Friday 13 April 2012


First day of Syrian ceasefire brings uneasy calm

as leery residents tell of first nervous steps outdoors

'We do not feel any safer. This [ceasefire] seems to be a big deal for the outside world but for us inside Syria we are used to these people playing with the Syrian people. People in charge playing games with the Syrian people, the Arab League playing games with the Syrian people, [Barack] Obama and [David] Cameron playing games with the Syrian people.'

By Mona Mahmood

Thursday 12 April 2012 — When the ceasefire came at last to Sour Elzaut village in Syria's Barada valley, it made a small but significant difference to the life of the shopkeeper Abu Ayahim: he was able to take a short, nervous walk through the place where he lives.

"I could not leave my house the day before," he told the Guardian. "But today I'm able to take few steps in my neighbourhood – still not far, because I'm worried to leave the family alone at home."

Despite a sharp easing in violence, fear has not abated enough for him to open his business again. (More)

The Great Betrayal of 2012

Conservative financial analyst says Washington conspires

with Beijing to gut value of dollar to escape economic ruin 

Be sure to take time to observe the video and/or to read the text by Larry Edelson, Editor, Real Wealth Report. Larry Edelson is a leading financial analyst with the prestigious Weiss Reasearch of Jupiter, Forida, United States of America. Weiss and his group of financial analysts, via Money and Markets, has been calling it right on the economy for decades. The report here is shocking, to say the least. First there's a video but if you prefer not to listen you just have click the exit button and a print version will appear that can be copied and read later. (More)

Despite CIA evidence to the contrary

CSIS persists in hounding wrong man

By Ian MacLeod
Postmedia News

08 April 2012 OTTAWA Canada — Information from the US Central Intelligence Agency used by Canada to link accused Ottawa terrorist Mohamed Harkat to “al-Qaida’s banker” was untrue, according to a former senior CIA case officer.

The man thought to be Osama bin Laden’s main financial fixer “wasn’t the senior member of al-Qaida that we had assessed. He wasn’t even a member of al-Qaida,” retired U.S. spy Glenn Carle, who interrogated the man at secret CIA black site prisons in 2002, told an Ottawa gathering to promote his blistering memoir about the case, The Interrogator: An Education. (More)
True North Perspective publishes in
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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. 11 (313)
Friday 13 April 2012
Guest Editorial

US policy inceasingly out of touch with Latin America's

new reality, spending $100 million to oust Hugo Chavez

By Ewan Robertson
Latin America Bureau

11 April 2012 — As both countries head toward important presidential elections this year, the United States has been intensifying its interventionist policy in Venezuela. However, US attempts to influence Venezuela’s domestic politics while casting it a “rogue state” on an international level, is leaving the Obama administration increasingly out-of-sync with Latin America’s new political reality.

US spends more than $100 million on intervention

Since the election of President Hugo Chávez in 1998, US policy has aimed at removing the Venezuelan president from power and ending the Bolivarian Revolution that he leads. This policy has included support by the Bush presidency for the short-lived April 2002 coup in Venezuela, which failed after mass protests returned Chávez to power. Since then the US has focused on nurturing Venezuela’s conservative opposition, channelling more than US$100 million to groups opposed to Chávez since 2002. Meanwhile Washington and US corporate mass media have attempted to de-legitimise his government internationally in a propaganda campaign, portraying Venezuela as a threat to the US and its president as a “dangerous dictator” who has trampled upon democracy and human rights. (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.
Letters to the Editor
Carl: A great issue []. I enjoyed reading the pieces on The F-35, Harper's evangelical beliefs, Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris and Yvette. Please accept my condolences on losing someone so near and dear to your heart.

Best regards

David Aplin, Toronto

True North Perspective's Editor and Publisher Carl Dow
adds Humanist Perspectives to his plate
New Humanist Perspectives editor Carl Dow (centre) confers with new reader, Viki Ball (left) and former editor Henry Beissel (right) at the launch of a new issue of Humanist Perspectives at Ottawa's Brittons News and Magazine store at Bank Street and Fifth Avenue on Saturday March 23, 2012. Great discussions and brisk sales. Carl Dow continues as Editor and Publisher of True North Perspective. Image by The Phantom Photographer.

Alex Binkley is a foremost political and economic analyst, whose website is 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

Hunger and other food failings

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

13 April 2012 — We’ve all been disturbed by images of starving kids and chronically hungry people in developing countries or heard the disturbing reports of food shortages in North Korea.

When Per Pinstrup-Andersen talks about these and other shortcomings in world food supplies, he leaves the audience feeling even more uncomfortable.

Pinstrup-Anderson teaches food, nutrition and public policy at Cornell University and draws on his extensive experience in international food organizations. 

One of every seven people in the world doesn’t get enough to eat while obesity is an expanding challenge in many developed countries, he told a recent gathering in Ottawa of MPs and farm and food industry representatives organized by CropLifeCanada. (More)
From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem

Insurance market joins environmentalists in highlighting risks of drilling in fragile region as $100bn investment is predicted
By Julia Kollewe and Terry Macalister
The Guardian UK
12 April 2012 — Lloyd's of London, the world's biggest insurance market, has become the first major business organisation to raise its voice about huge potential environmental damage from oil drilling in the Arctic.

The City institution estimates that $100bn (£63bn) of new investment is heading for the far north over the next decade, but believes cleaning up any oil spill in the Arctic, particularly in ice-covered areas, would present "multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk".

Richard Ward, Lloyd's chief executive, urged companies not to "rush in [but instead to] step back and think carefully about the consequences of that action" before research was carried out and the right safety measures put in place. (More)
By Emily Jackson
Toronto Star
11 April 2012 — The Royal Canadian Mint wants to get rid of pocket change — and it’s enlisting hacker-types for help.
Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip.
Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says.
To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip. (More.)
By Terry Milewski
CBC News
13 April 2012 — In retrospect, there's still nothing quite as startling as this in the auditor general's report on the F-35 program: page 27. That's where Auditor General Michael Ferguson skewered the government with evidence that the charge dogging it for two years was true: that it concealed the full cost of the new fighters.
Ferguson's Page 27 lays out the facts very simply to show that the government told itself the costs were $10 billion higher than the figure it gave to the public.
In one column, Ferguson shows the internal estimate that was "used for decision making," one month before the government announced its decision to buy the F-35 in July of 2010. The figures were not made public — until Ferguson found them. (More.)

Spirit Quest

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective
13 April 2012 — It was one of those pleasant September evenings, my parents and I were sitting on the steps of our porch enjoying the remainder of the day when a shiny new car pulled into our driveway. Few cars had ever used that lane inasmuch as we didn’t own a car, not yet, and the neighbours called on foot. Presently the driver got out. It was Mr. Weese, the owner of Weese Motors in Trenton, Ontario.

He approached us and announced, “This car isn’t what you ordered but your name has come up on the waiting list and I thought you might want to look at it. If you don’t want it you will retain your place in the queue. You might have to wait a good while before the car you ordered is available.  Have a look.” (More)


Cop says Frances Sedgwick not, repeat not,

a suspect in Parkdale Scotiabank robbery

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective
Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

12 April 2012 — Today I needed to get "out and about" so I went to Queen Street to see what was happening.
At the corner of Queen St West and Lansdowne Ave there is a Bank of Nova Scotia.
I noticed a yellow tape around the entrance.  As I was waiting to cross the street I said to the lady beside me, "wonder what this is about".
She replied I am just going there and will find out. I walked behind her as she approached the police officer standing in front of the bank taking notes. (More.)
Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Easter thoughts

You are the creator. This is the mystery.

“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.” Kahlil Gibran

True North Perspective

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

13 April 2012 — A small pamphlet was left at my door on Saturday. “What is the face of your God?” was the question. Easter was a good time to ponder such a question.
When I was small, I preferred the image of Baby Jesus in his mother’s arms… that tiny baby who was adored. Hadn’t the magi come from afar to honour him and bring precious gifts just as the simple shepherds had? Hadn’t they seen in him a future saviour and king? As I grew up, it was the image of Jesus, the crucified, that was offered. And the clergy hammered into our heads that he had suffered and died on the cross because of our sins (yours and mine). That image of torture and cruelty frightened and bewildered me; I could not believe I was responsible for his death. What had I done? I prayed fervently, still preferring the image of Mary, Mother of God. (More.)

Beating the Drum

The Illusions of Credentials

By Beverly Blanchard
True North Perspective
Beverly Blanchard is an Ojibway First Nation from Northern Ontario.  She holds a degree in Economics. During the last twenty-two years, she has worked as a consultant to First Nation and Inuit organizations in a variety of disciplines including: homelessness, suicide prevention, violence prevention, childcare, HIV/AIDS, women’s issues, business planning, and economic development. She has also designed and delivered Aboriginal awareness and stress management workshops to Federal government employees. Currently, Ms Blanchard is a life strategy coach, author and energy healer in Ottawa.

It is amazing how much respect we are taught to garner to people who have certificates on the wall and letters beside their name. ‘They have the credentials to the job,’ we say. ‘They know what they are talking about. Just look at all the degree on the wall.’ Do they really?

Our society is replete with individuals who are looked at as experts because they have gotten some degree or accreditation. Yet put them in the real world and all those credentials are meaningless. They have no common sense or street smarts. Everything they know comes from a book, and many can’t deviate or think outside the box.

Case in point is the number of people who have the letters MBA after their name. Those three little letters we were told meant that a person knew how to manage an organization or grow a business. They were the experts in business. So in the 1990s, schools everywhere were offering the designation. Heck you could even get it online in the comfort of your own home. Yet, what they discovered was that most MBA graduates knew the theory, however they couldn’t make a decision even if their life depended on it. The MBA graduate spent most of their time analyzing the situation, and creating lovely but useless mission statements and mandates. (More)
Reality Check
(Don't bother us, we're busy fighting for democracy in Syria)
By Dan Holtmeyer
Daily Nebraskan
5 March 2012 LINCOLN Nebraska — A police officer casually dressed, but for the shining silver badge hanging from her neck, walked into the nearly empty Lincoln Police Department on a November evening. She will remain unnamed because her work is undercover, first in prostitution, now in narcotics.
One evening about five years ago, she said, a man walked up to her on a sidewalk near downtown. "Hey, what's up?" he asked, striking apparently normal conversation. But a few minutes later, the officer said, the man turned to her and made his intentions chillingly clear. (More)

Annals of Education

Florida high school graduate student says of 2.5 million

American slaves many are trapped in domestic servitude

His film will expose slaves being made to work 19 hours a day

By Emily Blackwood
Staff Writer

Sunday 8 April 2012 — Though the history books may say slavery ended with the Civil War, there are currently 27 million people enslaved throughout the world, with 2.5 million located in the United States, according to the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. These people are exploited for sex, physical labor and servitude, and UCF film graduate student Max Rousseau wants to do something about it.

Human trafficking is not centrally focused around prostitution, as some people might think. Domestic slavery, also known as domestic servitude, happens when people are brought in to work as maids but are taken advantage of by their employers and become subjected to sexual and physical abuse. They are forced to work up to 19 hours a day for little pay and are not allowed to leave the home, according to This is one of the least-reported varieties of human trafficking. (More)
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.

By Ewan Robertson
09 April 2012 MÉRIDA Venezuela — Venezuela’s national minimum wage is to increase 32.25% in 2012, announced Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday 07 April.
In a televised address from Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Chavez said that the wage rise would take place in two phases. On 1 May the minimum monthly salary will increase by 15%, from 1,548 bolivars (US $360) to 1,780 bolivars (US $414). Then on 1 September the wage will increase a further 15% to 2,048 bolivars (US $476), a net rise of 32.25%. (More)
The Associated Press 
11 April 2012 KIEV Ukraine — It's a game that every Ukrainian knows about: The "Death Match" of 1942, when top Kiev soccer players trounced a team of Nazi occupiers and reportedly paid for it with their lives.
But Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday froze the release of a movie depicting that Soviet defiance of Nazi Germany because of concerns it could ignite explosive emotions just weeks before Ukraine co-hosts the 2012 European Championship. (More)


The wheels of science grind slowly:
Mathematical analysis adds to growing body of work questioning the negative results of a life-detection experiment 36 years ago
By Irene Klotz
2 April 2012 — New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week.
Further, NASA doesn't need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News.
"On the basis of what we've done so far, I'd say I'm 99 percent sure there's life there," he added. (More.)

Teamwork built our big brains

Computer simulation suggests working together evolved bigger brains

By Helen Fields

10 April 2012 — The average adult human's brain weighs about 1.3 kilograms, has 100 billion or so neurons, and sucks up 20% of the oxygen we breathe. It's much bigger than an animal our size needs. According to a new computer model, the brains of humans and related primates are so large because we evolved to be social creatures. If we didn't play well with others, our brains would be puny.
The idea behind the so-called social intelligence hypothesis is that we need pretty complex computers in our skulls to keep track of all the complex relationships we have with each other — who's a friend, who's an enemy, who's higher in the social ranks. Some studies have supported this idea, showing for example that bigger-brained primates tend to live in bigger social groups. The same appears to hold true for dolphins. (More.)

Occupy the academy!

How an angry maths blog sparked a scientific revolution

By Alok Jha
The Guardian
9 April 2012 — It began with a frustrated blogpost by a distinguished mathematician. Tim Gowers and his colleagues had been grumbling among themselves for several years about the rising costs of academic journals.
They, like many other academics, were upset that the work produced by their peers, and funded largely by taxpayers, sat behind the paywalls of private publishing houses that charged UK universities hundreds of millions of pounds a year for the privilege of access.
There had been talk last year that a major scientific body might come out in public to highlight the problem and rally scientists to speak out against the publishing companies, but nothing was happening fast.
So, in January this year, Gowers wrote an article on his blog declaring that he would henceforth decline to submit to or review papers for any academic journal published by Elsevier, the largest publisher of scientific journals in the world.
He was not expecting what happened next. (More.)

Before the Revolution 2 — The Two Minutes Hate

By David McLaren
Special to True North Perspective
David McLaren is an award-winning writer living at Neyaashiinigamiing on Georgian Bay. He has worked in government, in the private sector, with ENGOs (Environmental Non-Government Organizations) and First Nations. Comments on this and other essays are welcome at

Winston sat in his cubicle in the Department and stared at his computer screen for a long time. O’Brien, his boss, had sent him a memo saying the Minister wanted a rationale for doing away with section 13 of the Human Rights Act. The Prime Leader’s Office had deemed it too vague to be useful and a threat to free speech besides.

He always got these assignments. He got them because he was, except for O’Brien himself, the longest serving policy analyst in the Department. He had somehow survived the purge of the civil service, and now the Party deemed him loyal enough to impart some sort of historical validity to their policy changes without damaging the new reality they were constructing. (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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