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Friday, January 30, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 8 — 159
"True North is for opinion makers"
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The Worst of both worlds: Harper's Trojan Horse

Conservative budget both incompetent and dishonest
Ignatief gives a pass to Harper's not-so hidden agenda

By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor, True North Perspective

The front page of Wednesday's Globe and Mail said it all:

$12-billion in new infrastructure spending, $20-billion in income tax cuts.

If the recent, panic-driven consensus of both liberal and conservative economists around the world is true — that what is needed to stave off the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression is a massive and concerted boost in spending by governments around the world, then the Harper government has just delivered a budget that almost completely contradicts that consensus. — 842 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, January 30, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 8 (159)

Every third Friday Cuba holds secret meetings
with U.S. state department and Pentagon

U.S. and Cuba hold joint military maneuvers

Cuban President Raúl Castro revealed in a private meeting with actor, director, writer, Sean Penn that the U.S., behind a curtain of blustering hostility, holds secret meetings with the Cubans that include discussions on and practice of joint military maneuvers.

What do women want?

The renowned Sigmund Freud told a female disciple toward the end of his remarkable career that throughout 30 years of investigation he failed to find the answer to the question, what do women want?

Meredith Chivers is a 36-year-old psychology professor at Queen's University in the small city of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She is a highly regarded scientist and a member of the editorial board of the world's leading journal of sexual research, Archives of Sexual Behavior. Years of her research has produced intriguing results. — 321 words.

More listeria, eh!

From behind Harper’s secretive investigation
leaks another Maple Leaf bacteria scandal

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Canadian Sailings

Maybe it’s poetic justice that days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to bury the investigation into last summer’s Listeria outbreak at Maple Leaf Foods the bacteria is found in another of the company’s plants. — 458 words.

Health Watch

Surgery deaths drop dramatically with checklist

CBC News

A simple checklist, similar to the one pilots use before takeoff, helped to halve the rate of surgery-related deaths, an international team of doctors reported Wednesday. — 455 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Preparation and maintenance can reduce winter's toll on your vehicle's interior

Justin Pritchard

It's a concept you're familiar with from the entrance way to your house: in wintertime, salt, sand, dirt and moisture all wind up getting inside and making a mess. Whether tracked in on boots, clothing or pets, the above wind up attacking flooring and carpeting and can be easily ground in- causing damage if not properly cleaned up. — 597 words.

Intelligent soldiers most likely to die in battle

By Ewen Callaway

Being dumb has its benefits. Scottish soldiers who survived the second world war were less intelligent than men who gave their lives defeating the Third Reich, a new study of British government records concludes. — 427 words.

Harper wants more than just power
he wants to destroy the Liberal Party

This attitude makes it difficult for parties to work together
to solve the economic crisis

By Ken Dryden
The Toronto Star

In December, Governor General Michaëlle Jean gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper his wish and prorogued Parliament until Jan. 26. Much seems different now. The early days of the new session will be difficult, but the days and weeks after that will be far harder because one thing has not changed. Harper is a conservative. He believes in small government. He believes in low taxes. He believes government is of little use. But more than being a conservative, Harper is a "not-Liberal," which is not the same as a "not-liberal." He doesn't like "liberal" ideas, but he hates the Liberal party. In his own mind, he surely has good reasons. — 854 words.

Self-publishers flourish as writers pay the tab

By Motoko Rich
International Herald Tribune

The point may soon come when there are more people who want to write books than there are people who want to read them. At least, that is what the evidence suggests. Booksellers, hobbled by the economic crisis, are struggling to lure readers. Almost all of the New York publishing houses are laying off editors and pinching pennies. Small bookstores are closing. Big chains are laying people off or exploring bankruptcy. A recently released study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that while more people are reading literary fiction, fewer of them are reading books. — 1,475 words.

Warming behind big increase in tree mortality in B.C., western U.S.

CBC News

The study, to be published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, found that mortality rates for trees in the old-growth plots in the Pacific Northwest — including parts of southern British Columbia — had doubled in 17 years. Forests in California and other states had less dramatic numbers. — 477 words.

44 years later, LBJ's ghost hovers over the 44th President

By Norman Solomon
TruthOut | Perspective

A few days after the inauguration, in a piece celebrating the arrival of the Obama administration, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote that the new president has clearly signaled "No more crazy wars." — 616 words.

Chávez's Lines

Chávez’s First Column

By Hugo Chávez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced Tuesday, January 20, 2009, that he will write a new opinion column titled "Chávez's Lines," the first of which was published on Thursday, January 22nd. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, twenty-eight newspapers across the country including Venezuela's largest newspaper, Ultimas Noticias, will publish the column, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information. Two predominant newspapers considered to sympathize with the opposition, El Universal and El Nacional, will not publish the column, but have written reviews of this first one.907 words.

Rewriting the First Draft of History

By Catherine Brahic

Never mind the downturn, a green economic revolution must be launched within months, one of the world's top economists has told New Scientist. "You do hear voices saying now is not the moment," says Nicholas Stern, former head of the World Bank, in an exclusive interview. "Now is precisely the moment to make the change" to a low-carbon economy. Read our exclusive article by Stern: Time for a green industrial revolution Stern believes low-carbon technologies have the potential to bring nations out of the recession and fuel economic growth that will be sustainable in the long-term, transforming society in as striking a way as railways and information technology did in previous centuries. — 1,683 words.

Vale Inco reaches agreement with province on Voisey's Bay

Northern Miner Daily News

Vale Inco has reached an agreement with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to amend the Voisey's Bay development agreement regarding the proposed hydromet nickel-processing plant to be built at Long Harbour. — 305 words.

What do women want?

By Daniel Bergner
International Herald Tribune

The subject of sex was smothered away from public discussion and made distasteful during the so-called mid-Victorian era. Today it is again out in the open and is returning to its natural place as worthy of open consideration. We’ve always known, as the song says, that everybody’s doin’ it (but shouldn’t talk about it) today we know that everybody’s doin’ it but can’t seem to shut up about it. — 7,667 words.

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

King George V gave us our official colours

The red and white found on Canada's national flag were designated as Canada's official colours in 1921 by King George V.

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

Conversations With Chávez and Castro

Cuban President Raul Castro reveals secret meetings
between Cuba and U.S. State Department, Pentagon

U.S. and Cuba hold joint military maneuvers

[Editor's note: This is an abridged version of an article that appears in full length on Also, The Nation has a video of an interview with Sean Penn about his visits with President Hugo Chavez and President Raul Castro.]

By Sean Penn
The Nation

Soon to be Vice President-elect Joe Biden was rallying the troops: "We can no longer be energy dependent on Saudi Arabia or a Venezuelan dictator." Well, I know what Saudi Arabia is. But having been to Venezuela in 2006, touring slums, mixing with the wealthy opposition and spending days and hours at its president's side, I wondered, without wondering, to whom Senator Biden was referring. Hugo Chávez Frías is the democratically elected president of Venezuela (and by democratically elected I mean that he has repeatedly stood before the voters in internationally sanctioned elections and won large majorities, in a system that, despite flaws and irregularities, has allowed his opponents to defeat him and win office, both in a countrywide referendum last year and in regional elections in November). And Biden's words were the kind of rhetoric that had recently led us into a life-losing and monetarily costly war, which, while toppling a shmuck in Iraq, had also toppled the most dynamic principles upon which the United States was founded, enhanced recruitment for Al Qaeda and deconstructed the US military. By now, October 2008, I had digested my earlier visits to Venezuela and Cuba and time spent with Chávez and Fidel Castro. I had grown increasingly intolerant of the propaganda. Though Chávez himself has a penchant for rhetoric, never has it been a cause for war. In hopes of demythologizing this "dictator," I decided to pay him another visit. By this time I had come to say to friends in private, "It's true, Chávez may not be a good man. But he may well be a great one." — 6,249 words.

What's Not To Like About it?

By Larry Edelson
Money and Markets
Jupiter, Florida

I haven’t always been bullish on it. In fact, for about 20 years between 1980 and 2000, I was mostly bearish on this investment...But then, around 2000, I could see that the 20-year bear market in this asset was coming to an end. And just when no one else wanted to invest in this baby, I told everyone I could to buy, buy, BUY. — 1,294 words.

Fascinating historical notes ... by George Laidlaw

The Death of the Finest Glass Maker in the World

George Laidlaw is a novelist and President of the Ottawa Independent Writers.

Just last week the recession tolled the death bell for two famous firms; two producers of world class items, Wedgwood and Waterford Crystal were placed into bankruptcy protection. Waterford, the famous producer of Irish glass has been called the finest glass producer in the world. What a shame! The world no longer seems to value quality. — 228 words.

Spirit Quest

'Each winter there were stories of teams of horses pulling sleighs of railway ties arriving in the village with the frozen body of the driver on top.'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

"But baby its cold outside," is the oft repeated refrain in a popular song of the forties. A guy tries to persuade his gal from going home, not just yet. Those words have been repeating themselves in my mind during the recent "cold snap." The cold and the wind-chill damn near froze the mercury in the thermometer. It is heartwarming to hear of programs such as "Out of the Cold," that searches for the homeless and brings them into places where they can keep warm and get some food to fortify their bodies or brings sleeping bags and tarps to those reticent to leave their outdoor nests. Nevertheless there are always some who are found too late.— 600 words.


True North Perspective columnist The Rev. Dr. Hanns Skoutajan is Ecumenical Associate at The Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist, Ottawa.

Here for your listening pleasure is a sermon he recently delivered at St. John the Evangelist.

Please click here to listen to his words.


Random Acts of Poetry

'...a classic in the war poetry of Canadian Literature.'

By Mike Heenan
Literary Editor
True North Perspective

Alden Nowlan selected poems. Don Mills, Ont.: House of Anansi, 1996.

I had the great pleasure of meeting with Alden Nowlan on several occasions in the1970’s before he was confined to his home in New Brunswick by severe Diabetes.

One of Fred Cogswell’s (The Fiddlehead) many gifted students of poetry at UNB, Alden eventually held his own well-attended poetry court in his “winter kitchen”. He published 17 volumes of poetry, four novels, four dramas and numerous papers and articles.

His shyly modest exterior barely concealed a quick, kind wit and dry sense of humour which popped up in proportion to the “literary gravitas” of the situation.. — 710 words.

Musings: I Won't Be Back

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

If you read the business pages, you've noticed that retail sales have been volatile, and a visit to any local mall will reveal many shuttered storefronts. Competition to persuade the public to buy is fierce, so I thought I might spend this column explaining to a few local stores why I won't be shopping there any more. — 504 words.

The Book End

Life of Phi: Beauty and the Golden Ratio

By William Bezanson

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 Life of Phi: Beauty and the Golden Ratio, by William Bezanson. — Mike Heenan, Literary Editor, True North Perspective.

This book treats the subject of Phi, the mathematical concept of the Golden Ratio, and especially how its presence influences our appreciation of beauty in a work of art or a person's face or a scene in nature, and so on. — 314 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

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