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SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: July 17-23, 2009

The Vancouver Sun online now is carrying regular “Community of Interest” blogs from BC experts.
Among the writers are SFU profs Neil Boyd, André Gerolymatos, Alexander Moens, Gordon Price, John Richards, Patrick Smith and Kennedy Stewart.
Also in the news during the week: SFU’s Anthony Perl, calling for a pedestrian czar for Vancouver; John Richards on world population problems, and Don DeVoretz on immigration policies.
More on these below.

BC NEWS

  • The Province gave headline play to a call by Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, for a pedestrian czar for Vancouver. "You don't want to forget about the pedestrian until they're run over. I don't think the pedestrians are being given enough attention, given their growing importance."
    The Province noted: “Perl's comments come in the wake of a recent study by SFU geographers, which found that the Downtown Eastside has the city's highest incidence of collisions between autos and pedestrians.” That study was first reported last week in the Georgia Straight, quoting principal author and geographer Nadine Schuurman.
  • CTV News featured BC’s preparations to deal with H1N1 flu should it break out in strength during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Among those quoted was Stephen Corber, physician and director of public health practice in SFU Health Sciences:
    “We have to be prepared to handle tourists who may not be familiar with our system and to make sure we have good diagnostic facilities in place. Rapid diagnosis and good treatment facilities are available should people become ill."
    Corber was also interviewed on GlobalTV.
  • CBC News quoted BC Transportation Minister Shirley Bond as saying TransLink must find its $400-million share of the $1.4-billion Evergreen transit line. TransLink said it doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know where to find it. Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program pointed a finger at Victoria.
    "The province has almost put TransLink in an impossible position. It's given it very high requirements and expectations, particularly addressing provincial requirements—greenhouse gases comes to mind—but they won't give TransLink the tools it needs to do it."
  • Business in Vancouver looked at the military development of the Bionic Energy Harvester, that knee-brace device that generates electricity as you walk, designed by kinesiologist Max Donelan and team. Spin-off company Bionic Power Inc. picked up $200,000 this month from the Department of National Defence. The company has also raised roughly $1 million from angel investors, friends and family.
  • The Vancouver Courier looked at a report from Vancouver’s drug policy coordinator saying the health-care system for people suffering from severe mental health disorders and addictions in Vancouver is "broken and must be fixed." The Courier added:
    “The Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions at Simon Fraser University . . . estimated 19,500 people with severe mental health issues and addictions live in Vancouver. Of that population, 13,500 are in housing, 1,800 are homeless, 2,280 are at risk of becoming homeless and 1,960 are housed in Vancouver Coastal Health facilities.”
  • Vancouver Sun columnist Don Cayo looked at how population is growing fast in the largest and poorest countries, while the proportion of the world's population living in developed countries will shrink. It means huge challenges for the world we know.
    Public policy prof John Richards was quoted as saying stagnant incomes in Africa and the hugely disproportionate wealth of Europe have already created immense pressures. "The consequences are just appalling—everything from the loss of life when illegal immigrants try to get into Europe, to the conflicts between old stock inhabitants and new immigrants.”
    Richards noted that in China and India alone "We're looking at two and a half billion people who have real expectations of achieving industrial-level living standards. Add in the Thailands, Malaysias, Vietnams and so on and we're looking at well over three billion."
    By way of Canwest News Service, the story also ran in the Calgary Herald.
  • The Vancouver edition of Metro reported Vancouver city council approved the development of secondary suites within suites in high-rise condos. “Vancouver architect Michael Geller, who pioneered the idea in the UniverCity development at Simon Fraser University, said people should think of them as ‘basement suites’ or ‘mortgage helpers’—but in the sky.”
  • TheTyee.ca, a BC news and commentary website, reported on a dispute between the Telecommunications Workers Union and 13 TWU researchers and office workers who are members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union. Mark Leier, director of SFU's Centre for Labour Studies, was quoted:
    "What TWU is demanding of its employees would be outrageous in any labour dispute. The fact this is happening between unions, within the house of labour, makes the situation even more tragic." (TWU has unilaterally increased the employees’ workweek by five hours and has refused to recognize a grievance procedure previously negotiated.)
  • Prof emeritus Gary Mauser wrote a guest column in the Alberni Valley Times: “The best measures to use in evaluating the gun registry are murder and suicide rates. The statistics are unequivocal: the gun registry has not had a meaningful impact on either one. . . . . The gun registry has failed to improve public safety. It is time we stopped wasting money on harassing hunters and target shooters. We should focus on jailing violent criminals and repeat offenders. Study after study has shown that almost all (85% to 99%) guns used by criminals are smuggled into Canada and have never been registered.”
    Mauser also had a letter to the editor on the issue in the Barriere (BC) Star-Journal.

VANCOUVER SUN BLOGS

  • The Vancouver Sun now is carrying regular “Community of Interest” blogs from profs and other BC experts. Featured from SFU this week were blogs by criminologist Neil Boyd and political scientist Kennedy Stewart.
    Stewart on Vancouver municipal budgets: “Despite election speechifying about the different ideologies, the budgets show it really does not matter which party gains power as spending priorities remain constant for most city services.”
    Boyd on criminal justice: “Medicine has, for at least decades, generally moved forward on the basis of the best available evidence.  . . .But with crime and criminal justice we tend to throw the best available evidence out the window, preferring instead to indulge our emotions in our policy-making.”
    Also signed up as bloggers: profs Andre Gerolymatos, Alexander Moens, Gordon Price, John Richards, and Patrick Smith.
    To follow them, head for:
    http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/communityofinterest/default.aspx
    You’ll find links to all the bloggers at the bottom of that page, You can set up RSS feeds, too.

POLICE BEAT

  • Newsday was the first news outlet in which we spotted an Associated Press feature on efforts to combat drug smuggling across the Canada-U.S. border. In the story, Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, said production of export marijuana and its economic spinoffs have made it BC’s third largest industry behind tourism and logging. "It's a major component of our gross provincial product."
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader covered a Statistics Canada report that found crime overall is down in BC but the Lower Mainland remains well above the national average for violent crime, particularly murder. Rob Gordon said the flow of criminals to BC from elsewhere is a major reason why BC’s crime rate is nearly double Ontario's.  "We're net importers of offenders from other parts of Canada."
  • The Canadian Press carried a national story on Ingmar Lee, who openly admits that he sabotaged a seismological drill site on Denny Island, off BC’s central west coast. The story quoted SFU criminologist Neil Boyd: “I just don't think that exposing people to risk and damaging property is a way to resolve this issue.'' (The sabotage was a repaired, and the test blast went ahead as planned.)
    We saw the story in and on more than a dozen media outlets across Canada.

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS

  • The Montreal Gazette featured Québec’s establishment of the Celtic Way, a guided tour of 14 landmarks in the Appalachian highlands, where Scots and Irish settled from the 1820s onward.
    SFU historian Jack Little noted the influx included people evicted from the Isle of Lewis in 1838. By the 1860s Gaelic-speaking Highlanders had colonized six townships between the St. Francis River and Lac Mégantic. “For the Lewis people, it was a stepping stone from a very traditional society. They still managed to maintain a lot of their way of life."
    Now the region is overwhelmingly French-speaking.
  • A Globe and Mail editorial panned the federal government’s failure to match Skilled Worker immigration policies with Canada’s long-term needs. As an example, it noted: “Attempts to pick the hottest profession in the late 1990s resulted in an influx of engineers whose employment vanished in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and the dot-com bust. Don DeVoretz, an economist at Simon Fraser University, says that around 32,000 immigrant engineers are not working in their field."
  • The Globe and Mail looked at how “’Tis the season of the family reunion.” And it quoted Communication prof Richard Smith.
    “In the social networking era, families exchange photos and bulletins far more often than they could ever phone or write, says Richard Smith, a professor of communication at Simon Fraser University. ‘Because you keep up online, you actually might feel more of a connection with these people than you would otherwise,’ he says, adding that electronic communication often drives face-to-face visits.”
  • TheMarkNews.com, a Canadian commentary-and-debate website, carried an article by Shauna Sylvester, fellow at SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue and director of Canada’s World, a national citizens’ dialogue. She wrote: “With low voter turn-out rates, low party membership numbers, and a general distrust of our politicians, how do we move ourselves out of this political malaise?” And she offered some thoughts on how Canadians might “revive the democratic heartbeat of this country.”
  • Some 56 representatives of organizations and academic experts on Latin America issued an open letter calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to condemn violations of human rights and civil liberties committed by the coup government in Honduras. Signers included Michael A. Lebowitz, SFU prof emeritus (economics).

ATHLETICS

  • An editorial in the Globe and Mail began with “Simon Fraser’s boldness.  The Clan is off to the big time. Last week Burnaby, B.C.'s Simon Fraser University became the first Canadian university to be admitted to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).”
    The editorial continued: “Nervous nationalists fret that SFU's departure could presage a collapse in the Canada West conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). . . .
    “The CIS now faces serious competition for the loyalty of its members. If such a situation produces a more accommodating stance within the organization regarding scholarships, travel and other complaints from Western schools, so much the better. A little competition never hurt anyone.”
  • Burnaby Now reported that a former B.C. Hockey League goaltender, Justin Mulholland, has committed to play for the SFU men's hockey team next season. Mulholland, who played with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL, is transferring to SFU from Dalhousie.
    "Justin is a talented goaltender with a quality track record in junior and university hockey," said SFU general manager Jeff Dubois. "With our three netminders from last season all having graduated, he has an excellent opportunity to step up and fill a very important role on our team."
  • The Richmond News did an advance story on the World Police and Fire Games that open in BC July 31. The News featured Navi Sekhon, Richmond resident, Burnaby firefighter and captain of the BC basketball team in the games. He used to play for the SFU Clan.

SCIENCE

  • ScienceNews.org carried an article on pollutants that can trigger illness or affect development. “’What we’re finding,” notes Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, ‘is that for many of the new morbidities in children (asthma, ADHD, criminal behavior) as well as the most prevalent problems in adults, environmental toxicants—like air pollution, like tobacco, like lead—are major risk factors.’”
  • Scientific American reported a geological find on one of California's Channel Islands that some researchers say is the strongest evidence yet that a comet exploded above North America, causing widespread extinctions of animals and people around 12,900 years ago.
    “Skeptics, however, say the debate is far from over,” Scientific American added. “Briggs Buchanan, an archaeologist from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, disputes the notion that humans declined following the purported impact. ‘We have shown that in California, specifically, that there [was] no severe decline in the resident population.’”
    (The California discovery, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is of “shock-synthesized hexagonal diamonds”. The finders say this supports a theory that a comet set off continental fires that led to the mysterious disappearance of the Clovis people and the extermination of 35 types of mammal.)

EDUCATION

  • Kamloops This Week reported local secondary student Marcie Decker has been awarded a scholarship to SFU worth $34,500, and continued: “The Burnaby university is awarding a record number of scholarships this year. ‘We're delighted with the student response,’ said SFU registrar Kate Ross. ‘These new scholars bring strong academic ability, leadership experience and a dedication to service that will enrich the vibrant and diverse SFU community.’"
    The Langley Advance carried a story on how five local high school grads got healthy scholarships from SFU, including four winners of Gordon Shrum entrance scholarships worth $24,000 apiece.
  • The Alberni Valley Times featured scholarship ceremonies of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Among those honoured was Serena Read—the first student ever to get an NTC scholarship in every school year since Grade 1. “The next door Read will head through is the one at Simon Fraser University where she will pursue her bachelor of science in health sciences with her eye on becoming a doctor.”

SECOND RUN

  • The Vancouver Sun and Calgary Herald picked up from the Financial Post section of National Post a newsfeature on “a horrible year for Canadian workers”—marked by cutbacks, frozen wages, rolled back benefits, and layoffs. It quoted Mark Leier, director of SFU’s Centre for Labour Studies, as saying unions and workers now may push for pension improvements, or increased employment insurance.
    “We may see things like wildcat strikes, or even strikes where there's no union involved where people just say, ‘Forget it, we're going out unless you give us a better deal.”
  • Several more U.S. newspapers ran an Associated Press analysis that quoted Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Report Project at SFU. “Mack says both battle deaths and indirect civilian casualties are shrinking because ‘their major drivers, the number and deadliness of wars, have both shrunk. Plus—and this is critical—humanitarian assistance per displaced person has increased fivefold since the end of the Cold War, and become more cost-effective.’"

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Biology student Janie Dubman’s latest in a series of reports in The Vancouver Sun—written from the orangutan care centre on Borneo—had good news and sad. One of her special charges, a red leaf monkey called Rita, survived a mystery illness. But Dubman’s efforts to save another red leaf monkey, which had been harassed and mis-fed as a local pet, failed.

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