Friday 21 June 2013


A commemorative plaque to honour the workers who

built the Rideau Canal is a class act on a class question

A nation-wide campaign won public support for recognition

By Kevin Dooley
Canal Workers Commemorative Group
Photo by Onagh Dooley, CWCG  
Image by Onagh Dooley, CWCG  

21 June 2013 OTTAWA Canada — On Thursday 20 June, 2013, at 12 noon, Minister of Environment and Parks Canada, Peter Kent, unveiled a plaque honouring the National Historical Significance of the Rideau Canal Workers (1826-1832) at the Rideau Locks in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 

It was a short ceremony featuring a Scottish Piper, an Anthem singer, plaque readers in both official languages and speakers, Minister Kent, Dr. Richard Alway, Chairman of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) and Master of Ceremonies, Kevin Dooley, Canal Workers Commemorative Group (CWCG), Sarah Thorenton, Cultural Officer of the Embassy of Ireland, Royal Galipeau, MP for Ottawa-Orleans, and Tony O'Loughlin, representative of the Ireland Canada Monument Society, Vancouver.  

A similar plaque will be erected at Jones Falls, near the Kingston, Ontario, south-end of the canal. (More)


From the Desk of Frances Sedgwick

An open letter to Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Opposition

from Don Currie, Slocan, British Columbia, Canada

'Beware what Harper means when he talks about

acting with our allies' — Drones equal US-led war

Mr. Mulcair:

Photo: NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.Your reply in response to the Rideau Institute’s Ceasefire petition opposing Department of National Defense acquiring drone technology is equivocal and implies that if the Conservative government meets certain ethical and legal conditions the NDP would support equipping the Canadian Armed Forces with drone technology.

The suggestion that a debate in the House of Commons would cause the Conservative Government to alter its arms acquisition policy, which provides super profits to US arms suppliers at the expense of urgently needed Canadian public health and other social needs is naïve. The Conservative Government of Prime Minister Harper routinely enacts foreign and military policy in defiance of Parliament and the express will of the Canadian people. (More)

Click here for True North Humanist Perspective  

Drenched in blood


Nazi commander in SS-led unit

has been found living in Minnesota

Michael Karkoc, a commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of atrocities, has been living in Minnesota since shortly after World War II, an AP investigation finds.

Former Canadian, 98, indicted for Nazi-era

war crimes by Hungarian prosecutors

Convicted in absentia by Slovak court in 1948

Kerry condemns Assad for threatening peace talks

as reports reveal the CIA will continue to arm rebels

US sends guns and bombs while China sends

oil refineries, transport, hospitals and schools

China And Latin America: Quest For Energy Security – Analysis

TrueNorth Humanist Perspective

Edward Snowden Q and A

'The US government destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home'

The whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history answered questions about the NSA surveillance revelations.


Photo: Hong Kong banner reads 'Save Snowden/Save Freedom'. Via IBN

By Peter Finn and Sari Horwitz
The Washington Post via Reader Supported News
22 June 2013 — Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.
Snowden was charged with theft, "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person," according to the complaint. The last two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. (More.)

By Glenn Greenwald

The Guardian UK

Glenn Greenwald is a constitutional law attorney and writes for the Guardian. He is the author of four books, most recently With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

Photo: Edward Snowden17 June 2013 — It is the interview the world's media organ-isations have been chasing for more than a week, but instead Edward Snowden is giving Guardian readers the exclusive.

The 29-year-old former NSA contractor and source of the Guardian's NSA files coverage will – with the help of Glenn Greenwald – take your questions today on why he revealed the NSA's top-secret surveillance of US citizens, the international storm that has ensued, and the uncertain future he now faces. Ask him anything.

Snowden, who has fled the US, told the Guardian he "does not expect to see home again", but where he'll end up has yet to be determined.

He was online on June 17 2013 from 11am ET/4pm BST. An important caveat: the live chat was subject to Snowden's security concerns and also his access to a secure internet connection. (More)

China media says extradicting Snowden

would be a 'betrayal' and a 'loss of face'

By Staff Writers
17 June 2013 BEIJING China (AFP)A state-backed Chinese newspaper Monday 17 June said extraditing former spy Edward Snowden to the United States would be a "betrayal" of his trust and a "face-losing outcome" for Beijing.

The comments are among the strongest to be put forward by domestic media against extraditing Snowden, a former National Security Agency subcontractor who is hiding in Hong Kong. (More)

The NSA's PRISM: Why we should care

Even if you have nothing to hide, there are good reasons to fight for your right to privacy

By Cory Doctorow
The Guardian UK

Image: Eye and data

14 June 2013 — The revelations about Prism and other forms of NSA dragnet surveillance has got some people wondering what all the fuss is. When William Hague tells us that the innocent have nothing to fear from involuntary disclosure, it raises questions about exactly what harms might come about from being spied upon. Here are some reasons you should care about privacy, disclosure and surveillance.

We're bad at privacy because the consequences of privacy disclosures are separated by a lot of time and space from the disclosures themselves. It's like trying to get good at cricket by swinging the bat, closing your eyes before you see where the ball is headed, and then being told, months later, somewhere else, where the ball went. So of course we're bad at privacy: almost all our privacy disclosures do no harm, and some of them cause grotesque harm, but when this happens, it happens so far away from the disclosure that we can't learn from it.

You should care about privacy because privacy isn't secrecy. I know what you do in the toilet, but that doesn't mean you don't want to close the door when you go in the stall. (More.)


Bank of America whistle-blower bombshell

'We Were Told to Lie' to rip off borrowers

Bank of America whistle-blowers detail horrid schemes to fleece borrowers, reward staff for foreclosures.

Image: Whistle with Bank of America logo18 June 2013 — Bank of America’s mortgage servicing unit systematically lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications, and paid their staff bonuses for deliberately pushing people into foreclosure: Yes, these allegations were suspected by any homeowner who ever had to deal with the bank to try to get a loan modification – but now they come from six former employees and one contractor, whose  sworn statements were added last week to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts.

“Bank of America’s practice is to string homeowners along with no apparent intention of providing the permanent loan modifications it promises,” said Erika Brown, one of the former employees. The damning evidence would spur a series of criminal investigations of BofA executives, if we still had a rule of law in this country for Wall Street banks. (More)


Obama betrayals continue as he hires smokescreener

adept at hiding cellephone radiation damage to users

What the cellphone industry doesn't want you to know about radiation concerns

A leading expert on health effects from cellphone radiation goes to battle against a multi-trillion-dollar industry.

Image: Woman holds cellphone
07 June 2013 In her 2011 book Disconnect, National Book Award finalist, former senior White House health advisor and internationally regarded epidemiologist Devra Davis revealed that the cellphone industry is knowingly exposing us to dangerous levels of electromagnetic radiation. No small problem when you consider that of the roughly 7 billion people on this planet, about 6 billion of us now use mobile phones.
In a recent analysis for the Huffington Post, Davis examined the cellphone industry's long-term strategy, devised in the early '90s, to deal with studies showing cellphone radiation damages DNA: "war-game the science." Noted in a 1994 Motorola memo, this strategy, wrote Davis, "remains alive and well" today, the latest example occurring just last month. (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. 8, No. 12 (340)
Friday 21 June 2013
Editor's Notes

Harper gets spanked in Ireland

Photo: Steven Harper speaks on G7+1 at G8 meeting in Ireland.Prior to the G-8, Prime Minster Stephen Harper landed in Ireland clearly misinformed about the thinking of his peers on the question of Syria.

He made crude reference to the G-8 as the G-7 plus 1, scornfully excluding Russia from the fold. He spoke as Me-Too Harper, the typical attack dog for Washington, a role he so loyally and eagerly played for George W. Bush.

However, once he barked out, he discovered that there was not the unity among his "Seven" that he thought there was. It was not simply a question of all of us against Russia.

Harper ran into the fact that British Prime Minister David Cameron, despite public rhetoric to the contrary, was faced with serious opposition to arming the so-called Syrian rebels not only by the British population but within parliament and even within his own caucus. Harper found that this mood prevailed among several other members of the G-8.

Harper was left foolishly holding the bag. There was no G-7 plus one. (More)

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-- PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
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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

Putting food safety in perspective

Watch what you put in your mouth

Food safety is a journey not a destination

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

21 June 2013 — If you like to eat but wonder about the safety of what you’re putting in your mouth, you should read the recent report of the expert panel that investigated the XL Foods contaminated beef fiasco last year.

The incident, which the panel called thoroughly preventable, sickened 18 and resulted in thousands of tonnes of beef products being dumped in land fills, probably much of it needlessly. (More.)




Just trust us!

Let's have an international trade meeting and not tell anyone

Canada among the most secretive of Trans-Pacific Partnership countries

By Curt Petrovich
CBC News
Photo: Demonstrators in Tokyo protest Japan's involvement with TPP.
21 June 2013 — The ambitious, now 11-nation trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been raising the ire of U.S. senators as well as reporters, lawyers and labour groups all over the world for the exceptionally high level of secrecy surrounding its negotiation.
But is it possible Canada is raising that bar even higher still?
A case in point was the three-day negotiating session of the TPP that was held in Vancouver recently. And which the federal government had no intention of even mentioning until it was leaked, after the fact, by news media in Peru.
Even then, getting Ottawa to be a little more forthcoming on the most basic details proved futile.
Kind of like that Monty Python sketch "The argument." (More.)
From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
Oil giant knew of dangerous toxins in Arkansas' Lake Conway, yet claimed waterway was “oil free”

Jon Queally

Staff Writer
Photo detail: Cove of Lake Conway, not-so oil-free.
22 May 2013 — Internal ExxonMobil documents obtained through an Freedom of Information Act request by Greenpeace shows that the oil giant misled the public about the degree to which the spill of more than 200,000 galllons of tar sands oil in Arkansas had contaminated local waterways.

Following the rupture of the Pegasus pipeline in the town of Mayflower on March 29, area residents were increasingly concerned that Lake Conway had been contaminated. Despite overwhelming evidence that tar sands oil was in the lake, ExxonMobil publicly said this was not the case.

A blog post by Greenpeace's Jesse Coleman explains: (More)

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

The evening of the newborns

A brand new book and a brand new baby

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

Hone, small image.

21 June 2013 — The party is in full swing. I’m not that experienced a party host, but I’ve learned to recognize the moment where a party takes a life of its own, having decided what it wants to be when it grows up. This is not a loud party, as parties go.
This party will not turn into an all-nighter. I rather suspect that several of the guests are of an age where going to bed with a good book is their idea of a well spent late evening. Actually, tonight, several of the guests will have the opportunity of going home with a brand new book, as we are gathered here to celebrate the launch of a novel written by a dear friend. (More.)

Spirit Quest

Health care for all

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

Image: Detail of front page of 1944 edition of Regina Leader-Post announcing CCF victory in Saskatchewan.21 June 2013 — Thanks Tommy, wherever you are. Your spirit and that of your cohorts is alive in spite of your detractors who continue to advocate private, for profit, medical care .

I recall our sense of perplexity when, upon arriving in Canada in the spring of 1939, we discovered that doctors in this land were to be paid for their services out of our pockets — which were largely empty.

Luckily we were a healthy lot and passed the first three years without resort to medical intervention. True, mother stepped on a rusty nail that entered deeply into her foot. No one was home at the time. There were no telephones within at least 10 miles of our log cabin and the nearest clinic was in a hamlet 15 miles from our farm over rugged roads. (More.)


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Now only the cops can wear masks at a riot
By Meagan Fitzpatrick
CBC News
Image: Protesters wear masks styled after V for Vendetta
19 June 2013 — A bill that would ban the wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly and carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence with a conviction of the offence was scheduled to become law on Wednesday.
Bill C-309, a private member's bill introduced by Conservative MP Blake Richards in 2011, passed third reading in the Senate on May 23 and was expected to be proclaimed law during a royal assent ceremony in the Senate Wednesday afternoon.
Richards, MP for Wild Rose, Alta., said the bill is meant to give police an added tool to prevent lawful protests from becoming violent riots, and that it will help police identify people who engage in vandalism or other illegal acts. The bill is something that police, municipal authorities and businesses hit hard by riots in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and other cities in recent years, were asking for, according to Richards.
"The provisions of my bill are effective immediately, which means police officers across Canada now have access to these tools to protect the public from masked rioters," Richards said in a statement being released today. (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.

Julian Assange has been trapped for a year

By Daniel Stuckey
Image: Julian Assange waves from Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, London, UK.
18 June 2013 — Today, Julian Assange's first year at the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, London comes to an end. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the Wikileaker's arrival last June.
Uninterested in facing US justice, Assange said he's prepared to spend five years living there. If he goes out for a walk, he'll be extradited to Sweden to answer rape accusations—after which he has no promise from Sweden to deny further extradition efforts to America, where a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks awaits.
This also means that London's Metropolitan Police have been devoting their resources to keeping tabs on Assange for a year. Yesterday, a spokesperson explained the updated costs of guarding the embassy over the phone: 
"From July 2012 through May 2013, the full cost has been £3.8 million ($5,963,340)," he said. "£700,000 ($1,099,560) of which are additional, or overtime costs."
Julian has a treadmill, a SAD lamp, and a connection to the Internet, through which he's been publishing small leaks and conducting interviews. The indoor lifestyle has taken its toll on Julian, and it led to his contracting a chronic lung condition last fall. (More.)

There can be no life without laughter

From the Desk of Frances Sedgwick

Once upon a time as I left a meeting at a hotel, I desperately gave myself a personal TSA pat down. I was looking for my keys. They were not in my pockets. A quick search in the
meeting room revealed nothing. Suddenly I realized I must have left them in the car.

Frantically, I headed for the parking lot. My husband has scolded me many times for leaving the keys in the ignition.

My theory is the ignition is the best place not to lose them. His theory is that the car will be stolen. As I burst through the door, I came to a terrifying conclusion. His theory was right.

The parking lot was empty. I immediately called the police. I gave them my location, confessed that I had left my keys in the car, and that it had been stolen.

Then I made the most difficult call of all, "Honey," I stammered (I always call him "honey" in times like these.) "I left my keys in the car and it's been stolen."

There was a period of silence. I thought the call had been dropped, but then I
heard his voice.

"Are you kiddin' me?" he said gently, "I dropped you off!"

Now it was my time to be silent. Embarrassed, I said, "Well, come and get me."

He said, "I will, as soon as I convince this cop I didn't steal your car."

Yep it's the golden years...


By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

Mark Kearney of London, Ont. and Randy Ray of Ottawa are the authors of nine books about Canada, with best-seller sales of more than 50,000. Their Web site is:

Big Book of Canadian Trivia cover


1. True or false?  Algonquin Park was Canada’s first national park.

2.  Tommy Douglas came out on top when people chose the greatest Canadian ever.  But who was number two on the list?
a) Pierre Trudeau  b) Terry Fox  c) David Suzuki  d) Sir Frederick Banting

3. Several members of the Group of Seven artists met while working at what kind of organization?
a) a high school art program  b) magazine  c) advertising agency  d) sign shop


Brazil to deploy National Security troops

against FIFA protesters (Video, Photos)

Demonstrators say World Cup money

would be better spent on aid to social problems

Photo: Protesters gather in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, on June 18 2013.

19 June 2013 SAO PAULO Brazil The Brazilian government will deploy National Public Security Force in five cities hosting the FIFA football tournament in an effort to contain the ongoing protests across the country.

The announcement by the Brazilian Justice Ministry comes after a day of violent clashes between protesters and riot police.

The ministry decided to deploy the joint federal police force on Wednesday in response to violent rioting across the country. The troops will reportedly be tasked with mediating the conflict, rather than punishing protesters.

The National Public Security Force is usually deployed in Brazil to address serious security crises, such as prison riots or major gang violence. (More)


USA = Unforgiving. Spiteful. Angry.

As it nails Bradley Manning to the Cross


By Scott Galindez
Reader Supported News

Image: Sketch of Bradley Manning inside the courtroom. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)11 June 2013 — On February 28th, Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to 10 charges that would have put him in prison for 20 years. This should have been enough to satisfy everyone, but it wasn't enough for the unforgiving, spiteful, and angry.

It was no surprise that the security state apparatus was not satisfied with twenty years. They always want blood in a case like this; I don't think life in prison would be enough for them.

The Army itself probably made the decision, but one would think that pressure from the commander in chief could have gotten them to accept the deal. I don't expect generals to show compassion. I don't even expect compassion from a president who comes from the right wing of either political party. But from the "community organizer" who ran on a plank of hope and change, I thought we could expect some compassion.

Twenty years in prison is a long time. It is a punishment that fits the crime. That is if you consider whistleblowing to be a crime. I don't, and a decade ago I didn't think candidate Obama did either. This quote about whistleblowers from candidate Obama, "Such acts of courage and patriotism ... should be encouraged rather than stifled," indicated he didn't. Well, now his record as president is one of ruthless action against whistleblowers. (More)
Third Ways
There may be no Third Way for Syrian Kurds
Analysis by Karlos Zurutuza
Inter Press Service
Photo: Women like these in Derik play a key role in the Kurds revolution in Syria. Credit: Giulio Petrocco/IPS.18 June 2013 GIRKE LEGE Syria —  A ban on political and even social gatherings, a bar on Kurdish language and culture; uprooting people, forced disappearances and a ‘caste’ of hundreds of thousands of local Kurds deprived of citizenship… life for Kurds in pre-war Syria was probably as dire as it is today for their kin in Iran.

About 40 million Kurds comprise today’s largest stateless nation. Numbering around three million in Syria, they are the biggest minority in the country, as many as the Alawites, the ethno-religious group of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

After decades of brutal repression at the hands of President Assad and earlier his father president Hafez Assad, Syrian Kurds had attempted to revolt in 2004. So it came as no surprise that they joined the uprising in March 2011. (More)


Why the war on drugs is a lost cause

For every 'designer drug' the authorities ban, clandestine labs are churning out a new version. No wonder the law can't keep up…

By Vaughan Bell
Guardian UK
Powdered drugs with rolled-up bill image. 16 June 2013 — The term "designer drug" became popular with the acid house and ecstasy boom in the 1990s, but it was never really accurate. The main ingredient in ecstasy pills – MDMA – was first synthesised in 1912 and began its life as a recreational drug in 70s California, years before it became notorious on the rave scene. The drug was never created for the party crowd, but the "designer drug" label stuck as the perfect phrase both to glamorise and demonise the fashionable new high.

There have been some genuine attempts at designer drugs through the years – where people have attempted to create new recreational substances to evade drug laws – but most have been abject failures. In the most notorious example, chemistry student Barry Kidston tried to create a synthetic heroin-like high in 1976 and ended up creating MPTP, a substance so neurotoxic that it gave him Parkinson's disease days after he injected it. As a grim consolation, Kidston's only legacy was to create a drug that is still used today in lab experiments to try and understand this debilitating neurological disorder.

But something has changed on the street drug scene in recent years. For the first time, we can use the term "designer drug" with confidence because we are in the midst of an unnerving scientific revolution in the use and supply of mind-altering substances. (More.)


'The worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Galileo'

Scientists call for drugs to be legalised

to allow proper study of their properties

By Charlie Cooper
The Independent
Image: Pills12 June 2013 — The outlawing of drugs such as cannabis, MDMA and LSD amounts to the “the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo”, the former Government drugs advisor Professor David Nutt has claimed.
Professor Nutt, who was dismissed from the Home Office’s advisory council on drugs in 2009 after clashing with ministers, said that UN conventions on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s have delayed the development of “innovative treatments” for PTSD and depression by 30 years and also set back research into areas of neuroscience such as consciousness.
In a paper published today with two other scientists in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, he said that drugs policy is being driven by “politics, not science”. (More.)

We're happy with our sex lives, Canadian university students say

Choice of contraceptive methods 'surprisingly narrow' - study

While the U.S. author of The End of Sex says that American university students have unhappy sex lives, most Canadian university students say they are happy with the sexual part of life, according to a forthcoming study.
By Daniel Schwartz
CBC News
Photo: University of Ottawa sex researcher Jocelyn Wentland.  
University of Ottawa sex researcher Jocelyn Wentland.

22 June 2013 — Contrary to some reports, most Canadian university students tell researchers they are happy with their sex lives.

And for the majority, their most recent sexual partner was someone with whom they are in a committed relationship, according to the results of a recent survey.

When it comes to birth control, the students use a "surprisingly narrow" range of contraceptive methods.
Asked about their last sex partner, 60 per cent of the men and 70 per cent of the women in the nationally representative sample indicated it was either their spouse, fiancé or an otherwise committed romantic partner.
Thirty per cent of the men and 23 per cent of the women told researchers that the last time they had sex, it was with a casual sex partner. (More.)
9 fascinating things you may not know about the penis

There’s all kinds of interesting facts and facets to the human penis. Here's your chance to learn more.

By Liz Langley
Photo: Penis-shaped standing stones.25 February 2013 — “Isn’t it awfully good to have a penis,” Eric Idle mused in the greatest 35-second song ever written and I believe he’s telling the truth: having a stiffy is probably spiffy. Erections are such hopeful things, like carrying a little optimist around in your pocket, one imagines.

The penis provides lots of pleasure and keeps the human race going in its capacity as a reproductive organ. There’s all kinds of interesting facts and facets to the human penis and there are some in the animal world that could easily have been designed by Dali. Now’s your chance to get to know them a little better. (More)


Cancer breakthrough

New drug to prevent cancer growth

Team including Tak Mak of Toronto’s Princess Margaret hopes to begin treating humans in clinical trials later this year.
By Kamila Hinkson
The Toronto Star
Photo: Dr. Dennis Slamon of UCLA Women's Cancer Research and Tak Mak, right, of Princess Margaret Hospital.18 June 2013 Two of the world’s foremost cancer researchers announced Tuesday the creation of a new drug aimed at preventing the growth of an array of cancers.
Tak Mak, director of the Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Dr. Dennis Slamon of the University of California, are part of the 100-person team that developed the drug, which has been tested on human ovarian, breast, pancreas, lung and colon cancer in mice.
The researchers are calling the drug a “sharpshooter,” due to its ability to target a specific enzyme, rather than take a “one-size fits all” approach, Slamon explained to reporters at a Toronto news conference. (More)

James Gandolfini was 'Walking Time Bomb'

Photo: Deceseased actor James Gandolfini.20 June 2013 — For many of us, summer vacation is a time when we eat too much, drink too much, do too much physically, and perhaps neglect to take our medications. That's why vacation heart attacks like the one suffered by TV star James Gandolfini are tragically common, a top cardiologist tells Newsmax Health.

“The Sopranos” actor Gandolfini, 51, died suddenly on Wednesday during a trip to Rome.
“When you’re on vacation, you don’t eat the same way that you do when you’re at home. People tend to indulge, and that can lead directly to a heart attack,” said Chauncey Crandall, M.D.

Sources say an autopsy confirmed Gandolfini suffered a massive heart attack. (More)


How and what the rich buy, live-in, and sell

Top ten real estate deals in the United States

Hot Home News: Steve Martin, Dave Thomas & George Washington's Brother

A quarrel between Col. Sanders and Dave Thomas

gave birth to Wendy's and a lonely death for Dave

This week at we take a look at Steve Martin's fabulous Caribbean Home, a West Virginia estate that dates back to George Washington's brother in the 1700sDave “Wendy's” Thomas' Lake House, and “House Beautiful” Magazine's very first feature home in 1896.       

George Washington's Brother's Estate

Did you know that George Washington came from a large family of two half-brothers, three brothers, and two sisters? His youngest brother was Charles who became interested in land ownership when he traveled with George on surveying trips into the expanding frontier. Over the years, Charles became the owner of extensive properties, one of which he called Happy Retreat in the town he designed, now known as Charles Town in West Virginia.

George Washington first became aware of the beauty of this land at the age of 16 when he surveyed it for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. He was so impressed with the area that in 1750 he bought his first land along Bullskin Run which would later expand into nearly 2,300 acres. In fact, his entire family started investing in the area in the mid 1700s. Charles’ half brother, Lawrence was also a large landowner and when he died in 1752, his land was distributed between his brothers, including the land on which Mt. Vernon was later built. Charles took his acreage in the northern area of Virginia and divided 80 acres into what became Charles Town. In 1780, he began construction of Happy Retreat, his manor house, at the edge of what would soon be the town plan.

Happy Retreat was built in the Palladian architectural style, sometimes referred to as Classical Revival, by first constructing the wings connected by an enclosed walkway. The main center section was designed to be added at a later date.

Once settled in one of the wings, Charles began working on the plans for the town, the land for which was 80 acres carved out of his own land. His brother, General George Washington, visited Charles often during that time and always stayed in what he named “the pink room.” Ten members of the Washington family built manors there and George would also visit their homes during his trips. Today only seven of the manors remain and are part of an annual guided tour. Charles named the streets of his town after family members and the town after himself. He also planned a town square with space for government buildings in the hope it eventually would become a county seat. His planning paid off as county lines were eventually changed and it became the county seat of Franklin County and a courthouse was built on the square.

Unfortunately Charles died in September of 1799, just three months before George died, and never got to see either Charles Town or his manor completed. Though so many make the claim, there is no doubt whatsoever that in this home it really is true that “George Washington slept here.”

In 1837, Judge Isaac R. Douglas purchased the Washington property and completed construction of the estate. Today the manor house sits on 12.22 acres, is 6,322 square feet and contains 8 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and 5 fireplaces. There are both front and back staircases leading to the second floor in the center section. The house has retained its original millwork and heart pine floors. Also on the property is the original stone summer kitchen-smoke house and a charming octagonal one-room schoolhouse. By being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, buyers have the additional benefit of applying for grants to assist in funding restoration-maintenance projects should they so desire.

“House Beautiful” Magazine's First Home

“House Beautiful” was originally published in Chicago in 1896 to showcase the many beautiful homes in the area. Having recovered and rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and the success of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, industry in Chicago was rapidly growing and in turn producing great wealth for many of its citizens. What better way to show off wealth and success than to display it by building elaborate homes, a signature of the well-to-do. There were a dozen industrialists who stood out from all the rest in Chicago toward the end of the 1800s. Some familiar names were Marshall Field, George M. Pullman, Philip D. Armour and William B. Ogden. The mansions they built were over-the-top in scale and grandeur and portrayed the success of the growing city.

The Gilded Age was a perfect time to create a publication depicting the elegant homes and gardens of Chicago’s rich and famous. Eugene Klapp and Henry B. Harvey started the first of the shelter genre publications in 1896 and named it “House Beautiful.” They focused on interior design, architecture, home furnishings and gardens. It was purchased by the Hearst Corporation in 1934 and is the oldest still-published magazine of its type.

The house chosen as the focus of the first issue of “House Beautiful” was a grand 3-story Tudor in what is now known as the sought-after Evanston neighborhood. Evanston is well located where residents are within easy walking distance to shopping, dining and Northwestern University. This home is only a block to Dawes Park and the much enjoyed doggie beach on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The home recently sold in just one day from realtors’ waiting lists even before it had a chance to be placed on the open market. Still with its strong Tudor detailing both inside and out, the house has been lovingly maintained, restored and updated for grand scale modern living and entertaining. The 7 bedroom, 7 bath home sits on a prominent corner with seasonal Lake Michigan views. The home has 5 fireplaces, large chef’s kitchen, gym, formal rooms, professional landscaping and lovely covered and open outdoor living areas. It sold for $2.25 million.

Dave “Wendy's” Thomas Lake House

After years of working for Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken where he got his start in the restaurant field, Dave Thomas and the Colonel parted ways over a disagreement on the best way to drain the grease from freshly fried chicken. Sanders wanted it handpicked from the deep fryer and Dave wanted it dumped all at one time. The Colonel wouldn’t waver and Dave left, selling his franchise shares and stock, which totaled a little over $1 million. He opened his first restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 1969, across the street from a popular children’s science museum, cooking the food he loved the most - hamburgers. The restaurant, named Wendy’s after his daughter, began making a profit in only six weeks, and since Dave was familiar with franchise operations that he learned at Kentucky Fried Chicken, he started selling franchises for his Wendy’s restaurants and ended up with 6,000 stores by 2002.

During the years of building the business, Dave was rarely at home to bond or interact with his family during his children's formative years which put somewhat of a wedge between them. His lack of ability to bond with his family might have been a result of a complicated childhood. His unwed mother gave Dave up for adoption and Dave’s new mother died when he was just 5 years old. His adoptive father was frequently out of work during the Depression and left Dave in Fort Wayne, Indiana at age 15.

By 1995 Dave slowed down enough to realize it was time to do something to repair family relations. He bought Round Island in lovely Buckeye Lake just a short drive east on I-70 out of Columbus. It seemed the perfect place to enjoy his children and grandchildren. There was a 1920’s cottage on the island which he restored and made larger, adding a playground and swimming pool. Water came from a well, sewage into a septic tank and electric was run above ground from island to island. Enthusiastic about having the chance to get to know and enjoy his five children and sixteen grandchildren, he named the island Bonding Island. Unfortunately, his dream of spending time with them didn’t come to fruition as Dave’s children and grandchildren rarely visited.

Five years later, Dave was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died from the disease in 2002 at his main home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After his death, his wife sold the island with everything just as they had left it. The family who bought the home rarely used it due to professional obligations and travel distance. Today, the estate is being sold almost exactly as it was when Dave owned the island. The 4,176 square foot house has 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 3-bay boat house, 5 docks (4 boats are included in the sale), a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, cabana and bath house, fenced playground and swimming pool. There is plenty of island privacy with beautiful views in every direction.

Wendy's Hamburger founder Dave Thomas started his restaurant chain in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. His former Buckeye Lake home is for sale at $1.3M.

Steve Martin's Caribbean Home

Now at age 67, it’s undeniable that “Wild and Crazy Guy” Steve Martin has had a fabulous career. From writing comedy, plays, music and books to stand up comedy to stage and film actor and musician, Martin has been showered with awards for excellence at every turn. If it’s creative, he not only does it but excels. His comedy albums “Let’s Get Small” and “A Wild and Crazy Guy” went platinum and his song “King Tut” reached No. 17 on the 1978 charts selling over a million copies. He appeared 16 times on “SNL” and after years in comedy, stopped doing stand-up in 1981 in order to concentrate on film.

Martin started in film back in 1972 and by 1979 had huge successes with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The Jerk.” These successes inspired him to continue. He has now made 53 films, many of which he has either written or co-written. His movies have received critical acclaim and won many major industry awards.

A prolific writer, Martin has written everything from comedy to stage plays, screenplays, short stories, a novella, children’s books, and essays. He also started teaching himself how to play the banjo at the age of 17. He would slow down a bluegrass recording so he could hear the notes played and copied them. He has gone on tour with his music and won a Grammy for his first album, “The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo” in 2010. He is now touring with the Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell.

The Martins have put their stunning St. Barth Island paradise on the market. Located high in the hills of Lurin, St. Barthelemy, the sprawling 28,191 square foot tropical colonial-style home sits gracefully above the Atlantic with fabulous views from its half-acre of land. Each of the 4 bedrooms with en-suite baths and outdoor showers open to their own terrace through louvered floor-to-ceiling shutters. The master also has an outdoor shower and a hot tub on the private terrace. The entire home is island style with beamed ceilings and walls opening to views of the ocean, multi-level terraces and the two-tiered infinity pool. A perfect home for friends and family, especially for those who love to entertain.

Steve Martin’s Villa Au Soleil in St. Barth now for sale at $11,587,869.

Real estate is never boring at TopTenRealEstateDeals. Check out today's most entertaining and unusual real estate news stories of the week. News such as America's top ten bargain mansions, Monaco's $250 million penthouse and haunted homes you can actually buy.

Terry Walsh
Marketing Coordinator

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.