UTM student to be expatriated by Oct 3

The extent of Saad Alam’s memories of Bangladesh are those of an eight-year old, but he’s looking at rebuilding his life from scratch as a 23-year-old in the place of his childhood.

Saad Alam and his parents recently received a deportation notice last month, telling informing them that they have untill October. 3 to leave Canada. The family fled Bangladesh in 1994, when Badrul Alam’s political affiliations turned bitter. They spent nine years in the U.S. before crossing to Canada to claim refugee status.

Alam, set to enter his third year at UTM, is faced with the prospect of never being able to complete his degree. Both his parents have worked multiple jobs to cover his international tuition fees, which amount to several times what domestic students pay.

Campus action group No One Is Illegal will be organizing a demonstration at noon on Tuesday, September. 30 at Sid Smith, protesting Alam’s cause and other deportations resulting from Canada Border Service Agency crackdowns.

Women blank Ravens, 4-0

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s soccer team shook off their only loss this season against the Carleton Ravens just 15 seconds into last Sunday’s game. On the game’s first possession, Blues veteran midfielder Jenessa Banwell beat the Ravens goalkeeper Katherine Shaughnessy on a centering pass from rookie Jennifer Siu.

“The first goal sent the message right away that we’re here to play, and we’re here to win this game,” said interim head coach Eva Havaris. That goal proved to be the eventual game-winner as Toronto shut down Carleton with a 4-0 win at Varsity Centre. The win allowed the Blues to improve to 5-1 on the season for 15-points, putting them atop the OUA standings. The Ravens’ record fell to a 3-2-1.

“It’s a great feeling, not only to just beat [Carleton] but to beat them by that much,” said team captain Laura Arduini. “We were focused all week and we knew what we had to do. We knew the fight we were going to have and we all came and showed up to play. I was really proud of them. Just to know that everyone is doing their part is amazing.”

The Blues were opportunistic, with third-year midfielder Erica Basso scoring the second goal in the 32nd minute on a perfectly executed header over the outstretched hands of Shaughnessy. By contrast, the Ravens showed little fight. They played a flat game, allowing the Blues to dominate both offensively and defensively, unable to penetrate the Blues solid defense that kept Carleton without a shot on goal in the first half.

“We just cleaned up what we didn’t do the first time that we played them,” explained Coach Havaris, when asked about what changes were made for the rematch. “We’re not concentrating necessarily on our opponents; we were working on our own performance. We knew how we wanted to play this weekend and the girls applied what we did all week in practice.”

Carleton came out with more energy in the beginning of the second half, but they were stopped on every opportunity by the Blues veteran goalkeeper Mary Anne Barnes. A defensive breakdown in the Ravens end eventually allowed for the third Blues goal. Siu, whose speed had been giving Carleton’s defense trouble throughout the game, caught the Ravens off guard at the 74th minute. Left wide open, she let loose a hard shot from nearly 30 yards from the goal to beat Shaughnessy.

The goal visibly deflated Carleton’s spirits as the Blues capped off their scoring at the 87th minute. Siu finished her impressive afternoon by providing the cross to first-year striker Julianna Bergin as they cruised to the 4-0 win. “It was a strong offensive and defensive showing,” commented Havaris on the complete victory. “We prepared all week for this game and it showed.”

“We’ve just got to bring this energy that we have right now. Even after the game we’re still jumping around,” said Arduini. “If we bring that into every game, it’d be hard to stop us.”

Memorial chair bows out

Faced with criticism over allowing government intervention in Memorial University’s search for a new president, Gil Dalton, chair of the search committee and the university’s board of regents, announced last week his decision to bow out when his term expires on Oct. 15.

Memorial’s quest for a new president has been rife with controversy since Labrador education minister Joan Burke effectively vetoed two top candidates for the position after the search committee invited him to interview the candidates.

Documents obtained through freedom of information act requests show that Dalton had encouraged the interview so as to probe the candidates’ political stance on issues surrounding government, according to the CBC.

Memorial University Faculty Association and Canadian University Teachers’ Association had protested the government’s involvement. They argued that it would discourage competent candidates from applying for the presidency, and undermine the university’s autonomy.

The search has since been suspended.

Provincial law makes the university’s presidential appointments subject to approval of the cabinet, although the province’s role has been mostly a formality in the past.

Blues handed a reality check

Coming into Saturday’s game, the Varsity Blues knew they would have to fight hard to beat the undefeated Queen’s Golden Gaels. In front of a loudly cheering hometown crowd of 1,851, the Varsity Blues stormed the field looking to feed off the momentum of their huge 58-7 win over their cross-town rivals, the York Lions the week before.

Early on, it appeared that the Blues could hang tough with the fourth-ranked Gaels. On Toronto’s first offensive drive, quarterback David Hamilton handed off to slotback Mark Stinson, who then threw to a wide open Drew Meerveld into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game—except it wasn’t. With a flag on the play because of a holding penalty, the touchdown was negated.

On Queen’s ensuing drive, running back Mike Giffin broke for 74 yards, setting up quarterback Dan Brannagan for a one-yard run. Queen’s would double their lead when Giffin scampered into the end zone again, this time for a 35-yard run, making the score 14-0.

The Blues put themselves back into the game when Stinson scored on a four-yard run to cut the lead in half.

Although the Blues managed to close the gap at the end of the first quarter, Queens rattled off five unanswered touchdowns, including a 53-yard pass from Brannagan to wide receiver Scott Valberg, making the score 51-7 in the third quarter.

The only other touchdown for the Varsity Blues would come at the end of the third quarter when Hamilton connected with wide receiver Earl Johnson for a 33-yard run.

For head coach Greg DeLaval, the disallowed touchdown set the tone for the remainder of the game.

“We scored a touchdown early on and it came back on a hold. I don’t know if we ever really recovered from that play because we came out with the intentions of hitting them early and we did. We got a flag on the play and unfortunately that’s our fault. It was one break that cost us seven points.”

Despite losing 58-14, the Blues showed flashes of brilliance, both offensively and defensively. Some of the highlights were sacks from defensive back Derek Batchelor and defensive lineman Adam Fehler, a big interception from Cory Kennedy, and the tandem of Hamilton and Stinson combining for over 160 yards. The Blues definitely showed that they are playoff contenders.

With the game against Queens now in the past, the Blues are focused on their match against Guelph. The team expects to seriously challenge the 1-3 Gryphons.

But first, they’ll take a closer look at the lessons learned against the powerful Gaels.

“We’re going to have to figure out what went wrong today, and look at the film and fix it,” said receiver Mark Stinson.

Coach DeLaval echoed Stinson’s sentiments. “Every week we’ve got to get better. We’ll take a look at the film and see what we did right and what we did wrong. The main thing this week is that we made a lot of small mistakes and we didn’t make the plays that were there.”

DeLaval hinted that no major changes to the line-up should be expected in the upcoming game. “There are always changes every week, regardless of who you’re playing. You always have to adapt to every team,” he said. “Changes will be made, not necessarily to players, but system wise. I’ve watched Guelph play a little bit and they’re a good football team.”

Even though the Blues took the loss on Saturday, they’ve proven that they are a revitalized football team with a new outlook on their season. With a 2-2 record of and four games left in the season, the Varsity Blues are definitely a team to be watched.

A misunderstood menace

Recently, the Kremlin approved a 25 per cent hike in the national military budget—this on the heels of arms deals with Venezuela and Iran. For many, these troubling developments indicate a more militaristic and confrontational Russia.

This perception is not entirely accurate. The idea of a ruthless, aggressive Russia, as portrayed by most media sources, becomes highly suspect when a little context is provided to explain the nation’s actions.

To better understand the path that Russia has taken, we have to go back to the end of the Cold War. At that time, a newly unified Germany became a member of NATO, an event which gained Soviet approval on the condition that the alliance not move any further east.

This promise was broken, as NATO marched east over the following decades. Former Warsaw Pact members Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined NATO in the ’90s; in the 2000s, post-Soviet states like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia signed on. To the Russians, this was a direct threat to their national security—and the U.S.’s placement of anti-ballistic missiles in Poland was seen as an overtly hostile act. Compounding the problem is the fact that NATO is still pushing closer to Russia’s doorstep. The Ukraine and Georgia are now seeking membership, and the U.S. supports these bids.

Russia’s actions are hardly surprising. The U.S. is undoubtedly aggravated that Russian military hardware is making its way to Venezuela, but if the U.S. is meddling in Russia’s backyard, that country can hardly be expected to refrain from interfering within America’s sphere of influence.

Even Russia’s so-called crushing of democratic Georgia was not an unprovoked attack. The Abkhazia and South Ossetia provinces were made part of Georgia by Stalin, and have always sought independence. When the Soviet Union collapsed, both provinces rebelled against Georgia and attained autonomy, with Russia named as peacekeeper. When Georgia attacked South Ossetia last month and killed Russian soldiers in the process, their involvement became inevitable. Georgia’s unprovoked attack elicited a due military response.

Russia’s actions are either defensive or retaliatory. In the wake of the Cold War, it’s become fashionable to say that America is the world’s only superpower. Russia is still mighty, however—and it refuses to be pushed around. The country’s recent actions have proven that it will respond to provocation. The West’s best option may be to get out of Russia’s face and halt NATO’s march east.

On Chrétien & Dion

Two years ago in Montreal,
Liberal delegates one and all,
Gathered there to start anew,
And find a leader tried and true.

First, Ignatieff bent to the right,
A neo-con with looks to smite.
Then, Bob Rae, born again,
Endowed with political acumen.

And last there was Stéphane Dion,
Ancien Ministère de l’Environnement,
Who bore a slight resemblance to
Kermit, who led the muppet crew.

Who would ascend to Trudeau’s throne?
One who Liberals called their own.
Not Iggy with his willful tongue,
Who lost no sleep over Lebanon’s young
Not the reformed Rae whose card,
Somehow convinced the Liberal vanguard
That voters in Ontario
Would simply let their bygones go.

Instead the loyal ex-Minister,
The sovereigntist-eating tree-hugger.
A signal over mounting bills,
That Liberals stood on principles,
Not words designed with care, and wrought,
Not the expedience that Rae brought,
Nor Rae and Goodale and their lot.
There would be no compromise here:
We no longer drink of Chrétien’s Beer!’

Compromise, a funny word,
With two years past sounds less absurd,
Et le petit gars de Shawinigan,
A wiser man, despite his sin.

Cloning for the future

Australia is the first country to allow a domestic firm (Sydney IVF) to legally clone embryos. This process uses in vitro fertilization, extracting embryonic stem cells from the pre-fetus blastocysts. In this brave new world we’re living in, disorders like Huntington’s Disease and muscular dystrophy may one day be cured by creating custom body tissue and disease-free cells to implant into patients.

We have waited a long time for a government to take this risk. Introducing cloning in a controlled manner will hopefully minimize public outcry and temper the demands of the religious right. Australia has made it clear that the technology will not be abused—there’s no risk of any cloned embryos developing into fetuses (the process is halted before the zygote resembles a human). All animals look similar during the first few weeks of pregnancy: a great mass of rapidly expanding cells. By ensuring that there is no developing fetus, Sydney IVF violates few ethical boundaries. Any eggs used will either be immature or unfertilized, and obtained with full consent of the donor.

In terms of scientific achievement, Canadians are at a crossroads. If we embrace the good that will come from the proliferation of stem cell extraction and embryonic cloning, we’ll challenge a widespread myopic view on ethics and human rights. The technology is still in its infancy, so there is little opportunity for abuse. Once it matures, the realization that stem cells can cure diseases will grow. We can continue devoting millions of dollars to raising money for a multitude of diseases, but we must acknowledge that we are sitting on a potential goldmine. The only thing keeping us from utilizing this resource is the limited scope of our own understanding.

Humans will not be cloned. At no point in the near future will we be able to ask our GP to give our son or daughter blue eyes or a high IQ. These advances are too distant to pose an ethical problem. We need to legalize embryonic cloning so that we can fight disease and begin to embrace a future where life-saving knowledge is not limited.

Western society must surrender its perverted concept of what constitutes a life. Sydney IVF is not killing babies—it’s helping to prevent diseases for children in the future. It’s taking a hitherto speculative science and making it a reality, thereby bringing it to a level where it may affect common people. If Canada and the United States follow suit, your next charity run may be for an actual cure.

Tasteless jokes not grounds for termination

130 years ago this week, the muckraking author Upton Sinclair was born. Sinclair is probably best known for his novel The Jungle, which documented the deplorable health and working conditions at turn-of-the-century stockyards in Chicago. So horrifyingly accurate was Sinclair’s depiction that upon reading the novel, President Teddy Roosevelt took action immediately. The result was the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which revolutionized the food inspection process in the United States. Similar action was taken in Canada, though it was not until 1997 that one mega-bureaucracy—the Canadian Food Inspection Agency—was made responsible for food safety, operating within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Sadly, it seems that some lessons must be learned the hard way. The listeria outbreak has killed 17 Canadians and hospitalized more. There is reason to believe that the contaminated meat could have been detected had the CFIA inspected food processing outlets with greater frequency. The outbreak could have been avoided, but mistakes were made and now people are suffering.

Naturally, there are some doom-and-gloom types who find other peoples’ deaths hilarious. Apparently, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is one of them. “Death by a thousand cold cuts” is how Ritz referred to the crisis during a conference call among senior bureaucrats, according to reports. He also expressed hopes that his opposition critic was among the victims of the outbreak. Ritz has been duly lambasted as a tasteless SOB, and opposition leaders are demanding that he be fired.

But is being a tasteless SOB enough of a reason to fire someone? More specifically, is it a reason to fire Gerry Ritz?

While I’ll freely admit Ritz’s comments were in bad taste, haven’t we all, at some point in time, told an insensitive joke? Or chuckled at off-colour comments at a party? And if our friend told us the listeriosis joke, wouldn’t we laugh and then refresh our drink?

We all enjoy a little dark humor now and again. Maybe it’s cognitive dissonance; I’ll leave the explanations to the psychologists. So who are we, the tasteless-joke-tellers and off-colour-name-callers of the world, to call for Ritz’s head?

Though I’m no Harper supporter (I’d like to buy him a corned beef sandwich), I defend his decision to stand behind Ritz in the name of common sense—a bad joke is not grounds for termination. If you want to call for Ritz’s removal, focus on the real actions that could have been taken to prevent this outbreak from happening—not his questionable sense of humour.