Arts Today” interviewed jazz great Dave Brubeck about his inspiration and life in music June 17, the day he received an honorary doctorate from York University. The arts program said Brubeck took musical risks on his records that made him a household name in the fifties, wrote a ballet and a musical and has received many honorary degrees. Several Toronto radio and television stations – including CBC Radio, CP24-TV, City-tv and TVO – also reported that Brubeck, 84, was receiving an honorary degree from York and would play at the convocation with his son Matthew, a York master’s student in music.
  • CBC Radio’s “Ontario Morning” interviewed Alan Young, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, about a court ruling that Brampton could not prohibit nudity or sexual acts in local body rub parlours. Young said the ruling simply means that this issue is out of the city’s jurisdiction and is a federal matter that must be addressed through the criminal code. The city could still set regulations for these parlours, but does not have the power to do anything more.