Media Bytes

May 12, 2005

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B.C. economy above politics
Victoria Times Colonist, April 28

If you cast a vote May 17 based on B.C.'s economic performance over the last five years, your ballot may be based on commodity prices and other global factors as much as the performance of the ruling Liberal party. They are claiming some credit for the economy's rebound from stagnation, while the NDP prefer to credit world commodity prices and low interest rates. But economists and political scientists warn neither side is really hitting the mark. “The consensus among economists is local government has very little control over economic growth over the short-term, but over the long-term they have more influence as governments can foster an environment that is business friendly,” says SFU economist David Andolfatto, noting the Liberals haven't been in power long enough to realize long-term policy benefits, while the NDP merits some blame for B.C.'s stagnant 1990s economy.

Fast food hype only the beginning
Dose, April 27

The publicity campaign launched by fast-food agencies dismissing obesity health warnings as hype is only the beginning, according to marketing specialist Lindsay Meredith. The director of graduate programs for SFU's faculty of business administration is not surprised that the fast-food industry is launching a strong media offensive in light of a study that found overweight people might live longer than thin people. “The study is certainly striking a blow for fat city,” Meredith said. “They must be in seventh heaven to get a piece of news fodder like this. They've got a nice authority figure saying it's OK to eat junk food. They're going to use that until they're blue in the face.” However, Meredith is skeptical that the advertising launch will have a serious long term effect on the public's attitude to fast-food.

Forever young - humanly possible?
Calgary Sun, April 26

Could we elongate human lifespans past a century or two? Researchers who study aging say it's possible - some say it's inevitable. The challenge is keeping your body fit and your wits keen past your 200th birthday. Some scientists are talking seriously about extending human life spans past a century - 150 years, 200 years, maybe more. Disorders like osteoporosis and Alzheimer's are the price we pay for living longer. But do we have to pay it? “There's a theory called the compression of morbidity,” said Andrew Wister, chair of SFU's gerontology department. “Lifespans have increased and the part of our lives we can expect to spend living with chronic illnesses has been compressed into a smaller and smaller span of years at the end of life.”

Is education a worthwhile investment?
Rafe Mair Show, April 25

Is our education system adequately funded? SFU dean of education Paul Shaker put the question out to various education stakeholders. “It seems to me stakeholders are using very different accounting measures because I get completely contrary claims back,” says Shaker, who suggests that the public should view the debate on a different level. In order to get a constructive analysis of the question, Shaker recommends: “Let's assume education is being funded somewhere in the adequate realm - it's not flush but it's not bankrupt in B.C. We also need to consider that B.C.'s public education is ranked as among the best in the world. Given that, we should measure funding adequacy in terms of whether it is helping to boost the potential output of the 95 to 90 per cent of students who are not the top performers in schools.”

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