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

Friday, July 23, 2010, Vol. 5, No. 33 — 237
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From the Desk of Anita Chan, Contributing Editor, Australia

China Nanhai Honda strike and the struggle
for major wage increases and union democracy

China Labour News Translations

18 July 2010 — One of the most interesting dimensions of the recent strikes at three Honda auto components factories in the China Pearl River Delta region has been workers' clearly articulated demand for their enterprise unions to be elected by and accountable to workers.

Their demands are uncommon, but not unprecedented. Back in 2006, workers at the Ole Wolff electronics factory fought for a workers' elected union in Yantai. (1) Another distinguishing factor in these disputes were the large wage increases demanded by workers.

In most industrial action in the Pearl River Delta region, workers demand little or no more than the minimum wage, or payment of unpaid wages. But striking workers at these Honda plants demanded large wage increases, and what's more, they also wanted a graduated wage scale, which reflected their aspirations for a career path and job security.

To better understand these strikes, this issue of CLNT will focus in detail on the events that unfolded at the site of the first Honda strike at Nanhai Honda in Foshan.

We have translated four documents that give very detailed accounts of how some workers organized themselves to strike, convinced others to join them, how they negotiated, and the role played by trade union leadership at various levels. In two of these articles, journalists convey through interviews with Honda workers, how, as the strike continued, the strikers developed higher consciousness of the importance of setting up a democratic union organization in their factory. — Read the full article at China Labor News Translations, 1,103 words.

Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Comics.com, 23 July 2010.

The courage of one's convictions

Former Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh's resignation
was a brave and honourable act against census change

By Alex Himelfarb
Former Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada
The Mark

Portrait of courage:
Munir Sheikh

23 July 2010 — As a former public servant, having worked for Conservative, Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments for almost 30 years, and as a former colleague of Munir Sheikh, I feel compelled to say something about Munir's unusual, sad, and admirable decision this week to step down as Canada's Chief Statistician. I have elsewhere added my voice to the growing number of Canadians asking the government to reverse its decision on the census but there's even more at stake here — about Statistics Canada and about the public service.

Canada's senior public servants almost invariably have a deep commitment to service to their country and to the institutions of government within which they serve. In Canada, our professional, non-partisan public service has traditionally been guided by the principle of "fearless advice and loyal implementation." This is based on the belief that governments work best when they have access to the best possible information, options, and advice — including what they may not wish to hear — and, in the end, democracy demands that the public service implement loyally whatever lawful decision the elected government of the day makes — whether the public servants agree or not. That's how it works when it works. I know Munir to be a man of great integrity, committed to the value and values of a professional, non-partisan public service. — Read the full article at The Mark, 734 words.

Editor's Notes

The future is (almost!) now

Friday, July 23, 2010
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 33 (237)

23 July 2010 — We're right on the verge of bringing you the new face of True North Perspective.

However, there are still wrinkles that need the hot iron of intelligence, imagination and — as always and above all — the application of hard work and practice to make right.

So in the interest of getting it right, this week we present one more abbreviated edition.

See you next week.

Meanwhile, take it easy, but take it.

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

"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.

Harper senseless on the census

'Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.'

'Facts that don't fit ideology or partisan gain are distinctly unwelcome.' — Jeffery Simpson, The Globe and Mail

By Alex Binkley
Contributing Editor
True North Perspective

23 July 2010 — Conservatives like to describe Stephen Harper as a great political strategist. His resolutions recognizing Quebec as a nation within Canada and apologizing for native residential schools were bold strokes. He got away with prorogation in 2008 to head off being replaced by a Liberal-NDP coalition.

So how to comprehend the Prime Minister's boneheaded plan to trash the Census long form on the basis it supposedly intrudes on people's privacy?

Folks who know a lot more about statistics have clearly spelled out why making filling it out voluntary rather than mandatory essentially ruins the usefulness of its findings and the many programs and policies based on it. If you need more detail, look up Dan Gardner's columns in the Ottawa Citizen. — Read the full article inside, 726 words.

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Those most victimized by oil
are those least likely to favor regulation

Fear of unemployment leads places blighted by oil or coal to hold on all the tighter to those industries

By Emily Badger

15 July 2010, OTTAWA — One of the big oddities to come out of the Gulf oil spill has been this quirk of public-opinion polling: Residents along the coast overwhelmingly say their communities have been hurt by the disaster, but they're also among the least likely people in the country to support a moratorium on offshore drilling.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll this week reiterated the theme on the heels of President Obama's second attempt to impose a moratorium. It found that 79 percent of people in the most affected counties along the coast labeled the spill a "major disaster," with 75 percent saying it has hurt their local economies. (33 percent even find themselves, as a result, feeling "depressed.")

But in Louisiana, 72 percent of people are against Obama's six-month ban on offshore drilling. That's compared to 39 percent among the U.S. population at-large. — Read the full article at source, 604 words.

Russians brood, but Americans get depressed


19 July 2010, NEW YORK — Russians dwell on negative emotions much as novelists Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy so famously detailed, but they are less likely to become depressed than Americans, according to two new studies. "It seems that even though Russians brood and contemplate more than Americans, it is not the factor that contributes to them being so unhappy," said Igor Grossmann, the University of Michigan researcher who worked on the studies. — Read the full article at The Moscow Times, 281 words.

Rightwing activist arrested in Venezuela on terror rap

More raids are expected as authorities continue their follow-up on information provided by Chávez Abarca, a confessed terrorist sent to trial in Cuba

By Juan Reardon

15 July 2010, SAN FRANCISCO — Wednesday, July 14, Venezuelan Minister for Internal Affairs Tarek El Aissami announced the arrest of opposition figure Alejandro Pe&numl;a Esclusa after police allegedly found explosive materials in his home during a raid on Monday.

The raid came after the detention in Caracas last week of known Salvadorian terrorist Francisco Chávez Abarca who confessed to having been contracted by Luis Posada Carriles to carry out destabilizing acts in Venezuela in the run-up to the September National Assembly elections.

The explosive materials allegedly found during the raid included 900 grams of C-4, electronic and thermal detonating devices and documents detailing plans for destabilizing Venezuela in the coming period, El Aissami said. — Read the full article at Venezuelanalysis.com, 686 words.

The 'Great Game' never ends

Battling for control of Iran's oil supply
Moscow prepares sanctions workaround

By Vladimir Socor
Asia Times

23 July 2010 — On July 14 in Moscow, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi announced ambitious plans for bilateral cooperation, short-term and long-term. If implemented, these plans would circumvent two sets of sanctions imposed (outside the UN Security Council) by the United States and other Western countries: sanctions against companies that supply gasoline and other refined oil products to Iran and against those that invest in Iran's energy sector.

Moscow hosted the Iranian delegation barely two weeks after the enactment of sanctions by the US, the European Union and other Western governments against deliveries of oil products (most critically, gasoline) to Iran. Oil companies Shell, BP, and Total have already stopped such sales, with other Western companies certain to follow suit.

Shmatko, however, announced the opposite intention at the joint news conference with Mirkazemi in Moscow: "Russian companies are prepared to perform deliveries of petroleum products to Iran. ... The sanctions in no way affect cooperation between Russia and Iran." — Read the full article at the Asia Times, 1,073 words.

Washington says U.S. government purchase of Russian porn
now must not include any 'forced or indentured child labour'

The question remains: why is America buying Russian porn?

By Alexander Bratersky
The Moscow Times

21 July 2010 — Contractors must now prove that any Russian pornography used in fulfilling U.S. government orders was made without children. That's the bizarre message that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration sent out this week when its Labor Department placed Russian pornography on a blacklist of products that "might have been mined, produced or manufactured by forced or indentured child labor." The 29-item list, published on the Labor Department's web site on Monday, "is designed to make sure that federal agencies do not buy products made with forced or indentured child labor," according to a fact sheet on the department's web site. — Read the full article at The Moscow Times, 459 words.

West Quebec Wisdom

Boobaru isn't just a vehicle for transport

'The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.' — William Blake

By Lakshmi Sundaram
True North Perspective
First published in the West Quebec Post

23 July 2010 — Her official title is 1990 Subaru Legacy LS wagon, but to the immediate family, she is known as the Boobaru.

I am the only one with boobs in our house and her n-used car debit was the first on my brand new business line of credit almost 4 years ago. She is a dark, kind of mysterious blue with rust highlights in all the right places (Husband says the same about my grey hairs). Around her rear view, she wears a faded Indian horse ornament with a bell strung to its belly. It jingles when transitions get too rough, bringing the driver back to the present. She has a definite présence about her and her new (n-used) mismatched hatchback substantiates this worthiness.

Raised in a culture that values sex appeal more than function and talent, my three sons have a hard time understanding why I would rather drive this 14 year old eyesore than a Toyota Echo virgin. — Read the full story inside, 716 words.

'A house demands a lot of upkeep and there comes a time where it is just too much.'

Living well doesn't always mean living at home

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.

23 July 2010 — Loneliness should not be part of your life. If it is, change the tune!

Some seniors are still saddled with the old-fashioned idea that when you leave your home, you end up in a hospice or residence where you have nothing left to do but stare out the window, wait for your meals to be served and count the days till St. Peter calls your number.

It is unfortunate that this grim prospect still lingers because today there is an entirely new generation of senior residences that offer excellent accommodations, from studio to full apartments with one to three bedrooms, condominiums and one-level single homes. — Read the full article inside, 1,175 words.

Spirit Quest

Reader challenges concept that 'love conquers all'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

The Reverend Doctor Hanns F. Skoutajan

23 July 2010 — I don't get overwhelmed by correspondence about my Spirit Quest articles, but once in a while there is a letter that rings a bell.

This does not mean that I necessarily agree with its author but rather that he/she raises an interesting point. In this case an email about "love conquering all" that I wrote about in an article motivated the writer and became the inspiration for this article.

About six years ago I reconnected with an old school pal. We had attended the same high school, had gone out on double dates and did all sorts of foolish things that were fun. It was a very small school, only 65 students, two teachers and two rooms, the kind of environment where all students knew each other. However after graduating we went our own ways, he into the bank and I into the ministry. It took 60 years before we reconnected. — Read the full article inside, 1,185 words.

Police reports reveal that crime rates continue decline
contrary to what law-and-order Harper would have us believe

CBC News

20 July 2010 — The volume and severity of crime reported to police across the country dropped again last year, continuing the downward trend seen over the past decade, reports Statistics Canada.

Nearly 2.2 million crimes were reported to police in 2009, about 43,000 fewer than in 2008, according to a report released Tuesday.

Car thefts, break-ins and mischief cases accounted for most of the decline.

The crime rate, which is a measure of the volume of crime reported to police, fell three per cent last year and was 17 per cent lower than a decade ago.

The crime severity index (CSI), which measures the seriousness of incidents reported, declined four per cent last year and was down 22 per cent from 1999.

Violent crimes, from harassing phone calls to homicide, accounted for about one in five crimes in 2009. The report said violent crime is declining but to a lesser extent than overall crime. — Read the full article at CBC News, 430 words.


New residence dedicated to mentally challenged male shot by police

Edmond Place is a $6.5 million victory for Parkdale citizens who campaigned for years to transform a burned-out major slum rooming house into a class-act residence with 29 modern apartments for low income residents

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

Photo by Geoffrey Dow, www.ed-rex.com.

23 July 2010 — My day was made today as I walked to the end of my street. At the south west corner of Queen Street West and Dowling Ave I saw the new face of Edmund Place.

I almost burst into tears of joy as I saw that the scaffolding had been taken down and there was our beautiful new building.

For years as I walked down my street I had to pass the burnt out building. It had become home to many neighbourhood racoons, rats, and stray cats. Not to mention human "activities" of a dubious nature and the neighbourhood dump! — Read the full article inside, 914 words.

G20 reports of media repression keep pouring in

By Patricia Elliott
J-Source — The Canadian Journalism Project

After the G20 folded its tent, first-hand accounts of media repression have continued being posted on J-Source. In 'Access Denied,' reporter Jesse Freeston describes being beaten by police. In the Student's Lounge, there's an account of a student journalist having to hand over his notes and camera, and in J-News, a story of cameras being returned with images gone. As calls for public scrutiny mount, this backgrounder on covering public inquiries is a helpful read. So is the Riot Survival Guide. If you were there, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is conducting a survey of journalists' experiences. And if you got roughed-up, take heart that although the rest of the world wasn't very interested, at least Canadians tuned in.

What's in an anchor?
It takes more than a pretty face

By Susan Newhook
J-Source — The Canadian Journalism Project

20 July 2010 — When CTV and Global both announced, within days of each other, that they had found new hosts for their flagship newscasts, a big part of the storyline drew on the fact that they had chosen women: Lisa LaFlamme at CTV and Dawna Friesen at Global. But what's the story behind the story?

"The person who sits here is but the most conspicuous member of a superb team of journalists; writers, reporters, editors, producers, and none of that will change." — Walter Cronkite, in his final broadcast as anchor of the CBS Evening News, March 6, 1981

"And remember — you're not just reading the news or narrating. Everybody has to sell a little. You're selling them this idea of you. You know, what you're sort of saying is, 'trust me. I'm, uh, 'credible.'" — Telegenic anchor Tom Grunick offering advice to brilliant field reporter Aaron Altman, in the 1987 comedy Broadcast News, as Altman is about to host his first newscast. Altman learns the hard way that it's more difficult than it looks. — Read the full article at J-Source, 1,609 words.

Health Watch

Good day sunshine!

Protect your brain: Get some sunshine and Vitamin D

By Marsha Stopa
The Winter Blues Coach

21 July 2010 — Two new medical studies suggest that spending a little time in the sun every day and a supplemental vitamin might keep our brains sharper longer.

Vitamin D continues to shine as the darling nutrient of the decade as researchers learn more about its seemingly endless benefits to our health. Our bodies manufacture vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin," when our bare skin is exposed to the sun.

Two recent studies suggest that vitamin D may protect brain health as we age. One study followed 858 adults at least 65 years old for 6 years. During that time, people with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D had 60 percent more decline in thinking and memory than those with the highest levels. — Read the full article at The Winter Blues Coach, 907 words.

Reading Room

His didactic materials

When story-tellers fail:
On Philip Pullman's Dark Materials

By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor
True North Perspective Originally published at Edifice Rex Online

22 July 2010 — I'll never forget the shocked silence that greeted my ingenuous kindergarten announcement that, "I don't believe in God".

My class-mates, and even my otherwise perfect teacher, Miss Matthews, simply didn't know how to process such a shocking proposition. In Quebec in 1970, a five year-old atheist was nearly as strange and terrible a creature as one with green skin, fangs and a devil's tail. (I exaggerate, but not that much.)

Philip Pullman seems to have shocked much of the Christian world in the same way that I did my kindergarten class. His Dark Materials, a fantasy (or science fiction; see sidebar below) series whose plot revolves around an attempt to kill "god" is obviously at least in part a direct reply to children's books (or "young adult novels") probably best exemplified by the likes of C.S. Lewis' soporific apologia for Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia.

In any case, the series has been taken as anti-Christian and a quick Google search will quickly find all sorts of horrified and angry reactions to it.

So I, as a both a life-long atheist and a long-time reader of F and SF, am (but for the fact I'm neither a father nor a teenager) am pretty close to Pullman's ideal reader. I approached the first volume with a lot of curiosity and no small amount of hope that I would enjoy it quite a lot. — Read the full article Edifice Rex Online, 1,853 words.

They'll always have Kootenay Lake

Sydney and Aryana Ray, grandchildren of Grampa Randy Ray and Gramma Janis Ray stop for the camera knowing that their special visit from their favourite Central Canada visitors will soon come to an end. In the background is the Kokanee Glacier Resort, the happy home base of their high mountains and blue water holiday. — Photo by Janis Ray.



The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

A review

By Patricia K. McCarthy
True North Perspective

23 July 2010 — Eclipse, the third Twilight saga movie could well have been called Torn Between Two Lovers.

Bella Swan (played with vulnerability by Kristen Stewart) openly admits her tortured feelings of love for vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and the equally compelling wolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

Where Twilight succeeded in discovery and New Moon in its polished visuals, Eclipse smoothly rolls out a dramatic vampire battle in the middle of an open field against the delicate and flowering love of teenagers. — Read the full article inside, 345 words.

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.

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

An eclectic collection of short stories that will stir your sense of humour, warm your heart, outrage your sense of justice, and chill your extra sensory faculties in the spirit of Stephen King. The final short story, the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna is a ground-breaking love story.

The series begins with Deo Volente (God Willing). Followed by The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Sharing Lies, Flying High, The Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, One Lift Too Many, The Model A Ford, the out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only and O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! The series closes 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 Source, Source, 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.


Yvette Pigeon, 1934-2010, National Editor, 2006-2010

Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher
Geoffrey Dow, Managing 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

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