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Friday, February 27, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 12 — 163
"True North is for opinion makers"
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As Canadians anxiously await spring
hundreds protest global warming

As Canadians anxiously await spring<br />
hundreds protest global warming


Meanwhile, some Canadians aren't
thinking about the weather at all.


Superhuman? The secrets of the ice man

By Duncan Graham-Rowe

Perched on the edge of an Antarctic ice sheet, Lewis Gordon Pugh surveys the waves. At 0 °C, water does not get much colder than the sea beneath him. Undeterred, Pugh unzips his jacket, strips down to his swimming trunks and dives in.

Most of us would start to hyperventilate uncontrollably if we dived into such cold water. Pugh doesn't even gasp but instead starts swimming. — 1,324 words.

To Build a Fire

By Jack London

First published in The Century Magazine, v.76, August, 1908. This is the famous, second version of a story first published in a more juvenile treatment for the Youth's Companion on May 29, 1902. (Read first version here.) True North Perspective is indebted to The World of Jack London for this story. — 7,217 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Summer Is A-Coming In

By Mike Heenan
Literary Editor
True North Perspective

To round off our modest end-of-winter theme we offer the following standard that was the Numbeer One hit for more than 400 years. — 270 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 27, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 12 (163)

Zap first and ask questions later

Tasers don't kill people, bad policing kills people

As Mark Twain said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. But numbers are not the facts that should be allowed to muddy the clear waters of truth. Even older than numbers, is distraction — the long-running controversy over the use of tasers by police and security guards is an excellent case in point. — 739 words.

Canadian police groups defend Taser stun guns

By Allan Dowd
Reuters UK

Canada's two largest police associations defended the use of Taser stun guns on Tuesday, saying there is no direct evidence the weapons can be lethal. The public support for the weapons follows a decision by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to warn its officers that electronic stun guns can kill and should be fired only when there is a real threat to themselves or the public. — 455 words.

Taser's 'Delirium' defence

How lawyers used junk science to explain away stun-gun deaths

By Bernice Yeung
Mother Jones

By all accounts Patrick Lee was having too good a time at the Mercy Lounge, a Nashville rock club. He'd commenced the September 2005 evening by dropping a few hits of acid. Before long, the 21-year-old was tripping and determined to climb onstage. A bouncer eighty-sixed him and called the cops, who, according to witnesses, found Lee outside the club, babbling incoherently. Things went downhill fast. Lee made a move toward an officer and was hit with pepper spray. He ran a few feet and stripped off his clothes. The cops deployed their Tasers­, jolting Lee 19 times in all. By the time paramedics arrived, witnesses say, he was unresponsive. He died 39 hours later. The cause, a county medical examiner concluded, was "excited delirium." — 1,663 words.

Maybe now the GE crop debate can move ahead

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

An international study says the adoption of genetically engineered crops has finally gained traction in developing countries with India edging Canada out of 4th place in hectares planted. — 456 words.

'Alien' genes escape into wild corn

Now it's official: genes from genetically modified corn have escaped into wild varieties in rural Mexico. A new study resolves a long-running controversy over the spread of GM genes and suggests that detecting such escapes may be tougher than previously thought. — 218 words.

Farming energy as well as crops

Solar panels on one farm will provide enough power for German 4,000 homes

By Gus Trompiz

WEINBOURG, France —Bright winter sun dissolves a blanket of snow on barn roofs to reveal a bold new sideline for Jean-Luc Westphal: besides producing eggs and grains, he is to generate solar power for thousands of homes. — 982 words.

Health Watch

Peanut exposure reduces allergy


Children with severe peanut allergies given small daily doses of peanut flour were able to build tolerance to the nuts, according to a study that suggests it is possible to treat the potentially deadly condition. — 320 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Small cars sell big in Canada

Canadians love frugal, affordable transportation
more than half the vehicles we buy are small cars

By Jeremy Cato
Globe and Mail

We are the small-car country, the entry-level nation, the land of frugal, affordable transportation. Consider: DesRosiers Automotive Consultants data show that the entry-level market is by far the largest segment in Canada. How big? In 2008, 51.5 per cent of all light vehicles sold in Canada were entry-level — i.e. small — cars. — 2,369 words.

Harper government withholds listeriosis notes

By Sue Bailey
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Harper government has delayed for months the release of notes on conference calls held at the height of last summer's deadly listeriosis outbreak — a lag some experts say breaks Ottawa's own information laws. — 744 words.

Forensic science 'too unreliable' for justice, says report

By Linda Geddes

DENVER, Colorado — Forensic science is in crisis, with techniques like bloodstain pattern and bite-mark analysis routinely being used in convictions despite a dearth of evidence quantifying their reliability. — 503 words.

Great garbage dump on high
Experts ponder space-junk problem

By Veronika Oleksyn
The Buffalo News

ASSOCIATED PRESS — Think of it as a galactic garbage dump. With a recent satellite collision still fresh on minds, participants at a meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna this week are discussing ways to deal with space debris — junk that is clogging up the orbit around the Earth. — 707 words.

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

World’s first complete national atlas

The Canadian Atlas, the world’s first complete national atlas, was put together in 1905 in Ottawa by federal government geographers and cartographers.

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

A planet at the brink
Will economic brushfires prove too virulent to contain?

By Michael T. Klare

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Metropolitan Books).

The global economic meltdown has already caused bank failures, bankruptcies, plant closings, and foreclosures and will, in the coming year, leave many tens of millions unemployed across the planet. But another perilous consequence of the crash of 2008 has only recently made its appearance: increased civil unrest and ethnic strife. Someday, perhaps, war may follow. — 3,026 words.

Jailing kids for cash

Corrupt judges collect $2.6 million to satisfy greed of private prison industry

By Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the "Alternative Nobel" prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States. — 809 words.

Amnesty International: Gaza white phosphorus shells were US made

By Sheera Frenkel

JERUSALEM — White phosphorus bombs used by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip were produced and supplied by American arms manufacturers, according to an Amnesty International report that called for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel. — 660 words.

Why is the Canadian Government so intent on deporting war resisters?

By Sarah Lazare

America's neighbor to the north is erecting barriers to Iraq War resisters seeking asylum. In the past weeks, the Harper Administration has moved swiftly to push U.S. Iraq War resisters out of Canada, issuing removal orders to five more resisters who had resettled up north. — 1,146 words.

Early education: finding the best childcare option

By Olga Kalashnikova
The St. Petersburg Times

Former president Vladimir Putin’s appeal and financial incentives to young Russians to have more children and reverse the country’s population decrease has resulted in a baby boom in St. Petersburg during the past couple of years, highlighting the problem of finding reliable and affordable childcare for working parents. — 1,216 words.

Freeing up resources ... for more 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:

Hours after President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress, The New York Times printed the news that he plans to gradually withdraw "American combat forces" from Iraq during the next 18 months. The newspaper reported that the advantages of the pullout will include "relieving the strain on the armed forces and freeing up resources for Afghanistan." — 563 words.

From the Desk of Anita chan, Contributing Editor, Australia

Students delighted by results of their Coca-Cola discovery

Embarrassed Coca-Cola cleans up its act after Chinese students
expose widespread exploitation of temporary workers at plants

'Coca Cola is a multinational corporation and one of the world's top brands and they have made a lot of money in China. So we expected them to pay more than average attention to their social responsibilities. It disappointed us that they failed to do so,' — University student Yang Zhengjun.

(Anita Chan is Visiting Research Fellow, Contemporary China Centre, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.)

BEIJING — During July and August, 2008, seven Chinese university students conducted an extensive investigation into working conditions at Coca-Cola bottling plants and suppliers throughout China. — 789 words.

Bust-town, Alberta

By Gordon Pitts
The Globe and Mail

FORT SASKATCHEWAN, Alberta — In a snow-swept field northeast of Edmonton, a slender green smokestack rises like an impudent finger gesturing rudely at the economic carnage around it. The stack is surrounded by industrial debris, including big tube-like steel vessels that cost more than $5-million apiece. This is the would-be home of a massive bitumen upgrading project, which, after a $530-million investment in land, equipment and technology, now lies abandoned by all but security guards. Its corporate owner, BA Energy, is in bankruptcy protection. — 2,277 words.

Spirit Quest

'What have you given up for Lent?'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

What have you given up for Lent? It is a frequently asked question at this time of the year. The answer is often of a comical or facetious nature, such as "watermelons" or "I have given up beating my spouse except in self defence." — 725 words.

Musings: Obama’s call prompts memory of visit by China’s Zhao Ziyang

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

President Obama’s visit to Ottawa brought back memories of another visiting dignitary, China's former leader, Zhao Ziyang. When Ziyang visited Ottawa in January, 1984, Prime Minister Trudeau decided to host an elaborate Gala in his honor at the National Arts Centre. — 1,297 words.

The Book End

The Big Book of Canadian Trivia

By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

Every Friday in this spot True North will feature a book by a Canadian writer. The presentation will not be a review. It will include a profile of the author written by him/herself and about the product of the author’s literary labours. If a reader wants to file a review we’ll publish it. Today we offer The Big Book of Canadian Trivia, byMark Kearney and Randy Ray. — Mike Heenan, Literary Editor, True North Perspective.

Ottawa author Randy Ray is at it again. Ray and his co-author Mark Kearney of London, Ont. have wrapped up work on their ninth Canadian book, The Big Book of Canadian Trivia, which will be available in stores on May 1. — 254 words.

Book Review

Crisis of capitalism or death wish?

Capitalism and Death Wish — By Gilles Dostaler and Bernard Maris

Review by Sylvain Lapoix

Who remembers that in his famous "General Theory of Employment," John Maynard Keynes recommended "euthanizing rentiers"? Published in 1936 on the inferno of the economic crisis, the British economist's book found a surprising echo several years earlier in Freud's "Civilization and Its Discontents": capitalism is a neurosis of a society that, from accumulation through uncontrolled risks inevitably followed by crises, takes pleasure in its own destruction. Like Nero playing the lyre while Rome burned. Like bankers leaving for luxurious vacations during the financial crisis. — 522 words.


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

The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn

They radiated that kind of sensuous tension exclusive to those in their twenties who are convinced they're on their way to the top. Bright to brilliant, especially skilled in stringing words and knowing what made a good local or national story, this group of seven came from diverse backgrounds, some out of the new journalism schools, some off the street, self-taught, who quickly had worked their way to national television news or the country's leading newspapers by way of provincial weeklies and dailies. — 827 words.

Welcome to the Hintonburg Chamber Theatre in Ottawa

As Hintonburg's theatre company, we perform in the two beloved local historic rooms, The Carleton and The Elmdale House Taverns. These pre-existing settings are perfect for our hand-picked, non-corporate plays. — 270 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