The dark side of acetaminophen

For Joel Lexchin, a York University professor and one of Canada’s leading drug experts, health regulators should have a lower risk threshold when it comes to something as widely available as acetaminophen. “This particular product is widely available in large quantities without a prescription – so that puts it in a somewhat different class,” Lexchin said in the Toronto Star Feb. 21. “Some of the cancer drugs are extremely toxic. But, on the other hand, you can’t walk into a drugstore and buy them just because you want them. . . . It raises the question that, given the amount of harm that acetaminophen is causing, why hasn’t there been more done about it – at least insofar as alerting the public, alerting doctors?” Read full story.

Hurricane Carter’s deathbed plea: Ex-boxer battles for release of New York convict
Former professional boxer and Toronto-based justice advocate Rubin (Hurricane) Carter says he’s dying and would like to see one final wish come true, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 23. Carter, 77, wants New York State justice officials to take a fresh and unbiased look at what he considers the wrongful murder conviction of David McCallum of Brooklyn . . . . York University awarded Carter an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2005 for his work advocating for justice issues. Read full story.

Opinion: Job Grant program offers dismal vision for Canada’s unemployed
“The federal government threatened in last week’s budget to unilaterally implement its controversial Canada Job Grant program despite the objections of provinces. If this happens, Canada’s unemployed and underemployed, whether young or old, face a dismal future,” co-wrote York University political science Professor Thomas Klassen in the Vancouver Sun Feb. 23. “For the past two decades, responsibility for labour market matters has swung to the provinces, with Ottawa’s consent. The Job Grant program – first announced in the 2013 budget to strengthen on-the-job training and raise the role of employers in training – is Ottawa’s attempt to reassert its role.” Read full story.

What’s coming down the track?
Ali Asgary, a professor in York University’s Emergency Management Program, agreed providing annual aggregate data to emergency responders is beneficial, but far from perfect. “They are good as long-term weather forecasts,” he said in Hamilton News Feb. 21. However, that’s not his biggest concern. “It’s not really knowing the information about the [hazardous material] even if they are in real time that is important. More important is what they are going to do with it,” Asgary said. He suggested some municipalities, even with specific details, may not have the capacity to deal with a train disaster and he wonders if local hospitals are prepared to deal with impacts of an incident involving hazardous materials. Read full story.

Meet the new TTC chair: Maria Augimeri
York University students who rode the Jane St. bus in the 1970s probably felt Caledon was closer than class. Their stop, at Shoreham Dr., was well over a kilometre from some campus buildings, and in winter months the hike became a frigid trudge through snow and wind. Maria Augimeri, then a fresh-faced 18-year-old exasperated with a trek she says once caused her to faint during a blizzard, made herself a promise familiar to any frustrated, powerless teenager. “I vowed at that time: ‘When I grow up, I’m going to change this,’” she said in the Toronto Star Feb. 22. Nearly four decades later, construction is at last underway to connect York University to Toronto’s subway system – something she voted for more than 20 years ago. Read full story.

Race data project shows signs of promise
“In a settlement agreement between the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and as part of a strategic operational plan to ensure bias-free policing, the police service agreed to collect race-based data,” wrote York University PhD candidate Sulaimon Giwa in the Ottawa Citizen Feb. 21. “The Traffic Stop Race Data Collection Project began on June 27, 2013. Under the agreement, at traffic stops officers are required to record their perception of a driver’s race. This project is now halfway through its two-year mandate.” Read full story.

Canada poised to get even more lawyers
“Canada is poised to get more lawyers due to little-noticed reforms to the rules governing entry into the profession in Ontario,” wrote Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Gus Van Harten in the Chronicle Journal Feb. 23. “This may mean more competition, lower rates and greater access to justice. Or, Ontario and other provinces – if their law societies follow suit – may increasingly resemble US states where lawyers are plentiful and ambulance-chasing abounds.” Read full story.