SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - May 29, 2009
May 29, 2009
A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: May 22-29, 2009
Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, had a bully pulpit during the week for his charge that governments aren’t doing enough to tackle our organized crime.
He was quoted in several papers, but the most-circulated appearance was a story in The Economist, headlined: “Drug gangs in Canada: British Columbia or Colombia?”
The Economist’s circulation: 1.4 million copies a week, in more than 200 countries.
More on this below.
- The Economist reported that Vancouver has gained notoriety for gun crime: “Since 1997 nearly 450 gangsters have been killed there.” The story included this:
“Rob Gordon, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, says attempts at creating an agency to curb the gangs have repeatedly failed. Two such agencies have been disbanded since 1998 because of conflicts among the various participating police forces. The current effort at collaboration, led by the Mounties, is also ‘riven with conflict’, he says.”
The story continued: “Despite great public concern over crime, it got little attention in the election. Mr Campbell’s Liberals and the opposition New Democrats promised more police and prosecutors. But neither, says Mr Gordon, appeared to have a long-term strategy to control organised crime.”
- Switzerland-based InSciences.org reported biologist Nick Dulvy is arguing in a commentary in Nature Reports Climate Change that fisheries must be included in climate-change debate. Dulvy, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, and co-author Edward Allison of the World Fish Center in Penang, Malaysia, say fisheries deserves a place at the negotiation table at the UN Framework on Climate Change meetings in Copenhagen in December.
- And UK-based UTV carried a story on how hordes of diver-tourists are hurting the stingrays at “Stingray City”, Grand Cayman. “Christina Semeniuk, an ecologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada, who led the research, said: ‘Our study is the first to definitively show negative physiological impacts that indicate long-term costs to the animals' health.’"
- Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Report Project at SFU, was on GlobalTV’s national news, in a story about North Korea’s nuclear-bomb and missile tests.
“It's a bargaining lever. The North Koreans are sending a signal to the United States, and the signal to the United States says, look, get serious, America, about negotiating with us. Give us the concessions we want.”
Later, CKNW interviewed political scientist Doug Ross—an expert on security in the Pacific region—on the North Korean issue.
- The Vancouver Sun and other Canwest papers gave headlines to research by forensic anthropologist Lynne Bell into the identity of Albert Johnson, Canada's infamous “Mad Trapper". (Johnson murdered a police officer in 1932, sparking a manhunt through the Northwest Territories that ended with his death.)
“What Bell found—that Johnson was likely an American or Scandinavian, rather than Canadian—stunned many involved in the project.”
By way of Canwest News Service, we saw the story in National Post, the Victoria Times Colonist, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and Ottawa Citizen. Epoch Times did the story in its U.S. edition.
- Lynne Bell was also in the Victoria Times Colonist in a story about the discovery of the skeleton of a homeless man who died in the truck in which he lived. He had not been seen for a year. The story was picked up by The Vancouver Sun, The Province, Regina Leader-Post and Ottawa Citizen.
- CBC News reported that Saskatchewan’s coal-burning SaskPower is eyeing the purchase of carbon offsets. CBC quoted SFU energy prof Mark Jaccard as questioning some popular offsets on the market:
“Picture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and tell me which of those carbon offset projects actually takes the carbon out of the atmosphere in a permanent way. I say tree-planting doesn't do that, because the trees will die one day (and will thus return carbon to the atmosphere as they decay.)”
- The Ottawa Citizen explored how companies recruit children as online “agents” in developing programs to market products to kids. Stuart Poyntz, assistant professor in SFU Communication, was quoted:
"Advertisers and broadcasters are approaching children as participants in cultural production and not as audiences. Participation has been turned into a commercially enhancing opportunity. Kids are advertising and expanding brands for fun."
- The Marketplace program on CBC-TV did a story on a recall of an athletic support cup that can break and cause injury if hit. “Americans can get their money back, but Canadians can't.” SFU marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in the story: “When you put them through his kind of rigmarole, all you're doing is making an enemy of a customer you worked like hell to get a hold of in the first place. Not too smart.”
- Meredith was also in a Canadian Press story that kicked off the final week of the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being Tasered by RCMP at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007.
Said Meredith: "The more they (the Mounties) tried to stick to their party line, the more they tried to obfuscate, the worse it got. It's a situation where you've gone so far down the road now, it's tougher and tougher to get out of this, and it will not go away."
- The Globe and Mail Looked at OxyContin (oxycodone) addiction, and the significant social problems it generates. Health Sciences prof Benedikt Fischer said the synthetic opioid is prescribed far more liberally in Canada than it is in Europe.
"Our system dishes out these drugs so easily and so generously that there is just a lot of this stuff around. A lot of people use them as stress relievers because they make you feel good, they take the pain away."
- Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason wrote a column that stemmed from a three-day conference sponsored by the David Lam Centre at SFU, which examined the decay and future of Chinatowns. He quoted Paul Crowe, director of the centre, and Jan Walls, its founder.
Walls said of Chinese elders: “Their greatest fear is that younger generations will forget their heritage. I mean, it's quite natural and it's happening across ethnic groups. But when you come to Canada, you get judged by how well you assimilate into mainstream culture. You start thinking in English and you don't put as high a priority on ethnic identity maintenance as your parents, and especially grandparents, would like."
- The national edition of Epoch Times reported on a senator’s efforts to limit by law salaries and big bonuses at corporations that receive public funds. The story quoted a warning from Jerry Sheppard, associate prof in SFU Business: “The market for executives is an international one, and you’re competing with other companies in other countries that may not have those restrictions, so it could put you at a disadvantage—much as I like the idea.”
- The Province looked at municipal proposals to crack down on sporting-goods stores that sell guns. Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, said it’s not going to end gang shootings. “Anyone who thinks that is the case is in a wonderful dream state.” And he noted: “B.C. bud goes south and cocaine and weapons come north. It's the new NAFTA."
- Ethicist Mark Wexler was in a Vancouver Sun story about the plight of Max Rose of North Vancouver, who suffers from a very rare form of cancer. It’s a case of an ethical dilemma: the cost of care vs. limited resources.
"Some people ask, 'Isn't it hypocritical to admit we actually put a price on life?' said Wexler. But. . . . if there is only so much room in a lifeboat to save those who are drowning, if there is only so much money to help the sick, Wexler said society is forced to decide who is allowed on the lifeboat.” The Calgary Herald picked up the story.
Wexler was also on GlobalTV, talking about the ethics behind two cases in which banks erroneously deposited money into people’s accounts. In one, a man from the Creston BC area promptly told his bank it had accidentally credited him with almost $8 million. In contrast, a New Zealand couple fled to Hong Kong after the bank unwittingly gave them access to $6 million.
- Speaking of ethics: CBC-TV carried a story on a number of students (none identified) who listed their U-Pass transit passes for sale on Craigslist. Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program said the solution is simple if TransLink is determined to curb it: TransLink could assign one transit police officer to send email warnings to sellers running ads.
- Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe wrote about the Conservative Party attack ads aimed at Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Among other things, she wrote: “Simon Fraser University political scientist John Richards calls the current ad campaign ‘a dismal portent of how the Tories intend to wage politics in the near term.’"
- Political scientist Kennedy Stewart wrote a guest commentary in the Georgia Straight proposing the mixed-member proportional electoral system (MMP) for BC and for Vancouver elections—plus a ward system for Vancouver.
“While I campaigned for STV in the last two referenda and am disappointed with its defeat . . . with the MMP system we can eat our cake and have it too. We can have the best features of the first-past-the-post and proportional representation systems.”
Stewart was also in the Surrey-North Delta Leader, in a story on the removal by a judge of a White Rock counsellor on the grounds he lied about the origin of a campaign e-mail. Stewart said the "bizarre" ruling has to be appealed. "Not appealing this is so dangerous—not just to the people involved in the case, but to politicians at large. You have your lawyers all revved up and if you lose the election, you file. I could see this happening right across the province."
And Stewart was in a Georgia Straight story on whether the BC-STV system would have disadvantaged racial minorities, as suggested on some ethnic radio shows. Stewart said he couldn’t say if that’s true. “It all depends on how racist you think the voters are.”
- CBC Radio and The Vancouver Sun pursued physician-prof Tim Takaro of SFU Health Sciences for advance stories on his workshop May 29 that focused on research ideas on the health and environmental impact of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and lessons learned from Olympics in Beijing and Atlanta. The Canadian Press, CBC and CKNW turned up at the event.
- CBC Radio interviewed former Vancouver planner Larry Beasley, and gave an advance plug for his Munro Lecture this week at SFU Harbour Centre. (A sell-out, with almost 300 people at the event.)
- The Vancouver Sun carried a story on the growth and influence of Chinese-language media here. “’Even in cities like Sydney where there is also a significant Chinese-speaking population, most of the Chinese-language media is imported,’ said Shuyu Kong, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University. ‘The shows and products are mostly beamed in by satellite, pre-taped or published in greater China. That's not the case in Vancouver, where much content is locally produced.’"
- The Burnaby NewsLeader’s story on the death last week of architect Arthur Erickson quoted Lee Gavel, SFU's chief facilities officer and university architect.
"When I talk to colleagues at other universities they immediately know Simon Fraser through its architecture." And, the NewsLeader continued: “Part of Gavel's job is to ensure any new buildings on campus complement and maintain Erickson's original architectural vision.”
Meanwhile, tributes to Erickson and his SFU success were featured on blogs around the world.
SFU now has online a video interview of a 2006 interview with Erickson and SFU co-designer Geoff Massey. It’s on the SFU News YouTube page.
- The Province, in a story reporting on huge overtime bills at the Vancouver Police Department, noted that the department had implemented some overtime controls recommended in a 2006 from SFU criminologist Curt Griffiths. But 345 VPD members earned more than $100,000 in 2008 and two earned about $225,000 each. (A veteran constable's base pay is $89,900.)
- Surrey Now let readers know about a public lecture this week on Guarding Minds@Work, a study from SFU’s Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare (COMH), a national research centre in SFU Health Sciences. It was commissioned by the Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and funded by Great-West Life.
- The Vancouver Sun carried a story as Daniel Igali, Olympic champion wrestler and SFU graduate student, received this week a national courage award from the Future Aces Foundation, headed by the Herbert H. Carnegie Foundation.
The Victoria Times Colonist and CHEK-TV, Victoria, picked up the story. CBC Radio interviewed Igali but, unlike the other media, didn’t mention his SFU connection.
Igali is also working toward a "fun-run" that his foundation will host to raise funds for the school he has built in Nigeria. The 5-km Daniel Igali Foundation Run 4 the Kids will be held in Surrey Oct. 17. Surrey Now ran that story. So did Canadian Immigrant magazine.
- Three grads of the SFU masters of public policy program wrote guest essays in The Vancouver Sun.
- Hartinder Nijjar wrote: “Mental health care has been neglected by provincial governments for many years. . . . Careful analysis of crisis lines, mobile crisis teams, and community mental health centres indicates that all three have positive long-term outcomes.”
- Patrick Zaph wrote: “I discovered that nurses in Bangladesh face social stigma as well as working challenges. . . . Appropriate governmental and hospital policies should be instituted to make their challenges less challenging.”
- And Derek Andrew argued that a package of tax changes for aboriginals could produce “more accountable band governments, increase funds for infrastructure, and yield healthier, wealthier, and wiser aboriginal communities.”
- Burnaby Now did a story on how SFU has joined the community contributor program for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The university will provide parking spaces Feb. 12-28 at the Burnaby campus to serve as a park-n-ride location for ticketed spectators.
- The Vancouver Courier, in a feature on Vancouver’s “Railtown” neighbourhood, noted that it includes 611 Alexander—“one of the most beautiful restored factories". And a little-known home to, among others, “studios for visual arts students of Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts.”
- The Burnaby NewsLeader mentioned that SFU will take a break from classes during the 2010 Winter Olympics. “While the campus will remain open, it’s expected many faculty and staff will be taking vacations during the event, the university says.”
- The careers pages in The Province promoted SFU seminars aimed at providing novice entrepreneurs with a road map to build a business and find investors to help them. “Called Milestones to Success, the two seminars (June 12 and 26 at SFU Harbour Centre) . . . are part of the university's TIME Ventures Incubator, which works with small and medium-size local companies.”
SFU Athletics filled in media as:
- Five members of the Clan track and field team ended their varsity season by achieving NAIA All-American status at the 2009 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships at Edwardsville IL. They were Jessica Smith, Helen Crofts, Brianna Kane, Traci Boss and Ryan Brockerville.
In her final race as a Clan member, Boss raced to a personal best time of 1:01.14 in the women’s 400m hurdles. She and Heather Mancell were also named NAIA Scholar-Athletes at the meet.
Earlier, the Clan women’s 4x800m relay team won their event. It was the seventh time SFU has won this crown. Mancell and Ali Hudson thus claimed their third NAIA title, Smith won her second and newcomer Crofts her first.
- Clan women’s basketball stars Robyn Buna and Laurelle Weigl were named to the 2009 Canadian women’s Development National team long list. The final roster for the Development National team will be selected in June to represent Canada at the FISU Games July 1-12 in Belgrade.
- Concordia University announced the appointment of Brian Lewis as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science for a five-year term beginning August 1, 2009. He was dean of applied sciences at SFU from 2001-2008, then was special advisor on faculty restructuring. He’s a former Concordia faculty member and was chair of communication studies there from 1990 to 1995.
- The University of Lethbridge told news media that SFU’s Daniel J. Weeks will become vice-president of research at Lethbridge on July 1. He now is chair of SFU Psychology and operates the PsychoMotor Behaviour Laboratory.
- The University of Northern BC announced that John Borden, prof emeritus in SFU Biological Sciences and a founder of the Integrated Pest Management program at SFU, received an honorary degree from UNBC May 29.
UNBC’s news release noted: “Every university-level course on forest entomology in B.C. is currently taught by former students or associates of Borden, and every regional forest entomologist in the province is one of his former students.”
- The Simcoe (ON) Reformer ran a feature on seniors who go back to school. It quoted Alan Aberbach, director of the seniors program at SFU. "What our students want to do is keep their minds fresh and their brain going. . . . It's the idea of use it or lose it."
- The University of Kentucky invited media to “hear what three experts from Vancouver have to say about their city’s meteoric rise to world-class city status.” One of the speakers: Mark Roseland, geographer and director of the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development.
- SFU spread the word that more than 3,000 students will celebrate the completion of their degrees during spring Convocation June 2 – 5. Honorary degrees will be conferred on Burnaby river conservationist Mark Angelo, architect Richard Henriquez, broadcaster Rafe Mair, philanthropist Djavad Mowafaghian and biomedical engineer James McEwen.
The Burnaby NewsLeader promptly carried an item on “Burnaby's Mark Angelo”.
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