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March 10, 2005

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Ethnic groups should shun extremists
Vancouver Sun, Feb. 28

It's up to various ethnic groups to “voluntarily shun” people in their communities who express extreme viewpoints and speak “outside the mainstream,” well-known conservative commentator Ezra Levant said at a meeting about handling debates on society's sensitive issues. The conference, Maintaining Civil Discourse In Times Of International Instability, drew a diverse group of people representing different factions of society -- from Muslims and lesbians to Jews and conservatives. Mark Wexler, a business professor at SFU, who helped organize the conference, said organizers deliberately sought out people who hold strong views and are not afraid to speak their minds: people on “the fault lines of controversy.” Wexler said the legacy of this and similar conferences is to “create forums where people can speak passionately.”

Pornographer seeks attention
Vancouver Province, Feb. 28

The Cambie pornographer is seeking attention by trying to disgust other people, says a professor of forensic psychology at SFU. Steve Hart said upsetting others could be the primary reason for leaving sexually explicit letters in public. “The goal was probably to cause some shock or disgust in citizens and normal people,” Hart said. “It's possible that that's all he's doing, but it's also possible that he's doing that in addition to having committed (criminal) acts.” Hart added that leaving notes is passive behaviour and suggests witnessing or imagining reactions to them are important to the suspect. Whether the suspect is committing the acts he describes or not, he is clearly disturbed, said Hart, and needs help.

Wal-Mart faces labour problems
CanWest News Service, Feb. 26

Wal-Mart Canada's decision to close a store north of Quebec City, just nine days into contract negotiations with its first unionized workforce is being decried by unions and politicians from various parties as union-busting. And it could just tip the scales against the company's four-year quest to build a store in Vancouver. SFU business professor Lindsay Meredith doubts the labour movement can succeed in either influencing the approval process or unionizing the Vancouver store given its patchy history in the retail sector generally and its waning support from the B.C. public. But he doesn't doubt Wal-Mart might close and sell the store if necessary to block collective bargaining. “Believe it or not that is a possibility,'' he said.

Adopted kids catch up, studies show
Montreal Gazette, Feb. 25

Many children adopted abroad initially play a bit of developmental catch-up but, by age 6, will have skills approaching the average level for their age. Additional research shows positive adoption experiences can make a difference to even those children who endured prolonged stays in institutions. SFU's Lucy LeMare, a professor of early child development and education, has evaluated the progress of children adopted in Romania. She found that, “as a group, (they) are doing significantly less well in all domains assessed - intellectual, peer relationships, family relationships, you name it,” LeMare said. However, she said, the impact of their ordeal is easing with time, with the children functioning better at about age 10. “What that indicates is that there are factors that have occurred since they've been adopted that are making a (positive) difference as well.”

Improved iPod will cost less
The Vancouver Province, Feb. 24

Looking to maintain and broaden its lead position in the portable music-player market, Apple Computer launched four new iPods that featured lower pricing and improved features including a much improved battery life for the iPod Mini. As well, the new iPod Photo players can connect directly to digital cameras and display photos. “Apple is filling just about every niche at $50 increments,” said SFU professor of communication Richard Smith. “By getting volumes up even more, they get much better pricing and they get their vision of the future in front of a lot more people. They've taken over the bottom end of the hard-drive (player) space and the top end of the flash-memory space.”

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