New Stax album compiled by York music prof

When Concord Records purchased the Stax Records catalogue two years ago, the company snagged one of the crown jewels in all of American music, reported the Edmonton Journal May 12 in a story about the resulting album, Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration. Culling 50 tracks and packing them onto two discs would be no easy task given the vast catalogue compilation producers Cheryl Pawelski and Rob Bowman had to work with. Two better experts on the music couldn’t have been found outside of the pool of musicians and players who participated in so many of the great Stax sessions. Bowman, a music professor at York University, won a Grammy for his extensive essays on the Complete Stax/Volt Singles box set and is a fountain of knowledge on artists like Otis Redding, while Pawelski’s experience combines years at Capitol Records and Concord.

Publication ban is strange legal territory

The use of a publication ban to protect the fair-trial rights of an accused person headed into weird territory Friday when a group of men being held in solitary confinement tried to lay bare their conditions of detention, reported the Toronto Star May 12. The accused terror suspects want to have their habeas corpus application heard in open court. But a judge has banned publication because the case will be heard at the same time the court reviews an earlier decision denying them bail.

Alan Young, a criminal law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said people usually resort to habeas corpus only when they’ve been pushed to the brink, a point where they’re alleging the government has acted illegally in depriving them of their liberty. "This is where the public’s right to know becomes very powerful," Young said. "We want to know if this individual’s detention is being done legally and by the books." The application will also force the government to justify their detention, he said.

Young said there seems to have been an "ebb and flow" to the notion of open justice in Canada in the past decade. On the one hand, there have been "celebrated cases" in which the Supreme Court stated in "very powerful" terms that publication bans should be rare. But later, the 9/11 attacks infused the justice system with a different dynamic, one that places a premium on "secrecy and intelligence gathering". "There’s a real delicate tension right now in the law between the institutional principle of erring on the side of publication and our interest in combating terrorism, which says err on the side of secrecy," Young said. "For the past four to five years, the public has been left in the dark and it’s starting to look as if there’s a problem in developing practices or patterns in terms of secrecy."

Two solitudes

An aboriginal lawyer says there is no hope of common ground between native and non-natives, reported the Peterborough Examiner May 12. "There is no cultural common (ground). People who are trying to talk about one are likely to fail," said Paul Williams, an Aboriginal lawyer from Six Nations who has handled more than 100 Indian land claims. Instead, natives and non-natives are on a "collision" course that began when Europeans landed on North American soil and the only possible shock absorbers are respect, trust and friendship, Williams told about 30 educators and academics gathered Friday at Trent University.

Calling the conversation "chilling and challenging," Joe Sheridan, a York University environmental studies and education professor and organizer of this past weekend’s Eco-Justice Education Conference, said the "future of humanity" is at stake. The problem is that non-natives have a different world view, Sheridan said. This is most evident in universities and colleges, he said. "At the postsecondary education level, we are doing something grievously wrong," Sheridan said. "It’s eco-apartheid. By requiring Aboriginal people to take PhDs in postsecondary institutions, [we] prevent the voices of traditional knowledge from being heard."

Sugar and spice and sometimes not nice

Two Toronto sisters have given the subtle, insidious realm of girl bullying a modern twist in My Worst Best Sleepover Party, a new book aimed at kids in Grade 2 and up, reported the Toronto Star May 14. If you have a little girl, or have ever been one, prepare for pangs of recognition. Authors Anna Morgan and Rachael Turkienicz look at the manipulation, exclusion, ultimatums and mockery that are weapons of choice in girls’ power games. And they portray the guilt and helplessness of the bystander caught in the crossfire.

While bullying has been a frontline topic lately, most of the attention and resources focus on victims and perpetrators. Turkienicz and Morgan wanted to address the gap. "There didn’t seem to be much for the kids who are caught in the middle who are the vast majority. And yet those are the ones with the most complex decisions to make," says Turkienicz, an instructor in York University’s Faculty of Education, and mother of five.

York exhibit a preview of artist’s book

In a May 12 profile of artist Kristan Horton, The Globe and Mail’s Sarah Milroy mentions that his new book, Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove, gathers together a body of work that is the subject of his current show at the Art Gallery of York University. There, curators Philip Monk and Emelie Chhangur are presenting 42 of the 200 works in the series. Each work has a binary structure: on one side, a still from Stanley Kubrick’s classic science-fiction comedy and, right beside it, a replica of that still that Horton has made by shooting the detritus of the studio and the kitchen, artfully arranged for the lens.

Teens were speeding, not racing, court told

The Crown calls it simple street racing and wants a three-year prison term for two young men whose driving caused the death of a hard-working taxi driver on Mount Pleasant Road last year, reported the Toronto Star May 12. But defence lawyers insist that Wing-Piao Dumani Ross and his friend, Alexandr Ryazanov, were speeding, not racing each other, and have asked a judge to impose house arrest of two years less a day. Ross and Ryazanov, who is studying business administration at York, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death on March 20, their lawyers said Friday. The Crown then dropped the more serious charges of criminal negligence causing death.

Retired judge set the benchmark in Hamilton

For the better part of four decades, Judge Anton Zuraw (LLB ’65) has been an insider looking out at some of Hamilton’s most notorious crime stories, began a Hamilton Spectator profile of the retired Ontario Court justice May 14. As a young prosecutor in 1977, Zuraw made a dramatic opening address at the sensational triple-murder trial of Jon Rallo, a manager in the City of Hamilton’s engineering department. Rallo was later convicted of slaying his wife, Sandra, 28, and their two children, Stephanie, 5, and John Jason, 6, whose body was never found. The following year, the newly appointed regional Crown attorney found himself working closely with veteran Hamilton police officer Ken Robertson, then assigned to the Joint Forces Unit (JFU). The special task force comprising RCMP, OPP, Hamilton-Wentworth and Halton officers had been formed to put a lid on organized crime. "We did a lot of bombings and extortions in those days," recalled Zuraw, 65, who has retired after 35 years of public service in the criminal justice system. Zuraw graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1965 and was called to the bar in 1967.

Oilers assistant GM reportedly on short list for Blue Jackets GM

Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson is reportedly on the short list to replace the fired Doug MacLean as general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets, reported the Edmonton Journal May 12. Howson has been the Oilers’ assistant GM since 2000 and has been with the organization since 1994. Howson has looked after the Oilers’ farm team since the mid-1990s, has done contract work and looked after the intricacies of the salary cap. He played briefly for the New York Islanders just after their glory days in the 1980s, then graduated from York with a BA in 1987 and an LLB from York ’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1990.

Hardcourt memories relived

There were six alumni basketball games – four male and two female matches – at a packed Jack Long gymnasium Friday evening that pitted students from as far back as 1954 through to 2006, reported the Niagara Falls Review May 12 in a story about 150th anniversary celebrations at the local Stamford Collegiate. Niagara Falls native Bob Bain, head coach of York University’s men’s basketball team, was back in town to participate in one of the games. Bain, 59, attended Stamford from 1961 to 1966, winning a SOSSA basketball championship in Grade 10. "The tradition at this school is remarkable," he said. "You just look around and see so many familiar faces. It’s amazing."

On air

  • A feature profile of York philosophy Prof. Michael Gilbert as the "cross-dressing professor", which aired in April on the morning version of "CBC News: Sunday", was repeated on "CBC News: Sunday Night" May 13. The feature and at least 45 viewer comments can be seen here.
  • Following the release of the national no-fly list, Reg Whitaker, professor emeritus of political science at York, talked about being unjustly caught up in the new security system, in a discussion aired on Global TV’s "News Final Weekend" May 12 and "Sunday Morning News" on Vancouver-based CHAN-TV May 13.
  • Anna Hudson, a visual arts professor at York, discussed whether it is getting harder to keep classic Canadian works in the country now that Canada’s major benefactor Ken Thomson has died, on "Morning News" May 12 on CHAN-TV in Vancouver.
  • Hariri Pontarini Architects and Robbie/Young + Wright Architects, both of Toronto, won an award for design excellence from the Ontario Association of Architects for the Seymour Schulich Building at York University, reported News May 14.
  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, talked about how well the game of hockey mixes with the game of politics, on CBC Radio’s "Morning North" in Sudbury, May 11. He was commenting on a motion passed last week by Ontario provincial legislature in support of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves.