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

Friday, May 21, 2010, Vol. 5, No, 24 — 228
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The Greek heresy offers hope for the world

By John Pilger

20 May 2010 — As Britain's political class pretends that its arranged marriage of Tweedledee to Tweedledum is democracy, the inspiration for the rest of us is Greece. It is hardly surprising that Greece is presented not as a beacon, but as a "junk country" getting its comeuppance for its "bloated public sector" and "culture of cutting corners" (the Observer). The heresy of Greece is that the uprising of its ordinary people provides an authentic hope unlike that lavished upon the warlord in the White House.

The crisis that has led to the "rescue" of Greece by the European banks and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the product of a grotesque financial system which itself is in crisis. Greece is a microcosm of a modern class war that is rarely reported as such and is waged with all the urgency of panic among the imperial rich.

What makes Greece different is that within its living memory is invasion, foreign occupation, betrayal by the West, military dictatorship and popular resistance. Ordinary people are not cowed by the corrupt corporatism that dominates the European Union. The right-wing government of Kostas Karamanlis, which preceded the present Pasok (Labor) government of George Papandreou, was described by the French sociologist Jean Ziegler as "a machine for systematic pillaging the country's resources." — Read the full article at TruthOut.org, 955 words.

Cartoon by Matt Borrs, Comics.com, 20 May 2010.

Not quite artificial life ... not yet

Researchers start up cell with synthetic genome

A fully synthesized genome transforms one species of bacterium into another

By Alla Katsnelson

Sizing up the 'synthetic cell'

Nature asked eight experts about the implications of the J. Craig Venter Institute's latest creation.

A synthesized genome has been assembled, modified and implanted into a DNA-free bacterial shell to make a self-replicating Mycoplasma mycoides bacterium1. Here, Nature presents short extracts from eight comment pieces on what this achievement means for biotechnology, evolutionary biology, regulation and philosophy. — Read the full article at The New York Times, 843 words.

20 May 2010 — Scientists have built a bacterial genome from scratch and used it to 'reboot' a cell from a different species of bacterium.

Daniel Gibson and his colleagues at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, synthesized the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides, consisting of about 1.1 million base pairs. Having assembled the genome inside a yeast cell, they transplanted it into a cell from a closely related species, Mycoplasma capricolum. After the newly made cell had divided, the cells of the bacterial colony that it formed contained only proteins characteristic of M. mycoides.

The success clears the way for developing and testing new variants of existing organisms. — Read the full article at Nature.com, 756 words.

Editor's Notes

Friday, May 21, 2010
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 24 (228)

Anarchists who firebombed bank branch in Ottawa's upscale Glebe May 18
are like four-year-olds in a world too complicated for them to comprehend

Two-year-olds know what they want. And they want it now. So pleasant to see them dissolve into three-year-olds. Four-year-olds know what they want and they want it now. However, they're one up on two-year-olds. Four-year-olds also know everything there is to know and this is complemented by the fact that they know exactly how each and every thing must be done.

While the firebombers think that they were clever, including a video of the firebombing shown on YouTube, what they missed is that the overwhelming majority of Canadians consider violence an expression of a surrender of reason to emotion. A display of having arrested four-year-old minds in adult bodies. — 864 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.

Harper's nightmare or dream come true?
Social conservatives keep abortion on national agenda

By Chantal Hébert
The Toronto Star

16 May 2010, OTTAWA — It is not often that a Parliament Hill rally turns into a bit of love-in for the government of the day or that the latter is reluctant to allow itself to be showered with unrequited public affection.

Such was the case last week as thousands of anti-abortion activists used their annual Parliament Hill rally to celebrate Stephen Harper's maternal health initiative.

Not one of the Prime Minister's many social conservative ministers was on hand for the event. But the crowd's message that it likes the government's recent activism on the anti-abortion front and wants more of it was heard loud and clear by every politician who toils in Parliament. — Read the full article at The Toronto Star, 736 words.

Following U.S. lead, Tories set to introduce new copyright legislation to criminalize copying of CD to an iPod

By Peter Nowak
CBC News

20 May 2010 — With new copyright legislation set to hit the House of Commons, possibly next week, a fresh round of controversy over who owns what is starting to heat up.

The new bill, which the government has confirmed will be tabled soon, will aim to provide a much-needed update to Canadian copyright for the digital age. While Heritage Minister James Moore has been tight-lipped on what the bill will contain, leaks have indicated that it will put forward tough anti-circumvention provisions, or rules that will prevent people from breaking the digital locks placed on electronic devices and content.

The debate over these locks, known variously as technology protection measures (TPM) or digital rights management (DRM), has been raging since the previous Liberal government's attempt at overhauling copyright with Bill C-60 in 2005. That bill, which died following the dissolution of Parliament in the fall of 2005, kicked off criticism that the government was favouring copyright holders over consumers by making it illegal to crack DRM. — Read the full article at CBC News, 1,567 words.

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Once enemies, environmental groups and forestry companies unite to save boreal forests

By Sunny Freeman

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Changing economic realities and heightened public and marketplace concern over environmental issues have created both problems and opportunities for Canada's forest industry and environmental organizations.

From these challenges has come a unique collaboration between 21 major Canadian forest products companies and nine leading environmental organizations. This collaboration, called the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, applies to more than 72 million hectares of forest from the provinces of British Columbia to Newfoundland.

To read the full agreement and to view a detailed map of the area covered, please visit CanadianBorealForestAgreement.com.

18 May 2010, TORONTO — Canada's top pulp and paper companies, and the environmental groups that spent years fighting them, have united in an unlikely alliance to stop logging 29 million hectares of threatened northern forests in what has been dubbed "the world's largest conservation agreement."

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, announced Tuesday in Toronto, comes after three years of negotiations and a fierce public relations campaign that criticized Canada's forestry companies for the degradation of the country's so-called boreal forests in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.

Environmentalists seated at one end of a table and industry leaders at the other — both on the same side — emphasized the precedent-setting nature of the three-year framework agreement, which calls for world-leading environmental standards, protecting species at risk and action on climate change.— Read the full article at TheTyee.ca, 1,138 words.

A clever campaign or plain ineptitude?

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

The anti abortion rally on Parliament Hill earlier this month probably left the participants and their supporters elsewhere satisfied they've sent a message to the MPs and the Harper government. It was more like a reminder. MPs know that the groups that support the current laws or would go even farther, could bring double or triple the number of supporters to Parliament Hill. — 819 words.

Conservative expat says gullible, opportunistic politicos
allow religious right to punch far above their weight

By Eric Mang
EricMang.com, originally published at Rabble.ca

14 May 2010 — In a column I wrote in October 2009, "Quitting the Conservatives", I mentioned that one of my reasons for fleeing the conservative movement was the increasing pervasiveness and dominance, carried over from the Reform movement, of social conservatism heavily imbued with right-wing Christian fundamentalism.

A party dedicated to blindly doling out tax cuts and stroking the outsized egos of corporate masters was becoming more comfortable with theocracy. — Read the full article at EricMang.com, 1,115 words.


Third bench on King Street West, Parkdale

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

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

The third bench on King St West in Parkdale, overlooking the expressway and Lake Ontario, was home to a homeless man. He lived there for years, at night lying on the bench in his sleeping bag. He was always well groomed, clean, and wearing a shirt and tie.

I passed him many times on my morning walks to the Lake. He was fascinated with numbers and I always observed him doing some kind of figuring with them on old scraps of paper.

Neighbours said he had been an accountant. — 463 words.

Unexpected twists and turns in the mating season

'No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice'

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.

Last week during lunch, I had the most surprising visit. Two little chickadees sat on the dining-room window ledge and started looking inside and chirping away as if they were having a conversation and trying to include me and get me to respond. It went on for a while before they flew away in their usual, erratic flight pattern. It made my day!

Then, a grey squirrel crossed the backyard and jumped unto the small brick wall that surrounds the north side flower and rosebed. A black squirrel was chasing it in a most amorous way. The grey squirrel stopped and swished its tail at the black one and continued along the brick road. I laughed as I was reminded of the black squirrel with a bushy red tail we had a few years ago. Would the two squirrels mate? Would we end up with a black squirrel with a bushy grey tail or vice versa? Ah! The power of the mating season! — 711 words.

Spirit Quest

'God does not exist' —
'God is beyond mere existence'

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

"God does not exist," is undoubtedly a shocking thought, especially coming from the pen of a clergyman.

The health or viability of God has often been discussed. Nietsche, the German philosopher who died in the first year of the 20th century, proclaimed that "God is dead." That idea has echoed across the last century.

Natural disasters have often been referred to as acts of God. If this is so, then the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile or Hurricane Katrina that struck and ravaged New Orleans five years ago can be considered " acts of a non-existent God?" Seems absurd, doesn't it! — 877 words.

Statement from Catholic cardinal about abortion and rape causes uproar

Roman Catholic Primate of Canada describes abortion as a moral crime even when it's performed on rape victims

By Nelson Wyatt
The Canadian Press

18 May 2010 — A firestorm of virulent reaction has engulfed the Roman Catholic Primate of Canada, who is being pilloried for describing abortion as a moral crime even when it's performed on rape victims.

His remark was condemned by the Harper government, provincial politicians in Quebec and feminist groups. One newspaper columnist even expressed his wish that the religious leader would suffer a slow, painful death.

But a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Quebec City, where Cardinal Marc Ouellet is based, said the cardinal was simply stating church doctrine when a reporter asked him about rape and abortion. — Read the full article at The Globe and Mail, 784 words.

Health Watch

A broken fluorescent bulb is more than just some shattered glass

By Laura Bzowy

16 May 2010 — Accidents will happen in a lighting warehouse. Occasionally you hear the smattering of glass, when it hits the concrete floor. When a regular lightbulb breaks, its not really a big deal. You grab a broom and dustpan, and just sweep away until all evidence has disappeared.

When a compact fluorescent lamp breaks, the steps to remove the broken pieces are a little more complicated. We have a bit more to worry about, other than stepping on broken pieces of glass, and cutting our feet. — Read the full article at NotInTheDark.wordpress.com, 387 words.

Cheap diabetes drug tested as cancer treatment

Clinical trial in Toronto to explore effect of 50-year-old insulin-lowering medication on breast cancer recurrence

By Lisa Priest
The Globe and Mail

19 May 2010, TORONTO, Canada — Can a cancer patient be cured for 42 cents a day? That's what Canadian researchers will find out in a massive study featuring a half-century-old drug, more than 3,000 breast-cancer patients and an oncologist who kept pushing when no brand-name drug company was interested.

The clinical trial — to probe whether a diabetic drug can stop breast cancer from returning — will start enrolling patients across the country as early as July, about five years after Pamela Goodwin, who holds the Marvelle Koffler chair in breast research at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, tried to get it funded.

"The implications are potentially huge," said Dr. Goodwin, a University of Toronto professor of medicine.

If it turns out this old drug has a new use, lives could be saved for pennies a day. And yet cost-effectiveness is precisely why it took so long to get the study funded: with no high-priced patented drug to sell after the trial was completed — cancer drugs typically retail for $50,000 per patient a year or more — no pharmaceutical company would fund it. — Read the full article at The Globe and Mail, 765 words.

Ex-cop goes rogue — on drug war
Tells pot smokers how to out-smart police

Police admired Barry Cooper when he lied to put drug dealers in prison. Then he flipped the game on them

By Michael May
Texas Observer

18 May 2010 — Barry Cooper should know better than anyone that you don't mess with the police. He was once a cop, and a dirty one at that. But for the past three years, this former narcotics officer has been irritating the hell out of law enforcement, and he's been steadily raising the stakes, damn the consequences.

It began in 2007, when Cooper gained some notoriety for releasing a self-produced DVD series called Never Get Busted Again. In it, Cooper shows pot smokers ways to outsmart the cops and their drug dogs.

He says that if you have marijuana in the car, it's a good idea to also bring along a cat, since that will distract even a drug dog. Got cops knocking on your door? Cooper says it's best to lock it shut, and then tell them through a closed window that you won't let them in without a warrant.

The Never Get Busted DVDs have a low-budget charm, especially when Cooper uses footage taken from his own patrol-car camera to illustrate a point. Back then, in the mid '90s, Cooper had short cropped hair. Cop mustache. He liked to lean into suspects and intimidate them until they did what he wanted. On his DVDs, Cooper will freeze the patrol-car video to point out the ways he got people to confess they were carrying drugs or money. ("Don't ever touch your face when you are talking to a cop. It's a sign that you're lying.") — Read the full article at AlterNet.org, 2,808 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.

Thinking of buying a home in Calgary?

Brits reject roles as Washington's poodle or bulldog
'Tony Blair's servility to Bush wrecked the Labour Party'

'Many Britons, including Conservatives, were appalled by Tony Blair's often sickening servility and sycophancy towards President Bush and his arrant lies about Iraq. Blair's actions wrecked the Labour Party.'

By Eric S. Margolis

17 May 2010, LONDON — After days of torturous negotiations last week, David Cameron's Conservatives finally made a deal with Nick Clegg's center-left Liberal Democrats, and Great Britain finally had a government.

As the late British politician Enoch Powell observed, "all political careers end in failure." Former PM Gordon Brown was quickly ousted from 10 Downing Street and packed off to retirement. The new, youthful David and Nick show moved at flank speed into 10 Downing Street. It was almost as fast as a palace coup.

Interestingly, in spite of the worsening financial storm looming over Europe, one of the first questions the Cameron-Clegg coalition turned to was the hallowed "Special Relationship" linking Britain and the United States. — Read the full article at EricMargolis.com, 908 words.

'In short, fear of imaginary threats has prevented any effective response to the real danger facing our economy'

Lost decade looming for America?

It's not debt, stupid, it's deflation

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Despite a chorus of voices claiming otherwise, we aren't Greece. We are, however, looking more and more like Japan.

For the past few months, much commentary on the economy — some of it posing as reporting — has had one central theme: policy makers are doing too much. Governments need to stop spending, we're told. Greece is held up as a cautionary tale, and every uptick in the interest rate on U.S. government bonds is treated as an indication that markets are turning on America over its deficits. Meanwhile, there are continual warnings that inflation is just around the corner, and that the Fed needs to pull back from its efforts to support the economy and get started on its "exit strategy," tightening credit by selling off assets and raising interest rates.

And what about near-record unemployment, with long-term unemployment worse than at any time since the 1930s? What about the fact that the employment gains of the past few months, although welcome, have, so far, brought back fewer than 500,000 of the more than 8 million jobs lost in the wake of the financial crisis? Hey, worrying about the unemployed is just so 2009. — Read the full article at The New York Times, 823 words.

In Japan, Greece ain't the word

Half of this year's Japanese budget is borrowed money

By Gavin Blair
Global Post

21 May 2010, TOKYO — The ongoing crisis in Greece has focused global attention on sovereign debt, with many eyes inevitably drawn to Japan, the public finances of which — at least on paper — make those of Athens look almost healthy.

Sovereign debt now amounts to about 200 percent of Japan's GDP, while the figure for Greece is 115 percent. A report released by Switzerland's IMD business school on Wednesday estimates it will take Japan until 2084 to bring its debt down to a manageable 60 percent of GDP level; Greece will need until 2031, and the U.S. until 2033.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has once again urged Japan to take steps to tackle its sovereign debt problem, this time from fiscal 2011. All this of course assumes the country is willing and able to take meaningful action in that direction.

As of now, the signs aren't hopeful. — Read the full article at Global Post, 929 words.

350,000 dead mothers per year, 5.3 million disabled

Reproductive health back on the international agenda

By Richard Johnson
In Depth News

16 May 2010, GENEVA — More than 350,000 women die each year because of pregnancy and childbirth complications. 99 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries.

Because many poor women turn to abortion as a last-resort means of birth control, some 68,000 of them die each year as a result of unsafe abortion. Another 5.3 million suffer temporary or permanent disability.

Revealing these staggering figures that encapsulate the plight of human beings in developing lands around the world, the World Bank warned May 11, 2010 that "family planning and other reproductive health programmes that are vital to poor women had fallen off the development radars of many low-income countries, donor governments, and aid agencies". — Read the full article at In Depth News, 1,229 words.

"Gooaal!" for Brazil's Lula against western push for Iran Sanctions

By Robert Naiman

U.S. makes concessions to Russia on Iran sanctions

By Peter Baker and David E. Sanger
The New York Times

As it sought support for international sanctions on Iran, the Obama administration gave Moscow two concessions: lifting American sanctions against the Russian military complex and agreeing not to ban the sale of Russian anti-aircraft batteries to Tehran. — Read the full article at The New York Times, 1,035 words.

18 May 2010, SAO PAULO, Brazil — If I were in Washington, I would run down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Congress with a big Brazilian flag, as the young Brazilians run down the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo during the futebol match, shouting, "Gooaal!"

Because with the news that Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey that could "deflate a US-led push" for new sanctions against Iran, the president of Brazil has scored a goal against the neocons in the West who want to gin up confrontation with Iran toward a future military conflict. — Read the full article at TruthOut.org, 661 words.

Whatever happened to Haiti?

Four months after the earthquake it's more of the same

By Leticia Martínez Hernández

18 May 2010, PORT-AU-PRINCE — Next to nobody in the world is mentioning Haiti, and most of those who were there have left with a few honorable and well-known exceptions ...

They say that time flies. And perhaps on this Wednesday morning, May 12, some people snapped their fingers to ask in surprise, "Four months since the earthquake? How could it be that so much time has passed, it seems like yesterday?"

At this hour, Ruth awoke in the same hovel that has been her home during this time. For her and for a million and a half more of those left without shelter, a century or more has passed since the diabolical tremor left them in this sorry state. — Read the full article at Granma.cu, 928 words.

Haitian farmers to burn Monsanto hybrid
'toxic' seeds and tell Monsanto to go home

By Beverly Bell

18 May 2010 — A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.

In an open letter sent May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the executive director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds ... and on what is left our environment in Haiti." Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

For now, without a law regulating the use of GMOs in Haiti, the Ministry of Agriculture rejected Monsanto's offer of Roundup Ready GMOs seeds. In an email exchange, a Monsanto representative assured the Ministry of Agriculture that the seeds being donated are not GMOs.

Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto's director of development initiatives, called the news that the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture approved the donation "a fabulous Easter gift" in an April email. Monsanto is known for aggressively pushing seeds, especially GMOs seeds, in both the global North and South, including through highly restrictive technology agreements with farmers who are not always made fully aware of what they are signing. According to interviews by this writer with representatives of Mexican small farmer organizations, they then find themselves forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year, under conditions they find onerous and at costs they sometimes cannot afford. — Read the full article at TruthOut.org, 1,370 words.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

Canada, U.S. to toughen truck emission rules

Some companies making changes to truck fleets now

CBC News

21 May 2010 — Canada will impose new fuel consumption and emission standards for large rigs and work trucks, and these rules will be aligned with the United States, Environment Minister Jim Prentice says.

Speaking to reporters in Vancouver Friday, Prentice referred to the new standards as "a fully harmonized continental approach" — although Mexico is not yet on board with the policy. — Read the full story at CBC news, 488 words.

Report from Obama's Afghanistan ...

Court: Bagram prisoners don't have Guantanamo Habeas rights

By Michael Doyle
McClatchy Newspapers

21 May 2010, WASHINGTON — A key appellate court on Friday concluded prisoners held at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan cannot challenge their captivity through rights granted under the U.S. Constitution.

In a much-anticipated decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Yemeni native Fadi Al-Magaleh and two other men did not enjoy the same habeas rights previously extended by the Supreme Court to Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Citing geographic and other differences between the air base in Afghanistan and the naval base in Cuba, the three-judge panel overturned a trial court’s conclusion that the Bagram detainees were constitutionally similar to those held in Guantanmo. — Read the full article at TruthOut.org, words.

Third Ways

India: Woman responds to family tragedy
by growing tiny venture to 2,000 employees

By Athar Parvaiz
Inter Press Service

13 May 2010, SRINAGAR, India — Shameema Wani, 40, never imagined a simple venture, begun from scratch, would grow into the 2,000-strong business enterprise, employing mainly women, that it is today in this capital city of India's disputed Jammu and Kashmir state.

When her husband had an accident in1990, leaving him incapacitated for gainful work, Wani figured it was time to put her college education to good use by setting up a small business.

Misery pushed her, says the mother of two, aged 18 and 15, to go into a male-dominated commercial arena if only to support her family. — Read the full article at Inter Press Service, 870 words.

Bakery chain Panera Bread opens non-profit, pay-what-you-want shop

So-called 'Radiohead business model' successful in propelling massive music sales, now being replicated with bread

The Associated Press

18 May 2010 — The national bakery and restaurant chain launched a new nonprofit store here this week that has the same menu as its other 1,400 locations. But the prices are a little different — there aren't any. Customers are told to donate what they want for a meal, whether it's the full suggested price, a penny or $100.

The new store in the upscale St. Louis suburb of Clayton is the first of what will Panera hopes will be many around the country. Ronald Shaich, Panera's CEO until last week, was on hand at the new bakery Monday to explain the system to customers.

The pilot restaurant is run by a nonprofit foundation. If it can sustain itself financially, Panera will expand the model around the country within months. It all depends on whether customers will abide by the motto that hangs above the deli counter: "Take what you need, leave your fair share." — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 1,239 words.

The new 'Jewish call for reason'

By Bob Narmer
In Depth News

3 May 2010, BRUSSELS — Around 4,000 Jewish politicians, physicians, lawyers, philosophers, historians, academicians, journalists and members of European Jewish associations, have launched on May 3 in Brussels a "Jewish Call For Reason".

According to its promoters, the Jewish Call For Reason appeals for putting halt to Israeli settlements, which it characterizes as "morally and politically wrong", and to reach peace in the Middle East, based on a "two peoples, two states" solution, one for Israel and one for Palestine.

The Call signatories declare open, firm, total support to the state of Israel and its future.

Their appeal goes, however, in just the opposite direction in which current Israeli government is steadily moving ahead. — Read the full article at In Depth News, 774 words.

South Africa president moved to tears by plight of millions
who 'live like pigs' because bureaucrats drag their feet

South Africa President Jacoob Zuma after a surprise visit: "How does it happen that some of our people still live in such areas, 16 years into our freedom and democracy?"

By Xolani Mbanjwa
Cape Times

19 May 2010 — The South African government had failed millions of people who were living "like pigs" in informal settlements, and efforts to explain to them why this was so after more than a decade and a half of democracy would be meaningless, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

Zuma told a meeting of the President's Co-ordinating Council that the conditions he found on Monday's unannounced visit to Johannesburg's Sweetwaters informal settlement had brought him close to tears.

He was addressing a special meeting of the council, which brings together ministers, premiers, MECs and mayors to deal with service issues across national, provincial and local government.

The focus on Tuesday was on "unpacking the human settlements delivery agreement" and discussing solutions to obstacles blocking provision of service, Zuma said. He rebuked departments for having budget rollovers every year and said he could not comprehend how the state could fail to spend money while service lagged behind. — Read the full article at Iol.co.za, 524 words.

Gulf oil spill may be 19 times bigger than originally thought

By Renne Schoof and Lauren French
McClatchy Newspapres

19 May 2010, WASHINGTON — The latest glimpse of video footage of the oil spill deep under the Gulf of Mexico indicates that around 95,000 barrels, or 4 million gallons, a day of crude oil may be spewing from the leaking wellhead, 19 times the previous estimate, an engineering professor told Congress Wednesday.

The figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day that BP and the federal government have been using for weeks is based on observations of the surface slick made by satellites and aircraft. Even NASA's satellite-based instruments, however, can't see deep into the waters of the gulf, where much of the oil from the gusher seems to be floating. The well is 5,000 feet below the surface. — Read the full article at McClatchy Newspapers, 998 words.

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

How the world's oil giants are selling the 'captured carbon' fantasy

Inside a global effort to convince the public an unproven technology will let us have our fossil fuels and a cooler planet, too

By Geoff Dembicki

17 May 2010 — The world's biggest producers of fossil fuels are carefully crafting strategies to convince the public that carbon capture and storage is a promising technology, even as that dream of a solution to global warming is battered by mounting expert opinion that it won't work.

Carbon capture and storage — CCS in industry parlance — is the quest to prevent greenhouse gasses from escaping into the atmosphere while drilling for or processing oil, gas and coal. Billions are being spent to try and figure out a way to instead pump the gasses back into the ground. The future of Alberta's tar sands may be riding on the idea, if Canadian and international regulations clamp down on its role as a prime greenhouse gas emitter. So it's no surprise the provincial government is itself investing a lot of money in developing CCS technology — and a lot of effort in promoting it to the public as a coming solution. — Read the full article at TheTyee.ca, 2,207 words.

Africa's oil spills are far from U.S. media glare

Oil gushing from an undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico has damaged BP's reputation and share price but accidents involving other companies in less scrutinized parts of the world have avoided the media glare


17 May 2010 — Investors have knocked around $30 billion off BP's value since an explosion at a drilling rig killed 11 people and began an oil spill the London-based major is struggling to plug nearly a month after the accident happened.

The U.S. media and political machine has turned its full force on BP and U.S. President Barack Obama has set up a commission into the leak.

In contrast, the international media has largely ignored the latest incidents of pipeline damage in Nigeria, where the public can only guess how much oil might have been leaked. — Read the full article at Reuters, 601 words.


The eyes are a window on the dream world

By Dr. Vaughan Bell

19 May 2010 — During REM sleep, where most dreaming takes place, your eyes move around but it's never been clear exactly why. A new study just published online by neuroscience journal Brain suggests that they are looking at the ever-changing dream world.

The first question you might ask is how the researchers knew what the dreamers were looking at. To study this, the project recruited people with a condition called REM sleep behaviour disorder who lack the normal sleep paralysis that keeps us still when we dream.

In other words, people with REM sleep behaviour disorder act out their dreams. — Read the full article at MindHacks.com, 323 words.

Annals of (mis)education

NAACP president: Texas curriculum will turn world ‘upside down' for kids

'Why are we putting money into Afghanistan to fight a losing war and following the Soviet example rather than putting money into [our] local communities?'

By Sahil Kapur
Inter Press Service

19 May 2010, WASHINGTON — Previewing the tone of his testimony in Austin on Wednesday ahead of a crucial vote, NAACP president Ben Jealous forcefully condemned the influential Texas State Board of Education's slew of pending revisions to history and social studies curriculum.

The modified curriculum — approved in March on a party line vote and facing a final motion this Friday — diminishes Thomas Jefferson's significance and commitment to secularism, tempers criticism of McCarthyism, downplays Darwin's theory of evolution, and emphasizes the "conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s."

"It's outrageous," Jealous said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "It's going to lock kids into the dark ages, where the whole world's been turned upside down — where Thomas Jefferson is not a founding father, there's no good reason to talk about [the first black Justice] Thurgood Marshall, and Joe McCarthy is a hero." — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 877 words.

Looking forward ...

United Nations: Oceans' fish could be gone in 40 years

Agence France-Presse

17 May 2010 — The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, UN experts said Monday.

"If the various estimates we have received ... come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish," Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program's green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones — ultimately resulting in a thriving industry. — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 445 words.

'When you're in the middle of the night in a storm
you can't fall apart, you have to just keep going'

16 year-old Australian Jessica Watson
youngest ever to sail solo around the world

She battled mountainous seas, intense loneliness and critics who said she would never make it, but thousands greeted teenager as she sailed her tiny yacht home to Sydney on Saturday

By Bonnie Malkin

15 May 2010, SYDNEY — As she entered Sydney Harbour, escorted by a cloud of small craft and larger vessels, she knew she was leaving behind her the arduous months of solitude behind her and embarking on a life of celebrity — in Australia and beyond.

After fighting a strong southerly wind and 12-foot seas, which added an unexpected two extra hours to her journey, she steered the 30-foot Ella's Pink Lady across the finish line at 1.50pm, becoming the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world.

"As a little girl people don't think you're capable of these things, they don't realise what young people, 16-year-olds and girls are capable of," she told the waiting crowds. "But it's amazing what you can do." — Read the full article at Telegraph.co.uk, 1,406 words.

U.K. surveillance systems to be scaled back

New government will 'end the culture of spying on its citizens'

The Associated Press

20 May 2010 — Britain's new deputy prime minister has pledged to curb the country's extensive system of official surveillance and data collection by scrapping an unpopular national identity card program, limiting the retention of DNA samples and regulating the spread of closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs).

Nick Clegg said Wednesday the coalition government was rolling back government monitoring after years of complaints from rights groups that personal freedoms have been sacrificed in the name of national security.

"This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens," Clegg said during a speech in north London. "It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop." — Read the full article at CBC News, 584 words.

Reality Check

Interview: Jean Ziegler

'Europe Is playing along with the IMF and multinationals'

For the sake of balance on the Greek crisis
we offer insight from the other side of the coin

The mainstream media has been apoplectic about the Greek crisis (which has an economy only about the size of Quebec, Canada) and has been most derisive of the relatively new social democratic government, while having paid virtually no attention to the previous right wing government that wrecked the Greek economy. Not to suggest that Obama represents social democracy (he doesn't), but the same kind of lunacy may be found in the U.S. where shallow thinking results in finding Obama responsible for the collapse of the economy there when in fact the blame lies with George W. Bush's irresponsible leadership and of those who came before him. The current Greek government has simply been trying to clean up somebody else's mess. But with classic bias, if not sheer dishonesty, the mainstream media would have us believe that the concierge is responsible for the mess created and left behind by the captains and the kings. The sober, informative comments below may prove useful. — Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective

By Ramine Abadie
translated by Isabelle Metral


8 May 2010 — Sociologist and UNO official Jean Ziegler, who has signed l'Humanité's petition, has just published an updated version of la Haine de l'Occident (The Hatred of the West). He is interviewed by l'Humanité's correspondent in Geneva.

l'HUMANITÉ: How do you interpret the Greek crisis and its developments?

ZIEGLER: Caramanlis' right-wing government, which preceded the current Pasok(socialist) government, was a machine for systematically pillaging the country's resources. As in a banana republic, Greece's resources were privatized on a large scale even while tax evasion became massive. A reliable estimate by Swiss banks puts Greek tax-evading capitals in Swiss banks alone at 36 billion euro. In addition to this, some of the largest Greek ship-owners transferred their headquarters abroad: first among them, the biggest, namely Latsis, moved its own to Versoix near Geneva.

The scandalous end-result of all this is that the onus of paying heavily for the State's quasi-bankruptcy now falls on the Greek people, on Greek workers, while the ruling classes themselves have taken the precaution of transferring almost all their fortune abroad. The Greek public debt stands at 112 per cent of the country's GDP. — Read the full interview at l'Humanité, 604 words.

Money and Markets

'I write to you from a disgraced profession. Economic theory ... failed miserably to understand the forces behind the financial crisis'

Why the 'experts' failed to see how financial fraud broke the economy

By James K. Galbraith

15 May 2010 — I write to you from a disgraced profession. Economic theory, as widely taught since the 1980s, failed miserably to understand the forces behind the financial crisis. Concepts including "rational expectations," "market discipline," and the "efficient markets hypothesis" led economists to argue that speculation would stabilize prices, that sellers would act to protect their reputations, that caveat emptor could be relied on, and that widespread fraud therefore could not occur. Not all economists believed this — but most did.

Thus the study of financial fraud received little attention. Practically no research institutes exist; collaboration between economists and criminologists is rare; in the leading departments there are few specialists and very few students. Economists have soft-pedaled the role of fraud in every crisis they examined, including the Savings & Loan debacle, the Russian transition, the Asian meltdown and the dot.com bubble. They continue to do so now.

At a conference sponsored by the Levy Economics Institute in New York on April 17, the closest a former Under Secretary of the Treasury, Peter Fisher, got to this question was to use the word "naughtiness." This was on the day that the SEC charged Goldman Sachs with fraud. — Read the full article at AlterNet.org, 1,677 words.

U.S. prime mortgage foreclosures rise 37 percent in 2010

More than one homeowner in 10 behind on mortgage payments

By Keven G. Hall
McClatchy Newspapers

Mary Trody and daughter Annie Thomas in a van they parked in front of their foreclosed home in February 2009. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.)
Mary Trody and daughter Annie Thomas in a van they parked in front of their foreclosed home in February 2009. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.)

19 May 2010, WASHINGTON — Aftershocks from the nation's financial crisis continue rumbling through the housing sector as fixed-rate mortgages held by the safest borrowers accounted for nearly 37 percent of new foreclosures during the first three months of this year, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

Additionally, more than one in 10 homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments in the first quarter — a record, the association said.

That's up from 9.47 percent in the last three months of 2009.

Prime loans, those made to the safest borrowers with the highest credit scores, account for almost 66 percent of outstanding U.S. mortgages, so their rising foreclosure numbers are troubling.

"People with higher scores are defaulting at rates we have not seen in the past," said Jay Brinkmann, the chief economist for the trade group. — Read the full article at McClatchy Newspapers, 745 words.

Annals of military intelligence

Bill for Afghan war could run into the trillions

'Why are we putting money into Afghanistan to fight a losing war and following the Soviet example rather than putting money into [our] local communities?'

By Eli Clifton
Inter Press Service

17 May 2010, WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate is moving forward with a 59-billion-dollar spending bill, of which 33.5 billion dollars would be allocated for the war in Afghanistan.

However, some experts here in Washington are raising concerns that the war may be unwinnable and that the money being spent on military operations in Afghanistan could be better spent.

"We're making all of the same mistakes the Soviets made during their time in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, and they left in defeat having accomplished none of their purposes," Michael Intriligator, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, said Monday at a half-day conference hosted by the New America Foundation and Economists for Peace and Security.

"I think we're repeating that and it's a history we're condemned to repeat," he said. — Read the full article at Inter Press Service, 877 words.


The Trotsky and The Maid

Two small films offer an antidote to Hollywood's idiotic portrayals of class division.

By Dorothy Woodend

Raquel, played by Catalina Saavedra in 'The Maid.'
Raquel, played by Catalina Saavedra in The Maid.

"Art, it is said, is not a mirror, but a hammer: it does not reflect, it shapes. But at present even the handling of a hammer is taught with the help of a mirror, a sensitive film which records all the movement..." — Leon Trotsky

21 May 2010 — There are not a large number of films that deal directly with the hoary issue of class differences. But you don't need to look hard to see the issue of class is there anyway, squatting in the centre of things, obdurate and immovable and never mentioned.

This elephant, in American film, is practically everywhere, from the middle-class wieners buying more stuff than is right or proper (witness the phenomena that is Sex in the City) to the perpetual triumph of the stupid and the crass over the educated and refined. This particular theme seems to have been the foundation of almost every American comedy since about 1972. — Read the full article at TheTyee.ca, 1,450 words.

Young Quebecer's 2nd film wows Cannes

Xavier Dolan's Heartbeats gets good initial reviews

CBC News

Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan has had a successful return to Cannes with his second feature, Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats).

The 21-year-old performer and director says he's relieved and happy after the clapping and cheering that greeted the screening of his film Saturday night at the annual film festival in southern France.

"The public reception was really warm, it was very moving," said Dolan.

The film, written by Dolan, is screening under the festival's Un Certain Regard program.

The filmmaker's 2009 debut, J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed my Mother), was a festival hit last year, nabbing three prizes. — Read the full article at CBC News, 388 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 the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, Halifax Herald and many Ottawa-area weekly newspapers. Mr. Ray's web site is: www.randyray.ca. He can be contacted at: (613) 731-3873 or rocket@intranet.ca.

Link not working? Story not loading? Can't click on the links? Got another computer problem? Never fear! Carl is here!

If you have any problems with accessing the newsletter or problems with your computer, send an email to Carl Hall  chall2k5@gmail.com , and he will be more than happy to assist you.


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

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