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February 9, 2006

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Fossil fuels can keep the world going
The Guardian (U.K.), Jan. 31
In his recently published book, Sustainable Fossil Fuels, professor of resource and environmental management, Mark Jaccard, cautions against outright panic on the issue of climate change. “The scientists are right,” he says. “The risks are real.” However, he argues fossil fuels can keep the world going and they need not be dirty. He looks forward to new technologies, but also sees a future for “King Coal and his royal cousins, crude oil and natural gas.” He adds that Canada “has reserves in oil sands that exceed everything that Arabia has and we have unconventional natural gas.” Provocatively, he sees no contradiction in continued global growth and - if the right measures are brought in - the reduction of planet-threatening greenhouse gases.

You've got too much mail
Maclean's, Jan. 30
Many workers are feeling overloaded by the volume of e-mail messages filling their in-boxes. When e-mail came to the workplace it was marketed as a time saver, but it now absorbs too much of a worker's time. It also changes the way workers communicate with each other. For some people, the technology is addicting and companies are now implementing bans on e-mail messages during certain hours and on weekends. Workers claiming lost productivity because of e-mail interruptions “have a choice,” according to associate professor of communication Richard Smith. “People can turn off the instant notification of new messages and check messages less frequently.”

Aren't you a lucky dog?
Vancouver Sun, Jan. 28
The Year of the Dog officially began on Jan. 29. “Most Chinese take (the Chinese zodiac) to be fun,” says Jan Walls, director of the David See-Chai Lam centre for international communication. “It makes for really interesting conversations.” In the Chinese astrological system, the complex interaction is between the Yin Yang cycle, the 12 zodiac animals and the five elements of water, wood, fire, gold and earth. In the Chinese culture, the individual is playing a role in a much larger network of social relations. In comparison, the Western style of thinking focuses on the individual as the centre of the universe.

Immediate GST cut may take a year
Vancouver Sun, Jan. 25
The new federal government pledges $44.9 billion in tax cuts over the next five years. The question, now that we are faced with a minority government, is how likely are these promises to stick? There could be looming problems, according to SFU's Canada Research Chair in public finance, Jonathan Kesselman, with how capital gains are taxed. He predicts there will be issues surrounding the Conservative proposal to allow investors to defer taxes on capitals gains and then reinvest immediately. Conservative campaign documents put the cost of this policy at $750 million. Kesselman says, “The government might put a cap on how much tax you could save under this provision.” As a result, investors may change their strategy in order to capitalize on the tax savings.

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