RIM’s window of opportunity closing fast, say business prof

Amid sagging sales, job cuts, lacklustre earnings forecast and an ongoing struggle for relevancy, a glimmer of hope for Research in Motion, wrote Global Toronto June 23.

Last week, RIM reported underwhelming first quarter earnings, forcing the company to slash its full-year profit and sales outlook. As a result, RIM lost over 27 per cent of its value in just two days of trading.

On Tuesday, the upswing: RIM stock rebounded more than 9 per cent to $27.74 following an announcement the company would lay off a reported 200 employees, prompting investors to speculate about RIM’s appeal as a possible takeover target.

"RIM has cash and some options but the window of opportunity is closing fast," says Perry Sadorsky, an associate professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

While RIM says it’s committed to turning the company around, Sadorsky thinks the beleaguered tech company will need to move out its new line of smartphones as soon as possible to stay competitive in the face of tech goliaths Apple, Microsoft, Google and others.

"RIM is being criticized for being in a value trap: good current balance sheet, but uncertain revenue future," Sadorsky explains.

"What RIM does have is a good customer base, good customer support, cash on hand and a low price-to-earnings ratio, which makes it an attractive takeover target," he says.

Of the handful of companies speculated to be players considering a pursuit of RIM, Sadorsky picks Microsoft as the best fit with the Canadian smartphone company.

"Both companies have similar problems with leadership, innovation, and a sluggish stock price. Their corporate culture is similar and perhaps a deal between the two will shake some life into the new entity," he says.

Parkdale Legal celebrates 40 years

This week, Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) celebrates 40 years with a giant party on Noble Street complete with entertainment, a birthday cake and special alumni, former clients and partners, wrote Inside Toronto June 23.

PCLS is one of the oldest and largest community legal clinics in the country. It is both a teaching clinic and a community clinic, which provides legal services dealing with social assistance, workers and tenants rights, immigration and refugee claims, mental health law and domestic violence issues to Parkdale residents and, more recently, residents of Swansea and Liberty Village.

PCLS was one of the first storefront legal aid clinics in Canada, said Bart Poesiat, a veteran community legal worker at the organization.

"In the ’70s, Osgoode Hall [Law School at York University] wanted to start a progressive program on non-traditional law," Poesiat said. "There was a group of a few professors and law students who decided to look around the city of Toronto at various poverty areas and eventually they settled on Parkdale. They thought Parkdale would form a good base for a poverty law clinic."

"Osgoode Hall played an important role, they set it up and they used it as a teaching clinic for students," he said.

Variable annuities: lifelong income, high cost

People worried about losing their retirement savings in the stock market are seeking safety in variable annuities that promise lifelong income. US insurers’ sales of variable annuities jumped 24 percent in the first quarter, led by policies that offer guaranteed minimum payments, wrote Bloomberg Businessweek via Yahoo! Finance Canada June 24.

Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, says the products appeal to investors who "fear that the S&P at 1,300 is a mirage and it’s going to go back to 700 for the rest of our lives."

How much do you have to run for cheerleading?

Like many sports, cheerleading combines quick bouts of agility and strength along with the rigours of endurance and hard work. Scientifically speaking, cheerleading requires both anaerobic and aerobic strength in order to be successful. In training to be a successful cheerleader, getting out for a few runs may be just what you need to develop that endurance base.

Regardless of the sport, endurance training is required, according to [Professor Emeritus] Tudor O. Bompa, PhD, a sports scientist from York University [School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health] in Toronto, wrote LiveStrong.com June 23.

This type of training increases the capacity for harder training, preparation for competitions and faster recovery after training, he writes in his book Periodization: Training for Sports. There is the added benefit of mental and physical adversity that running and endurance training places upon an athlete. As the body goes through the sometimes arduous task of running, this adversity helps create a mental edge in the athlete. If the athlete succeeds at endurance training, the athlete’s brain will be more attuned to overcome fear at the time of competition.

Southlake graduates to teaching and research

Southlake Regional Health Centre’s continued journey to become a full-fledged teaching and research hospital has gained momentum in recent months, reported yorkregion.com June 23 in a story originally carried in Beingwell magazine, jointly published with Southlake.

It has certainly come a long way from the humble, local hospital it once was and transitioned into a health-care facility that offers regional programs for patients and medical training programs for future health-care providers.

Committed to partnering with postsecondary institutions, including York University and the University of Toronto, Southlake ensures that it is a part of cutting-edge medical research and teaching communities.

In March, three York University research-scientists joined the Southlake team. Working on site one to two days a week, the faculty researchers work directly with Southlake physicians and clinicians to support health-based research initiatives that ultimately aim to improve patient care and outcomes. A fourth faculty researcher is also working with Southlake on special projects related to the use of technology and delivery of health care.

Research efforts will target: improved surveillance of cardiovascular disease; collaboration with cardiac care and oncology to investigate personalized approaches to treatment of disease; extended exploration of BlackBerry smart phones and innovative software to help reduce patient health risks by way of exercise, diet and improved medication adherence; and working with chronic disease, emergency medicine and surgery to improve understanding of head injuries and the brain’s control of complex movements.

  • Currently there are some 225 studies ongoing at Southlake, focusing on topics including cancer treatment, cardiac drugs and devices, orthopedics, urology, mental health, rheumatology and a number of other speciality areas, reported yorkregion.com June 23 in a second Beingwell magazine story. All must be approved by the hospital’s research ethics board (REB), which includes Southlake physicians and staff, York University faculty, lawyers, the hospital’s bioethicist and community members.

The REB’s role…is to scrutinize each proposal to ensure it is safe and ethical in its treatment of patients.

From saviour to mentor and back again

When Heather Methven (BA Hons. ’01) was 10 years old she was struggling in French immersion, wrote the Toronto Star June 23.. She saw herself as a slow learner. In class, she felt bullied, ridiculed and was sure she was a failure. Her self-doubt was confirmed when she failed Grade 5. Not many people know she was held back, she says. "It still affects me."

Her parents gave her a fresh start at a new school, Chester Public, near Danforth Avenue. There, her world changed with her new teacher, Brian Bauldry. "I don’t know what my life would be like without him," says Methven, 33. "After that my life just soared."

Bauldry built her up by helping her with school work and encouraging her to join school clubs and activities. He asked her to be a door monitor at recess. She thrived with new responsibilities. It gave her a sense of being wanted and belonging.

Though she still suffers from anxiety disorder, her confidence is high, she says. She begins her master’s studies in developmental psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in September, and has a bachelor’s degree with honours from York University.

As she wrote in a letter to the Star: "He turned an anxious, broken, 10-year-old girl into a successful woman who is making a difference in the lives of special needs students."

He said: "She is the one doing the real teaching and she should be the one deserving praise for her accomplishments."

Award-winning musician Mike Murley plays jazz fest this weekend

For Mike Murley (BFA Spec. Hons. ’86) the TD Toronto Jazz Festival is just another day at the office – albeit a pretty fun day, wrote InsideToronto.com June 24.

The saxophonist has been playing the annual festival for years and he’ll be back this time playing two shows. "I play almost every year either in a club or a concert," he said. This year he plays both.

The Riverdale resident is playing on Saturday, June 25 at the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar (8pm) and on Sunday he plays the outdoor stage at Metro Square (5:30pm). He likes playing both kinds of shows, but playing the larger outdoor venues are something jazz musicians don’t always get a chance to do. "(With a club) you can’t reach as many people as you can in a larger venue," Murley said.

Public focuses on future

The public is speaking up about the future of Norfolk County, wrote the Simcoe Reformer June 24.

A public meeting attracted a variety of community members to the Norfolk County administration building yesterday. On chart paper, they answered several survey questions, such as the type of industries they’d like to see locate here and the greatest economic weaknesses they see in the county.

Several of the answers yesterday touched upon the issue of youth retention. Increasingly, rural communities, like Norfolk County, are having trouble keeping youth in their hometown past high school.

University students Aimee Burnett, 19, and Samantha Hives, 20, cannot envision settling back down in Norfolk. The young women, who are employed by the county for the summer, participated in the survey yesterday.

In addition to a lack of activities, the young women note there are few jobs in their fields here. There is also no public transportation.

"Family is the main reason why people come back here," said Burnett, a Simcoe native who is now studying at York University and Sheridan College. "If you’re more ambitious, you wouldn’t come back."

Don’t blame the anarchists

Self-identified Vancouver-based anarchist Jasmin Mujanovic, 24, said there is no evidence that anarchists were involved in the Stanley Cup riot, wrote the Vancouver Sun June 24.. Mujanovic, a PhD student in political science at York University, said that anarchists – at least the ones he knows – always have a political purpose for rioting.

"Why would anarchists go burn Hummers and slash corporate stores’ windows and not advertise beforehand?" he said. "What would be gained if you’re not spreading the political message at all?" Mujanovic said the term "anarchists" seems  to have been used synonymously with chaos and mayhem by police and politicians.

Lace ’em up, girls

Brace yourself Toronto. The Lingerie Football League is coming.

Rest assured, local ladies Krista Ford and Melissa Grieco, who are trying out for final 20-woman roster, are more interested in flexing their muscles in competition than running around in their skivvies, wrote Toronto Today (Midtown) June 24.

"It’s just the way it is; it’s what we play in and, to be honest, the way I see it is that’s what brings people in," Ford tells Toronto Today. "It is the good-looking girls, it is the uniform, that’s bringing them in, but then it’s just real football that keeps the fans coming back for more."

Grieco, a 20-year-old York University student, shares the same sentiment as Ford when it comes to the uniforms.

“For women, it’s a great jump even though we are wearing lingerie,” she said. “It just puts us out there as athletes (and) it’s about time we get noticed on what we can do for our talents.”

The first appearance of lingerie football came Feb. 1, 2004 during Super Bowl XXXVIII’s halftime show — the year Janet Jackson had her infamous wardrobe malfunction.

On air

  • Jessica Shandrashekar, a York PhD student, took part in a discussion about the local Tamil community wanting answers regarding the civil war in Sri Lanka two years ago and the allegations of war crimes, on CBC Radio Toronto’s "Metro Morning" June 23.
  • Richard Leblanc, a faculty member in York’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about conflict of interest in the Nova Scotia government, on CBC Radio Halifax’s "Mainstreet".
  • Krisna Saravanamuttu, York student and former president of the York Federation of Students, took part in a panel discussion on the cultural conditions that relate to political activism, on TVO’s "The Agenda" June 23.