Friday 17 December 2010

 

'If people really knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know.'

Why wars are not reported honestly

The public needs to know the truth about wars. So why do journalists collude with governments to hoodwink us?

By John Pilger
The Guardian
 
Symbiosis: General David Petraeys smiles for the camera.
 

10 December 2010 — In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a "war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media". What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where "the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences". Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. "We had a secret weapon," he boasted. "We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media."

Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual". In echoing the west's more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war", they plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public. — Read the full article at The Guardian, 1,659 words.

 

   
   

 

Your tax dollars at work

Canadian government funds Venezuelan opposition

'The Harper government’s attacks against Venezuela are part of its campaign against the region’s progressive forces. Barely discussed in the media, the Harper government’s shift of aid from Africa to Latin America was largely designed to stunt Latin America’s recent rejection of neoliberalism and U.S. dependence, by supporting the region’s right-wing governments and movements.'
 
'The simple truth is that the current government in Ottawa supports the old elites that long worked with the U.S. empire. It opposes the progressive social transformations taking place in a number of Latin American countries and as a result it supports civil society groups opposed to these developments.'
 
ByYves Engler

Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy.

December 13 2010 While many on the left know that Washington has spent tens of millions of dollars funding groups that oppose Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, less well known is Ottawa’s role, especially that of the Canadian government’s “arms-length” human rights organization, Rights & Democracy (R&D).

Montreal-based R&D recently gave its 2010 John Humphrey Award to the Venezuelan non-governmental organization PROVEA (El Programa Venezolano de Educacion-Accion en Derechos Humanos). According to R&D’s website, “The Award consists of a grant of $30,000 and a [December] speaking tour of Canadian cities to help increase awareness of the recipient’s human rights work.”

PROVEA is highly critical of Venezuela’s elected government. In December 2008 Venezuela’s interior and justice minister called PROVEA “liars” who were “paid in [US] dollars.” Read the full article at YvesEngler.com, 1,041 words.

Our readers write
Villeneuve-Sinclair no Scrooge for this reader!
 
My family still adheres to the old-time Christmas and New Year's traditions. Now that my parents have passed away, the traditional family dinner is held at my brother and sister-in-law, Denis and Hélène Bourdeau. The food is delicious and Santa visits to please the little ones. There are gifts for everyone, a Christmas sing-along and dancing... the same scenario we enjoyed at my grand-parents' home in Crysler, 70 years ago. Everyone contributes to the celebration. December is a hustle and bustle of recreational activities but we remember to share with the less fortunate.

I really appreciated Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair's article "Bah Humbug!" because I felt a little guilty for cutting back on holiday cooking and decorating this year. She helped me accept that it's best to save some of our time and energy to better share with our loved ones. — Anita Bourdeau Ottawa. Ontario

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Wisdom is a result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience.
© Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective
 
   
 
Editor's Notes — We'll be back in the New Year, Friday, January 7, 2011
 
True North Perspective
Vol. 6, No. 1 (257)
Friday, December 17, 2010
 
As the year (and the decade) comes to a close, True North Perspective will take adventage of this busy time of the year to recharge our collective batteries. We will not publish on December 25 or December 31, but will return with renewed energy and commitment come January 7, 2011.
 
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our columnists — Alex Binkley, Frances Sedgwick, The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan, Lakshmi Sundaram, and Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair, for their powerful contributions to True North Perspective, along with our contributing editors — Nick Aplin, Denis Carr, Anita Chan, Tom Dow, Bob Kay, Randy Ray, David Ward, and Harold Wright, whose wide-ranging eyes and minds have greatly enhanced our publication. Thanks also to Carl Hall, whose technical expertise has more than once rescued True North Perspective from the abyss of both hardware and software disasters.
 
No one can predict the future in any detail, of course, but I feel confident that True North Perspective will return to bring you, our readers, an even more diverse and insightful selection of news and views from around the corner and around the world.
 
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate that holiday and best wishes for a better new year for all of us. — Geoffrey Dow, Managing Editor
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From the Desk of Darren Jerome, Ottawa, Canada
 

Six American companies that haven't caved in to pressure about working with WikiLeaks

As more and more U.S.  companies bend under government pressure, a few are standing up for the site

 
 
By Denver Nicks
TheDailyBeast.com
 
Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of secret government documents to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, turns 23 in jail Friday. The Daily Beast’s Denver Nicks, in an exclusive interview with Manning’s attorney, reports on his solitary confinement, what he’s reading (from George W. Bush to Howard Zinn), and his legal strategy.

The last time Bradley Manning saw the world outside of a jail, most Americans had never heard of WikiLeaks. On Friday, Manning, the man whose alleged unauthorized release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents put the website and its controversial leader, Julian Assange, on the map, turns 23 behind bars. — Read the full article at TheDailyBeast.com, 1,117 words.

'Founder Ólafur Sigurvinsson pointed out in an interview with an Icelandic news channel, "I've got confirmed today that I am capable of supporting Al-Qaeda, Ku Klux Klan, buy weapons, drugs and all sorts of pornography with a VISA card. But that's not being investigated. Instead I can not support a humanitarian organisation fighting for the freedom of speech."' 

By Tana Ganeva
AlterNet.org
 
10 December 2010 — Giants like PayPal, Amazon.com, Visa and MasterCard almost instantly crumbled under government (and p.r.) pressure to drop WikiLeaks, depriving the site of vital funding sources and online platforms.
 
But other companies, some of them small, independent start-ups, have decided to risk the wrath of Joe Lieberman, the State Department, and their European counterparts and help keep WikiLeaks afloat by providing funding sources (yeah, you can now donate to WikiLeaks even if you only have Visa or MasterCard.) and hosting the site. Here's a list of companies that have stood by WikiLeaks: — Read the full article at AlterNet.org, 630 words.
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Cruelty, hypocrisy, as Republican senators deny health pay for 9/11 first responders with filibuster but cry over a lost lunch buddy.

Witness this reaction from dying men who are still seeking compensation nine years later. It's amazing these courageous heroes are able to display a sense of humour as they meet with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Click below for the full interview.

http://www.thecomedynetwork.ca/Displayblog.aspx?bpid=a04a83f9-1531-4426-822b-0dbb9307bb0d

"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.
 
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Parliamentary dysfunction, from the PMO to committees

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

Readers have probably heard plenty about how overheated political partisanship has made Parliament dysfunctional.
 
Question Period has become even more lamentable than usual with scripted questions and non answers. Debates are equally tepid.
 
The malaise has even reached into the committee rooms because MPs too often park their thinking cap at the door and let the politics take over. Here’s a textbook example from the Commons agriculture committee. Read the full article inside, 727 words.
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From the Desk of Jamie Keen, Mining Watch: Open Letters

When the federal government announced its rejection of the Prosperity Mine proposal, UBC professor of Mining Engineering, John A. Meech, P.Eng., Ph.D. and Director of CERM3 (The Centre for Environmental Research in Minerals, Metals and Materials) sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, expressing his displeasure with the decision.
 
George Colgate, a mechanical engineer in Vancouver during the 1960s before choosing a different career path as a cowboy, rancher, band manager, and founder of Xeni Gwet'in Enterprises, responded to Meech's letter. Colgate, a 34-year resident of Nemiah Valley, sent a copy of his letter to Prime Minister Harper, the federal environment minister, and to the Dean of Applied Sciences at UBC. — Read the full exchange inside,  2,974 words.
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Canadian self-censorship vs fearless Indian journalism

'Canadian media has lost its mojo, its power. Not because of what is being done to them, but because of what they are doing to themselves.'

By Dana Lacey
The Canadian Journalism Project
 
7 December 2010 — "On one occasion I saw an election panel made up of one sitting cabinet minister and seven other men running for parliament. Each guest was a member of a different political party. The subject of the interview was primarily public works, buildings, bridges, but in fact the real crux of the conversation was corruption. In Canada you might expect the opposition candidates to attack the cabinet minister and in India they did too. But here was the difference, the host went after the cabinet minister with a gusto I have never seen in North America. He pointed out the scandals. He pinpointed the lies. He called the minister out by explaining what he said in the past and what he had done. There was no Canadian style pussy-footing. He finally asked the minister why anyone should ever believe a word he says and further why would any sane voter choose him or his party? This is the party in power, remember." — Read the full article at The Canadian Journalism Project, 405 words.
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The New Gilded Age

The deadly consequences of inequality

From 6th place to 24th, Canada's infant mortality rate now just above that of Hungary and Poland

By Murray Dobbin
MurrayDobbin.ca
 
6 December 2010 — Last May, the OECD put out figures comparing infant mortality rates in countries around the world. Perhaps the biggest story of all the figures were those attributed to Canada. This country has always boasted of its social stats — life expectancy, infant mortality, university graduates, and other measures of our success as a nation.
 
But not this time.
 
The numbers were “shocking” — a word used by half a dozen prominent commentators, including the Conference Board of Canada. We had slipped from sixth place in the world to 24, a virtually unprecedented fall for any country. We are now just above Poland and Hungary, with 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births of infants less than one year of age. The actual tragedy beyond the percentages: 1,181 infant deaths in 2007. — Read the full article at MurrayDobbin.ca, 1,179 words.
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Bicycles: New front in the class wars

Millionaire Don Cherry twists the truth into knots; the real elites are pro-car politicians, blocking a better life for the working class

By Yves Engler
TheTyee.ca
 
13 December 2010 — In Vancouver the pro-car crowd criticizes the Hornby bike lane by claiming to stand up for small business.
 
In Toronto, after being sworn in as new mayor, Rob Ford declares an end to the "war on cars." He plans to block a light-rail line and to abolish a $60 vehicle registration fee. Don Cherry congratulates him for rising up against the "elite" and slams "bike-riding pinkos" who supposedly once ran the city.
 
In Montréal a new political party that won office a year ago in the Plateau Mont-Royal borough begins to widen sidewalks, add bike paths and close some streets to traffic. For doing so, critics accuse them of engaging in class warfare. — Read the full article at TheTyee.ca, 1,179 words.
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Newcomers or not, young Canadians increasingly secular, shunning religious institutions

By Michael Valpy
The Globe and Mail
 
14 December 2010 — If the future for institutional religion in Canada lies in the hearts and minds of the young, a dark night is sweeping down on the country's churches, synagogues and temples.
 
Young Canadians, who religious leaders once hoped would find their way back to faith, are instead doing the opposite: leading the country's march toward secularism. And with the exception of evangelical Christians, they are doing it at an accelerated pace.
 
More than half of Canadians in the 15-to-29 age cohort either have no religion or never attend a service of worship, says Statistics Canada. Only 22 per cent say religion is very important to them, down from 34 per cent in 2002. And in a recent poll done by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail, just one in five of the under-30 age group say they are the generation of their family that attends weekly religious services. Read the full article at The Globe and Mail, 942 words.
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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Finding time! It’s still a challenge

Compartmentation is for men, integration is for women

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.

17 December 2010 — It took a five-hour power outage Sunday evening for me to finally sit in the living-room by the flickering firelight and stop to evaluate my crazy timetable. I have now been retired for ten years, and still, I feel as pressed for time as when I was working full-time.
 
Of course, since then my husband passed away, leaving me to manage everything on my own. My writing career has blossomed with two more novels and a weekly column. The clan has expanded dramatically, from my daughter getting married to expecting Baby #6 to be born in January. I also belong to a dynamic social club, three retired teachers’ groups and several writers’ associations. Read the full article inside, 1,151 words.
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Spirit Quest

'God has a preferential option for the poor'

The dream of Peace and Love is no impossible dream

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

17 December  2010 — "Hanns, wake up, join the class!” Those were not unfamiliar words that I heard from my teachers.
 
I was a dreamer....no.....I AM a dreamer. My dreams have taken me far and wide, to places and circumstances unavailable to my awakened self.
 
I am very much in sympathy with Don Quixote’s Man of La Mancha, who dreamed “the impossible dream.” In those dreams he fought against invincible foes and rescued fair maidens. Read the full article inside, 1,410 words.
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ParkTales

Homeless for Christmas

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

17 December 2010 — This week I would like to introduce you to Poems From the Street Level. A Compilation by Bonnie Briggs.

Bonnie Briggs lives in Parkdale and I have known her for years. For a lot of those years I was unaware of her past and of her experiences of living homeless on the street. — Read the full article inside,  860 words.

 


Always worth repeating

'Give us the tools and we'll finish the job'

— Winston Churchill

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.


The Forever War

Nine years in (at least) four more to go

In bid to break Taliban U.S. embraces more firepower

Agence France-Presse

15 December 2010 — The US military has dramatically stepped up air strikes and manhunts in Afghanistan in a bid to weaken the Taliban, reflecting a return to "counter-terrorism" tactics.

Dropping more bombs and carrying out more raids by special operations forces underscores a sense of urgency in the war effort, as the White House prepares to release a strategy review and commanders try to change the dynamic of a conflict mired in stalemate.

Killing Winning hearts and minds: U.S. aircraft flew 850 combat sorties in November, three times the number for the same month in 2009.

In announcing a surge of 30,000 troops a year ago, President Barack Obama embraced the idea of a "counter-insurgency" strategy that focused less on firefights with the Taliban and more on securing key towns, training Afghan forces and bolstering local government.

But the need to cut off the insurgency's supply routes to sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan has led to a renewed emphasis on more conventional "targeting" operations, said General James Cartwright, vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. — Read the full article at RawStory.com, words.
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Karim Khan is seeking $500m damages for death of two relatives in drone attack in North Waziristan

 

'Shocking blow'

Italian court ups sentences for 23 CIA agents

Agence France-Presse

15 December 2010, ROME — An Italian court on Wednesday upped the sentences for 23 CIA agents convicted in absentia of abducting an Egyptian imam in one of the biggest cases against the US "extraordinary rendition" program.

The 23 CIA agents, originally sentenced in November 2009 to five to eight years in prison, had their sentences increased to seven to nine years on appeal in what one of the defense lawyers described as a "shocking blow" for the US. — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 497 words.

By Declan Walsh

The Guardian
 
13 December 2010, ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani journalist whose relatives were killed in a US drone strike has started a legal push to charge America's top spy in Pakistan with murder.
 
"We appeal to the authorities not to let Jonathan Banks escape from Pakistan," said Karim Khan, naming the alleged CIA station chief in Islamabad. "He should be arrested and executed in this country."
Khan was speaking outside an Islamabad police station after lodging an application to prevent the US official from leaving Pakistan. He has lodged a separate civil suit seeking $500m (£314m) in damages from the US government.
 
Khan says that his brother and son, both government employees, were killed in a CIA drone strike on their home near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in December 2009. — Read the full article at The Guardian, 438 words.
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Money and Markets

Regulators exist to 'serve the banks' says next U.S. House finance chairman

By Sahil Kapur
RawStory.com
 
13 December 2010 — Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus, the incoming chairman of the House banking committee, suggested Congress and federal regulators should play a subservient role with banks.
 
"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks," Bachus told The Birmingham News in an interview.
 
The Republican leadership last week designated Bachus the next chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, which is tasked with overseeing banks, financial markets, housing and consumer credit. — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 324 words.
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Widely derided as an economic basket-case, Japan boasts universal health care, high life expectancy and five percent unemployment; why can't we do things so wrong?

Just what is an economy for?

Reconsidering Japan and reconsidering Paul Krugman

By Steven Hill
TruthOut.org|News Analysis
 
12 December 2010 — The New York Times is doing a series on Japan, which the Times describes as an examination of "the effects on Japanese society of two decades of economic stagnation and declining prices." Reading the series is about as cheery a task as rubbernecking at a car wreck on I-95, but, unfortunately, the Times series simply repeats the "conventional wisdom" about Japan put out by the same economic experts who missed an $8 trillion housing bubble in the United States, and, in fact, have been wrong on most of the big economic issues over the past two decades.
 
Look at it this way: In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States is suffering through nearly 10 percent unemployment and 50 million people without health insurance. A new report has found over 14 percent of Americans living below the poverty line, including 20 percent of children and 23 percent of seniors, the highest numbers since President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. That's in addition to declining prospects for the middle class and a general increase in economic insecurity.
 
How, then, should we regard a country that has 5 percent unemployment, health care for all of its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world's leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, at the top in literacy, and low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions and is doing its part to reduce global warming. In all of these categories, this particular country beats both the US and China by a country mile. — Read the full article inside, 1,457 words.
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Letter from (and to) Obama's America
 
 
By Chris Hedges
TruthDig.com
 
13 December 2010 — We, like those who opposed the long night of communism, no longer have any mechanisms within the formal structures of power that will protect or advance our rights. We too have undergone a coup d’état carried out not by the stone-faced leaders of a monolithic Communist Party but by the corporate state. We too have our designated pariahs, whether Ralph Nader or Noam Chomksy, and huge black holes of state-sponsored historical amnesia to make us ignore the militant movements, rebels and radical ideas that advanced our democracy. We opened up our society to ordinary people not because we deified the wisdom of the Founding Fathers or the sanctity of the Constitution. We opened it up because of communist, socialist and anarchist leaders like Big Bill Haywood and his militant unionists in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
 
We may feel, in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture, and our ecosystem, powerless and weak. But we are not. We have a power that terrifies the corporate state. Any act of rebellion, no matter how few people show up or how heavily it is censored by a media that caters to the needs and profits of corporations, chips away at corporate power. Any act of rebellion keeps alive the embers for larger movements that follow us. It passes on another narrative. It will, as the rot of the state consumes itself, attract wider and wider numbers. Perhaps this will not happen in our lifetimes. But if we persist we will keep this possibility alive. If we do not, it will die. — Read the full article at TruthDig.com, 1,481 words.
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Models in short skirts, lab coats

scammed bone marrow donors: claim

By Daniel Tencer

RawStory.com

16 December 2010 — Call it a case of seduction for a good cause.
 
A New England bone marrow registry is under investigation after using models in short skirts and lab coats to convince members of the public to submit to a bone marrow sample.
 
What the models allegedly did not tell the donors -- who were told they could potentially save a life by signing up -- is that their health insurance would be charged $4,300 for the procedure.
 
Caitlin Raymond International Registry, a group that works to match bone marrow donors with those in need of a transplant, allegedly spent $40,000 to $50,000 a week hiring models to work booths at malls and sports events, convincing passersby -- mostly men -- to submit a to a DNA swab, the Nashua Telegraph reports.
 
People who volunteered for the test say the models told donors they wouldn't be charged for the test -- but under state law, the full cost of the test would be charged to the person's insurer. — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 418 words.
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Notes from War on Terror Human Rights — British Front ...

Anti-terrorist officers haul 12 year-old out of class over plan to protest youth centre closing in front of David Cameron's office

By Shiv Malik
The Guardian
 
10 December 2010 — The mother of a 12-year-old boy has criticised Thames Valley police for taking her son out of lessons because he was planning to picket David Cameron's constituency office today.

Nicky Wishart, a pupil at Bartholomew School, Eynsham, Oxfordshire, organised the event on Facebook to highlight the plight of his youth centre, which is due to close in March next year due to budget cuts.

The protest, which was due to take place today, has attracted over 130 people on Facebook, most of whom are children who use youth centres in Cameron's constituency, Witney.

 
For the record, it's not all doom and gloom ...
 
 
'They can't stop us demonstrating, they can't stop us fighting back, and how ever much they try to imprison us in the streets of London, those are our streets. We will always be there to demonstrate, we will always be there to fight... We are no longer that generation that doesn't care, we are no longer that generation to sit back and take whatever they give us. We are now the generation at the heart of the fight back.' — Unidentified 15 year-old speaker Coalition of Resistance National Conference, 27 November 2010, Camden, England.

Wishart said that after the school was contacted by anti-terrorist officers, he was taken out of his English class on Tuesday afternoon and interviewed by a Thames Valley officer at the school in the presence of his head of year.

During the interview, Wishart says that the officer told him that if any public disorder took place at the event he would be held responsible and arrested. — Read the full article at The Guardian, 637 words.
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By Daniel Tencer
RawStory.com
 
15 December 2010 — London's top police officer says he is considering banning student marches in the wake of violent flare-ups at protests opposing a massive increase in university tuition fees.
 
The move has prompted some observers to declare that Britain may be headed towards "martial law" as police push back against angry youth who find they can no longer afford an education, at a time when jobs openings are rare.
 
Speaking about a possible ban on marches, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said "it is one of the tactics we will look at and something we will keep under review, and if we think it is the right thing to do then we will do it." — Read the full article at RawStory.com, 493 words.
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... and from New Zealand ...

 
13 December 2010 — A devout Israeli tourist triggered a bomb alert on a New Zealand ferry when crew members mistook his Jewish prayer items for possible explosives.
 
Armed police reportedly forced the man and a companion to the floor after the ferry docked at Picton on South Island.
 
They discovered the man was wearing phylacteries, small black boxes that Orthodox Jews strap to their arms and head as part of a prayer ritual. — Read the full article at the BBC News, 300 words.
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

'Their black oil hearts' — Canada fights U.S. states to keep gasoline carbon levels high

How Alberta, Ottawa and oil sands corporations are teaming to oppose climate change laws across America

By Geoff Dembicki
TheTyee.ca
 
7 December 2010 — In late September, California's outgoing Republican governor declared all-out war on a fossil fuel cabal opposed to his state's landmark climate change laws.
 
"They are creating a shell argument that they are doing this to protect jobs," declared Arnold Schwarzenegger to a crowd of several hundred at the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara.
 
"Does anybody really believe they are doing this out of the goodness of their black oil hearts -- spending millions and millions of dollars to save jobs?" — Read the full article at TheTyee.ca, 1,095 words.
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China has a long record of helping Africa

WikiLeaks cables have added to the western perception of China's self-interested presence in Africa. It is far from accurate

By Zhang Xiaoying
The Guardian
 
11 December 2010 — It's not surprising that the spotlight has fallen again on China's role in resource-rich Africa. Concerns have been evident recently among NGOs, the media and foreign governments, even before this week's release of diplomatic cables. This, despite the fact that the Chinese presence there goes back to the 1950s.
 
There is a western stereotype that sees China as a very aggressive newcomer, disregarding human rights and only being there for narrow national self-interest. China's investment in Africa is often characterised as a plundering of mineral resources accompanied by neglect of the welfare of the local populations. And the Chinese government has been criticised for not addressing the "reform agenda" seen as essential to Africa's future stability and prosperity.
 
Is there any basis to these kinds of accusation? — Read the full article at The Guardian, 812 words.
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Kosovo sliding toward partition, Washington told

WikiLeaks cables reveal U.S. diplomats warn that European 'vacillation and weakness' could entrench Serbian control over northern part of territory

By Ian Traynor
The Guarian
 
9 December 2010 — The US fears that Europe will cave in to Serb pressure for Kosovo to be partitioned in a move which diplomats warn could trigger ethnic violence.
 
US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks show that senior Serbian officials have privately told Washington and the EU that the government of Kosovo will never gain full control of the contested territory – and indirectly pushed for partition.
 
Senior US officials are fiercely opposed to what they see as Serbian president Boris Tadić's concerted and patient campaign to partition Kosovo, which, if successful, would defeat a decade of American foreign policy. — Read the full article at The Guardian, 1,334 words.
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Friends in high places
 
US$250 million in fines and penalties settles bribery suit
 
17 December 2010, PORT HARCOURT Nigeria's anti-corruption police have dropped charges against the former US vice-president, Dick Cheney, over a multimillion-dollar bribery case after the energy firm Halliburton agreed to pay up to $US250 million in fines.
 
The move followed the intervention of the former president George Bush Sr. and the former secretary of state James Baker, Nigerian press reports said.
 
The country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said it met officials representing Mr Cheney and Halliburton in London last week after filing 16 counts of charges relating to the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant in the conflict-ridden Niger delta. — Read the full article at the Sidney Morning Herald, 517 words.
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Cuba and China sign sugar contracts for 2011

Prensa Latina

BEIJING – Cuba and China on Friday, December 10, signed contracts for delivery next year of sugar from the Caribbean nation to its main buyer of that product.

The representatives of the COFCO Corporation, Cubazucar and Caisa ratified the new agreement, initialed in the Caribbean country's embassy in Beijing, reported Prensa Latina.

On the occasion, it was recalled that sugar is one of the greatest exponents of not only bilateral trade volume, but also for being linked to this activity since the start of diplomatic relations between the two nations 50 years ago.

For the hosts, the director for this product in that corporation, Jiang Xuemei, signed the document while Alberto Kelly did so for the supplying organizations, in a ceremony attended by the Economic Counsellor at the embassy, Pedro Pérez Rodríguez.

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The dismantling of motherhood as we once knew it is no longer a paranoid futuristic fantasy, but rather a mostly dystopic reality.
By Sharon Lerner
RHRealityCheck.org
 
 
6 December 2010 — If you’ve read much science-fiction, you’re probably familiar with the idea that, at some scary point in the future, the various aspects of mothering will be separated, enabling wealthy women to farm out the component tasks to less privileged women. The Globalization of Motherhood: Deconstructions and reconstructions of biology and care (Routledge, 2010) makes it clear that that day has already come.
 
With a focus on cross-border movement in the areas of domestic labor, adoption, and assisted reproduction, the book shows that the individual tasks that used to be bundled as motherhood have been dispersed to women scattered throughout the world and stratified by race and class. The dismantling of motherhood as we once knew it is no longer a paranoid futuristic fantasy, but rather a mostly dystopic reality. Read the full article at AlterNet.org, 863 words.
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TerraDaily.com
6 December 2010, NASHVILLE, TN — The season in which babies are born can have a dramatic and persistent effect on how their biological clocks function. That is the conclusion of a new study published online on Dec. 5 by the journal Nature Neuroscience.
 
The experiment provides the first evidence for seasonal imprinting of biological clocks in mammals and was conducted by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University.

The imprinting effect, which was found in baby mice, may help explain the fact that people born in winter months have a higher risk of a number of neurological disorders including seasonal affective disorder (winter depression), bipolar depression and schizophrenia. — Read the full article at TerraDaily.com, 1,334 words.

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Science

 
By Nancy Atkinson
UniverseToday.com
 
13 December 2010 — The venerable Voyager spacecraft are truly going where no one has gone before. Voyager 1 has now reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where it is no longer detecting the solar wind.
 
At a distance of about 17.3 billion km (10.8 billion miles) from the Sun, Voyager 1 has crossed into an area where the velocity of the hot ionized gas, or plasma, emanating directly outward from the sun has slowed to zero. Scientists suspect the solar wind has been turned sideways by the pressure from the interstellar wind in the region between stars.
 
“The solar wind has turned the corner,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. “Voyager 1 is getting close to interstellar space.” — Read the full article at UniverseToday.com, 591 words.
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Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports

Two-year inquiry accuses Albanian 'mafia-like' crime network of killing Serb prisoners for their kidneys
 
By Paul Lewis
The Guardian
14 December 2010, PRISTINA — Kosovo's prime minister is the head of a "mafia-like" Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe inquiry report on organised crime.

Hashim Thaçi is identified as the boss of a network that began operating criminal rackets in the runup to the 1999 Kosovo war, and has held powerful sway over the country's government since.

The report of the two-year inquiry, which cites FBI and other intelligence sources, has been obtained by the Guardian. It names Thaçi as having over the last decade exerted "violent control" over the heroin trade. Figures from Thaçi's inner circle are also accused of taking captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market. — Read the full article at The Guardian, 1,107 words.
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Travel
 
 
By Maria Danilova
The Associated Press
13 December 2010, KIEV — Want a better understanding of the world's worst nuclear disaster? Come tour the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Beginning next year, Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday.

Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a large swath of northern Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people were resettled from areas contaminated with radiation fallout in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Related health problems still persist.

The so-called exclusion zone, a highly contaminated area within a 30-mile (48-kilometer) radius of the exploded reactor, was evacuated and sealed off in the aftermath of the explosion. All visits were prohibited.

— Read the full article at The Washington Post, 529 words.
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But is it art?
ChinaHush.com
 
2 December 2010 — The ongoing event “Creativity for a nursing home” happening in Henan province has been transformed into a creativity competition with the theme of Panda.
 
Recently, the Henan Museum of Art has become the holy land of creativity and imagination where countless young people and adults came to “worship”.
 
Other than fighting to read the essay “My dad is a panda” written by a 12 year old girl, which already sold for 100,000 yuan, audiences were also stunned by some other panda arts.
 
A replica sculpture of Venus de Milo in the center of the museum became the hot spot, not because people haven’t seen a statue of Venus de Mio before, it was the special material used: giant panda poop! Read the full article at ChinaHush.com, 313 words.
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The end of an era ...
 
 
By Dana Lacey
The Canadian Journalism Project
 
9 December 2010 — The redheaded star of long-running comic strip "Brenda Starr, Reporter" will file her last story on Jan. 2. The news follows the departure of another redheaded comic star, Little Orphan Annie, who one reporter notes "ran out of tomorrows six months ago."
 
Brenda Starr was created before World War 2 by Dale Messick, a greeting card artist who changed her name from Dalia on the advice that editors and readers would prefer the story of an enterprising female reporter to be written by a man.

"Starr, meanwhile, was all-woman," writes Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal. "She started out slender, but Messick's four younger brothers successfully campaigned for curves." She became a pinup for men serving overseas during the second World War. "She was the definition of a career-woman even before that term came into vogue."  — Read the full article at The Canadian Journalism Project, 512 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. FlynnSharing LiesFlying HighThe Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows YaOne Lift Too ManyThe 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 Saunaa groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.