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Friday, May 1, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 23 — 174
"True North is for opinion makers"
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Obama confronts torture policy in prime time

By Matt Renner | Report

The East Room, the White House — Under the spotlight of his third prime-time press conference, on his 100th day in office, President Barack Obama was unequivocal in his rejection of torture on moral and ethical grounds and said specifically that waterboarding is an illegal torture technique. — 1,644 words.

Obama's first 100 days — the mad men did well

By John Pilger

John Pilger, an investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, is one of only two to have twice won British journalism's top award; his documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US. In a New Statesman survey of the 50 heroes of our time, Pilger came fourth behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. "John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter, "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

The BBC's American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the "smart" people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving dreamt up by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged and sold. — 990 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, May 1, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 23 (174)

How I ‘tortured' the Fuehrer of the Nazi Party of Canada
(A one million dollar law suit against The Toronto Telegram)
And how, on the advice of a star KGB agent, the CSIS,
contrary to the letter and spirit of Canadian democracy,
studies and practices systematic psychological torture

One day in 1967 when I was holding down the Montreal Bureau of The Toronto Telegram I got a call from one de la Rivière who identified himself as the Fuehrer of the Nazi Party of Canada. He ordered me to meet him at an address in Montreal North. He said he wanted to promote his party and its action plans against peacenik and union picket lines. As a journalist with an insatiable curiosity I couldn't resist. — 1,555 words.

Humour from the Court of Judge Harold Wright, Contributing Editor

There's no place like home

A social worker from a big City in Massachusetts recently transferred to the Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia and was on the first tour of her new territory when she came upon the tiniest cabin she had ever seen in her life. — 131 words.

Don't blame the pigs

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

The pigs of North America are getting a bum rap in the current outbreak of influenza that has proved deadly in Mexico and has health officials in other countries worried about its spread. — 488 words.

The joys and benefits of gardening

By Alberte Villeneuve

Great news! Gardening season is upon us and I just bought myself a new Yardworks bypass pruner. I've already raked the front yard, part of the back yard and cleaned the back flowerbeds but the best is yet to come: the vegetable garden. — 677 words.

Evolution classes optional under proposed Alberta law

CBC News

A controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and homosexuality. The new rules, which would require schools to notify parents in advance of "subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation," is buried in a bill that extends human rights to homosexuals. Parents can ask for their child to be excluded from the discussion. — 345 words.

Health Watch

If you're not there yet, it's time to go bananas

Edible bananas originated in the Indo-Malaysian region reaching to northern Australia. They were known only by hearsay in the Mediterranean region in the 3rd Century B.C., and are believed to have been first carried to Europe in the 10th Century A.D. Early in the 16th Century, Portuguese mariners transported the plant from the West African coast to South America. The types found in cultivation in the Pacific have been traced to eastern Indonesia from where they spread to the Marquesas and by stages to Hawaii. — 1,784 words.


Banana, walnut, rum and raisin cake

Bananas ripen rapidly in the summer heat, and if you're anything like me you will periodically buy more bananas than your household can consume, such that your fruit bowl is on the brink of screaming "banana surplus" and "come and get them" to the local fruit flies. You may also have come across the completely different problem of how to feed impromptu guests, since you're on a diet and dare not stash just-in-case desserts in your freezer for fear of indulging in them by yourself. — 578 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 be found in the True North Perspective Archives. — Mike Heenan, Literary Editor.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Volkswagen introduces world's most economical car

While we don't have a great deal of information available at this stage, we do know that Volkswagen is set to reveal the world's most economical non-hybrid car to shareholders attending the 42nd annual general meeting of Volkswagen AG in Hamburg.

The single-seater is capable of 0.91 litres per 100km (or 258mpg in the old measure) and can manage a top speed of 123km/h.

The prototype, as shown here, was built in conditions of such great secrecy that little more is known about the car, but we'll be sure to keep you posted after next week's meeting.

Occupying hearts and minds: The return of the 'handmaiden of imperialism'

By Dahr Jamail|Perspective

One of the definitions of the word "occupation" is: the action, state, or period of occupying or being occupied by military force. Throughout history, areas or countries occupied by military force have always resisted, and this resistance has caused the occupier to devise more suitable methods of subduing the population of the area being occupied. — 1,647 words.

The Bush White House's appalling and evil legacy: Now we know the whole story

Did we torture to extract bogus "intelligence" from detainees to make the case for Iraq?

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

We don't like our evil to be banal. Ten years after Columbine, it only now may be sinking in that the psychopathic killers were not jock-hating dorks from a "Trench Coat Mafia," or, as ABC News maintained at the time, "part of a dark, underground national phenomenon known as the Gothic movement." In the new best seller Columbine, the journalist Dave Cullen reaffirms that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were instead ordinary American teenagers who worked at the local pizza joint, loved their parents and were popular among their classmates. — 1,707 words.

Spain launches wide-ranging criminal investigation into U.S. torture — when will Obama?

Spain is doing what should be done in the U.S.: Treating these severe crimes as crimes. Human rights lawyers say Obama should follow suit

By Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Despite rhetoric coming from the White House that Americans should look "forward not backwards" when it comes to pursuing those responsible for torture, Spain doesn't seem to be listening. Judge Balthazar Garzon, who has been pursuing a criminal case against six former Bush administration officials for torture, has now authorized a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the US torture program at Guantanamo. The recently released torture memos and declassified Senate reports, Garzon said, show that at Guantanamo there is "an authorized and systematic plan for torture and harsh treatment of people deprived of their freedom without any charges and without the most basic elemental rights for detainees, set forth and demanded by international treaties." — 388 words.

Bill Maher: The GOP is acting like a guy who got dumped

Listen up Republicans: It's been almost 100 days, and your country is not coming back to you. She's found somebody new

By Bill Maher
Los Angeles Times

If conservatives don't want to be seen as bitter people who cling to their guns and religion and anti-immigrant sentiments, they should stop being bitter and clinging to their guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiments. — 774 words.

FSB under fire for list of terrorist tactics

By Nikolaus von Twickel
The Moscow Times

The Federal Security Service has published a detailed list of terrorist tactics and activities on its web site that it says are typical of recent attacks. But some critics say the document could serve as a how-to manual to would-be terrorists, telling them exactly what they should focus on and what to avoid. — 444 words.

Saudis to review marriage law after 8 year old weds man, 58

Saudi Arabia is planning to review its law surrounding the marriage of young girls after a court refused to nullify the marriage of an 8-year-old to a man 50 years her senior

The country is a patriarchal society that applies a form of Sunni Islam that gives fathers the right to wed their sons and daughters to whoever they deem fit. But Justice Minister Mohamed al-Issa said his ministry wanted "to put an end to arbitrariness by parents and guardians in marrying off minor girls". — 261 words.

Australian politician Hajnal Ban has own legs broken to be 8 centimetres taller

One of Queensland's youngest politicians has admitted spending nine months in Russia
for bone-breaking growth surgery because of insecurities about her size

By Alison Sandy

Logan Councillor Ban Hajnal Ban, 31, had each of her legs broken in four places for the leg-lengthening procedure, remaining in hospital as she grew about 1mm a day to increase her 154cm frame to 162cm. — 464 words.

Taliban executes 14-year-old girl for planning to elope

A 14-year-old girl and her boyfriend have been executed by a Taliban firing squad after being caught eloping

By Ben Farmer

KABUL — The pair were shot dead in front of their village mosque as their villagers looked on in south western Afghanistan, a district official said. Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district of Nimroz province, said the girl, called Gulsima, had been unhappily engaged to marry when she fell in love with Aziz, aged 17. — 388 words.

Taliban gunmen shooting couple dead for adultery caught on camera

Taliban gunmen have been filmed executing a surprised couple whom they repeatedly shot for the alleged crime of adultery

By Saeed Shah

ISLAMABAD — Their deaths were squalid, riddled with bullets in a field near their home by Taliban gunmen as the execution was captured on a mobile telephone. In footage which is being watched with horror by Pakistanis, the couple try to flee when they realise what is about to happen. But a gunman casually shoots the man and then the woman in the back with a burst of gunfire, leaving them bleeding in the dirt. — 1,024 words.

Peru grants political asylum to Venezuelan opposition leader wanted for corruption

By James Suggett

MERIDA — On Monday, Peru's Foreign Relations Ministry granted political asylum to Manuel Rosales, a leading opposition figure and former presidential candidate who is wanted in Venezuela for stealing public funds and accepting bribes during his term as governor of Zulia state. — 530 words.

U.S. sailor sues ship owner after pirate attack

HOUSTON — A member of the crew on the US-flagged ship hijacked by African pirates sued the owner and another company Monday, accusing them of knowingly putting sailors in danger. — 614 words.

Critical turning point can trigger abrupt climate change

The climate does not become gradually colder or warmer — it jumps from the one state to the other. That which gets the climate to jump is that when the solar radiation changes and reaches a certain threshold — a 'tipping point', the existing climate state, e.g. an ice age, is no longer viable and so the climate jumps over into another state, e.g. a warm interglacial period. In chaos dynamics this phenomenon is called a bifurcation or a 'catastrophe'.

COPENHAGEN — Ice ages are the greatest natural climate changes in recent geological times. Their rise and fall are caused by slight changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun due to the influence of the other planets. But we do not know the exact relationship between the changes in the Earth's orbit and the changes in climate. — 1,038 words.

Harold Wright, Doctor of Punology, sez:

"A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption."

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

Model town

When Kapuskasing was designed in the early 1900s it was known as the "Model Town" of Ontario’s north because it was built like a wheel with spokes.

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

The patriotic stripper: From rebellious "bad girl" to military wife

When Lily Burana married an Army officer, she left behind her life in strip clubs and became a cake-baking military wife. Then came the bombshells

By Susannah Breslin

Lily Burana isn't your average Army wife. A one-time anarchist punk rocker turned exotic dancer, she resided a universe away from the white picket fences of Main Street, USA. But when Burana married a military intelligence officer, she found herself thrust behind "the camo curtain," and all at once, her comfort zone of smoky, windowless strip clubs was traded for backyard barbecues and patriotic potlucks. And when her husband was deployed to Iraq, she found her world turned upside down yet again. Plunged down a psychological rabbit hole by the grinding anxiety of life as a soldier's spouse, the unfamiliar world of military families became her unlikely support system as the only ones who could truly understand what she was going through. — 1,148 words.

Killing civilians: How safe do you actually want to be?

By Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years. To catch a recent audio interview in which he discusses the CIA's drone war over Pakistan, click here.

Almost like clockwork, the reports float up to us from thousands of miles away, as if from another universe. Every couple of days they seem to arrive from Afghan villages that few Americans will ever see without weapon in hand. Every few days, they appear from a world almost beyond our imagining, and always they concern death — so many lives snuffed out so regularly for more than seven years now. Unfortunately, those news stories are so unimportant in our world that they seldom make it onto, no less off of, the inside pages of our papers. They're so repetitive that, once you've started reading them, you could write them in your sleep from thousands of miles away. — 2,743 words.

New torture photos being released by Obama

The Obama administration will release more photos of Bush era prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Obama administration will release more photos of Bush era prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan to satisfy demands from an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, according to a Thursday ACLU press release. Here is the release: — 727 words.

Hey, Mongolia, can you get my mail while I'm gone?

What happens to an embassy when the ambassador leaves?

By Brian Palmer
Slate Magazine

Hugo Chávez wants to restore Venezuela's ambassador to Washington. The Venezuelan diplomat was expelled in September, after Chávez ejected the U.S. ambassador from Caracas. What happens to those fancy embassy buildings in Washington when an ambassador is ejected? — 517 words.

Mortgaging the White House

By Bill Moeyrs and Michael Winship|Perspective

Finally, here we are at the end of this week of a hundred days. As everyone in the Western world probably knows by now, this benchmark for assessing presidencies goes back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who arrived at the White House in the depths of the Great Depression. — 794 words.

Bernie Madoff, scapegoat

By Michael Moore

Elie Wiesel called him a "God." His investors called him a "genius." But, proving correct that old adage from the country and western song, you never really know what goes on behind closed doors. Bernie Madoff, for at least 20 years, ran a Ponzi scheme on thousands of clients, among them the people you and I would consider the best and brightest. Business leaders, celebrities, charities, even some of his own relatives and his defense attorney were taken for a ride (this has to be the first time a lawyer was hosed by the client). — 885 words.

Spirit Quest

En route, always

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

I spent Easter Sunday on the high seas. We were on a cruise and our ship was taking us from the Island Madeira to Casablanca on the African coast. A number of the passengers gathered in one of the lounge rooms to celebrate Easter. We sang several familiar Easter hymns, heard the reading of the Easter story from the bible and of course, prayed. Unlike most religious services no offering was taken. Pity? — 780 words.

PublishAmerica presents Matt and the Wonder of Wishes by Bobby Hawley

FREDERICK, MD — PublishAmerica is proud to present Matt and the Wonder of Wishes by Nepean, Ontario author Bobby Hawley. In this masterfully written book, Queen Zephania is the ruler of the fairy realm and can be found in the forest glade not far from a magnificent landscape of flowers. Should you become one of the chosen, you might even be given a wish. The fairies were attracted to this location by the display of colors and the heavenly scents coming from a beautiful garden right at the forest's edge. — 310 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Henry Lawson: Australian poet

By Mike Heenan
Literary Editor
True North Perspective

Here's a favourite of mine from our cousins in Australia. I chose it today because it's a dead ringer for much of Canadian poets Al Purdy & Milton Acorn's work & feelings during "hard times. — 681 words.


The publishing dilemma

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective
(A version of this article will appear in an upcoming issue of Freelance Writer's Report)

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings. Her website is

It used to be that when you wrote a book you looked for a publisher, or if you felt you had a potential best-seller, you tried to find an agent. Savvy authors would craft a solid book proposal before the book was even finished, speak to other authors to obtain referrals to agents, and scout book stores to discover which publishers specialize in books similar to yours. — 1,080 words.

Book Review

Ex-MP Turner casts Harper as bully in new book

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A new book by a former Conservative MP casts Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a bully obsessed with secrecy and his caucus as a sycophantic squad of yes-men. — 1,435 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
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
David Ward
Harold Wright