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Friday, April 24, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 22 — 173
"True North is for opinion makers"
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Victims of an underreported war

Sri Lankan military alledgedly uses chemicals, cluster bombs
in hidden war against Tamils under 'War on Terror' rubric

Depending on who's counting, somewhere between 10 and 25,000 demonstrated in Ottawa, Canada, Tuesday, April 21, for Canadian government action to halt the Sri Lankan conflict. Canada and other countries have declared the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organization. But I haven't read anything that suggests that the government forces of Sri Lanka are any worse or any better. Following is a sober, comprehensive report that may help to inform us on the realities of this bloody war that is being conducted out of the limelight. — Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective.

'In a recent article on "the silence surrounding Sri Lanka," articulate activist Arundhati Roy said, "From the little information that is filtering through, it looks as though the Sri Lankan government is using the propaganda of 'the war on terror' as a fig leaf to dismantle any semblance of democracy in the country and commit unspeakable crimes against the Tamil people."'

'The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders makes the same point, more or less, if in less strong language. It said, "It is a disgrace that this war is being waged without independent journalists present." It added, "By limiting media coverage to guided tours with the purpose of confirming military victories, the armed forces are preventing the press from doing its job. They are disregarding the public's right to be informed in an independent manner."'

By J. Sri Raman | Perspective

When a war goes underreported, the agony of its civilian victims goes almost unrecognized. The plight of the Tamils of Sri Lanka provides a poignant illustration, which the civilized world can no longer ignore. — 2,108 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 24, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 22 (173)

Good cop, lap dog

Those who lose sleep at night on the fear that Barack Obama is a socialist can flush their sleeping pills. The new President of the United Sates of America simply wants to inject intelligence and imagination into the national and international affairs of his country. One might say he wants to evolve capitalism with a human face. — 499 words.

RCMP spokesman told to hold off correcting false details of Dziekanski incident, inquiry hears

CBC News

VANCOUVER — The head of the Lower Mainland's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team decided not to correct misinformation police had given to the media in 2007 about the use of a Taser against Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport, a public inquiry heard Wednesday. — 866 words.

Crime severity dropped over 10-year period: StatsCan

CBC News

A decrease in the number of break-ins sparked a drop in the severity of overall crime in a 10-year-period, while the seriousness of violent crimes remained stable, according to a new report by Statistics Canada. — 335 words.

From the Desk of Jamie Kneen, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, Mining Watch

Court Victory Forces Canada to Report Pollution Data for Mines

TORONTO - Great Lakes United, Mining Watch Canada and Ecojustice are hailing a landmark decision from the Federal Court of Canada released late yesterday that will force the federal government to stop withholding data on one of Canada's largest sources of pollution - millions of tonnes of toxic mine tailings and waste rock from mining operations throughout the country. — 491 words.

Response to major food safety incidents in Canada found wanting

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

A flood of reports on the lessons learned from the 2008 listeria moncytogenes outbreak in Canada that killed 20 and sickened more than 50 recommends much greater co-operation and coordination among the federal, provincial and municipal governments in responding to serious food borne illnesses. — 518 words.

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

The short story, The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story, in today's edition of True North Perspective, concludes the collection titled The Old Man's Last Sauna, written by Carl Dow. Last week, Friday, April 17, you'll find O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! 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. The series ends today, 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

Chinese auto makers strut their stuff

They show off a smorgasbord of new vehicles — from compacts and electrics to the biggest, brassiest SUVs and luxury sedans

By Elaine Kurtenbach
The Globe and Mail

SHANGHAI — The Shanghai Auto Show, once a venue for the West to show off its cars to a country still relying on bicycles, is now a showcase for China's own industry. China's up-and-coming auto makers unveiled a smorgasbord of new vehicles this week at Shanghai's auto show, from compacts and electric vehicles to the biggest, brassiest SUVs and luxury sedans, manoeuvring to upstage their global rivals in the world's only major growing market.. — 855 words.

Canadian Association of Journalists Code of Silence Award

Deadline for nominations — May 15

The Canadian Association of Journalists

The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with more than 1,300 members across Canada. The Can's primary role is to provide public-interest advocacy and quality professional development for its members.

OTTAWA — Has a government department dodged your calls, denied your access to information requests and given you the epic run-around? Nominate it for a prestigious national award! — 327 words.

From the Desk of Anita chan, Contributing Editor, Australia

Notoriously anti-union Wal-Mart buckles in pro-union China
8,500 at Wal-Mart win 9% pay hike in new collective agreement

(Anita Chan is Visiting Research Fellow, Contemporary China Centre, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.)

By Guan Xiaofeng

China Daily

SHENZHEN — More than 8,500 employees of Wal-Mart in Shenzhen received a 9 per cent wage rise thanks to a collective contract signed by unions and the retail giant on Thursday, July 24, 2008. — 341 words.

From the Desk of Anita chan, Contributing Editor, Australia

Labour union halts Wal-Mart's reshuffle plan in China

(Anita Chan is Visiting Research Fellow, Contemporary China Centre, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.)

CHANGCHUN — US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. halted a plan to reshuffle its mid-level executives in China after local trade unions stepped in, a law official with the Changchun municipal federation of trade unions said Monday. — 756 words.

Will Afghanistan be worse than Vietnam? 7 tough questions to ask Obama before he sinks us into a new quagmire

By William Astore, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret'd)

"Yes, there is something distasteful about a media that blithely refers to Bush's or Obama's war as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis suffer. For American troops, after all, are not the only ones paying the ultimate price when the U.S. fights foreign wars for ill-considered reasons and misguided goals." — William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF), now teaches at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. His books and articles focus primarily on military history and include Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism (Potomac Press, 2005). He may be reached at

In 1967, outraged by the course of the Vietnam War, as well as her country's role in prolonging and worsening it, Mary McCarthy, novelist, memoirist, and author of the bestseller The Group, went to Saigon, then the capital of South Vietnam, to judge the situation for herself. The next year, she went to the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. She wrote accounts of both journeys, published originally in pamphlet format as Vietnam (1967) and Hanoi (1968), and later gathered with her other writings on Vietnam as a book, The Seventeenth Degree (1974). As pamphlets, McCarthy's accounts sold poorly and passed into obscurity; deservedly so, some would say. — 1,697 words.

Misperceptions cloud understanding of rainy weather forecasts

If Mark Twain were alive today he might rephrase his frequently cited observation about everyone talking about the weather but not doing anything about it to say, "Everyone reads or watches weather forecasts, but many people don't understand them." — 831 words.

Testicular Politics: Obama is getting punked by the big dogs of banking, does he have the balls to do what's right?

What we are witnessing is a high-stakes melodrama of glandular politics. Will Obama roll over or fight back?

By William Greider
The Nation

The big dogs of banking and finance are playing a rough game of bump-and-run with our president, trying to knock him off balance and demonstrate their dominance. The best names in Wall Street — Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase — pumped out happy talk about quarterly earnings, then announced that they intend to give back the government's money (more than $50 billion, if counted honestly). The crisis, they announce, is over for them. They want to be free of official meddling in their private affairs. The arrogance is breathtaking, even for Wall Street bankers. — 1,012 words.

Chavez-Obama meeting at summit relaunches US-Venezuela relations

U.S.-Venezuela relations took an unexpected favorable turn as the presidents of both countries met for the first time at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago attended by 34 nations of the hemisphere. — 1,547 words.

Obama wins praise at summit but feels heat on Cuba

By David Alexander and Ana Isabel Martinez

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — U.S. President Barack Obama won praise for offering a closer friendship with Latin American and Caribbean leaders at a regional summit on Saturday but they also urged him to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba. — 780 words.

Obama dances with drones

By Steve Weissman
TruthOut | Perspective

In America's relations with Islamic countries, a peculiar dishonesty reigns. It is all so hush-hush, and often done with a wink and nod, as the rulers of these lands lead Washington to believe one story while telling their own people the opposite. The media reports are hard to forget: Arab nations wanted the Bush administration to invade Iraq. Sunni Arab leaders are urging Israel and the United States to bomb suspected nuclear sites in Shiite Iran. And, from The New York Times last week, "Pakistan Rehearses Its Two-Step on Airstrikes." — 879 words.

FBI workers accused of spying on teenage girls in dressing room

Two FBI workers allegedly used surveillance equipment to spy on girls as they tried on prom gowns at a charity event at a West Virginia mall

By Liliana Segura

In news that gives new meaning to the term "government spying," here's a story that pretty much speaks for itself: "Two FBI workers are accused of using surveillance equipment to spy on teenage girls as they undressed and tried on prom gowns at a charity event at a West Virginia mall." — 215 words.

'... The horrible truth'

By Dahr Jamail
TruthOut | Perspective

The US occupation of Iraq, which has become the full responsibility of President Barack Obama, is once again a bloodbath. Not that it had ceased to be violent, brutal and chaotic, for not one day has passed since the US invasion of Iraq was launched that hasn't found several Iraqis being senselessly slaughtered. But rather than talking about three Iraqis being killed today, or two dozen, we are again talking about several dozen, and over 100 wounded, as we are seeing recently. Each of these Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of the US occupation of Iraq - their blood splattered on the hands of President Obama, who, during a visit to Baghdad's airport on April 7, praised the US military for their "extraordinary achievement" in Iraq. — 1,158 words.

Palestinians face dire water shortage: World Bank

Palestinians face dire water shortages because of both bad Palestinian management and Israeli restrictions, the World Bank said in a report on Monday. The report, the first of its kind, noted the "complete dependence" of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip "on scarce water resources shared and largely controlled by Israel." — 414 words.

India: Not easy for women in politics

By Monobina Gupta
Inter Press Service

KOLKATA — Sumitra Mitra has been a Communist for more than 45 years. She has seen the party grow from its days of radical activism to its present powerful establishment phase - leading the government in West Bengal state for an uninterrupted 30 years. — 930 words.

NATO satellite launched on Russian-Ukrainian rocket

MOSCOW — A NATO communications satellite was launched into orbit Monday aboard a Russian-Ukrainian rocket from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean, space officials said. — 131 words.

Chechen problem far from over

After two wars and 15 years of bloody conflict, Russia has declared an end to its "anti-terrorist operations" in Chechnya

By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News

Moscow — On the surface this looks like a victory for the Kremlin. The official Russian version goes something like this: After years of arduous struggle the terrorist threat in Chechnya has been neutralised. The Chechen republic is once more at peace, and reconstruction is in full swing. — 704 words.

Chechnya move worries Russian press

Several Russian newspapers have expressed concern about Moscow's decision to end its "counter-terrorism operation" in Chechnya, with some fearing that a dangerous local leader has now become the sole master of the territory

BBC World News

Some commentators believe that the need to trim military budgets is part of the drive to end the 10-year operation against separatist rebels in the southern republic. — 683 words.

China to offer free global navigation by 2020

By Wang Cong Xinhua News Agency

BEIJING — China will be able to provide free global navigation and positioning services by 2020 with its own constellation of satellites named "Compass," an engineering expert said here Friday. — 397 words.

Severity, length of past megadroughts dwarf recent drought in West Africa

Research suggests that changes in sea surface temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean play a key role in sustaining drought over this region for decades to centuries, supporting other recent research using climate models. On 30- to 60-year intervals, sustained periods of wet and dry conditions appear to be directly linked to a hypothesized mode of climate variability termed the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

Droughts far worse than the infamous Sahel drought of the 1970s and 1980s are within normal climate variation for sub-Saharan West Africa, according to new research. For the first time, scientists have developed an almost year-by-year record of the last 3,000 years of West African climate. In that period, droughts lasting 30 to 60 years were common. — 765 words.

Moldova confirms Communist win

The Moscow Times

CHISINAU, Moldova — Moldova's ruling Communist Party was again declared the winner on Tuesday in the country's disputed parliamentary elections in a recount ordered after violent protests against the initial result. — 143 words.

A Euro-Communist model

Analysts say that the EU will push ahead with Europeanizing Moldova in partnership with the ruling Communists

By By Graham Stack
Russia Profile

Moldova might be "Europe's poorest country," but it is rich in anomalies. The parliamentary elections held there on April 5 only added to these. It all went off a little too smoothly in the end. President Vladimir Voronin's ruling Communist Party took just under 50 percent of the popular vote, but won just over the necessary number of seats in the parliament (61 out of 110) to ensure that the Communists will name the next president. Voronin is due to step down after the two terms in office stipulated by the constitution. — 1,260 words.

Harold Wright, Doctor of Punology, sez:

"She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still."

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

14,000 islands

Lake of the Woods is Ontario’s second-largest inland lake. It contains 14,000 islands.

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

Satellites show how Earth moved during Italy quake

Studying satellite radar data from ESA's Envisat and the Italian Space Agency's COSMO-SkyMed, scientists have begun analysing the movement of Earth during and after the 6.3 earthquake that shook the medieval town of L'Aquila in central Italy on 6 April 2009. — 474 words.

10 surprising things you might not know about sex

Average penis size? The rate of erectile dysfunction? Friends with benefits? Here is a list of facts and stats you may or may not know about sex

By Wendy Atterberry

Remember those pamphlets you got during awkward Sex Ed classes back in junior high that said, "Am I Normal?" and featured a frizzy-haired 13-year-old girl wearing a worried look? Inside the pamphlet were various facts and statistics about puberty and sex that did as much to ease your nerves as a trip to the mall with mom to shop for a new bra. Well, you may be older and wiser now and more comfortable in your skin, but if you're like me, you're still a little bit curious what constitutes "normal" between the sheets and under one's clothes. After the jump, a list from of ten surprising — and, not so surprising — sex statistics. — 599 words.

Surviving your teenager

By Susan A Jennings
True North Perspective

Susan A. Jennings is a coach, facilitator and writer and the author of Save some for Me. For more information email or visit

"Hire a teenager while they know everything!" Anyone who has had any connection with a teenager will understand the irony in that statement. The teenage years are a challenge for both teenager and parents. They do truly believe they know everything. They are no longer children and hardly adults with a perception that all parents are old fashioned. How could parents possibly understand what the future holds for the new generation? Of course the fact that every generation of teenagers feels the same way escapes the current generation. — 999 words.

Why do conservatives like Stephen Colbert?

Colbert has built a career mocking the right-wing. So why does new research suggest that the comedian is popular with Conservatives?

By Lee Drutman

So ... Stephen Colbert doesn't really mean all those wacky liberal-bashing things he says, does he? Comedy Central's The Colbert Report is obviously a parody of a wing-nut right-wing talk show. Right? — 1,121 words.

Money and Markets

Seven positive signs for China

By Tony Sagami
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

Have you become more optimistic about the stock market? If you listen to the experts on CNBC, you might think that a great bull market is right around the corner. The most commonly cited reason to be optimistic: Some variation of "business isn't sucking as bad as it used to." Honestly, I don't know what those guys are smoking. Because the economic news I see is absolutely horrible ... — 922 words.

Spirit Quest

Our country, a home and a refuge

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

It is somewhat surprising and ego deflating that when one leaves Canada for a few days one scarcely hears a whisper about this land, the True North, Strong and Free. It isn’t that this is an unknown land, lots of people have heard about our nation, indeed, it is held in high esteem all around the world. Its just that the day to day happenings that affect Canadians don’t make it into the news, especially if you rely only on Fox or CNN. — 545 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Make a lie

By Mike Heenan
Literary Editor
True North Perspective

74 words.


Grow your own fur coat

What's the matter with humans anyway?

By Simon Teakettle
True North Perspective

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

The Lady Who Shares My Computer is pretty intelligent, and I've been able to teach her quite a lot in the 13 years we've lived together. However, I must confess one failure. I can't seem to show her how to grow her own fur coat. She has some fur, of course, but only in certain places, which I find very odd. Because of this, she needs things called "clothing," which are unnecessarily complicated and require an amazing amount of maintenance. — 866 words.


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

The Old Man's Last Sauna

He saw her beautiful through the waiting-room window. She looked as young and as lithe as memory. Indeed, because of the way she carried her years, and because he so imaged his father, casual observers would conclude anything but that they were mother and son. Their embrace, though brief, was as enclosing as lovers; then cheek-to-cheek several times saying hello repetitively, just as most of us say goodbye. — 5,595 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