Friday, December 4, 2009, Vol. 5, No, 1 — 205
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Quote of the Week:
"Throughout the centuries, no foreign power has been able to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, but President Obama thinks he's a tough enough commander in chief to do it. Too bad he hasn't demonstrated such toughness in the face of obstructionist Republicans and corporate lobbyists. For them, it's been more like "compromiser in chief." — Jeff Cohen 839 words.

Canada's image lies in tatters
It is now to climate what Japan's is to whaling

The tar barons have held the nation to ransom. This thuggish petro-state is today the greatest obstacle to a deal in Copenhagen

By George Monbiot
The Guardian — UK

When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world's peacekeeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country's government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee's tea party. So amazingly destructive has Canada become, and so insistent have my Canadian friends been that I weigh into this fight, that I've broken my self-imposed ban on flying and come to Toronto. — 1,197 words.

Cartoon by Jerry Holbert, December 4, 2009,

Harper writes the rules, wins the game

'Ignatieff could have said that Harper is now using the HST to raise taxes because he ignored economists by twice cutting the GST'

By James Travers
Toronto Star

OTTAWA — Politics is mostly about controlling the microphone and managing the clock. Stephen Harper is proving again that he's better at both than Michael Ignatieff. — 558 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, December 4, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 1 (205)

Prime Minister Me-Too gets spanked in China

Stephen Harper was no sooner elected prime minister than he went down to Washington and jumped in George W. Bush’s lap and gave him a big hug. When Bush was later to turn his back on the Kyoto Protocol of 11 December 1997. Harper said Me Too even though Canada had signed on 17 December 2002. He refused to visit China until Barack Obama made his visit last month. He refused to attend the Copenhagen conference on climate change that opens next week until Barack Obama announced that he would attend. Once that was clear, Harper said Me Too. — 318 words.

Prime Minister Me-Too casts a small shadow in China
Harper fulfills boyhood ambition by visiting China
China president Hu outlines rules for behaviour
Premier Wen lectures protocol; Harper apologizes

China Daily

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao said Thursday he believed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's China trip would push forward bilateral cooperation to a new level. In his meeting with Harper in the Great Hall of the People, Hu said Harper's tour, which marks his first visit to China since he took office in 2006, was "of great significance." — 525 words.

Delaying in the face of the obvious

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

'Marine associations have been pressing Ottawa for years to change this absurd policy'

Few Canadians pay attention to transportation in this country until their flight is delayed or they're stuck in traffic. So they don't usually appreciate how important freight transportation is in such a large country. — 903 words.

Foreign credentials: Some progress at last, but all with a grain of salt

By Rebekah Sears
True North Perspective
First written for Citizens for Public Justice

Rebekah Sears is the policy intern at Ottawa-based Citizens for Public Justice,, an ecumenical social advocacy organization.

On Monday Human Resources minister Diane Findley in partnership with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a new initiative to speed up the recognition process of the foreign credentials for incoming immigrants in several specific occupations. This proposal is in response to the vast number of educated professionals entering Canada whose credentials are not approved and who therefore cannot attain jobs in their fields of expertise. — 426 words.

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Vancouver redevelopment project doubles as social experiment

By Linda Baker
The New York Times

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — This city of elegant luxury condominium towers and grand public spaces won the right to hold the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in part because of a promise to create "the inclusive Olympics." But critics have long complained about a blotch on the city’s self-image as an urban utopia: the Downtown Eastside, a notorious high-poverty neighborhood known for its concentration of homeless people and drug and crime problems. — 1,291 words.

Ask the Expert

Is real estate investing still a good investment?

By Jim Pellerin

Real estate is the best investment. History has proven that. As a home owner, your home will continue to appreciate in value during stable economic times. Even if there is an economic slump you can always depend on real estate to recover and grow. — 294 words.

Spirit Quest

'There is a divinity that shapes our end, rouge-hew them how we will'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

Imagine standing before a door after hearing a very loud but measured rap. It was not an impatient pounding but an authoritative knock. Such a summons could not be ignored or trivialized. This was the yearly experience of my older cousin and I. With our parents we stood in awe waiting for the door to be opened to reveal a tall figure garbed in white with a bishop’s mitre on his bearded head. We were enthralled. Without a word he entered our abode. — 612 words.

Has our society lost touch?

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

Our society, out of touch? Certainly not, you might say! We have the Palm Pre, the Blackberry and the Bluetooth headset, high speed internet and handbag-sized laptops, plasma TV, camcorders and webcams, worldwide satellite communication… We knew almost instantly Tiger Woods had an accident and Stephen Harper changed his mind and announced he would go to Copenhagen when he found out Barack Obama and Hu Jintao of China would be attending. — 693 words.

Capital Critics Circle announces tenth annual theatre awards

By Iris Winston

OTTAWA, Canada — The Capital Critics Circle today announced the winners of the tenth annual theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2008-2009 season. The winners of the English theatre awards are: — 379 words.

MacKay's office got Red Cross warnings about Afghan treatment

By Tonda MacCharles
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA, Canada — Emails sent to then-foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay's office expressed alarm over the treatment of Afghan detainees on behalf of the International Red Cross Committee — the world humanitarian organization entrusted by the United Nations to monitor prisoners of war, the Star has learned. — 1,283 words.

Torture memo trips up Tories

As Ottawa claimed detainees were being monitored, diplomat warned they weren't

By Tonda MacCharles
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA, Canada — Even as the Conservative government assured Canadians that the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission was monitoring detainees in the spring of 2007, diplomat Richard Colvin warned that the Afghan agency itself was shut out of the most notorious Afghan prisons. — 686 words.

They stand on guard for he — Harper using soldiers as his shield

By James Travers
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA, Canada — Stephen Harper isn't standing behind the troops; he's ducking behind them in an attempt to shift attention away from what politicians knew — and didn't do — about Afghanistan prisoner abuse. Changing the channel is a precondition for this capital's favourite game of passing the buck. — 555 words.

From the Desk of Carl Hall

Sir John A. Macdonald’s suspected Scottish birthplace awaits wrecking ball


Sir John A. Macdonald's suspected birthplace in Scotland — a derelict building in downtown Glasgow that's been slated for demolition since 2005 — is finally set to be flattened to make way for an eventual commercial development headed by Canadian retail mogul Galen Weston. — 742 words.

From the Desk of Alex Binkley, Contributing Editor

Weak Canadian position at Copenhagen symptom of flawed business model in energy sector

By Kerri-Anne Finn, Senior Communications Officer
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

EDMONTON — Canada's inability to play a leadership role at international climate change is just one of many negative consequences of an energy sector that is dominated by large for-profit corporations, and we need to begin exploring alternate business models for the industry. This is a key message of a new discussion paper released today by Alberta's Parkland Institute in conjunction with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. — 364 words.

Catching a tiger by his hypocritical tale

Don't think this scandal is about infidelity. It's about a public brand that may be built on lies.

By Vanessa Richmond,

What's the biggest public relations sin? It's not infidelity, not kinky or non-hetero sex, not even making or watching sex tapes. But hypocrisy: pretending to be one thing — profiting from it — and behaving otherwise. — 852 words.


Bess Lomax Hawes, 88
Singer, songwriter, director

Daughter of legendary folk musicologist sang with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post

Bess Lomax Hawes, who sang with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, co-wrote the Kingston Trio's hit "M.T.A." and helped preserve American folk arts as an official of the National Endowment for the Arts, died Nov. 27 at a hospital in Portland, Ore., after a stroke. She was 88. — 792 words.

30 per cent of U.S. teenagers engage in 'sexting': poll

CBC News

About 30 per cent of young people in the U.S. have been involved in some form of "sexting" and nearly half of those say they don't see it as a serious problem, a survey suggests. Sexting, a term that combines the words sex and texting, is the sharing of sexually explicit photos, videos and chats by cellphone or online. — 526 words.

Health Watch

Hand sanitizers don't do much unless your hands are already clean

'it all comes back to the advice that doctors and mothers give all the time: Wash your hands with soap and water'

CBC News

Using hand sanitizer won't necessarily kill 99.99 per cent of germs on your hands despite the claims made by many such products, a CBC investigation has found. CBC News tested three popular sanitizers — top-selling Purell, President's Choice and Soapopular — on a class of Grade 8 students at Ryerson Middle School in Hamilton, Ont., last month. — 1,089 words.

Victory declared in controversial poll that was already a win-win for Honduras's wealthy elite

Descendents of Palestinian and Jewish immigrants rule

By Rory Carroll
The Guardian — UK

Rory Carroll is South America correspondent for The Guardian UK.

Within hours of the polls closing the celebrations began. Cavalcades of honking cars raced up and down Boulevard Morazan. The Hotel Maya filled with cheering people in blue T-shirts. The media fell into paroxysms of delight. A wealthy rancher named Porfirio Lobo had just won Honduras's presidential election, heralding a "democratic fiesta". — 1,184 words.

Inside the Honduras elections
Observing the whitewashing of a path to a past of horrors

By Lisa Sullivan

Lisa Sullivan is the Latin America Coordinator for School of the Americas Watch

I came to Honduras to participate as a human rights observer of the electoral climate in a delegation organized by the Quixote Center. Several delegations converged, connecting some 30 U.S. citizens with dozens more from Canada, Europe and Latin America. In the days prior to the elections we scattered to different cities, towns and villages, meeting with fishermen, farmers, maquila workers, labor leaders, teachers and lawyers, as well as those who were jailed for carrying spray paint, hospitalized for being shot in the head by the military, and detained for reporting on the repression. It was, most likely, a bit off the 5-star, air-conditioned path of most of the mainstream journalists who are filling your morning papers with the wonders of today’s elections. — 1,492 words.

Bill Day, December 5, 2009 (

Afghanistan: Obama's profile in courage, or cave-in?

'It took a lot of courage on Kennedy's part to defy the Pentagon, defy the military — and do the right thing' — Col. Larry Wilkerson, USA (ret.)

By Ray McGovern
Former CIA analyst

"It took a lot of courage on Kennedy's part to defy the Pentagon, defy the military — and do the right thing," said Col. Larry Wilkerson, USA (ret.), according to Robert Dreyfuss in his recent Rolling Stone article "The Generals' Revolt." Wilkerson, who was chief of staff at the State Department (2002-2005) and now teaches at George Washington University, was alluding to President John F. Kennedy's courage in 1962, when he faced down his top generals and refused to bomb Cuba and risk nuclear war. — 2,307 words.

The phantom 'hunt' for Osama bin Laden

Senate report: U.S. decided to let bin Laden slip through their fingers

The Associated Press

Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report reveals. — 648 words.

Russia upbeat about IAEA resolution on its uranium initiative

RIA Novosti

Russia's Foreign Ministry welcomed on Saturday the UN nuclear watchdog's resolution on Moscow's initiative to establish a reserve of low-enriched uranium. — 174 words.

Russia's richest woman sues former deputy PM for defamation

RIA Novosti

MOSCOW — The wife of Moscow's mayor, the richest woman in Russia, is suing a former Russian deputy prime minister for defamation, her construction company said on Friday. — 357 words.

In case you missed it ... and always worth repeating

Winston Churchill: Give us the tools and we'll finish the job

Let's say that news throughout human time has been free. Take that time when Ugh Wayne went over to the cave of Mugh Payne with news that the chief of his group had broken a leg while chasing his laughing wife around the fire. That news was given freely and received as such with much knowing smiles and smirks to say nothing of grunts of approval or disapproval. — 688 words.

China rejects U.S. call for new Group of Two to rule the world

Analysis by Antoaneta Bezlova
Inter Press Service

BEIJING — The jury is still out on what Beijing and Washington achieved during President Barack Obama's first state visit to China last week. But one trait has emerged more strongly than anything else. — 845 words.

Doctors back sex education in Guatemala
New law includes birth control methods

By Danilo Valladares
Inter Press Service

GUATEMALA CITY — Social organisations in Guatemala are celebrating the entry into effect of a family planning law that will usher sex education into the country's classrooms and facilitate access to birth control methods, as a victory in the fight against the country's high birth and maternal and infant mortality rates. — 1,053 words.

Affairs a factor in 40 per cent of divorces

By By Zhang Yan
China Daily

Almost 40 per cent of Haidian district couples that divorced this year said infidelity is the reason they were splitting up, the court said. The court settled 2,764 divorce cases between January and October this year, and 995 were triggered by extramarital affairs, said judge Gao Qing, who compiled a report on local divorce statistics. — 429 words.

Women with emotional intelligence have better sex lives

Beauty may bag you a man — but brains will bring you more fun in the bedroom. Women blessed with "emotional intelligence" — the ability to express their feelings and read those of others — have better sex lives, research shows. — 440 words.

Construction of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to begin

China Daily

Construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will begin the end of December, the Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The project, which is a series of bridges, tunnels and roads that will rival the longest bridges in the world, is designed to more closely connect Hong Kong with Macao and the Mainland.

"The State Council has announced the approval of the 'research report of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge'.

The project is under busy preparation and will start at the year end, and is slated to be finished in 2015," Cai Qiwen, a vice director of the transportation department of Guangdong province, was quoted as saying.

Women win/lose in fight against manufacturing poverty for women
Mexican Fair Trade co-op provides alternative to exploitive practices

In Honduras labour rights situation has deteriorated since
the June 28 coup d'état against President Manuel Zelaya

By Emilio Godoy
Inter Press Service

MEXICO CITY — A group of workers in Honduras managed to prevent the closure of an assembly plant manufacturing sportswear for the U.S.-based sports apparel maker Russell Athletic, thereby saving 1,200 jobs. — 1,042 words.

Why there's no sign of a climate conspiracy in hacked emails

By Michael Le Page

The leaking of emails and other documents from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, UK, has led to a media and political storm. The affair is being portrayed as a scandal that undermines the science behind climate change. It is no such thing, and here's why. — 2,426 words.


Amputee moves robotic hand with his thoughts

The Associated Press

ROME — A robotic hand has been successfully connected to an amputee, allowing him to feel sensations in the artificial limb and control it with his thoughts, a group of European scientists said Wednesday. — 828 words.

Become a True North 10 per center

True North Perspective invites our readers to join us in celebration of our 200 series, that began with the Friday, October 30, 2009, Edition — #200.

While most of our readers are in Canada and the United States we are being read in growing numbers in as many as 88 countries. October saw us reach a record number of 59,493 hits. Ever more high-end readers are finding satisfaction in what we publish. However, we're operating at a severe financial deficit. That's why we're asking readers, effective Edition 200, to become True North Perspective 10 per centers.

Ten per cent of 200 is $20. If all readers were to send in $20, it would help ease us back from the edge of financial desperation. We need the nourishment. We are happy to rely on our readers to provide. Please take time to give this request a key moment of attention by mailing your 10 per cent to:

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

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Ex-Ford bosses going for Volvo takeover


A group led by ex-Ford executives has submitted a revised bid to buy Ford's Volvo brand, hoping to beat an offer by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the group, Crown Consortium, is led by former Ford director Michael Dingman and former Ford and Chrysler executive Shamel Rushwin.

Crown had been seen as an underdog, at best, but had been encouraged by Ford if it could find the necessary funding, the paper added. Ford was not available for comment but the paper said its sources declined to put a figure on Crown's bid but described it as "on par with the Geely offer". Geely had been picked as a preferred bidder with a bid of $1.8-billion.

Money and Markets

Where to look in a world starved for yield

By Mike Larson

The Federal Reserve's policy of pegging interest rates to the floor is having a slew of consequences. It's driving down the dollar. It's helping fuel new asset bubbles. It's leading to the misallocation of economic resources. — 914 words.

Bob Newhart: Still standing, as long as the jokes don't get old

Now an octogenarian, comedian proves his 'button-down mind' is sharp as ever

By Bruce DeMara,
The Toronto Star

At 80 years old, with two successful television series under his belt, numerous honours — including three Grammys and the coveted Mark Twain Prize for American humour, awarded in 2002 — Bob Newhart just can't resist the urge to get out there on stage and entertain. — 850 words.

The Big Book of Canadian Trivia now in stores

Ottawa author Randy Ray and his co-author Mark Kearney of London, Ont. have published their ninth Canadian book, The Big Book of Canadian Trivia, which is now available in stores and on the authors' Web site at:

The latest Ray-Kearney effort is best described as a "greatest hits" book that contains the best Canadiana from their previous eight books, plus a considerable amount of new material.

In one big book readers will find all the trivia and facts about Canada they need to know: there are stories of important Canadian artifacts and history including what became of Canada's World War II spy camp.

All regions and provinces are covered, as well as important Canadian figures like John Molson, Elizabeth Arden and Russ Jackson.

If that isn't enough there will also be pieces explaining whatever happened to such Canadian icons as the last spike, labour leader Bob White, hockey tough guy Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, the first skidoo, swimmer Marilyn Bell and the first Tim Hortons donut shop.

Some items are "classics." Others are little known facts. Approximately 25 per cent of the material has never before appeared in print.

This fascinating Big Book brings together for the first time in one package the most notable facts and trivia from the archives of the trivia guys' collection.

The Big Book of Canadian Trivia is published by The Dundurn Group of Toronto.

In case you missed it ...
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 the Friday, April 24 edition of True North Perspective, concludes the collection titled The Old Man's Last Sauna, written by Carl Dow. On 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 closed Friday, April 24, with the collection's namesake The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.

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
Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
Benoit Jolicoeur, Art Director
Ian Covey, Director of Photography
Carl Hall, Technical Analyst and Web Editor
Randy Ray, Publicity

Contributing Editors
Anita Chan, Australia

Alex Binkley, Ottawa
Dennis Carr, Vancouver
Rosaleen Dickson, Ottawa
Tom Dow, Sudbury
Bob Kay, Montréal
Randy Ray, Ottawa
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair, Ottawa
David Ward, Ottawa
Harold Wright, Ottawa