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Friday, July 10, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 33 — 184
"True North is for opinion makers"
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True North Perspective has the last word on Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's death was tragic,
but he was little more than an icon of mediocrity

He was not a musical genius; didn't break down racial barriers;
wasn't a great dancer; didn't change American culture

By Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

I have watched the fawning nonstop media coverage of the death of Michael Jackson with skepticism this past week. Yes, premature death is tragic. Upon that we can (mostly) all agree. What I cannot agree with, however, are the repeated claims that Jackson: was a musical genius; broke down racial barriers; was a brilliant singer; was a great dancer; changed American culture. — 1,154 words.

The big Western Bullhorn meddling in Iran

By Steve Weissman|Perspective

Between threats from hard-line ayatollahs to execute protest leaders and the media frenzy over the death of Michael Jackson, Iran's "Green Revolution" appears to have stalled. But, it's far from over. Unless President Obama or Congress cuts off their funding, our official radio and TV services, the shadowy National Endowment for Democracy and the State Department's "democracy-promoters" will all keep fighting to the last Iranian, while the CIA and Pentagon continue sending their state-sponsored terrorists into Iran. Then, as likely as not, the meddlers will hand off to the "bomb Iran" crowd, whose solidarity with the Iranian protesters extends to blowing them to smithereens. — 896 words.

'The whole idea of journalism is to serve as an independent check on power. Outsiders ranging from mid-century rabble-rousers like George Seldes and IF Stone to the bloggers of today have railed against access as a compromise and, ultimately, a corruption of that independence.'

Selling out the Washington Post

A tawdry scheme to sell access to journalists
tarnishes the reputation of one of America's great newspapers

By Dan Kennedy

Perhaps the most shocking thing about Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth's misbegotten plan to sell access to her journalists at off-the-record dinners in her own home is that so many found it so shocking. — 906 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, July 10, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 33 (184)

Federal Court Judge Justice Simon Noel reveals clear thinking
in hammering the RCMP and the CSIS for deceiving the public

'There is a legitimate public interest to inform the public of such knowledge within the CSIS, in order to be able to assess the work done by the agency at the time.'

The Canadian government has apologized to Maher Arar and paid him $10.5 million because the corrupt behaviour of our country's intelligence services delivered him to torture in Syria. — 296 words.

Letter from Honduras

After the coup, a Canadian student visits a scene of resistance

By Ashley Holly

On Tuesday, June 30, 2009, in Honduras, two days after a military coup forced President Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya from office, I am headed down towards a rural village where protest is gathering strength. — 1,519 words.

From the Desk of Harold Wright , Contributing Editor

A man
A shark
... and love?

Sitting in a 3.8 metre sea kayak and watching a 4 metre Great White shark coming up behind you is a fairly tense experience.

But for Australian fisher Arnold Pointer, one shark has been stalking him for two years!

Read more.

Champion needed, part deux

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective Contributing Editor
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

The food industry is one of the main employers in Canada, possibly the largest with the manufacturing sector reeling from the global recession. Yet there're probably few Canadians that realize that. And even fewer who understand what's happening in the agriculture sector. — 469 words.

Embarrassment no reason for security shield: judge

By Jim Bronskill
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A federal judge says national security laws are not intended to shield intelligence agencies from embarrassment. In his reasons for delivering a key ruling in the Maher Arar affair, Federal Court Justice Simon Noel said there is a "genuine public interest" in openly dealing with the subject of torture of detainees, and the use of information gathered through force. — 866 words.

Science & Technology

Report: Uh, well, no one cares anyway

PRINCETON, NJ — A new report compiled by the Institute for Advanced Studies stated Monday that, aw, you probably wouldn't be interested and who really cares to begin with.

"After careful analysis, our research indicates that it's not like any of it would matter to you people anyhow," said Dr. David M. Klein, one of the principal authors of the report that was pretty much just a big old waste of everyone's time.

When pressed by reporters for at least a hint of the Institute's findings, Klein stated, "Well, it involves bosons, which, as it turns out, interact with — see, none of you are even listening anymore."

Mexico Builds Border Wall To Keep Out US Assholes

Obama Drastically Scales Back Goals For America After Visiting Denny's

Have your vacation plans ever "bombed"?

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair

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

I had a surprise visit yesterday: two rose-breasted finches. They are beautiful and don't usually show up till the highbush berries are ripe. But I will gladly accept their change in travel plans. — 1,082 words.

Welcome home, Mr. Abdelrazik

The RCMP told the prime minister there was no evidence against him and CSIS agreed, but CSIS continued calling him an "Islamic jihad activist."

By Rick Salutin
The Globe and Mail

As Abousfian Abdelrazik awoke one morning in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, he found himself transformed into a rodent in a maze ...

No, it isn't Gregor Samsa waking up in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, who starts to become a giant insect. When we first learned of Abousfian Abdelrazik's plight more than a year ago, he had been marooned in Sudan for five years and was then "holed up," stories said, in our embassy; he couldn't go home to Canada because "we" thought he might be al-Qaeda. So we lodge him in the embassy? Where, in a closet? Where did they put him during the day - in the basement? Did he roam around at night when no one was there? We didn't hear from him directly, except for rare quotes, and never saw him. He began to sound, at least to me, like a feral animal. — 702 words.

Canadian exiled in Sudan wants those who kept him there to face justice

By Andy Blatchford
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL, Canada — Back home after six years of exile in Sudan, a Canadian man is now shifting his focus to those he believes stranded him there. Abousfian Abdelrazik returned to Montreal last month, ending a saga that saw him locked up in a Sudanese jail, interrogated by CSIS and FBI officers and marooned in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum for more than a year. Throughout, Abdelrazik was never charged with a crime. — 652 words.


Answers needed after Abdelrazik's return

By Kerry Pither
The Windsor Star

It's official. Abousfian Abdelrazik has returned home, the fifth Canadian to come home with questions about Canadian complicity in his torture. Has anything changed since the four with stories so similar to his — Maher Arar, Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin — came home and demanded answers about Canada's role in their torture? — 757 words.

New evidence prompts calls for greater scrutiny of CSIS

By Michelle Shephard and Tonda MacCharles
Toronto Star

New revelations about the government's mishandling of evidence in a second high-profile terrorism case are prompting calls for an independent investigation into Canada's spy service. — 883 words.

Terror suspect appears in Toronto court — CSIS credibility challenged

By Staff Writers
The National Post

TORONTO, Canada — A Syrian terror suspect appeared in court Thursday for the first time since Canada's intelligence service admitted that two confidential informants used in the case had credibility problems. — 247 words.

Montrealers tune out Michael Jackson memorial

By Megan Martin
Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL — Montreal's bars and restaurants had their TVs tuned to live coverage of Michael Jackson's funeral Tuesday — but the show was playing to empty houses. "I'm a big fan," said Becca Burrington, a tourist from California who spent Tuesday at the jazz festival. "But his death has been so sensationalized. No one is even focusing on his music anymore. It's just too much." — 305 words.

Stop meddling, students tell Tories

By Louise Brown

York University, still recovering from a bitter 12-week strike, cannot seem to escape political fireworks, even during the summer. In this latest fracas, the York Federation of Students is accusing two Conservative politicians — federal MP Peter Kent and provincial MPP Peter Shurman — of interfering with York's turbulent student politics. — 519 words.

Broken guitar song gets airline's attention

United Airlines ready to talk after Halifax band's song hits YouTube

By Staff Writers

Halifax band Sons of Maxwell have taken their battle with United Airlines over a broken guitar to YouTube. And it seems the U.S. airline might just be listening. Dave Carroll, the primary songwriter for the folk group, pledged to write three songs about United Airlines breaking his guitar after months of runaround over the incident. — 385 words.

Health Watch

Why the imp in your brain gets out

By Benedict Carey
The New York Times

The visions seem to swirl up from the brain’s sewage system at the worst possible times — during a job interview, a meeting with the boss, an apprehensive first date, an important dinner party. What if I started a food fight with these hors d’oeuvres? Mocked the host’s stammer? Cut loose with a racial slur? — 966 words.

Body fat: top ten reasons the BMI is totally bogus

Why do we base advice on preventing obesity on a 200-year old formula developed by a mathematician who knew nothing about the human body?

By Keith Devlin

Editor's Note: This past weekend on Morning Edition, National Public Radio's Keith Devlin took on the so-called Body Mass Index (BMI), the quasi-scientific gimmick commonly used to determine whether Americans are at a healthy weight. The BMI is based on flawed assumptions about height and weight proportionality that, among other problems, allow precious little room for the wide variety of body types that exist among people. See below for the top ten reasons why the BMI is counterproductive nonsense.

Americans keep putting on the pounds — at least according to a report released this week from the Trust for America's Health. The study found that nearly two-thirds of states now have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. But you may want to take those findings — and your next meal — with a grain of salt, because they're based on a calculation called the body mass index, or BMI.

As the Weekend Edition math guy, I spoke to Scott Simon and told him the body mass index fails on 10 grounds: — 926 words.

Love, tamed and caged

If your marriage is boring, maybe you think too much

By Vanessa Richmond

It's been a tough week for marriage. Not just because of the sensational infidelity practiced by reality TV dad Jon Gosselin and South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. Marriage also was spectacularly mangled by the two superstars who died this week, Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett. Here's a fact, though, about wedlock. It was designed way back when life expectancy was a couple of decades. Now the average is about four times that. So instead of sneering at those who famously fail at marriage, maybe the signals are saying the institution has reached a tipping point. — 1,219 words.

Now, Sarah's folly

By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Sarah Palin showed on Friday that in one respect at least, she is qualified to be president. Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy. — 856 words.

Top CIA officials appear before jury over destruction of al-Qaida tapes

92 video tapes may have been illegally destroyed
London station chief included in inquiry

By Chris McGreal

WASHINGTON — Senior Central Intelligence Agency officials, including the London station chief, have been brought before a grand jury in Virginia investigating the potentially illegal destruction of 92 video tapes recording the torture and interrogation of al-Qaida detainees. — 469 words.

Amsterdam considering bank help for prostitutes

By Ben Berkowitz

AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam city council is turning its attention to a pressing problem for one of the city's key business sectors — banking and credit for prostitutes who can't get accounts from mainstream institutions. — 313 words.

Venezuela fines largest food producer for illegal beer distribution

By James Suggett

MERIDA — In joint operations between Monday and Wednesday, the Venezuelan National Guard and the Caracas police seized 33 beer delivery trucks bearing the logo of Venezuela's largest food and beverage producer, Polar, for allegedly selling beer and liquor illegally in the sprawling low-income barrios of the Venezuelan capital. — 306 words.

Venezuelan media workers march, new national paper announced

By Tamara Pearson

MERIDA — On Saturday, to mark the Day of the Journalist, media workers both for and against the Venezuelan government marched in separate marches in Caracas. President Hugo Chavez also announced the creation of a new national paper. — 687 words.

The Explainer

How many nukes does it take to defend America?

Presidents Obama and Medvedev have agreed to a limit of between 1,500 and 1,675 nuclear warheads. Who picked those numbers?

By Brian Palmer

U.S. President Obama, in Russia this week, announced an agreement to reduce American and Russian nuclear warhead stockpiles to a range between 1,500 and 1,675 for each country. How did negotiators arrive at these numbers? — 573 words.

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.

Harold Wright, Doctor of Punology, sez:

"Atheism is a non-prophet organization."

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

World's highest hydraulic lift

The Peterborough Lift Lock on Ontario's Trent-Severn Waterway is the highest hydraulic lift in the world. When completed in 1904 it enabled boaters to overcome a difference in elevation of more than 19 metres.

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

Focus on Real Estate

Colliers' Knowledge Report for Q2-2009: National Capital Region weather's recession well

Ottawa's office market remains remarkably stable as the second quarter overall office vacancy rate increased a nominal 0.2% over last quarter to 6.8%, and is only 0.3% higher than the second quarter of 2008.

In addition, three of Ottawa's submarkets, the Central Business District, Fringe Core and South end all posted lower second quarter overall vacancy rates. The Kanata market continues to be the most severely affected of Ottawa's submarkets recording a 1.7% quarterly increase in vacancy to 19.5%. Kanata's overall office vacancy has increased 4.3% (216,000 square feet) over the past 12 months.

To read a PDF version of the full report, please click here.

Money and Markets

The Latest on Dividends, and other Market Metrics ...

By Nilus Mattive

I wanted to take a break from the consumer-oriented pieces I’ve been doing lately to give you a complete update on the stock market in general, and dividend payments in particular. As you know, I am a big believer in longer-term investing strategies, and a huge fan of stocks that reward shareholders with steady (preferably rising) dividend payments. Unfortunately, the latter are getting harder and harder to find … — 958 words.

Spirit Quest

God has evolved

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

God has evolved, at least according to Robert Wright in his recent book The Evolution of God. He takes us on a fascinating journey through history from very primitive times when homo sapiens divinized pretty well everything he couldn't understand e.g. the weather, to the present day when humankind has narrowed the pantheon to One and often None. — 619 words.

Book Review

The dark side of climate change: it's already too late, cap and trade is a scam, and only the few will survive

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, by James Lovelock

Book review by Alexander Zaitchik

The Vanishing Face of Gaia by James Lovelock, father of Gaia Theory and inventor of the instrument allowing for the atmospheric measurements of CFC's. In recent years, Lovelock has emerged as the world's leading climate pessimist, raining scorn on the new fashionable environmentalism and arguing that the time is nigh to accept that a massive culling of the human race is around the corner. "Most of the 'green' stuff is verging on a gigantic scam," Lovelock told the New Scientist shortly before the release of his latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia. — 2,259 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:

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% 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.

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
Benoit Jolicoeur, Art Director
Ian Covey, Director of Photography
Carl Hall, Technical Analyst and Web Editor
Contributing Editors
Alex Binkley
Anita Chan, Australia
Rosaleen Dickson
Tom Dow
Bob Kay
Randy Ray
David Ward
Harold Wright