The great malls of China

While “modern” is not the first word a mainstream Canadian would apply to the shopping mall, that retail relic of the 1960s in decline across much of North America, it is apt in the Chinese context, wrote The Globe and Mail June 19.

“In Asia they really like malls, like North Americans used to do 30 or 40 years ago,” said Lucia Lo, a geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts who has studied Toronto’s ethnic economies. “And I guess that trend sort of continued when they moved here; they still love the mall.”

When Lo left Hong Kong for Canada in 1973 to study at Hamilton’s McMaster University, she and her husband made one or two trips a year to Toronto’s Chinatown to eat and shop on Spadina Avenue; little else was available. An explosion of immigration since then, particularly from the rapidly modernizing Chinese mainland, has created a healthy market for goods and, in the process, resuscitated the mall as a retail form.

Iran vote review is like ‘thief investigating a theft’, says Rahnema

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, a professor of history and Near and Middle Eastern civilizations at the University of Toronto, said he is hopeful that Iran’s political institutions will democratize, that the Guardian Council will honestly review the election results and order a new vote if necessary, and that as a result Iran will emerge from this crisis more democratic and more legitimate. But Saeed Rahnema, a professor of political science in York University’s Faculty of Arts, doubts this will happen, wrote Maclean’s in its June 29 edition. Rahnema describes the Guardian Council’s inquiry as a thief investigating a theft. “They are the main culprits in the whole process of electoral fraud and the prevention of a democratic election,” he told Maclean’s.

Conference crosses line between academics and activism, says columnist

An interesting letter appeared in our national papers, wrote columnist Susan Martinuk in the Calgary Herald June 19 in a column criticizing a conference on Israel/Palestine at York on June 22 to 24. Eric Lawee, a humanities professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, said the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ cry of political interference on academic freedom was “a bit rich” considering it was so quick to defend the York conference [Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace], yet failed to defend Israeli professors when a British academic union wanted to ban Jewish academics from Britain and cease any collaboration with Israeli universities. So who’s crossed the line between political activism and academics?

The CAUT wouldn’t stand up against a boycott of Jewish scholars and universities, yet was quick to cry academic freedom and defend the speakers at the York conference who Lawee says includes “a who’s who of Israel bashers, some of whom lack any academic credentials and one of whom is a leader in the movement to boycott Israeli academics.”

York develops space elevator model

If expensive fares for space flight sound a little rich for your blood, you may want to keep an eye on what’s happening at York University, wrote the North York Mirror June 18.

Researchers have developed a prototype of a space elevator able to carry tourists and equipment 20 kilometres into space.

Team leader Brendan Quine along with George Zhu, both professors in York’s Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering, and graduate student Raj Seth have detailed their work in a recent edition of the journal Acta Astronautica.

The team has also filed for an international patent protection for their design in partnership with space technology company Thoth Technology Inc. Within the next decade, Quine hopes the elevator will be built and carrying tourists from Earth 20 kilometres in the sky to a hotel and restaurant at the other end.

The ride would cost about $1,000, although grabbing a burger at the restaurant or night’s rest in the hotel would be extra. “It would take about 40 minutes to get up the elevator. The view on the way up would be quite nice,” said Quine, who looks forward to taking a ride. “We’re aiming for something that is 100 times safer than rocketry.”

Now, Quine and his team believe their elevator is the answer. “I don’t want to understate the technological issues (but) I think it would be realizable within 10 years,” he said.

Faces of the Future head for York

Andy Sequire is one of the most unique individuals I have ever met, said his nominator, in a story in the Northumberland News June 18 about the Brighton high-school student who was named one of several “Faces of the Future”. Proficient in both music and drama, he has taken these talents to a new level; attending York University for music in the fall, Andy is sure to see his name in bright lights.

Andy plans on attending York University for the fine arts music program with hopes of becoming a teacher.

Shannon Hamilton is a creative and committed student of visual arts, said her nominator in the News’ story. She approaches all projects with tremendous enthusiasm and creative insight; she demonstrates superior skill in all art disciplines using various media.

Hamilton has been accepted to York University for visual arts and she would like to impact and inspire the lives of others through her art, wrote the News.

York grad picked to head legal clinic

The Simcoe, Haliburton and Kawartha Lakes Community Legal Clinic has a new face at the helm, wrote the Orillia Packet & Times June 19. Michael Hefferon (BA ’80) took over the position of executive director of the clinic on June 15.

A graduate of York University and Queen’s University Law School, Hefferon started working at the clinic in 1993 after working in private practice. Along with his work at the legal clinic, Hefferon is the president of The Sharing Place Food Bank board of directors.

Film is both thrilling and troubling says Mann

Anyone who saw Alanis Obomsawin’s film Professor Norman Cornett will be thrilled with the film itself and deeply troubled by the subject matter, wrote Susan Mann, York president emerita in a letter to Montreal’s The Gazette June 19.

There’s a delicious irony in a native filmmaker producing a powerful film about injustice done to a white man. And there is great sadness that an institution like McGill University could not harbour such an unusual and creative teacher. Or at least explain why it no longer wished to have him in its midst.

The student presence in the film was the only good light shone on McGill: They are so bright and so articulate and so thoughtful that one must think kindly of their alma mater. But they attribute their development to Cornett.

On air

  • Sara Slinn, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about what it means to file an unfair labour practice complaint during contract negotiations in connection with talks between the Canadian Auto Workers union and the City of Windsor on CBC Radio (Windsor) June 18.
  • Luin Goldring, sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about her latest research on immigrants in the labour market on CBC Radio Toronto’s “Here & Now” and on CFRB Radio June 18.