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July 8, 2004

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Dueling opinions on guns
National Post, July 2
Simon Fraser University professor Gary Mauser, whose research decries any link between rising crime rates and gun ownership, is taking aim at a colleague for supporting such a notion. Mauser has accused SFU criminologist Neil Boyd of cherry picking statistics and countries to support his argument that the availability of guns puts public safety at risk. Both scholars recently aired their views in opinion pieces in the National Post. Boyd concluded: “If it were true that more guns produced less crime, America would be the safest country in the world — an annual toll of almost 11,000 homicides involving firearms tells a different story.” A few days later, Mauser responded: “As a criminologist, one would think Boyd would understand that criminal violence increases with the extent of organized crime in a country, not the number of hunters and target shooters.”

The all-seeing all-saying cell phone
North Bay Nugget, July 1
It seems as though everyone and their dog has a wallet-sized cell phone these days, but North American cell phone manufacturers and content
providers are not content. They want to match their European and Asian competitors' market penetration, which is about 70 per cent, exceeding North America's 40 to 50 per cent. SFU associate communication professor Richard Smith is not surprised by cell phone providers' new benchmark. “We're moving to the next step in the market and this hybridization that we're seeing is all about getting that kick-start to do it,” says Smith. “The trick is to add enough services so that there will be something for everyone.” Smith predicts that location-based services via wireless cell phones will be the ultimate achievement. “The cliched example is walking by a coffee shop and having a phone beep with an email offering the user a virtual coupon for 50 cents off a non-fat latte. The user would then be able to pay by phone.”

Weighing the fear factor
Vancouver Courier, June 30
While successful federal Vancouver Centre incumbent Hedy Fry figures it was the electorate's faith in the Liberals that enabled her to regain her seat, her opponents credit a fear factor. Conservative candidate Gary Mitchell blames Conservative MP Randy White, who lost his seat, for leading voters to think his personal views were the party's. Mitchell sees a direct correlation between his loss and White's release of a videotape, days before the election, in which he opposed same-sex marriage. Kennedy Stewart, a SFU political scientist and the NDP candidate for Vancouver Centre, also feels ballots cast in fear cost him votes. “What I was able to say resonated with people, but I think the Liberal scare tactics in the last few days - that Harper is scary - had an effect,” says Stewart, who is back teaching at SFU.

Metro West votes for Liberals
Vancouver Sun, June 30
Political analysts credit the Liberal party's new deal for cities and its high-profile B.C. candidates with increasing the party's urban seats from five to eight. While the Conservatives promised communities three cents per litre of the federal gas tax, the Liberals promised five cents per litre. That was part of a larger urban agenda the party packaged as its new deal for cities. SFU political scientist Daniel Cohn links the Liberals' B.C. increase to a metropolitan Western Canada with policy preferences that favour the Liberals and the New Democrats.

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