Friday 7 January 2011

 
 
'Wikileaks has shown that our government and military form a 'vast lying machine' that perpetrates mass murder in our name.'

Monday 3 January 2011

"Try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions, are tasked to act on them."— Julian Assange, 2007 blog entry

By Fred Branfman
alternet.org
 
Fred Branfman exposed the U.S. Executive's Secret Air War in Laos, which illegally and savagely murdered tens of thousands of innocent Laotian peasants. He has written frequently on Executive war-making for Alternet in recent years. See www.trulyalive.org for more information on his activities.

Do you believe that it is in Americans' interest to allow a small group of U.S. leaders to unilaterally murder, maim, imprison and/or torture anyone they choose anywhere in the world, without the knowledge let alone oversight of their citizens or the international community? And, despite their proven record of failure to protect America -- from Indochina to Iran to Iraq -- do you believe they should be permitted to clandestinely expand their war-making without informed public debate? If so, you are betraying the principles upon which America was founded, endangering your nation, and displaying a distinctly "unamerican" subservience to unaccountable authority. But if you oppose autocratic power, you are called to support Wikileaks and others trying to limit U.S. Executive Branch mass murder abroad and failure to protect Americans at home.

These two issues became officially linked for the first time when former U.S. Afghan commander General Stanley McChrystal explicitly stated that the murder of civilians increases rather than decreases the numbers of those committed to killing Americans, and actually implemented policies -- since reversed by General Petraeus -- to reduce U.S. murder of civilians. McChrystal said that “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies." By so doing he made it clear that killing civilians is not only a moral and war crimes issue, but — in today's interdependent world — also threatens U.S. national security.— 3,070 words.
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From the Desk of Darren Jerome, Ottawa, Canada
Haitian deaths from cholera increase to 3,481
 
 
Granma
 
6 January 2011 — The Ministry of Public Health and Population in Haiti has confirmed the death of 3,481 people infected by cholera since the outbreak began two months ago.

The report, with estimates up to December 29, also notes that those affected rose to 157,300.

— 271 words.
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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 
 
True North Perspective
Vol. 6, No. 2 (258)
Friday, January 7, 2010
 
 
And don't blame Stephen Harper. He who is standing in the way of a clear shot at democracy by the Canadian electorate is none other than Michael Ignatieff.

Even as Ignatieff was appearing over the hustings horizon, just as he entered the campaign for a safe by-election, True North Perspective said he would be bad for the Liberal Party and bad for Canada. The man made a name for himself in academia and journalism by talking mostly about himself. — 314 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.
 
Or use our new Paypal system! Just click the secure link below —
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Harper's pipeline nightmare

The PM backs the Enbridge plan to pipe tarsands crude to the BC coast, but the politics are ugly

By Murray Dobbin
TheTyee.ca
 
3 January 2011 — What kind of year in politics is 2011 going to be? Very likely another year (or at least ten months) of gridlock at the federal level, with no sign of any so-called game changer on the horizon.
 
A spring election is looking less likely as the Conservatives try to make a deal with the NDP -- swapping its support for the budget for increased support for seniors and hopefully a halt to scheduled corporate tax cuts. — 1,266 words.
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'The spirit of Christmas should not be taken out of Christmas. Non-Christian, new Canadians or immigrants are not offended and do not want to be protected.'

Christmas is Christmas, not season's greetings

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
 
One of the more tedious aspects of the inanity of political correctness is the avoidance of greeting people with a cheerful Merry Christmas.
 
So I would like to quote a person who works hard at not offending anyone. Commons Speaker Peter Milliken concluded the current session of Parliament with “Happy New Year and Merry Christmas” to the departing MPs.
 
B.C. Conservative MP Nina Grewal, A Sikh, put it this way in the Commons. "Christmas is fast approaching and tales of political correctness fill the air as many seek to remove all that is Christian from Christmas." — 668 words.
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Executives 'earn' in 6 hours to 'earn' what average Canadian does in one year
 
CBC News
 
3 January 2011 — Canada's top-paid chief executives only have to work until 2:30 p.m. Monday to make the same amount of money the average Canadian will earn for the entire year, a new study suggests.

The "Recession-Proof" report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) suggests the country's best-paid CEOs made an average of $6.6 million in 2009 during the darkest period of the recession. That compares to the total average Canadian income of $42,988 and the total average minimum wage worker's income of $19,877.

584 words.
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Wikileaks shows Saudi wild party with alcohol, drugs, sex with prostitutes

09 December 2010 — An American diplomatic document reveals a secret party of a Saudi Prince with alcohol, drugs, sex and prostitutes. In yet another flurry of secret documents of U.S. diplomacy, the site WikiLeaks showed, in great detail, a Halloween party organized by a wealthy Saudi prince in the city of Jeddah (Jeddah in Arabic), with the highest quality drink, drugs and sex with prostitutes.

One of the secret documents, dated 18/11/2009, reported: "Behind the facade of Wahhabi conservatism on the streets, the nightlife for the young elite of Jeddah is thriving and throbbing. The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available - alcohol, drugs, sex - but strictly behind closed doors." — 675 words.
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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Happy New Year!

“Life is a journey, and love is what makes that journey worthwhile.”
(Author unknown)
 
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.

For years, I have enjoyed the same routine on New Year’s Eve: a quiet evening at home with the Christmas tree lights on, a fire in the fireplace and quiet all around. Before I celebrate the coming year, I review the passing one, not through the journalistic eye which often looks for sensationalism, not through the comedy shows who ridicule everything but through my own experience and perspective on life. — 1,213 words.
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Spirit Quest
 
 
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

Every year I buy myself a Christmas present. This is to make sure that there will be something under the tree that I really want.
 
Invariably it turns out to be a book to share the space with a lot of other books.  And so it happend that my choice this year was a book called Dietrich Bonhoeffer: 1906 - 1945 written by Ferdinand Schlingensiepen and translated by Isabel Best.
 
I was particularly excited when I saw that it was dedicated to Jean Freeman and Dr. Harold Wilke. The latter was a dear friend of mine with whom I organized exchange visits between the Evangelical Church of the Union of Germany, the United Curch of Christ USA and the United Church of Canada. Much of that visitation was done in what was then East Germany, to churches who had little contact with the West until Novemeber 1989  when the Berlin Wall came down.965 words.
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Encouragement, a Reflection

 
By Rebekah Sears
Originally published at DelveIntoJesus.com, October 2010

Like many people across the country and around the world, I had the news of the Chile miners’ long rescue playing in the background last Wednesday.
 
This story had been in the news for almost 10 weeks now, one of those stories that kind of gives you the creeps when you first hear it…the thought of being trapped in a mine, hundreds of metres below the surface of the earth for weeks on end. How awful it must have been for those men and their families!969 words.
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ParkTales

Did the Grinch really steal Xmas?

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

7 January 2011 — Now that all the pressure is off to buy, buy, buy, for Xmas and the months of build up to that ONE day is over, we can sit back and wait for the bills to come in.
 
Waiting in a line at a bank machine during the holidays I got into an interesting discussion about the changes in Xmas presents over the years.

And the COSTS. — Read the full article inside,  355 words.
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The Glass Teat

 
Doctor Who Christmas special displays new show-runner's moral blind spot
 
By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor, True North Perspective
Originally posted at Edifice Rex Online

There are (at least) two kinds of cheating common in the writing of popular fiction. One is when a plot doesn't make sense, where an apparently intricate tapestry is revealed to be only a bunch of holes where the logic fell through; another is when a story's human logic is lacking, when long-established characters betray their readers' or viewers' previous experience of them.

25 minutes into the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special, "A Christmas Carol", I was having a wonderful time, and thinking that the Steven Moffat I'd once loved — the Steven Moffat who gave us the intricate yet humane chills of "Blink" and "The Doctor Dances — had come back to us at last.1,262 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.


 
(Please see video True North Perspective, Friday, December 17, 2010)
 
In ‘Daily Show’ role on 9/11 Bill, echoes of
Murrow on McCarthy, Cronkite on Vietnam
 
Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause? And does that make that comedian, Jon Stewart — despite all his protestations that what he does has nothing to do with journalism — the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow? “I don’t even know if there was a deal, to be honest with you, before his show,” said Kenny Specht, the founder of the New York City Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation, who was interviewed by Mr. Stewart on Dec. 16. — 1,389 words.
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'NATO's role in Afghanistan is more about NATO than it is about Afghanistan'
 
By Gareth Porter
InterPress Service
 
3 January 2011, WASHINGTON — The official line of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO command in Afghanistan, is that the war against Afghan insurgents is vital to the security of all the countries providing troops there.

In fact, however, NATO was given a central role in Afghanistan because of the influence of U.S. officials concerned with the alliance, according to a U.S. military officer who was in a position to observe the decision-making process.

1,199 words.
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Reality Check
 
 
By Alex Seitz-Wald
ThinkProgress.org
 
7 January 2011 — This morning, the Labor Department released its employment data for December, showing that the U.S. economy ended the year by adding 113,000 private sector jobs, knocking the unemployment rate down sharply from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent — its lowest rate since July 2009. The “surprising drop — which was far better than the modest step-down economists had forecast — was the steepest one-month fall since 1998.” October and November’s jobs numbers were also revised upward by almost 80,000 each. Still, 14.5 million Americans remain unemployed, and jobs will have to be created much faster in coming months for the country to pull itself out of the economic doldrums. 310 words.
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From the Desk of Wendy Asman, International West Coast Contributing Editor, who
offers the below on the premise that there's no life without laughter: 12 months of it
 
Let's face it — 2010 was not the worst year ever
 
By Dave Barry
The Miami Herald
 
Let’s put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore.
 
So on second thought we see that this was, in fact, the worst year ever. The perfect symbol for the awfulness of 2010 was the BP oil spill, which oozed up from the depths and spread, totally out of control, like some kind of hideous uncontrollable metaphor. (Or, Jersey Shore.) The scariest thing about the spill was, nobody in charge seemed to know what to do about it. Time and again, top political leaders personally flew down to the Gulf of Mexico to look at the situation first-hand and hold press availabilities. And yet somehow, despite these efforts, the oil continued to leak. This forced us to face the disturbing truth that even top policy thinkers with postgraduate degrees from Harvard University — Harvard University! — could not stop it.  — 5,173 words.
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Why Washington hates Chavez: Venezuela vs. the Banks

By Mike Whitney
Counterpunch

5 January 2011 CARACAS. Venezuela  In late November, Venezuela was hammered by torrential rains and flooding that left 35 people dead and roughly 130,000 homeless. If George Bush had been president, instead of Hugo Chavez, the displaced people would have been shunted off at gunpoint to makeshift prison camps--like the Superdome--as they were following Hurricane Katrina. But that's not the way that Chavez works. The Venezuelan president quickly passed "enabling laws" which gave him special powers to provide emergency aid and housing to flood victims. Chavez then cleared out the presidential palace and turned it into living quarters for 60 people, which is the equivalent of turning the White House into a homeless shelter. The disaster victims are now being fed and taken care of by the state until they can get back on their feet and return to work.

The details of Chavez's efforts have been largely omitted in the US media where he is regularly demonized as a "leftist strongman" or a dictator. The media refuses to acknowledge that Chavez has narrowed the income gap, eliminated illiteracy, provided health care for all Venezuelans, reduced inequality, and raised living standards across he board. While Bush and Obama were expanding their foreign wars and pushing through tax cuts for the rich, Chavez was busy improving the lives of the poor and needy while fending off the latest wave of US aggression. — 1,861 words
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Mass bird deaths rare, not apocalyptic: experts

Reuters
 

6 January 2011 — Birds falling out of the sky in the United States and Sweden are freak examples of the kind of mass animal deaths, from beached whales to deluges of frogs, that have unusual but not apocalyptic causes, experts say.
 
Storms, hail or lightning can kill birds while tornadoes or waterspouts may suck up small fish or frogs and drop them far away. Human causes, such as fireworks, power lines or a collision with a truck, may explain avian deaths. — 546 words.
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Science

Isolated 14 million years, buried Antarctica lake about to give up its secrets

By Duncan Geere
Wired.co.uk

7 January 2011 — Lake Vostok, which has been sealed off from the world for 14 million years, is about to be penetrated by a Russian drill bit.

The lake, which lies four kilometres below the icy surface of Antarctica, is unique in that it's been completely isolated from the other 150 subglacial lakes on the continent for such a long time. It's also oligotropic, meaning that it's supersaturated with oxygen -- levels of the element are 50 times higher than those found in most typical freshwater lakes.367 words.
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14 Do's and Don'ts for really good sex

It's easy to get caught up in the idea that we should always be discovering new ways to have sex. But sometimes it’s good just to remind ourselves of some basics

7 January 2011 — When you write about sex for a living, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we should always be inventing a new position or discovering a new erogenous zone. But sometimes it’s good just to remind ourselves of some basics. These 14 tips never go out of style—and they’re way easier to pull off than the Wheelbarrow, too. — 679 words.
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Health Watch
 
 
By Alasdair Wilkins
Io9.com
 
4 January 2011 — Your walking speed can tell a lot about you - including your life expectancy. Amazingly, your walking speed is just as good an indicator of how long you'll live as your health history, smoking habits, and blood pressure combined.

It's possible to do a basic life expectancy calculation based on a person's age and gender, but there's no real way to know how accurate that estimate is for any given person without knowing more about his or her medical history. You can figure out a more detailed estimate by combining information about a person's chronic conditions, medical conditions, blood pressure, body mass index, and hospitalization history, but it turns out you can get just as good an answer with ten feet of pavement and a stopwatch.437 words.

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By Stephen C. Webster
RawStory.com
 
5 January 2011 — A Seattle man who calls himself "Phoenix Jones" appears to have taken 2010's comic book film "Kick-Ass" to heart.
 
Like the main character in the independently produced hero fantasy, Jones has taken it upon himself to dress in a colorful outfit and roam the streets looking for crime.
 
And on Sunday night, while trolling the streets of the Seattle suburb Lynnwood, he found one. 536 words.
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In the wake of Richard Holbooke's passing are Washington and Ottawa committed to Afghanistan or to Hamid Karzai's government?

By Christopher Hitchens
Slate Magazine
 
20 December 2010 — Friends of his would enjoy disputing whether his heart or his ego was the larger, but it was sad to know, as Richard Holbrooke's heart eventually burst, that he had strained a good deal of it in upholding a policy in which much of his best advice had been, or was being, ignored. He was frequently left off the Obama plane when sensitive talks with Pakistani officials were in prospect. He was publicly rebuked by the administration when he stated that almost every Pashtun family contained at least one Taliban sympathizer. His early warning about the stupidity of incinerating the Afghan poppy crop was often ignored. And his death coincided with the latest confused review of a policy—known as "Af-Pak"—whose very abbreviation contains the seeds of its own negation. — Read the full article at Slate.com, 1,188 words.
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By Tamara Pearson
Venezuelanalysis.com
 
24 December 2010 MÉRIDA, Venezuela — On Wednesday morning 22 December Venezuela's National Assembly approved the Defence of Political Sovereignty and National Self Determination Law, making foreign funding of political organisations illegal. It also passed a reform to the Political Parties Law, bringing in a penalty for legislators who change political parties. The political sovereignty law is short, with only 10 articles, and aims to protect Venezuelan political life from foreign interference through financial support or donations to political organisations. It defines political organisations as organisations that promote citizen participation in public spaces or control of public power or that promote candidates seeking election. It also applies to organisations that promote and defend citizens’ political rights. — 467 words.
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' . . . most (Russian) ultranationalists are poorly acquainted with the history and culture of the people in whose name they claim to speak, which is true of (right wing) movements in all countries.'
 
Director, Russian Institute
of Globalization Studies
The Moscow Times
 
23 December 2010 — There was nothing unexpected about the racially motivated rioting and attacks that took place in Moscow and other cities during the past 10 days. But many people are still shocked by the image of Russian youth giving Nazi salutes against the backdrop of the Kremlin wall and by reports of an angry, blood-thirsty mob sweeping through metro cars and beating dark-skinned passengers. The rioters had no political agenda or ideology other than their hatred for non-Russians. Even the most demagogic of the mobs did not chant a single slogan calling for social or political change. The fact that both sides turned out in large numbers in several cities within a very short span of time creates the strong impression that their actions were coordinated in advance. Regardless of whether there was a screenwriter behind the rioting, the scenario that is playing out suggests only one possible ending: the collapse and destruction of Russia. — 554 words.
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Review uncovers CSIS policy violations

By Jim Bronskill
The Canadian Press
 
5 January 2011, OTTAWA — An internal review has uncovered policy violations in the international wing of Canada’s spy agency – the latest indication of shortcomings at the branch that oversees growing operations in foreign hot spots. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service audit, completed in 2010, says the spy agency’s policy framework governing specific covert activities “is not adequate.” — 497 words.
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Belgium has been virtually cancelled

as separatist forces contend for power

Pravda
 
12 December 2010 — "Belgium no longer works. It is a nation that has failed." This loud statement recently came from Bart De Wever, a candidate for Prime Minister of this country and leader of the Nationalist Party The New Flemish Alliance. Thus, one of the leading politicians of Belgium acknowledged that the country that hosts the headquarters of the EU and NATO is on the verge of a collapse. Parliamentary elections were held in Belgium in June, but the government of the country has been temporarily chaired by the Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme. The attempts to form a new cabinet are failing due to the differences between politicians representing the country's two national communities - the Flemish and Walloon (French). — 1,123 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.