Carleton student still missing

Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old student at Carleton University in Ottawa, has been missing for over a week. Her roommates last saw her leaving the Prescott suite residence the night of Sunday, March 9, when she returned from spending reading week with her family in Brampton.

Kajouji’s parents have offered a $50,000 reward for her safe return. The couple was notified of her disappearance on March 12 and immediately drove to Ottawa.

Deborah Chevalier, Kajouji’s mother, told the Ottawa Citizen that the first-year public affairs student was depressed in recent weeks and disappointed with her marks in school. Chevalier has returned to the family home in Brampton, while her father, Mohamed Kajouji, is staying in Ottawa to search for her.

Ottawa police say there was no sign of a break-in or disturbance at Kajouji’s dorm. “At this time, there’s no information to lead us to believe foul play is a factor in this case,” said constable Alain

Boucher of the Ottawa Police Service. Boucher said Tuesday that there were no new developments in the case. “Officers are still trying to retrace where she’s been and the last time she was seen,” he said. “We have an idea, but we’re still trying to confirm different sources.”

Worried family and friends are organizing their own search efforts, including a ground search that began at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning outside Kajouji’s residence.

Kajouji was reported missing on Wednesday, March 12. On Thursday, Carleton University sent out a missing person advisory to students, faculty and staff. Kajouji is described as Mediterranean, dark skin, 5’8”, 130 lbs, hazel eyes, and shoulder length brown hair with blonde streaks. Her eyebrow and tongue are pierced.

“She was very outgoing, happy-golucky,” said Candita Marten-Mills, Kajouji’s aunt. “This is not typical of her, so we’re thinking she’s somehow being held against her will.”

A Facebook group to help find Kajouji, started by Marten-Mills, has over 7,000 members.

“Lots of people have stepped up to help,” she said.

U of T star leaves his Mark

In a swanky downtown hotel, a group of young hopefuls stripped down to their underwear. They stood on a stage in front of gaping onlookers who scrutinized their bodies, recording their heights and their weights. No, this wasn’t an audition for the latest top modelthemed reality show. This was the scene at the CFL Draft Evaluation Camp, held over the past weekend at the Varsity Centre and the InterContinental Hotel. What first seemed like a bachelor auction on steroids was actually a showcase of the skills Canada’s best football prospects have to offer.

Modelled after the NFL Scouting Combine, the CFL Camp featured 54 talented athletes vying for the attention of general managers, coaches, and scouts before Draft Day on April 30. The prospects’ skills and professional potential were evaluated through a series of tests and drills, including the 40-yard dash and short shuttle. In last year’s event, 20 of the 52 participants were eventually picked in the 2007 CFL Canadian Draft.

When asked about the importance of the combine, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said, “One of the things we want to do is promote young athletes coming up into our league. So if you can identify who the great athletes are gonna be, and start promoting them, it’s perfect for us.”

One of those great athletes was Varsity Blues star wide receiver and co-captain Mark Stinson. As U of T’s sole representative, a humble Stinson said, “I knew coming into this that I would be an underdog, so that I had to turn heads some way. Hopefully I did that at this camp.”

In his four years playing for the Blues, Stinson has had no trouble doing just that. Throughout his career, he’s played quarterback, wide receiver, punt and kick returner, as well as punter and placekicker. This past season alone, Stinson led the Blues with 34 receptions for 386 yards, had 39 carries for 205 yards, and scored two touchdowns. He took over as primary punter when kicker/punter Joe Valtellini was sidelined with an injury, averaging 32.4 yards per punt.

Even in the midst of the CFL Camp, Stinson was not one to forget his time with the Blues. “In the past four years, I think I’ve learned more than my share. It’s been such an experience. Even though we haven’t had the record we were hoping to have, it’s been phenomenal learning how to be persistent, how to pursue your goals and dreams, and this is the goal and dream for me.” Stinson also had high praise for his fellow teammates, saying, “We have so many great players, and we have so many guys that could be here. You see a lot of freshman that are already further ahead than I was, and it’s exciting to see where they’re gonna go, and what they can do when they get to this point.”

It’s that same positive outlook that helped Stinson excel at the CFL Camp. He wasn’t even fazed by the awkwardness of stripping down and getting weighed and measured in front of the CFL’s top coaches and scouts. “It’s a meat market, it’s funny. You feel like cattle, just getting marched up there and you’re on display. But it’s part of it, it’s expected. I knew it coming in. It’s more of a joke than anything.”

But the joke sure isn’t on Stinson. In Sunday’s 40-yard dash, arguably the most important drill of the entire event, Stinson drew the attention of scouts with his remarkable performance. With a time of 4.65 seconds, he placed fifth overall and second out of all wide receivers. In fact, Stinson consistently placed in the top half of all prospects in every drill. Notably, he was ninth overall in the vertical jump with a mark of 36 inches.

According to the Commissioner, “football is big in Toronto.” And Stinson and his performance at the CFL draft camp was no exception. Cohon revealed that “[The Grey Cup] will be back [in Toronto] within the next five years”. And who knows, maybe Mark Stinson will be back too. But instead of getting marched around “like cattle” he’ll be marching across the field as a Grey Cup hero.

The future ain’t Purdey

“Would people have been inspired had Martin Luther King said ‘I have a nightmare?’” That was the question put forward Wednesday night at the Munk Centre, in a lecture strikingly titled “Spectacular Success, Spectacular Failure? Modern Human Society at the Crossroads.” Despite the sobering and grandiose nature of his presentation, speaker Stephen Purdey emphasized the importance of optimism in confronting several monumental problems facing humanity.

The lecture discussed nothing less than the fate of the human race and questioned the morality of the Western lifestyle when the degradation of our planet is at stake.

According to Purdey, the main obstacles of the future of the planet are overpopulation and the infinitegrowth- oriented free market economy. A constantly growing economy cannot exist in a fixed earth in other words, “We have become, quite literally, a force of nature.”

Purdey suggested a different model called “steady state economics” which aims to keep the economy at its current size. With the right balance of regulation, the gap between rich and poor could be reduced and the burden on the earth lessened, said Purdey.

He knows the lay of the land well. He once worked in the private sector himself. Before entering grad school, Purdey also worked in federal politics and with several NGOs.

For such policies to be implemented, however, a major paradigm shift would have to take place in economic and political circles. “Incremental change to the current form of governance will not do the job,” said Purdey.

Around the bases:

Seattle Mariners

Despite losing out on the Johan Santana sweepstakes, last year’s World Series Champs countered by adding 2005 Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon. Even if Colon doesn’t pan out and none of their top players go down due to injuries, the Red Sox will have all the ingredients to win their third championship in five years. 2007 Rookie of the Year, Dustin Pedroia, adds more firepower to one of the league’s most gifted offenses. The Red Sox have a strong rotation, solid bullpen, and an overpowering closer that should make it tough for the Blue Jays or Yankees to dethrone them from the top spot in the American League East.

Anaheim Angels

Coming off their third division title in four years, the Angels didn’t need to make a lot of changes to maintain their comfortable digs atop the west. However, a few upgrades that may help them reach the World Series for the first time since winning in 2002: Jon Garland and Torii Hunter. Garland, a two-time 18-game winner with the Chicago White Sox, joins starters John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, 19- and 18-game winners respectively, giving the Angels much needed playoff experience. Vladimir Guerrero will lead an Angels offense that finished in the middle of the pack last season, but the addition of Hunter, a seven-time gold glove winner who also had one of his best-ever offensive performances in ‘07 (.287, 28 homeruns, 107 RBIs), should power the Angels to another division crown.

Isn’t Canada committed to human rights?

Once again, human rights groups are sounding alarms with regard to Canada’s questionable actions and decisions in the sphere of human rights. No more than two months ago, Canada cast a blind eye on the blatant American involvement in torture by amending a national document to avoid naming America as a “suspected torturer.”

Last week, the federal government ruled that prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers on foreign ground do not have equal rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead, Justice Anne Mactavish announced that detainees had rights under Afghan and International law. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association claims that by denying detainees these rights, Canada places their fate in the hands of torturers, with no hope of a fair trial.

The Harper government, pleased with the decision, stood in opposition to a decision made by the chairman of the Military Police Complaints Commissions to order a public hearing, which would result in an investigation into the fate of prisoners. This government has been persistent in refusing to provide full access to relevant documents and information for the purposes of the investigation, going so far as to blank out entire pages. They cry “national security” while human rights activists retort “intended obscurity.”

Though the Harper government may have the Canadian Evidence Act to back up its secrecy and discretion, human rights groups have specific examples when it comes to the battle surrounding torture. In 2006, Canadian troops landed in Kandahar, handing over detainees to Afghan authorities. Soon after, the world saw the release of a report that made allegations about the torture the detainees suffered. The Canadian government eventually conceded to conducting surprise visits to Afghan jails. It was on one of these visits that an Afghan man was found beaten and unconscious, indicating that torture had occurred.

Though the handing-over of detainees ceased for a period after the incident, it has recently resumed. This leaves human rights groups and the general public asking, “What is our government thinking?” If denying detainees the rights outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms means sentencing them to the unavoidable fate of torture, Canada fails to uphold its obligation explicitly outlined by the United Nations Declaration of Human rights. As a signatory to the UNDHR, Canada must protect those detainees from torture, which casts the government’s recent decisions in an even more negative light. Failing to prevent torture makes them a direct accessory to the criminal act itself.

Though the public hearing called by Chairman Peter Tinsley will cost approximately $2 million, and the public inquiry itself would add months to the investigation, few would disagree that the time and money are a small price to pay when human beings’ essential rights are on the line.

More than just a random gun crime

It’s been over two years since the 2005 Boxing Day shooting that killed 15-year-old Jane Creba. Thanks to our inept judicial system, those responsible for Creba’s death have yet to be brought to justice.

Last Friday, Justice Timothy Lipson lessened the charges for two of the men involved.

Only one of the accused, Jeremiah Valentine, will be tried for second-degree murder charges while other men involved, Louis Woodcock and Tyshaun Barnett, have had their charges lessened from second-degree murder to manslaughter. All three are also charged with attempted murder for shooting and wounding six bystanders in the same incident. Four other men are charged with manslaughter in the Creba case.

After the shooting, the public demanded tougher gun laws and sentences. Why then? Toronto had already seen nearly 80 murders in the city that year, 51 of which were gun related. Innocent people had been caught in the crossfire before, including Jason Huxtable, 18, while visiting a friend living in the wrong area of town, and Livvette Olivea Miller, 26, caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting, but their murders barely made the news for a few days.

The truth is that little was done before the Boxing Day shooting because Jane Creba was white. Most people who live comfortably and safely in the suburbs don’t pause when they hear about shootings in poorer areas, especially if the victim of a shooting is black. Sadly, these suburbanites assume that the victim was probably involved in gang activity, and therefore brought it upon him or herself.

Of course, we don’t all think this way. I would hope that the majority of us are well educated enough to know the difference between being black and being in a gang. Still, even after we recognize the escalating problem of gun violence, what are we doing to make a difference?

The first change we must make is political. It starts with who we elect to government. From the start of his mayoral campaign, David Miller made it clear that crime was not a great concern to him, and it doesn’t seem probable that he will take effective action to mend this problem.

It wasn’t until the shooting of Jane Creba that Miller took minimal interest in restricting gun laws. The mayor admitted that the shooting affected him because he remembered shopping with his family on Yonge Street just as Creba was shopping with her family. If Creba had not been white and shot in an area familiar to David Miller, would he have shown as much interest?

Then there is Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Given his white, upper- class background, it’s doubtful he relates to the majority of people caught up in gang violence, innocent or not, because they do not live in similar circumstances. Instead of programs designed to uplift those susceptible to joining gangs by ending the cycle of poverty, Harper is intent on creating diligent crime and punishment laws. A large branch of his supporters would never allow him to ban handguns.

If we the public wish to make a change, we have to start with our political choices. We need politicians who are able to relate to more than a minority wealthy elite living in safe areas, but rather to all residents of the city. Only then will we see change for the better

Tibet: Not an issue of Good versus Evil

For supposed peace-loving individuals seeking inner harmony with nature, Buddhist monks seem to be doing a lot of rioting. Violent clashes between ethnic Tibetan protestors and Chinese authorities over the past week have highlighted simmering tensions in Chinese domestic politics. But it is precisely that: domestic politics.

While an unconfirmed number of protestors have died as a result of the Chinese crackdown, international media coverage generally overlooks the acts of violence carried out by the protestors. This is no passive campaign of civil disobedience, but rather a full scale urban riot led by Buddhist monks only too willing to use violence as a means to further their agenda.

What began as a peaceful protest to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule has been hijacked by rowdy monks, and other Tibetan radicals. Protestors have targeted police stations and other government offices in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, symbols of Chinese authority. However, less appetizing is violence targeted toward the Han Chinese population in the capital, who are specifically singled out by the ethnic Tibetan protestors. As Chinese-owned businesses are looted and set ablaze, individuals are physically attacked. On the Internet, there is a video of an innocent bicyclist thrown to the ground, and then subsequently stoned by a mob of goons. These attacks are on Han Chinese, but also the predominantly Muslim Hui people, and can only be labeled as xenophobic, ethnically-based hate crimes.

While the Dalai Lama has distanced himself from the violent rioter conduct, he’s rejected calls to publicly ask the protestors to stop. The declared objective of the radical protestors is outright independence. While some may be inclined to support the independence movements of distinctive ethnic minority populations, anyone with a basic understanding of China will understand why the central government cannot allow this.

China is not made up of one people. Some 56 distinct ethnicities make up the over 1.3 billion people that inhabit the mainland, and for the sake of its national integrity, China cannot carve out its territory. Another point of grievance is the Chinese government’s policy to encourage the migration of the Han Chinese into Tibet. The Dalai Lama claims this to be “cultural genocide.” This type of xenophobic rhetoric might be expected from the likes of Lou Dobbs, but this does not bode well when a supposedly enlightened figure entertains the notion of cultural contamination due to an influx of immigration.

The protestors are undoubtedly playing into the spotlight of the international media, hoping to embarrass the Chinese government ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Hollywood celebrities such as Richard Gere make the rounds on CNN, attempting to capitalize on the deaths caused by agitators and calling for the boycott of the Olympic Games.

It would be foolish and immoral to support the Chinese government’s crackdown on protestors. But in light of the unwillingness of the mainstream media to explore the intricacies of the issues, a fair portrayal of such counter arguments is absolutely necessary.

The Internet isn’t private

Back in the good ol’ days, when Facebook was exclusively a post-secondary student networking site, I let incriminating photos slide. As far as I was concerned, the “remove tag” function was a vanity option for insecure undergrads phobic of unflattering camera angles.

Then my teenage brother got on Facebook. After that, some younger cousins. Former high school teachers, current professors, and mothers of bygone boyfriends followed in rapid succession. It wasn’t long before I became concerned at the fragments of my life I allowed to be documented.

While I adamantly refuse by superficial grounds—dopey grins and bad-hair days—to remove my name from Facebook photos, I am careful to edit myself out of pictures that draw attention to particularly uncouth moments of indiscretion. There are parts of my life that simply need not to be seen by everyone I know.

Online screening of prospective employees on networking sites is now practically standard procedure. A few months ago, an on-campus acquaintance attested to having been recruited by a family member to comb the Facebook profile of another student for hiring purposes. She dutifully, if guiltily, relayed the data she has amassed to her family member, who chose not to hire the applicant for reasons largely attributed to information gleaned from the applicant’s account.

Is this type of uninvited online attention an unfair transgression of personal space? Maybe, but it comes with the territory. As our ongoing obsession with Facebook plainly demonstrates, privacy is a right we will happily forfeit in order to feel socially connected.

That said, online communities don’t always serve a social function: Facebook can also be a handy tool for academic-related discussion. Then again, recent events have shown that even scholastic pursuits can lead to trouble when staged within the public sphere. Just ask Chris Avenir, the first-year Ryerson computer engineering student who served as admin for a group used for exchanging chemistry queries. The innocent online forum for sharing solutions to homework problems morphed into public controversy when the group’s professor caught wind, and denounced it as cheating. Avenir was charged with 147 counts of academic misconduct—one for himself in addition to each of the 146 students in the group—and faced expulsion hearings last week. He won’t be expelled, but it’s a chilling testament to how Internet- based action can have serious consequences.

Facebook may be a ready-made arena for the clashing of public and private realms, but the social networking site is merely a microcosm for the Internet as a whole, where anyone’s personal information is only a Google search away. The Ryerson Facebook scandal is only one example of recent headline-making incidents of online disclosure gone awry.

Late last week, area private school director David Prashker resigned from his post at the Leo Baeck Jewish Day School as a result of an anonymous email circulated among the school’s parents. The e-mail shed light on a website selling poetry Prashker had previously written, some of which included sexual and violent imagery. The incident sparked in the school’s community. Apparently, parents felt that Prashker should have accounted for young students discovering his explicit writings before making them public.

Three words sum up the lesson learned from Avenir and Prashker’s recent exploits: discretion, discretion, discretion. The Internet is a public forum: there is always the risk of personal information falling into the wrong hands. Privacy can exist, but maintaining it is a matter of personal responsibility. Unfortunately, this lesson is often learned too late.