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Friday, January 9, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 5 — 156
"True North is for opinion makers"
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"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.

Afghan corruption: Everything for sale

By Dexter Filkins
International Herald Tribune

PARESH, The Khaleej Times, Dubai, UAE

KABUL — When it comes to governing this violent, fractious land, everything, it seems, has its price.

Want to be a provincial police chief? It will cost you $100,000.

Want to drive a convoy of trucks loaded with fuel across the country? Be prepared to pay $6,000 per truck, so the police will not tip off the Taliban.

Need to settle a lawsuit over the ownership of your house? About $25,000, depending on the judge.

"It is very shameful, but probably I will pay the bribe," Mohammed Naim, a young English teacher, said as he stood in front of the Secondary Courthouse in Kabul. His brother had been arrested a week before, and the police were demanding $4,000 for his release. "Everything is possible in this country now. Everything."

Kept afloat by billions of dollars in American and other foreign aid, the government of Afghanistan is shot through with corruption and graft. From the lowliest traffic policeman to the family of President Hamid Karzai himself, the state built on the ruins of the Taliban government seven years ago now often seems to exist for little more than the enrichment of those who run it. — 1,628 words.

Editor's Notes

Friday, January 9, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 5 (156)

A gloomy opening to what can be a Happy New Year

As we round the corner into the New Year we hear the echo of more dead and wounded in the Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza wars. Not to forget the ongoing tragedies in Africa. True North Perspective has published and publishes today highly credible sources that reveal that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have been all about oil and natural gas. This business about spreading democracy has been just so much malarkey to keep the folks back home passively chewing their cud in quiet pastures.. — 480 words.

In the Court of Judge Harold Wright

Judge Wright dismisses charge of disorderly conduct
after two young men display conduct in open court

Judge Wright called on the two young men to display their disorderly conduct and then declared theirs was an act that should be honoured rather than penalized. Case dismissed. — 29 words plus display (turn your sound up).

From the desk of Rosaleen Dickson, Contributing Editor

The art of story telling brings pleasure to author and reader, with no other purpose. It's not news and it's not instruction, it's just "telling a story." Enjoy Hanns Skoutajan's recollection of a moment of sudden revelation and insight he calls "Epiphany."


A moment of sudden revelation and insight by Hanns F. Skoutajan

One day a letter arrived in my mailbox. The postmark on the envelope looked familiar and the contents announced a reunion. — 2,334 words.

Agriculture as an economic stimulus

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

There has been plenty of discussion in recent weeks about using government spending on infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy and soften the impact of the global recession. 469 words.

The Coalition deserves to live

And critics who say the NDP is folding on Afghanistan are wrong

By Michael Byers

Everyone makes mistakes, but those who write for public consumption are scrutinized more closely. Last year, I thought Stephen Harper would cut economic ties with Cuba and allow the sale of Radarsat-2. Two years ago, I believed George W. Bush would bomb Iran. So I sympathize with Murray Brewster who, in the rush to cover last month's coalition agreement, reported that "New Democrats will stop opposing Canada's war in Afghanistan while the party is in league with the Liberals." This, the veteran Canadian Press journalist concluded, was "a significant concession for a party that has been the standard-bearer for the peace movement in Canada." 1,269 words.

Health Watch

Michael Hayden, 'researcher of the year'

By André Picard
The Globe and Mail

When Michael Hayden was named Canada's "researcher of the year" by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research last November, it was hardly a surprise. — 1,044 words.

Black holes may precede galaxies, astronomers say


WASHINGTON — Black holes — those massive, invisible objects that suck in everything around them — may have appeared before the galaxies that host them, astronomers said on Wednesday.

The findings could change the understanding of how galaxies first formed, and what role black holes play in the universe. — 462 words.

From the Desk of RCAF Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harold Wright

Tim Hortons in Kandahar, Afghanistan: An Insider's View

Jennifer Jones spent six months working at the Kandahar Tim Hortons. Here's how her stint in war-torn Afghanistan gave her a greater appreciation for our soldiers — and our country. My alarm goes off just before 5 a.m.  I pull on my bathrobe, pad down the hallway and open the plywood door to a gravel road and a line of large rounded tents surrounded by concrete highway dividers. — 1,640 words.

Growing Taliban use of marksmen worries U.S. military

By Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Newspapers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters increasingly are deploying precision marksmen to fire on U.S. troops at greater distances throughout opium-producing southern Afghanistan, according to the top two commanders for the southern region. — 517 words.

A second banana President smaller
than life is forgotten but not gone

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

We like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella. So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down. Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat. He’s the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby. He is smaller than life. — 1,577 words.

The forgotten scandal of the Soviet ape-man

"His ends and means today sound truly radical. But if you think about it, a successful hybridisation with apes is no more fantastic than a happy life in a communal apartment."

By Stephanie Pain

In February 1926, Russian biologist Ilia Ivanov set out for Guinea in French West Africa, where he planned to perform one of the world's most sensational experiments. Ivanov was an expert in artificial insemination and had used his ground-breaking methods to create an assortment of hybrid animals. Now he was going to try something even more radical - crossing an ape and a human. His trip to Africa was expensive and its purpose highly questionable, yet the Bolshevik government not only sanctioned it but also financed it at a time when few Russians were allowed to leave the country. Why would so eminent a scientist risk his reputation? And why did the Bolsheviks back him? — 1,500 words.

In a quiet church rebellion, Massachusetts parishioners keep the faith

By Abby Goodnough
International Herald Tribune

Heather Graham, with her nephew, Scott, during an overnight vigil at a church in Scituate, Massachusetts. (Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times)

SCITUATE, Massachusetts — There are sleeping bags in the sacristy at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church and reclining chairs in the vestibule, but no one here gets too relaxed. "Please be ever vigilant!" a sign by the door warns, and the parishioners who have occupied the church since it closed more than four years ago take it as seriously as a commandment. St. Frances was among dozens of churches that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston decided to close and sell in 2004, not least because of financial turmoil made worse by the abuse scandal in the clergy. But while most churches closed without a fight, parishioners at St. Frances, a brick A-frame on a wooded hill, and at four other churches rebelled. — 742 words.

America's hidden role in Hamas's rise to power

No one in the mainstream media or government is willing to
acknowledge America's sordid role interfering in Palestinian politics

By Stephen Zunes

Editor’s note: In the U.S., the claim that the actions of Hamas forced Israel to launch a massive assault on the impoverished population of Gaza is almost universally accepted. But, as scholar Stephen Zunes explains below, the picture of Hamas as an organization of wide-eyed radicalism without electoral legitimacy or the support of a significant portion of the Palestinian population is simplistic. In this important piece, Zunes examines the ways in which Israeli and American policy-makers encouraged the rise of the conservative religious group Hamas in an effort to marginalize secular and leftist elements within the Occupied Territories.3,528 words.

War and natural gas: The Israeli invasion and Gaza's offshore gas fields

By Michel Chossudovsky

The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. — 1,417 words.

Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models
but rapid melt may prove to be a fluke

By Devin Powell

Though scientists tend to agree that summer ice at the North Pole will eventually disappear, they haven't settled on a date. And one group now claims to have evidence that Santa may have to start swimming much sooner than we thought. US researchers claim to have found evidence that accelerated melting has crossed a "tipping point" from which there is no going back. — 739 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

RNCOS releases a new report: Booming Russian Automobile Sector

The Russian automotive industry is growing at a fast pace and emerging as
one of the most competitive and dynamic industries at the world level

NEW DELHI, India — According to our new research report the Russian automotive industry is growing at a fast pace and emerging as one of the most competitive and dynamic industries at the world level. Government initiatives and incentives are filliping the industry and attracting the foreign players to the market. These foreign auto giants are establishing their car assembly lines in the country and capturing the domestic market. — 641 words.

MP wants to reopen abortion debate

By Kirk Makin
The Globe and Mail

WINNIPEG — The abortion debate is about to enter a “new era” of advocacy for the rights of the unborn, says a Conservative MP who recently took over the chairmanship of a secretive, parliamentary anti-abortion caucus. — 515 words.

Corruption destroys Afghanistan

By Michael Winship|Perspective

Just when you've finally gotten your mind around the enormous $700 billion financial bailout - even if none of us are really sure where all that money's going — there comes an even greater, breathtaking price tag. The amount is $904 billion — that's how much we've spent on American military operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, since the 9/11 attacks; 50 percent more than what was spent in Vietnam, reports the non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. Their study does not include the inestimable toll in human life. — 515 words.

The anti-stimulus crowd: the fear of success

By Dean Baker|Perspective

At least some Republicans are starting to muster an anti-stimulus drive, claiming that President-elect Obama's package will not help the economy. Their drive is centered on what they claim is a careful rereading of the history of the New Deal. According to their account, President Roosevelt's policies actually lengthened the Great Depression. — 630 words.

They hate us for our bombs

By Rick Salutin
The Globe and Mail

A letter I received last year rebuked me for calling George Bush's explanation of 9/11 – They hate us for our freedoms – “doltish.” Its writer said leaders must speak concisely and simply. “What would you say?” he challenged. I've chewed on this and chosen: “They hate us for our bombs.” It came to me during the bombing of Gaza this week. I use “hate” to parallel the Bush usage. “Consider us their enemies,” would be better. — 672 words.

206 million Chinese rely on Internet for news

BEIJING — About 206 million Chinese, or 68.6 percent of the country's Internet users, are using the web to get their main source of news, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) reported. — 190 words.

Two dangerous Bush-Cheney myths
'The perceptions of the past can affect the future'

By Robert Parry
Consortium News

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

As George W. Bush and Dick Cheney make their case for some positive legacy from the past eight years, two arguments are playing key roles: the notion that torturing terror suspects saved American lives and the belief that Bush's Iraq troop "surge" transformed a disaster into something close to "victory." — 2,372 words.

The Year of the Trap ...

By Larry Edelson
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

At the beginning of every new year, just as we do with our personal lives, it pays to take a few steps back … put the past year in the markets into perspective … and contemplate the year ahead. And today, this is more important than ever. With the economy the worst it’s been in a generation … with so many threats to your wealth … with so much confusion even amongst experts … 2009 is shaping up to become what I am calling: “The Year of the Trap. — 1,066 words.

Review: Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

By Robert Parry
Consortium News

The first "why" that struck me on seeing Why Evolution is True was why do we need yet another book on evolution? There are lots of good ones out there already and nothing less than a mountain of evidence to support the reality of evolution by natural selection. But we do need another, insists Jerry Coyne, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Chicago, because creationism is spreading. — 508 words.

Spirit Quest

The Spirit of Hope is in each of us

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

The predictions for this New Year upon which we have bravely embarked have been uniformly negative. I have found them hard reading. Whether these prognostications concern the economy, the political situation in our country or abroad, the state of our environment, you name it, there surely is heard nothing but a discouraging word and the skies that seem cloudy all day.  So it behooves me as a spiritual columnist to offer something positive. — 607 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Chamber Theatre in Hintonburg Taverns
Spotlights Ottawa’s New Generation of Actors/Directors

Queen’s University tips its academic hat
to Kevin Dooley of Ottawa’s Irish community
527 words.

Musings: Amateur Antics

'If you think Survivor isn’t fully scripted … go ahead and enjoy yourselves'

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

I have to confess. I love “Dancing with the Stars,” and have followed every season, recording the programs if I was unable to watch the live performances. But this show is the exception to my feelings about reality programming. — 528 words.

Fascinating historical notes … by George Laidlaw

The assassination of Russia’s royal family —
Have science and historians finally got it right?

What is True?

Recently a mystery dating back to the assassination of the last Czar of Russia 17 July 1918, Nicholas II and his family have been put to rest! Well perhaps. The Bolsheviks removed the Czar and his family but there was a mystery when the bodies of the family didn’t add up. Two bodies were missing: the son and heir Alexei, and a daughter (perhaps Anastasia). — 233 words.

The Book End

Crime Scene Transcripts: Who Terrorized First? by Albert M. Jabara

Book Review

By Rosaleen Leslie Dickson
Contributing Editor
True North Perspective

Answering the question on the cover of his book, Albert M. Jabara’s anger permeates his explosive diatribe against the evil events that stole his childhood, uprooting him from his home and everything he valued. His outrage contends that one's home is an intrinsic part of one's self and its cruel and forceful amputation is an ultimate inhumanity. — 481 words.

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

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

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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
Randy Ray
Harold Wright