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Friday, February 20, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 11 — 162
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Unidentified black man spotted with wildly popular Canadian politicians, photo-illustration by Geoffrey Dow,


"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 20, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 11 (162)

Obama’s visit to Ottawa a refreshing change from Bush
Harper reveals more of his duck and dodge on honesty

The last time George W. Bush visited Canada he snuck in like a fugitive from justice. A whole area around Montelbello, half way between Ottawa and Montreal on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, was cordoned off from the public. On Thursday, February 19, 2009, newly elected United States president Barack Obama arrived at Ottawa’s military Uplands Airport for a seven-hour visit with all the presence of the proverbial rock star. — 455 words.

Letters to the editor

'I met my true love on the cradle in the waves'

I was interested to read The Trivia Guys’ column about P.E.I. True, besides its official name it has numerous nicknames. It seems now, however, that in the not so distant future  the name of Canada’s smallest province may have to be pluralized. — 347 words.

'Victory' in Falluja:

City still in ruins nearly five years since siege

By Dahr Jamail

FALLUJAh, Iraq — Driving through Fallujah, once the most rebellious Sunni city in this country, I saw little evidence of any kind of reconstruction underway. At least 70% of that city's structures were destroyed during massive U.S. military assaults in April, and again in November 2004, and more than four years later, in the "new Iraq," the city continues to languish. — 2,920 words.

Ignatief woos the west

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

Readers may have seen news reports that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatief wants to woo the west where the Liberals enjoy about as much traction as a bald tire on ice. He might as well expand that ambition to include all of rural Canada. — 450 words.

Al Jazeera's new Canadian boss

Tony Burman ran CBC news. Now he calls shots at the top Arab news network's English arm. Why can't we see it here? A Tyee interview.

By Charles Campbell

Tony Burman has taken flak before for being a Palestinian toady, an anti-Israeli putz afraid to call a terrorist a "terrorist." So it's no surprise that the former editor-in-chief of CBC news became a target again as the new managing director of Al Jazeera English. — 2,895 words.

Health Watch

Canadian women report poorer quality of life than men as they age

StatsCan study involves 7,915 Canadians over age 40

CBC News

The quality of life of Canadian men and women differs as they age, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday. The agency followed 7,915 Canadians over age 40 for 10 years. Participants were asked to answer questions about their quality of life every two years from 1994 to 2004. — 386 words.

Pint-size heroes 'almost like Superman,' rescued girl says

CBC News

ST. ANTHONY, Newfoundland — Her rescuers may still be in primary school, but a seven-year-old girl who was plucked from deep snow in northern Newfoundland this week says she will be forever indebted to two young friends. Christa Simms, 7, was playing outdoors near her St. Anthony home on Monday afternoon, and while sliding fell into deep snow and became buried over her head. She was under so much snow, she could neither move nor breathe. "I was really deep in the snow. And I couldn't get out," Simms told CBC News. "I thought I was going to die and Ski-Doos run over me." — 431 words.

From the Desk of Rosaleen Dickson, Contributing Editor

Little Belgian boy salutes Canadian Troops


True North Canuck Fact of the Day

Highest hydraulic lift in the world

The Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway at Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, is the highest hydraulic lift in the world. Work began in 1896 and when the job was completed in 1904 it enabled boaters to overcome a difference in elevation of more than 19 metres between Little Lake and Nassau Mills.

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

Honeybees attacked on all fronts

By Debora MacKenzie

The world's honeybees appear to be dying off in horrifying numbers, and now consensus is starting to emerge on the reason why: it seems there is no one cause. Infections, lack of food, pesticides and breeding — none catastrophic on their own — are having a synergistic effect, pushing bee survival to a lethal tipping point. A somewhat anti-climactic conclusion it may be, but appreciating this complexity — and realising there will be no magic bullet — may be the key to saving the insects. — 555 words.

Eating less beefburgers and bacon could wipe $20 trillion off the cost of fighting climate change

By Jim Giles

Cutting back on beefburgers and bacon could wipe $20 trillion off the cost of fighting climate change. That's the dramatic conclusion of a study that totted up the economic costs of modern meat-heavy diets. — 439 words.

Climate models predicted Australian bushfires

Australia may have just had a horrifying preview of what climate change has in store for its people. Even early warning couldn't stop last weekend's bush fires in Victoria claiming 170 lives and over 700 homes. — 231 words.

Parched China to slash water consumption by 60 per cent

By Landon Thomas Jr.
International Herald Tribune

By Fred Pearce

As rivers run dry and fields turn to dust, China has announced dramatic plans to cut water use by industry and agriculture. Water resources minister Chen Lei said it would cut the amount of water needed to produce each dollar of GDP by 60% by 2020. With the economy on course to grow by 60% by then, that effectively means it wants to consume no more water then than today. — 308 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

New models for a new era

By Jeremy Cato
Globe and Mail

The theme of this year's auto show is The New Era, suggesting that a coming wave of innovation will transform an industry that has been dominated by the internal combustion engine for 100 years. And among the new models making their debut today are Toyota's 2010 Prius and Honda's 2009 Insight, all-new gasoline-electric hybrids that deliver low emissions and improved fuel economy thanks to the dual power train design. — 1,758 words.

Ending the hidden agenda behind tax cuts

By Joe Brewer
Truthout | Perspective

It's time to tell the truth about tax cuts. This phrase dominates political discourse and is coughed out every time a conservative public figure opens his mouth. It is treated like the basis of sound reasoning, yet no one points out what should be obvious - that "tax relief" and "tax cuts" are just code words for destroying the capacity of government to serve the public. — 2,446 words.

Are sex and love mutually exclusive?

In most cultures, the urge for sexual adventure is difficult to reconcile with the comforts of companionship and domesticity

By William Jankowiak
American Sexuality Magazine

William Jankowiak is a professor of anthropology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A relentless field ethnographer, he has worked on a variety of projects, ranging from life inside urban China to Mormon polygyny. Six of his books have been published, the first Sex, Death and Hierarchy in  a Chinese City: An Anthropological Account, and the latest Intimacies: Between Love and Sex Across Cultures.

The pull of romance and the tug of sexual passion are nicely delineated in Blanche DuBois' admonishment of her sister, Stella, in Tennessee Williams' play A Street Car Named Desire. Blanche expresses her horror over Stanley Kowalski's obvious sexual appetite: "A man like that is someone to go out with once, twice, three times when the devil is in you. But live with? Have a child by?"

In this case, the issues are erotic adventure and excitement versus the stability of domesticity and family. The irony in Williams' vision is that while Blanche argues for the latter as the ideal, much of her life has been consumed by the former. Blanche's problem is not uniquely American...Indeed, no culture is ever completely successful or satisfied with its synthesis or reconciliation of sexual desire, passionate/romantic love, and companion/comfort love1,946 words.

Born to believe: how our brains create God

By Michael Brooks

While many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance. This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods. — 2,288 words.

From the Desk of Catherine Coumans, Mining Watch

Links between the Canadian Government, development agencies, mining interests
and the disappearance of two Canadian diplomats in Niger

By Yves Engler

Yves Engler is the author of the forthcoming Canada on the World Stage: A Force for Good or Bad Actor? and other books.

In mid December, Robert Fowler, a career Canadian diplomat who is currently the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Niger, and his aide Louis Guay, an official at Foreign Affairs, were abducted in Niger. They were kidnapped not long after visiting a mine operated by Montréal-based SEMAFO (Société d'exploitation minière-Afrique de l'Ouest). The president and CEO of SEMAFO, Benoit La Salle, told the National Post: "Louis [Guay] called me and said he was going down there on a UN mission and that he heard the mine was a Canadian success and he wanted to report this back to Canada." — 1,169 words.

'And death will be our darling. And fear will be our name.'

Why are we still at war?

By Norman Solomon
Truthout | Perspective

Norman Solomon is the author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," which has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. For recent TV and radio interviews with him about President Obama and war policies, go to:

The United States began its war in Afghanistan 88 months ago. "The war on terror" has no sunset clause. As a perpetual emotion machine, it offers to avenge what can never heal and to fix grief that is irreparable. — 885 words.

Dirty business, dirty wars: U.S.-Latin American relations in the 21st century

By Cyril Mychalejko
New Politics

Cyril Mychalejko is an editor at

Much is being made across the political spectrum in the United States about Washington's waning influence in Latin America. The region has seen an emergence of left and center-left presidents voted into office, many as a result of budding social movements growing democracy from the grassroots. Some pundits and analysts are suggesting that this phenomenon is occurring because of the Bush Administration's perceived neglect of the region. Rather, what is happening is blowback from Washington's continued meddling in the economic and political affairs of an area arrogantly referred to as the United States' "backyard." Latin America's growing unity in rejecting the Washington Consensus remains fragile in the face of U.S. opposition. Washington has been quietly using the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, and a neo-cold war ideology to institutionalize a militarism in the region that risks returning us to the not so far off days of "dirty wars." — 3,424 words.

Is the U.S. repeating Soviet mistakes in Afghanistan?

By Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy Newspapers

KABUL, Afghanistan — Twenty years to the day after the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan, Dastagir Arizad ticked off grievances against President Hamid Karzai and the United States that are disturbingly reminiscent of Moscow's humiliating defeat. — inequality all but vanished from the public discourse. — 1,026 words.

Kyrgystan's sharp turn toward Moscow

By Alexander Lukin
Moscow Times

Alexander Lukin is director of the Center for East Asian and Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations.

Kyrgyzstan's announcement that it plans to close the U.S. air base in Manas changes the security playing field in Central Asia. Those opposed to the U.S. presence in Central Asia will view the base closure as one more victory in the attempt to stop Washington's quest for world domination. Those critical of Moscow will view the decision as an attempt to undermine the worldwide spread of democracy and Washington's struggle against international terrorism. — 1,033 words.

NDP's billion dollar idea to green BC's economy

Wary support from some environmentalists
Liberals say plan is too risky

By Andrew MacLeod

The NDP is announcing plans for a $1-billion-a-year green bond this morning, but critics say it will take more than that to fight climate change and restore the party's environmental image. — 764 words.

Orwell lives in Poland

By Christopher Grabowski

The public library of the Polish provincial town of Slupsk is located in a former 13th century church of St. Nicholas. It was destroyed several times in different armed conflicts and always rebuilt on the same spot. Its massive, red brick walls promised a cool interior, an attractive prospect in a very hot summer day in June 2008. When I walked into the vestibule, I found that somebody set there a little commemorative exhibition to George Orwell featuring his pictures, drawings and early editions of his books in several languages. — 1,647 words.

China's image improves as world economy slumps

By Landon Thomas Jr.
International Herald Tribune

ROME — As the world lurches ever deeper into economic distress, China's image is changing from that of currency manipulator to a source of badly needed consumer demand. At the Group of 7 conference here over the weekend, finance ministers extended a friendly hand to the country many have criticized. Veering sharply from his past testimony before the U.S. Congress, where he used harsh language in criticizing China's reluctance to let its currency, the yuan, appreciate, the new U.S. Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, was quick to commend China for its 4 trillion yuan, or $585 billion, stimulus package. — 1,028 words.

Religion crowds into America's bedrooms

By Don Monkerud

Evangelical, right-wing groups are engaging in a vast, many-pronged "cultural war" to manipulate sexual anxieties and determine what goes on in American's bedrooms. — 835 words.

Venezuelan Jewish community 'profoundly grateful and moved' by government's efforts

By James Suggett

MERIDA — After meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan Israeli Association publicly expressed its appreciation of the government's prompt condemnation and successful criminal investigation of a recent attack on a Caracas Synagogue. — 540 words.

US welcomes Venezuela's term vote

The US has cautiously welcomed Venezuela's vote to scrap limits on how often politicians, including President Hugo Chavez, can run for office

BBC News

State Department spokesman Noel Clay praised "the civic spirit" of the referendum on Sunday. But he said it was important that elected officials in Venezuela focused "on governing democratically". — 326 words.

Medvedev offers Bolivia helicopters

By Steve Gutterman
Moscow Times

MOSCOW — Bolivia will receive helicopters from Russia to help fight drugs and assistance to develop energy resources in the poor South American country, President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday. — 389 words.

More annals of Global Greed, Inc.

International Herald Tribune

Halliburton and its former KBR subsidiary have agreed to pay $579 million in fines to settle criminal and regulatory charges of having bribed foreign officials to win billions in construction contracts. — 238 words.

Shock as Tanzania teachers caned

BBC News

The Tanzania Teachers' Union is taking legal action after 19 primary school teachers were given the cane. The teachers were caned by a police officer in front of their pupils after an investigation into poor exam results at three schools. — 404 words.

UN pays tribute to Fidel Castro and Julius Nyerere


Nicaraguan Miguel D’Escoto, president of the UN General Assembly, today paid tribute to the late Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, and to leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro. — 261 words.

Following the Warren Buffett of China

By Tony Sagami
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

He’s been called chiu yan (Superman) and the Warren Buffett of China. He earned that title as one of the most successful Chinese businessmen in the history of China. And according to Forbes magazine, he’s the ninth richest man in the world and the richest man in Asia. His fortune is centered on two, massive global conglomerates, Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa. Yet very few Americans have heard of him. — 1,380 words.

Spirit Quest

Seek quietness and peace — 'Be still'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

"Listen, Hanns," the camera man said as he grabbed my arm.

"What," I replied, " I can’t hear anything.

"That’s precisely it, there is not one man made sound to be heard," he answered while looking intently into the sky. — 752 words.

Musings: How green is your office?

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

Keeping a “green” office is more than changing incandescent bulbs to CFLs. Here is a checklist to make sure you're doing everything possible to save energy, money, and the planet: — 640 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Poetry takes a rest this week while I welcome to the column our inestimable Editor and Publisher, Carl Dow, with the first of his extraordinary collection of short tales to balance my eclectic selections of poetry. — True North Perspective Literary Editor, Mike Heenan.


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

Deo volente
(God willing)

To him all women were beautiful, simply because they were women. Many were like a melody. Some were downright symphonic. When he first met Elizabeth his premise on women remained unchallenged. As he heard her talk about her present life, and how it came to be, he had a clear sense of melody. — 534 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
Harold Wright