tnp logo

Friday, February 13, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 10 — 161
"True North is for opinion makers"
Mission Statement        Archives        Contact the Editor        Subscribe!

Shades of 1993: The GOP's jihad on Obama

A cowardly liberal media may open the door
to a right-wing resurgence at Washington

The underfunded and outnumbered independent media
fights an uphill battle for truth

Only a few weeks into Barack Obama’s presidency, a threatening political and media dynamic has rushed to the fore cutting short a very brief honeymoon.

By Robert Parry

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

The Republicans and their right-wing media allies are doing whatever they can to strangle the Obama phenomenon in its cradle; the mainstream media pundits are stressing the negative so they don't get called "in the tank for Obama"; and the Democrats are shying away from holding the Bush-Cheney administration accountable for its crimes. — 1,376 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, February 13, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 10 (161)

Hey, wait a minute! Woman's claim to swim the Atlantic debunked after media does double-take

Lessons most of us learn at our mother's knee are lessons most of us need to re-learn over and over again. I'm sure all of us have been taken in by a story that — by the brilliant sunshine of hindsight — was obviously not true after all and that left us feeling foolish if we were lucky and lucky to be alive if we were foolish. — 665 words.

From the Desk of Harold Wright, Contributing Editor

Love and sorrow

As the heart-breaking series of photographs will show, neither love nor sorrow are exclusive to the human condition. Please click below to share the images that have moved millions. — 148 words.

Health Watch

Ecstasy's long-term effects revealed

Drug dealers wanted to call it Empathy because it produced 'loved-up' warmth
Research shows drug slightly dulls the mind and has mild long-lasting effects

By Graham Lawton

They called it the second summer of love. Twenty years ago, young people all over the world donned T-shirts emblazoned with smiley faces and danced all night, fuelled by a molecule called MDMA. Most of these clubbers have since given up ecstasy and are sliding into middle age. The question is, has ecstasy given up on them? — 1,443 words.

Taliban feel pinch of world financial crisis

CBC News

Even the Taliban are feeling the effects of the global financial crisis. A Turkish militant group, which has hundreds of Turkish, Chechen and Uzbek fighters allied to the Taliban, reported that a sharp drop in donations is hampering its fight against NATO soldiers. — 347 words.

Ontario Liberals come down heavy with a green foot
McGuinty vows to stop wind-farm NIMBYs

By Rob Ferguson and Leslie Ferenc
Toronto Star

LONDON, Ont. — Taking a swipe at those who oppose wind turbines off the Scarborough Bluffs, Premier Dalton McGuinty is signalling he won't hesitate to foist "green" energy projects on communities across Ontario — 734 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Canada's most fuel-efficient vehicles

CBC News

More than 10 vehicles on the market in Canada were singled out for their fuel efficiency on Wednesday at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto. Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt said manufacturers of the vehicles are the 2009 winners of the ecoENERGY for Vehicles Awards. — 259 words.

Tea imports up five per cent as Russians switch from booze

The Moscow Times

Russia, the world's largest tea importer, will increase purchases by up to five per cent this year as consumers shy away from more expensive beverages to better cope with the economic slowdown, an industry lobby group said Monday. — 265 words.

56 year-old woman doesn't swim Atlantic Ocean
(but gets plenty of excited publicity anyway!)

By Chris Chase

Over the weekend, in between depressing news about the economy and the continued sagas of Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez, an inspirational story appeared on the Associated Press news wire. It detailed American Jennifer Figge's accomplishment in becoming the first woman to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Many media outlets (including Yahoo!) jumped on the story that seemed almost too good to be true. That's because it was. — 473 words.

Hu vows to boost ties with Saudi Arabia

By Li Xing
China Daily

RIYADH — China will work with Saudi Arabia to strengthen bilateral ties and cope with the global financial crisis, President Hu Jintao said Tuesday. Bilateral relations have proceeded smoothly in the past years, Hu said in a statement after arriving in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital. — 266 words.

China's Africa interest not just about oil

By Li Xiaokun
China Daily

President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to four African countries will show that China's commitment to the continent reaches beyond business and resources, a senior diplomat said. "You've noticed that the four African countries the president will visit are not famous for natural resources," Xu Jinghu, director of the African department under the Foreign Ministry, told China Daily. — 248 words.

China nails porn sites

276 more porn websites closed in ongoing crackdown

China Daily

BEIJING (Xinhua) — China has shut down another 276 websites that contain pornographic and "lewd" materials, which brings the total number of closed websites to 1,911, the national Internet regulator said Tuesday. — 249 words.

Civil servants to be paid in coupons

SHANGHAI — Civil servants in Hangzhou are to receive part of their wages in shopping vouchers, the city's Party chief Wang Guoping said on Monday. "About 5 to 10 percent of their salaries will be paid in the form of consumption coupons," Wang was quoted as saying by the Metropolitan Express. — 341 words.

From the Desk of Jamie Kneen of Mining Watch

Swiss miner that bought Sudbury’s Falconbridge
violates pact with Ottawa by laying off 686
say Industry Minister Clement and Union rep Harper

By Andy Hoffman
The Globe and Mail

SUDBURY — Xstrata PLC has violated commitments it made to the federal government by laying off half its work force in Sudbury, but Ottawa won't take action against the Swiss mining firm. — 664 words.

A Prius for every student

That's what you could do at UBC, for the price of its new Skytrain line.

By David Beers

Humanity is threatened by a global-warming crisis. Canada, facing the crisis of global financial meltdown, is looking for ways to keep people working. The time is ripe, it seems, for an era of massive, green public-works projects. — 823 words.

Ontario lays out plan to cut ER waits

Initiatives include treating elderly at home, public reporting of hospital delays

By Theresa Boyle
The Toronto Star

Ontario is unveiling sweeping initiatives to tackle the problems of long stays in emergency departments and a lack of access to family health care. A multi-pronged approach, expected to be announced this week and next, will see non-urgent patients diverted from crowded ERs — of which Greater Toronto has 21 — frail and elderly patients discharged faster from hospital into community care, and a new initiative to hook up patients with family physicians and family health teams. — 616 words.

Venezuela's Chávez denounces violence by militant government supporters

By James Suggett

MERIDA — During a television broadcast on Saturday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez strongly denounced the violent actions of radical groups who identify themselves as supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Chávez. Chávez called on Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz and state security forces to investigate and arrest those who are responsible for the violence. — 725 words.

Venezuelan opposition leaders testify at Attorney General’s office

MERIDA — Alberto Federico Ravell, the director of the oppositional television station Globovisión, was questioned by the Attorney General’s office on Wednesday, following accusations that a trip he and three other opposition leaders took to Puerto Rico early last month was part of a conspiracy with U.S. officials against the Chávez government. — 339 words.

No stomach for market turmoil? Thank your genes

By Maggie Fox

WASHINGTON — No stomach for the ups and downs of the financial market? Or maybe you lost everything in the global economic downturn? Genes important for mood and risk-taking likely played a clear role, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. — 403 words.

Naked Swiss hikers face spot fines

By Jonathan Lynn

GENEVA — Naked mountain hikers in the Swiss canton of Appenzell-Innerrhoden will in future face on the spot fines of 200 Swiss francs ($170), Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger reported over the weekend. — 140 words.

What would Ann Landers advise?

Ann's daughter, advice columnist Margo Howard, gets ugly with advice columnist Amy Dickinson.

(True North Perspective Editor’s Note: Never mind Ann Landers: the best source of advice on squabble solving is Canada’s own Great Granny who’s available to all at

By Jack Shafer

Syndicated advice columnist Margo Howard slapped syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson with an open letter yesterday, accusing her of exploiting her mother, Esther "Eppie" Pauline Friedman Lederer, who wrote a syndicated advice columnist under the name "Ann Landers" for almost 47 years until she died in 2002. Dickinson started writing an advice column for the Chicago Tribune, Landers' "home" newspaper, in 2003 and drew barbs from readers. Howard accuses Dickinson of having "allowed people, if not encouraged them," to consider Dickinson "the new Ann Landers" during recent appearances on Good Morning America and The View. Howard writes: Well, you are not the "new" Ann Landers because there is no "new" Ann Landers. It is a copyrighted name and trademark, and what that means is that no one else can use it—not to write under, and not to promote themselves. — 797 words.

Detroit gave Saddam Hussein key to the city

By Juliet Lapidos

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg feted Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his crew at City Hall on Monday. The mayor also presented Sullenberger with a key to the city—a token of thanks for successfully landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River last month after a flock of birds disabled the plane's engines. What does the key open? — 354 words.

First published March 14, 2008

He doesn’t know it, but Fidel Castro (the one and only)
has joined True North Perspective as a Guest Columnist

By Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

Long before I’d ever heard of Fidel Castro I found a book in a used bookstore published by two American doctors in 1938. There are three things about it that I recall: the first is that some casual friends (a couple) borrowed it (I don’t remember the title); the second is that I never saw the book or the couple again (I’ve forgotten their names); the third I remember clearly: the doctors reported that there was virus in Cuba that entered the body through the soles of bare feet and caused the legs to swell so that the patients were immobilized with pain. The doctors said that they had discovered a serum that when injected caused the swelling and its pain to disappear. The only problem was that most Cubans were too poor to buy shoes. So the obvious cycle developed among those lucky enough to receive the injection. Through the years it came to my mostly indifferent attention that Cuba, especially in Havana, was a holiday resort and an intensely practiced place of business for American gangsters. The country as a whole lay victim to unbridled exploitation by American businesses in many ventures including the production of sugar. — 915 words.

Reflections of Fidel

Contradictions between the politics of Obama and ethics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

The other day I noted some of Obama’s ideas that point to his role within a system that is the negation of every just principle. There are people who throw up their hands in horror at the expression of any critical opinion of this important figure, even when it is done decently and respectfully. This is always accompanied by subtle and not so subtle darts from those who possess the means to circulate and transform such opinions into components of media terrorism, which they impose on the peoples in order to sustain the unsustainable. — 1,037 words.

Cuba wins broad support in Human Rights Council

By Fausto Triana, Special correspondent

GENEVA — Recognition of Cuba’s achievements in education, health, international solidarity and the defense of its sovereignty were highlighted today in speeches by representatives of various countries regarding Cuba’s report to the Human Rights Council (HRC). — 449 words.


Not a dirty word

Nationalization is not un-American.
We have a long history that proves it.

By Richard Parker

Talk of "nationalizing the banks" is in the air again this week, as President Obama hits the road to sell his recovery plan and Tim Geithner, the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission gets ready to announce his rescue strategy for the nation's financial institutions. There's plenty to rescue. Bank of America—the country's biggest bank—saw its stock hit a 25-year low, while Citigroup is barely off the bottom it reached last month; even Wells Fargo—once thought the "safest" of the big banks—has lost half its value in the last 60 days. You might wonder, as many are, what's left for the government to "nationalize." But that may be the wrong issue. — 717 words.

Worthwhile Canadian initiative

Canadian banks are typically leveraged at 18 to 1
compared with U.S. banks at 26 to 1.

By Fareed Zakaria

The legendary editor of The New Republic, Michael Kinsley, once held a "Boring Headline Contest" and decided that the winner was "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." Twenty-two years later, the magazine was rescued from its economic troubles by a Canadian media company, which should have taught us Americans to be a bit more humble. Now there is even more striking evidence of Canada's virtues. Guess which country, alone in the industrialized world, has not faced a single bank failure, calls for bailouts or government intervention in the financial or mortgage sectors. Yup, it's Canada. In 2008, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system the healthiest in the world. America's ranked 40th, Britain's 44th. — 829 words.

Porn star Stormy Daniels to take on sexual hypocrite, Republican Sen. David Vitter?

By Max Blumenthal
The Daily Beast

Sen. David Vitter’s phone number was found in the records of the notorious D.C. madam. Now he faces re-election (and massive karmic payback) against a sultry adult entertainer named Stormy. Max Blumenthal has an exclusive interview. — 317 words.


A snake the size of a plane

How did prehistoric animals get so big?

By Nina Shen Rastogi

In the Feb. 5 issue of Nature, a group of paleontologists announced that they've found a fossil in Colombia belonging to a 43-foot snake that lived some 60 million years ago. The massive boa, which dates from the Paleocene Epoch, is the largest snake species ever discovered — it would have been the length of a school bus and weighed as much as a Volkswagen Beetle. How come prehistoric animals were so much bigger than today's beasts? — 596 words.

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

By any other name it’s still Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is affectionately referred to by locals as "The Island" but over the years it has also been called "Spud Island,"  "The Garden of the Gulf,"  "The Million-Acre Farm," and the `Cradle of Confederation." Its earliest settlers, the MicMac called it Abegweit, which means "Cradle in the Waves."

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

Money and Markets

Deflation is here — time for inflation protection?

By Nilus Mattive
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

It’s clear that deflation has taken center stage in the U.S. economy. As I told my Dividend Superstars subscribers last month, you can see falling prices just about everywhere you look.For example, the Consumer Price Index DROPPED 0.7% in December 2008. That’s a marked departure from the gains we had been seeing. Even if you exclude food and gas prices, consumer prices were still flat for the month. What’s more, the full-year data showed consumer prices rose a paltry 0.1% vs. a whopping 4.1% jump in 2007. — 953 words.

Spirit Quest

Do you believe in God? asked my cousin as we sipped wine
while overlooking a spa town in southwestern Germany

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

"Do you believe in God?" I felt as though he had me in a witness box. My cousin is a German lawyer, a master at prying out incriminating answers. We were not in court but sitting on the balcony of his lovely villa that overlooks a spa town in southwestern Germany. — 896 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

'Two poems for St. Valentine'

By Mike Heenan
Literary Editor
True North Perspective

Here are two for St. Valentine: the first is Shakespeare’s lasting advice on love to his young, noble patron … probably the Earl of Southampton. No doubt one of the finest poems on the subject in literary history. The second one still works. — 279 words.

Musings: Success Story

'I...set in motion an adventure I could never have imagined.'

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

This year marks the 40th anniversary of my first contact with the Sandy Lake First Nation in far northwestern Ontario. At a United Church Women’s (UCW) meeting in Gatineau, Quebec, we read a letter sent from a minister who had just arrived in Sandy. He described the appalling conditions he found: uninsulated houses heated by wood-burning 40-gallon oil drums, no running water, no sewage disposal, no library at the school, no hymnals for the church choir. — 525 words.

The Book End

Lessons from the Gilded Age

What Social Darwinists didn't get about evolution.

By Adam Kirsch

Appropriately for a book about the impact of Darwinism on 19th-century American life, Banquet at Delmonico's has a distinguished intellectual pedigree. In his best-seller The Metaphysical Club, Louis Menand wrote a group biography of the thinkers and teachers who made Pragmatism the quasi-official philosophy of post-Civil War America. That book proved what Darwin might have called its literary "fitness" by winning the Pulitzer Prize; so it is only appropriate that now, eight years later, it has produced a kind of offspring in Barry Werth's new book. — 1,123 words.

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

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

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
Harold Wright