York replaces Parliament on Afghan torture accusations

York University jumped in where the House of Commons left off, wrote InsideToronto.com Feb. 9. Amid indications of a simmering anger among Canadians over Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament until March 3, the University held a special forum on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan Feb. 8.

The event, held in the University’s Senate Chamber, focused on Canada’s moral and legal responsibility on the alleged mistreatment and torture of prisoners transferred by the Canadian military to Afghanistan authorities. Canada suspended the transfer of prisoners three months ago.

“The debate should be going on in the House of Commons on this,” said Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Craig Scott, who sat on the panel alongside Toronto Centre Liberal MP Bob Rae and lawyer and retired Canadian Forces Col. Michael Drapeau.

Rae praised York for stepping in where prorogation has forced Parliament to leave off.

The forum saw a number of experts wading into the issue of Canada’s transfer of Afghan prisoners, including Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, human rights lawyer Paul Champ who represented Amnesty and the BC Civil Liberties Association on a court challenge to halt the transfers, and Osgoode Professor Michael Mandel.

Mandel challenged Canada’s legitimacy to be in Afghanistan in the first place, saying the prisoner transfer issue can’t be detached from participating in the “war of aggression” itself.

York acts promptly on anti-Semitism complaints

Both York University and the University of Toronto (U of T) have been taking complaints about anti-Semitism seriously during this school year, following up with a proactive approach, wrote the Jewish Tribune Feb. 10.

York University has taken important steps this year to ensure respectful debate and the safety of its students on campus, said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations.

According to a press release issued by Hasbara Fellowships at York University, the group “commends York University for their swift investigation into…[an] incident where [allegedly] two Jewish students were assaulted in Vari Hall on Feb. 1.”

Bilyk said that although Hasbara did not wish to involve the police when filing its initial complaint, “we viewed [a tape of the incident] for our own peace of mind. If we had felt there was a physical safety issue, we would have filed a police report.”

Six-month-olds can comprehend adults’ intentions

Kids as young as six months old know when we’re “playing” them, a study by York University researchers reveals, wrote expressindia.com Feb. 10.

The study, by York’s Centre for Infancy Studies, examined six- and nine-month-old babies’ reactions to a game in which an experimenter was either unable or unwilling to share a toy. Babies detected and calmly accepted when an experimenter was unable to share for reasons beyond her control, but averted their gazes and became agitated when it was clear she simply wouldn’t share.

“Babies can tell if you’re teasing or being manipulative, and they let you know it,” says study lead author Heidi Marsh, a PhD student who worked under the direction of Maria Legerstee, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health and head of the Infancy Centre for Research.

  • File this under “duh” if you’re a parent, wrote CalorieLab.com Feb. 11. Babies as young as six months old can tell if an adult is playing with them or just being mean, according to researchers at York University.

“These results [of the study] are exciting as it’s the first demonstration that used infants’ social behaviour to successfully show that at six months they comprehend the goals of our actions. Previously, there was only evidence based on visual habituation (observing the pattern of infants’ gazes towards stimuli) which is prone to interpretative issues, and even those results were very mixed,” says lead author Heidi Marsh. Previous studies found that these behaviours weren’t developed in infants until they were about nine months of age. Parents everywhere would have known better.

Braley buys Argos from partners

David Braley couldn’t have known then he would one day own two Canadian Football League teams, wrote the Toronto Sun Feb. 11. But that’s the reality in February 2010, as [former York Lions player] David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski [a member of the York University Foundation Board of Directors], who bought the Argos in 2003 with help from Braley, couldn’t take the financial losses any more.

Cynamon and Sokolowski investigated various options [for a new stadium], including the University of Toronto, York University and BMO Field, but came up empty, and their inability to get the Argos out of the Rogers Centre helped convince them they had to sell.

York student looks ahead to 2014 Olympics

Chad Mathieu is thinking ahead to the 2014 Olympics, wrote the North Bay Nugget Feb. 11.

Just as long as the North Bay Figure Skating Club (NBFSC) alumnus can cut the recent string of injuries that have sidelined his career.

“It’s always been the plan,” Mathieu said of his Olympic aspirations recently, when he was the guest of honour at a NBFSC event at Memorial Gardens. I just have to get some good seasons under me in a row without major injuries. The little things I can handle, but the major ones set you back a bit. But 2014 is still coming and I’m still young. I’m OK with that if I can put a few more years in.”

That did not seem possible little more than 18 months ago thanks to an injury sustained off the ice in 2007. While training for the Skate Canada Senior Challenge – the qualifier for nationals – Mathieu was sideswiped by a car in Richmond Hill in November 2007, where he trains at the Richmond Training Centre and attends York University.

Film festival offers guerrilla filmmaking workshop for youth

On Feb. 13, The Millbrook International 3-Minute Film Festival (MIFF) will be holding a guerrilla filmmaking workshop open to all interested youth, ages 14 to 18, wrote NorthumberlandToday.com Feb. 11.

Participants will learn how to take their great ideas to the big (or little) screen on tiny budgets in this action-packed workshop with filmmaker, film editor and cinematographer Jared Raab (BFA Spec. Hons. ’07) a graduate of York’s Film Program in the Faculty of Fine Arts. 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.

His Guerrilla Filmmaking workshop has run for several years as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Sprockets school program and he has facilitated youth video-activism workshops through ReFrame Peterborough International Film Festival.

On air

  • Gordon Flett, Canada Research Chair in Personality & Health, in York’s Faculty of Health, spoke about raising the perfectionist, child on CBC Radio Moncton Feb. 11.
  • CKSA-TV in Lloydminster, Sask., reported that Chad Hohmann, a player with the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, has been offered a scholarship to York University Feb. 10.