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Sep 05, 2002

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Caucasian TV drama
Canadian Press, Aug. 26

Mainstream TV drama in Canada still looks overwhelmingly Caucasian, according to a new report that analysed nearly 70 hours of broadcasting on five channels. Mysterious Ways, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Da Vinci's Inquest were among about 20 English-language shows viewed during the pilot study by SFU researchers. Visible minorities made up just 12 per cent of 1,200 characters featured in the sample, and of those most were little more than minor characters, says researcher Shane Halasz of the school of communication. The study also found problems with the way non-Caucasian characters are written into TV scripts. Many did not have realistic ethnic accents and were often presented without cultural context. “There seems to be a real mainstreaming element to the way visible minorities are portrayed,” said Halasz. “The workplace seems to be a convenient place to include person of colour for cosmetic purposes, without having the obligation to look at cultural custom, or what happens in the house.”

Social changes affect grandparents
Canadian Press, Aug. 24

Gloria Gutman, the director the gerentology centre at SFU, attributes her lack of grandparent status to “massive social change.” Even with three children in their 30s, Gutman sometimes wonders if she'll ever be a grandmother. The Canadian population is aging - recent census figures indicate the median age of Canadians was 37.6 in 2001, an all-time high, compared with 25 in 1966. As well, notes Gutman, women are having children at a later age: most don't even marry till at least their late 20s. Women who delay childbirth to establish careers may also find it more difficult to conceive because fertility rates drop with age, notes Barb Mitchell, an assistant professor of sociology and gerentology at SFU. But with Canadians living longer, she says, there is a longer window of opportunity to not just have grandchildren, but great- and great-great-grandchildren.

International lottery discussed
National Post, Aug. 13

World lottery chiefs met for the first time yesterday to discuss launching an international lottery that would benefit the cash-strapped United Nations and could have a first prize that makes payments from even the so-called mega lotteries look like small change. One estimate suggests prize money of up to U.S. $250 million could be offered on one draw, with an equal amount generated for the UN and governments participating in the game. Economist and SFU professor emeritus Herb Grubel says he believes “people should be able to spend their money on whatever they wish, but we know lotteries are an obnoxious form of taxation that falls mainly on the poor.” He raised the spectre of taxing the poor of one country to pay for developments that aid the poor in another. He also said the lottery might be a step toward an international UN tax.

Elderly burden discussed
Kyodo News (Japan), July 10

At a forum entitled Has Population Aging Been Oversold? scholars from Canada, the U.S. and Japan met at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo to challenge the notion that increasing numbers of elderly people are a burden to society. Keynote speaker Ellen Gee, a professor of sociology and anthropology at SFU, told participants that it would be misleading to suggest the aging population has ruinous consequences for industrialized countries. “Elderly people are being scapegoated in order to serve a particular political agenda,” she said.

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