Deals help China expand its sway in Latin America

As Washington tries to rebuild its strained relationships in Latin America, China is stepping in vigorously, offering countries across the region large amounts of money while they struggle with sharply slowing economies, a plunge in commodity prices and restricted access to credit, wrote The New York Times April 16.

China’s trade with Latin America has grown quickly this decade, making it the region’s second largest trading partner after the United States. “This is China playing the long game,” said Gregory Chin, a political scientist in York University’s Faculty of Arts. “If this ultimately translates into political influence, then that is how the game is played.”

City’s dependence on gravel rips apart Ontario’s natural landscape

Good thing nobody includes concrete in measurements of their so-called ecological footprints, wrote John Barber in The Globe and Mail April 16 in a column about the launch of the Toronto Environmental Alliance’s report on green gravel, Dig Conservation, Not Holes: A Report on the GTA’s Thirst for Gravel and How to Quench it.

Activists fighting new pits and expansions quickly discover that gravel trumps all. Nothing is more protected in the green borderlands of Toronto than the right to turn them into gravel pits. Ontario policy is strictly “aggregate uber alles,” according to Mark Winfield of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, co-author of the Pembina INstitute report, wrote Barber.

Where other jurisdictions have rushed to reduce demand for aggregates and increase the use of recycled concrete, Ontario has concentrated exclusively on securing and protecting ample supplies of “virgin material” as close as possible to Toronto, according to Winfield. At the same time, it has ignored repeated demands for reform from such figures as Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller. “They talk about it but nothing seems to happen,” Winfield said.

Willingness to learn key

Toronto’s edition of Metro featured an interview with Norio Ota, an associate lecturer in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, April 14. Some excerpts:

While I was taking a course called Teaching of Japanese as a Foreign Language in my senior year of my undergrad, the professor recommended me to teach Japanese at a language school for foreign missionaries in Tokyo as a part-time instructor. I loved it and decided to become a language teacher. My career as a language-teaching professional began in Vietnam, where I set up a degree program in Japanese studies as the chair of the Japanese Department, University of Saigon between 1971 and 1974.

Language teaching demands one’s total commitment to the profession. One must love teaching. A good language teacher is communicative, active, creative, innovative, risk-taking, multi-tasking, flexible in thinking, open-minded, responsive, caring, empathic, patient, demanding, strict and sensitive to different cultures. It is very important to be able to have rapport with students. Being willing to learn helps since teaching is also a learning process, said Ota.

I like to be able to teach students of various cultural backgrounds in different countries. It gives me great joy to see young students become mature and achieve goals through hard work. Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) has provided language-teaching professionals with opportunities to develop innovative, creative and effective learning environment. I have developed distance-learning courses using video-conferencing. I enjoy creating and participating in various projects. For example, I offer a teacher training seminar every year for the faculty of the Japanese program at University of Havana, Cuba.

Osgoode students helped draw up new Walsh case petition

The wife of an Ontario man wrongfully convicted of murder in New Brunswick delivered a petition to the legislature Wednesday, calling on the government to award her husband immediate compensation for his years of suffering at the hands of the province’s legal system, wrote the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal April 16 in a story about the high-profile Erin Walsh case.

The new petition was put together with the help of law students at both York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of New Brunswick, who are fighting to get compensation for Walsh without another court battle, wrote the Telegraph-Journal, but it was rejected on technical grounds.

Amsden’s poetry reveals the unexpected

York grad Ted Amsden (BA ’70) will be one of the featured poets reading at the inaugural Poetry’zOwn Weekend Festival to be held in Cobourg from April 16 through April 19, wrote April 16.

“When I was a student of writer Michael Ondaatje at Glendon College, I thought I’d write my first book of poems at age 26,” Amsden said. “Ondaatje read the book and said it sounded like a beer commercial which, more or less, took the wind out of my persona as a poet for 15 years,” Amsden says.

Following his graduation from York University with an Honours BA in political science and English literature, Amsden did stints as a Texaco gas truck driver, creative copy writer, owned and operated an aerobics studio, a small clothing company in Mexico, and took up photography out of creative desperation after abandoning a novel he’d worked on for five years.

Bruce Cockburn set to play sold-out show

CBC Radio 2’s “Canada Live” will be recording the Bruce Cockburn concert at Folk Under the Clock on Tuesday at Showplace Performance Centre in Peterborough, wrote The Peterborough Examiner April 16. The concert, in support of Cockburn’s Slice O Life tour, is sold out. Cockburn has been the recipient of honorary degrees in Letters and Music from several North American universities including York University (1989).

On air

  • Jan Hatanaka, director of the Grief Reconcilation Project in the York Institute for Health Research, spoke about coping with grief on CTS-TV April 15.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the latest call for autoworker contract concessions on CTV Newsnet April 15.