China stocks up on earthly resources

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick says the US should be concerned about Chinese ownership of key raw materials, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Jan. 24.

“Anytime you’ve got one nation controlling certain materials, there is going be concerns raised,” said Shadwick, research associate in the York Centre for International & Security Studies and a professor of political science at Glendon. “When those materials are key for strategic purposes, then that just raises the level of worry.”

Shadwick said the Chinese have several motives, including securing supplies for the military as well as protecting their economic base. “A lot more exotic materials go into automobiles or civilian airplanes these days than 40 years ago,” he explained. “If you want to be the workshop to the world, you better lock in the raw materials as much as you can and that’s what they appear to be doing,” he added.

Death led to a ‘wrongful life’ lawsuit

In the midsummer of 1996, an act of sexual intercourse took place on the medium-secure forensic ward of a downtown Toronto psychiatric hospital, where 20 people were held on orders of a criminal court: 19 men and one woman, wrote the National Post Jan. 23. The man’s identity is unknown, but the woman was Cinderella Allalouf, 39, an obese Jamaican-Canadian schizophrenic who was fixated on sex and babies, and unfit to stand trial on kidnapping charges.

The fallout from their contact – including [Allalouf’s] unexplained death, a "wrongful life," many millions in expenses and a shocking late revelation that a key medical player is a sexual abuser – was to have been laid bare in a major malpractice trial scheduled for next week in Toronto. But the National Post has learned a last-minute settlement has been agreed by the parties, reported the paper in a lengthy investigative piece.

Mary Jane Dykeman, director of the certificate program in mental health law at Osgoode Professional Development, wrote in an academic paper that no one seemed to consider a staff member might be the father [of Allalouf’s son], and that a serious crime had therefore gone unreported. She also criticized the assumption that everyone found Allalouf “repulsive”, the Post said. 

“Did that repulsion keep her safe from pregnancy? That so-called repulsion may have led to the decision to question the only male co-patient who apparently did not share the repulsion,” she wrote. “The notion that A might have had consensual sexual relations with anyone else on the unit (whether patient, staff or visitor, presuming that she had the capacity to consent) or that she lacked capacity (which would make the sexual activity an assault) were not pursued vigorously. Why was it left to an attending psychiatrist to be the sole investigator of what should be considered a serious incident?”

How to spot weasel words that can sink your portfolio

A new study shows that certain phrases in corporate filings can provide important warnings about trouble ahead, wrote Canadian Business Online, Jan. 18 in a story about a study by two University of Notre Dame professors that reveals that certain innocuous-sounding phrases such as “related party transaction” and “unbilled receivables” appearing in corporate filings could signal fraud or, at the very least, problems with the business.

John Parkinson, an accounting professor in York’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies who’s written extensively on analyzing financial statements, isn’t surprised by the Notre Dame study. He says companies have a history of masking problems by creatively inserting troubling items into reports. In Canadian annual reports, it’s in the notes — often located at back of the document — where investors can find red flags. That’s where impending lawsuits are revealed and you can see when liabilities are due, exact inventory numbers, social responsibility practices and a host of other vital details. “Everything people need to know is in the statements or the notes,” Parkinson says.

Google case’s final chapter seeks ending

Somewhere in the middle are readers who might suddenly be afforded free, searchable access to millions of titles, many of which have long been out of print and would otherwise be difficult to source, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 23 in a story about court hearings into the Google Books settlement.

“The public interest is in the widest distribution of creative work,” says Toronto author and legal scholar Daniel Jay Baum, who has taught at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and who, as the author of more than 50 titles in Google’s database, supports the settlement.

“The question is: how can we achieve that and at the same time compensate those who have laboured to produce that work? We ought to be able to do that within the context of the copyright laws. But at the end of the day, the goal is to get creative work out there so that people can use it.”

The case for realigning shareholder incentives

One of the silver linings in the cloud of the recent financial market crisis has been a much sharper focus on the hazards of short-termism, wrote Ed Waitzer, Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance in Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business at York University, in The Globe and Mail Jan. 25.

Simply put, what you do for the short term is often opposed to what you want (or what is socially desirable) in the long term. Most incentives that motivate our political and business leaders are heavily weighted to the short term.

The US financial sector crisis, and the manner in which it quickly spread around the world, vividly demonstrated how an undue focus on short-term returns can lead to insufficient attention to sustainable, long-term growth.

New mechanisms to encourage shareholder responsibility, including the franchise to help leaders overcome their institutional myopia, are in order.

Aboriginal teacher earns rave reviews

Glendon grad Robyn Turgeon (BA Comb. Hons. ’05, BEd’05) is one busy woman – and she has the mother’s guilt to prove it, wrote the London Free Press Jan. 25.

As a teacher for both the Thames Valley District school board and the University of Western Ontario, Turgeon completed her master’s degree last year, earning an award for academic achievement, and has written curriculum for aboriginal youth – all while trying to spend time with her husband and two children.

“You want to be all these things, you know what you’re doing is so important, so you don’t want to say no,” she said. “Women just completely destroy themselves with guilt.”

Turgeon has been teaching since 1995 and in 2004 went back to school to get her master’s of education degree. While researching her thesis, she discovered she wasn’t alone in her guilt about trying to be everything to everyone.

“It was comforting to find that was a trend that was almost universal…so many everyday women were feeling the same way.”

Raised in Tillsonburg, Turgeon graduated from York University and spent two years teaching at schools in the difficult Jane-Finch area of Toronto. She was drawn to challenging environments no one else wanted and both she and her students thrived.

Guerrilla Filmmaking workshop

The Millbrook International 3-Minute Film Festival wants you to learn how to use that digital video camera you got for Christmas, wrote The Peterborough Examiner Jan. 23.

Learn how to take great ideas to the big (or little) screen on tiny budgets in this action-packed workshop with filmmaker Jared Raab (BFA Spec. Hons. ’07). The one-day class covers everything from creative and technical aspects of scriptwriting to how you can build a cheap and portable lighting kit. Working in small crews, students have the opportunity to shoot their own short films, edit them in camera and screen their finished projects. All in the space of a few hours.

Raab, a graduate of York University’s film program, is a freelance filmmaker, film editor and cinematographer. His Guerrilla Filmmaking workshop has run for several years as part of the Toronto Film Festival’s Sprockets school program and he has facilitated youth video-activism workshops through Peterborough’s ReFrame Festival.

Thousands protest the prorogue

It isn’t easy to turn “Parliament prorogued” into a chant for a crowd, but thousands of people across Canada turned out anyway on Saturday to protest Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s shutdown of the federal legislature, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 24.

In downtown Toronto, York University student Jonathan Allan, one of about 150 local members of the Facebook group who planned the event, said, “We need reform so no prime minister ever again can just call up the Governor General and announce that we’re shutting down Parliament for no reason.”

Columnist calls for action on GTA transit card

I felt bad for the TTC collectors caught napping because the real people sleeping in GTA transit are the people who run it, wrote Joe Warmington in the Toronto Sun Jan. 23.

Do they care that Sumi Sivaneswaran, 19, who lives in Mississauga and commutes to York University has to pay as much as $200 a month because there is no proper, affordable all-inclusive GTA transportation card?

Schulich’s FT ranking slips

York University’s Schulich School of Business fell to 54th place from 49th with a three-year average ranking of 50th, wrote The Globe and Mail Jan. 25 in a story about the latest top-100 ranking by the Financial Times of London

On air

  • Dennis Raphael ’s latest article on Canada’s child mortality rate was discussed on CBC and Global TV, CBC Radio in Regina and CJLR-FM Radio in La Ronge, Sask. Jan. 22.
  • Perry Sadorsky, professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about Canada’s deficit, on Toronto’s AM640 News Jan. 22.