Uzbekistan the next to fall

“The recent violence and protests in Uzbekistan, the most populous state in Central Asia, is now part of a growing fork in the road for dictatorships everywhere,” wrote Charles McMillan, a professor of international business at York’s Schulich School of Business and a director of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, in The Globe and Mail May 17. “Before the global impact of TV, e-mail and foreign travel, dictators such as Uzbek President Islam Karimov could rely on a combination of three classic ways to hold on to power: a demonstrable foreign enemy (such as US capitalism or, more recently, Islamic extremists); an efficient police apparatus; and total control over the means of production. Not any more.

“Increasingly, dictators can rely on the three tools of the Lenin-Stalin model when all three dimensions are present,” wrote McMillan. “There is now a fourth, cultivated by China: economic growth. The population accepts a certain tradeoff, if the system delivers. In Central Asia, however, the system is a social disaster.

“The presence of many foreign embassies provides a support group to students and businessmen who have learned protest tools from foreign NGOs such as Freedom House, the Soros Foundation and aid agencies,” noted McMillan. “But no dictator can dominate a country as big as Uzbekistan with a population so educated and with the presence of a US military airbase, in Tashkent. How far the population is prepared to move to protest, with violence if necessary, will keep people awake at night in the White Houses of Moscow and Washington. But Karimov’s days are numbered.”

Support, money at heart of York subway extension

We’re about to get a closer look at plans to build a subway to York University at two public meetings this week, wrote York grad Ed Drass (BA ’94), transportation columnist for Metro May 17. Whether an underground train line is built — and when — is not just an issue that affects those living in northwest Toronto. Both the York extension and a proposed eastward addition to the Sheppard “stubway” are competing for political support and scarce transit money. Some Toronto councillors, including members of the TTC board, are also promoting a new network of streetcar and bus-only lanes across the city. With sufficient funds, both subway and above-ground transit projects can go ahead. Either way, we should be allowed to view all the proposals together, and scrutinize their various merits, said Drass. 

York, Lynx welcome possibility of a smaller new stadium

Toronto Lynx co-owner Bruno Hartrell would like to thank York University for abandoning plans last week to build a 20,000-seat outdoor stadium, reported The Toronto Sun May 17. “It helps us a lot. Period,” Hartrell said. At least Hartrell is hoping it will help his United Soccer League First Division team. A York spokesman said Monday the University’s new master plan includes building a stadium that seats between 5,000 and 7,000. A revised stadium is ideal for Hartrell, who might have had to play second fiddle to a major league soccer team operated by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. in the proposed bigger venue at York. “As much as we’re struggling, a new facility will help us a lot,” said Hartrell, whose team plays at cramped Etobicoke Centennial Stadium. “We’ll double our fan base to 6,000 a game. I’m positive. Up to two years ago we were talking with York (about a smaller stadium), but then the Argos came into the picture and we were on the back burner. Now, I guess we’re on the front.”

Stadium news spreads south

The New York Times and the Kansas City Star carried the news May 17 that York University pulled its bid as host to the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship less than two weeks after the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League said they were withdrawing from the $70-million project they helped hatch last fall, taking $20 million in financing with them.