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Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome to Plenitude | Juliet Schor

"... the Business-as-Usual economy (to borrow a term from the climate discourse) has become profoundly dysfunctional. That conclusion is becoming widely accepted. But we’re having trouble moving beyond it. Plenitude is a vision for doing just that — getting us on a path that reverses the rampant destruction of the planet caused by BAU and restoring true well-being to people and communities."

Full article: Welcome to Plenitude | Juliet Schor.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Intriguing results in new cancer research from team led by "person to watch", Patrick Gunning (in The Toronto Star)

"What Gunning [Patrick Gunning, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus] and his team have designed is in fact a molecule, one that latches onto proteins called Stat3 and Stat5. When working normally, the proteins switch on for a couple of minutes and help keep cells growing and alive. When malfunctioning, they don’t switch off and cause ever-growing tumours. These proteins play a key role in 70 per cent of known cancers, Gunning says.

"The designed molecule binds “beautifully” to the cancerous proteins and switches them off. In mice, it eliminated tumours in less than two weeks. The work earned Gunning the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Investigator Lectureship Award this year."

Full article: People to Watch: Patrick Gunning -

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dr. Elaine Chin: Annual physicals in Ontario need an update (in The Toronto Star)

"... our “free” physical isn’t significantly useful in predicting our big three killers: heart attack, stroke and cancer, nor does it let doctors catch diabetes early. True, if you want to pay out of your own pocket, you can get a PSA test for prostate cancer and a CA125 for ovarian cancer as well as nutrient markers to detect deficiencies (such as for Vitamin D). But these tests are far from perfect predictors of sickness or health.

"So why hasn’t our physical changed in a quarter century when medicine itself has been revolutionized? ...

"... there are now all kinds of tests to detect dire conditions that are much more effective than what we use now.

"... And think of how these new tests would keep patients out of the hospital by detecting a heart condition rather than dealing with a heart attack in the ER. ...

"... the question isn’t, “But won’t they [much more sophisticated tests] cost a lot of money?”

"It’s, “Won’t they save a lot more money and lives?”

"Because the answer is, of course, they’ll do both."

Full article: Annual physicals in Ontario need an update.

Dr. Elaine Chin is a Toronto physician and founder of the Executive Health Centre.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ron Charach: ‘Sane’ men set stage for shooting tragedy (in The Toronto Star)

"As a psychiatrist, I am very concerned about the aggravation of stigma against the mentally ill when such incidents happen. However, I am even more concerned about the actions of those whose sanity is not questioned by society, such as the five Republican U.S. Supreme Court judges who voted to declare any and all kinds of gun ownership a constitutional right, in a sloppily argued decision that took no consideration of the dire threats posed by the new rapid-fire weapons.

"Nobody questions the sanity of the main spokesman for the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, who is still obsessed with “gun grabbers” and has kept the NRA on a collision course with an increasingly wary American public.

"Nor have I heard anyone question the sanity of our own “Public Safety” Minister, Vic Toews, who because of Bill C-19 has exposed the entire public, but especially minority groups who tend to get targeted by terrorists and extremists, to unnecessary danger. This man has already burned hard-earned public records, records of gun owners who fully complied with gun-control laws, and then sneaked a variety of nasty military-style weapons into the innocent category of “unrestricted” weapons, weapons like the Ruger Mini-14 used by Marc Lepine or the CZ 858 that Richard Bain used in a bid to assassinate Quebec’s first elected woman premier. The Bushmaster AR-15 used to commit the Newtown atrocity is also this sort of semi-automatic rifle."

Full article: ‘Sane’ men set stage for shooting tragedy.

Psychiatrist Ron Charach is the author, most recently, of the collection of poems, "Forgetting the Holocaust".

Tim Harper: First Nations force their way onto Stephen Harper’s 2013 agenda (in The Toronto Star)

"... movement leaders count 14 pieces of legislation — dealing with everything from education to water quality to financial accountability — that they believe are the laws of an adversary.

"“The government of Canada has not upheld nor fulfilled its responsibilities to First Nations, as committed to by the Crown including at the Crown-First Nations gathering of January, 2012,” said Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in an open letter to Harper and Gov.-Gen. David Johnston."

Full article: Tim Harper: First Nations force their way onto Stephen Harper’s 2013 agenda.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Carol Goar: Early learning is a better bargain than universities (in The Toronto Star)

"“The benefits of early childhood education far outweigh the costs,” [TD Bank's chief economist, Craig] Alexander says. He estimates that every dollar spent produces $1.50 to $3 in benefits.

"Daniel Treffler, Canada Research Chair in Competitiveness and Prosperity at the University of Toronto, calculates the payback at $10 to $16 per dollar spent. “Where in the market do you get an ROI (return on investment) like that?” he asks business audiences."

Full article: Early learning is a better bargain than universities: Goar.

Rick Salutin: Today’s young prefer the flexibility and even insecurity of the new economy (in The Toronto Star)

"... [the youth of today] don’t yearn to return to the old days of steady jobs that were often soul-killing but provided semi-permanent assurances of security, usually in factories, corporations or government. In other words to restore the basic trade-off of the postwar era. It doesn’t appeal to them. They prefer flexibility, relative freedom, even insecurity.

"That jibes with the view of Guy Standing in his book, 'The Precariat'. He says under globalization, the old work world is gone forever, jobs dispersed worldwide, and not to be mourned. The need isn’t to reinstate the past; it’s to provide some security and equity under the new dispensation. ...

"The solution seems clear: society must take responsibility for basic support and security of its workforce, in return for its flexibility and acceptance of “precarity.” In other words: expand the welfare state. That’s the obvious new trade-off. ...

"... it’s logical and reasonable in the circumstances. Maybe that’s why those with power are determined to avoid even discussing it — before its simple plausibility, or inevitability, gains a foothold."

Full article: Students look forward to a spin in Cash Cab: Salutin.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Catherine Porter: Gun control advocate fears new tragedy (in The Toronto Star)

"Every Dec. 6 since Lépine walked into the Polytechnique is a sorrowful day. But this year’s unstitching of its legacy makes it doubly tragic.

"“I just hope we don’t have to witness another tragedy for Canadians to know what is at stake,” [Wendy] Cukier says."

Full article: Gun control advocate fears new tragedy.

Wendy Cukier launched the Coalition for Gun Control in the weeks following the Montréal Massacre.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Haroon Siddiqui: Stephen Harper is not doing Israel any favours (in The Toronto Star)

"It is [Netanyahu's] self-defeating tactics, and the 45-year occupation of Palestinian lands and the perpetually expanding Israeli borders, that have left Israel so sadly isolated.

"By backing those policies, Harper has isolated Canada as well and undermined Canada’s once-honoured place in the world."

Full article: Stephen Harper is not doing Israel any favours.