Sexual assault suspect in court tomorrow

Toronto Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the Sept. 19 sexual assault near St. George Campus.

A 25-year-old female student at St. George campus was on her way home from work when she was attacked, dragged into a nearby alley, and sexually assaulted. The attack took place at 4 a.m. on Beverly Street, near Cecil Street.

The assailant, who escaped before police arrived, also stole the victim’s purse.

Kevin Mack, a 23-year-old who lives in Toronto’s east end, has been charged with forcible confinement, sexual assault causing bodily harm, threatening to cause bodily harm, robbery, and possession of property obtained by crime.

Detective Anthony Charles of the sex crimes unit told The Varsity that the suspect was known to police and was also charged with two counts of failing to comply with probation, for a breaking-and-entering case, and for failure to attend court.

The suspect was found through circulating composite sketches and processing forensic evidence, Charles told the Globe and Mail.

The attack, which lasted 10 minutes, came after reports of a peeping tom looking into women’s homes in the St. George and Bloor area. Last year, three separate sexual assaults occurred at York University.

Mack was denied bail at his Oct. 3 court appearance at Old City Hall. His trial date is set for Oct. 21, at the same location.

Ultimate champs

Although they lose more often than they win, the Varsity Blues football team draws a great deal of attention. In contrast, U of T’s Ultimate Frisbee team has won three national championships, yet remains an unknown presence on campus.

U of T team Torontula won the Canadian University Ultimate Championships this October. In an intense game against the University of Alberta, the team secured their third title as national champions with a final score of 15-11.

“There was a question if the team could keep up the success with the old leadership gone,” said Taylor Martin, one of the team’s three captains. After ten of the team’s starting players graduated, Martin was nervous about whether they could hold onto their title.

He credits the team’s former captains, Peter Jamieson and Kirk Nylen, for implementing a training model that allowed the team to continue as national champions. “They basically brought the team back from nothing,” Martin explained.

Despite their success, Torontula gets little recognition. Practicing five days a week and without any money from the school, Ultimate Frisbee players are committed with their time and resources.

“[You spend] all these mornings training, practicing, spending your own money, for what really is no glory, except within your own community,” said Martin. “Those who do it, do it because they love it.”

Martin attributes Torontula’s quiet campus presence to the fact that very few people are aware that Ultimate is a competitive sport. “People who play [intramurals] tend to think ‘oh this is fun.’ They think that this is all Ultimate Frisbee has to offer. They don’t even realize that people take this very seriously,” said Martin.

Martin believes that intramurals help bolster appreciation of the sport. Engaging people at less competitive levels is important in increasing Ultimate Frisbee’s popularity. “Most people who try it really do enjoy it. [It’s] a matter of making people aware, and getting them to come the first time,” Martin described. “I think the onus is on us as players to promote it.”

This lack of widespread popularity brings with it a different, more genuine crowd. Players are not doing it for the glory, per se, and are more committed to the sport itself.

“What [a lack of popularity] means is that it draws different sorts of people; it draws fewer big jocks,” added Martin. However, those who compete in Ultimate Frisbee are not lacking in athleticism. “At the high levels, everybody is a very good athlete,” explained Martin. “People take it very seriously, like any other sport.”

According to Martin, the most important aspect of Ultimate Frisbee is that it is all-inclusive. “The university has a team. We do very well, and everyone is welcome. All it takes to play is commitment, and that’s it.”

Khadr’s lawyer pleas for help

Time is running out for Canadians to lobby for Omar Khadr, warns Dennis Edney, Canadian defense lawyer to the Guantanamo Bay detainee. As the youngest prisoner in the notorious detention facility, Khadr is set to stand trial Nov. 7, Edney is certain Khadr will be found guilty.

“We need to get off our chairs and make calls,” he said, addressing a small gathering of less than 20 people at the event organized by the United Church on Bloor Street yesterday.

“I have been travelling for two months because when Omar Khadr is found guilty by that farcical process I can say I did everything I could possibly do for that young man,” said Edney.

Omar Khadr has been held in Guantanamo Bay for the last six years since American soldiers captured him in Afghanistan at the age of 15.

“All Omar is asking for is a fair trial, and there is nothing fair about Guantanamo,” said Edney, who has been working pro bono on the case for the past six years.

“Protests and rallies are great, but we need to knock on the doors of these politicians, on both sides and demand to speak with them,” said Edney, citing the example of Rahim Jaffer, the only Conservative MP to acknowledge the need to bring Khadr back home after activists in Alberta pressured him to respond. The defence lawyer emphasized the need to be bold when dealing with politicians.

Khadr is now the only Western citizen remaining in Guantanamo. The case remains atypical in that the Canadian government has refused to seek extradition or repatriation, despite the repeated urges of Amnesty International, UNICEF, and the Canadian Bar Association.

According to Edney, the cabinet decided not to act to bring Khadr back despite a clear opportunity repatriate him, thereby imparting the message, “do what you want with him.”

Edney suggests Canada follow the example of Australia which fought to have Al-Qaeda trainee David Hicks returned to his home soil on April 2007, where he served the remaining nine months of a suspended seven-year sentence.

Divulging the details of Khadr’s legal struggle in the past six years, the Edmonton-based lawyer is critical of both the US and Canadian governments.

Early on in 2002, Edney sued the Canadian government for failing to provide consular services to Khadr when he was first detained. These services would have obligated the provision of legal and medical assistance to the prisoner, now 22 years old. The United States Supreme Court later ruled that the US had breached the international convention on torture, and that Canada has been complicit in the process. But this did not prompt action to bring Khadr back home.

“I would like not to represent Omar Khadr. I’d like to go home, spend time with my children, make money. But, I am persuaded to keep working when I remember Omar’s words to me, ‘You will leave me, because everyone else will leave me.’”

Thou Shalt Steal

A landmark in baseball occurred this year: 2008 was the first year since 1989 that the American League had zero players reach the 40 home run mark. Miguel Cabrera hit the most, a paltry 37 for the hapless Detroit Tigers. Incredibly, most of the elite power hitters in the game reside in the Junior Circuit, including Alex Rodriguez, Justin Morneau, Jermaine Dye, and the resurgent Josh Hamilton. Last year’s big surprise Carlos Pena hit fifteen fewer long balls than he did in 2007.

The National League didn’t fair much better, only low average sluggers Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn were able to reach forty home runs. Overall, power numbers were way down, perhaps only slightly attributable to the crackdown on steroids and big sluggers struggling at the plate.

This shift away from home runs may be part of a new mentality in baseball. Managers are rediscovering “small ball”, in which hitters focus on singles and doubles to drive in runners. For this approach to work, top table setters need to get on base and take advantage of a running game. Speed kills.

The home run may be a quick and flashy way to get runs up on the board, but this strategy does not succeed like manufacturing runs by advancing runners through base hits, sacrifice flies, sacrifice bunts, and stolen bases. This traditional form of offense had taken a back seat to line-ups rammed with slow power hitters, a strategy that teams like the New York Yankees tend to favor.

This year, the Yankees seemed old and slow, while a new guard of players put pressure on opposing teams because of their ability to move around the base paths. Speed is a great weapon for psyching out opposing pitchers who must be able to check the runner. This can result in pitchers making mistakes, allowing versatile hitters to take advantage.

The Tampa Bay Rays are a prime example. They had three players, B.J Upton, Carl Crawford, and Jason Bartlett with twenty steals or more, a rarity in the American League. These base-running threats opened things up for Tampa Bay’s mashers Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.

Rookie Longoria hit only 27 big flies, but every homer was significant, stealing eight bases to boot. The New York Yankees, supposedly a team of sluggers, hit exactly the same number of home runs as the Rays. The Yankees and Rays both hit 180 dingers, but the Rays had 24 more stolen bases, perhaps why the team won eight more games than the Yankees.

Another team that featured speed was the Los Angeles Angels, led by Chone Figgins with 34 steals, and Torii Hunter with 19, to go along with his 21 home runs. The Angels finished second in the American League in steals and won 100 games, despite none of their players accumulating 100 RBIs.

The Boston Red Sox, traditionally considered a slow team, finished last in the league in stolen bases in 2006. But this year, the Red Sox were third in the American League in stolen bases, topped by Jacoby Ellsbury, who led the league with 50. Coco Crisp had 20 steals, and Dustin Pedroia, who is by no means the fastest runner, had 20 steals and was caught stealing only once.

National League pennant winners Philadelphia Phillies also featured three players with twenty or more steals: Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth, all of whom hit more than ten home runs and contributed to a balanced attack. Early season MVP power hitter Chase Utley, chipped in with fourteen stolen bases.

Having speedy players and good base runners makes teams far better overall. The threat of intelligent base runners allows managers to use riskier plays like the suicide squeeze, in which a runner from third breaks for home on a bunt, rather than solely relying on home runs. The home run works in conjunction with small ball to create balanced offenses. In baseball all facets of the offense should be employed, and not just the long ball that chicks dig.

Sheela Basrur, Remembered

“The voice of reason, science, and authority.” That’s how Toronto mayor David Miller described Dr. Sheela Basrur, the woman who led Toronto through the SARS crisis. Dr. Basrur passed away of cancer in June. At a public memorial last Friday, Oct. 17—her birthday—speakers lined up to commemorate her life and achievements. Fittingly, the tribute was held at U of T’s Convocation Hall, where Dr. Basrur graduated from medical school in 1982.

When SARS hit Toronto in 2003, Dr. Basrur was the city’s commissioner of public health. SARS claimed 44 lives that year. With the possibility of a widespread epidemic on its hands, Toronto faced an overwhelming public health challenge.

Dr. Basrur, then 47, was well-regarded for her knowledge and bearing, helped to curb fear and anxiety.

Federal minister of health, Tony Clement, Premiere Dalton McGuinty, Mayor David Miller, CBC’s Andy Barrie, and Ontario public health officials spoke glowingly of Dr. Basrur.

Clement used two words to describe her character: “empathy and poise.” Despite her small size, joked McGuinty, Dr. Basrur was a towering figure in Ontario. “[She could] see past the rest of us, showing the way in a time of trouble,” he said.

Managing SARS wasn’t the only notable achievement of her career. Promoted to Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, she developed the colour-coded food safety alerts now mandatory for bars and restaurants, not to mention her work on the city-wide smoking ban.

“Tellers of the truth should tell the truth and run,” Premier McGuinty said. “She would never run.” An influential figure in the Toronto community, Dr. Sheela Basrur was a champion for public health. She will be missed.

No travel to danger zones, says McGill

McGill students might have to rethink their study abroad plans. Under a new policy, students can’t take part in university-related activities in countries deemed dangerous by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the McGill Tribune reported.

The administration says that Quebec law leaves the school vulnerable to potential lawsuits from students in case of accidental injury or death, even if students sign liability waivers. A memo to deans, directors, and chairs barred travel to countries with level three (avoid non-essential travel) and level four (avoid all travel) warnings.

Among the 20 off-limits countries are Afghanistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Regions in 39 countries, including China, Colombia, and Russia, are also restricted.

“If I were a [prospective] undergraduate or PhD candidate […] I would probably reconsider McGill,” grad student Carine Chehab told the Tribune. Upset faculty say these changes can damage student recruitment, especially for graduate students that specialize in banned countries and regions. Chehab said she wasn’t given credit for an internship in Lebanon because of the country’s level-three warning.

Morton Mendleson, the deputy provost of student life and learning whose office handles the new policy, said the issue of travel warnings is under review. Mendelson expects the revised travel policy to be finished by the end of October.

How does U of T handle travel to dangerous areas? “For a higher level of caution, undergraduate students may be suspended [from travels] but if an advisory is the third or fourth level, we still permit graduate students the activity,” said Safety Abroad Office advisor Holly Luffman.

“But graduate studies have to be academically appropriate and risks have to be essential for their studies,” she added.

Ryerson leaves student info unsecure

Ryerson University is conducting an investigation into a security breach that occurred two weeks ago, in which confidential documents were left in unlocked offices at Kerr Hall South.

According to student newspaper the Eyeopener, boxes labeled “shred” and “confidential” were strewn about the empty office space. Payroll stubs, past exams, and student numbers, along with staff tenure reports and resumés were among the documents waiting to be shredded.

Although the documents have been removed, the university’s violation of Ontario privacy laws means students’ private information was temporarily compromised.

Ontario universities are bound by the 2006 Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, under which students have the right to access their own official records and academic information. Student information held by universities is considered private and must be protected under the act.

An investigation is underway to discover how and why the breach occurred. Affected individuals have been informed of the incident and the measures taken to secure their records.

Reinventing the Rosenbergs

The emotional apex of Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America is the scene where Ethel Rosenberg’s ghost says Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—over the body of Roy Cohn in 1980s New York. Cohn was the lawyer responsible for the 1951 conviction and subsequent execution of her and her husband Julius. The idea of an innocent victim absolving her executioner’s crimes makes Kushner’s scene poignant. But moving as it is, the drama carries new meaning today: 55 years after the Rosenbergs met their fate in the electric chair, the Cold War’s most famous casualties have been recast in the annals of history.

Last month, Morton Sobell, the now-91-year-old co-defendant in the Rosenberg trial, confessed to The New York Times that both he and Julius Rosenberg were spying for the Russians.

Sobell’s remarkable admission followed the release of incriminating grand jury documents from the original 1951 trial, half a century after his adamant denial of involvement in Cold War espionage. The event brings years of American left-wing support, controversy, and speculation to a grinding halt.

Since their deaths in 1953, popular opinion has painted the Rosenbergs as no more sinister than members of the U.S. Communist party. Their widely presumed innocence had, by the time of Sobell’s confession, turned their story into an American tragedy. The two were sold out by Ethel’s own brother, and their death sentences issued at a time of such strident anti-Soviet paranoia that lawyers boasted jokingly that they could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. The Rosenbergs came to symbolize martyrdom to left-wing dissidents and fighters for civil liberties. Writer Jean-Paul Sartre called the case “a legal lynching which smears with blood a whole nation.”

Now, even the Rosenberg’s two sons—perhaps the world’s most recognizable Cold War orphans—are conceding their father’s guilt to the press after years of defending his innocence.

After over five decades, the proverbial jig is up for Julius Rosenberg. But what does this mean for Ethel?

Among the trial documents released by the U.S. federal court was a statement made by the Rosenbergs’ sister-in-law showing that the infraction for which Ethel was ultimately convicted, typing up key notes to give to the Soviets, was almost certainly false.

Prosecutors in the Rosenberg trial were especially hard on Ethel: they hoped to gain leverage over her husband in order to ultimately secure his confession. Both Ethel and Julius remained tight-lipped, ultimately put to death for Julius’ misdeeds.

What has historically been viewed as the joint tragedy of “the Rosenbergs” is a story that still rings with judicial injustice. More than a case of political witch-hunting, the real heartbreak is Ethel Rosenberg’s execution for refusing to hand over her husband. The ballad of the Rosenbergs might just be Ethel’s personal requiem.