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Study on "facial trustworthiness" reveals surprising bias in court outcomes

First impressions are more than lasting; in some cases, they can alter the course of an entire life. 

A University of Toronto study published earlier this month in the journal, Psychological Science, argues that whether or not a person has a face that appears trustworthy could determine their outcomes in court, as well as their treatment in prison. 

NPR reports:
Facial trustworthiness is a significant predictor of the sentence people receive," says John Paul Wilson, who led the study and is a social psychologist at the University of Toronto.

Past research has shown that people make quick judgments about someone's character based on their face. For instance, we tend to place more trust in someone whose lips naturally turn upward when their face is relaxed, Wilson says; it's like they're making a smile. The opposite is felt for people who have lips that curve downward, like a frown.

To learn how these biases affect real-life scenarios with serious implications, the research team collected more than 700 mugshots of white and African-American criminals in Florida. Images of the state's prisoners are freely available to the public online.

Read the full story here
Source: NPR

Pope Francis could shift Catholic votes in upcoming U.S. election, writes Ryerson professor

To say that Pope Francis has energized Catholics worldwide would be an understatement.

With his vocal, refreshingly progressive stances on issues ranging from indigenous rights to poverty reduction to climate change and evolution, the decidedly 21st century religious figurehead even has a strong social media following. (His official Twitter page, @Pontifex, boasts over 6.51 million followers.) So, it seems only fair that the enthusiasm he's drummed up among Catholic voters could also be leveraged by savvy politicians in the upcoming U.S. presidential race. Or at least, so argues Randy Boyagoda, an American studies professor at Ryerson university, in a New York Times series about the Pope's power at the polls. 

In [previous] elections, Catholics who prioritized their faith-informed commitments to pro-life and pro-traditional marriage concerns voted Republican, while Catholics who prioritized their faith-informed commitments to immigration reform and anti-poverty concerns predominantly voted Democrat.

But Francis, as Boyagoda goes on to point out, disturbs previous voting conventions along these rigid faith-based lines. While there is no distinct "Catholic vote," the scholar notes that "there are millions of Catholic voters coming into a new consciousness of their faith and their world and the responsibility of one toward the other," thanks to Pope Francis.  

Read the rest here.
Source: New York Times

Citizen Lab probes international democracy-thwarting Hacker Team

U of T's Citizen Lab is in the news once again.

Based out of the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, the pioneering institute that studies digital infrastructure and surveillance was featured on NPR's Morning Edition this week to address Hacking Team, an Italian-based tech firm that helped authoritarian governments break into the computers of activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens – basically, anyone who could be construed as a political threat. 

Citizen Lab's Bill Marczak explained that Hacking Team worked by infecting computers with spyware which would make those computers' data susceptible to leaks. Ethiopia, Morocco, UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia were all the company's clients. Though the company was recently hacked, it's continuing to meet global demand for the information it sells. 

"Further sales are being negotiated," said Marczak. 

Read the rest here.
Source: NPR

Jane Fonda among the 10,000 demonstrators at historical Toronto climate rally

Last weekend, more than 10,000 people marched for climate action in a Toronto rally that attracted the likes of Jane Fonda and David Suzuki. Its message was precedent-setting for one big reason, according to The Guardian: an emphasis on the notion that tackling climate change can make for a more fair and equitable society. 

“I’m here because I think that the coalition that is represented in today’s march and rally, and not just today but ongoing in Canada — First Nations, labour unions, working people, students — this is the kind of coalition that will make the difference,” said Fonda. 

Read the whole story here.
Source: The Guardian. 

U of T drug researcher warns against jumping to conclusions with drug data

While researchers at Stanford University probe patient data to look for a potential link between a family of popular heartburn drugs and heart attack, a University of Toronto researcher warns against jumping to conclusions based on data correlates. 

“The problem is, it's very easy to do studies of this sort that lead to conclusions that can be misleading. I know because I've done that myself,” says Dr. David Juurlink, a drug-safety researcher from U of T. The drug family in question, proton-pump inhibitors, includes popular heartburn treatments like Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, and are generally considered more effective at treating heartburn than other drug combinations.

Juurlink's warning essentially urges researchers to remember that correlation does not necessarily equal causation; it’s better to get a more complete picture before advising physicians on courses of patient care. Of course, with repercussions as severe as potentially life-threatening heart attacks, the Toronto researcher's stance poses a point of contention. 

Read the full story here.
Source: NPR

David Byrne's multiculti colour guard comes to Luminato

Trailblazing artist David Byrne is bringing his “Contemporary Color” exhibition to Toronto’s Luminato next week. But first, the New York Times reports on the backstory behind the project. 

The Times writes:
The synchronized manipulation of flags, rifles and sabers in a kind of dance routine — the practice called color guard — is known as a complement to marching bands in football halftime shows and parades at high schools and colleges. But after football season, color guard continues through the winter, indoors, performed to a range of recorded music, in organized circuits of judged competitions. Several hundred teams compete over three days at the championships in Dayton, the pinnacle of what organizers call “the Sport of the Arts.”

For Contemporary Color, the “arena spectacle” combines colour guard teams with live music by artists of Mr. Byrne’s choosing. And it’s a solid lineup: St. Vincent, Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, Kelis, Nelly Furtado and Devonté Hynes are all on board, each matched with a colour guard team. 

Read the full story here
Source: New York Times

Hudson's Bay Company expands to Europe

We’re capturing Germany! Or rather, our oldest retail chain is. The Hudson’s Bay Company, which traces its history back to the 17th century fur trade, has announced a move to purchase Galeria Kaufhof, the top department store chain in Germany and Belgium. HBC already snapped up Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylor back in 2011. HBC’s ongoing expansion story is fascinating, and points to the panache of its governor and executive chairman, Richard A. Baker.

Read the full story here.
Source: New York Times

Integral House goes on the market

An architectural marvel of a Toronto house that’s on the market for a cool $23 million has captured CNN’s attention.

Perched on a ravine, the curving concrete-and-glass building was built by Dr. Jim Stewart, a late mathematician who made his fortune writing math textbooks before his death last year at the age of 73. Fittingly, he named it “Integral House,” after his great passion - calculus.
Stewart hunted the world for an architect, interviewing the likes of Frank Gehry, but eventually settled on a local firm, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, and gave them free rein to design the 18,000-square-foot mansion. He lived alone in the building, but used it’s stunning interiors as a venue for gatherings and performances, hosting luminaries like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. He was also a patron of LGBT causes, and used the space to promote them. As CNN reports, Glenn D. Lowry of the Museum of Modern Art called Integral House “one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time.” And now it could be yours - if you can make the math add up.

Read the rest here. 
Source: CNN

New York Times boosts Union Pearson Express

The new Union Pearson Express, launched this past Saturday, got written up in the New York Times' travel news and tips page.

Though the express train's $27.50 price tag has been the source of its share of ire locally, the Times noted the train's complimentary Wi-Fi on board—and that its elevated track service would avoid common highway traffic jams.

Read the full write-up here.
Source: New York Times

New report ranks Toronto as a top North American travel destination

MasterCard has released its 2015 Global Destination Cities Index, which ranks Toronto as the continent's fourth most-popular tourist destination after New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami. In fact, Toronto marks the only one of New York's top five international flight feeder cities not within North America.

Using data going back to 2009, the Index charts the air travel interconnectivity of 132 of the world's “most important cities” and how many visitors travel, by air, between them.

The report reads:
The Index is therefore a map of a key human dimension of global connectivity. And over the five years since its launch in 2011, this map shows consistently great dynamism and growth in air travel between these 132 cities, driven by improving infrastructure, rising discretionary spending power (especially in the expanding middle class in emerging markets), and the seemingly unquenchable thirst of an ever-increasing number of people from all walks of life to visit the world

Read the full report here.
Source: MasterCard  

Toronto's Euromaidan wedding goes viral

Mark Marczyk and Marichka Kudriavtseva met during the uprising in Kiev’s Maidan square in January 2014. On May 17, they invited the public to join them at Dufferin Grove Park for a public, Ukrainian-themed wedding replete with parades, bands, dancing and much joy. The display of community and love drew media coverage from around the world.

The Daily Mail reports: 
The couple found plenty more people to join the party after tying the knot as their wedding procession paraded through the Dufferin mall and the newlyweds danced on top of a garbage can in the food court.

Mark and Marichka incorporated folk customs from Eastern European villages into their ceremony and were outfitted in traditional Ukrainian wedding garb - as were many of their guests.

But the couple each added a touch of personality to their outfits, with Mark sporting black high-top Chuck Taylor shoes complete with red laces while Marichka wore red converses that matched her necklace. 

Read more here
Source: The Daily Mail


Lawrence Heights teen gets Drake-assisted spotlight

Hassan Ali is a 16-year-old Lawrence Heights native and rapper whose YouTube video "Shirt Off Shawty" got Instagrammed by Toronto's top cultural ambassador (and hip-hop's biggest living star of the moment), Drake. Now, that video is going viral. <em>Noisey</em> spoke to the young man about his new Drake-boosted moment of fame. 

Read more <a href="http://noisey.vice.com/en_ca/blog/who-is-top-5-the-artist-behind-the-drake-approved-viral-video-shirt-off-shawty">here</a>. 
Source: Noisey. 

Toronto's BarChef goes international

Local cocktail wizard Franke Solarik's Canadian bestselling cocktail book just got a major-imprint US release, and the New York Times is on it. 

T Magazine writes: 

Impactful aromatics have always played an essential role in the creations of the Canadian mixologist Frankie Solarik. Inside BarChef, his Modernist cocktail laboratory on Toronto’s Queen Street West, multisensory presentations evoke the flavors of the season — not just in the glass, but surrounding it, too.

Read the rest here.
Source: T Magazine.

Toronto airport ranked one of the world's best landing approaches

UK flight site PrivateFly’s 2015 Airport Poll included Toronto's Billy Bishop airport among its ranking of the "Top 10 Most Stunning Airport Approaches." 

Of the 147 different global airports that received nominations this year, the downtown Toronto airport was ranked seventh in the world.  

Included among the voters' comments were:

"The gleaming city skyline to your north, the vast blue sweep of the great Lake Ontario to the south, and lush green parkland of the island mixed with the boats in the harbor directly below you make this airport's approach truly majestic."


"Arrival into this airport brings you between the skyscrapers of an international city and lush Canadian Parkland. Both framed by the Great Lakes in a fantastic juxtaposition between earth and human creation. Stunning!"

Read the rest here
Source: PrivateFly.

Toronto cartoonist handpicked to head up Jughead revival

Toronto cartoonist Chip Zdarsky (the pseudonym of former National Post illustrator Steve Murray) has been selected to pen the Jughead series in a new Archie Comics revival. 

"We’re dusting off one of the world’s most beloved characters and bringing him into today, with all the great things that people loved intact and a bit more bite,” Archie Comics publisher and CEO Jon Goldwater said in a statement, published by Entertainment Weekly. 

Goldwater added: “Jughead will be a bit more off-the-wall, Betty and Veronica will be more about their friendship and competitiveness, and Kevin will be pushing one of the most beloved and iconic characters introduced in recent memory into new areas and new situations." 

Read the rest here. 
Source: Entertainment Weekly.
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