North Korea plays against state censorship

According to the latest FIFA rankings, North Korea is ranked 105th – the lowest of any team in the World Cup, wrote the National Post June 15 in a story about possible repercussions in the totalitarian state of a probable loss. Canada, as a point of comparison, is 63rd. Brazil is first.

And there is another problem, said Donald Rickerd, associate director of the Asian Business & Management Program at York’s Schulich School of Business. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s propaganda machine has backed itself into a corner, having already championed the team to the point of no return. “The team left with great fanfare – the ceremony at the airport and so forth – so [if their games aren’t reported] people will be saying to themselves, ‘What happened? Did the team just disappear?’”

York student crowned Miss Universe Canada

Miss Universe Canada 2010, Elena Semikina, was crowned last night at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, wrote the Toronto Sun June 15. Semikina competed against 60 other young women for the honour of representing Canada over the next year. The York University student now goes on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Aug. 23.

Investors need more data – not more rules

Regulators should encourage companies to report more information about their social practices, but do not need to adopt new rules forcing higher disclosure standards, a new report prepared for the Ontario Securities Commission concludes, wrote The Globe and Mail June 15.

The report was prepared for the OSC by the Hennick Centre for Business & Law at York University and by Jantzi-Sustainalytics, a private firm that does research and analysis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

Toronto lawyer Ed Waitzer, Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business, and a former chair of the OSC who helped spearhead the review, said that investors want more disclosure but that there is no clear consensus about which social reporting factors are most relevant. He said companies and other stakeholders are still experimenting with various disclosure options. “In this area, we just don’t have the standards yet,” he said in an interview. “So part of the exercise is how the OSC can take a leadership position in developing the standards.”

Waitzer said existing reporting rules – which require companies to disclose information that is “material” to investors – give ample scope for greater disclosure, but companies have chosen to narrowly interpret what sort of information is material.

Strategy needed to curb human trafficking

Federal and provincial governments must work together in policing human traffickers and helping their victims in order to combat the lucrative crime, according to an annual international report released Monday, wrote The Sarnia Observer June 15.

The report identified Canada as a source, transit and destination country for trafficked men, women and children involved in prostitution and forced labour.

Beyond the need for a national strategy is the need to collaborate with other countries, said Natalya Timoshkina, a lecturer in York’s School of Social Work in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies who co-authored two studies exploring human trafficking in Canada. “The US is really much farther ahead of Canada in terms of developing strategies and programs for trafficked victims,” Timoshkina added. “We’re still kind of doing it sporadically.”

The lying game: Is dishonesty as plain as the nose on your face?

Can you tell a lie from looking at a face? asked The Globe and Mail June 15. It’s a hotly debated question in the legal community, as the courts decide whether a Toronto sexual assault complainant will be allowed to wear a niqab while testifying.

Richard Litkowski, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, also practises criminal law. “It’s dangerous to rely on demeanour alone,” he says, especially if there are cultural differences involved. We tend to overestimate our ability to detect lies through facial cues, he says.

Litkowski cites a 2007 case from the Ontario Court of Appeal, in which “a conviction was overturned because the trial judge failed to take into account cultural differences that affect demeanour.” Namely, eye contact. The judge mistook a lack of eye contact for the passivity of the witness, who was born and raised in Sudan, where eye contact is perceived differently.

Instincts can be an occupational hazard of the legal profession and have led to wrongful convictions. “Most trial lawyers have faith in their ability to take note of physical cues they perceive as they give evidence,” Litkowski says.

Plotting Canada’s course

The Canadian International Council has had a checkered life, wrote the Ottawa Citizen June 15. In the beginning it was led by the estimable Senator Hugh Segal. It published one issue of a journal, Global Brief, edited by York grad and doctoral candidate Irvin Studin (BBA Spec. Hons. ’99), a young, inventive thinker. Segal was soon gone. So was Studin and Global Brief, which is now published by Glendon College of York University.

Scholarships handed out

The Mississauga and area chapter of the Congress of Black Women of Canada presented $1,000 postsecondary education awards to a half-dozen high-school graduates, wrote The Mississauga News June 14.

The recipients included students at two Brampton schools: Daryl Simon, a St. Edmund Campion Catholic Secondary School graduate heading to York University (psychology); and Spencer Reid, a graduate of Turner Fenton Secondary School heading to York University (business).

HST could cost native communities $100 million a year

A study commissioned by native communities, written by Fred Lazar, an economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in April, found the harmonized sales tax changes would cost native people about $100 million in lost point-of-sale exemptions, if no relief from the provincial portion is provided, wrote The Owen Sound Sun Times June 15.

On air

  • Gail Fraser, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about her efforts to obtain more information about oil spills off Canada’s Atlantic coast, on CBC Radio Halifax June 15.
  • Dennis Raphael, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, spoke about his new report Social Determinants of Health – The Canadian Facts, on Radio Canada International’s “The Link” June 11.