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SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - February 20, 2009

February 20, 2009

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Feb. 12-20, 2009               

Gangs and Gordon, bullets and Boyd, crime and Corrado, brutality and Boyanowsky.
In other words, as the count of shootings in the Lower Mainland grew to 12 in 16 days, SFU criminologists Rob Gordon, Neil Boyd, Ray Corrado and Ehor Boyanowsky were fully prominent in the news media.
And after years of arguing for a single regional police force in the Lower Mainland, Rob Gordon finally heard premier Gordon Campbell say he’d be open to exploring the idea. (Metro mayors were divided on the issue, though.)

NATIONAL NEWS

  • Two experts from SFU were in a Globe and Mail examination of Vancouver’s downtown eastside (DTES), “the poorest of poor neighbourhoods.”
    • Some 38 per cent of residents don’t have even a high-school diploma. “‘We've basically got a Third World country stuck in the middle of downtown Vancouver,’ says Krishna Pendakur, a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University and co-director of Metropolis British Columbia.”
    • One-seventh of the DTES population is aboriginal, seven times higher than for Vancouver as a whole. "In some people's minds, it's the largest reserve in Canada," said John O'Neil, dean of SFU Health Sciences and a specialist in aboriginal health care.
  • Also in the Globe and Mail, Governor-General Michaëlle Jean was teased for mixing up her mountain ranges—calling our Coast Mountains “the Rockies”—when talking to kids at Rideau Hall. For the record, Owen Hertzman, senior lecturer in geography at SFU, told the Globe:  "She was only off by about 600 or 700 kilometres. It's sort of like putting Toronto down in the Carolinas.”
  • The Metro newspapers (six of them from Vancouver to Halifax) carry a weekly “Odd Jobs” feature. The star this week was forensic entomologist Gail Anderson, co-director of SFU’s Centre for Forensic Research. “Anderson, 47, can tell the cops how long a person has been dead based on the bugs found on the decaying body.”
  • The Canadian Press quoted SFU’s Diane Finegood in a story about an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It said governments should regulate the commercial weight-loss industry to protect Canadians from products and programs promoting scientifically unproven therapies.
    Obesity expert Finegood said the challenge would be knowing where to draw the line on "what is sufficient evidence” to allow advertising of a particular claim.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith helped Canwest News Service, GlobalTV and CBC with stories on the drastic (8%) drop in sales of manufactured goods in December—the steepest monthly decline since the measurement began in 1992. "A lot of this has not really hit the fan yet. This was a bit of a hairy one. No one has really seen a downturn that looks like this one—very fast, very deep, lots of sectors all at once.  It's a bit of a live wire and it could go in a lot of different directions."
  • Canwest News Service sent across the country a story about a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal saying many avalanche victims in Western Canada die of injury rather than suffocation. That has implications for avalanche training and rescue, says co-investigator Pascal Haegeli, a post-doctoral fellow in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management. Existing safety devices and rescue methods focus primarily on asphyxia and not on trauma. The Vancouver Sun also did a story.
  • Political scientist Andy Hira was on CBC-TV, discussing the Venezuelan referendum that eliminated limits on presidential terms, allowing Hugo Chavez to continue indefinitely in power.
  • The Heart and Stroke Foundation announced to media the new strategic advisory council for its Health Check food information program. Members include physician-prof Michel Joffres of SFU Health Sciences.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Scripps-Howard News Service in the U.S. and the Globe and Mail reported the start-up by the U.S. of unmanned drone flights to keep an eye on the Canada-U.S. border. (Initially over the Manitoba border; five Predator drones already do regular flights over the U.S.-Mexico border). “I think this has far more to do with the theatre of security than with dealing seriously about issues surrounding the northern border,” said border security expert Ben Muller, assistant prof of political science.  We saw the story in the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, co-authored a guest column in the Detroit Free Press, saying that appointing a U.S. "car czar" will not be enough to transform the U.S. auto industry. He proposed “an automotive USRA”—that being the U.S. Railway Association, an independent federal agency that led to successful reorganization of troubled U.S. railroads in the 1970s.

BC NEWS

  • The Province did a story on how the SFU Community Trust is looking at whether a high-speed gondola could replace diesel buses on Burnaby Mountain. Gordon Harris, CEO of the trust, said: "At the moment, it is still just an idea.  . . . It's worth exploring further. You have diesel-powered buses, labouring to come up a fairly steep hill every day. When it's snowy or icy, often service is disrupted." A TransLink spokesman said:  “It's a fascinating idea that merits a look."
  • The Province also reported nearly $1 million a day is being spent on government assistance and programs on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—“with no one in control of the purse-strings as conditions continue to deteriorate at street level.”
    Among those quoted was Julian Somers, director of SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions: “It's just unknown how much has been spent. Even if we knew the value, the effectiveness of distributing the money is less than optimal due to administrative inefficiency. We know no one is co-ordinating it all."
    The Victoria Times Colonist also ran the story.
  • Bilingual economist John Richards of the SFU Graduate Public Policy Program spoke with Radio Canada about the BC budget on Tuesday.
  • The Vancouver Sun wrapped up today its big series of 12 full-page features linked to Imagine BC, a public dialogue initiative from SFU Dialogue. The Sun promoted the “leaders summit” that Imagine BC is hosting on Feb. 23. It will explore “10 Big Ideas to Shape a Resilient Future” for BC and its people. SFU also sent out a news release on the summit.
  • TheTyee.ca noted that the Employment Insurance safety net “features a lot more gaps than it did a decade and a half ago.” And it continued: “Women will bear the brunt disproportionately, worries public policy professor Marjorie Griffin-Cohen at Simon Fraser University. ‘Fewer than 40 per cent of all who become unemployed are eligible to receive benefits, and only about one third of the women who become unemployed are eligible,’ Griffin-Cohen told The Tyee.”
  • The Chilliwack Progress reported the highways criss-crossing the Fraser Valley can be deadly corridors for endangered barn owls. This from SFU student Sofi Hindmarch, who is completing her master's at the Centre for Wildlife Ecology in SFU Biology.

POLICE BEAT

  • As gangland gunfire continued in the Lower Mainland, media spelled out some reasons why Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, is calling for a unified regional police force.
    Gordon told the Surrey-North Delta Leader that the Integrated Gang Task Force is dominated by the RCMP and doesn't have universal buy-in from municipal forces. And the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) isn't really integrated either because Delta, Vancouver and West Vancouver police aren't included.
    "It's a farce. The largest municipal department in the Vancouver area, namely the VPD, isn't participating in IHIT."
    That story was picked up by the Tri-City News, Richmond Review, North Shore Outlook, Mission City Record, Aldergrove Star and Chilliwack Progress.
  • Gordon was also in The Vancouver Sun, suggesting the Hells Angels have been weakened by police action, and their former drug-trade partners now are becoming competitors.
    "The dilution of the power of the Hells Angels . . . upsets the power balance within this industry. The current situation here is probably some sort of major disruption, a primary push for market share for one or more groups, and they are thrashing it out."
    He called for an organized crime agency with more resources and that single regional police force. Wrote the Sun: “There are about 120 organized crime groups in the province right now, and police estimate they have only enough manpower to properly track about five of them, Gordon said.”
  • And in a story by Canwest News Service, which went across the country, Gordon was asked about shootings that take place in the open.
    “Public shootings are a matter of convenience. People aren't as easy targets as in the past, so gangs will follow someone around in public until they can make a hit. They're not concerned with collateral damage. All they care about is hitting the target."
    We saw the story in The Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Winnipeg Free Press, Ottawa Citizen, Windsor Star and Montreal Gazette.
  • Gordon was also in a national Canadian Press story, saying Metro Vancouver's location plays a major role in organized crime activity. "We've evolved into one of the more lucrative marijuana production regions in North America. Some of that has to do with climate, but a lot of it has to do with simply our position on the coast and in particular, being in close proximity to the U. S. border."  We saw 14 media outlets that used this story.
  • After a woman was shot to death in Surrey, in front of her four-year-old son, Gordon was on GlobalTV saying this “new twist” means that “everybody is at risk” if they are associated with or are in competition with gangsters.
  • Criminologist Ray Corrado was on GlobalTV talking about the potential impact of the shooting on that four-year-old boy.  "The event takes place in 30 seconds. The aftermath can compound the trauma." Among other things, "a child can become highly aggressive and angry . . . or withdrawn."
  • Fellow criminologist Ehor Boyanowsky was in a Canadian Press story that went coast to coast: "What we've got here are people acting out violently under the least provocation. There's a shift to short-circuiting all the other intermediary steps of resentment or reaction. . . . It's become OK to do that.” We saw the story in and on two dozen media outlets.
  • In a guest column in The Vancouver Sun, Boyanowsky noted the 80th anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago and its coincidence with gang shootings in the Lower Mainland. He reviewed the role of Prohibition in the U.S. and of alcohol in anti-social behaviour. " . . . the only panacea for this increasingly anxiety provoking state of affairs, confronting not only our young men but threatening to permeate the community, is the legalization and government regulation of illegal drugs."
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun about gang violence, concluding: “If we can better understand and prevent the trajectory from childhood to a violent machismo, we will be taking an important step towards solving the problem. This is not an easy task, but a lot more productive than the simple and inappropriate solution of blaming our police officers, our politicians and our judges.”
  • Boyd was also in a Province column that proposed BC try something like Operation Ceasefire, implemented in Boston in the mid-1990s as a co-ordinated, multi-agency strategy aimed at curbing youth and gang gun violence. Would it work here? "I think it's more likely to work than stiffening penalties," Boyd said.
  • Prof emeritus Gary Mauser was on CKNW saying the way to keep guns out of gangsters’ hands starts at the border. “The primary source for crime guns is smuggling. The biggest thing we can do to cut down the guns for organized crime is to cut down smuggling.”
    Difficult to do, said Mauser, but it makes more sense than “silly things” like gun registration, on which Ottawa wasted $2-3 billion that would have been better spent on police, anti-crime technology, prisons and the courts.
  • One more Rob Gordon story: He was in the Burnaby NewsLeader defending a BC government proposal to place a remand centre for 360 inmates at Willingdon Avenue and Canada Way. Gordon said the location is ideal, and dismissed fears of escapes. “The biggest challenge in the area is probably going to be the traffic.”

ATHLETICS

  • Scott McLean, the media, broadcast and sports Information director in SFU Athletics, is writing a blog for The Province website, entitled “Anything but Hockey”. His opening: “I don’t hate hockey, it’s just not my favourite sport, and in this town, that doesn’t seem to fly.” You’ll find it (and McLean’s sense of humour) here.
  • Sports writer Howard Tsumura of The Province named winners of his “The Howie” awards for varsity basketball. SFU winners were: Robyn Buna, Kelsey Horsting, Kate Hole, Courtney Gerwing and Katie Miyazaki.  And on the Clan men’s team, the departing Greg Wallis was “a close second” for MVP (behind Jacob Doerksen of Trinity Western).
  • The Clan women’s basketball team defeated Trinity Western University 102-55 and 77-64 to win their first-round Pacific Division playoff series 2-0. In Game 1, Matteke Hutzler led the Clan with 21 points, then did it again in Game 2 with 22 points. The #1 ranked Clan now host the UBC Thunderbirds in a best-of-three series.
  • The Clan men’s team lost to UBC 97-72 and 101-84 and were eliminated from the postseason. In Game 1, Greg Wallis led the Clan with 22 points. Then in Game 2, playing in the final game of his CIS career, he led again with 18.
  • In Edmonton, the Clan men’s wrestling team successfully defended their Canada West Championship, taking the crown behind seven gold-medal performances. The golds went to Rafiq Charania (54 kg), Alec Tuura (57kg), Raj Virdi (61kg), Isaac Wing (65kg), Clete Hanson (68kg), Ali Al-Rekabi (90kg) and Arjan Bhullar (130kg). Justin Abdou was named the Canada West Men’s Coach of the Year.
    The SFU women’s wrestling team tied with Saskatchewan for second with 29 points, however tiebreaking procedures dropped them to third overall in the standings.

  • The Clan women’s softball team defeated Chaminade University Silverswords 8-0 and 4-3, then ended their Hawaiian road trip by losing 9-1 and winning 5-2 over the Brigham Young University Hawaii Seasiders. On, then, to California where the Clan defeated the Whittier College Poets 7-1. They ended their tiring 10-day road trip by being thumped 13-2 in five innings by the UCLA Bruins.
  • The men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in two meets in Seattle. Qualifying for the NAIA national championships were Jessica Smith (mile and 1000m), Helen Crofts (800m), Heather Mancell (1000m), Traci Boss (600m), Kevin Friesen (5000m). The women’s 4x800m relay team also qualified.

The ARTS

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Malcolm Parry, covering the 19th-annual Lovers' Ball to benefit the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, reported:
    “Ever-philanthropic Milton and Fei Wong attended, clearly not tapped out after donating $3 million to fund a 450-seat theatre for Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts in the redeveloping Woodward's store complex. Former SFU chancellor Milton also chairs SFU's ongoing $30-million capital campaign.”
    The new theatre at the Woodward’s project will be named the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre. It is set to open in early 2010.
    OmniTV then set up an interview onsite with the Wongs and Michael Francis, chair of SFU’s board of governors. Epoch Times carried a story and photo of the Wongs, and FairchildTV pursued them as well.
  • (Meanwhile, The Learning Partnership, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to championing a strong public education system, told media it will honour Milton Wong as a “Champion of Public Education”, in Vancouver March 4.)
  • The Victoria Times Colonist featured rap-hip-hop artist Shad (a.k.a. SFU student Shadrach Kabango) who played Victoria Thursday night. “Kabango, who is fluent in both French and English, is taking liberal studies to further develop his ‘writing skills, thinking skills,’ which seems like the rap equivalent of Albert Einstein studying calculus to hone his math game. His rhymes are already considered the best in the country.”
    The Vancouver Sun ran a Canwest News Service feature on Shad. “Shad will test the waters this summer on the Vans Warped Tour, the annual punk rock festival. . . . He is scheduled to appear on 45 dates, so the future is out of his hands.”
  • The Globe and Mail reviewed The Mouth and Other Storage Facilities—“a body of work that teases our visual certainties with simulations, inviting touch.” The exhibition by Liz Magor, Vancouver sculptor, is at the SFU Gallery through Feb. 21.
  • Canadian Immigrant magazine carried an item on the photo exhibit Black Communities in British Columbia 1858-2008. Historian Afua Cooper, Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in Women's Studies, is curator of the exhibit at SFU’s downtown Teck Gallery through May 10.
  • A new work by choreographer Bruce Monk, who teaches at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, will be premiered this weekend by Ballet Victoria. The Victoria Times Colonist noted: “Because his first love was a study of kinesiology at Simon Fraser University, ‘a lot of the movements come out of athletics.”

EDUCATION

  • The Globe and Mail ran a feature on how “universities are investing as never before in new environmental programs and strategies.” It noted: “Dalhousie, Simon Fraser, McGill and Ryerson Universities all recently put their administrative seals on some major eco-initiatives:  . . . Simon Fraser's senate gave the green light to a new environmental faculty, which will bring together five existing programs.”
    The Globe added: “Simon Fraser has had a strong environmental tradition, from subsidizing bus passes to building energy efficient buildings. But like many other universities across the country, it is choosing amalgamation to build its new faculty.” Jonathan Driver, SFU's vice-president academic, was quoted.
  • The Vancouver Sun told readers: “The global economic crisis is changing the way B.C. universities are teaching Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programs.” Diane Cross, executive director of graduate business programs, said: “Every course has an element of current events. Our professors have to be current on what's going on.” MBA student Ryan Schmidt at the Segal Graduate School of Business was also quoted.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader featured the Community School program at Strawberry Hill Elementary, where services, resources and expertise available in the area are made more accessible to students and parents. “For example, the City of Surrey provides staff to run after-school recreational classes, while DIVERSEcity and Simon Fraser University work with the school to provide after-school tutoring and mentoring.”

WEBSITE RANKINGS

  • Steve Ray, SFU web manager, reported MIT topped the Cybermetrics Lab's biannual Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which measures "the performance and impact of universities through their Web presence." SFU’s website ranked #62 out of 4,000 and was fourth among Canadian universities. (Toronto was #1, followed by UBC and Alberta. Montréal was #5. After that in the top 100 came Calgary, McGill, Waterloo, Laval, York and Québec.)

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Burnaby NewsLeader reported Harry Bloy was acclaimed as the provincial Liberal candidate for Burnaby-Lougheed for the May 12 election. “Bloy, a two-term MLA, said he wants to continue working on projects such as the Evergreen line and a new elementary school about to be built up at Simon Fraser University.”
  • The Province featured two of 15 recruits sworn in last week by the Vancouver police department. One is Scott Plummer, who played football for the BC Lions in 2004—and before that, the newspaper noted, was captain of the SFU Clan football team.

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