Wisdom is the result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience.
© Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective

Friday, January 1, 2010, Vol. 5, No, 5 — 209
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From the Desk of Yvette Pigeon, Associate Editor

Prime Minister suspends Parliament — again

Stephen Harper's not-so-benign dictatorship

'After the budget, I am certain Harper will then pay the GG another visit requesting that Michaëlle Jean drop the writ for yet another election, the third election since he took office in 2006. And this from a prime minister who brought in a fixed-election-date law that he will then have broken twice.'

By Michael Behiels
Ottawa Citizen

Michael D. Behiels is University Research Chair of Canadian Federalism and Constitutional Studies at the University of Ottawa.

It seems Stephen Harper, our not-so-benign dictator, can't stand Canada's constitutional democracy. He is fed up with Parliament's restrictions on the almost unlimited power of his office and his executive. Harper has, again, spoken with the Governor General and requested the prorogation of Parliament, this time until he is ready to bring down his government's budget in early March 2010. It seems Harper is determined to attend the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver without having to face constant criticism from those pesky and "disloyal" opposition parties and Liberal senators. Best to put Parliament on ice. — 1,403 words.

Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Comics.com, December 30, 2009.

One day we'll all be terrorists

The American descent is the familiar disease of decaying empires. Dissent is starting to become defined as an act of terrorism

By Chris Hedges

Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak. — 2,098 words.

Editor's Notes

Friday, January 1, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 5 (209)

Guest editorial

Prorogation's upside: at least one bad law has died on the order paper

The Toronto Star

Parliament has been prorogued until March, with predictable rhetoric. The opposition is apoplectic, raging against a "political scam" and a "shocking insult to democracy." The Prime Minister's Office says the time is needed "to recalibrate, consult and deliver the next stage of (the government's) plan." — 255 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.

Attack signals growing struggle for troops in Afghanistan

Targeted strike that killed four soldiers and journalist indicates how hard it will be to secure Kandahar city and build trust with Afghans

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Globe and Mail staff
The Globe and Mail

TORONTO, Canada and QASSAM POL, Afghanistan — It was a targeted attack, a massive bomb detonated via remote control, that tore up the road just 10 kilometres away from Kandahar Air Field and killed four Canadians soldiers and a journalist in one of the deadliest attacks on Canadian troops since the country's Afghan mission began. — 721 words.

On with the New Year

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

The New Year always flushes out predictions about what the coming 12 months will hold. The start of a new decade has prompted commentators to speculate on what the next 10 years will bring. In the midst of all the words are some intriguing ideas. One is that the minimal agreement reached in Copenhagen may convince political leaders to stop talking so much about climate change and to go back to tackling pollution in all its forms. That avoids the divisive controversy around hockey stick graphs and rising global temperatures and brings the debate to a level most people can understand—clean air, drinkable water, safe food, renewable fuels and power and energy conservation. — 549 words.

Spirit Quest

The future has a human face ... don't reject it!

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

I used to disappear on New Years Eve. While my friends had a whoop-up party, I who was generally considered to be a bit of a party animal, was missing. New Years Eve, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, was for me a time of thoughtfulness and contemplation. I spent the evening before the tolling of the midnight bell thinking about the past year and the events in my life that I would headline, and then look into the future at the challenges that awaited me. Midnight after all was neither a dead end not a brand new beginning. The past and the future are continuous. — 783 words.

A True North Perspective classic

Remembering Grandpa

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more www.albertevilleneuve.ca.

Lea was only two when her grandpa died. She saw him every day since I babysat her and they lived next door. Although she was just a tiny little girl, she has some memory of Grandpa Brian and prides herself of having had the opportunity to know him. She is very proud of the fact that he called her "Sunshine" and that he was usually the first one to greet her at the door in the morning. — 919 words.

Jordan asks Canada to seize Dead Sea scrolls

2,000-year-old Hebrew artifacts, which Jordan claims were illegally taken by Israel in 1967, are on display in Toronto

By Patrick Martin
The Globe and Mail

Jordan has asked Canada to seize the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea scrolls, on display until Sunday at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, invoking international law in a bid to keep the artifacts out of the hands of Israel until their disputed ownership is settled. — 856 words.

A huffy Canada shuts down 'Yes Men' — and 4,500 other websites

By Joel Connelly

Stung by a satire at the Copenhagen climate conference, Canada's government has shut down two parody Web sites criticizing the Great White North's glacial policy on global warming. In the process, however, it has taken down 4,500 other Web sites that had nothing to do with the prank played two weeks ago at the global climate summit. — 561 words.

Honking from behind, Part 2

By Rosaleen Dickson
Contributing Editor
True North Perspective

Rosaleen Leslie Dickson has been an active, leading member of a number of organizations including the National Press Club and the Ottawa Independent Writers. She has been publisher and editor of her own weekly newspaper, professor of journalism, author of two books and has an on-line advice column with an international circulation. For more, please visit her webpage.

Here I am, honking again. And, speaking of geese, they fly in a V formation, so as each bird flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formaion the whole flock adds at least 71 per cent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. — 407 words.

Embedded at the Olympics

Media's sponsorship of 2010 compromises coverage, begs alternatives

By Tim McSorley

MONTREAL — The announcement came nearly five years to the day before the 2010 Olympics: CTV and Rogers had won the bid to be the official Olympic broadcasters in Canada for both the 2010 and 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The broadcasting deal offered up a Canadian record of $153 million for the rights, including $90 million alone for the exclusive broadcast rights for the 2010 Vancouver games. That was an increase of 221 per cent on what CBC paid to broadcast the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics and marks the first time the bid for the Winter Olympics bested the bid for the Summer Games. — 1,003 words.

Polar bear dippers start 2010 with icy plunge

CBC News

Participants jump into the Tay River Friday during the annual polar bear plunge to bring in the new year in Perth, Ont. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press.)
Participants jump into the Tay River Friday during the annual polar bear plunge to bring in the new year in Perth, Ont. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press.)

A chilly New Year's Day tradition is taking place in cities across Canada Friday, as people ring in the new year by plunging into icy water during annual polar bear dips.

Thousands of people are expected to take a dip in Vancouver's English Bay. The tradition started in 1920, when a small number of swimmers jumped into the water on New Year's Day.

Trent Courage and his brother, Todd Courage, have been organizing an even bigger version of the chilly annual tradition for the past 25 years. The brothers started their event, the Courage Brothers' Polar Bear Dip, in 1985, when they jumped into Lake Ontario in Burlington, Ont.

The annual plunge now takes place at Coronation Park in Oakville, Ont., and all money raised is donated to World Vision to support freshwater projects in developing countries.

"It's a fun event," said Trent Courage, adding that the annual swim has raised $420,000 to fund development projects to date.

Jane Bargout, one of the organizers of the Oakville plunge, said thousands of people attended the New Year's Day event — but not everybody took the plunge.

"It went really well. There were over 600 people dipping," said Bargout.

"They've also significantly exceeded their fundraising goal, which was $60,000."

Bargout said the event raised more than $230,000 this year.

In Toronto, money raised by the Toronto Polar Bear Club during their New Year's Day dip will go to Habitat for Humanity Toronto.

— 1 January 2010

In case you missed it ... and always worth repeating

Winston Churchill: Give us the tools and we'll finish the job

Let's say that news throughout human time has been free. Take that time when Ugh Wayne went over to the cave of Mugh Payne with news that the chief of his group had broken a leg while chasing his laughing wife around the fire. That news was given freely and received as such with much knowing smiles and smirks to say nothing of grunts of approval or disapproval. — 688 words.

China arrests thousands in Internet porn crackdown

Agence France-Presse

BEIJING (AFP) — China arrested more than 5,000 people in a crackdown on Internet pornography in 2009, officials said, vowing tougher online policing in the new year as a key element of "state security". — 351 words.

No internet sex in India, either

Yahoo, Flickr and Microsoft introduce access filters

By Gethin Chamberlain
The Guardian UK

It may have given the world the Kama Sutra and the Bollywood wet sari scene, but it appears that India is not yet ready to be exposed to the delicate subject of sex on the internet. A Guardian investigation has discovered that several internet companies have quietly introduced filters to prevent Indian users from accessing sexual content. — 661 words.

American Indian tribes buy back thousands of acres of land

By Timberly Ross
Associated Press

OHAHA, Neb. — Native American tribes tired of waiting for the U.S. government to honor centuries-old treaties are buying back land where their ancestors lived and putting it in federal trust. Native Americans say the purchases will help protect their culture and way of life by preserving burial grounds and areas where sacred rituals are held. They also provide land for farming, timber and other efforts to make the tribes self-sustaining. — 976 words.

Brazil aims to stop Amazon land-grab

By Alexei Barrionuevo
The New York Times

VILA DOS CRENTES, Brazil — Raimundo Teixeira de Souza came to this sweltering Amazon outpost 15 years ago, looking for land. He bought roughly 120 acres, he said, but more powerful farmers, who roam this Wild West territory with rifles strapped to their backs, forced him to sell much of it for a pittance. Then someone shot and killed Mr. de Souza's 23-year-old stepson in the middle of a village road two years ago, residents said. No one has been arrested. In fact, the new police chief has no record that the crime was even investigated by his predecessor. — 1,122 words.

Brazil passes law cutting carbon emissions 39 per cent by 2020

Agence France-Presse

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Tuesday signed a law requiring that Brazil cut greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent by 2020, meeting a commitment made at the Copenhagen climate change summit. Brazil announced at the summit a "voluntary commitment" to reduce CO2 emissions by between 36.1 and 38.9 percent in the next ten years. — 375 words.

Annual income of Chinese farmers hits record high


BEIJING — The average annual income of Chinese farmers hit a record 5,000 yuan (732 dollars) this year as increased demand for migrant workers saw more money sent back to rural areas, state media reported Monday. — 232 words.

Housing bubble threatens China's boom

First Dubai, now Shanghai: Economists worry that speculation is driving a dangerous expansion of the real-estate market

By Mark MacKinnon
The Globe and Mail

The young couple had just finished another disappointing round of house hunting when Sun Chun turned to his wife with more bad news. Their real-estate agent had called to say that an apartment they liked had been sold, but not before the price jumped dramatically at the last instant. — 1,110 words.

Venezuela and China Consolidate "Strategic Alliance," Expand Bilateral Trade

By James Suggett

MERIDA — Venezuelan and Chinese government officials and business leaders met in Caracas this week to discuss bilateral relations. As a result of the accords signed at the meeting, Venezuela will increase its supply of oil to China to more than 600,000 barrels per day next year, and China will increase its investments in Venezuelan agriculture, infrastructure, mining, and energy production. — 503 words.

Rear-view Mirror: 2009 remembered

Wall Street's 10 Big Lies of 2009

Lies that justify screwing over Main Street

By Nomi Prins

On December 13, President Obama declared that he was not elected to help the "fat cats." But the cats got another version of that memo. A day later, 10 of them were supposed to partake in some White House face-time to talk about their responsibilities to the rest of the country, but only seven could make it. No-shows for the "very serious discussion" — due to inclement New York weather or being too busy with internal bonus discussions to bother with the President — were Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons. — 3,090 words.

Plotting the decade on an X-Y axis

How do you best measure a decade, and what do you measure if you do?

By Emily Badger

With the close of a decade, it's invariably time to take stock of superlatives: best-selling artists, worst fashion trends, brightest ideas and lowest political moments. But how do you measure the whole decade itself? — 593 words.

US troop deaths in Afghanistan soared in 2009

By Jim Heintz
Associated Press

KABUL — U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan doubled in 2009 compared with a year ago as 30,000 additional troops began pouring in for a stepped-up offensive and the Taliban fought back with powerful improvised bombs. — 970 words.

Who would have guessed?
This was the decade for same-sex marriage

In the year 2000, I never would have imagined that we'd be seeing a global movement for marriage equality

By Melissa McEwan

When I sat down to think about what has pleasantly surprised me, or disappointed me, over the last decade, it was on the day that the Mexico City assembly voted to legalize same-sex marriage, declaring its new definition of marriage to be "the free uniting of two people." This, mere days after Washington DC mayor Adrian Fenty signed the district's marriage equality bill. Two north American capital cities legalizing same-sex marriage within a week of one another — and Ottawa didn't get in on the action only because there's no need — is something I don't believe I imagined would be possible at the start of this decade. — 729 words.

Health Watch

Ginkgo doesn't work: Are there better ways to save your brain?

By Sarah Klein

Ginkgo biloba has failed — again — to live up to its reputation for boosting memory and brain function. Just over a year after a study showed that the herb doesn't prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease, a new study from the same team of researchers has found no evidence that ginkgo reduces the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging. — 964 words.

Scientists discover antibody that kills prostate cancer

Agence France-Presse

US researchers have found an antibody that hunts down prostate cancer cells in mice and can destroy the killer disease even in an advanced stage, a study showed Monday. — 257 words.

From the Desk of Vernon Pineau

On issues like global warming and evolution, scientists need to speak up

'Ironically, to increase support for the teaching of evolution, scientists must join forces with — and show more understanding of — religion. Scientists who are believers also need to be more vocal about how they reconcile science and faith.'

By Chris Mooney
The Washington Post

The battle over the science of global warming has long been a street fight between mainstream researchers and skeptics. But never have the scientists received such a deep wound as when, in late November, a large trove of e-mails and documents stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at Britain's University of East Anglia were released onto the Web. — 1,662 words.


Russia may send spacecraft to knock away asteroid

By Vladimir Isachenkov
The Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russia's space agency chief said Wednesday a spacecraft may be dispatched to knock a large asteroid off course and reduce the chances of earth impact, even though U.S. scientists say such a scenario is unlikely. — 561 words.

Google loses domain dispute to Canadian startup

CBC News

For the second time in a week, a technology titan has been legally humbled by a small Canadian company. Last week, it was Microsoft losing an appeal regarding its Word software to Toronto-based i4i. This time it's Google, which on Tuesday lost a domain dispute to Oakville, Ont.-based Groovle, a website that allows users to upload photos and create a customized online portal. — 305 words.

Become a True North 10 per center

True North Perspective invites our readers to join us in celebration of our 200 series, that began with the Friday, October 30, 2009, Edition — #200.

While most of our readers are in Canada and the United States we are being read in growing numbers in as many as 88 countries. October saw us reach a record number of 59,493 hits. Ever more high-end readers are finding satisfaction in what we publish. However, we're operating at a severe financial deficit. That's why we're asking readers, effective Edition 200, to become True North Perspective 10 per centers.

Ten per cent of 200 is $20. If all readers were to send in $20, it would help ease us back from the edge of financial desperation. We need the nourishment. We are happy to rely on our readers to provide. Please take time to give this request a key moment of attention by mailing your 10 per cent to:

Carl Dow, True North Perspective, Station E, P.O. Box 4814, Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Quebec adopts California car emissions standards

Rules will gradually lower greenhouse gas emission ceiling for cars

CBC News

Quebec is adopting California's stringent auto-emissions standards next month, in a move to tackle the province's polluting transport sector. When the new emissions standards take effect Jan. 14, Quebec will become the first Canadian province to follow California's lead in reducing greenhouse gases with cleaner light vehicles. — 322 words.

'This is not a story about doing what is best for the economy and the country. This is a story about doing what's best for the financial industry.'

Christmas presents for bankers

The US financial sector drove the economy into a ditch, and the White House is still throwing piles of cash at the problem

By Dean Baker
The Guardian UK

On Christmas night in 1776, George Washington led a surprise attack on a group of Hessian mercenaries employed by the British to suppress the American revolution. This was one of the biggest military victories of the Revolutionary War. In the same spirit of surprise, the Obama administration announced on Christmas eve that it was removing the $400bn cap on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's access to the US Treasury. The new draw is limitless. — 835 words.


The Twilight Saga: New Moon

A review

By Patricia K. McCarthy
True North Perspective

Patricia K. McCarthy is a novelist living and writing in Ottawa, Canada. Her website is www.PatriciakMcCarthy.com.

New Moon, the second Twilight movie, builds like a slow-burning kiss. Viewers are brought up to date with Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart), wrapped in an embrace of forbidden love. — 305 words.

Is it complicated? Pot-smoking in new film scene leads to R-rating

30 years ago, 9 to 5 managed a PG-13

By Brooks Barnes
The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — The romantic comedy “It’s Complicated” arrived at the multiplex on Friday complete with an R rating, ranking it in the same category as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Basic Instinct” in the eyes of the Motion Picture Association of America. — 951 words.

Beware the internet, my 'son'!

Van Morrison 'dad' story a hoax

CBC News

Irish singer Van Morrison said Thursday that a computer hacker planted a false report on his website claiming he had fathered a fourth child at the age of 64 with a new partner. — 536 words.

The Big Book of Canadian Trivia now in stores

Ottawa author Randy Ray and his co-author Mark Kearney of London, Ont. have published their ninth Canadian book, The Big Book of Canadian Trivia, which is now available in stores and on the authors' Web site at: TriviaGuys.com.

The latest Ray-Kearney effort is best described as a "greatest hits" book that contains the best Canadiana from their previous eight books, plus a considerable amount of new material.

In one big book readers will find all the trivia and facts about Canada they need to know: there are stories of important Canadian artifacts and history including what became of Canada's World War II spy camp.

All regions and provinces are covered, as well as important Canadian figures like John Molson, Elizabeth Arden and Russ Jackson.

If that isn't enough there will also be pieces explaining whatever happened to such Canadian icons as the last spike, labour leader Bob White, hockey tough guy Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, the first skidoo, swimmer Marilyn Bell and the first Tim Hortons donut shop.

Some items are "classics." Others are little known facts. Approximately 25 per cent of the material has never before appeared in print.

This fascinating Big Book brings together for the first time in one package the most notable facts and trivia from the archives of the trivia guys' collection.

The Big Book of Canadian Trivia is published by The Dundurn Group of Toronto.

In case you missed it ...
The Old Man's Last Sauna
A collection of short stories by Carl Dow

The short story, The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story, in the Friday, April 24 edition of True North Perspective, concludes the collection titled The Old Man's Last Sauna, written by Carl Dow. On Friday, April 17, you'll find O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! The series began Friday, February 20, with Deo Volente (God Willing). The second, The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Friday, February 27. The third, Sharing Lies, Friday, March 6. The fourth, Flying High, Friday, March 13. The fifth, The Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, Friday, March 20. On Friday, March 27, One Lift Too Many, followed by The Model A Ford, Friday, April 3. The out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only, Friday, April 10. The series closed Friday, April 24, with the collection's namesake The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.

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: www.randyray.ca. He can be contacted at: (613) 731-3873 or rocket@intranet.ca.

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  chall2k5@gmail.com , and he will be more than happy to assist you.


Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher
Geoffrey Dow, Managing Editor
Yvette Pigeon, Associate Editor
Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
Benoit Jolicoeur, Art Director
Ian Covey, Director of Photography
Carl Hall, Technical Analyst and Web Editor
Randy Ray, Publicity

Contributing Editors
Anita Chan, Australia

Alex Binkley, Ottawa
Dennis Carr, Vancouver
Rosaleen Dickson, Ottawa
Tom Dow, Sudbury
Bob Kay, Montréal
Randy Ray, Ottawa
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair, Ottawa
David Ward, Ottawa
Harold Wright, Ottawa