Friday 15 October 2010

China's Pipelineistan "War":

Anteing up, betting and bluffing in the new Great Game

By Pepe Escobar

12 October 2010 — Future historians may well agree that the twenty-first century Silk Road first opened for business on December 14, 2009. That was the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang Province in China’s far west. Hyperbole did not deter the spectacularly named Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan’s president, from bragging, "This project has not only commercial or economic value. It is also political. China, through its wise and farsighted policy, has become one of the key guarantors of global security."

The bottom line is that, by 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more dizzying economic heights courtesy of natural gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer-long Central Asia Pipeline, then projected to be operating at full capacity. And to think that, in a few more years, China’s big cities will undoubtedly also be getting a taste of Iraq’s fabulous, barely tapped oil reserves, conservatively estimated at 115 billion barrels, but possibly closer to 143 billion barrels, which would put it ahead of Iran. When the Bush administration’s armchair generals launched their Global War on Terror, this was not exactly what they had in mind.

China’s economy is thirsty, and so it’s drinking deeper and planning deeper yet. It craves Iraq’s oil and Turkmenistan’s natural gas, as well as oil from Kazakhstan. Yet instead of spending more than a trillion dollars on an illegal war in Iraq or setting up military bases all over the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, China used its state oil companies to get some of the energy it needed simply by bidding for it in a perfectly legal Iraqi oil auction. — Read the full article at, 3,122 words.

  Cartoon by Steve Benson,  

Nine months after the quake - a million Haitians slowly dying

By Bill Quigley

11 October 2010 — "If it gets any worse," said Wilda, a homeless Haitian mother, "we're not going to survive." Mothers and grandmothers surrounding her nodded solemnly.

We are in a broiling "tent" with a group of women trying to raise their families in a public park. Around the back of the Haitian National Palace, the park hosts a regal statute of Alexandre Petion in its middle. It is now home to 5,000 people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake.

Nine months after the quake, over a million people are still homeless in Haiti. Read the full story inside, 1,352 words.
Our readers write

I read Alberte's article with great satisfaction because she has offered solid arguments that I can add to mine when I debate miracles. Congratulations and thank you for handling this subject both in a scientific way and a solid belief in miracles and miracle workers such as Brother André based on faith.
 — Anita Bourdeau, Ottawa, Ont.

I really enjoyed "Don't be a chicken!" and can attest to its truthfulness. After living such a saga with my parents, I vowed to be autonomous and free in my relationship with my husband. Thinking about my mother's plight motivated and encouraged me to pursue my university studies and stage a comfortable retirement for myself. Thank you for inspiring me... and many others, I'm sure!
 — Lorraine Tassé, Orléans, Ont.

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Editor's Notes
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 44 (248)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Pondering the interconnectedness of all things ...

Only in 1928 were Canadian women recognized as 'persons'

Monday, the 18th of this month, marks a little-known but symbolically momentous anniversary for Canadians. It was on that date in 1928 only 82 years ago that the British Privy Council (proving that imperialism isn't all bad), decided that the Supreme Court of Canada had been wrong, and that women — the half of the human race born without a penis — were 'persons' after all.

Of course, the decision did not come to women (and to Canada's men, even if many of them did not realize it at the time) as a gift out of the blue from across the pond. It was a victory, a prize hard-won after not just years, but two decades of struggle (and indeed, of more decades of work before that; the road of human progress is a long and winding one indeed. — Read the full story inside,  567 words.

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Report from Harper's Canada

Free (for now), but not free to speak

Accused G20 ringleader released on 'staggering' conditions

By Dan Robson
Toronto Star
15 October 2010 — Alex Hundert’s words will not appear in this story.

Unlike other Canadians, he’s not allowed to speak to the press.

At least that’s how a court interpreted the new bail conditions placed on Hundert, an accused ringleader of violence during the G20 summit in June.

“It’s staggering in its breadth,” said John Norris, Hundert’s lawyer. “I’ve never heard of anything as broad as that.”

Hundert, 30, faces three counts of conspiracy pertaining to G20 activities, and was released in July on $100,000 bail with about 20 terms, including not participating in any public demonstration.

— Read the full article at the Toronto Star, 435 words.
Legal system hurts itself
By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

15 October 2010 — Canada’s civilian and military justice systems seem determined to prove the old line from Charles Dickens that the law is an ass.

The court martial of Capt. David Semrau was a disgrace from beginning to end while the court action against Toronto grocer David Chen is plain boneheaded. One hates to think how many taxpayer dollars were wasted in these two prosecutions plus the public disrespect they both heap on justice in Canada.

Semrau was found not guilty of the criminal charges of second-degree or attempted murder but guilty of disgraceful conduct and booted from the military. Just what the disgraceful conduct was doesn’t seem to have been explained. Perhaps it was that Semrau, although promoted to a position of considerable authority because of his leadership ability, wasn’t supposed to think for himself on the battlefield. Follow a rule book even if you and your men are in danger. — Read the full story inside, 552 worlds.

You're going a long way (to succeed), baby!

Canadian corporate female stars strike career gold with foreign employers

'For me it was the two American companies that really made a difference'

By Jacquie McNish
The Globe and Mail
10 October 2010 — During her five years as chief executive officer of Canada Post, Moya Greene was courted half a dozen times to join corporate boards or run another business.

All but one of the offers were from foreign companies. The last overture was so enticing that she opted in May to walk from an unfinished makeover at Canada Post to be the first woman to lead Britain’s Royal Mail, a postal service twice the size of Canada’s. It is no surprise to Ms. Greene, 56, that only one of her suitors was Canadian.

Is there something wrong with executive recruiting in Canada?” says Ms. Greene, a blunt-talking executive with 30 years of experience on Bay Street and in the federal government. Even though “women are so successful at different levels” in Canadian business, she says “they are not seen and their shoulder is not tapped to be the leader of the organization.”

— Read the full article at The Globe and Mail, 864 words.

What's a little false imprisonment, torture and years spent trapped in the Canadian embassy between citizens?

Ottawa says Abdelrazik deserves no compensation

By Paul Koring
The Globe and Mail

14 October 2010 — Abousfian Abdelrazik deserves nothing, despite claims that he was tortured in Sudan’s notorious prisons after being targeted by Canadian counterterrorism agents, the government says in a sweeping repudiation of a $27-million lawsuit.
Mr. Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, was denied return to Canada for years until a federal court judge ruled the Harper government had violated his rights and ordered him flown home. He claims that Canadian agents arranged for his arrest in Khartoum, that they knew he would be tortured, and that government ministers, acting in bad faith, then willfully thwarted his return even after he was released from prison. — Read the full story at The Globe and Mail, words.
Change the digital locks!
But counterfeiting treaty conclusion leaves room for a made-in-Canada approach
By Michael Geist
12 October 2010 — Negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement concluded earlier this month, with Canada, the United States, the European Union and a handful of other countries releasing the text of a near-complete agreement. While several key issues are still unresolved, no further negotiation rounds are planned, as participants plan to use the coming weeks to iron out the remaining differences.

For many Canadians, a core concern with the agreement was the possibility that it could severely limit the ability to establish a made-in-Canada approach on copyright and intellectual property policy. Indeed, NDP digital affairs critic Charlie Angus raised the issue in the House of Commons last year, noting that ACTA could undermine domestic policy.

Industry Minister Tony Clement responded by assuring Canadians that "the ACTA negotiations are in fact subservient to any legislation that is put forward in the House." Clement's response was certainly true as a legal matter, yet from a practical perspective there was little doubt that any new Canadian legislation would be designed to be ACTA compliant. — Read the full article at, 624 words.
Bits and bites of everyday life
There is praise, and there is praise; not all words of approval are created equal
True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more:

15 October 2010 —This year, we were blessed with beautiful weather for the Thanksgiving weekend. In the spirit of enjoying life to the fullest, I booked a package deal of room, three-course dinner, massage and Sunday brunch at the Château Logue in Maniwaki. The Gatineau Hills are in full splendor at this time of the year! Sunshine and blue skies, the smell of dry leaves and pine needles in the crisp autumn air were invigorating. After a good lunch at the Rabaska Restaurant we went for a walk along the Désert River, crossing paths with a homeless person who seemed to be waiting for someone. We then drove to “La mie et la croûte” artisan bakery to buy homemade bread and croissants. We continued our tour of Maniwaki, stopping at the golf club to examine its intricate bridge and take photos.

The evening dinner at the Château was excellent and the staff, extremely courteous and helpful. The next morning, Martine (our bubbly, young massage therapist) offered a quality one-hour massage. At this time of the year, when my body has to adjust to the cool dampness of autumn when working outdoors, a massage is a wonderful treat. — Read the full story inside, 1,404  words.
Toronto the Good may elect Tea Party mayor

Ten-year Toronto Councillor says he's anti-politician

Critics say media gives Rob Ford undeserved boost 

Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail says, 'The large and solid Mr. Ford has all the flair, intellect and vision of a block of concrete.'

By Alexandra Bosanac
12 October 2010 — Torontonians are bracing themselves. Election night is Monday, October 25, only ten days away. On the left, there are whispers of a mutiny if Rob Ford becomes mayor.
Yes, it really is that bad.
Ford has been able to position himself as the everyman-type: someone with no political baggage, who won't be currying favours to friends because he has none, at least not on council (he eats his lunch alone). Some have started calling him the first Canadian Tea Partier, Adam Vaughn included, which may be stretching it a bit. 
Margaret Wente said that, "The large and solid Mr. Ford has all the flair, intellect and vision of a block of concrete," and all that George Smitherman, second-runner up and former Deputy Premier of Ontario, has to offer is the guarantee that he is "not Rob Ford."
And yet Ford is the front-runner in this race. — Read the full article at The Canadian Journalism Project, 668 words.


Hungary's sludge pond disaster could happen in Canada

Alberta's tar sands tail ponds alone cover a Vancouver-sized area, and safety plans are secret
By Gillian McEachern

15 October 2010 — As we watch the toxic tailings sludge devastate land and water in Hungary, Canadians wonder "could it happen here?" Canada does, after all, have tailings ponds across the country to contain the toxic byproducts of mining and tar sands production. But surely a country as developed and responsible as Canada would have strong regulatory safeguards in place to prevent such an accident compared to Hungary, right?
Now is the time to ask our federal government just that question, as it ponders granting approval for a new tar sands mine, proposed by French energy company Total, which would add two more tailings ponds and produce 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings every year. —Read the full article at, 717 words.
From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
Eight rules for sustainable communities

Rule 7: Smarter streets are cheaper streets

Invest in lighter, greener, cheaper, smarter infrastructure

By Patrick M. Condon

7 October 2010 — Road and stormwater infrastructure often destroys the ecological function of the land that supports it and burdens home buyers and taxpayers through its cost to install, maintain and replace. Since the end of the Second World War, the per dwelling unit cost for providing, maintaining and replacing infrastructure (defined here as the physical means for moving people, goods, energy and liquids through the city) has increased by nearly 400 per cent according to some estimates.

Most of this per capita increase has been the consequence of ever more demanding engineering standards for residential roads, coupled with the gradual increase in per capita land demand over the decades (or at least until the year 2000), a consequence of universally applied sprawl patterns throughout the United States and Canada.

The first costs of these ever more odious engineering standards and ever more exclusive zoning regulations were often invisible to the taxpayer, buried as they were within the costs of the original home purchase— Read the full article at, 2,382 words.
Spirit Quest
'All absurd! All impossible!'

But a spirit has crossed the Northumberland Strait

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

15 October 2010 — Every year after most of the tourists have carted off the last and best of the lobsters and oysters, my spouse and I visit “The Island,”  Prince Edward Island, that is.  

My spouse, an Islander herself, refers to this annual pilgrimage as “watering the roots.” We see this beautiful province “cradled in the waves”  or Abigweit as the natives called it, not through the lenses of those thousands of visitors that pour off enormous cruise ships, planes and buses, but through the eyes of “real” Islanders. Her cousins, mostly retired farmers, once upon a time plowed the red soil and planted the spuds  that P.E.I. is highly noted for. — Read the full story inside, 1,203 words.

From the Desk of Alex Binkley, Contributing Editor

No! Canada — No room at the U.N.

Weak Canadian hand played badly

By Mark Entwistle
Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Insitute
Mark Entwistle is a Fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, a former Ambassador and former Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada.
13 October 2010 — The United Nations Security Council election has to be a wake-up call for the Prime Minister.
Yesterday Canada went before the 192 countries of the United Nations to seek election to the Security Council. We have been here six other times since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, and have never lost an election until now.

Canada's withdrawal from the election, which handed the contested seat to Portugal, is partly a reflection of the general disengagement from world affairs by Canada chronicled recently by authors from Andrew Cohen to Paul Heinbecker. The chickens are coming home to roost. —Read the full article inside, words.


Canadian telecom entrepreneur Ron Shore has turned his grief over the death of several family members and friends into creating a unique million-dollar internet treasure hunt to raise $100 million for breast cancer research.
Shore has begun a cross-Canada tour to raise awareness for The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt. The challenge for treasure hunters will be to uncover a solid gold statue and other treasures valued at more than $1 million.
The project was bankrolled from Shore’s life savings. He got sponsors, remortgaged his house, and drew down his savings to cover the cost of creating the prizes and the website. His personal investment is about $800,000.
To break even, Shore must sell 50,000 to 60,000 copies of two books he has written, though his goal is to sell more than one million copies. The books devise an international hunt for 13 treasures, including a grand prize worth $1 million.Read the full story inside,l 1,093 words.

In case you missed it ... and 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.

The Glass Cliff

Why are women chosen to lead organisations in a crisis?

'When women get to enjoy the spoils of leadership (a) it is not because they are seen to deserve them, but because men no longer do, and (b) this only occurs when, and because, there are fewer spoils to enjoy.'

Research Digest Blog

15 September 2010 — The majority of major corporations and countries are headed by men. When women are appointed to leadership positions, it tends to be when an organisation is in crisis - a phenomenon known as the glass cliff. Recent examples include: the appointment of Lynn Elsenhans as CEO of the oil company Sunoco in 2008, just after their shares had halved in value; and the election of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir as prime minister of Iceland, just after her country's economy had been crippled by the global recession.

Real life examples are supported by lab studies in which male and female participants show a bias for selecting female candidates to take charge of fictitious organisations in crisis. Further investigation has ruled out possible explanations for the glass cliff - it's not due to malicious sexism nor to women favouring such roles. — Read the full article at Research Digest Blog, 672 words.


Tea Stained

The face of the Tea Party might be mostly female

But amount of guns and ammo will make it feminist

By Sarah Jaffe
Illustration adapted from Jing Wei
It all started with Sarah Palin.

Or did it? Maybe it started a few months earlier, when Hillary Clinton downed a shot of whiskey and made some offhand, wrong-footed comments about “hardworking voters, white voters” who still supported her despite her African-American opponent’s lead in delegates.

By “it,” of course I mean the rise of the Tea Party movement and other so-called patriot groups, and with them a new group of women on the right in the United States. They’re no longer content to pay lip service to male leadership, but they’ve got an ambivalent, vexed relationship to feminism as well. But one thing is uncontestable: with mainstream media captivated by their fringe appeal, they’re having a definite moment. — Read the full article at, 2,304 words.

Women fight Mauritania's fattening tradition

By Mohamed Yahya Abdel Wedoud

12 October 2010, NOUAKCHOTT, MauritaniaYoung Mauritanian girls are traditionally force-fed and fattened for the sake of beauty and marriage, but now some are fighting the tradition, saying it's dangerous to their health.

Heavier girls and women are viewed as beautiful, wealthy and socially-accepted while their slimmer counterparts are considered inferior and bring shame on their families in Mauritanian society.

It is this shame that has helped keep leblouh -- or forced-fattening -- in practice.

Mariam Mint Ahmed, 25, says it's time leblouh was consigned to history.

"It is our responsibility as a young generation to put an end to the custom that threatens our lives," Mint Ahmed, a married trader who lives in the capital Nouakchott, told CNN. "I know so many innocent girls that were fattened up against their will to be married off and most of them got sick. I feel sad when I constantly see them struggling with blood pressure, hypertension and heart diseases." — Read the full article at, 965 words.

Chinese study reveals serious labour violations and culture of abuse

By Kathleen E. McLaughlin

11 October 2010, BEIJING Embattled Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics behemoth that makes everything from iPads to laptops for the world’s top tech companies, is accused of serious labor violations and a culture of mistreatment of its workers in China, in a new study by Chinese academics.

The 90-page report, slated for release Tuesday but obtained early by GlobalPost, chronicles a litany of new and serious allegations against the world’s largest electronics manufacturer and calls on China’s top government leadership and trade union to take action to improve working conditions for factory employees. The two-month-long investigation, spearheaded by professors and students at several of China’s top universities, was conducted at 12 Foxconn facilities by 60 academics and two dozen students in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It includes interviews and surveys of nearly 1,800 Foxconn employees. Read the full article at, 845 words.
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Health Watch
The immortal sandwhich?
By Agence France-Presse

14 October 2010 — Talk about eternal happiness. A New York woman who purchased a McDonalds Happy Meal six months ago says the uneaten burger and fries are in as good shape as they were the day she bought them.

The claim, backed up by a seemingly indestructible Happy Meal sitting in artist-photographer Sally Davies' Manhattan apartment, has amazed people around the world.

The burger has featured on television shows and become the subject of intense speculation as people wonder how fast food can apparently show barely a trace of age after six months on a plate -- and whether Davies is telling the truth.

"It all began with a bet with a friend of mine," she told AFP. "So on April 10th I bought one hamburger and I began photographing and nothing really happened. It smelled for one day, and it stopped," she said. — Read the full article at, 370 words.
Third Ways
By Glen Greenwald

14 October 2010 — Next month, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, a measure to legalize marijuana. Because no state has ever taken such a step, voters are being subjected to a stream of fear-mongering assertions, unaccompanied by evidence, about what is likely to happen if drug prohibition is repealed.

But it need not — and should not — be that way.

Ten years ago, Portugal became the first Western nation to pass full-scale, nationwide decriminalization. That law, passed Oct. 1, 2000, abolished criminal sanctions for all narcotics — not just marijuana but also “hard drugs” like heroin and cocaine.

This applies only to drugs for personal use; drug trafficking remains a criminal offense. There is now a decade’s worth of empirical data on what actually happens — and does not happen — when criminal sanctions against drug possession are lifted. — Read the full article at, 754 words.
Report from Obama's America
By Mike Ludwig
Originally published at

15 October 2010 —  Former detainees held and interrogated during the past year at a notorious secret jail near the US Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan told human rights investigators that they were tortured there, even after the military committed to reforming overseas detention centers.

This is not the first time the military has come under fire for conditions in the facility, known as the "Tor" or "Black Jail," (Tor is Pashtu for "black"), but several former detainees claim being abused there during 2009 and 2010, after the Obama administration claimed to have brought an end to the Bush-era legacy of torture and abuse.

The detainees reported being forced into nudity and humiliated upon arrival, malnourishment resulting from inadequate and foul-smelling food, sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation resulting from cold temperatures and inadequate bedding. They reported being blindfolded and shackled when leaving their cells and losing complete track of the time and date. — Read the full story inside, 1,113 words.
'There are names for trials with predetermined outcomes,
and none of them is pretty'
By Tim Rutten
Los Angeles Times


The troubled case against Mohammed Uthman

By Dafna Linzer

8 October 2010 — Two men were tortured for more than a year inside the CIA's secret prisons program. One committed suicide at Guantánamo Bay. Another was driven "psychotic" from interrogations.

These are the witnesses whose contradictory, fragmentary and internally inconsistent statements provide the bulk of the evidence against Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman [1], a detainee the Obama administration has designated for indefinite detention. — Read the full story at, 1,895 words.

9 October 2010 — It has been clear for years that the Bush administration's decision to torture captured Al Qaeda terrorists leaves the United States in a wretched position when it comes to determining the prisoners' ultimate fate.

No American court ever is going to allow the admission of confessions or evidence obtained by torture. Thus, despite the federal judiciary's flawless record of dealing firmly and equitably with cases of domestic and foreign terrorism, the Bush/Cheney White House made sure that trying these criminals would be hideously difficult. That's why it cobbled together a dubious system of "military commissions," simply ignoring the fact that the verdicts of such tribunals were unlikely ever to enjoy the international legitimacy crucial in these cases.

President Obama came to office promising to end torture, close down the secret prisons in which it occurred and send the Al Qaeda terrorists — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind and boastful murderer of journalist Daniel Pearl — into federal court, where they belong. This week, we saw just how difficult that process will be and, more disturbing, how ambivalent the Obama administration really is about the process. — Read the full article the Los Angeles Times, 767 words.
Science of mind
New research finds confronting a man about his sexist language can have surprisingly positive results
By Tom Jacobs

11 October 2010 — A woman who bristles when a male friend or colleague uses sexist language has to make a quick decision: Call him on it, or not? Although she might be personally offended, she may be reluctant to speak up, anticipating his response will be dismissive or defensive.

Research just published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests such fears may be overblown. It describes a carefully structured study in which college-age males are confronted over the use of sexist language — and respond with heightened sensitivity regarding gender issues.

“Confrontation reduces the future occurrence of biased behavior,” write the study’s authors, psychologists Robyn Mallett and Dana Wagner of Loyola University Chicago. “If [a man who is challenged after expressing a sexist statement] is motivated to be liked by the confronter, or wishes to present a non-prejudiced image, then he will likely compensate in response to confrontation and change his future behavior.”Read the full article at, 712 words.
'I'm only racist when I'm drunk!'
By Maia Szalavitz

11 October 2010 — In a world of constant scrutiny and infinite memory, what once might have been a fleeting moment of lost control can easily become a life-shattering scandal. Just ask Rick Sanchez, the CNN anchor who was recently fired, after making comments
during a satellite radio interview that many considered to be anti-Semitic.
The Cuban-American journalist has since apologized for his remarks, and suggested that exhaustion from overwork was to blame for his inappropriate comments. He described the statements that got him fired as wrong, careless and offensive — and as an uncharacteristic misstep, the result of a transient state of extreme emotion and fatigue rather than a reflection of any deep-seated biased beliefs.
The argument is an interesting one, and one that psychologists have pondered for years. Who is the authentic self — the rude or bigoted person who may come out when we're drunk or enraged or exhausted? Or the person we are the other 99% of time, when sobriety allows us to tamp down our unsavory impulses? — Read the full article at, 1,559 words.

Take it with a grain of salt ...

Kung fu sisters stage combat tournament —

to find men worthy of dating

A pair of deadly kung fu sisters have given traditional dating the chop - to hold a challenge tournament where only the survivors will get the chance to date them

12 October 2010 — Marital arts experts Xiao Lin, 22, and little sister Yin, 21, are to stage a three day fighting festival in Foushan, south east China, where only the toughest suitors stand a chance of getting through.

First contestants must show off their archery skills, then they must carry a heavy weight over sharpened bamboo spears, and finally they have to defeat one of the sisters in full contact combat.

Only then will contestants earn the right to remove the girls' masks and propose to them.

— Read the full article at, 201 words.

Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital spaceship makes solo flight

SpaceShipTwo first glide flight details from the pilot

By Jason Paur

13 October 2010 — After Sunday’s first glide flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, one of the first thoughts going through the head of test pilot Peter Siebold after coming to a stop on the runway was that it all went by too quickly. He and co-pilot Mike Alsbury had been released from the mother ship, Eve, just 13 minutes earlier at 45,000 feet.

The flight was an overwhelming success with the airplane out performing many of the pre-flight expectations. And with the hard work of a first flight behind him, Siebold wanted to make the flight again for the pure joy of flying an airplane he and the team at Scaled have spent the past several years developing.

“After we landed, I looked over to Mike and said, ‘can we do that again?’” — Read the full article at, 1,876 words.
Money and Markets
'Competent' Harper ties us to stumbling U.S.,
prematurely pulls plug on stimulus and rolls dice on tar sands folly
By Murray Dobbin

11 October 2010 — What are the key issues that progressives need to be fighting to rid the country of Stephen Harper's wrecking crew? One is the tar sands and the Enbridge pipeline, which would see giant oil tankers plying the waters off the B.C. coast. Another key issue is the Harper government's oft-announced plan to begin its so-called budgetary austerity program, starting with the spring 2011 budget. That, combined with the government's inept economic policies, should be the target of a concerted campaign.

Unlike much of the Harper regime's actions, this one is not a surprise shot from the blue. It is well known, it has been announced repeatedly and framed as the next necessary step in dealing the economic crisis.

Of course, it is no such thing. It is Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty taking advantage of the useful crisis they created. Anyone who cares about social programs and a functioning economy should be scared silly about the consequences.

There is almost no resistance yet to this draconian plan to diminish the country, allowing Harper to stay far ahead in the polls as the best economic manager of all the federal leaders. But in fact, Harper is extremely vulnerable on the economy. The Conservatives' only claim to fame is that our financial system did not melt down the way others did. Ironically, the only reason it didn't is our banks remained regulated, so they could not take the kind of risks that their counterparts in the U.S. and EU did. Even here, Harper and Co. played with financial deregulation in the mortgage industry (allowing 40-year, no down-payment mortgages), and created a bubble that has yet to burst. Read the full article at, 1,696 words.
Hey, small spender!


Weak economic growth expected for U.S. through 2011

Poll: Economists lower expectations for growth through 2011, saying economy still 'sensitive'

The Associated Press

11 October 2010 — Top forecasters say the economy will grow this year and next at a slower pace than previously thought, weakened by governments and consumers spending less so they can pay down debt.

That's the findings of a new survey released Monday by the National Association of Business Economics. — Read the full article at, 610 words.

By Paul Krugman

The New York Times
10 October 2010 — Here’s the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can’t create jobs.
Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.
Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn’t kicked in yet, so that can’t be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where’s all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened— Readd the full article at The New York Times, 825 words.
From the Desk of Mike (the Hammer) Garvin
Agence France-Presse

11 October 2010 — An electronic brain devised by US Internet titan Google has driven cars nearly a quarter of a million kilometers in California, on a quest for the next great revolution in the auto industry.

News of the experiment emerged from Google this weekend, revealing what the New York Times describes as an attempt to use artificial intelligence to revolutionize the automobile.

But the software, linked to GPS satellite navigation technology, was nearly fooled by a humble cyclist who jumped a red light.

A humanoid, in the form of a Google engineer, slammed on the button to disconnect the system, and an accident was averted.

This was one of only two interventions by the human driver in 140,000 miles (225,300 kilometres) of tests. — Read the full article at, 778 words.
Reality Check

Dramatic rescue of 33 Chilean miners hides a brutal reality for Chile's people

By John Pilger

13 October 2010 — The rescue of 33 miners in Chile is an extraordinary drama filled with pathos and heroism. It is also a media windfall for the Chilean government, whose every beneficence is recorded by a forest of cameras. One cannot fail to be impressed. However, like all great media events, it is a facade.

The accident that trapped the miners is not unusual in Chile and is the inevitable consequence of a ruthless economic system that has barely changed since the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Copper is Chile's gold, and the frequency of mining disasters keeps pace with prices and profits. There are, on average, 39 fatal accidents every year in Chile's privatized mines. The San Jose mine, where the trapped men work, became so unsafe in 2007 it had to be closed - but not for long. On 30 July last, a labor department report warned again of "serious safety deficiencies," but the minister took no action. Six days later, the men were entombed.— Read the full story inside, 977 words.

Reality Check: In praise of the old-fashioned paper ballot

Iranian, Chinese computers were also hacking

By Brad Friedman

11 October 2010 — A University of Michigan computer scientist and his team were not the only ones attempting to hack the Internet Vote scheme that Washington D.C. had planned to roll out for actual use with military and overseas voters in this November's mid-term election.

According to testimony given to a D.C. City Council committee last Friday by J. Alex Halderman, asst. professor of electrical engineering and computer science at University of Michigan, hackers from Iran and China were also attempting to access the very same network infrastructure, even as his own team of students had successfully done so, taking over the entirety of the Internet Voting system which had been opened for a first-of-its-kind live test. — Read the full article at, 3,111 words.
True North Perspective Bookshelf
Harperland: The Politics of Control
By Lawrence Martin

Harperland — We're likely to live there from now on no matter who is in power

Reviewed by Crawford Kilian

13 October 2010 —  We political-news junkies face a hazard: Every event delivers a rush, followed by a blackout. We have a vague recollection the next morning, but by the end of the week the event is lost to us. We just need another fix.

So one value of Lawrence Martin's new book is that it packs a decade's worth of fixes into one compact package. We are back in the thrilling days of yesteryear, mainlining on Peter McKay's sellout of David Orchard and Jim Flaherty's "budget update" that ended in the first prorogation.

Martin's book is chiefly a concise political history of Canada since the Alliance Party's hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservatives, and especially since Harper became prime minister. As such, it gives us a very useful perspective on the last four or five years.

Harper's defenders will consider the book a hatchet job, but Lawrence Martin is a clear-cutting axeman who's done the same to the Liberals. And it's telling that Harper's former colleagues and mentors, like Tom Flanagan, provide the most damning evidence against him. — Read the full review at, 1,067 words.
Rear-view Mirror

Secret Cold War plan included mass detentions

RCMP offered 'extra names' to list of FLQ sympathizers during October Crisis because Quebe Provincial Police believed 60 arrests was 'not enough'

CBC News

14 October 2010 — At the height of the Cold War, the Canadian government crafted a top-secret plan to detain thousands of citizens with Communist links in the event of a national security threat, according to a joint CBC/Radio-Canada investigation.

The secret contingency plan, called PROFUNC, allowed police to round up and indefinitely detain Canadians believed to be Communist sympathizers.

The CBC's The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada's Enquête investigative programs have unearthed troubling details about PROFUNC, which stands for PROminent FUNCtionaries of the Communist Party.

The investigation has discovered that information gathered under PROFUNC's mandate may have been used during the 1970 October Crisis, when Canada invoked the War Measures Act and suspended civil liberties to end escalating violence sowed by the Front de Libération du Québec, known as the FLQ. — Read the full article at CBC News, 679 words.
In case you missed it ...

The Old Man's Last Sauna
A collection of short stories by Carl Dow

An eclectic collection of short stories that will stir your sense of humour, warm your heart, outrage your sense of justice, and chill your extra sensory faculties in the spirit of Stephen King. The final short story, the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna is a ground-breaking love story.

The series begins with Deo Volente (God Willing). Followed by The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Sharing Lies, Flying High, The Richest Bitch in the Country 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.