Lawlessness hurting America’s war on terror

It’s long been forgotten, but in the weeks immediately following 9/11, the Taliban government in Afghanistan actually offered to hand over Osama bin Laden if the US provided proof of his involvement in the terrorist attacks, wrote Linda McQuaig in a Toronto Star opinion piece Sept. 19. Washington instantly rejected the offer. But the Taliban had a point, she said, as Michael Mandel, a law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, points out in a provocative new book, How America Gets Away With Murder. Mandel notes that the Taliban’s request for evidence was simply standard practice that any nation would follow when asked to extradite a criminal to another country. Oddly, then, it was the primitive leaders of the Taliban who, in this case at least, were following the rule of law. Mandel also insists that the US had an obligation under international law to seek a non-military solution. And the Taliban, for all its well-known defects, was keen to negotiate, wrote McQuaig.

Susan Swan finds romance in romance

Perhaps the most important function of York humanities Professor Susan Swan‘s epigraph in her new novel, What Casanova Told Me, is simply to mention the word “romance,” wrote reviewer Valerie Compton in the Ottawa Citizen Sept. 19. After all, what concept could be more important to the story of a first-person encounter with the legendary lover, Jacob Casanova? What Casanova Told Me is one of those two-centuries-joined-by-a-lost-manuscript, twinned-narrative stories in the mold of A. S. Byatt’s Possession, which now virtually comprise a genre of their own, wrote Compton. The 21st-century protagonist of the novel is Luce Adams, a 28-year-old Toronto archivist charged with delivering to Venice’s Sansovinian Library a document box filled with ancient manuscripts, one of which is the diary of her own Puritan ancestor, Asked For Adams, written in 1797.

My childhood as a communist

James Laxer can joke now about his childhood in the 1950s when he was the only kid on the block cheering for the North in the Korean War, wrote a reviewer in the Sept. 18 Ottawa Citizen of the York political science professor’s new memoir, Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism. But much of his childhood was no joke. It was, in fact, deadly serious. Laxer was the only child on Flora Street in Ottawa and later Melita Street in Toronto with a home library filled with the works of Marx and Lenin. Only he, while a youngster, mourned the death of Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin, watched the RCMP try to run over his mother while protesting on Parliament Hill and feared that his family might be executed as Commie spies, just like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 in the United States. Laxer, 62, is perhaps best known to many Canadians as the left-wing firebrand who led the Waffle movement, a branch of the New Democratic Party, from 1969-74. He is also the man who almost beat David Lewis in 1971 for the federal NDP leadership.

Magalas gains experience with York men’s team

A number of women have competed in men’s sports over the past few years, including golfer Annika Sorenstam and hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser. Now, fourth-year York psychology major Samantha Magalas is giving it a shot, reported the Burlington Post Sept. 19. The 22-year-old Burlington resident, widely regarded as one of the top female baseball players in the country, is playing men’s intercollegiate ball this season with the York Lions. Magalas, who represented Canada at this year’s women’s World Series along with Aldershot graduate Kate Psota, sees playing with York as an opportunity to gain experience for the national team. York coach Colin Cummins was impressed by the first baseman’s talent and work ethic at the Lions’ training camp, awarding her a position on the team and naming her an opening day starter.

A Hamilton Spectator profile Sept. 18 began: “Sam is one of the guys,” stressed York University men’s baseball coach Colin Cummins. “There’s no female/male thing here. If someone has a problem with that, they might just as well go home.”

Running back ties CIS record

Andre Durie is a tough man to stop. The second-year running back from Mississauga, Ont., tied a Canadian Interuniversity Sport record on Sept. 18 by scoring six touchdowns to lead York University to a 55-33 win over the University of Waterloo, reported wire stories printed Sept. 20 in Brantford’s The Expositor and the Edmonton Journal.

On air

  • Wendy Wong, professor at York University, participated in a symposium on the future of democracy in Hong Kong, televised on the Cantonese edition of OMNI.2 News in Toronto Sept. 17.