Friday 20 April 2012

 

Russian warships on permanent patrol off Syrian coast 

West also deploys warships to prowl the Mediterranean 

Russia Herald

14 April MOSCOW — Russian warships will be continuously deployed for patrol duty off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean, a defence ministry official said Friday.

"A decision has been made to deploy Russian warships near the Syrian shores on a permanent basis," the official said.

Russia's Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy is currently deployed near the Syrian coast. (More)

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Real places women are getting spanked are in US state legislatures across the country
 
By Shira Tarrant
alternet.com
 
16 April 2012 — Spanking is en vogue. Or at least it’s popular to write about women who like to bend over. Jumping on the S&M bandwagon, writer Katie Roiphe’s cloying Newsweek cover story links wage-earning women with masochistic desire.
 
Roiphe reports that women comprise “almost 60 percent of college students…they are close to surpassing men as breadwinners, with four in 10 working women now outearning their husbands [and] women are less dependent or subjugated than before.” Yet, according to Roiphe, the recent spate of SM-tinged releases such as Fifty Shades of Grey, HBO’s Girls, and David Cronenberg’s psychoanalytic bio-fiction A Dangerous Method are evidence of a connection between women’s increasing clout and a concomitant drive to get spanked. At a time when women are gaining cultural and economic power, why are they seeking to be sexually dominated? Roiphe wonders. (More)
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By Mischa Gaus
AlterNet.org
 
16 April 2012 — If the war against unions has reached a tipping point, Wilma Smith is among those determined to rebalance the scales.
 
The 58-year-old assembler at the General Electric plant in West Burlington, Iowa, was called back to work in September.
 
She had been on layoff since 2007 from the non-union factory, which makes electrical switch gears for municipalities and energy-hungry factories, hospitals, and call centers. “You know how you have a fuse box in your house?” she asks. “These are like fuse boxes for a city,” the size of a refrigerator.
 
But the job came with new terms: a 50 percent pay cut—she’d now make $12 an hour. No health care coverage when she retired. And no chance she’d get the $5,000 bonus GE’s union workers won in last year’s national contract. (More)
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By Orlando Maita
aporrea.org
venezuelanalysis.com
 
Orlando Maita, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), gives his view on the importance of the defeat of the April 2002 coup against the Chavez government, for the current development of the Bolivarian process.
 
15 April 2012 — The people’s victory on the 13th of April 2002 against the coup d’état orchestrated by fascists, the business elite and the media, which removed President Chavez from power for a brief amount of time, marks a “before and after” in the development of the Bolivarian revolutionary project in Venezuela.
 
This event without a doubt was hugely different to others which have taken place in the world, where the people remained on the periphery when faced with a coup d’état of this nature; something which didn’t happen in Venezuela. In this sense, it is important to recognise the high level of revolutionary consciousness reached by the masses, who made themselves visible in a spontaneous mobilisation towards the Miraflores [Presidential] Palace and military bases, demanding that Chavez be re-instated as Venezuela’s constitutional president. (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. 12 (314)
Friday 20 April 2012
 
Guest Editorial
 
By David McLaren
 
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 http://jdavidmclaren.wordpress.com/.
 
The Tory Truth Deficit on the F-35 Boondoggle
 
The Harper Government is digging itself deeper into the money pit that the F-35 has become. Never mind their fiscal deficit; they’ve got a growing truth deficit.
 
First they told us the planes would cost only $9 or 10 billion. Then they said $15 or 16 billion and they stuck to that one right through the election even though the figure they gave to Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, in March 2011 was nearly $18 billion.
 
Oh well, what’s a billion dollars here or there in an election, eh?
 
Then, when the Auditor General raised an eyebrow (and a whole lot of questions) in March of this year, the Department of National Defence said: Oh, by the way, we didn’t count the cost of keeping the F-35 in the air – you know little things; like pilots and gas.
 
Peter MacKay, who should know – after all he’s the Minister in charge – confirmed this by saying the Government had the “real” figure all along. Just add 10 billion to the 15 billion dollar cost of acquiring the jets and Bob’s your uncle.
 
Oh, and by the way, said Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino, pay no attention to Norway’s Rear Admiral Roksund. He told the Standing Committee on Defence that Norway is planning to pay, for acquiring and operating the same plane, exactly double the Harper Government’s $25 billion estimate.
 
A couple of days ago, at the Summit of the Americas, Mr Harper himself dug the hole a little deeper. He said that the figures his Government used publicly were only for the acquisition of the F-35s.
 
“Other numbers cited, obviously have to do not just with the acquisition of the F-35, but operations of the F-35. In terms of our numbers,” the PM said, “I’ve been very clear.”
 
Problem is, none of this is true. The government’s estimates are still absurdly low. The DND confessed to Mr Page they couldn’t provide a rationale for the figures they gave him. And the government’s own figures for the cost of the plane – made public in the Budget Officer’s report before the election – include both acquisition and operations.
 
It’s right there on page 10 of Kevin Page's report. Cost of acquisition? $6 billion. Cost of operating and support? $9 billion. Cost of misleading the public during an election? Priceless.
 
© David McLaren April 2011.
 
"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.alex.binkley.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

 
 
By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

20 April 2012 — Prime Minister Harper has finally admitted what most folks realized a long time ago—the so-called war on drugs is a complete, total and utter failure. Our downtown areas are awash with the crippled human remains of the drug trade while virtual civil wars rage in Latin America fueled by the demand for drugs in Canada and the United States.

The issue came to a head at the recent Organization of American States Summit in Colombia when the Latin countries pushed Canada and the United States to decriminalize drugs to help put the criminal gangs out of business.

Obama and Harper weren’t cooperating. However, Harper admitted to reporters later that “there is almost universal agreement that we should continue to fight transnational criminal networks. There is increasing doubt about whether we are taking the best approach to that. What I think everybody believes and agrees with — and I’ll be frank myself — is that the current approach is not working. But it is not clear what we should do.” (More)
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

'TINY HOMES, SIMPLE SHELTER'

Lloyd Kahn's new compendium takes readers inside the marvelous little world of scaled-back housing.

By Lloyd Kahn
Shelter Publications (2012)
 
[Editor's note: Click through the gallery above to see some of British Columbia's finest "tiny homes." Images reprinted with permission. And check the sidebar for author appearances in BC in coming days.]

19 April 2012 — Little homes inspire a certain delight. Like grown up dollhouses, all the necessities are miniature. From cozy surf shacks to cottages in the mountains, little homes seem even better when owned by quaint or slightly feral people. They're pure charm.

Lloyd Kahn finds little homes fascinating. In 1973 the former editor at Whole Earth Catalog published Shelter, a visual feast of eco-conscious human habitats from around the globe that included designs for five different "small homes."
 
Back then, Kahn says, the book appealed to people looking to dodge the rent/landlord approach to housing or avoid a hefty bank mortgage that would loom for years. (More)
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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 http://jdavidmclaren.wordpress.com/.

Hi Canada. It’s me, Barbie. I know, I know, I haven’t been the BGF in the world, for, like … OMG … 20 years!? More – since when I came up north in my little Mountie outfit in 1988. You know, to help out with the Free Trade Agreement? I just loved the hat and the cute way you folks have of saying “eh?” at the end of everything. Do you still do that? Oh well, tempest fidget.

Say hi to Brian for me. But, you know, it’s been a hectic couple of decades what with all the wars in Iraq and the Recession and breaking up with Ken. He was just too into, you know, making it on Wall Street. Then his company got, like, hauled in front of some committee looking at submarined mortgages, or whatever. I mean, it’s too bad, all those people losing their homes. But as Uncle Matty always says, “If you don’t have the dough, don’t put on the show.” Poor Ken, he was really down in the dumps until they got all that money from the government. (More)
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Spirit Quest

 
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective
 
“Amen”
 
I am aware that this four letter word usually comes at the end of a prayer or homily. In this case, however, it refers to the title of a recently published book  by GrettaVosper which deals with prayer. Rev. Vosper calls herself a Progressive Christian and writes and ministers in a church in Toronto. It is both a thorough study and provocative and deeply moving essay. She says that prayer is at the very heart of every religion.
 
People of faith pray, that is, communicate with God. Roman Catholics tend to believe that God best understands Latin. Thus when the pope calls the faithful to prayer he intones  “Oremus.”
 
Anglicans, of course, believe that God’s linguistic preference is Elizabethan English, which is undeniably very beautiful but hardly a living language anymore except in theatres that specialize in Shakespeariandrama.
 
Baptists from the deep south and their imitators in the north, believe in verbal speed, repetition, demanding, grovelling,  and reminding God of what he/she has promised, all of course, with a southern twang.
 
Jews have no doubt that Elohim prefers Hebrew. Nodding one’s head and body in time to the words certainly helps catch His attention, and it is most definitely a He.
 
Muslims  believe that  prone and facing towards Mecca is imperative in prayer. However, if you are a woman it doesn’t really matter which way you face, Allah isn’t prone to listen.  (More)
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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life
 
After you say “Hello”

Questioning questions (Oh, the power of statements!)

By Geneviève Hone
True North Perspective

Geneviève Hone is a grandmother, family therapist and social worker.  With her husband, Julien Mercure (also a family therapist), she has co-authored three books on couples and family life. Her home on the web is www.hone-mercure.com/index_hone_en.php.

20 April 2012 —  I stand by the wire fence that delimits the school property. The school yard is empty.
 
The children, including the granddaughter that I am picking up for a sleepover at our place, are still in their classrooms, bravely resisting the teachers’ efforts to pour yet a little morsel of knowledge into their tired brains.
 
In an attempt to beat the Friday afternoon traffic, I have left home far too early, so I stand alone at the gate. I don’t mind though.“(More.)
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Beating the Drum

Obsessing Over the Past, Overlooking the Present

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.

20 April 2012 — I am certainly glad the whole Titanic anniversary celebrations are over. Once again, the experts have been rolled out. It happened because of this or that. No one really knows for sure. There were a few movies about the people, and what might or might not have happened on those fateful days leading up to their demise. Why do we seem to be obsessed with this one ship? Or are we?

Perhaps the primary reason is the Hollywood money machine. I mean there was all this hoopla about the release of the movie Titanic in 3-D. A movie which is not even accurate in its storyline; however, romance sells.

Yet isn’t that what Hollywood does? It rewrites the versions of history and gives us a doctored view of what happened. Kevin Costner did it with Dancing with Wolves.Mel Gibson did it with Braveheart. We accept them as truth and yet in many cases they are just stories.

Meanwhile as we become engrossed in the Hollywood versions of history, the real headlines of what is happening in our world at this moment in time get buried. (More)
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Some of the billions you spend in Syria could be used to end slavery in Nebraska

Lincoln Freedom March focuses on modern-day US slavery

By Dan Holtmeyer
Daily Nebraskan News
 
19 April 2012 — Anna Woita, president of Nebraska University Students Against Modern-Day Slavery, paused on the sidewalk, a large banner grasped in her hands.

The walk sign came on.

"OK, here we go," the University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior advertising major said.

Behind her, the column of about 100 UNL students, professors and other Lincoln residents set in motion. Together they made up the Freedom March, an event organized to call attention to human trafficking within the state and support state legislation to address it. At the time of Woita’s pause, the crowd was about halfway between the Nebraska Union and its destination at the north steps of the Capitol. (More)
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Cuban News Agency
 
19 April 2012 HAVANA, Cuba — The Cuban children's theatre company La Colmenita continues to captivate the Canadian public with recent successful performances in Ottawa and Montreal, where they presented La Cenicienta…segun los Beatles (Cinderella According to the Beatles) and Abracadabra.
 
This tour around Canada, which ends in Toronto on Saturday, is taking place at the invitation of the Havanarte producer and the Cuban diplomatic Mission in Canada (the Embassy in Ottawa and the general consulates in Toronto and Montreal).  (More)
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By Stephanie Findlay
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star
 
19 April 2012 — An Australian public servant will receive compensation for injuries she sustained while having “hard” sex in a motel room on a business trip.
 
Her claim was rejected at first by ComCare, the workers’ compensation insurer for the Australian Commonwealth government, but she rejected the ruling, challenging the decision in the country’s federal court. (More)
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Reality Check
 
 
 
Meanwhile PetroCaribe spends 73% of $380 million pledged
 
Centre for Economic and Policy Research
 
19 April 2012 PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti — PetroCaribe funds represent some of the largest infrastructure related investments in Haiti since the earthquake. Overall, $380 million has been awarded to firms for infrastructure-related work and the most recent data shows that over 73 percent has already been spent.
 
For comparison, the Government Accountability Office found in November that of $412 million in infrastructure projects approved by USAIDonly 0.8 percent had been disbursed. (More)
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By Tamara Pearson
venezuelanalysis.com
 
18 April 2012 MÉRIDA Venezuela — After nine months campaigning for people to sign up for the electoral register, the CNE has closed the process, seeing non-registered voters reduced to 3.5% of the population. President Hugo Chavez also approved financial resources for the upcoming elections, as well as extra resources for state governments and for housing.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) closed the electoral enrolment period on Sunday after nine months in which Venezuelans and Venezuelan residents could enrol to vote, or change their address.

The CNE set up 1,300 registration tents around the country and in overseas consulates, and 1,360,598 people registered to vote for the first time, while 4,512,000 changed their voting address, according to CNE director Sandra Oblitas. 89% of the new registrations are youth aged 18 to 25, and who are now eligible to vote. Other new registrations consist of those who have since been granted Venezuelan nationality, people who were unable to register due to rural isolation or perhaps a disability, and people who chose not to register. (More)
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Health

Vermonters insist governor stays the course in new law

that would require Monsanto to come clean on GE foods

Vermont's governor has 2 weeks to stand with 90 percent of his constituents, who favor labeling genetically engineered foods, or cave to Monsanto.

19 April 2012 — Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has less than two weeks to either stand with the 90 percent of his constituents who support a mandatory labeling bill for genetically engineered foods -- or cave in to Monsanto's threat to sue the state if legislators pass H.722.

If the Governor's words this past week are any indication, he's already surrendered to Monsanto. But Vermonters, not known for backing down from a fight, are challenging legislators to take on the biotech industry. They're even offering to raise money for the state's defense. (More)
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24 February 2012 — More than 60 countries calling themselves "Friends of Syria" are holding a series of meetings to discuss the path forward for the international community. The name "Friends of Syria" is a bit of a misnomer, however, as they could better be described as "Opponents of the Assad Regime," even though not all of them are calling for the Syrian leader to step down right now.
 
There is no doubt that an overwhelming majority of countries in the world are in favor of the immediate end of the current Syrian regime, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still has some friends who are trying to influence the outcome of the current crisis. (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.

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, How to Trump a Superpower

Americans are woefully ignorant about Afghanistan

By Dilip Hiro
TomDispatch.com

17 April 2012 — Chalk it up to the genuine strangeness of our second Afghan War. Americans, according to the latest polls, are turning against the conflict in ever greater numbers, yet it’s remarkable how little — beyond a few obvious, sensational events -— they know about what’s actually going on there in their name.

Take as an example the cost of the war and a startling development of the last four-plus months that has driven it significantly higher. Keep in mind that the Afghan War is being fought by a fuel-guzzling U.S. military in a landlocked, impoverished South Asian country with almost no resources of any sort.  Just about everything it needs or wants — from fuel, ammunition, and weaponry to hamburgers and pizzas — has to be shipped in by tortuous routes over thousands of exceedingly expensive miles.

Up until last November, more than 30% of the basic supplies for the war came by ship to the Pakistani port of Karachi and were offloaded onto trucks to begin the long journey to and across the Pakistani border into Afghanistan.  Late last November, however, angry Pakistani officials -- as Dilip Hiro describes below -- slammed that country’s border crossings shut on American and NATO war supplies. Those crossings have yet to reopen and whether they will any time soon, despite optimistic U.S. press reports, remains to be seen.

The result has undoubtedly been a resupply disaster for the American military, but you would never know it from the startling lack of coverage in the mainstream media here. All supplies now have to be flown in at staggering cost or shipped, also at great expense, via the Northern Distribution Network from the Baltic or the Caspian seas through some portion of the old Soviet Union. (More)
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Illegal US timber imports endanger

Peru's 'uncontacted' tribes, says report

'At its worst, illegal logging in Peru is a story of abuse of the poorest people in situations that border on slave labor and sexual slavery'

By David Hill
Huffington Post

17 April 2012 — The U.S. has been importing huge quantities of illegally-logged wood from the Peruvian Amazon, says a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

According to the report, released on April 10, at least 22 companies in the U.S. imported millions of dollars of illegal mahogany and cedar between January 2008 and May 2010. The report, titled The Laundering Machine, describes how this wood arrived in the U.S., some of it 'stolen' from Peru's protected areas including some regions so remote they are inhabited by 'indigenous groups who voluntarily remain isolated to avoid contact with the outside world', sometimes dubbed 'uncontacted.' (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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