Rahnema on Iran’s election: ‘It’s not tampering. It’s a coup d’état’

Centred in Freedom Square and stretching for kilometres across the streets of Tehran, hundreds of thousands of unyielding Iranian demonstrators continued yesterday to defy their country’s strict leadership, calling for a review of Friday’s presidential election while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yielded a rare concession, wrote The Globe and Mail June 16.

Saeed Rahnema, an Iranian scholar and political scientist in York University’s Faculty of Arts, called the protests “very significant” in the face of government security forces. “This is civil disobedience on a big scale,” he said.

Protesters question how more than 30 million ballots could be counted by hand in a matter of hours, how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scored such an easy victory in his rivals’ home regions, and how a perceived horse race turned into a blowout.

“It’s not [election] tampering. It’s a coup d’état,” Rahnema said. “The probe cannot be taken seriously. It’s very hard to anticipate [what will happen]…. If the regime’s establishment says ‘No, there has not been any rigging’ and that’s it, then you will see more confrontation,” Rahnema said. “The regime put itself in the most disastrous situation.”

  • Rahnema also spoke about the latest news on events in Iran on TVO’s “The Agenda” and on CBC Radio Toronto’s “Here & Now” June 15.

The return of layaway

The era of put-it-on-credit-and-forget-it is over, experts say, with consumers seeking out options that don’t involve onerous interest charges, wrote The Globe and Mail June 16.

“The new era is, ‘I’m going to be a little more cautious,’” says Alan Middleton, marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University. “Up to this point, it was ‘Charge it on the card.’ But people are now really beginning to look at their monthly bills as they come in and saying ‘Is there another way?’”

Middleton says consumers should inquire about layaway options even at stores that may not have a program in place. “A retailer by definition has high fixed costs, so anything you can do to maintain a pattern of purchase and do so over time is going to help them,” he says. “It’s a way of keeping the customer engaged when they might not buy right now.”

York’s green roof project cited as source

The green roof at York University’s Computer Science & Engineering Building is inaccessible, so it relies on hardy plants such as alpine varieties that require little care, wrote The Globe and Mail June 16 in a story about a City of Toronto law requiring green roofs.

The story also included information on suitable plant material for green roofs from the York Green Roof Project.

Magna’s Russian partner hires GM executive

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has poached a senior executive from General Motors Corp. to lead his battered car company OAO GAZ, adding some managerial heft ahead of a plan to build Opel models with Canadian supplier Magna International Inc., wrote Canwest News Service June 15.

The Russian carmaker, which builds the Volga sedans once coveted by Kremlin bureaucrats, is a key player in Magna’s bid for GM’s German carmaker Opel. GAZ said it will have an industrial role in the Opel transaction, suggesting it may build Opels for the Russian market at its sprawling factory in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.

“Deripaska is getting full support from the current (Russian) government, so he is in charge of bringing up this sector, no question about it,” said Alina Pekarsky, program director of the Russia Corporate Governance Program at York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre. “”He can hire whoever he wants, probably.”

York student is newest Asian Idol

York University student Jane Lu had the audience hanging on her every note as she defeated seven finalists to capture the top spot of the Young Asian Singing Competition in Scarborough yesterday, wrote The Toronto Sun June 16.

Lu, 24, has been making a name for herself in the Chinese community since winning a New Talent Singing Award Toronto audition at the age of 15. She has performed in the US and China.

“I never thought I would win,” the jazz-voice and marketing student said after 700 fans watched her perform on Sunday night in the P.C. Ho Theatre at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto on Sheppard Avenue East. Lu receives a cash prize of $1,000 and a trip to Asia.

The secret of his success

The son of a grocery store owner, Osgoode grad Hugh Dancause (BARR ’49) was once a teacher but very nearly became a life insurance sales representative before he was encouraged to enter the legal profession, wrote the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder June 16.

Hugh, 87, officially retired from the law Dec. 15, 2008 after practising for 60 years. The elder statesman of the profession in Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, it is also quite possible he was the longest practising lawyer throughout eastern Ontario.

Being the boss this summer

Cassidy Preston has some advice for young adults looking for a job this summer in the face of a stalling economy, wrote the North Bay Nugget June 16.

Try being your own boss. "This is probably one of the most fun summer jobs I’ve had in a long time,” said the 22-year-old North Bay Trappers alum, who operates the Complete Hockey Training program. “It’s nice because I get to make my hours, but more importantly I get to help develop kids and give back to the community.”

Never one to settle for a typical summer job, Preston, who was drafted in 2003 by the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, has spent most of the past decade as a hockey player at various summer camps.

That experience allowed the York kinesiology student to develop his own training regimen about three years ago, using both his parents’ basement and friend’s garage as a two-pronged base of operations to train a handful of local hockey players.

The past couple years, however, Preston has moved his summer livelihood to the spacious confines of Canadore College, Elite Hockey and the worldwide web, to help young hockey players improve their game by aiming to increase their speed, power, strength, agility, balance, reaction time and flexibility.

York eatery bends own rules to give to campaign

For years, the sign on the counter has said it all: no pennies, please. That’s how Maurice D’Sa likes to run his business, where prices have been calculated to end in multiples of 25 after PST and GST, wrote the Toronto Star June 16.

It makes for easy bookkeeping, the restaurateur said of the system he established at Indian Flavour, a popular York Lanes eatery at York University. But new legislation requiring shoppers to pay a nickel for bags has thrown a ladle into the mixer. What to do?

“For the longest time, I’ve wanted to do something for the community,” said the restaurateur, who’s come up with a way of giving back and eliminating the penny problem. During the Fresh Air Fund, he’s decided to forgo his 25-cent rule and collect any change customers offer to make their load lighter and benefit the kids of the campaign.

Robin Smith: navigating the distribution scene

Former York student Robin Smith lightheartedly and, perhaps, surprisingly draws on a 14th-century epic poem to explain his role in the Canadian distribution landscape, wrote Playback June 8.

He paints himself a Virgil-like guide, who takes newbie filmmakers on a walking tour of the mysteries, the horrors and the glories of the distribution scene – as the Roman poet did for Dante in the Inferno. “I’m the Virgil to their Dante,” he analogizes.

Smith has carved a unique niche for himself in Canada’s crowded distribution market, championing obscure specialty titles through his one-man outfit Kinosmith Inc., which he runs out of his Toronto home.

The unobtrusive Smith knows from experience that up-and-coming filmmakers learn little about the real business of distribution at film school, having gone through the program himself at York University. “Simple things like how do you get trailers into movie theatres, how do you work publicity, what are the mechanisms and exclusivities [that] the broadcaster wants,” he explains, adding that it’s about “opening doors” to less experienced producers.

On air

  • Sean Rehaag, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the case of a former Soviet KBG officer in Canada who wants to avoid deportation on CBC Radio Thunder Bay June 15.