Friday, November 13, 2009, Vol. 4, No, 51 — 202
"True North is for opinion leaders"
Mission Statement        Archives        Contact the Editor        Subscribe!

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, November 9, 2009 (

Afghanistan is historically known as the graveyard of empires
and a baffled United States teeters on the edge of being next

'The Army is basically paying the Taliban millions of dollars not to shoot at them.
It is Department of Defense money. This is something that everyone agrees on.'

Corruption in Afghanistan is so endemic that Americans incredibly have to pay Taliban militants millions of dollars for permission to move weapons and other supplies to U.S. bases set up to fight the Taliban. When memos to Washington from Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador in Kabul, were revealed this week the substance was that he was expressing deep concerns about sending more troops to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai’s government demonstrates that it is willing to tackle the corruption and mismanagement that has considerably fueled the Taliban’s rise. Eikenberry was being very restrained when he talked about corruption. The story below by the venerable American publication The Nation lifts the proverbial lid on a nightmare of corruption that is so prevalent that the U.S. army is helpless to correct it. A million more troops won’t solve the problem. The best bet for the West is to go home. The below calls for a printout to read as you will. — Carl Dow.

By Avram Roston
The Nation

On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime's ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat's right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul. But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997. — 3,603 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,November 13, 2009
True North Perspective
Vol. 4, No. 51 (202)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We had planned a major special edition to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country's experiment in democracy, not to forget those who were wounded in body and mind. It was an edition that would have represented Canada's best in word, sound, fine art, and still and moving pictures. We scheduled it for publication on Monday, November 9. — 993 words.

My friends' war stories: a tribute to their courage

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair

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

Remembrance Day is always a sad and nostalgic day and thank God this year it was sunny because it always encompasses the tragic, the ugly side of war alongside the ceremonies celebrating the heroism and self-sacrifice of those who fought for justice and freedom in the world throughout the last century till now. — 655 words.

We need not find anti-Semitism among those who seek peace and justice in the Middle East

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

We hear much about anti-Semitism these days. Open your mouth in criticisim of Israel and you will surely be denounced as an anti-Semite. My experience with anti-Semitism began very early in my life, in those tense days of 1938, when my family was living near the border of Germany in Czechoslovakia. On a day I will always remember mother and I were leaving our home for safer ground in the interior of the country. — 1,178 words.

Pro-military Tory image under fire

By James Travers
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA — Friendly fire is politically deadly. It comes from unexpected directions, hits sensitive targets and can't be returned without making the situation worse. Rick Hillier and Richard Colvin have Stephen Harper's government in those crosshairs. Doubts about Conservative priorities are raised in a new book from the former chief of defence staff critical of the Prime Minister's advisers, and in memos from the senior Canadian diplomat warning of Afghanistan prisoner abuse. Hillier directly and Colvin by implication suggest a ruling party that publicly makes so much of its support for the military is privately more concerned with protecting its political skin than doing right by the troops. — 596 words.

Canada's most secret treaty

Why don't they want us to know about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement?

By Michael Geist

Last week, Canadian officials travelled to Seoul for the latest round of closed-door negotiations on an international treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). While battling commercial counterfeiting would seem like a good idea, the ACTA process has been marked by unprecedented secrecy as well as leaks revealing that the treaty is really about copyright rather than counterfeiting. — 590 words.

The gun registry and all that

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Originally written for Ontario Farmer

The bill to end the registry of rifles and shotguns has cleared one key hurdle in the Parliamentary system. Whether it can get final approval before the next election, expected as early as the spring, will keep its many supporters and opponents on edge. — 465 words.

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Steelworkers link with MONDRAGON to build industry co-ops that compete with corporate giants

Annual sales reached $23.5 billion in 2008

PITTSBURGH — The United Steelworkers (USW) and MONDRAGON Internacional, S.A. today announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing MONDRAGON cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada.  The USW and MONDRAGON will work to establish manufacturing cooperatives that adapt collective bargaining principles to the MONDRAGON worker ownership model of "one worker, one vote." — 612 words.

Ottawa Authors 2009 annual Book Fair
will host more than 50 Ottawa area writers

By Randy Ray
True North Perspective

OTTAWA, Canada — If you love to read books, don't miss the Ottawa Authors 2009 Book Fair at the RA Centre on Riverside Drive on November 21 and 22. The annual event will feature more than 50 Ottawa-area authors and publishers, all willing to talk about their books and the challenges of writing and getting their work off the press and onto bookstore shelves. Fiction and non-fiction books on display and for sale cover a wide range of topics, ranging from children's stories, Canadian trivia, cooking and dieting, to leadership, war, Canadian history, murder mysteries, short stories, relationships, and advice on family matters. — 349 words.

Hébert: Tables turn for Tories in Quebec

By Chantal Hébert
The Toronto Star

The federal Conservative party is no longer radioactive in Quebec. That's the main message from this week's by-election foursome. As a result, it is no longer a given that Quebecers will again stand in the way of a Conservative majority in the next general election. — 596 words.

Ottawa moves to remodel Canada's image

Immigration Minister unveiled a new citizenship guide that puts greater emphasis on military history this week

By Joe Friesen
The Globe and Mail

The Conservative government will redefine what it means to be Canadian this week by introducing a new guide to citizenship, a rare and significant attempt to reshape the national image. The new document, which will be the citizenship study guide for the 250,000 immigrants who arrive in Canada each year, instantly becomes one of the country's most widely read and potentially influential pieces of writing. — 718 words.

From the Desk of Alex Binkley, Contributing Editor

Deal could surrender Canadian procurement, while leaving Buy American laws in place

By Kerri-Anne Finn, Senior Communications Officer
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

OTTAWA — Ongoing negotiations between Ottawa and Washington over Buy American laws may give away provincial and municipal procurement sovereignty, says a new study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). — 248 words.

Laughter in the court of Judge Harold Wright

Only a farm kid ...

When you're from the country ~ you look at things a little differently...

An Alberta rancher got in his pickup and drove to a neighboring ranch and knocked at the door. A young boy, about 9, opened the door. "Is your Dad home?" the rancher asked. — 213 words).

Dying 6-year-old girl leaves love notes behind for father, mother, sister

Elena Desserich left hundreds of pictures and messages that continue to comfort her family

By Andrea Gordon
The Toronto Star

From the moment she first picked up a crayon, Elena Desserich loved to draw. Even as a preschooler, her favourite gifts were pastels, markers and blank notebooks. So it wasn't unusual for Keith and Brooke Desserich to find their little girl's trademark purple hearts and "I love you" notes on scraps of paper and stray envelopes all over their suburban Cincinnati home. But it wasn't until weeks after their 6-year-old died of cancer that they realized she had left hundreds of messages planted in nooks and crannies for her parents and little sister, Grace, to stumble upon after she was gone. — 600 words.

Health Watch

Brain changes seen in soldiers with
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The Associated Press

Powerful scans are letting doctors watch just how the brain changes in American veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and concussion-like brain injuries — signature damage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. — 741 words.

High times? American Medical Association may be re-thinking pot prohibition

By Daniel Tencer

The American Medical Association on Tuesday issued a cautious but historically significant call to change America's marijuana prohibition laws, urging a "review" of the drug's status as a Schedule I drug. — 656 words.

Australian MP cites Nazi Germany to support greater police powers
argues Australians prefer safety to freedom

The Western Australia Government wants to give police greater powers to search people for weapons and drugs in Perth's entertainment precinct without having to prove grounds of suspicion. Liberal backbencher Peter Abetz spoke in support of the laws and used the example of Hitler's Nazi German regime to buttress his support of arbitrary search and seizure. — 248 words.

Computer viruses frame victims for child porn

The Canadian Press

Of all the sinister things that internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography. Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen. — 792 words.

Admitting errors reduces them: Montreal hospital

Province to use Jewish General as model for creating registry of incidents

CBC News

Montreal's Jewish General Hospital says a full-disclosure policy regarding mistakes made during patient care is responsible for a 50 per cent drop in adverse incidents over the past three years. The hospital’s policy is being lauded by provincial health-care officials, who are using it as a model while they work toward the creation of a provincewide registry of incidents. — 451 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.

Putin looks to China model

Russia's leaders see China as template for keeping hold of the reins of power

By Clifford J. Levy
The New York Times

MOSCOW — Nearly two decades after the collapse of the Communist Party, Russia's rulers have hit upon a model for future success: the Communist Party. Or at least, the one that reigns next door. — 1,242 words.

Russia, Austria to rush pipeline talks

By Anatoly Medetsky
The Moscow Times

Russia and Austria agreed to work fast to complete talks to lay the South Stream pipeline, which would make Russian gas exports to Europe more reliable, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, marking further progress for the ambitious project. — 511 words.

Iraq outsmarts Big Oil over contracts

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government's hardball tactics with oil majors demanding a bigger slice of the profits from taking over the country's rundown oil fields are paying off. Big Oil has caved in and is now meekly accepting the same 20-year deal the companies rejected at a June auction, the first such event in Iraq in nearly 40 years, because the prospect of Iraq's vast untapped reserves was just too good to miss. — 741 words.

Chavez says Venezuela will defend itself
against any Colombian-U.S. aggression

By James Suggett

MERIDA — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his country is prepared to defend itself against a possible act of aggression from Colombia or the United States. The two countries recently signed a military pact that will allow the U.S. to use Colombian bases to increase its military and intelligence operations across Latin America. — 864 words.

Kalashnikov turns 90

Inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle 'wanted to be poet'

The inventor of arguably the world's most infamous machine-gun wanted to be a poet in his youth, he has revealed

BBC News

Russian celebrities and politicians have been paying tribute to Mikhail Kalashnikov, who turned 90 on Tuesday, at a Kremlin reception. Mr Kalashnikov is the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, beloved of guerrillas around the world. — 284 words.

President Chavez will need nerves of steel to cope with diverse visions on road ahead

By Federico Fuentes
Green Left Weekly

Activists from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are preparing for the party’s second congress, scheduled to start on November 21. Led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the PSUV, initiated in 2007, has become the mass party of the Venezuelan revolution with a membership base of 7 million people. — 748 words.

Award-winning Cuban blogger says she was beaten, detained by secret police

Agence France-Presse

Secret police agents abducted and beat award-winning blogger Yoani Sanchez, whose online reports chronicle the dark side of everyday life in communist Cuba, on her way to a march for non-violence, she said Saturday. Three agents in street clothes snatched her and friend Orlando Luis Pardo off the street in the Havana district of Vedado. — 385 words.

'Like two lovers' Disneyland and Shanghai finally agree on date to marry
While Hong Kong shrinks at Mickey Mouse capitalist competition

BBC News

The Chinese government has approved plans for the Walt Disney Company to build a theme park in Shanghai, its first in mainland China. The central government approval of the Magic Kingdom-style park, in the Pudong district, comes after years of talks. Disney hopes to open Shanghai Disneyland by 2014, at a reported cost of about $3.6bn (£2.17bn). — 445 words.

Lucky in love, unlucky at law

Husband, wife fight court ruling that bans them
from shouting and screaming while making love

BBC News

Caroline and Steve Cartwright's love-making was described as "murder" and "unnatural" at Newcastle Crown Court. Neighbours, the local postman and a woman taking her child to school complained about the noise. Mrs Cartwright, 48, from Washington on Wearside, lost the appeal against a conviction for breaching a noise abatement notice. — 309 words.

China to provide Africa $10 billion in concessional loans

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao pledged to give African countries 10 billion dollars in concessional loans as a two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation opened in Egypt on Sunday. "We will help Africa build up its financing capabilities... we will provide 10 billion US dollars for Africa in concessional loans," Wen told the forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. — 608 words.

China's growing thirst for African oil

LAGOS — China has dangled a near open cheque book to Africa's major oil producers in a bid to guarantee supplies for decades to come. It has offered 30 billion dollars to Nigeria and is negotiating for stakes in oil fields in Ghana and Angola and companies that exploit the fields throughout Africa. — 1,247 words.

The future of oil

New market dynamics created by climate change, geological and geopolitical pressures will transform our hydrocarbon economies

By John Elkington and Gary Kendall

John Elkington is co-founder of SustainAbility and of Volans. His personal website is Gary Kendall is director of SustainAbility's Energy Sector and Climate Change Programme.

The race for the world's remaining oil reserves could get very nasty. Recently, Nigerian militants announced their determination to oppose the efforts of a major Chinese energy group to secure six billion barrels of crude reserves, comparing the potential new investors to "locusts". The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta told journalists that the record of Chinese companies in other African nations suggested "an entry into the oil industry in Nigeria will be a disaster for the oil-bearing communities". — 1,938 words.


Indefatigable Spirit: Mars rover fights for its life — again

By Rachel Courtland

NASA's twin Mars rovers have outlasted their planned three-month missions for so long that they seem indestructible. Nearly six years on, their presence on the Red Planet is taken for granted, as if they are immutable parts of the Martian landscape. But we may soon have to confront a new reality. Spirit, which has always suffered more hardships than Opportunity, is facing its toughest challenge yet. — 1,032 words.

Become a True North 10 per center

True North Perspective invites our readers to join us in celebration of our 200 series, that began with the Friday, October 30, 2009, Edition — #200.

While most of our readers are in Canada and the United States we are being read in growing numbers in as many as 88 countries. October saw us reach a record number of 59,493 hits. Ever more high-end readers are finding satisfaction in what we publish. However, we're operating at a severe financial deficit. That's why we're asking readers, effective Edition 200, to become True North Perspective 10 per centers.

Ten per cent of 200 is $20. If all readers were to send in $20, it would help ease us back from the edge of financial desperation. We need the nourishment. We are happy to rely on our readers to provide. Please take time to give this request a key moment of attention by mailing your 10 per cent to:

Carl Dow, True North Perspective, Station E, P.O. Box 4814, Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9.

Annals of "Education"

U.S. school sells students grades for cash

CBC News

A middle school in North Carolina is selling better test scores to students in a bid to raise money.

The Raleigh News & Observer newspaper reported Wednesday that a parent advisory council at Rosewood Middle School came up with the fundraising plan after last year's chocolate sale flopped.

The school will sell 20 test points to students for $20. Students can add 10 extra points to each of two tests of their choice. The extra points could take a student from a B to an A on those tests or from a failing grade to a passing one.

Principal Susie Shepherd said it's not enough of an impact to change a student's overall marks.

Officials at the state Department of Public Instruction said exchanging grades for money teaches children the wrong lessons.

From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour first impressions

Another move to fulfill total crossover domination

By Mike Goetz

Summary Ratings:

Styling (70 per cent)
Accessories (78 per cent)
Space and Access (82 per cent)
Comfort (75 per cent)
Performance (75 per cent)
Driving Dynamics (70 per cent)
Safety (77 per cent)
General Appreciation (80 per cent)

MALTON, Canada — Even if they need the room, North Americans tend not to opt for minivans and station wagons. At the same time, this group seems instinctively drawn to all-wheel drive. Not too long ago these customers gravitated to SUVs. Now they’re driving crossovers.

Net result: the industry is "crossovering" everything in sight ...

Targeting empty nesters

These forces have created the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. It has a very specific target audience: 50-year-old and plus empty nesters who need room and utility, but covet sedan-like ride and handling. They also desire a "premium" product, which is just one rung below "entry luxury."

Families with kids at home aren’t even allowed to buy Crosstours.

Actually that’s not true, but Honda doesn’t expect many to consider the Crosstour; it’s too expensive for younger and smaller families, who like the CRV, and for larger and more affluent families, the 8-seater Honda Pilot awaits.

"This vehicle allows Honda customers to stay in the family, as they change their lifestyle," noted Ryan Kelly, Manager, Product Planning, Honda Canada.

Design statement

There is no doubt that Crosstour’s exterior design is unique. Crossovers are defined somewhat loosely as SUVs based on car platforms. The Crosstour, more than any crossover on the market, looks like the car it was based on — the Accord.

The objective was a coupe-like profile that still yields lots of rear headroom and cargo space.

Styling is a subjective thing, so please make up your own minds. But to these eyes, the sleekness of the front half seems at odds with the largeness of the rear half.

For more on this please see

Spirit Quest

There is a spirit that transcends time and space

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan

Walk a few block north from Prague’s Old Town Square and you will come to an area of the city called Josefov (Josef’s town). Before World War I this used to be a Jewish ghetto well know to people like Kafka. A rough stone wall surrounds the grave yard that dates back to the 13th century. The tomb stones stand packed tightly together. Ancient trees spread their gnarled branches giving shade to this resting place. Within the walls there is also a synagogue. — 884 words.

Relentless pressure from progressive groups pushes hatemonger Lou Dobbs out of CNN

Groups like BastaDobbs have done in Dobbs, who used his media platform to stir up racist, anti-immigrant hysteria for years

By Tana Ganeva

After relentless pressure on CNN by progressive campaigns like BastaDobbs and, Lou Dobbs announced on his Wednesday show that he was leaving the network, effective immediately. "This will be my last broadcast here on CNN, where I’ve worked for most of the past 30 years," he said. — 712 words.

Exhibit of new shots of John and Yoko bed-in for peace

By Irina Katina
The Moscow Times

Lennon lives, if only in black and white, at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in an exhibition of recently discovered photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 bed-in protest. — 337 words.

The Stage

Devastating "Meek One" dissects marriage life

By John Freedman
The Moscow Times

Fyodor Dostoevsky has been an important author for the Theater Yunogo Zritelya over the last two decades. Until now that was because of the interest Kama Ginkas harbors in the works of the great 19th-century novelist. Ginkas produced four major dramatizations of Dostoevsky in Moscow between 1988 and 2006. — 758 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 per cent 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.

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

The short story, The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story, in the Friday, April 24 edition of True North Perspective, concludes the collection titled The Old Man's Last Sauna, written by Carl Dow. On Friday, April 17, you'll find O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! The series began Friday, February 20, with Deo Volente (God Willing). The second, The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Friday, February 27. The third, Sharing Lies, Friday, March 6. The fourth, Flying High, Friday, March 13. The fifth, The Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, Friday, March 20. On Friday, March 27, One Lift Too Many, followed by The Model A Ford, Friday, April 3. The out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only, Friday, April 10. The series closed Friday, April 24, with the collection's namesake The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.

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
Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
Benoit Jolicoeur, Art Director
Ian Covey, Director of Photography
Carl Hall, Technical Analyst and Web Editor
Randy Ray, Manager, Business and Publicity

Contributing Editors
Anita Chan, Australia

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