Friday 11 May 2012

 

The conservative brain is hard-wired to be more fearful

The alternate reality that right-wingers inhabit is terrifying

By Joshua Holland
AlterNet.org

02 May 2012 — Consider for a moment just how terrifying it must be to live life as a true believer on the right. Reality is scary enough, but the alternative reality inhabited by people who watch Glenn Beck, listen to Rush Limbaugh, or think Michele Bachmann isn't a joke, it must be nothing less than horrifying.

Research suggests that conservatives are, on average, more susceptible to fear than those who identify themselves as liberals. Looking at MRIs of a large sample of young adults last year, researchers at University College London discovered that “greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala”. The amygdala is an ancient brain structure that's activated during states of fear and anxiety. (The researchers also found that “greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex” – a region in the brain that is believed to help people manage complexity.) (More)
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Charest's manipulations have failed to divide them

Behind the tumult and the shouting, Québec students

are making reasonable demands for a better future

10 May 2011 — Quebec college and university students are now in the 13th week of their militant province-wide strike while voting by overwhelming majorities to reject a government offer that met none of their key demands. After a 22-hour bargaining session involving ministers of the Charest government, university and college heads, and leaders of the major trade-union centrals, the student leaders agreed on May 6 to put the offer to a vote of their respective membership without recommending acceptance. If the offer were accepted:

• The 75 per cent hike in tuition fees (now spread over seven years, but indexed) would remain, albeit with slightly liberalized access to scholarships and loans, and provision for repayment of loans geared to future income.
 
• A provisional committee would examine university budgets and propose possible cuts. Each dollar cut would go to reducing incidental fees not related directly to tuition (admission, registration, sports services, technology, etc.).
 
• The committee would include four students, but also fourteen other members: 6 university rectors, 4 trade union representatives as well as 2 representatives of business, 1 from the ministry of education, and a chair with a tie-breaking vote – the latter four all designated by the minister of education.
 
• The committee would table its recommendations by December although if necessary its mandate could be extended by one more year. It might then be replaced by a permanent committee appointed by law, its composition undetermined at this point.
 
• Pending the provisional committee's conclusions, the students’ incidental fees would be deferred. However, these fees would apply retroactively to the students in any amount the committee is unable to cut from current expenses.

There is no assurance that the proposed committee would agree on budget cuts sufficient to reduce or eliminate the hike in tuition fees. Furthermore, the committee would be composed largely of members with a vested interest in opposing cuts in expenditures, especially in research and funding of pro-business courses. (More)
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From the Desk of Judith Wouk

Taking Liberties: Revelations in Hassan Diab case

highlight major faultlines in the extradition process

By Mathew Behrens
rabble.ca
 
23 April 2012 OTTAWA Canada — The multi-year extradition saga of Ottawa university professor Hassan Diab — sought by the French for his alleged role in a 1980 Paris bombing that claimed four lives — has taken yet another bizarre turn with the news that Diab has not even been formally charged. He is merely sought for questioning, with no guarantee that a trial would ensue.
Despite this astounding discovery — no doubt discomfiting to the Ontario judge who presided over Diab's two-year extradition hearing — Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has signed a surrender order committing Diab to years of French detention without charge while the 32-year investigation into the crime continues. (More)
 
 
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. 7, No. 15 (317)
Friday 11 May 2012

Guest Editorial

Lament for a media

It's heartbreaking to observe the mainstream media

continue to mislead with 'disinformation' and omission

Out of stark fear, the One Per Cent is turning America into an armed camp
 
By TomDispatch.com
A regular antidote to the mainstream media
 
08 May 2012 NEW YORK CITY — If you had followed May Day protests in New York City in the mainstream media, you might hardly have noticed that they happened at all. The stories were generally tucked away, minimalist, focused on a few arrests, and spoke of “hundreds” of protesters in the streets, or maybe, if a reporter was feeling especially generous, a vague “thousands.” 
 
I did my own rough count on the largest of the Occupy protests that day. It left Union Square in the evening heading for the Wall Street area.  I walked through the march front to back, figuring a couple of thousand loosely packed protesters to a block, and came up with a conservative estimate of 15,000 people.  Maybe it wasn’t the biggest protest of all time, but sizeable enough given that Occupy, an organization without strong structures but once strongly located, had been (quite literally) pushed or even beaten out of its camps in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere across the country and toward oblivion.

It’s true that if you were checking out the Nation or Mother Jones, you would have gotten a more accurate sense of what was going on. Still, didn’t the great protest movement of our American moment (on a planet still in upheaval) deserve better that day? And no matter what you read in the mainstream, here’s what you would have known nothing about: this country is increasingly an armed camp and those marchers, remarkably relaxed and peaceable, were heading out into a concentration of police that was staggering and should have been startling.

 
Following is what Sarah Seltzer had to say about May Day in alternet.org

4 May Day stories the corporate media missed

while fixating on Obama's college girlfriend

A number of remarkable things happened on May 1. So why is the media so bored with social protest?
 
"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.
 

 
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

Facing up to the mental health challenge

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
 
11 May 2012 — Next time you’re in a mall, theatre, restaurant or coffee shop, look around at the other patrons. Statistics say that one in five Canadians suffers from a mental illness. Can you spot any?
 
If you did, would you treat them differently?
 
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has released a landmark report on mental health called Changing Directions, Changing Lives. It contains 109 recommendations for helping the sufferers and their caregivers and talks about what governments, the private sector and the medical community can do to help. (More.)
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Bill C-38: the Environmental Destruction Act

Packing so many attacks on nature into one bill, Harper bets, will confuse citizens. Here's what's at stake.
 
By Elizabeth May
Member of Parliament
Saanich—Gulf Islands
TheTyee.ca
 
Usually when the Harper Conservatives bring in a new law, there is a big roll-out. The prime minister or one of his heavy-hitters goes to a prime location, usually not Parliament Hill. A factory or a mall or a friendly backyard. Tens of thousands are routinely spent on a "branding" of the new act. There are banners and public relations firms to design the whole package.
 
Not so for Bill C-38, known as the omnibus budget bill. Sure, it did get the fabulous title: the "Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act." There all similarities to other pieces of legislation end.   


There was no announcement. No press release for first reading. There was no lock-up. There were no schematic guides to understand the changes to the 70 laws undergoing a brutal overhaul. Like surgery without an anesthetic, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act was repealed and a whole new act brought in. While the four-paragraph seniors bill, C-36, will get its own committee hearings and full debate in the House, the 420-page Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill, will be fast-tracked through the Finance Committee.

To add injury to insult, Conservatives limited the number of days allowed for debate at second reading of C-38. Government House Leader Peter Van Loan puffed himself up to pronounce that this was a longer time for debate than other budget bills. Meanwhile the Opposition MPs are left to protest that no other budget bill in Canadian history had repealed, amended or overhauled 70 existing pieces of legislation.
 (More)

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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Contributing Editor

The longer the commute, the wider the waistline

By Nate Berg
The Atlantic Cities
 
08 May 2012 — Add to the lengthy body of research on the connection between bad commutes and bad health yet another confirmation: a new study of automobile commuters found that longer trips to and from work correlated with various indicators of poor health, including decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, increased weight, high cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure. Yes, your long commute is literally making you less healthy.

The activity of driving to work should be better thought of as inactivity, and all that time sitting on your butt is slowly eating away at your cardiovascular health – and probably adding to your waistline. Those who have farther to travel tend to see worse results according to the study, which will be published in the June issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (More)

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Spirit Quest

History matters simply because it is a learning tool

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

11 May 2012 — Among the “stuff” I inherited from my father was a cardboard box that contained 18 volumes of journals covering as many years. They were written by my father who died in 1985. Most are handwritten, some typed, the earliest in German but most are in pretty good English considering that he was first exposed to this language at age 40. His writings are much better than his spoken word. He retained a strong accent and seemed to stubbornly refuse to pronounce some words as they should.

Recently my daughter has shown a great interest in these writings and is slowly making her way through the record of his thoughts and views  that cover the years from 1962 to 1980.

Felix, my father, was a keen observer of world events. My parents  lived in the beautiful Trent Valley in eastern Ontario and from their house they looked down the valley, a scene that bore some similarity to the Czech countryside in which I lived for the first nine years of my life. (More)
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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life
 
From the heart:
 

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” — The Dalai Lama

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.

11 May 2012 — It was a memorable, “once in a lifetime” opportunity! On the 28th of April, Don and I were among the 7000 people who congregated at the Ottawa Civic Centre to greet and listen to the Dalai Lama.
 
This was the only Canadian stop on the North American leg of his worldwide speaking tour to promote his most recent publication Ethics for a Whole World and bring his message of universal responsibility to all. (More.)
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Nation of Change

Americans in denial about country's decline to number ... 2

'China is rapidly passing us by. But Americans - and their leaders - refuse to come to terms with what this means for our future.'
 
By Dean Baker
alternet.org

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and author of the new book, The End of Loser Liberalism?

01 May 2012 WASHINGTON DC — Politicians in the United States must ritualistically assert that the United States is and always will be the world's leading economic, military and political power. This chant may help win elections in a country where respectable people deny global warming and evolution, but it has nothing to do with the real world.

Those familiar with the data know that China is rapidly gaining on the United States as the world’s leading economic power. According to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China’s economy is currently about 80 percent of the size of the U.S. economy. It is projected to pass the United States by 2016. (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.

Mullets that escape by breaking formation are easy prey for dolphins
 
By Ed Yong
Discover Magazine
 
01 May 2012 — In the coastal waters of Laguna, Brazil, a shoal of mullet is in serious trouble. Two of the most intelligent species on the planet – humans and bottlenose dolphins – are conspiring to kill them. The dolphins drive the mullet towards the fishermen, who stand waist-deep in water holding nets. The humans cannot see the fish through the turbid water. They must wait for their accomplices.

As the fish approach, the dolphins signal to the humans by rolling at the surface, or slapping the water with their heads or tails. The nets are cast, and the mullet are snared. Some manage to escape, but in breaking formation, they are easy prey for the dolphins.

According to town records, this alliance began in 1847, and involves at least three generations of both humans and dolphins. (More.)

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'Before being a politician, I am a father. We cannot be indifferent to what is happening around us'
 

By Abderrahim El Ouali

02 May 2012 CASABLANCA Morocco (IPS) — The widespread practice of marrying minors continues to be one of the most incendiary legal and political issues in Morocco today, causing open confrontations between hard-line Islamists and moderates throughout the country.

Speaking on national television last month, Mohammed Abdenabawi, an official of the Ministry of Justice, declared that 30,000 minor girls are married every year — roughly 10 percent of the 300,000 marriages recorded every year in this country of 32 million inhabitants.

The phenomenon is widespread, the consequences for young women and girls severe, and the efforts of civil society sustained, though maintaining momentum against a tide of cultural and religious conservatism is challenging. (More)

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Sex

Why women lose interest

Study: The longer a woman is in a relationship, the more her sexual desire decreases. Men reported no such decrease.

By Jennifer Abbasi
LiveScience
 
01 February 2012 — New research is demonstrating what many people already knew from experience: Women lose interest in sex over time, while men don't.
 
The finding has the potential to help couples, the researchers said. Knowing that many women's sexual desire diminishes over the course of a relationship could encourage both partners to be more realistic about their sex lives, and could help them weather the changes in desire as they occur.  
 
Sex researchers Sarah Murray and Robin Milhausen, both of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, asked 170 undergraduate women and men who had been in heterosexual relationships for anywhere from one month to nine years to report on their levels of relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and sexual desire. Desire was scored using an established model called the Female Sexual Function Index, which ranges from 1.2 to 6.0. (More)
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Science

Dinosaur flatulence may have led to ancient global

warming, with vegetarians as the prime suspects

Sauropods planteaters may have produced more methane gas than all modern sources combined

CBC News

07 May 2012 LONDON —  Dinosaurs may have warmed the prehistoric Earth's climate thanks to enormous amounts of methane-producing flatulence, researchers say.
 
Sauropods — the long-necked, long-tailed dinosaurs that included some of the largest ever land animals — could have produced enough methane to have "an important effect" on climate change, according to a report to be published in Tuesday's edition of Current Biology.
 
"Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources — both natural and man-made — put together," Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University said in a statement.(More)
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Book Review

The monster, the robot and the Artifact

Stargazer's old bottle contains a surprising new wine

Managing Editor, True North Perspective
Originally published at Edifice Rex Online

9 May 2012 — Genre literature only very rarely surprises a reader's expectations. In crime fiction, the detective solves the mystery, in adventure stories the bad guy gets his violent comeuppance and in a romance the girl gets the boy. Still less often does a children's fantasy stray much past the bounds of the familiar.
 
Very much to his credit (and, I hope, without giving too much away), the conclusion of Ottawa's Lulu Award nominated writer and artist Von Allan's new graphic novel, Stargazer Volume Two, takes what seems bound to be a tedious variation on And then she woke up a frankly shocking last-minute twist.
 
And with the twist, Stargazer takes flight, if it does not quite soar into the heavens. Allan's fantasy of three young girls trapped on an alien world and, like Dorothy Gale of Kansas, desperate to return home, becomes a story that, instead of providing no more for its intended (young) audience a diversion for an hour or two, should leave many among them moved, possibly to tears. (More.)
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Being online does change your brain, but so does making a cup of tea. A better question to ask is what parts of the brain are regular internet users using.
 
By Tom Stafford
BBC
 
24 April 2012This modern age has brought with it a new set of worries. As well as watching our weight and worrying about our souls, we now have to worry about our brain fitness too – if you believe the headlines. Is instant messaging eroding the attention centres of our brains? Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools preventing you from forming normal human bonds? And don’t forget email – apparently it releases the same addictive neurochemicals as crack cocaine!

Plenty of folk have been quick to capitalise on this neuro-anxiety. Amazon’s virtual shelves groan with brain-training books and games. (I confess I am not entirely innocent myself). You can fight the cognitive flab, these games promise, if you work that grey matter like a muscle. (More)

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Remembering Dan Wolf, the cofounder and original editor of The Village Voice

A lifelong New Yorker, he died at 80 on 11 April 2012

By Jay Walljasper
 
Dan Wolf was not trying to change the face of journalism when in 1955 he launched The Village Voice with novelist Norman Mailer and Ed Fancher, a truck driver-turned-psychologist. With no background in journalism beyond writing entries on philosophy for the Columbia Encyclopedia and handling publicity for the Turkish Information Office, the 40-year-old Wolf was more interested in shaking things up in his Greenwich Village neighborhood. He ended up influencing both the future of the neighborhood and the course of American journalism. A lifelong New Yorker, he died at 80 on April 11.
 
In the early years of Wolf’s editorship, The Village Voice helped lead the charge against a planned freeway that would have ripped through the heart of Greenwich Village, and it rallied opposition against the conservative Tammany Hall politicians who ruled neighborhood politics. The Voice championed a reform Democrat, a young man named Ed Koch, for whom Wolf would later serve as a high-level adviser during Koch’s long reign as mayor. (More)
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The Book End

Tomgram:

Ernest Callenbach, Last Words to an America in Decline

Rejected by 25 publishers, self-published novel sells a million

By Ernest Callenbach
TomDispatch.com
 
06 May 2012 — Thirty-five years later, it was still on my bookshelf in a little section on utopias (as well it should have been, being a modern classic). A friend had written his name inside the cover and even dated it: August 1976, the month I returned to New York City from years of R&R on the West Coast. Whether I borrowed it and never returned it or he gave it to me neither of us now remembers, but Ecotopia, the visionary novel 25 publishers rejected before Ernest Callenbach published it himself in 1975, was still there ready to be read again a lifetime later.

Callenbach once called that book “my bet with the future,” and in publishing terms it would prove a pure winner. To date it has sold nearly a million copies and been translated into many languages.  On second look, it proved to be a book not only ahead of its time but (sadly) of ours as well.  For me, it was a unique rereading experience, in part because every page of that original edition came off in my hands as I turned it.  How appropriate to finish Ecotopia with a loose-leaf pile of paper in a New York City where paper can now be recycled and so returned to the elements. (More)

 

 
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.
 

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