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Friday, May 29, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 27 — 178
"True North is for opinion makers"
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Good reasons why to boycott Shell Oil

The Nigeria video Shell Oil desperately doesn’t want you to see

By Han Shan

For over thirteen years, multinational oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has done everything in its power to stop a trial from taking place at which the company must answer to charges that it colluded with the Nigerian military to commit serious human rights abuses to quell peaceful resistance to its operations in the Niger Delta region called Ogoni, including conspiring to bring about the conviction and execution of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues. — 639 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 29, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 27 (178)

A retired American army colonel wants to kill critical journalists ...

Tony Blair said No when George W. Bush wanted to bomb al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar ...

Stop lying to us, tell us the truth, give us a legitimate war ...
And you can bet your baby’s booties you’ll have our support

As the dust of dishonesty settles some of it may shake off Tony Blair. He was caught up in propagating the lies that justified the attack on Iraq, but more than once he reined in the lunacy of George W. Bush and the neocon cabal that controlled Washington. — 499 words.

Let's try another way

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

It seems every time the Canadian Wheat Board gets mentioned on Parliament Hill, otherwise sensible MPs from all sides revert to plain dumb behaviour. Western Conservatives want to end the Board's monopoly on wheat and barley sales to satisfy their constituents but can't because they are a minority government. The opposition MPs, all from outside the Prairies, support the CWB unconditionally hoping it will finally improve their political prospects in the West. They may wait a long time. — 472 words.

Familiar faces, voices to leave in CBC cost-cutting

CBC News

CBC English Services has sent 158 redundancy notices to its Canadian Media Guild employees outside Quebec and Moncton as of Thursday in a cutback program that will see the broadcaster lose several of its best known faces and voices. — 850 words.

Layoffs v. buyouts: the news manager's dilemma

By Bethany Horne
The Canadian Journalism Project

Bethany Horne is a third-year student in the journalism program at the University of King's College in Halifax. She is the co-author of the travel blog, White Bus, Black Dog, and the news editor of the Dalhousie Gazette.

When the time comes to lay the axe to newsrooms that owners consider bloated, an editorial manager must make many tough choices, one of which goes like this. Experienced journalists have institutional memory, a fine-tuned news sense, and a larger base of knowledge to draw on. Younger journalists come to the job with experience in newer forms of journalism, and web-ease.

As the "perfect storm" of financial difficulties and Internet-age expectations blows at the door of traditional media, newsrooms managers are hedging their bets about which age group to value most. — 824 words.

Code of Silence: Canadian Food Inspection Agency wins CAJ Secrecy Award

Canadian Association of Journalists

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has won the Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of Silence Award for 2008 for its dizzying efforts to stop the public from learning details of fatal failures in food safety. — 579 words.

Quebec farmer finds foot in field

The Canadian Press

Once the rushing, springtime waters of the Rivière-du-Nord recede back within its banks, it's a given that Michel Robitaille's Quebec farm will be littered with debris. This year, among the usual bottles, boxes and buckets that the river washed onto his property, Robitaille made what he initially thought was another common find — a boot. That was until he peeked inside the leather, size-7.5 piece of footwear and found a severed right foot. — 490 words.

Taking a fall and standing tall

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of "The Neglected Garden/Le jardin négligé" and "Une prière pour Hélène". Her website is

This year marks a venerable milestone for me: I will turn 60 in October. As I ponder how I got to this age so quickly, I also remember it’s a vulnerable milestone. You hear your contemporaries talk about their aches and pains, insomnia, cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis and the big villain, cancer. — 748 words.

No secrets in Canada's Northwest Territories
You live there for more than six months
And Washington and Moscow know more
about you than you know about yourself

By Alex Debogorski
Northern News Services Online

Alex Debogorski is a long-time Yellowknifer and a star of Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel.

Driving a taxi in the late 1970s, I took a fellow in a three-piece suit to the airport. He was flying to Vancouver. Not many people travelled in three-piece suits. I still wonder who he was. He shared one bit of wisdom. People in a big city are a face in the crowd whereas in the smaller communities, everyone knows each other. — 748 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

40K to 50K SUV comparison test

The clash of mainstream and luxury brands

By Michel Deslauriers

We wouldn't normally think that a Ford and a Mercedes-Benz could face each in a comparison test, but we just did it. Two factors explain what was unthinkable 20 years ago.

Mainstream brands saw the opportunity to create uplevel versions of their products and sell them at higher prices. On the other hand, luxury brands exploit their prestigious logos to develop lower-end vehicles, assuming people will buy a reputation instead of all-out extravagance.

The meeting point seems to be a price range of around $40,000 to $50,000. Within this bracket, you can choose a sport-utility vehicle between the two types mentioned here. We gathered five such SUVs, although if every model we invited had accepted to come to the party, the total attendance would've been double. And if you prefer calling them crossovers, go ahead.

The guest list thus includes the mainstream-brand Ford Edge Sport AWD and Mazda CX-7 GT AWD as well as luxury-brand Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC, Volvo XC60 T6 AWD and Acura RDX Technology.

After countless hours of testing, driving, sitting down, observing, arguing and taking notes, we came to the conclusion on what's the best SUV of the bunch. Obviously, we didn't include a prestige factor in our scores, since that's up to you, the buying public.

Just for you, our valued reader, we rank these five high-riding, all-wheel drive machines in order of preference, although no one of these can be called a loser.

For more on this please see

Bush's shocking Biblical prophecy emerges: God wants to "erase" Mid-East enemies "before a new age begins"

Bush explained to French President Chirac that the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Mid-East and must be defeated

By Clive Anderson

The revelation this month in GQ Magazine that Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary embellished top-secret wartime memos with quotations from the Bible prompts a question. Why did he believe he could influence President Bush by that means? — 562 words.

Sri Lanka: What's Next For the Tamil Community?

By Inter Press Service Correspondents

COLOMBO — Nearly three decades of war ended in Sri Lanka last week and a victorious President Mahinda Rajapaksa has extended a fresh hand of friendship to the minority Tamils, but most members of this community feel it will take a long time for the wounds to heal after years of mistrust and alienation. — 1,085 words.


The end of the Tamil Tigers

Insurgencies don't always have history on their side

By Christopher Hitchens

In the late fall of 1978, I was approached by a Sri Lankan Tamil rights group, which visited the office of the socialist weekly in London where I was then working and entreated me to pay a visit to their country. I say "their" country, though they actually referred to it as "Ceylon": the British colonial name that continued to be the country's name after independence in 1948. It was only changed in 1972. The word Lanka is simply the name for island in Sanskrit, and the prefix Sri has a connotation of holiness, and the alteration generally reflected the aspirations and preferences of the Sinhalese-speaking and Buddhist majority. So the difference in emphasis there was pretty large to begin with. — 1,001 words.

Chavez starts four-day talk show marathon

By Frank Jack Daniel

CARACAS — Venezuela's garrulous President Hugo Chavez on Thursday began a marathon four-day edition of his trademark television show to mark 10 years since the influential and widely watched program first hit the airwaves. — 332 words.

Why Obama should take notes from Cuba on a green energy revolution

Cuba has successfully greened its energy sector over the last few years, and is now exporting its energy revolution

By Peter Bosshard

Barack Obama has proposed to invest $150 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next ten years. He need look no further than La Havana for inspiration. Cuba has successfully greened its energy sector over the last few years, and is now exporting its energy revolution. Will we soon benefit from Cuban expertise in cleaning up the US energy sector? — 916 words.

Colonizing culture

"The occupation forces encouraged the rebels to loot museum and libraries. Five thousand years of history and art were irretrievably lost in hours. It is a loss for the world, not Iraq alone. Buildings can be fixed, so can electricity, but where can I find another Khalid al-Rahal to make me a new statue for Abu Fafar al-Mansoor? How will I replace the artifacts dating back to thousands of years? Iraq is altered forever."

By Dahr Jamail|Perspective

Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for eight months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last four years.

The geo-strategic expansion of the American empire is an accepted fact of contemporary history. I have been writing in these columns about the impact of the US occupation on the people of Iraq in the wake of the "hard" colonization via F-16s, tanks, 2,000-pound bombs, white phosphorous and cluster bombs. — 1,589 words.

Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape'

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged

By Duncan Gardham and Paul Cruickshank

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. — 640 words.

Aerial bombing makes terrorists

By Malik Mujahid|Perspective

During the last thirty years of wars in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians have had one safe place to escape to: Pakistan. They fled the Soviet invasion. They fled civil wars. They fled US bombing. Pakistan took care of millions of these Afghan refugees. Now that safe haven with its lush green valleys is burning with bombs. — 936 words.

Provoking the inevitable

By Dahr Jamail|Perspective

On Monday, May 18, 2009, Iraqi government security forces arrested two prominent Sunni leaders in Iraq's volatile Diyala Province. One of them, Sheikh Riyadh al-Mujami, not coincidentally, is a prominent leader in the local Sahwa (Sons of Iraq), the 100,000-strong Sunni militia that was set up by the US military to quell attacks against occupation forces and launch an effort to battle al-Qaeda in Iraq. Both of those objectives were accomplished, but these efforts are being erased by ongoing missions by Iraqi government security forces, sometimes backed by the US military, to kill or capture both Sahwa leadership and fighters. The results of these attacks against the Sahwa are already evident in an escalation in violence that has taken two forms - a dramatic increase in spectacular attacks against Iraqi civilians and increasing attacks against occupation forces. — 1,267 words.

Neocon group calls for military strikes on media

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Peters promotes censorship and 'military attacks on the partisan media'

By Jeremy Scahill

In the era of embedded media, independent journalists have become the eyes and ears of the world. Without those un-embedded journalists willing to risk their lives to place themselves on the other side of the barrel of the tank or the gun or under the air strikes, history would be written almost entirely from the vantage point of powerful militaries, or - at the very least - it would be told from the perspective of the troops doing the shooting, rather than the civilians, who always pay the highest price. — 1,261 words.

FBI fakes muslim plot in New York

Supposed terror plot against New York synagogues is bogus

By Robert Dreyfuss
The Nation

Turns out it is really the handiwork of a creepy FBI informant. The story strengthens the narrative that the "homeland" is under attack. It's not

By the now, it's maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it's revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne'er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur. — 808 words.

Do conservatives actually believe their own lies?
Or are they just plain stupid with a stubborn streak?

Blatant dishonesty for partisan gain is much easier to understand than rampant stupidity among leading federal lawmakers

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

For years now, many of us have pondered the question: conservative Republicans don't actually believe their arguments, do they? Publius considers this in the context of the hopelessly bizarre debate over the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The right is probably lying, hoping to exploit the politics of fear, but what if conservatives have come to accept their own nonsense? — 466 words.

The price of democracy in Brazil

The patient and constructive policies of President Lula are improving the lives of Brazilian citizens and deepening the country’s democracy too, says Arthur Ituassu

By Arthur Ituassu

Brazil's mid-year approaches with the country's poor northeast region being punished by torrential rains whose effects have caused the deaths of at least forty-five people and displaced as many as 400,000. It is a human tragedy for those affected, and a reminder of the continued development challenges in this vast and contrasting land. — 1,591 words.

Rising sea levels: Survival tips from 5000 BC

By Catherine Brahic

With rising seas lapping at coastal cities and threatening to engulf entire islands in the not-too-distant future, it's easy to assume our only option will be to abandon them and head for the hills. There may be another way, however. Archaeological sites in the Caribbean, dating back to 5000 BC, show that some ancient civilisations had it just as bad as anything we are expecting. Yet not only did they survive a changing coastline and more storm surges and hurricanes: they stayed put and successfully adapted to the changing world. Now archaeologists are working out how they managed it and finding ways that we might learn from their example. — 1,312 words.

Did asteroids really do in the dinosaurs?

Two new studies challenge the current theory

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff
The Christian Science Monitor

Sixty-five million years ago, a six-mile-wide asteroid slammed into what's now the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The impact, 2 million times more powerful than the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated, gouged out a 112-mile-wide crater and sent mega-tsunamis thousands of feet high in all directions. — 556 words.

Harold Wright, Doctor of Punology, sez:

"A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in 'Linoleum Blownapart."

True North Canuck Fact of the Day

Original Habs were not hockey players

The Montreal Canadiens hockey team nicknamed "the Habs" refers to early French settlers called habitants, the pioneers who settled in 1608 near the spot that would become Quebec City.

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

Money and Markets

Dollar's demise greatly exaggerated

By Bryan Rich
Money and Markets

JUPITER, Florida — Many investors are concerned about the future path of the dollar ... and with good reason. The Treasury is increasing the money supply in amounts never seen before or even imagined ... all in an effort to avert a meltdown and stimulate a path to recovery. And as expected, there are no shortages of opinions about the trillions of dollars being created out of thin air ... — 972 words.

Bonds CRASHING! Only 72 hours left to profit!

By Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.
Money and Markets

JUPITER, Florida — I warned you this would happen. For many months now, I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops: Washington’s massive borrowing binge will NOT save us — it will KILL our already-weak economy with soaring interest rates. — 1,286 words.

Spirit Quest

The Devil goes by many names:
Satan, Lucifer, Mephisto and, more recently, Karlheinz Schreiber

'There is a story that Lucifer was in fact a fallen angel, a rebel in heaven. It has also been suggested that the devil serves a purpose as a kind of crown attorney in God’s kingdom, to prove that no man/woman is innocent. Karlheinz Schreiber seems to fit that job description admirably. He goes about on the face of the earth putting politicians and bureaucrats into compromised positions.'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

I have always been fascinated by the devil. He goes by many names, e.g. Satan, Lucifer, Mephisto and more recently Karlheinz Schreiber. He has been pictured as man with horns, an evil gleam in his eyes, limping due to a deformed leg, and a tail, or a business suit. There is a smell of sulfur in the air when he is near. — 755 words.

US science fiction writers plot the future of Homeland Security

By David Montgomery
Washington Post

The line between what's real and what's not is thin and shifting, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to explore both sides. Boldly going where few government bureaucracies have gone before, the agency is enlisting the expertise of science fiction writers. — 1,044 words.

Random Acts of Poetry

Hundreds of full-time journalists have been laid off in recent months
Freelancer pay has also been reduced but not their sense of humour

Here is how journalist Shannon Lee Mannion, Ottawa, Canada, responded to an employment ad for a part-time managing editor with a list of responsibilities that would take two to do.220 words.


The sedimentary system

By Barbara Florio Graham
True North Perspective

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

Used by most successful entrepreneurs, it's the system no one talks about. In case you're never heard of the Sedimentary System, it's the way freelance writers and others who work from home handle filing when we're busy. If the folders in filing cabinets are already stuffed, bookshelves brimming with notebooks and boxes, and you don't have time to sort old files in order to make room for new material, The Sedimentary System is your only option. — 873 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