Friday, December 11, 2009, Vol. 5, No, 2 — 206
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MPs order release of Afghan detainee torture documents

Harper loses showdown over Afghanistan files

By Richard J. Brennan and Susan Delacourt
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA, Canada — Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has lost its iron grip on information about detainee treatment in Afghanistan after a showdown that pitted the power of the ruling party against the power of Parliament. — 790 words.

Cartoon by Cam Cardow, December 9, 2009,

Blogger notices that U.S. air strikes against Taliban
kill 'exactly 30' enemy fighters every time

By Daniel Tencer

When it comes to air strikes against the Taliban, there's something about the number 30, says the Security Crank blog. The unnamed military affairs blogger has published a list of recent air strikes against militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an amazing pattern has emerged: It seems that just about every time an air strike is reported in the news, the Taliban casualty figure cited is 30 ... Not 29, not 31. Thirty. — 1,318 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 11, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 2 (206)

Thanks be for minority government
We need a leader who reaches for the stars
while keeping both feet solidly on the ground

Ever since he took power, the media and therefore many in the public, have witnessed the ruthless disregard Stephen Harper has for a free and open society. More wrongs are hidden and disinformation given in the name of national security. — 293 words.

Letters to the Editor

Re: Has our society lost touch?
by Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair (Friday, December 4, 2009)

Excellent topic and presentation. Touching is so very important! I would not be here without it. When I was quite sick in my 20's, I believe it saved my life to receive that loving energy that people provide. As an energy therapist I can see the difference in peoples' bodies and energy fields when they are touched.

Great idea and great work! Have a marvelous holiday.

With Love and Light,

Cheryl Driskell, Ottawa, Canada

Understanding the other side

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

A wise union leader once told me he always prepared for contract negotiations by developing management’s position as well as his own. The object was to understand the other side to better defend his demands. — 583 words.

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Our cities are hotbeds of climate action

Why and where big cuts in emissions can be achieved

By Mike Harcourt

Canada could have a comprehensive climate change action plan by June 2010. All the elements are there, if only we could see them. Greenhouse gas reductions of over 80 per cent are possible by 2040. — 949 words.

From the Desk of Rebekah Sears MA
Conflict Analysis and Resolution

CIDA cuts budget of ecumenical human rights group
after public opposition to the Tar Sands development

By Adiat Junaid, Communications Program Coordinator
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

OTTAWA, Canada — The widow of a murdered Congolese human rights defender from a KAIROS- supported group, Canadian church leaders and the heads of some of Canada's most respected non-governmental organizations are calling on the Canadian government to renew funding for the human rights program of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. — 987 words.

Dr. Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border

By Cory Doctorow

My friend, the wonderful sf writer Peter Watts was beaten without provocation and arrested by US border guards on Tuesday. I heard about it early Wednesday morning in London and called Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She worked her contacts to get in touch with civil rights lawyers in Michigan, and we mobilized with Caitlin Sweet (Peter's partner) and David Nickle (Peter's friend) and Peter was arraigned and bailed out later that day — 782 words.

Keep the Internet open
Make sure they're not throttling us

Keep the Internet open and creative. The CRTC needs to watchdog ISP practices

By Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson is the national coordinator for He is a contributing author of Censored 2008 and Battleground: The Media and has written for The Tyee, Toronto Star, VUE Weekly, Common Ground, and Adbusters. Reach him at:,, and

At Fresh Hot Type, the after party for the Fresh Media Festival on Oct. 24th, local media arts group W2 provided a letterpress with which partygoers could experiment. The idea was that as the DJs spun in the background, participants could creatively express themselves by using the letterpress, ink and paper. Not satisfied with what seemed like the natural limits of the medium, participants soon began writing words and expressions on both their own and each other's bodies, and acting out the words on the dance floor. — 828 words.

'ISPs would have to scan every chunk of data with the sort of software now used by China and Iran'

Net piracy: The entertainment industry vs. The People

Corporate concerns about file sharing — movies and music being downloaded by afficionados for free
mean you could soon see your Internet company spying on every bit you send or receive over the Internet

Paul Marks

"This is the kind of snooping you'd expect in China, not a modern western democracy. It raises huge questions over privacy invasion and freedom of expression." So says Andrew Heaney — who is not, as you might imagine, a civil liberties campaigner, but a senior executive at TalkTalk, one of the UK's largest internet service providers. Along with other ISPs, his company faces the prospect of being forced to spy on its customers' downloads for signs of potential copyright infringement. — 955 words.

Afghan torture backspin leaves Tories squirming

Smear of whistleblower, general's flip flop, has MacKay on defensive

By James Travers
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA, Canada — Tug one thread, the worn adage advises, and the whole sweater unravels. Just weeks after Richard Colvin pulled the single strand of Afghan prisoner abuse, Peter MacKay's defence is in tatters, torn apart by the admission that a Canada detainee was beaten. — 550 words.

Former ambassadors condemn Ottawa's attack on diplomat

Response to Colvin's detainee testimony discourages honest reports, letter says

By Steven Chase and Campbell Clark
The Globe and Mail

Twenty-three former ambassadors are speaking out against the Conservative government's attacks on the credibility of diplomat Richard Colvin, saying Ottawa's response to his Afghan detainee abuse testimony threatens to cast a chill over Canada's foreign service. — 810 words.

Ask the Expert

Should I buy a pre-construction condominium?

By Jim Pellerin

Jim Pellerin of Ottawa is a veteran real estate investor and the author of 7 Steps to Real Estate Riches. For more information visit

It depends on your situation and what you intend to do once the unit is built. Buying a condo as an investment, and expecting to make money by flipping it, is pure speculation. You are speculating how the market is going to perform during your waiting period. You are hoping that the property will appreciate in value so that you will be able to sell it for a profit. — 316 words.

Spirit Quest

Transforming the Christmas dilemma

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

They called it Black Friday, black for the merchants but red for the consumer. It is lauded as a day for deals with discounts galore beckoning consumers to lighten the laden shelves. There has been a very definite decline in buying. The recession has had a noticeable affect on our urge to transform our cash into goods. — 567 words.

Simplifying Christmas is a great idea

'She was sweet enough to tell me all families went through a bad Christmas once in a while ...'

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair

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

Last Sunday my daughter came over with her brood so that we could put up the Christmas tree. Carrying the darn tree upstairs is just too much for me and stacking the three main pieces one on top of the other is better done with two pairs of hands. The rest is sheer fun! Lea loved going through the boxes of decorations and choosing the ones she would hang on the branches. Adèle marveled at a box of decorations she found. The sticker indicated, «Towers — 99 cents ». "Wow! How far back do these go, Mom?" "1972!" I replied. What can I say? There is a sentimental value to Christmas ornaments. — 805 words.

Copenhagen climate change talks must fail, says top scientist

World's leading climate change expert says summit talks so flawed that deal would be a disaster

By Suzanne Goldenberg
The Guardian UK

The scientist who convinced the world to take notice of the looming danger of global warming says it would be better for the planet and for future generations if this week's Copenhagen climate change summit ends in collapse. — 896 words.

Indigenous Brazilian tribe in Amazon owns carbon rights

'In more recent years, illegal loggers invaded the Surui's land threatening the community. And 11 regional indigenous leaders have been assassinated — killings believed to be directed by logging and mining captains.'

A new legal opinion from one of the world's largest law firms has found that a vulnerable Brazilian tribe in the Amazon region owns carbon-trading rights in future global warming deals, a development that could preserve vast areas of the rainforest. — 898 words.

More Americans believe in angels than in human role in global warming

By John Byrne

More Americans believe in guardian angels than in human role in global warming, according to recent polls. — 339 words.

Millions of Americans get sick because they drink dirty water
Rise in breast and prostate cancer tied to contaminated water

By Charles Duhigg
The New York Times

More than 20 per cent of the nation's water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. — 1,167 words.

'Constitutionalism' is a new force says Chavez
in praise of Bolivian leader's landslide victory

By Kiraz Janicke

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales for his landslide electoral victory on Sunday saying it was a victory for all of Latin America. — 388 words.

Getting serious about stimulus

22 Chinese cities to get subways

By Zhao Chunzhe

China's State Council has approved plans for 22 cities to build subways with a total investment of 882 billion yuan ($129 billion), the People's Daily Overseas Edition reported Wednesday.

Eleven cities in China currently have subways covering a total of 835.5 km.

China will also have another 89 subways measuring 2,500 km in total as of 2016 with an investment of 993 billion yuan ($145 billion). —

Venezuelan bank fraud: Three executives flee
Government intervenes in linked companies

By Tamara Pearson

MERIDA — Following the government's nationalisation of two banks and liquidation of two others for banking law infractions, three bank executives fled to the U.S., and the government intervened in food companies owned by currently detained bank owner, Ricardo Fernandez. — 862 words.

Fat, gay and proud: A new kind of Venezuelan beauty queen

By Rory Carroll
The Guardian UK

Music swells, lights flash and the contestants strut on to the stage, waving and blowing kisses. All wear high heels, bikinis and wide smiles. It is another beauty pageant in Venezuela, a self-styled "beauty superpower" which worships physical perfection and has won the two most recent Miss Universe titles. But this show in Caracas is different. Even from the back of the theatre you noticesomething striking about the contestants. They are men. Large, chubby men. — 595 words.

Big bidders nab service contracts at Iraq oil auction
Big Oil yields to hard bargaining by Iraq government

By Antoine Blua
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Two contracts have been awarded to major oil consortiums so far on the first day of bidding in what's being described as the biggest Iraqi oil auction in decades. A successful bid from a consortium of Royal Dutch Shell and Malaysia's Petronas for the giant Majnoon oil field in southern Iraq kicked off the bid round, the second such sale since the 2003 U.S. invasion. — 709 words.

8 military officers fired over hazing complaints
Soldiers' Mothers Committee takes on army brass

The Moscow Times

Eight military officers have been dismissed from the armed forces after complaints about hazing, Interfax reported Thursday. The rare firings, which included the commander of the 138th Infantry Brigade in the Leningrad region and his deputy, occurred after two soldiers complained to military investigators in October of mass hazings of servicemen by their superiors, a source in the Leningrad region military prosecutor's office told Interfax. — 210 words.

We have Hitler’s skull, Russia’s security service insists
while American researcher argues the bones belonged to a woman

By Daniel Tencer

Despite claims to the contrary by some American scientists, the chief archivist for Russia's security service insists the Russian government is in possession of part of Adolf Hitler's skull and jawbone. — 527 words.

Russia on its mind, Georgia makes hefty Afghan contribution

TBILISI — By agreeing to deploy nearly 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, Georgia is looking to make investments in its own security against giant neighbour and former ruler Russia, officials and experts said. — 674 words.

EU cracks down after 34 million fake pills seized in two months

Agence France-Presse

The trade in counterfeit medicines in the European Union has exceeded the body's worst fears, the European industry commissioner said on Monday. The EU had seized 34 million fake tablets in just two months, Gunter Verheugen told German daily Die Welt — including antibiotics, cancer treatments and Viagra. — 288 words.

Health Watch

Dirty babies get healthier hearts

'If my 2-year-old drops food on the floor, I just let him pick it up and eat it.'

By Debora MacKenzie

Affluent, modern babies live in a sanitised world. This has already been blamed for a high incidence of asthma and allergies, but might also up the risk of developing a host of other conditions common in rich countries, such as stroke and heart disease. — 392 words.

The six weirdest, scariest processed foods

'... the avocado-free guacamole compelled
Brenda Lifsey to sue Kraft for false advertising'

By Brad Reed

Today, at the start of the 21st century, the miracle of food processing has brought that dream closer to reality than ever before. From vitamin-free "blueberry bits" to spray-can cheese to avocado-free guacamole, food scientists have worked tirelessly to bring us new and exciting foods that contain as little nutrition as possible. Even apparently "healthy" foods such as soups have been ingeniously overloaded with so much salt you feel as if you're eating French fries. — 1,563 words.

Casual sex — and no emotional wreckage?

Study suggests casual sex is just that — casual
But researchers warn of physical risks

Josephine Marcotty
Mineeaplolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

As most every parent knows, hooking up for casual sex is bad for young people because it causes emotional or psychological damage. Right?

Well, actually, no. At least not for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, according to a new study by University of Minnesota researchers. — 638 words.

Laid bare: the sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory

'Theirs was a society of great tolerance and lack of guilt.'

By Helena Smith
The Guardian UK

The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust — and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why. — 952 words.

Six tricks to sex after a divorce

What to expect from sex after divorce

By Julie Bogart

As hard to believe as it may seem amid splitting up CD collections and hiring lawyers, there is (sex) life after divorce. And when you're ready to take your friend's, your mother's, or your therapist's advice and "get back out there," there is much to discover — about yourself, your body, and, well, the act itself. — 973 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.


Sea level rising along U.S. Atlantic coast, say environmental scientists

An international team of environmental scientists led by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that sea-level rise along the Atlantic Coast of the United States was 2 millimeters faster in the 20th century than at any time in the past 4,000 years. — 464 words.

Annals of Education

Learning report dispels native stereotypes

'A fresh, more balanced take'

CBC News

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people display higher rates of volunteerism and informal learning — participation in clubs, sports, arts and music — as well as more community involvement than non-aboriginal Canadians, according to a new study. — 358 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

GM Invests $336 Million In Detroit-Hamtramck plant
to build Chevrolet Volt electric car with 1.4L generator

As reported by General Motors

DETROIT, Michigan — General Motors will invest $336 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to begin production of the Chevrolet Volt electric car, with extended-range capabilities, in 2010.

This brings GM's combined Volt-related investments in Michigan to $700 million, covering eight facilities. Detroit-Hamtramck will be the final assembly location for the Volt, using tooling from Grand Blanc, lithium-ion batteries from GM's Brownstown Township battery pack manufacturing facility, camshafts and connecting rods from Bay City, and stampings and the Volt's 1.4L engine-generator from Flint.

"We expect the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be the first facility in the U.S. owned by a major automaker to produce an electric car. It is the hub for the wheel that we began rolling in 2007 when the Volt debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit," said Jon Lauckner, GM vice president of global product planning. "Since then, the field of challengers and partners has grown significantly. This competition will expedite the development of electric vehicle technology and infrastructure." Click here to read more.

Toyota to hire 800 for Woodstock plant

By Tony Van Alphen

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. says it will add a second shift and about 800 jobs to start building more sport utility vehicles in Woodstock next March. — 141 words.

U.S. artist Frank Frazetta's son charged with $20 million art theft — from dad

CBC News

A Pennsylvania man used a backhoe to break into a museum owned by his father — the pioneering fantasy artist Frank Frazetta — in an attempt to steal 90 paintings valued at $20 million US, police said Thursday. — 365 words.

From the Desk of Harold Wright, Doctor of Punology

A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, 'I'll serve you, but don't start anything.'

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