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Friday, April 17, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 21 — 172
"True North is for opinion makers"
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The Future Wars of NATO

A sober look at Afghanistan

'And this means that the U.S. urgency about Afghanistan is not shared among the allies.'

By Paolo Liebl Von Schirach

Paolo Liebl von Schirach is the editor of, a regular contributor to Swiss radio and an international economic-development expert.

WASHINGTON, D.C. The "stress test" that U.S. President Barack Obama suggested should be used to check on the health of financial institutions was never applied to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the Cold War ended and the original mission of the alliance disappeared. It was assumed that all was well and that all of NATO's member nations agreed on the fundamental principles and purpose of the alliance. It was also agreed by the leaders of the NATO member nations -- of which there are now 28 with the addition of Albania and Croatia -- that since the Soviet Union, the biggest threat, had graciously removed itself from the horizon, they should keep working together for the preservation of their shared values through their commitment to NATO as their regional security institution. But how did this go? — 877 words.

"News is what (certain) people want to keep hidden. Everything else is just publicity."
PBS journalist Bill Moyers.

Your support makes it possible for True North to clear the fog of "publicity" and keep you informed on what's really happening in the world today. Please send your donation to:

Carl Dow, True North, Station E, P.O. Box 4814, Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9.

Editor's Notes

Friday, April 17, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 21 (172)

Is Harper planning a new career as U.S. star of stage and screen?

According to the Washington Post Canada's prime minister has launched yet another effort to make sure that Americans appreciate us. In an unprecedented series of appearances Prime Minister Stephen Harper "has decided to be the country's salesman in chief and has hired the odd couple of the PR world — Ari Fleischer and Mike McCurry — to book him some face time on American television and garner positive newspaper coverage." — 369 words.

Humour from the Court of Judge Harold Wright, Contributing Editor

'Stay! Stay!'

I pulled into the crowded parking lot at a Wal-Mart Super Center and rolled down the car windows to make sure my Labrador Retriever Pup had fresh air. — 100 words.

Ontario doctors call for calorie listing on restaurant menus

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Food Chemical News

The Ontario Medical Association wants the provincial government to require chain restaurants and school cafeterias to list the amount of calories in all their menu items to help in the battle against obesity. — 499 words.

Health Watch

Melting Arctic may be poisoning its people

For Arctic peoples, global warming is not just transforming their land, it is also poisoning their food. Mercury levels in seals and beluga whales eaten by Inuit in northern Canada have reached levels that would be considered unsafe in fish. Now, Gary Stern of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and colleagues have found that seal meat contains more mercury in low-ice years, suggesting the problem will only get worse. — 238 words.

The Old Man's Last Sauna, a collection of short stories by Carl Dow

The short story, O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! in today's edition of True North Perspective, is the penultimate from the collection The Old Man's Last Sauna, written by Carl Dow. The series began Friday, February 20, with Deo Volente (God Willing). The second, The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Friday, February 27. The third, Sharing Lies, Friday, March 6. The fourth, Flying High, Friday, March 13. The fifth, The Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, Friday, March 20. On Friday, March 27, One Lift Too Many, followed by The Model A Ford, Friday, April 3. The out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only, Friday, April 10. Today, Friday, April 17, we have O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You!. The series will end Friday, April 24, with the collection's namesake The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may be found in the True North Perspective Archives. — Mike Heenan, Literary Editor.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

2009 Nissan cube First Impressions

A well-rounded cube indeed!

By Luc Gagné

MIAMI, Fla. — The massive shape of the Honda Element bothers you? The angular looks of the Scion xB repulse you? The fancy personality of the Kia Soul lights a fire inside you? Whether you like them or not, these boxes on wheels have managed to get everyone talking. In fact, their strikingly bold, contemporarily boxy styling has put the last nail in the coffin of retro vehicles. That's right: PT Cruisers and HHRs are yesterday's news!

But if you think you've seen it all, wait till you catch a glimpse of the latest and fourth entry in this burgeoning market segment. This one is from Nissan and it couldn't be more aptly named -- cube! I know, it's pretty basic, especially with no capital "C". The automaker wanted it this way, though. Is it because the cube is a generic product? Well, most likely not.

To avoid any confusion with other boxes on wheels, the people at Nissan Canada prefer to liken their newest member to the Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, Honda Fit and, of course, the Kia Soul. — For more please click here..

NDP has history on its side, but not smart messaging

In BC races, diving economies usually turf governments

By Will McMartin

If history is a guide to the future, the current economic downturn means that B.C. will have a new government on May 12. That's because the time B.C. governments most often are defeated at the polls is when a general election and an economic downturn coincide. — 1,225 words.

The revolution will not be destabilized: Canada's 'democracy promotion' in Venezuela

By Anthony Fenton

Anthony Fenton is an independent researcher and journalist based in British Columbia, who has traveled to Venezuela several times. Some material in this article is drawn from a forthcoming book on Canadian foreign policy. He can be reached at fentona[at]

Canada's foreign policy, as that country which is closer geographically, economically, and militarily with the US than any other, has long been circumscribed by the whims of the world's lone Superpower. — 2,007 words.

A Marriage of Convenience?

By Zofeen Ebrahim
InterPress Service

KARACHI — Pakistan's Mukhtaran Mai, who gained global acclaim for daring to take her rapists to court, announced her marriage last month to an already married police constable. — 1,159 words.

Russia's growing Arctic power play

By Martin Sieff

WASHINGTON — Russia has launched a long-term program for the next 12 years to boost its security forces and military presence in the resource-rich Arctic Ocean. — 684 words.

Developer plans all-solar city

A Florida developer says he wants to build a 19,500-home city powered entirely by solar energy. — 190 words.

China wary of 'G2' with US: analysts

BEIJING — A week after some saw the advent of a new world order at the G20 in London, the idea of a "G2" that would put the United States and China at the head of international affairs is gathering momentum. — 594 words.

China pledges to improve human rights

BEIJING — China pledged Monday to improve human rights throughout the country, in a highly publicised plan issued ahead of the 20th anniversary of the deadly crushing of the Tiananmen democracy protests. — 632 words.

Rule of law best way to battle terror

By Haroon Siddiqui
Toronto Star

About 12 feet from where I write this, she sat in my office explaining patiently the tragedy of Chechnya. That was 2001. Anna Politkovskaya, fearless journalist, had just published A Dirty War, cataloguing the rape, torture and killing of 200,000 Chechens in two Russian invasions. — 600 words.

Co-op merger to create retail giant


A national network of Russian consumer cooperatives said Friday that it planned to merge its shops into a new giant company, and state-controlled banks will participate, industry sources said. — 182 words.

Chávez says world now revolves around China

BEIJING — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez declared here Wednesday that the world now revolved around China, as he praised the Asian giant for driving the global economy amid the "capitalist" crisis. — 566 words.

Stress cases jump 50 per cent in Afghan veterans

TorStar News Service

More than one in every five Canadian soldiers and police officers deployed to Afghanistan leave the force with post-traumatic stress or other psychiatric problems and that figure is rapidly rising, the Toronto Star has learned. — 331 words.

You are being lied to about pirates

Some are clearly just gangsters, but others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling

By Johann Hari
The Independent

Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as "one of the great menaces of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side. — 1,058 words.

The impact of ethanol on water supplies

ST PAUL, MN — At a time when water supplies are scarce in many areas of the United States, scientists in Minnesota are reporting that production of bioethanol — often regarded as the clean-burning energy source of the future — may consume up to three times more water than previously thought. — 288 words.

Venezuela's Chávez pledges support for hunger-striking Morales in Bolivia

By James Suggett

MERIDA — On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez declared his support for Bolivian President Evo Morales, who went on hunger strike last Thursday to pressure the opposition-controlled Bolivian Senate to pass a constitutionally mandated election law. — 404 words.

Iraq in fragments

'Having recently returned from Iraq, I experienced living in Baghdad where people were dying violent deaths on a daily basis'

By Dahr Jamail
Foreign Policy In Focus

Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone. He writes for Inter Press Service, The Asia Times, and is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

"[W]hat lengths men will go in order to carry out, to their extreme limit, the rites of a collective self-worship which fills them with a sense of righteousness and complacent satisfaction in the midst of the most shocking injustices and crimes." — -Love and Living, by Thomas Merton

On Wednesday, March 25, Major General David Perkins of the U.S. military, referring to how often the U.S. military was being attacked in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad, "Attacks are at their lowest since August 2003." Perkins added, "There were 1,250 attacks a week at the height of the violence; now sometimes there are less than 100 a week." — 924 words.

Happy US-Russian crew deny 'divorce in space'

MOSCOW — A Russian and US space crew denied on Friday that new rules forbid them from sharing toilets and food in orbit, hailing their work as the "best partnership" in human history. — 572 words.

Barter making a major comeback

By Nadia Popova
The Moscow Times

A construction company recently rang up the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant to order a bulldozer. But there was a catch: The company lacked the 3.5 million rubles ($106,000) needed to buy the vehicle. — 1,695 words.

Killing in style

By Yulia Latynina
The Moscow Times

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim has announced that the man who masterminded the killing of Sulim Yamadayev in Dubai is Adam Delimkhanov, a first cousin of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. Delimkhanov -- whose initials give him the nickname "AD," or "hell" in Russian -- is also a State Duma deputy from United Russia. — 526 words.

Kremlin gains from hard and soft power

By Vladimir Frolov
The Moscow Timest

Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets in Moldova and Georgia last week to demand the ouster of the sitting president, and the Ukrainian presidential election will be held on Oct. 25. Against this backdrop, the Kremlin is facing the first real test of its institutional capacity to affect political outcomes in its backyard. — 393 words.

Baghdad agrees to examine prewar contracts

By Anatoly Medetsky
The Moscow Times

Talks between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki on Friday produced a breakthrough agreement that would allow Russian oil companies such as LUKoil to revive prewar contracts in the Gulf state. — 795 words.

Don't hold your breath for high oil prices

By Alexei Bayer
The Moscow Times

The Russian government sees some sectors of the economy improving in the second half of 2009. Whether the recovery can be sustained — and, more important, whether the recent good times can return — will largely depend on the price of oil. . — 609 words.

Harold Wright, Doctor of Punology, sez:

"I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian."

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

Canada’s second prime minister was first senator to serve

Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott was the first senator to serve as Canada’s prime minister. He was Canada’s second PM, holding the office from June 16, 1891 until November 24, 1892 when he resigned.

Trivia compiled by Randy Ray and Mark Kearney, authors of nine books about Canada. For more fabulous facts, visit their Web site at:

Money and Markets

Major Announcement

By Martin Weiss, Ph.D.
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

We are fast approaching the ultimate day of reckoning for everyone — Washington, me, you, your family, and the entire country. The great dilemma: The government’s TARP funds to bail out the nation’s banks are nearly exhausted. But, at the same time, bank losses from this debt crisis have doubled from $2 trillion to $4 trillion, according to the IMF. — 6,826 words.

Spirit Quest

Return to Andalusia

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

As you read this I shall be in Seville, the beautiful capital of Andalusia in southern Spain. We have come here after cruising the Atlantic, visiting the Canary Islands, Madeira, Casa Blanca in Morocco, Gibraltar and finally Spain. Of course I have written this some time before our departure in anticipation of this trip to celebrate my 80th birthday. — 815 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Not a Sufi Sonnet

By Mike Heenan
Literary Editor
True North Perspective

95 words.


Breaking the Rules

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective
Originally published in the West Quebec Post

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings. Her website is

We've been hearing a lot lately about rules, and some surprising reasons why they should be waived for certain groups. OC Transpo's union, for example, thinks that federal labor standards limiting hours of work shouldn't apply to them. One wonders why a union, which is supposed to protect its workers from exhaustion from abusively long hours, would be fighting the very rules designed to help them. How about Bernie Madoff and members of his family, who stole from their investors, breaking not only all the rules set down by the law, but also the code of conduct that should prohibit lying to people you claimed were your friends? — 525 words.


A short story by Carl Dow
Editor and publisher
True North Perspective

O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You!

He looked like James Cagney. But that's only what Helen Bell was first to notice, not what ultimately attracted her. It was his energy, his quick wit, his apparent strength and courtesy, and his dynamic public speaking. The context wasn't the stuff of the current Hollywood romance, where the families of white-collar workers live on a half-acre manicured estate in a twelve-room house with a live-in maid and an ageless mother/housewife who is always dressed as if she's on her way to visit the doctor. Here was a shanty town with no running water, where unhappy, angry veterans and their new families crowded for whatever shelter they could get while a larger society was freeing itself from fighting a war and was late in fulfilling some of its promises to those who had successfully fought it. Helen was there as a freelance reporter. She saw in Ernie a story worth following, so she made it a point to get to know him. — 12,802 words.

Website may be path to success
for authors, publishers, and companies

Prolific best-selling Ottawa author and publicist Randy Ray has developed a website to promote his publicity services, which he offers to authors, publishers and companies. Mr. Ray has helped many clients get their message out across Canada on CTV, CBC Radio, CH-TV, A-Channel and Global TV, and in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, Halifax Herald and many Ottawa-area weekly newspapers. Mr. Ray's web site is: He can be contacted at: (613) 731-3873 or

Link not working? Story not loading? Can't click on the links? Got another computer problem? Never fear! Carl is here!

If you have any problems with accessing the newsletter or problems with your computer, send an email to Carl Hall , and he will be more than happy to assist you.


Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher
Geoffrey Dow, Managing Editor
Yvette Pigeon, Associate Editor
Mike Heenan, Literary Editor
Benoit Jolicoeur, Art Director
Ian Covey, Director of Photography
Carl Hall, Technical Analyst and Web Editor
Contributing Editors
Anita Chan, Australia
Rosaleen Dickson
Tom Dow
Bob Kay
Randy Ray
David Ward
Harold Wright