Friday 07 June 2013

Edward Snowden: the whistleblower

behind the NSA surveillance revelations
 

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the US National Security Agency's history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows

• Q&A with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I do not expect to see home again'

Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong
The Guardian UK

10 June 2013 — The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said. (More)

   

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How Cheney got it wrong

China winning Iraq war as US Fifth Fleet guarantees success

By Tim Arango and Clifford Krauss

China-financed Iraq refinery02 June 2013 BAGHDAD, Iraq — Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.

China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields.

“The Chinese are the biggest beneficiary of this post-Saddam oil boom in Iraq,” said Denise Natali, a Middle East expert at the National Defense University in Washington. “They need energy, and they want to get into the market.” (More)


For Harper, 'Free Trade' at all costs

Unless that includes human rights

Ottawa's concern over terms that would

commit Canada to rights standards is telling

By David Coles
The Tyee.ca
 
Image: European Union flag
6 June 2013 — It's good that the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations have stalled. But the cause of the most recent impasse is a damning comment on the Harper government's thinking.
 
To conclude the CETA negotiations, the Conservatives have been willing to undercut municipalities' right to "buy local," grant foreign investors special rights to sue governments and significantly increase drug costs, but they are drawing the line on human rights commitments. According to a recent Embassy article, a significant stumbling block to finalizing CETA negotiations with the European Union is a political text that commits both sides to basic human rights standards. (More.)
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'We have morphed into what we once mocked.'

MP Brent Rathgeber leaves Conservative fold

over lack of accountability says Tim Harper

Rathgeber proves to be a reliable political barometer at a time when voters demand transparency.

By Tim Harper
Toronto Star, National Affairs

Photo: Former Tory, now independent MP Brent Rathgeber

06 June 2013 OTTAWA Canada — “We have morphed into what we once mocked.”

With those eight well-chosen words, a heretofore largely anonymous 48-year-old backbench Conservative MP named Brent Rathgeber accomplished many things.

He burst into the national political consciousness by, for all intents and purposes, leaving it.

Unless he is the first over the wall in a large-scale Conservative jail break, Rathgeber’s decision to resign from Stephen Harper’s caucus and sit as an independent, means he will likely become a short-term political novelty, a dissident whose voice will be silenced as the political circus moves into another ring. (More)

Click here for True North Humanist Perspective

As sectarian conflict deepens in Syria

10,000 Shias swell government ranks

'Not long after a friend called from Damascus to tell him one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam had been damaged by Syrian rebels, Baghdad student Ammar Sadiq was on the move.'

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Canada's wall between Church and State

Henry Morgentaler's other legacy

Has Canada entered the European-style, spiritual cool zone, where religion's voice is just one among many?

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Book Review

Of atheists and apes

The origins of religion in animal instincts

Frans De Waal's new book, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates hits some hot button issues

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YOU'LL FIND ALL THIS AND MORE BY CLICKING HERE FOR

TrueNorth Humanist Perspective


 

 
True North Perspective publishes in
the best traditions of Canadian journalism
If you think it's too radical, please read
Wisdom is a result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience.
© Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective.
 
True North Perspective
Vol. 8, No. 11 (339)
Friday 7 June 2013
 
Editor's Notes

On reading the news . . . and getting it right

It has come to my attention that some readers, determined to learn the truth about what is happening in the world, subscribe to more than one online version of newspapers as if, by sheer volume, they'll find nuggets of honesty behind the corporate-serving propaganda that is delivered in the name of news and analysis 24 hours a day.

The fundamental thing is this, all media represent vested interests. Whether it is The New York Times or The Globe and Mail; the China Daily News or Russia Today. The trick is to read with a fine-tooth comb to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Once you understand 'the party line' you can find the truth because all lies must have samplings of truth otherwise even the most gullible will not be fooled.

To this end, the majority of the 70 hours I spend on producing each issue of True North Perspective and True North Humanist Perspective is focused on fine-tooth-combing news and analysis from throughout the world. With a finely honed news sense, steeped in experience, one can usually find the hearts and minds of the news and analysis even though the process is not perfect. Sometimes the guff slips past. We are happy, to the best of our knowledge, that this seldom to never happens to us. And if and when it does, we count on our readers to keep us on our toes because we are dedicated to truth without prejudice.

To provide a context of what has been happening in journalism I offer the following Editor's Notes from roughly two years ago. (More)

"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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Alex Binkley is a foremost political and economic analyst, whose website is www.alexbinkley.com. Readers will be aware that his columns in True North Perspective have foreseen political and economic developments in Canada. This week in ...

The Binkley Report

Canadians should think past Senate follies of blatant greed

and focus on a science policy that betrays national interests

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

Detail from cover of State of the Nation 2012 report.

7 June 2013 — Rather than fretting over the latest Senate follies, Canadians should be thinking about a report from the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) that says ever so politely that Canada sucks when it comes to those subjects, which are vital to our national prosperity.

“Canada continues to tread water as a mid-level performer in science, technology, and innovation,” the report notes. “Canada has to aim higher and aspire for global leadership on key STI measures.”

Council member Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, noted that “Canada ranked only 15th in the OECD (in R&D spending) – we need to continue to improve our performance if we are to compete with, and break into the ranks of, the world's top five performing countries.”

While governments have a sorry record when it comes to science and innovation, Sophie Forest, Managing Partner of Brightspark Ventures, says, “Canadian business investment in research and development has continuously declined over the past decade. (More)

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Federal Court rules Conservative Party of Canada

perpetrated widespread election fraud in 2011

By Steven Shrybman
Rabble.ca

IMage: Vote

3 June 2013 — On May 31, 2013 the Applicants announced they would not be appealing judgement of the Federal Court in the "election fraud" cases they had brought to contest the outcome of the May 2011 election in six ridings across the country.

As the Applicants explained, the judgement represented a complete vindication of their contention that widespread voter fraud took place during that Federal Election and they saw no point in continuing the fight to protect their democratic rights in the Courts.

The judgement speaks for itself on the extent and manner in which that electoral fraud was perpetrated during the last federal election. Here is what the judge had to say: (More.)

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While we sleep, 'The Harper Government'

burns the midnight oil to sneak its agenda through

Amid scandals that won't quit, PMO works overtime to pass major laws

By Bruce Cheadle
TheTyee.ca
 
Photo: Parliament Hill
6 June 2013 — You might not know it from a glance at the nightly news, but scandals, audits and intrigue aren't all that is taking place these days on Parliament Hill.
 
As boiling controversies continue over a Senate expense scandal, the involvement of the Prime Minister's Office, and a continuing investigation into fraudulent automated phone calls from the 2011 election, MPs away from the cameras and headlines are in the midst of a marathon push of extended parliamentary hours.
 
Some 14 votes on budget legislation were scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon, part of a day that was not expected to wrap up before 2 a.m. in the House of Commons. (More.)
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Would Mount Everest’s first conquerors recognize it now?

 

'On Everest and in the surrounding Sagarmatha National Park, more than one-eighth of the glacial ice appears to have melted since the summit was first reached in 1953.'
 
By John Upton
grist.org
 
Photo: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay30 May 2013 — When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest 60 years ago Wednesday 29 May, the mountaineers gazed over a view from the top of the world that had never been seen before.

The view has changed since that historic day. Pollution and rising mountain temperatures are relentlessly shearing away at the Himalayas’ frozen facade. Photographs taken around the time of the 1953 expedition show hulking ridges of ice that have since shrunk or disappeared.

Glaciers and snow are melting throughout the sprawling mountain range, which stretches across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibetan China. The waning glaciers are leaving precarious mountainside lakes of cyan blue water in their wake. (More)

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Because the polar ice-caps aren't melting fast enough?
 

Production to rise to 6.7 million barrels per day, mostly due to oilsands

CBC News
 
Photo detail: Pipeline near Cold Lake Alberta.
5 June 2013 —Canada's oil production will more than double in the next two decades, rising from 3.2 million barrels per day last year to 6.7 million barrels per day by 2030, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in its annual forecast Wednesday.
 
The oilsands, which are located mainly in Alberta, will account for most of that increase — with production from those sources growing from 1.8 million barrels a day in 2012 to 5.2 million barrels a day by 2030.
 
Production from conventional sources will increase from 1.2 million barrels a day to 1.4 million barrels a day by 2030.
 
Oil from offshore sites in Atlantic Canada will remain roughly unchanged at 200,000 barrels a day as existing sources dry up but new projects, such as ExxonMobil's Hebron and Husky's South White Rose, both oilfields off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, go online.
 
Canada's rising supply will feed a growing appetite for oil at home and abroad, a press release from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said. (More.)
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Egyptian court hands jail terms to

43 NGO workers including 15 US citizens

Rt.com

Photo: Friends of Egypt judgement04 June 2013 CAIRO Egypt — Cairo criminal court has convicted 43 NGO workers, including at least 16 Americans, for illegally operating in Egypt. It also ordered the closure of offices and the seizure of assets belonging to US NGOs.

The court sentenced Egyptian and foreign defendants, most of whom were not present at the hearing, to jail terms of one to five years.

Twenty-seven defendants received five years in prison, another five - two years and 11 were given one-year terms.

Judge Makram Awad gave five-year sentences in absentia to at least 15 US citizens who were not in the country.

Many of the foreigners - nationals of the US, five Serbs, two Germans and three non-Egyptian Arab nationals - have already left the country.

Among the Americans is Sam LaHood, the head of the Egypt office of the Washington-based International Republican Institute and the son of the US Transportation Secretary. He managed to leave the country after a travel ban against them was lifted in March 2012. All of them were initially barred from leaving Egypt. (More)

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Guantánamo Bay

Closing the GTMO Detention Center would be a wilting

olive branch held to Cuba and the rest of Latin America

'The continued operation of the GTMO detention center is a shameful indictment of a backward and often hypocritical foreign policy, in which the United States legitimizes leaving Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List and simultaneously operates a morally objectionable detention center with a long history of human rights violations.'

By Phineas Rueckert
Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)
 
Photo: Prisoners at Guantanamo06 June 2013 — In his annual counterterrorism speech on May 23, President Barack Obama again vowed to revamp efforts to close the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba (GTMO).
 
The GTMO detention center, Obama stated, casts the United States as a nation that “flouts the rule of law” and costs $350 million USD per year to maintain. He also called for congress to lift the moratorium on the transfer of 56 detainees from GTMO to their homes in Yemen and facilitate other transfers to “third countries.” [1]
 
While the Obama administration has revealed that 86 of the 166 prisoners at GTMO have been cleared for release or transfer to other prisons, political pressure from obstructionist conservatives in the United States has prevented any action from taking place, leaving these detainees in a state of prolonged limbo. Detainees staged a hunger strike this spring—to which the United States responded not by changing its policy, but by force-feeding the prisoners. (More)

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Venezuela's new gun control legislation calls

on firearms industry to compensate victims
   
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
venezuelanalysis.com
 
Photo of anti-gun sign.05 June 2013 MERIDA Venezuela — Venezuela's National Assembly (AN) has approved a new law that restricts access to firearms and provides an amnesty for owners of illegal firearms to surrender their weapons.
 
The Law for the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Disarmament was passed by the AN on Tuesday, and is set to be enacted into law next week, on June 11.

According to the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on domestic policy, Elvis Amoroso, the law is “guaranteed” to save lives.

“Every time you take a gun away from a criminal, it benefits people who would have been robbed,” he stated.. (More)

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Energy program strengthens Cuba-Canada cooperation

06 June 2013 HAVANA, Cuba — Matthew Levin, Canada’s ambassador to Cuba, pointed out that the cooperation project carried out to make the island’s wind atlas strengthens bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two nations. (More)

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By Geneviève Hone

Where There Is A Family

What's up, Kid?

Hone, small image.Detail of cartoon7 June 2013 — Spend time with a family and you will hear innumerable questions most of them concerning the daily arrangements for living communally as harmoniously as possible. “What’s for dinner?” “Who left the back door open?” “When will you get home?” “Have you finished your homework?” You will hear these questions because they are asked clearly, perhaps loudly. However, you may sense, rather than actually hear, other questions that reflect the efforts of family members striving to grow together in love and respect: “How can I be with you, you whom I dearly love? We are so different, you and I. How can I still be on your side when we disagree on so many issues, when our behaviours and attitudes hurt each other?”

Here is one situation where there were more questions than solutions.

Dear Granny Witch, (More)

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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Authenticity! How can I be more real?

It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are REAL you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” (The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams)

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

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

Detail of photo of flowers

7 June 2013 — Bombarded by political scandals, news of unscrupulous politicians, political unrest in troubled countries, natural disasters ... You have to wonder!

Soon after learning that one of my best friends has been diagnosed with liver cancer, I heard this particular cancer is on the rise. What’s happening? Are we slowly poisoning our environment and ourselves?

During my last speaking engagement, I met a courageous woman who is now fighting her third cancer. A proud survivor, she showed me her testimonial in the newly published anthology “Défier le cancer pour vivre SA vie” of the “Collection Inspiration”.

By the end of that evening, my mind was filled with questions and, as usual, I sought inspiration. It came in the form of the Hay House Summit, an internet presentation which ran from June 1st to the 10th. I first listened to Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay. But this time, it was Denise Linn who impressed me. (More.)

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Spirit Quest

A wheel of fortune . . . or misfortune

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

7 June 2013 — Mayor (still) Rob Ford of Toronto and Jim Watson, mayor of Ottawa have very little in common, you will agree, except that both  are fans of the casino idea of municipal financing. Both sense a bonanza for funding projects which budgets seem shy of incorporating.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), is an agency of the government of Ontario (Ministry of Culture) and one of Canada’s leading grant making foundations. It was created in 1982.

Foundation grants are provided to eligible Ontario not-for-profit and charitable organizations in the areas of arts and culture, the environment, human and social services and sports and recreation. As such it fulfills an important role. Its funding is derived from lotteries. (More)

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www.eurasiareview.com

Photo: Vladimir Putin ... and ladies? He's single!06 June 2013 MOSCOW Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, announced Thursday on nationwide television that their marriage is over, ending years of media speculation about the couple’s relationship.

“Yes, you could say this is a civilized divorce,” Lyudmila said in response to a journalist’s question, following the Putins’ joint outing to a ballet performance – the first time they had been seen in public since the president’s inauguration in May 2012. (More)

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From the Desk of Darren Jerome

A continuing update on the war against WikiLeaks transparency

Please be advised that the below is not just the same old thing. By clicking on it you'll find the petition in support of Julian Assange and discover fascinating on-going reports and videos related to one of the most important events in modern history, and the desperate attempts to put a lid on information that everyone should know. Don't miss this special opportunity to stay informed.

Report from Obama's America: America's show trials begin ...

With Manning trial,

US Army court-martials US Constitution . . .

"If there was terrorism in the well-known helicopter killing video, it was the effort by Americans to gun down children sitting in the front seat of a civilian van that was serving as a makeshift ambulance responding to the earlier carnage Americans had wrought on non-threatening civilians, killing twelve, including three journalists."

By William Boardman
Reader Supported News
 
Photo: Private Bradley Manning
6 June 2013 — The Bradley Manning court-martial that began June 3 looks like another defining moment for America - another indication of whether we are becoming the nation of supine toadies our government wants, or whether we still have enough devotion to the common good to behave in ways as decent and risky as Bradley Manning.
 
The U.S. government is going to extraordinary lengths to persuade us that Private Bradley Manning, 25, is a dangerous enemy of the state.
 
Even though Manning pled guilty to 10 of 22 charges last March, the U.S. Government is going ahead with all its charges, without providing a credible rationale. One charge, under the 1913 Espionage Act, could carry the death penalty. (More.)
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Like a well-oiled propaganda machine, the American press has bought the prosecution's diversionary argument — that the issue is Bradley Manning's character and not the war crimes he exposed to the light — hook, line and sinker, and is working over-time to sell it to the public
 
By Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone
 
Photo: Bradley Manning
6 June 2013 — Well, the Bradley Manning trial has begun, and for the most part, the government couldn't have scripted the headlines any better.
 
In the now-defunct Starz series Boss, there's a reporter character named "Sam Miller" played by actor Troy Garity who complains about lazy reporters who just blindly eat whatever storylines are fed to them by people in power. He called those sorts of stories Chumpbait. If the story is too easy, if you're doing a piece on a sensitive topic and factoids are not only reaching you freely, but publishing them is somehow not meeting much opposition from people up on high, then you're probably eating Chumpbait.
 
There's an obvious Chumpbait angle in the Bradley Manning story, and most of the mainstream press reports went with it. You can usually tell if you're running a Chumpbait piece if you find yourself writing the same article as 10,000 other hacks.
 
The CNN headline read as follows: "Hero or Traitor? Bradley Manning's Trial to Start Monday." NBC went with "Contrasting Portraits of Bradley Manning as Court-Martial Opens." Time magazine's Denver Nicks took this original approach in their "think" piece on Manning, "Bradley Manning and our Real Secrecy Problem": (More.)
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By Glen Greenwald
Guardian UK via Reader Supported News
 
Image: National Security Agency eye
6 June 2013 — The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
 
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered. (More.)

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From the Desk of Nick Aplin

There can be no life without laughter

 

  Bearjacked - summer comes to Canada  
   
     

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Female Israeli soldiers disciplined

for posting racy photos on Facebook

 
The incident was the latest in a string of episodes involving young Israeli soldiers on social media that have drawn reprimand from the military.
 
By Max J. Rosenthal
The Associated Press via The Toronto Star

Female Israeli soldiers pose in underwear - Facebook image

4 June 2013, JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Sunday that it has disciplined a group of female soldiers who posed for photos in underwear and combat gear and posted the images on Facebook.

The incident was the latest in a string of episodes involving young Israeli soldiers on social media that have drawn reprimand from the military.
 
Israeli news site Walla said the women were new recruits stationed on a base in southern Israel. One picture showed the soldiers removing their fatigue uniforms to expose their underwear and back sides. In another, five women posed in what appeared to be a barracks room, dressed only in helmets and a small amount of combat equipment. The faces of the soldiers were blurred in the photos. (More.)
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Quiz

By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

Mark Kearney of London, Ont. and Randy Ray of Ottawa are the authors of nine books about Canada, with best-seller sales of more than 50,000. Their Web site is: www.triviaguys.com

Big Book of Canadian Trivia cover

Questions

1.  Unscramble these letters to form a Canadian word meaning bog.

        usekgm

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2. Hurricane Hazel caused great damage to southern Ontario in 1954, but what province was hit in 1971 by Hurricane Beth?
 
a) Ontario   b) PEI  c)  Nova Scotia  d) Quebec

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3. True or false: owls can’t move their eyes side to side.

Answers.

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  Photo: Ken Jeffries and Janis Ray with 1 year-old Bichon, Cooper.  
 

True North Perspective East Central Ontario Editor, Ken Jeffries, was chasing down photographs in Kawarthas cottage country near Havelock, Ontario, when he bumped into his sister Janis at the family cottage at Twin Lakes.  Ken and Janis are pictured with Janis's dog Cooper, a one-year-old Bichon.

Photo:  Randy Ray

 

 
Science
 
 
By Matthew Jackson
Blastr.com
 
Photo: Ultraviolet demonstration
6 June 2013 —This man went in to have his vision restored, and instead became slightly superhuman.
 
Alek Komar, a former Air Force officer and engineer who says his "eyes have always been a bit of a problem," spent much of his life wearing glasses and contact lenses to battle nearsightedness. By 2010, at age 46, he noticed that his right eye in particular was becoming a problem, and was diagnosed with a cataract. In 2011, Komar elected to have Crystalens implants surgically placed in his eyes to both deal with the cataracts and eliminate the need for glasses. When the surgery he was over, he found that he wasn't just seeing better. He was seeing more. (More.)
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Sex

The truth about female sexual desire

It is base, animalistic and ravenous

Book on women's sexuality turns everything we think we know on its head.
 
By Tracy Clark-Flory
Slate
 
Image: Desire, they name is woman02 June 2013 — There is a conspiracy theory at the heart of this book. Even to the most casual observer of human history, it isn’t news that women’s sexuality has been feared, suppressed and lied about.
 
But What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire by journalist Daniel Bergner uses groundbreaking sex research to show the ways in which our supposedly enlightened society still has female sexuality backward — completely, utterly, profoundly.
 
In accessible and entertaining prose, What Do Women Want? details everything from individual women’s fantasies to the search for a “female Viagra.” More important, though, it represents a complete paradigm shift. The book, which grew from a much-discussed New York Times Magazine cover story in 2009, reveals how gender stereotypes have shaped scientific research and blinded researchers to evidence of female lust and sexual initiation throughout the animal kingdom, including among humans. It reveals how society’s repression of female sexuality has reshaped women’s desires and sex lives. . (More)
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Book Review
 
The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen
 
 
If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto vacant human faces — forever
 
By Julian Assange
The New York Times
 

US judge orders Google to grant FBI warrantless access to users' data

Image: Google spy-camerasBy Declan McCullagh
CNET via Reader Supported News
 
2 June 2013 — A federal judge has ruled that Google must comply with the FBI's warrantless requests for confidential user data, despite the search company's arguments that the secret demands are illegal.

Judge Susan Illston rejected Google's request to modify or throw out 19 National Security Letters, a warrantless electronic data- gathering technique used by the FBI that does not need a judge's approval. Her ruling came after a pair of top FBI officials submitted classified affidavits. (More.)

Image: The banality of 'Don't be evil'

1 June 2013 — “THE New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imper-ialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century.

This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.

The authors met in occupied Baghdad in 2009, when the book was conceived. Strolling among the ruins, the two became excited that consumer technology was transforming a society flattened by United States military occupation. They decided the tech industry could be a powerful agent of American foreign policy.
 
The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not.
 
The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom — banal. But this isn’t a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances. (More.)
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How and what the rich buy, live-in, and sell

Top ten real estate deals in the United States

Hot Home News: Thomas Jefferson, John DeLorean & Peter Madoff

Thomas Jefferson Plantation Auction
 
Brandon Plantation in Virginia has been in agricultural operation continuously with the earliest record of land tended traced to 1607 with uninterrupted operation until today, according to the National Register of Historic Places. The plantation itself was part of a land grant issued by the King of England, James I, made to Captain John Martin of approximately 4,550 acres. Captain Martin was one of the first colonists who established Jamestown in 1607. Brandon Plantation is going to auction on June 26th.

At the death of Captain Martin in 1632, the plantation was inherited by his grandson, Captain Robert Bargrave, who sold it in 1637 to three British merchants who farmed it successfully until 1720. One of those merchants, Richard Quinley, was married to Shakespeare's youngest daughter, Judith. Interestingly, Shakespeare so distrusted Quinley he wrote a long, very carefully entailed will to ensure any future inheritance of Judith’s could never pass into Quinley’s hands.

In 1720 the plantation was sold to Nathaniel Harrison, in which family it remained until 1926. The Harrison family produced multiple governors and two US Presidents. In 1926, the farm was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Daniel who undertook a total restoration of the plantation. The estate of their son, former Virginia Congressman Robert W. Daniel, Jr. who died in 2012, is the current owner of the property.

Of the main house it is said that the wings were constructed originally, c. 1765, and that later Thomas Jefferson designed the central section and wing connections as a gift to his dear friends, the Harrisons.

Located on 3.5 miles of the banks of the James River in Prince George County, Virginia, the expansive estate contains more than 4,500 acres, of which 1,600 acres are cultivated with soybeans, wheat, barley and corn producing high yields. The farm operation has 14 farm structures, including a horse stable, two-story brick mule barns, a dairy barn, wood and metal frame buildings for storage of farm equipment and three grain elevators. There are also 11 tenant homes on the property for staff or guests.

The main house consists of 7,700 square feet with 7 bedrooms and 7 baths and is in the Palladian architectural style of a Roman country house, positioned 750 feet back from the river. Having weathered the Indian Massacre of 1622 and both the Revolutionary War and Civil War, cannonball pockmarks in the rear wall of the center section have been retained for posterity. The interior has been exquisitely maintained with much original millwork. English and American furnishings date to the period. Outdoor activity areas include a pool, tennis court and water sports or fishing on the river, not to mention game hunting expeditions. Although it is a private residence, Brandon Plantation has been designated a National Historical Landmark and the house and gardens have been open for tours.

For those seeking the rarest of the rare, partially designed by Thomas Jefferson. On 4,487 acres, main house is 7,700 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, in Prince George County, Virginia. Auction date June 26 or open to prior sale if the price is right.

Back to the Future with John DeLorean

John DeLorean was a maverick of his time. He was an extreme self promoter who had lots of ideas, was the youngest division head ever at General Motors, was always in the news, part owner of the New York Yankees, and ended up badly. He was the guy who brought us the 1960's Pontiac muscle cars like the GTO and is best known for the futuristic DeLorean that may have been way ahead of its time, but was almost impossible to get in and out of and frequently broke down.

While the DeLorean with its gull-wing doors was out of business in 1982 after just one year of production and 9,000 cars, it became quite the "star" in 1985 when a customized DeLorean was the time machine transporting Michael Fox to 1955 in Back to the Future. The film is ranked in the top ten of all science fiction films ever made and was the largest grossing film in the world in 1985.

The failed DeLorean car was pretty much the end for John. He was charged with cocaine trafficking in 1982, operated an upscale watch business that never seemed to deliver any watches to their customers, filed bankruptcy in 1999 and died in 2005.

John’s former home in Pauma Valley, California is now on the market. A mid-century ranch on 17 acres in the Pauma Valley Country Club, it has stunning hillside views from every window and even its own horse facilities. Built in 1960 at 7,000 square feet, the home has 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. All rooms are large and filled with light keeping in the Southern California Mediterranean style open to the outdoors. The country club provides golf and other outdoor activities and a pool. Though far from futuristic in design, the home has lots of texture from stone used in the walls and heavy beams in the ceilings along with four fireplaces.

Just like the movie, the price on DeLorean’s home is also going backwards. It was recently reduced from $2.18 million to $1.6 million.

Feds Selling Madoff Home

After pleading guilty in federal court last year to his part in his brother Bernie’s Ponzi scheme, part of Peter Madoff’s plea deal was to turn over all family assets to the feds which will be put into the victims’ fund for later distribution. That included both of his homes and all personal possessions. His New York apartment has already been sold for $4.6 million, and now his Old Westbury, New York home of 20 years has also been put back on the market with a $4.5 million price tag after there were no takers at the original $6.495 million listing price. In addition to forfeiting the homes, Peter was also sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Regardless of the crime, the US Marshal's Office has a routine for preparing properties like this for sale that is tedious and detailed but goes off like clockwork. According to the New York Times, the feds first change the locks and install security. A maintenance crew comes in for basic repairs and cleanup including refreshing the landscaping if necessary. Personal family items like clothes are boxed and secured in one room later to be sold, but away from the prying eyes of house hunters. Next, each item that is not part of the house itself is appraised and tagged. These items will be sold at auction after the sale of the house is finalized. Then the house is staged for the sale to appear as attractive as possible to potential buyers.

So far, sales in real and personal property just on Bernie Madoff have reached the $11.65 billion mark and going up. Though they will never recover their full losses, victims will receive at least some restitution from the infamous Madoff empire.

The Peter Madoff Long Island estate is an impressive two-story home on 4 acres sized at 7,992 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 7 baths. Built in 1935, the English-style home has a winding drive, 2-car garage, pool, formal gardens, tennis court, pool house-guest cottage, an elevator and generator.

Having been put on the market previously at $6.495 million, it has recently been relisted at $4.5 million.

Save an Arkansas Castle

Imagine a Medieval working castle right in the middle of the US. We’re familiar with Williamsburg, Virginia and the Restoration and nearby Jamestown, but when a French couple bought acreage in the hills of Arkansas for their retirement, they remembered a Medieval castle building project they had visited in France and thought their Arkansas property was a perfect location for a similar project. They contacted the French group of builders, French investors and history buffs and set about a plan to repeat what they’ve so successfully done in Europe ( Guédelon ) here in Arkansas.

It was a fascinating idea to bring living 13th century history into the 21st century in the form of the Ozark Medieval Fortress. It was educational, it was hands-on if one chose to become involved and where else could an American student or anyone be afforded such an opportunity to so realistically transport themselves into ancient times with all construction being carried out with 13th century tools? With a 30-year time line for completion, people would be able to understand the difficulty of construction in the past without the tools and conveniences we have today.

Unfortunately, after a great start, the unexpected downfall in the economy resulted in fewer vacationers paying for tours of the building site and funds bottomed out. The Arkansas project was forced to close in 2012.

Hopefully either a savvy investor with vision will come along and pull the project out of mothballs or a buyer will decide to build their mega mansion on the site, using the existing castle foundation at least for a formal garden. For those wishing to “go back to the land,” there is already a blacksmith shop, animal pens, an open-air pottery studio and garden area. The visitors welcome building already has heat and air with office and bathrooms and might make a cozy retreat while pulling the rest of the project together. For those with imagination, the options are practically limitless and it’s already close to another heavily visited tourist destination in Branson, Missouri.

Save the Ozark Medieval Fortress or make it your own. Priced at $400,000.

Emily's TV Revenge Beach House

ABC’s Revenge is one of the network’s highest-rated series since it debuted in 2011 and will be back for the 2013-14 TV season. It has been a hit show with both fans and critics and a plot that every week seems to leave viewers on the edge of their seats looking forward to the next episode. The show includes fashion, beautiful people, great wealth, politics, big mysteries, the Hamptons, and, of course, revenge.

Though socialite Emily Thorne appears to have rented a charming beach house in the Hamptons for the summer to while away the hours soaking up the sun and giving in to total relaxation, there was a little more than that going on in her head. In fact she was there for a much more devious reason. Conveniently, Emily’s beach house was right next door to the Graysons who she remembered well from her childhood. Further intrigue arises when “Emily” isn’t really Emily at all but instead is Amanda Clarke. Since the Graysons hadn’t seen her since she was five years old, they would never suspect. Amanda never saw her father again from the time she was five because he had been set up by the Graysons to take the rap for a horrible crime for which he was wrongly imprisoned for life and then murdered. But Amanda is there to get even and she won’t quit until she retaliates against every person associated with the crime against her dad.

Funny thing though. The Emily/Amanda beach house isn’t in the Hamptons after all but on the shore of Southport, North Carolina. Yes, one of the house stars of Revenge is for sale and ready to go to some nice happy people instead of those planning dastardly deeds. Beautiful coastline and far better for the pocketbook, the house sets unobtrusively into the coastal landscape without screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!” Refreshing. No bright colored concrete objects shooting out of glass walls, no glass bubbles for windows sticking out just above the ground, just a very attractive home that blends in and lets nature do the shouting. Tasteful, inviting and comfortable, the 4,000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home is just the right size for family and guest fun but not requiring a staff or constant maintenance to get in the way of a great vacation. Buyers will have the entire third floor as as a master retreat or family room with ocean views. The home also has a waterfront pool with cabana-guest house and a pier to make everything complete.

Just in time for summer swim season, Emily’s Revenge beach house was $2,395,000, now for sale at $1.579 million.

Real estate is never boring at TopTenRealEstateDeals. Check out today's most entertaining and unusual real estate news stories of the week. News such as America's top ten bargain mansions, Monaco's $250 million penthouse and haunted homes you can actually buy.

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Terry Walsh
Marketing Coordinator
terry@toptenrealestatedeals.com
 


The Old Man's Last Sauna
 
(To read the stories just click on the italic titles. Please tell us what you think.)
 
An eclectic collection of short stories by Carl Dow 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.