Prevailing militarily in Afghanistan is a priority, says York prof

Anne Bayefsky, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, took part in a panel discussion about sending more US troops to Afghanistan on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” program Oct. 19.

What should the US position be here? Dobbs asked.

Bayefsky: Well, the general that this president actually put into office and into power has cried for help, and here we see the president engaging in kind of a seminar, an overextended seminar in the White House. Hillary Clinton said the other day that they’re learning a lot…. We knew this president had a steep learning curve on foreign policy when he was elected, but this is bordering on ridiculous. American soldiers are dying and he’s still thinking about it. After all, this was his war, which he called the good war, and how come he doesn’t get it yet?

Prevailing militarily in Afghanistan is a matter of our national security, said Bayefsky. With the Pakistanis pushing back finally on their side of the border, we need to push back on the Afghan side of the border. And if we don’t do that, the spectacle is of terrorists getting their hands on Pakistani nuclear weapons. This is a very serious problem. The difficulty is that the Obama administration is literally all over the map with Senator [John] Kerry, chair of the foreign relations committee, saying in the last few days that [in] Afghanistan…there is no military victory possible and talking about capacity building. You can’t build capacity without a military strategy that succeeds.

York is among the few Canadian universities supporting open access

Canadian universities may benefit from far more public funding than their US counterparts, but they have been much more reluctant to adopt open access mandates, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Oct. 20 in an article about international Open Access Week.

While there are some exceptions – Athabasca University along with the library departments at York University and the University of Calgary have adopted open access policies – most have been strangely silent on the issue.

It’s not Park Place, but close

Yesterday after breakfast, Scott Rogers, an artist, hauled off and slammed a pickaxe into the bedroom wall on the second floor of a brick bungalow in North York, wrote the National Post Oct. 20 in a story about an art project called The Leona Drive Project.

Two artists, Janine Marchessault, a film professor in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and Michael Prokopow of the Ontario College of Art and Design, are curating the show, which runs Oct. 23 to 31.

Former York student was among victims of violent crash

In the early-morning aftermath of a crash so devastating it sliced a car in two, Pho Si Taing went to pray, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 20. It was an attempt, he said, to call home the spirits of his wife, daughter and godmother, all killed in a collision late Saturday night.

Taing’s wife, Hon To, his daughter Khanh (Christine) Taing and his 64-year-old godmother were killed instantly. He and another woman passenger in her thirties were taken to hospital with critical injuries.

Linh Hua, who knew Christine as a driven biology student at York University [2003-2006], could barely choke back tears recalling a friend she said was compassionate and devoted to her family. “She’s funny, free-spirited,” Hua said. “She’s a person that you want to be around all the time – who always makes you feel happy.”

Having gained entry into the University of Toronto’s prestigious Michener Institute for respiratory therapy, Taing dreamed of donning her own "green uniform."

Even the Great One could use an exit strategy

Marnie Walker knows the pitfalls and opportunities of selling a company, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 20 in an article about her career path after selling her 250-bus, $10-million-a-year operation.

After several stints as a business consultant, a career path she didn’t warm to, Walker was asked to guest lecture on entrepreneurship at the Schulich School of Business at York University [Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation] and found that she loved it. “Eventually, they asked me if I would teach a course full time and I’m doing that now,” she said. “The students are really stimulating…they’re multinational, it’s an exchange program. That was one of the things that worked for me.”

More recently, she saw a niche in professional office management services that she considered a good business opportunity. “There were lots of people renting offices, but there wasn’t anyone offering the full complement of services.”

She decided to do this herself and the result, 401 Bay Centre, opened last November. While the current economic climate might not seem like the best time to try a start-up deeply tied to the corporate sector, Walker says three-quarters of the centre’s 45 offices are now taken.

CPP is hardly a pension ‘promised land’

It is certainly very important for people to know that the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is sustainable for the next 75 years, wrote Bill Gleberzon, contract faculty member in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to the Toronto Star Oct. 20. However, the maximum monthly CPP payment is only about $1,000, which is certainly not enough to sustain people. And most receive less.

Factoring in Old Age Security and even the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will only bring recipients up to the Low Income Cut-Off line (Canada’s euphemistic equivalent of the poverty line) – although they can earn an additional $3,500 per year without loss of GIS.

The situation becomes more alarming when, as writer David Olive indicated, eight million Canadians have no company pension or personal RRSP and, therefore, will likely be dependent on these public pensions when they retire – as do more than 30 per cent of Canadians over 65 today. Given this reality, Canadians hardly live in a pension “promised land”.

Two additional observations: the arm’s-length CPP should serve as a model for a similar Employment Insurance arrangement to guarantee that the federal government cannot dip into the funds at their leisure and that the funds would be used only as intended.

And the long-term sustainability of CPP must be publicized among younger Canadians because many of them are convinced that CPP won’t be there when they need it.

Prostitution law must change by hook or by crook

If hypocrisy was all it took to banish a law, our prostitution laws would have been tossed years ago, wrote columnist Alan Shanoff in the Ottawa Sun Oct. 20. Instead Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young has launched a court challenge of the laws relating to communication, living off the avails and bawdy houses. Before you get all hot and bothered, please note Young isn’t attacking the pimping, human trafficking or assault offences.

Young’s argument is based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ right not to be deprived of “life, liberty and security…except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Whatever happens in this case, prostitution is not going to disappear so would it be so wrong if we tried to rationalize the law and to protect vulnerable sex trade workers?