Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS July 29 1996
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS July 29 1996

Opening Notes

An unusual way to reach out

BARBARA WICKENS

Just a month after they battled 2,000 stonethrowing youths in a St-Jean-Baptiste Day riot, Quebec City police are taking the street people to the movies. They have been handing out 725 tickets to this week’s local première of Trainspotting, a disturbing portrayal of young, drug-using lowlifes in Edinburgh. The idea for the free presentation originated with Dénis Beaulé, Quebec marketing director for Cineplex Odeon. Impressed with the movie’s bleak message, Beaulé arranged for the police to screen Trainspotting. That convinced the force to participate in the opening-night festivities. ‘Yes, it’s a very hard and disturbing movie that leaves no one indifferent,” says Lieut.

Gaétan Labaie, a spokesman for the Quebec City force. “But it shows the downside of drug use, and that fits in perfectly with police, medical and social group prevention efforts against the use of hard drugs.”

The movie will be shown in the 725-seat Cinéma de Paris—just across the street from Place d Youville, scene of the June 24 incident. But despite the criticism police re-

ceived for their part in the four-hour riot, which resulted in 81 arrests and more than $1 million in damage to local shops and the Quebec national assembly, they maintain the two events are unconnected. “Our association with this movie project is a community effort and is in no way an act of reconciliation for what happened on June 24,” says Labaie. “If some better understanding comes from it, well, that’s good.”

Bulletproofing bobbies

Although police officers in North America are routinely provided with bulletproof vests as part of their uniform, their counterparts in Britain have had to make do without—until recently. Hundreds of British bobbies now wear the lifesaving flak jackets thanks to Partners in Safety. It began in 1995 after officers in the United States read about the deaths of three British constables whose lives

could have been saved by wearing the jackets. Since then, the Americans have shipped over more than 1,500 used jackets. Canadian officers joined the program this year and are now preparing a second shipment of 150 jackets. “Our jackets are replaced every five years because of the manufacturer’s warranty," says Const. Robert Eden of the Delta, B.C., police force, who co-ordinates the Canadian shipments. He adds, however, that a jacket can last 20 years if properly cared for. Says Eden: “We are recycling safety.”

Teeny-tiny tenderloins

Call them compact cattle—or perhaps livestock lite. Their real name is Australian Lowline cattle, and seven of them are making their North American debut this summer in Calgary. The cows stand just 39 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 750 lb. and the bulls are a bit bigger. Researchers in Australia spent 25 years developing them through selective breeding. “They stayed structurally correct,” notes Gary Smith, international marketing director for Alta Genetics Inc., a Calgarybased livestock reproduc-

tive technologies firm that is marketing the quaint quadrupeds in North and South America. Smith says that the Lowline importers originally saw a market for

the Aussie cattle with small producers. But some meat processers and consumers have also expressed interest in the smaller cuts of beef. Says Smith: “It’s going to be less than half the size of a traditional cut”

Not always valid

A Canadian passport may be good enough to identify its bearer in countries around the globe, but not in British Columbia. Starting next week, the B.C. highways ministry will no longer accept the passport as a piece of so-called primary identification required to apply for a provincial driver’s licence. Only seven kinds of documents will be accepted: a recently expired B.C. driver’s licence, a birth certificate, a Canadian citizenship ID card or record of landing, a student or work visa or a returning resident permit. A passport, says ministry spokeswoman Betty Nicholson, will not be accepted because applicants do not have to apply in person and may receive one through the mail. According to Graeme Waymark, a spokesman for the passport office in Ottawa, “Canadian passports were never intended to be domestic identification.” But if they don’t meet one province’s demands, when will other countries start to wonder?

Golfing for glory

As Winnipeg golfer Rob McMillan walked up to the 18th green of the Pine Ridge Golf Club, the home-town crowd chanted: “Robbie, Robbie, Robbie.” The cheering was the 20-year-old’s only reward for finishing the Manitoba Open 14 under par, to win by four strokes. As an amateur, he was ineligible for the $18,000 first prize—just as he was unable to collect the $10,000 that went with finishing second last year. In an era of multimillion dollar athletes competing at the Olympics, McMillan truly is a reminder of the meaning of the word amateur. American golfer Mike Grob placed second but won the first-place prize money. But McMillan, who won the world junior championship in 1994, simply returned to work at his brother’s golf shop at 6:45 the morning after his July 14 victory. The reason: he wants to keep his golf scholarship at the University of New Mexico that goes with his amateur status. He plans to turn pro when he graduates. But until then, “it’s back to reality,” he shrugs.

High-tech hoaxes

An electronic mail message making the rounds on the Internet warns of a virus that will destroy the hard drive of any computer opening a message with the subject line “Good Times.” In fact, there is no such virus, and the advisory about it is a hoax that has plagued Internet users since December, 1994. So much disinformation is circulating on the Internet that Web sites and Internet discussion groups have sprung up to combat the plague. But while the technology for spreading falsehoods may be new, the advice for dealing with them is familiar. “It’s like rumors,” says Sandy Sparks, project manager of a computer security service of the U.S. department of energy in Livermore, Calif. “You should at least check your facts.”