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November 4, 2004

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Thousands lose out on dockworker jobs
Vancouver Province, Oct. 26

A call for 500 high-paying dockworkers' jobs drew up to 5000 hopefuls to score a coveted registration form from the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union, local 502. The huge turnout is an indication of just how many well-paying jobs have been lost in B.C., said Simon Fraser University history professor Mark Leier, an expert on labour history. “What we've seen in the last 30 years is that real wages have declined considerably. The other reality is many of the new jobs created in the last few years have not been the old-economy jobs that paid a good wage. They've been jobs in the service sector that pay minimum wage or a little bit above it. It's a pretty sad commentary on the record of job creation and an economy that has pretty much hung workers out to dry.”

Nazi doll saddens Auschwitz survivor
Toronto Star, Oct. 25

Dolls depicting members of a Nazi SS combat division originally created to guard concentration camps are now available in Canadian stores. Auschwitz death camp survivor Sid Cyngiser is saddened by the toy. He doesn't think it should be on store shelves. Martin Kitchen, professor emeritus of history at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University, said the sale of the dolls is “most extraordinary.” He said the Nazi SS “were a nasty bunch. They were responsible for a number of atrocities on the Eastern Front.”

How we rejected fire and brimstone
Montreal Gazette, Oct. 24

A just-published book by a Simon Fraser University professor has identified an intriguing new turning point in Canadian history: the day in April 1843 when the world didn't come to an end. In Borderland Religion: The Emergence of an English-Canadian Identity, 1792-1852, author Jack Little argues a failed end-of-the-world prophecy by the radical and powerful U.S.-based Millerite movement was a watershed moment in Canada's rejection of the fire-and-brimstone religious culture at the centre of American identity today. “There's clearly an evangelical tradition in the States but we don't define ourselves in terms of religion,” he said. One of the reasons, he says, can be found in the failed “millenarian invasion” of Canada in the 1840s by the U.S. preacher William Miller who represented “the most serious American challenge to British religious hegemony” in English Canada.

Hollywood's take on climate change
Nanaimo Daily News, Oct. 22

Four climatologists agree scriptwriters took considerable liberties with science in the name of story telling in The Day After Tomorrow but there are nuggets of truth to the film's depiction of rapid climate change. Scientists are looking at the possible consequences. Canada could find itself under increasing pressure to supply valuable resources to other parts of the world. A report commissioned by the Pentagon suggests: “The U.S. and Canada may become one, simplifying border controls, or Canada might keep its hydropower, causing energy problems in the U.S.” While the former option may raise serious concerns with many Canadians, the latter is by far the less likely, says Douglas Ross, a professor of political science at SFU. Ross believes a more likely outcome would be some sort of special status, “commonwealth status, like a big Puerto Rico,” he says.

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