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Jun 26, 2003

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Light and darkness in Canada
L.A. Times Magazine, June 2003

Photographer Lincoln Clarke found beauty in Vancouver's female drug addicts. He didn't know he was also documenting murder victims. For the photographer, who has made a career out of taking portraits including celebrities like Deborah Harry and Oliver Stone, the gritty Downtown Eastside seemed a strangely natural setting. He spent five years documenting its drug-addicted women, but the project also raised a pivotal questions, such as how did a neighbourhood become a receptacle for the nation's ills? SFU criminologist John Lowman says the city simply looked the other way. “The long-term policies flushed all the crime and addiction into the Downtown Eastside,” he says. “The idea was to contain and corral social problems in one area and bury our heads.”

Codling moth's sex drive flames out
National Post, June 20

A facility near Osoyoos B.C. will churn out more than 300 million sterile moths this summer as part of the most ambitious and controversial attempt ever to eradicate the infamous worm in the apple. The worms are actually the larvae of the codling moth, which haunts fruit growers around the globe. Some argue there may be cheaper and more effective ways of bringing about mate disruption. SFU biologist Mark Winston suggests new pesticides coming on the market may be the way to go. He would like to see an independent, outside assessment of the sterile insect release program, noting that Agriculture Canada tried from the outset to muzzle any federal scientists who were opposed to the program and felt other techniques would be better options.

Union denies link with Hells Angels
Vancouver Sun, June 20

A Teamsters official who is under police investigation for alleged links to the Hells Angels denies an affiliation and says the probe should not tarnish the integrity of union members. The local represents 6,000 workers, including 300 civilian employees of the Vancouver and Abbotsford police forces. Robert Gordon, director of SFU's school of criminology, says the Hells Angels typically recruit members from blue collar fields, but links between white collar workers are possible. “The proceeds of organized crime are extremely large,” he says. “It can be very lucrative to have a good working relationship with them.” He adds: “The obvious implication is that somehow an individual might be passing police-related information out. It may be a small fish in a large barrel. On the other hand, there's probably grounds for taking a closer look.”

Tracking tickles
CBC's Quirks and Quarks, June 14

What happens when you get tickled? SFU kinesiology professor Christine MacKenzie says: “When someone tickles us, the receptors in our skin send messages to the brain, up our spinal cord to the primary sensory area of our brain. That says, wait a minute, something is happening, and that connects to other parts of the brain, and that leads us to laugh.” But suppose you want to tickle yourself. Why don't we laugh? MacKenzie theorizes: “When you try to tickle your foot, your brain is sending commands to your hand, and copies of those commands are going to the parts of your brain that are going to get sensory information, saying, ‘the tickling is coming.' So you know when and how and where you are going to tickle. When it's your own hand, you can't trick yourself.” She notes that the parts of the brain that respond to being tickled get active even by our expectations about being tickled.

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