Summit security measures called intimidating

Some of the "unprecedented" security measures police have adopted to keep the peace during the upcoming G8/G20 conferences in Ontario border on intimidation and could squelch dissent, say civil liberties watchdogs, reported The StarPhoenix in Saskatoon May 28. 

Their concerns include the possible deployment of ear-splitting "sonic cannons," unannounced police visits with protesters leading up to the summit and unnecessarily large security perimeters.  

Sharmeen Khan, an event co-ordinator with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, a student-run, social-justice and advocacy group at York University, said law enforcement officials showed up at two of the group’s meetings recently. One was a workshop related to food security issues, and the other was the group’s annual general meeting. Officers were interested in talking to group members about their protest plans, Khan said.  

"Even though they portrayed themselves as being community liaisons, I felt it was inappropriate to show up," she said. "They could’ve called beforehand. Just to show up was alarming."  

Victims of circumstance

The story of the fatal confrontation between former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant (LLB ’92) and bicycle courier Darcy Allan Sheppard – from the violent 28 seconds on Toronto’s Bloor Street that led to the death of the troubled cyclist, to the dismissal this week of all criminal charges against Bryant – is all about privilege. But not in the way you might think, wrote Judith Timson in her Globe and Mail column May 28.

It’s about the privilege of birth, about the circumstances we are born into, and which shape our lives and our destinies, wrote Timson.

One of the most poignant comments, on Facebook, came from a friend of Sheppard’s girlfriend, who said that Sheppard had once been homeless but had "climbed out of that scene and tried to become someone."

Bryant, 44, tried to become someone too – only he started from a vastly different place and he eminently succeeded, wrote Timson. The son of a BC politician, he has an awe-inspiring résumé: York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, silver medalist of his year, Harvard University, Fulbright Scholar, youngest-ever Ontario attorney general. It was for people like him that the term "the best and the brightest" was invented.  

Arts and trades race to the finish line

Take one sheet of plywood, a power sander, some glue and paint. Add in a handful of artists, tradesmen, 10-year-old drag racing enthusiasts and let them mix for six weeks. Out of this unique combination comes the Power Tool Drag Race Grand Prix, reported North York Mirror May 27. 

Created by Steven Laurie, the Art Gallery of York University’s interim education and collections assistant, the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club got a chance to build miniature drag racers driven entirely by power tools.  

"Even though they are crude, these dragsters have a lot of design esthetic that came directly from the youth, which is important because I feel they should have ownership over these types of projects," said Laurie.  

The group of youths between 10 and 14 years old spent one day a week working with York University artists and trades people to design and construct their creations. On the afternoon of May 25, they gathered in the parking lot of the Yorkgate Mall to do battle.  

Variable-rate mortgages save money, but homeowners still choose lock-in option

A study [of mortgage loans] by Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, shows borrowers are better off if they choose the variable-rate option – and by a huge margin, reported The Vancouver Sun May 28. 

Milevsky looked not just at what the savings are as a result of being charged a lower rate; he also assumed the difference between the fixed and variable payments was invested in 91-day treasury bills.  

Using this methodology Milevsky concluded borrowers are better off 90 per cent of the time when they choose the variable option over locking in at a fixed rate.  

On air

  • Debra Pepler, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, was interviewed about an anti-bullying conference in Toronto, on CKLW-AM in Windsor May 27.