News for the unnewsed: Economy in crisis

American economic crisis

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for the largest bankruptcy in history Monday. Lehman, the fourth largest U.S. investment bank, had assets of $639 billion at the end of May. The bank financed too many risky assets with little capital. Central banks are pumping billions of dollars to contain the crisis in Wall Street and to prevent the increase in the cost of borrowing between banks. Stocks around the world continue to fall.

U of T crisis averted

The University of Toronto opened without disruptions Sept. 8 after a brewing strike was averted. The 3,500 Members of United Steelworkers Local 1998, who assist with U of T’s research, administration, fundraising and technical support, were concerned about pensions, job security and wages. The deadline for the strike was 12 a.m. Sept. 7 and an agreement was reached late Sunday afternoon. The members of USW Local 1998 had voted 87 per cent in favour of a strike mandate if an agreement was not reached with the university. Campus life, the university’s computer network and registration would have seriously been disrupted.

Bell gouges customers

An Ontario judge ruled Bell Express Vu’s customer fee charge to be illegal after a class action lawsuit claimed that the $25 administrative fee amounted to a criminal rate of interest. Bell unsuccessfully argued the fee covered costs resulting from an account remaining unpaid for two months. Canada’s anti-usury provision in the Criminal Code prohibits interest rates exceeding 60 per cent. The fee was additional to a monthly interest rate of two per cent charged on late amounts.

Tainted milk in China kills two

The contaminated baby milk scandal in China swelled dramatically as Chinese officials discovered 22 companies produced contaminated milk. The baby milk powder was tainted with a chemical that is used to make plastics and caused two infant deaths and 1,200 others to fall ill. The chemical melamine was added to milk so it would appear to have more protein. The original contamination was thought to be isolated to one brand, but more products have since been pulled off the shelves.

Grad students get funding

Albertan graduate students received a financial boost with $11 million of funding for scholarships announced by the provincial government. The Citizenship Scholarship will give $2,000 to 50 students depending on volunteer and community work. There will also be $1 million available for graduate students invited to national and international research conferences. Most of the funding will be going to the Queen Elizabeth II graduate scholarship program that will award 1,000 students each year. The scholarships will increase to a maximum of $10,800 for a master’s student and $15,000 for a PhD student over eight months.

Vote everywhere

The U.S. presidential election is fast approaching and Americans living abroad are encouraged to vote. Five members of Democrats Abroad Canada came to the U of C on Monday help American citizens register to vote in the Nov. 4 election in a non-partisan campaign. Those eligible are encouraged to register at least a month ahead of time. To register online, go to

New high school contended

Mayor Dave Bronconnier and city council are being accused of a conflict of interest after they accelerated the construction of a new Ernest Manning High School in the city’s southwest. The replacement high school is necessary because the original is being torn down to make way for the West LRT leg. This decision will stall the construction of a new high school that was supposed to be built in the city’s northwest. The point of contention is the proposed Ernest Manning replacement and the LRT leg are being built in Bronconnier’s neighbourhood. Parents are concerned this change of priorities is to increase the mayor’s property value.