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Friday, December 12, 2008, Vol. 4, No, 2 — 153
"True North is for opinion makers"
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Coronation is bad enough

Murky past could haunt Ignatieff

Brian Gable, the Globe and Mail

By Haroon Siddiqui
The Toronto Star

Set aside the debate over whether the Liberal party has been as cynical and undemocratic in the pursuit of power as King Stephen (Harper) or just agile enough to respond well to the extraordinary developments of the last 10 days. Ignore that Michael Ignatieff's coronation was engineered with the same ruthless methodology used by Paul Martin – elbowing out a leader by taking control of the party machinery. Time will tell if Ignatieff's manoeuvre works any better in the long run than Martin's. Rather, consider this: — 586 words.

Editor's Notes

Friday, December 12, 2008
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 2 (153)

Majority Rule … Who Dat … ?

Now we have two Harpers on the Hill
and a coalition of so called Conservatives and Liberals

What they couldn’t achieve by the democratic process the same Liberal Party machine that bludgeoned Jean Chrétien and hoisted Paul Martin to a brief stay at 24 Sussex Street have gone over the heads of their party in convention and crowned Michael Ignatieff. What a disaster for the Liberal Party, and for Canada. — 605 words.

Smile in the sky

Venus and Jupiter, two of the brightest naked-eye planets, join a thin crescent moon to create a brief 'happy face' in the sky as seen in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, December 1, 2008. Astronomers and star gazers across the world were keeping watch on Monday night for the rare astronomical phenomenon known as 'Planetary Conjunction'. [CFP]

Venus and Jupiter, two of the brightest naked-eye planets, join a thin crescent moon to create a brief 'happy face' in the sky as seen in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, December 1, 2008. Astronomers and star gazers across the world were keeping watch on Monday night for the rare astronomical phenomenon known as 'Planetary Conjunction'. [CFP]"

"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.


The Moral Dilemma in Zimbabwe:
To Trade or Not to Trade with China: The Role of the West

A Canadian perspective on developments in Zimbabwe in
response to Mugabe’s Biggest Sin by F. William Engdahl

By Rebekah Sears
True North Perspective
Ottawa, Canada

Rebekah Sears is an MA Candidate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario (Canada). She lived in Rwanda for a year while working with an NGO, African Enterprise, that focuses on grassroots reconciliation and community development projects. Ms. Sears has been studying China-Africa relations especially with Sudan, but including Zimbabwe. — 1,187 words.

Health Watch

New vaccine plant at the Finlay Institute produces
millions of anti-meningitis doses for world victims

Cuba responded to a WHO cry for help after drug internationals decided there was not enough profit

By José de la Osa

A letter addressed to the Finlay Institute from the World Health Organization in July 2006, asking for help in producing millions of doses of the anti-meningitis vaccine, was the motive for the inauguration at that development at the Finlay Institute, a renowned center of Cuban biotechnology, of a plant with a production capacity of up to 100 million doses annually of active components for that purpose. — 604 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Maker cool about flagship hot-hatch status

By Les Stephenson

Automakers and reticence wouldn't score high in a word-association game involving vehicle launches so pens paused over notepads and eyes turned speakerwards when a Toyota PR person stressed that the new Yaris TS "is definitely not aimed at the hot-hatch market". — 827 words.

The state they're in - how women are faring in the rest of the world

By Imogen Carter and Hermione Hoby

Which countries offer the best maternity pay or levels of child care?
Where are you most likely to have cosmetic surgery? Where will you live longest?
We look at the best and worst places for women today — 915 words.

Former Colombian hostage Betancourt thanks Venezuela’s Chavez

By Erik Sperling and Gregory Wilpert

Former Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt met with Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez in Caracas on Monday, to “hug and thank him” for his successful efforts to free hostages held by rebel groups in Colombia. She also stressed her confidence that Chávez never attempted to aid the FARC. — 519 words.

When shooting is easier than bribing

By Yulia Latynina
The Moscow Times

Although everyone is now saying that Russia is going through a financial crisis, this seems strange to me. Imagine a drug addict who sold everything he owns to support his addiction, loses his job and his wife, and then says his problem is that he has no money. The global financial crisis has shown the whole world the extent to which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's power vertical model is flawed — both politically and economically. — 633 words.

Russia may cut oil output in step with OPEC

By Andrew E. Kramer
International Herald Tribune

MOSCOW — Oil prices have fallen so far this autumn that Russia, a country that has never before cooperated with the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries on a production cut, is now preparing to announce that it will coordinate a reduction in output with the cartel later this month, the minister of energy said Wednesday. — 685 words.

Obama: Tough love for Tel Aviv?

By Steve Weissman
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

It might have been only a straw in the wind, but The New York Times reported last week that, in his first 100 days, Barack Obama is planning to deliver a major foreign policy speech from an Islamic capital, most likely Cairo. As a sometime speechwriter, I pity the poor scribbler who will have to put those words together. — 881 words.

Top British military brass on the warpath

Some of the greatest critics of the operation in Afghanistan are among British military chiefs

By Richard Norton-Taylor

The Taliban is experiencing a renaissance and now has a permanent presence in more than 70% of Afghanistan: so claimed a report published yesterday by an independent thinktank, the International Council on Security and Development. Some of its conclusions appeared exaggerated, enabling the government to rubbish the lot. But few would quarrel with the underlying message, not least Britain's top brass. They are on the warpath. Not against an enemy on the battlefield. Not against any military force. Their anger is directed at civilians — on their side. — 601 words.

China pledges more spending and tax cuts


BEIJING — China's top leadership wrapped up a three-day strategy meeting on Wednesday with a pledge to raise public spending and cut taxes to promote domestic demand in the world's fourth-largest economy. — 301 words.

The silent winter of escalation echoes
the escalation as the Vietnam War gathered momentum

‘As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.’…Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 14 September 2001, the only member to vote against giving Bush the green light to attack Afghanistan.

By Norman Solomon
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Sunday morning, before dawn, I read in The New York Times that "the Pentagon is planning to add more than 20,000 troops to Afghanistan" within the next 18 months - "raising American force levels to about 58,000" in that country. — 901 words.

Venezuelans rally in Caracas to celebrate 10 years of Chávez’s presidency

By Erik Sperling

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans flooded Caracas on Saturday, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of President Hugo Chavez's election. In a nationally televised event, Chavez addressed his supporters from the presidential palace, reviewing the history of Venezuela`s "Bolivarian Revolution," and rallying the crowd in support of a constitutional amendment that would allow his re-election in 2012. — 458 words.

In tough times, Russia shows new desire to seize assets

By Clifford J. Levy
International Herald Tribune

In late October, one of Vladimir Putin's top lieutenants abruptly summoned a billionaire mining oligarch to a private meeting. The official, Igor Sechin, had taken a sudden interest in a two-year-old accident at the oligarch's highly lucrative mining operations here in Russia's industrial heartland. — 1,733 words.

Harvard unit halting faculty searches

By Tracy Jan
International Herald Tribune

BOSTON — Harvard University officials said they would postpone nearly all searches for tenure-track professors in the school's largest academic body, in a sobering indication of how the economic crisis has hit the world's wealthiest university. — 815 words.

Capitalist fools

Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

‘The embrace by America — and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.’

Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes—under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II—and one national delusion.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz
Vanity Fair

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, is a professor at Columbia University.

There will come a moment when the most urgent threats posed by the credit crisis have eased and the larger task before us will be to chart a direction for the economic steps ahead. This will be a dangerous moment. Behind the debates over future policy is a debate over history—a debate over the causes of our current situation. The battle for the past will determine the battle for the present. So it’s crucial to get the history straight. — 2,718 words.

Out by June: UK plans Iraq withdrawal

Troops will begin pullout in March and hand over to US

By Richard Norton-Taylor

Britain's six-year occupation of south Iraq will begin drawing to a close in March, and the last troops will leave Basra by June, a senior defence source disclosed yesterday. — 747 words.

Convoy attacks trigger race to open new Afghan supply lines
NATO takes to the air to avoid growing Taliban control of the ground

By Richard Norton-Taylor, Julian Borger and Suzanne Goldenberg

NATO countries are scrambling for alternative routes as far afield as Belarus and Ukraine to supply their forces in Afghanistan, which are increasingly vulnerable to a resurgent Taliban, the Guardian has learned. — 735 words.

Uribe Would Be Involved in the “Final Offensive” Against Venezuela

By Últimas Noticias

The so-called “final offensive” against Venezuela (the purpose of which is to take President Chávez out of power) is being planned presumably from Colombia, and would be executed by that country’s army, according to agreements between Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and “the known agent of the intelligence services of the United States,” William Brownfield. — 472 words.

Carnage in crude

By Sean Brodrick
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

The drop in the price of crude capped a bad week for energy, in which The International Energy Agency, The U.S. Energy Department and OPEC lowered their forecasts for world oil demand, as the global recession tightens its grip. The U.S., the European Union and Japan — which together consumed 48% of the world's oil in 2007 — are in the first simultaneous recession since World War II. China, along with other emerging market countries, is expected to provide most of the growth in global oil demand going forward. But China represents only 9% of global oil demand. And it's not immune from the global recession. — 1,464 words.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning

Hannah Endicott-Douglas

Anne Shirley is one of the world's most heartwarming iconic characters - but what happened before her surprising arrival at Green Gables in Prince Edward Island? This expansive new movie, which is both a prequel and a sequel to the original films, answers that question. — 567 words.


Spirit Quest

Intestinal Dysfunction on a National Level

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

“Quest,” that means "search", and for me search pertains to the weekly quest for a topic for this column. I try to be topical, that is having my thoughts relate to what is happening around me at the time. I must admit that this may not be evident, not always, to the reader. But today I am somewhat perplexed about what will have happened in the intervening time between my filing this story and its appearance in cyberspace. — 567 words.

The Write Stuff

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

Most people don’t know that there’s a publication called Chase's Calendar of Events, that publicizes all those special days – Take Your Dog to Work Day, National Grandparents’ Day, along with national and international special events and festivals. — 523 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

By Mike Heenan, Literary Editor, True North Perspective

One of the joys of living in this city is the various dramatic offerings of our many active theatre companies. — 307 words.

The Book End

A Vampire Romp — Definitely for Adults Only

By Carl Dow
True North Perspective

Writers are obsessively strange creatures, says Patricia Kathleen McCarthy. 121 words.

New web site may be path to success
for authors, publishers, and companies

Prolific best-selling Ottawa author and publicist Randy Ray has developed a new Web site 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

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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
Randy Ray
Harold Wright