Michael Bryant urges repeal of law that ‘criminalizes homelessness’

Former attorney general Michael Bryant is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals to repeal the Safe Streets Act that police have been using since 2000 to charge panhandlers and so-called squeegee kids, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 15…. Stephen Gaetz, a York University professor of education and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, said the law is a “waste” of the justice system’s resources. Gaetz estimated that it cost Toronto police almost $1 million in time to hand out $4 million in tickets between 2000 and 2010 – 99 per cent of which are never paid because homeless people cannot afford the fines that range from $60 to $500. Read full story.

Toronto Raptors are Google’s most-searched Canadian team in 2014
The CFL’s popularity with Google users shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Vijay Setlur, sports marketing instructor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, in the Toronto Star Dec. 16. “They’re the ultimate in-closet fans.” But Google’s list isn’t necessarily a reflection of which teams are most popular, Setlur said. “It’s essentially a function of newsworthiness, in terms of which organizations make headlines.” Setlur said being in the news is a good proxy for relevance, and relevance is important for the value of a franchise. Read full story.

Standing out from the business school crowd
Business schools in particular need strong brands to better compete with a growing number of universities offering more diverse education models, such as online courses and degrees combined with overseas study, reported the Globe and Mail Dec. 16…. The Schulich School of Business at York University plays up its global reach with overseas programs, while B.C.’s Thompson Rivers University and New Brunswick’s Sandermoen School of Business promote their online MBA programs. Read full story.

NASA rover finds methane, organic chemicals on Mars
Now, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Science, scientists say there is a faint hint of methane – about one part per billion – near the Gale Crater. The strange thing is, that reading unexpectedly jumped, at least once, to almost 10 times that amount. The methane levels then returned to normal, reported CBC News Dec. 16…. “We’ve really been racking our brains,” about the jump, said Prof. John Moores of York University in Toronto, one of the team members that co-authored the study. “What does it all mean?” Read full story.

The link between imperfect vaccines and disease
A new mathematical model that tests the effectiveness of different vaccine types could help explain why certain diseases are still prevalent despite mass vaccination programs, reported Inside Science Dec. 16…. “The honeymoon period and the transient oscillations are shown in many models of vaccination … [It will vary] depending on the disease, but it is ‘long enough’ for a population to kind of forget about the severity of the disease because people rarely see it. This can lead to vaccine hesitancy, where people decide not to have their kids vaccinated,” said Jane Hefernan, the director of the Centre for Disease Modelling at York University in Toronto, Canada. Read full story.