Friday 25 March 2011

 

Risk Is Not a Math Problem

How the 'peaceful atom' became a serial killer

'The situation is under control, but workers are being evacuated.'
 
'There is no danger of contamination, but stay inside and seal your doors.'

Beyond the unavoidable bad PR over the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, and now the Japanese catastrophe, the industry has an excellent record -- of covering up its failures.

By Chip Ward
TomDispatch.com

24 March 2011 — When nuclear reactors blow, the first thing that melts down is the truth. Just as in the Chernobyl catastrophe almost 25 years ago when Soviet authorities denied the extent of radiation and downplayed the dire situation that was spiraling out of control, Japanese authorities spent the first week of the Fukushima crisis issuing conflicting and confusing reports. We were told that radiation levels were up, then down, then up, but nobody aside from those Japanese bureaucrats could verify the levels and few trusted their accuracy. The situation is under control, they told us, but workers are being evacuated. There is no danger of contamination, but stay inside and seal your doors.

The bureaucratization of horror into bland and reassuring pronouncements was to be expected, especially from an industry where misinformation is the rule. Although you might suppose that the nuclear industry’s outstanding characteristic would be its expertise, since it’s loaded with junior Einsteins who grasp the math and physics required to master the most awesomely sophisticated technology humans have ever created, think again. Based on the record, it’s most outstanding characteristic is a fundamental dishonesty. 2,640 words.

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Nothing to see here?

The story of nuclear power is one of consistent miscalculation or misrepresention of the risks of radiation

By Brian Moench, MD

24 March 2011 — Administration spokespeople continuously claim "no threat" from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle "Don't worry, be happy" in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.

That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn't as comforting as it seems. The Japanese reactors hold about 1,000 times more radiation than the bombs dropped over Hiroshima.965 words.
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  Cartoon by Gary Markstein, Comics.com, March 24, 2011  
  Cartoon by Gary Markstein, Comics.com, 24 March 2011  

Who's running Washington?

The military industrial complex and/or

the Women Warlords who henpeck Obama

A Maureen Dowd speculation . . .

They are called the Amazon Warriors, the Lady Hawks, the Valkyries, the Durgas and . . . the Women Warlords

By Maureen Dowd
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times

22 MARCH 2011 NEW YORK — There is something positively mythological about a group of strong women swooping down to shake the president out of his delicate sensibilities and show him the way to war. And there is something positively predictable about guys in the White House pushing back against that story line for fear it makes the president look henpecked.

It is not yet clear if the Valkyries will get the credit or the blame on Libya. But everyone is fascinated with the gender flip: the reluctant men — the generals, the secretary of defense, top male White House national security advisers — outmuscled by the fierce women around President Obama urging him to man up against the crazy Qaddafi. 834 words.
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Satire at its best

Daily Show with Jon Stewart tackles hypocrisy 

of dropping bombs while saying there's no war

 
Canadian readers should drop in on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart out of New York City. It deals with the hypocritical attack on Libya and the American claim, "We may be bombing but we're not at war." A second segment is an interview with the humorous and wise Sarah Vowell about her new book Unfamiliar Fishes. Just click on < http://dailyshow.thecomedynetwork.ca/#player-area > then click on March 21 2011 for the best in video satire.
 

Wisdom is a result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience.
© Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective
 
Editor's Notes
 
True North Perspective
Vol. 6, No. 10 (269)
Friday, March 25, 2011

It's not the budget, the point is clear:

It's the contempt for parliament that is the central issue 

Now we have the opportunity to rid ourselves of the man who would be president

On Friday afternoon, 25 March 2011, the opposition in the House of Commons stood together and passed a no-confidence motion that brought down the government of Stephen Harper.

I had earlier predicted that there would be no election this year. When I made it, I had not expected that the massive corruption of the government would be so sufficiently exposed that our members of parliament would have no choice but to call a halt.

Although Canadians do not want an election now, I'm sure that once the contempt that Harper has, and has practiced, against Canada becomes fully known, most of us will be pleased. 373 words.


 

  A note to our readers:  
   
 

This week True North Perspective embarks on an experiment: we have implemented a commenting system, allowing you, our readers to respond directly to our writers. Below each article by one of our local writers you will now find a link labelled, "Add new comment". Click that and you will see a field in which you can quickly and easily post your thoughts on the article in question.

We have hesitated about making this move because, quite frankly, we were (and still are) concerned about the increased amount of work it will mean for us. In order to avoid being flooded by spam, we have decided to moderate all comments, which means all comments must be approved before they are visible to our readers.

It is in hopes of avoiding at least some of that spam that we have also implemented a "captcha" system, which means that you will need to type in a randomly-generated series of letters and numbers (they are not case-sensitive!).

We're excited about this new service and we look forward to vigorous debates and (of course!) lots of well-earned praise for our writers.

Meanwhile, you are still welcome to send general letters directly to the Editors, using the button at the bottom of "Our Readers Write", below.Geoffrey Dow, Managing Editor

Our readers write
 
View each day as a special gift

Thank you, Alberte! You always have the right words of encouragement and a positive note for your readers. And you are absolutely right, it's of no use tormenting ourselves ahead of time  ("When things go wrong, don't despair!")... often the worst is averted. View each day as a special gift and live your life to the max, remembering the importance of small pleasures. — Juliette Vinette, Ottawa, Ont.

Adventures at the swimming pool

14 March 2011 I so much enjoyed the story of Frances Sedgwick going swimming, and the fun she enjoyed with the ladies doing exercises and exchanging great advice on health.

When she raised her arm, misunderstanding when the Portuguese lady invited them all for a Christmas party, that gave me a great laugh!

I swim almost daily at the Plant Bath at Somerset and Preston. Mostly I'm surrounded by many of the local Chinese ladies, who are trying to teach me to speak Chinese. Not an easy task.

But, I had the "good morning" all straight, so I thought, and was very happy to wish them all a good morning on the following day. No one smiled, no one complimented me, all looked at me, well, rather stunned. I had no idea why my good morning was not greeted back with the same good wish.

I thus asked, "What or how did I say good morning wrong?"  Then they all burst out laughing, and looked at one of the ladies, and told her off, in no uncertain terms, of which I understood not a single word either.

Finally it was explained to me that The Joker in the group, had taught me a bad word, which was not a compliment to any female present.

I was told to forget that word, and The Joker after a good laugh, did apologize, which I did not understand either.

I told them all, that from then on I would rather teach them to speak English! All agreed, that this would be a better idea.

I hope to read more about the lively, funny stories by Frances Sedgwick. Yohanna Loonen, Ottawa

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Chuck Strahl: A class act in politics

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

We often grumble about the banal behaviour of our politicians. There are times when the class acts shine through.

An excellent example is Transport Minister Chuck Strahl who’s announced that he won’t run again when the elections are called.

There was lots of speculation about why he, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day, and Conservative MP John Cummins, part of the original wave of Reformers to enter Parliament in 1993, had decided to bow out.

A lot of speculation focused on whether they were admitting the government wouldn’t win a majority in the next election and they didn’t wish to serve in another minority parliament.

However, Strahl sent a letter to the employees of Transport Canada outlining his reasons for calling it a career as soon as the writs are dropped. His son Mark has secured the Conservative nomination for the riding, and if he’s elected, let’s hope he turns out to be a real chip off the old block.

Here’s what the Chuck Strahl letter said so the reader can judge. 994 words.
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By Murray Dobbin
XRayMagazine.ca

24 March 2011 — The drama is over and Jack Layton and the NDP clearly did the right thing, very quickly rejecting the Conservatives’ budget and pledging to vote against it “in its current form.” That held out the possibility of voting in favour of an amended budget that Finance Minister Flaherty quickly scotched with a Bush-like ‘you either vote for it or against it’.

An election is a certainty, though it could still come via a vote of non-confidence later this week based on a committee’s findings that the Harper government was in contempt of Parliament for refusing to reveal the real costs of it its 18 crime bills.674 words.

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Annals of Education

Most Ontario high schools charge illegal course fees

By Kate Hammer
The Globe and Mail
 
25 March 2011 — Marion Battersby once overheard another Niagara region parent liken the $55 student fee at her local high school to the cost of a monthly Starbucks habit.

But Ms. Battersby, an unemployed mother of six, isn’t in the habit of buying venti lattes, and doesn’t have $165 to put toward locker fees and school agendas for her three high school-aged kids.

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of money being charged for supposedly public education,” she said.613 words.

"News is what (certain) people want to keep hidden. Everything else is just publicity."
-- PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
 
Your support makes it possible for True North to clear the fog of "publicity" and keep you informed on what's really happening in the world today. Please send your donation to:
 
Carl Dow, True North, Station E, P.O. Box 4814, Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9.
 
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainability Editor

Victorians oppose tourist development

in wildly popular rugged forest wilderness 

Sooke local residents tell city slickers to mind their own business

By Shannon Moneo                                                              
TheGlobe and Mail

23 March 2011 SOOKE British Colombia — A turf war is smouldering in the woods west of Victoria as residents of the capital city slam plans for a wilderness resort that would border parkland treasured by the urbanites.

Developer Ender Ilkay wants to build 257 cabins, six caretakers’ residences, a lodge and two recreation buildings on about 33 hectares of a 237-hectare property he bought from Western Forest Products in 2008. Some of the rugged real estate, about a two-hour drive from Victoria, borders the 47-kilometre-long, wildly popular Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. The trail is part of the 1,500-hectare Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, which starts about 35 kilometres west of Sooke.

Despite statistics that indicate overwhelming tourist traffic, a lifelong Sooke-area resident said the opinions of people who live outside the Sooke area and come to the trail for recreation shouldn't hold sway.

“If you live in Oak Bay, do you have the right to protest the development?” asked John Brohman, who has called Sooke home for all of his 50-plus years. 794 words.
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Marc Emery's prison diary

$0.12 per hour or 23 hours in the Hole — forced labour in private prisons

Canada's premier marijuana advocate on the loathsome depravity of America's for-profit prisons

By Marc Emery
XRayMagazine.ca
 
24 March 2011 — I get paid 12 cents per hour to work in the prison law/reading library. What I can’t understand is how a private corporation like Geo Group, which runs the prison, can legally hire all these “deportable aliens”, none of whom have visas to legally work in the United States.

Have they received a special exemption from the Federal government that allows a for-profit US corporation like GEO Group to do what no other US business entity is allowed to do: hire illegal aliens to work in their factory/business/enterprise?

Many of the ‘illegal aliens’ here were undocumented workers doing labor for US businesses and they were incarcerated for doing precisely that. So by what political or legal alchemy can these same illegal “workers” be hired by GEO Group to essentially maintain this ‘industry’ here at D. Ray James?

And if you don’t concede to work on the assignment given to you, you can be put in solitary confinement.867 words.

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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Animal wisdom and children

'Nature is a never-ending source of inspiration'

True North Perspective
 
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more www.albertevilleneuve.ca.
 
25 March 2011 — Spring is finally here! Enough of winter now! No more cold and snow! We want warmth so we can shed those heavy coats, mittens, scarves and winter boots. We want to breathe the fresh air without freezing our nostrils, to lace up our running shoes and explore the outdoors...
 
On the Friday of March Break, my daughter packed the children and a picnic in the family van and we headed for Parc Oméga on Highway 323, just north of Montébello, Québec. I had never visited this park so I was glad to accompany them. The children were very impressed by the ferry ride that took us from Cumberland, across the Ottawa River to the Québec side. They followed the river’s course along the highway and surmised its majesty. 1,177 words.
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Spirit Quest

Pray for a storm of good will to sweep the world

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

25 March 2011 — It is now less than three months since we welcomed the new year with optimism and excitement as we usually do. Much has happened in this short time and I can’t help but wonder what the historians will call this Anno Domini, will it be Annus Horribilis? It has been a time when we have witnessed rebellions and natural as well as not so natural disasters.
 
The latest of course is the 9.0 earthquake that shook Japan precipitating a  tsunami that swept up entire cities and left unbelievable rubble in its wake. The floods wrecked nuclear plants  sending the radiation count off the scale threatening a melt down. Food, drinking water and power is in very short supply. Residents of the area are living in whatever facilities are available. Foreigners are leaving the country by the thousands. 914 words.
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ParkTales

Predator attacks, now kills, poor

and mentally challenged residents of Parkdale

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

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

25 March 2011 — I had just returned from a visit to Ottawa and, although I enjoyed my visit, I also enjoyed my return to Parkdale.

I went to one of my favourite coffee bars to have a chat and a coffee.  I read the paper and was surprised to read about beatings of some residents in my neighbourhood and that one of the victims had just died in hospital as a result of his injuries. 

The article read, "Police say the common thread between all five victims is that they suffer from mental health problems." The assailant wore a "balaclava" so none of the victims could identify him.

I left the cafe. It was snowing heavily and I put up the hood on my jacket.818 words.
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From the Desk of Parkdale Columnist Frances Sedgwick

Residents of Parkdale supervised-home grieve

for murdered friend found near hallway bathroom

By Jennifer Yang
The Toronto Star
 
23 MARCH 2011 TORONTO, Ontario — This week, Karen Polisak has been waking up to an uncharacteristic silence.
 
For years, she was roused every morning by knocking. She would open her door and find George Wass, 62, her best friend and a fellow resident at Parkdale Guest House. Together, they would go downstairs for breakfast.
 
But on Tuesday morning, Polisak, 50, woke up by herself. “Where’s George?” she thought, before remembering what had happened.
 
One day earlier, Wass was found lying in the hallway near the second-floor bathroom of the supervised boarding facility for the mentally ill. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead later that morning. — 1,091 words.
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Skating the canal fantastic

Some informal remarks in praise of taxation

By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor, True North Perspective
Originally published at Edifice Rex Online

11 March 2011 — Ottawa got a sad bit of news this past Sunday: skating on the Rideau Canal is done for the season.

Had I been the better blogger I promised to be back in December, you all would know that Raven and I have been making use of this, most wonderful, public amenity, the nearly eight kilometre path of pleasure that is the Rideau Canal in winter.

Though Raven was born and raised in a warm clime off the coast of southern China, she has taken to winter like the proverbial Esquimaux, and has thus allowed me the great of introducing her to the joys of ice-skating.660 words.


Always worth repeating

'Give us the tools and we'll finish the job'

— Winston Churchill

Let's say that news throughout human time has been free. Take that time when Ugh Wayne went over to the cave of Mugh Payne with news that the chief of his group had broken a leg while chasing his laughing wife around the fire. That news was given freely and received as such with much knowing smiles and smirks to say nothing of grunts of approval or disapproval. — 688 words.


 
In Venezuela an old broom sweeps clean

Pro and anti-Chavez public servants

disqualified for corruption in office

By Tamara Pearson
Venezuelanalysis.com
 
22 MARCH 2011 MERIDA, Venezuela — Four pro-government public servants, including two ex mayors, have been disqualified from political activity for one year due to acts of corruption during the exercise of their previous positions. A fifth, an opposition legislator, has also been disqualified.
 
In the first case, the General Comptroller’s Office disqualified an ex mayor from the state of Aragua named Carlos Miranda, as well as his wife, Liz Jaramillo, acting president of the Foundation for Integral Attention for Children and Women in her municipality.
Miranda ran on a coalition pro-Chavez ticket in 2004 regional elections. 455 words.

You can count on the True North Team

Publishers are cutting back and that includes in-house editors

Outside editors of the True North Team

are rescuing writers from oblivion

We handle fiction and memoirs and full-length books

Manuscript editing to ghost writing

Everything to put the best face on your work to publishers and the reading public

For a free consultation please don't hesitate to contact

carl.dow@truenorthperspective.com

or Carl Dow at 613-233-6225

Always looking forward

'Haiti, Haiti, the further I am from you, the less I breathe. Haiti, I love you, and I will love you always. Always.' — Jean-Bertrand Aristide

A long night's journey into day:

The return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide

By Amy Goodman
TruthDig.com
 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, image: Wikipedia
22 March — Late at night on March 17, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide boarded a small plane with his family in Johannesburg. The following morning, he arrived in Haiti.
 
It was just over seven years after he was kidnapped from his home in a U.S.-backed coup d’etat. Haiti has been ravaged by a massive earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and left a million and a half homeless. A cholera epidemic carried in by United Nations occupation forces could sicken almost 800,000. A majority of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.
 
Now, Aristide, by far the most popular figure in Haiti today and the first democratically elected president of the first black republic in the world, has returned home. 776 words.
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Modest proposal

Instead of bombing dictators ... stop selling them bombs!

By Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis
CommonDreams.org
 
22 March 2011 — When all you have is bombs, everything starts to look like a target. And so after years of providing Libya’s dictator with the weapons he's been using against the people, all the international community – France, Britain and the United States – has to offer the people of Libya is more bombs, this time dropped from the sky rather than delivered in a box to Muammar Gaddafi's palace.
 
If the bitter lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan has taught us anything, though, it's that wars of liberation exact a deadly toll on those they purportedly liberate – and that democracy doesn't come on the back of a Tomahawk missile.985 words.
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From the Desk of Darren Jerome, Ottawa, Canada

 

Backgrounder

'If everyone leaked, there would be no “security” for government, but for my money — literally, since taxes pay for the apparatus—there is a different kind of security in knowing what the government is actually up to.'

 
By Christopher Ketcham
TruthDig.com

22 March 2011 — About the only intelligent thing the U.S. government has said to date about Julian Assange is that the man is an “anarchist.” A State Department spokesperson lamented in December that said anarchist is “trying to undermine the collaboration, the cooperation, the system by which we engage with other governments, cooperate with other governments and solve regional challenges.” More precisely, Assange is undermining the system by which we don’t cooperate at all, or pretend to cooperate, or force cooperation by bombing, killing, lying, cheating, smiling and smiling while villainous—all in service of “solving regional challenges,” which is to say in service of the imperial state.
 
For exposing state secrets unfiltered for all people to read, Assange is also called a terrorist and a destroyer. Perhaps he is—in the anarchist tradition of Mikhail Bakunin, who trusted in the “eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life. The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” Also from Bakunin: “Universal peace will be impossible so long as the present centralized states exist. We must desire their destruction in order that, on the ruins of these forced unions ... there may arise free unions organized from below by the free federations of communes into provinces, of provinces into nations. ...” 1,120 words.
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Wisconsin’s radical break with progressive past

that included both Democrats and Republicans

By William Cronon
The New York Times

William Cronon is a professor of history, geography, and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

21 MARCH 2011 MADISON, Wisconsin — Now that a Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked a state law that would strip public employee unions of most collective bargaining rights, it’s worth stepping back to place these events in larger historical context.
 
Republicans in Wisconsin are seeking to reverse civic traditions that for more than a century have been among the most celebrated achievements not just of their state, but of their own party as well.834 words.
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Money and Markets
 
 
Tax cuts don't pay for themselves, don't boost economic growth and don't spur job-creation
 
By David Cay Johnston
Tax.com
 
3 March 2011 — We take you now to the official data for important news. Federal tax revenues in 2010 were much smaller than in 2000. Total individual income tax receipts fell 30 percent in real terms. Because the population kept growing, income taxes per capita plummeted.

Individual income taxes came to just $2,900 per capita in 2010, down 36 percent from more than $4,500 in 2000. Total income taxes and income taxes per capita declined even though the economy grew 16 percent overall and 6 percent per capita from 2000 through 2010.

Corporate income tax receipts fell 27 percent and declined 34 percent per capita, even though profits boomed, rising 60 percent.

Payroll taxes increased slightly overall, but slipped per capita because the nation's population grew five times faster than the number of people with any work. The average wage also declined slightly.

You read it here first. Lowered tax rates did not result in increased tax revenues as promised by politician after pundit after professional economist.2,075 words.

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By James C. McKinley Jr.
The New York Times

22 MARCH 2011 EL PASO, Texas — A defense lawyer tried to discredit a former contract writer for The New York Timesin the perjury trial of a Cuban exile here on Monday, forcing her to defend a 1998 front-page article that said the defendant had taken credit for orchestrating a series of bombings in Havana.

The journalist, Ann Louise Bardach, interviewed the defendant, Luis Posada Carriles, a former C.I.A.operative and a longtime anti-Castro militant, over three days in Aruba in 1998. Based on those interviews — some 13 hours — she and Larry Rohter, a Times staff reporter, wrote a series of articles saying that Mr. Posada “organized a wave of bombings in Cuba” from April to September 1997, in which an Italian tourist was killed and a dozen others were wounded. 605 words.
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Annals of corporate intelligence or, (not) getting what you pay for
 

New York Times spends $50 million on internet 'paywall'

Harvard programmer knocks it down over lunch

After spending such a hefty sum, Times executives might be a little more than peeved that a simple Javascript exploit has been found that can smash right through the paywall
 
By Stephen C. Webster
RawStory.com
 
23 March 2011 — Want to stay up-to-date with The New York Times? It used to be as simple as keying up nytimes.com. Today though, with a new "paywall" that denies access to new stories to non-subscribers, avid news junkies far and wide are facing a future where information comes at an increasingly high price.
 
In fact, the Times is counting on that very outcome, and they've spent as much as $50 million building their online subscription package, according to Bloomberg.
 
With such a hefty sum behind their plan to charge for access to the news, executives at the Times might be a little more than peeved today, now that a simple Javascript exploit has been found that can smash right through the wall.
All it takes is four lines of text, and down it falls.449 words.
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China says Libya's internal strife provided West with excuse

to fulfill political ambition for occupation and regime change

By Li Qinggong
China Daily

Li Qinggong is deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies.

22 MARCH 2011 BEIJING — U.S., British, and French forces began their military strikes against Libya on Saturday (March 19) in an operation the United States has codenamed Operation Odyssey Dawn.

The military action followed a West-engineered United Nations Security Council resolution on the establishment of a "no-fly" zone in Libya and started with an hours-long bombardment of the North African country.

Western countries have long harbored the intention of dethroning Libya's Muammar Gadhafi regime. The recent military strife in the country between government troops and rebels offered an immediate and a rare excuse for Western military intervention. — 675 words.
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China allocates billions to develop

low-rent housing throughout the country

Xinhua

18 March 2011 BEIJING — The Chinese central government departments have released a plan to allocate 35 billion yuan ($5.2 billion) to support development of low-rent housing.

The plan was jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, according to a statement posted on the NDRC's website Wednesday.

The funds would be used to speed development of low-rent apartments in different localities of the country and gradually relieve housing problems for low-income families.

Local authorities were advised to guarantee the proper use of the money and supervise the construction of the low-rent homes.

Up to 10 million welfare apartments will be built in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Altogether 36 million welfare apartments will be built during the 12th five-year-plan period (2011-2015), said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. (End)
 

Cottage & Big Backyard Show

April 8, 9, and 10

offers one-stop shopping for the latest

cottage and outdoor living products and services

Buying, selling or upgrading your cottage?  Looking to turn your backyard into an outdoor oasis that will be the envy of your friends and neighbors? In the market for the latest boat, barbecue or hot tub?

If so, The Cottage & Big Backyard Show at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa is the place to be on April 8, 9 and 10.

New and exciting products and services to be showcased include the world’s first pre-finished deck and dock boards, cut river rock exterior facing for cottages, natural additives that virtually eliminate the need for chemicals in hot tubs and the latest in aluminum docks, boat lifts and watercraft. 591 words.

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'Chair-ity' auction during

The Cottage & Big Backyard Show

helps cancer victims enjoy cottage vacations

Cancer survivors will spend time in cottage country this summer thanks to an auction during The Cottage & Big Backyard Show  April  8, 9, 10, that will see four beautifully decorated Muskoka chairs awarded to the highest bidders.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Cottage Dreams Cancer Recovery Initiative, a charity that supplies cottages to cancer survivors and their families. The cottages are donated by their owners.

“It’s a way for survivors to reconnect with family members and continue the recovery process in a peaceful and beautiful setting,” says Seanna O’Neill, founder of the organization, whose mother passed away from cancer.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to raise money for this charity at our show by auctioning off four very special Muskoka chairs that have been painted and decorated by local artists,” says Ian Forsyth, Managing Partner for Caneast Shows, organizer of the show. 472 words.


 
Science
 
The brain and memory

For the brain, it's a race to recall the details

By Sindya N. Bhanoo        

21 MARCH 2011 — It is always a challenge to remember a new computer password after an old one has expired, or to memorize a new phone number.
 
That is because the brain is competing to recall old memories and new ones that are associated with the same thing, researchers from Yale and Stanford report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 204 words.
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By Sid Perkins
Science

22 March 2011 — Piles of garbage left by humans thousands of years ago may have helped form tree-covered biodiversity hot spots in the Florida Everglades, according to a new study. The authors say the findings show that human disturbance of the environment doesn't always have a negative consequence.

 
The so-called tree islands of the Everglades are patches of relatively high and dry ground that rise from the wetlands. They stand between 1 and 2 meters higher than the surrounding landscape, can cover 100 acres or more, and host two to three times the number of species living in the surrounding marsh. Besides providing habitat for innumerable birds, the islands offer refuge for animals such as alligators and the Florida panther during flood season. — 559 words.
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Book Review

Our Kind of Traitor, by John le Carré

The spy-master returns to form

By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor, True North Perspective
Originally published at Edifice Rex Online

21 March 2011 — Some writers have but a few stories to tell — think of Joseph Heller or John Irving, whose reputations would have been far better served by a Salingeresque retreat into silence than by their painfully pointless later works.

Other manage to keep working at or near the levels at which they made their reputations. Think of Mordechai Richler, whose final novel, Barney's Version was his masterpiece. Or consider John le Carré, now in his 80th year and still producing work of a very high level indeed.

If not quite as savagely powerful as 2003's Absolute Friends, his newest novel is significantly more controlled — and so more powerful — than his previous offering, A Most Wanted Man, which suggested a writer whose moral outrage had got the better of his novelist's instincts.

If Our Kind of Traitor isn't, quite, a masterpiece, it is a solid, subtle and (yes) thrilling novel that is vintage le Carré, almost without violence or action, but still a story that finds the reader anxiously awaiting its resolution right up to its final three paragraphs.1,157 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. 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.