Russian neo-nazis get 10 to life for hate killings
that included decapitating one of their own gang
Sentences declared as right wing group allies with Russia’s third biggest political party
The St. Petersburg Times
13 July 2011 MOSCOW —
A Russian court on Monday handed down sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison to 12 members of the country’s most vicious neo-Nazi gang convicted of 27 hate killings, which included a videotaped decapitation of one of their own gang members and other crimes. — 931 words.
Three Georgian photographers go to trial September 1
as Russian military intelligence spies — one confessed
The St. Petersburg Times
13 July 2011 TBILISI, Georgia —
The personal photographer to the Georgian president was shown on television Saturday confessing to supplying a colleague with secret information that was then sent to Russian military intelligence. — 601 words.
Tripoli warns of food and water shortages as U.S.
'Humanitarian' bombing war proceeds against Libya
13 July 2011 Tripoli —
Libya could face a shortage of food because a lack of fuel has prevented it from bringing in most of this season's grain harvest, Muammar Gaddafi's agriculture minister said on Tuesday. — 237 words.
Women of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) in the civic-military parade to mark the bicentenary July 5.
Today Venezuelans are celebrating 200 years of independence with formal ceremonies and cultural events around the country, as well as a giant civic-military parade in Caracas.
On 5 July 1811 the congress of Venezuelan provinces adopted and signed the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, marking the point when Venezuelans decided to break away from the Spanish Crown and establish a new nation.
The new nation was based on a range of premises including equality, abolition of censorship, and freedom of expression that were radically opposed to the practices applied during the preceding three centuries of colonisation. — Click here for full story.
True North Perspective
Vol. 6, No. 24 (283)
Friday, July 15, 2011
When Hi Tech replaces critical thinking
it sucks investigative journalism into crime
To practice in the best traditions of investigative journalism requires intelligence, imagination, and long hours of hard work. Only the toughest in the field subscribe to it because they know that in the end they are all too often unlikely to find a place (radio, television, or print) to publish their hard won success if it runs against the interests as perceived by those who own the industry.
Thanks be to the open doors of the internet, at least to those on the internet whose only vested interest is in the truth.
Those at the low end of the journalism talent stick, with the connivance of their publishers and their editors, turn their second-rate talent on the weak and the helpless.
And I include among the latter description such as Prince Charles whose cell phone was hacked (we used to call it tapped) and he was outed as the Prince Who Would be a Tampon. I include the prince among the weak and the helpless because he's not very bright; just polished to the best degree possible by those who are employed to make the best of bad bargains.
But to include as targets for hacking and bribing the survivors of the immoral and criminally justified wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is reprehensible even for the bottom feeders at The News of the World. — 907 words.
"News is what (certain) people want to keep hidden. Everything else is just publicity."
-- PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
Your support makes it possible for True North to clear the fog of "publicity" and keep you informed on what's really happening in the world today. Please send your donation to:
Carl Dow, True North, Station E, P.O. Box 4814, Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9.
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainability Editor
Melting ice caps open up Arctic for 'white gold rush'
As rising temperatures expose more land for exploration, prospectors are rushing to the far north in the hope of carving out a new mineral frontier
4 July 2011 — The crumpled figure in seat 22 on the Air Greenland flight from Ilulissat to Kangerlussuaq was no Indiana Jones. But Dennis Thomas, a miningengineer viewing gold and diamond prospects in the Arctic, was happy to play up the part. "I've been shot at and involved in all sorts of other scrapes," the 62-year-old said as the plane cruised at 11,000 ft.
Thomas had spent 30 years scouring Latin America, the Far East and most other points around the globe, but this was his first time in Greenland. And it will not be his last.
"This is a very exciting place … There is only one working mine but in 10 years I would like to see them with half a dozen serious mines," he said. — 874 words.
The spotlight is on the news media
Crime in London with News of the World
Harper's gag rule that backfires in Ottawa
By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
14 July 2011 — The hasty termination of the News of the World in England has swung the spotlight onto the role of the news media.
The timing couldn’t be better.
Payments to cops and hacking phones don’t sound like what real journalists would be doing in the first place.
However, the issue that is far bigger than the tabloid’s fate is the media’s fascination with so-called celebrity news. — 864 words.
Bits and Bites of Everyday Life
Dare to be silly! Dare to have fun! (It's good for you)
“A laugh is a smile that bursts” Mary H. Waldrip
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.
15 July 2011 — The past two weeks have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The loss of my beloved sister-in-law, Arline, had me seesawing between wonderful memories shared together and being deeply aware that she is gone forever. After sending my article last week, I cried.
Jacques called a few minutes later and asked, “How are you?” I redirected the question: “How are YOU?” He answered “Fine!” and asked if I was crying. Afraid to open the dam, I just said, “Talk to me!” He did! I don’t recall what he said but the first thing I knew we were laughing and I felt good again. — 683 words.
Summer time ... and the camping is easy
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
15 July 2011 — It's cottage season, for some, but not for us. Many years ago, shortly after we were married, my spouse announced that we are not cottage people, “We are going to buy a tent.”
Of course tents are much cheaper. Some of my friends had bought crown land, water accessible only, with the proviso of erecting a structure of certain dimensions within a limited period of time. We went camping.
Another reason my spouse gave me for not owning a cottage was that she was in no mood to spend all summer hosting even friends. She knew whereof she spoke inasmuch as her parents owned a cottage at Cavendish in P.E.I. — 820 words.
From the Desk of Shannon Lee Mannion, Contributing Editor
Addressing the politics of Women's Rights
New Women's Party would redefine
the political process for all Canadians
By Pauleanna Reid
From unequal salaries to a poor national childcare policy, there isn't a lot being done for women in Canada, and many organizations that served women have been demolished. Perhaps it's time for political reform.
In January 2011 two Ottawa women, Esther Matharu and Shannon Lee Mannion formed the Women's Alliance Party/Parti alliance femmes (WAP/PAF). Although WAP/PAF was founded by women for women, Mannion, spokesperson and co-founder, clarifies that involvement in the party is not exclusive to women. She explains that men are welcome to participate, however, WAP/PAF's main focus remains the lack of concern for women's issues. — 461 words.
Why I quit my job
A CTV star reporter let's it all hang out
(In case you missed it, we bring you the entire statement by CTV journalist Kai Nagata. It's worth printing and reading later by the lake. Meanwhile, please find below the intro and three excerpts.)
By Kai Nagata
8 July 2011 — Until Thursday, I was CTV’s Quebec City Bureau Chief, based at the National Assembly, mostly covering politics. It’s a fascinating beat - the most interesting provincial legislature in Canada, and the stories coming out of there lately have been huge. The near-implosion of the Parti Quebecois has kept the press gallery hopping well into summer. If you’re not from Quebec, it’s hard to explain the place the National Assembly holds in the popular imagination – but suffice to say that within francophone journalistic circles it carries more prestige than Parliament Hill. I had the privilege to be working next to several of the sharpest reporters in the country.
I was a full-time employee making good money, with comprehensive benefits and retirement options (I was even lucky enough to be hired before Bell bought CTV and began clawing back some of those expensive perks.) It was what I would qualify as a “great job,” especially for a 24-year old. Many of you told me how proud you were of my quick climb. But there was a growing gap between the reporter I played on TV, and the person I really am and want to become. I reached my breaking point suddenly, although when I look back now, the signposts were clear.
Barbie and Ken win over talent
Take newsroom aesthetics as an example. I admit (I) felt a profound discomfort working in an industry that so casually sexualizes its workforce. Every hiring decision is scrutinized using a skewed, unspoken ratio of talent to attractiveness, where attractiveness often compensates for a glaring lack of other qualifications. The insecurity, self doubt, and body-image issues endured by otherwise confident, intelligent journalists would break your heart. And clearly there’s a double standard, a split along gender lines. But in an environment where a lot of top executives are women, what I’m talking about applies to men as well. The idea has taken root that if the people reporting the news look like your family and neighbours, instead of Barbie and Ken, the station will lose viewers.
The Kate and Will Show
It’s a vicious cycle, and it creates things like the Kate and Will show. Wall-to-wall, breaking-news coverage of a stage-managed, spoon-fed celebrity visit, justified by the couple’s symbolic relationship to a former colony, codified in a document most Canadians have never read (and one province has never signed). On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge.
Right wing crocodile tears
Jon Stewart talks about a “right-wing narrative of victimization,” and what it has accomplished in Canada is the near-paralysis of progressive voices in broadcasting. In the States, even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace admitted there is an adversarial struggle afoot – that, in his view, networks like NBC have a “liberal” bias and Fox is there to tell “the other side of the story.” Well, Canada now has its Fox News. Krista Erickson, Brian Lilley, and Ezra Levant each do a wonderful send-up of the TV anchor character. The stodgy, neutral, unbiased broadcaster trope is played for jokes before the Sun News team gleefully rips into its targets. But Canada has no Jon Stewart to unravel their ideology and act as a counterweight. Our satirists are toothless and boring, with the notable exception of Jean-René Dufort. And on the more serious side, we have no Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. So I don’t see any true debate within the media world itself, in the sense of a national, public clash of ideas. The Canadian right wing, if you want to call it that, has had five years to get the gloves off. With a majority Conservative government in power, they’re putting on brass knuckles. Meanwhile the left is grasping about in a pair of potholders. The only explanation I can think of is they’re too polite, or too scared. If it’s the latter, I think it’s clear enough why. — 3,128 words.
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.
On my way home tonight I decided to check out one of my streets that has an interesting assortment of old houses, some of which are run down but many have been well maintained. All are interesting to look at.
It is encouraging to see the owners trying to maintain the original character of these old homes.
One particular house I always like to check has a circular sidewalk leading to the entrance. — 488 words.
From the Desk of Darren Jerome
Julian Assange may have to wait 21 days
before high court rules on his extradition
Julian Assange extradition appeal hearing – day two live coverage
13 July 2011 LONDON England — Robert Booth at the high court and Paul Owen at the Guardian office bring you full coverage of the second day of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's battle to avoid being sent to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations
The high court has reserved judgment on whether Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. A judgment is not expected for at least three weeks.
Here are the key points from today's hearing: — 4,478 words.
Money and Markets
Crisis of ideology, crisis of imagination
Financial markets and right-wing economist have the problem exactly backwards and are speeding us all quickly along the road to catastrophe
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
6 July 2011, NEW YORK, NY — Just a few years ago, a powerful ideology – the belief in free and unfettered markets – brought the world to the brink of ruin. Even in its hey-day, from the early 1980’s until 2007, American-style deregulated capitalism brought greater material well-being only to the very richest in the richest country of the world. Indeed, over the course of this ideology’s 30-year ascendance, most Americans saw their incomes decline or stagnate year after year.
I was among those who hoped that, somehow, the financial crisis would teach Americans (and others) a lesson about the need for greater equality, stronger regulation, and a better balance between the market and government. Alas, that has not been the case. On the contrary, a resurgence of right-wing economics, driven, as always, by ideology and special interests, once again threatens the global economy – or at least the economies of Europe and America, where these ideas continue to flourish. — 826 words.
New religion no strain for Austrian drivers' licence authorities
'Pastafarian' permitted to don collander for licence photo
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear"
14 July 2011 —
Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.
Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.
Later a police spokesman explained that the licence was issued because Mr Alm's face was fully visible in the photo.
"The photo was not approved on religious grounds. The only criterion for photos in driving licence applications is that the whole face must be visible," said Manfred Reinthaler, a police spokesman in Vienna. — 467 words.
Always worth repeating
'Give us the tools and we'll finish the job'
— Winston Churchill
Let's say that news throughout human time has been free. Take that time when Ugh Wayne went over to the cave of Mugh Payne with news that the chief of his group had broken a leg while chasing his laughing wife around the fire. That news was given freely and received as such with much knowing smiles and smirks to say nothing of grunts of approval or disapproval. — 688 words.
Report from Obama's America
Clone wars: Obama administration's 'wars' are
pilotless drones dropping bombs the world over
By Tom Engelhardt
12 July 2011 —
The Global War on Terror (or GWOT in acronym-crazed Washington) was the bastard spawn
of the disorientation and soaring hubris of the days after the 9/11 attacks, which set afire the delusional geopolitical dreams of Bush, Cheney, their top national security officials, and their neocon supporters.
And here's the saddest thing: the Bush administration's most extreme ideas when it comes to GWOT are now the humdrum norm of Obama administration policies — and hardly anyone thinks it's worth a comment. — 2,774 words.
By Ed Pilkington
10 July 2011, NEW YORK, NY —
Sandra Rawline's hair turned grey when she was in her early 20s. She stuck with it, proudly displaying her shoulder-length locks with their natural silver streaks. "This is who I am," she said.
But in August 2009 her boss approached her and told her she had to dye that hair – her boss even offered to do the colouring.
When she refused, the Houston Chronicle
reports, she was fired within a week and replaced by a woman 10 years her junior. She has sued for discrimination in the Houston courts. — 321 words.
Lies, damned lies, and Nivea Cream
13 July 2011 —
A recent settlement in the United States prohibits the manufacturer of Nivea skin cream from claiming one of its products can significantly reduce body size, but the cream continues to be sold using similar claims in Canada.
On June 29, the Federal Trade Commission announced it had reached a settlement
with skin care company Beiersdorf Inc. The agreement required the company to stop claiming its Nivea My Silhouette! Slimming and Reshaping Gel Cream can help consumers slim down, and to pay $900,000 in compensation to consumers. — 594 words.
For a long life, skip the salt, have a banana
12 July 2011 CHICAGO —
Put down the salt shakers. Eating too much salt and too little potassium can increase the risk of death, U.S. government researchers said on Monday.
'This changes everything!'
The Glass Teat
Torchwood: Miracle Day
A little bit of Wales comes to America
By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor, True North Perspective
Geoffrey Dow will be watching Torchwood: Miracle Day all summer long. You can read his introductory essay at Ed-Rex.com.
15 July 2011 — There's no secret to the MacGuffin behind Torchwood: Miracle Day. All of a sudden, the world over, nobody dies. That doesn't mean they don't get hurt or sick or (in one especially gruesome case) exploded and burned to a crisp by the bombs he's strapped to his own chest) — it just means they don't die.
A Big Idea for a summer science fiction series, and show-runner (and screen-writer) Russell T Davies seems determined to play up its implications even as he spends his shiny new American budget to blow things up as he's never blown them up before.
Interview: Marc L. Moskowitz
Taiwan's funeral strippers dance for a dead crowd
By Cyriaque Lamar
9 July 2011 — Should you meet your demise in Taiwan, a funerary option open to you is the Electric Flower Car (EFC), a wheeled, neon-lit platform upon which pulchritudinous women strip down to their skivvies for the benefit of audiences...both living and deceased.
We spoke with University of South Carolina anthropologist Marc L. Moskowitz about this practice, which is detailed in his recent documentary Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan. Moskowitz told us about the societal role of EFC entertainers, who often perform their titillating trade in front of the bereaved family and neighborhood passers-by.
In your experience, how common would you say it is for strippers to entertain at funerals? — 1,542 words.
The Old Man's Last Sauna
A collection of short stories by Carl Dow
An eclectic collection of short stories that will stir your sense of humour, warm your heart, outrage your sense of justice, and chill your extra sensory faculties in the spirit of Stephen King. The final short story, the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna is a ground-breaking love story.
The series begins with Deo Volente (God Willing). Followed by The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Sharing Lies, Flying High, The Richest Bitch in the County or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, One Lift Too Many, The 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 Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.