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September 9, 2004

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Taking stock of the internet
Vancouver Sun, Sept. 2
SFU associate professor of communication Richard Smith is one of many new technology experts taking stock of the internet's benefits and drawbacks on its 35th birthday. Even though the electronic information highway has rerouted the way we communicate, shop, work and obtain our information, Smith says, “It's still kind of in a gawky teenage phase. You can see the potential there. But there's obviously a lot more polish required.” On the plus side, Smith notes that the internet is proof of the malleability and mutability of digital technology. It is why the internet is absorbing other media. “Something as ancient and long-standing as the telephone system is being absorbed by the internet,” observes Smith. On the downside, he cites the lack of quality control on the internet. However, he adds, “There's a great deal of research going on to get better information.”

Police behaviour suspect at festival
Vancouver Province, Sept. 2
Complaints from Bowen Island residents about RCMP conduct at a local festival have sparked a regional police review of the situation. The island mayor's daughter and a councillor's son say that police treated them harshly, and festival-goers, organizers and local politicians complained that RCMP were aggressive and heavy-handed. Mayor Lisa Barrett says, “It's not just the kids. It was adults coming to me saying they had been horribly treated by the police, as if they'd committed some kind of terrible crime.” Bowen Island councilor and SFU criminologist Neil Boyd says there's good reason for significant police presence at Bowfest. “Many young people see it as an opportunity to get loaded and cause conflicts,” says Boyd.

Heart health study seeking participants
MetroValley Newspaper Group, Sept. 1
A heart health study that has been going on for at least a year is still seeking participants. The Fraser health region project uses a prototype report card on the heart health of participants in combination with ongoing, tailored lifestyle counselling to help participants be more active and improve their cardiovascular system. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in this area,” says Andrew Wister, a SFU gerontologist and one of the project researchers. “The report cards will help people see the most important areas for lowering their risk level and the areas of their lifestyle needing attention.” Eligible participants must live in the Fraser health region, be between the ages of 45 and 64, and have a moderate or high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Counterfeit fears overblown
The Daily News (Halifax), Aug. 29
According to a recent study released by retired SFU economics professor John Chant, fears that the growth in currency counterfeiting is getting out of hand are groundless. Chant's study is the first to attempt to quantify the number of bogus bills in circulation, rather than just counting fakes reported to the Bank of Canada. Chant estimates that there is one counterfeit in circulation for every 150 people, and the value of outstanding bogus bills is less than 38 cents per person. “Confidence is a big issue,” Chant said. “It is vital to a nation's currency that the people who accept currency have confidence that the next people in the chain will except it.” The Bank of Canada says counterfeiting caused as many as 11 per cent of merchants in some areas of the country to refuse to accept $100 in 2001. That year 46,000 counterfeit $100 notes were detected from an outstanding stock of 160 million authentic notes.

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