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Mar 20, 2003

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Pro-west reformer assassinated
National Post, March 13

Serbs are stunned by the assassination of their prime minister, a man who delivered them from the iron grip of Slobodan Milosevic's dictatorship, and put Serbia on a path of democratic reform. SFU Balkan politics expert Lenard Cohen says of Zoran Djindjic's assassination: “This is a major tragedy for Serbia. This is a huge setback for reform forces in Serbia.” However, Cohen, the author of Serpent in the Bosom, a book about former Yugoslavia, doesn't think Djindjic's death will halt Serbia's reform process. Djindjic led a group of democratic reformers who favoured co-operation with the West. They had hoped that their reforms would, one day, result in Serbia joining the European Union and NATO. Djindjic was widely credited with instigating economic reform in Serbia.

Biological weaponry a threat to be feared
Toronto Sun, March 10

There's a big gulf between the damage wrought by biological weapons and the actual capability, say some experts, but that doesn't mean there's no cause for worry. Douglas Ross, who specializes in international security at SFU, says the target of bio attacks doesn't have to be people. “You could go for agriculture,” he says, noting the potential damage of foot and mouth disease outbreaks. Ross calls Canada's recently acquired West Nile virus “the garden variety,” warning that Iraqi defectors since 1999 claim Saddam Hussein and others have developed a super strain of West Nile that is far more lethal. “We could be in for one hell of an awful time because it could be carried by birds and mosquitoes,” he adds. “Nowhere would be safe. We'd all have to wander around in little bio-safety suits.”

Multi-tasking kids out of an imagination
Canadian Press, March 7

Have today's parents scheduled teens to the point where there is no time to idle away the day? Have they robbed a generation of the pastime of daydreaming? “The rambling idle time, being able to observe the natural world seems to be crucial for imaginative development,” says SFU education professor Kieran Egan, author of The Education Mind: How Cognitive tools Shape Our Understanding. Egan says somewhere along the way we “assumed that you can technologize learning and ignore imagination.” He adds, “We've begun to think of the accumulation of information as a somehow crucial feature rather than getting the mind to work in much richer ways. What we'll end up with is a lot of zonked out kids that know virtually nothing.”

Privatizing healthcare raises fears
Victoria Times Colonist, March 7

A report by an SFU economist says B.C. government legislation allowing privatization of some healthcare jobs could have serious pay implications for all B.C. female workers. Marjorie Griffin Cohen says 30 years of pay equity have been eroded by B.C. legislation that allows the private sector to take over healthcare jobs. Privatization of hospital work is a direct attack on pay equity for women, she says, adding the government is giving a signal that pay equity is no longer something employers have to pay attention to. “They are attacking what they think is the weakest link, the women who are historically the worst treated in the labour force, immigrant women, older women, and those who have benefited enormously by pay-equity legislation,” she says.

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