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Oct 02, 2003

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Fires produce greenhouse gas
Edmonton Journal, Sept. 23

Record-breaking wildfires in B.C. produced 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas, equivalent to about one-quarter of B.C.'s annual gas emissions, according to a new carbon-tracking device developed by B.C. scientists. Tools to track the forest ecosystem are increasingly necessary because of Canada's commitment to reducing carbon emissions under Kyoto, says SFU energy expert Mark Jaccard. By 2010, Canada must keep a detailed accounting of its carbon emissions. Researchers want to know how Canadian forests play a role in mitigating the rise of carbon dioxide. “A working continuous forest is not considered a net emitter of carbon,” he says. “What the numbers from the forest fires tell us is human emissions are very small compared to the natural cycle that goes on through the oceans, atmosphere and biosphere.”

Lots more Idol on the way
Canadian Press, Sept. 20

With the finale of the Canadian Idol talent competition, television viewers might think it's the end of the summer ratings hit. But the phenomenon will persist with the release of the winner's single and CD. CTV has confirmed a second season and World Idol is still to come. Wild enthusiasm in the form of high TV ratings and merchandising has been seen all over the world. The show and subsequent success for winners has been replicated in dozens of countries. And in all those countries watching, the show has become a national sport, says SFU pop culture theory professor Paul Budra. “It's close to something like figure skating, where it's part sport, part esthetics,” he says. “These kids are competing for the ultimate golden apple of the post-modern era, which is celebrity status.”

Microsoft cuts back chat rooms
Vancouver Province, Sept. 17

Microsoft says it is shutting down free chat rooms in many countries to crack down on pedophiles. MSN, a Microsoft subsidiary, plans to close all chat rooms except subscription-only services in the U.S. and free, monitored forums in Canada and other countries. Richard Smith, an associate professor of communication at SFU, says MSN is largely shutting down chat rooms in countries where spinoff sales don't happen too often. “It's one thing to shut down chat rooms in Nigeria, but quite another thing if they did it in Canada,” says Smith. “They run chat rooms because they want kids to get used to using their products and have them as customers in the future.“ Smith cautions parents and children to monitor closely strangers they meet in chat rooms.

Educating the educators
Fanny Kiefer show, Sept 15

We live in a fear society, so does a strict, regimented teacher have a place in today's classroom? Absolutely, says SFU's new dean of education, Paul Shaker, whose career focus is educational leadership and advocacy. “If you look at some of the greatest coaches around, that regimented approach has worked for them,” says the Ohio-born Shaker, noting that people today are more sophisticated and looking for new ways to stimulate children. An advocate for community schools, which provide a support system of social services for school neighbourhoods, he acknowledges that for children who come from inner city homes or have problems at home, schools can be sounding boards. “Everybody can benefit from alternative choices,” says Shaker.

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