Friday 29 March 2013

Breaking News

Ex-CNN reporter Amber Lyon: 

I was ordered to manipulate news to demonize Syria and Iran 

We've welcomed corporate blackmail through NAFTA and other so-called free trade treaties, so why not add Chinese companies to the club?

Testing the Right to Frack

NAFTA investor lawsuit against shale gas moratorium adds reason to fear FIPA

By Stuart Trew
In Harper we Trust
29 March 2013 — The controversial Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA, is still not ratified. It's hard to know exactly why that is given the Conservative government's enthusiasm for these corporate rights treaties. But the surprising strength and size of the public backlash to the China FIPA surely played a role.
One big reason people are so worried about this specific treaty (versus Harper's FIPAs with Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, etc) is how it will empower corporations from the world's largest consumer of energy and natural resources to sue Canada for hundreds of millions of dollars for delays in getting oil, gas and minerals out of the ground. Delays like a moratorium or ban on hydraulic fracturing, for example, or stricter environmental rules that make projects more expensive, will be vulnerable to investor-state lawsuits that can cost hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars at the end of the day.
This becomes a bigger problem for Canada as the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) finishes its takeover of Nexen. The formerly Canadian energy company has fracking operations in northern British Columbia and a desire to expand them. But publictrepidation over fracking is leading to calls for action against the environmentally risky drilling technique. It's not a matter of if but when CNOOC would file a FIPA challenge against any crackdown on fracking. The absurd scenario is playing out right now in Quebec. (More.)
In honour of winter (not quite, yet) past ...

For the Brits, the peak of Everest served to display the Union Jack. For the Yanks, only the surface of the moon herself would do for the Stars and Stripes. But for Johnny and Jenny Canuck, a seasonal 'mountain' of snow was more than enough to honour the Maple Leaf. - Image by Geoffrey Dow, near exit 88 on highway 417, March 10, 2013.

Click here for True North Humanist Perspective

Who stole the American dream?

Did Boris Berezovsky kill himself?

Did Berezovsky kill Forbes-Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov?


TrueNorth Humanist Perspective

It's not over yet. Italy’s high court has overturned Amanda Knox’s acquittal, saying that the American must stand trial for the murder of her ex-roommate, Meredith Kercher. Knox's American lawyer said she found the ruling "painful," but is ready to fight and prove her innocence. It’s unclear whether Knox will return voluntarily to Italy or whether she’ll be extradited—there’s also a chance she may face trial in absentia.
By Barbie Latza Nadeau
Women in the World
The Daily Beast
25 March 2013 — On Monday 25 March, Italy’s top court heard testimony from Italian prosecutors who want to put the Seattle native back in jail. In 2009, Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively, for knifing Meredith Kercher, Knox’s British roommate, in 2007, leaving her to die choking on her own blood. Two years later, the duo was sensationally acquitted in an appellate trial that set them free. Rudy Guede, a drifter from the Ivory Coast, was convicted separately in a fast track trial and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. His conviction was upheld by Italy’s high court in 2011, but his sentence was reduced to 16 years.

Monday’s hearing marked the final phase of Italy’s three-tiered judicial system for the Knox and Sollecito case. The high court’s final ruling cannot be appealed again, and Knox is back to trial. The high court has ruled that the case must be retried, but it goes back only to the appellate stage, not to square one. Effectively, it reverts back to the 2009 ruling in which Knox and Sollecito were originally convicted. (More)


The 14 April Venezuelan presidential election campaign

signals the start of a new era in the Bolivarian revolution

By Tamara Pearson
27 March 2013Although the results of the presidential elections in a few weeks are quite predictable, we are going through a fragile, vulnerable period, with a future that is less predictable.
These elections, because of their place in history — the start of the era of the Bolivarian revolution without Chavez — have some special characteristics and factors.
The significance of these factors, of these weaknesses, opportunities, relationships of power, and so on, goes beyond the voting on 14 April. (More)
By Anatoly Medetsky
The Moscow Times
27 March 2013 DURBAN South Africa — Russia and four other major emerging economies on Wednesday agreed to set up a council that seeks to facilitate joint business projects.

But the five countries, known as BRICS, put off the establishment of a joint development bank, saying the move requires more work.

Reuters via The Moscow Times

24 March 2013 — Russia wants the BRICS group of major emerging economies to broaden its role and get more involved in geopolitics, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published on Friday 22 March.

He told news agency Itar-Tass that the BRICS members were working on joint declarations on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear program, the situation in the Middle East and other issues.

"We invite our partners to gradually transform BRICS from a dialogue forum that coordinates approaches to a limited number of issues into a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism that will allow us to look for solutions to key issues of global politics together," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript of the interview. (More)


A brief dust-up involving President Vladimir Putin's security detail at one point disrupted the refined ambience of the meetings that the country leaders held in Durban, South Africa.

The BRICS Business Council brings together five representatives from each of the countries — Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa — and aims to strengthen trade and investment ties among their business people through technical support and advice.

"Business communities must focus on the search for new opportunities to start multilateral investment projects," President Vladimir Putin said at a BRICS meeting in Durban, South Africa. "The Russian government will provide all possible support to the work of business communities of our countries."

It was Moscow that pushed for the creation of the council, which named South African mining magnate Patrice Motsepe as its chairman. The organization's first session is slated to take place in three to four months, said Russian member Kirill Dmitriyev, director of the Direct Investment Fund. (More)

Canadian child sex offenders re-offend abroad as tourists

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews concedes more has to be done to stop sex offenders from indulging in child sex tourism.

What goes through the mind of someone who sexually exploits children? Julian Sher interviewed two of the top investigators in the field.

By Julian Sher
The Toronto Star

18 March 2013 — Under the current rules, a convicted sex offender plotting to abuse a child abroad would not break the law by travelling to the scene of his intended crime in a popular sex tourism destination.

“You could plan it, you could execute it and pretty well get away with it,” says Mark Hecht, a University of Ottawa law professor and the legal counsel for Beyond Borders, an organization that fights global child exploitation.

“In terms of an integrated system where we could monitor, track and where necessary prevent registered sex offenders from travelling, we just don’t have the infrastructure. We don’t even know about their travel — that’s the biggest concern.” (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. 6 (334)
Friday 29 February 2013
Editor's Notes

While the Pentagon and its Man in Washington spread war

BRICS plan and execute peaceful economic development

How sad, and how dangerous, is the powerful grip that the infamous military-industrial complex has on the United States and its foreign policy. Throughout the world, wherever it has reach, it beats the proverbial drums of war and supports the sound with firepower against a background of the screaming and dying of millions.
The Americans lunge about the world creating wars without serious moral justification; only to keep well-oiled its super-profitable war machine.
In the midst of this lunatic chaos there has been a growing resistance by the dismayed and disappointed former believers in the Hollywood myth. While the world is cautious as one would expect when confronted by a raging drunk wielding a loaded gun in a public place, there is a rallying that gives us hope. (More)
"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:
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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

Workplace mental health worth the effort

A critical, creative approach can enhance the bottom line

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

29 March 2013 — The Mental Health Commission of Canada, and two partners, have drafted a national standard to promote mental health in the work place, much like existing accident prevention programs.

Mental health illnesses cost businesses more than $6 billion in lost productivity due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover in 2011. Within Canada's workforce, mental health problems and illnesses account for approximately 30% of short-term disability claims and are rated one of the top three drivers of such claims by more than 80% of Canadian employers. (More)


From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Why we would want to build skyscrapers out of wood

according to Vancouver-based architect Michael Green

By Anthony Flint
18 March 2013 — After ruinous fires that laid waste to wide swaths of the urban landscape, cities more than a century ago were eager for technology to come to the rescue, with new building materials and methods.

And of course history did not disappoint. The Monadnock building in Chicago (Burnham & Root, 1891) had its record-setting load-bearing masonry wall and iron frame; the staircases sported aluminum. It was off to the races from there, with curtain-walled towers of glass and concrete and steel.

Wood, meanwhile, was relegated to furniture – some of it quite glorious – and interior design. Building materials sourced from trees were fine for an arts-and-crafts bungalow, but hard (no pun intended) to take seriously as the central component of major buildings.

Sweden has already approved a 30-story wood tower, and Vancouver is reviewing Green's proposal for a structure nearly as high.

So what exactly is Vancouver-based architect Michael Green thinking when he proposes using wood to erect urban skyscrapers and multifamily structures of up to 30 stories? “Earth grows our food,” he says in his 2013 TED Talk. “We should move toward an ethic that the earth should grow our homes.” (More)


Venezuela decides April 1 is the ideal day to transform

Will sell public media to business giant Rupert Murdoch

Successful health care system on the block for privatization
By Tamara Pearsoon, Ryan Mallett-Outrim
01 April 2013 MIAMI Florida — In a public broadcast yesterday the Venezuelan government announced the transition to democracy. Measures include the sale of community media to business giant Rupert Murdoch, and the privatisation of the health sector.

A Venezuelan government representative told the press, “On the advice of a special US commission, the government will be expanding media diversity by selling all of its community media to Rupert Murdoch”.

“The media package includes Latin America's Telesur, which will no longer report from the ground and talk to real people, but rather read US government press releases from an autocue,” the government representative said.

Further, the government announced it will be bringing Monsanto into the country to advise on food reform. (More)

Stop growing! In the name of the law!

Self-replication at stake in Monsanto patented seed case

Davis-Cohen's reading of the United States Supreme Court hearing of arguments in Bowman v. Monsanto suggests that the essential philosophical, ethical and moral questions underlying the case were not and will not be addressed by the court

By Simon Davis-Cohen

28 March 2013 — Self-replication is a requirement for the continuation of life itself. When species participate in the replication of other species - when we plant our favorite tomato, when a butterfly pollinates its favorite flower - it is said that they co-evolve. This power to co-evolve and self-replicate is inherent, yet we find ourselves with our backs against the wall, fighting to retain it. In Bowman v. Monsanto, the US Supreme Court will soon decide who has rights to Genetically Modified (GM) seeds' power to self-replicate.

On February 19, 2013, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether patent law extends to the offspring of GM seed and self-replicating "technologies." The case involves Monsanto, a corporation that genetically modifies plant genes, patents those genes and then sells GM seed and the pesticides the seed has been genetically modified to resist to farmers, versus a farmer, Hugh Bowman, who planted descendants of Monsanto seed without the corporation's permission. Monsanto, whose former vice president Michael Taylor is the deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration, argued that its patent on the GM genes within the original seed was violated when Bowman planted and replicated the progeny of that seed. Bowman argued that those who purchase seed not only have a right to the crop from the original seed but also that crop's ability to self-replicate. (More.)
By Stacy Mitchell
AlterNet, in partnership with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
26 March 2013 — When Michelle Obama visited a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, a few weeks ago to praise the company's efforts to sell healthier food, she did not say why she chose a store in Springfield of all cities. But, in ways that Obama surely did not intend, it was a fitting choice. This Midwestern city provides a chilling look at where Walmart wants to take our food system.
Springfield is one of nearly 40 metro areas where Walmart now captures about half or more of consumer spending on groceries, according to Metro Market Studies.  Springfield area residents spend just over $1 billion on groceries each year, and one of every two of those dollars flows into a Walmart cash register.  The chain has 20 stores in the area and shows no signs of slowing its growth. Its latest proposal, a store just south of the city's downtown, has provoked widespread protest.
Opponents say Walmart already has an overbearing presence in the region and argue that this new store would undermine nearby grocery stores, including a 63-year-old family-owned business which still provides delivery for its elderly customers. A few days before the First Lady's visit, the City Council voted 5-4 to approve what will be Walmart's 21st store in the community. (More.)

The MP for Owen Sound opens old wounds

on Native fishing rights on the Bruce Peninsula

History of official betrayal, harrassment, fishing-club violence and death

By David McLaren

David McLaren has worked in government, the private sector and, for the past 20 years, with First Nations in Ontario. He worked with Nawash during the fishing confrontations of the 1990s. This article and other stories by David McLaren can be found at his web site

24 March 2013 — “With the Natives pushing to come into the Bays, it is a deliberate attempt at confrontation. That’s what they want.”
With words like these, Larry Miller, (Conservative, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound) criticized a new Aboriginal commercial fishing agreement signed between Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and released March 12.
That Agreement is the third since 2000 and it sets the terms by which the two First Nations on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario will practices their aboriginal and treaty rights to fish commercially.. (More)
Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Life at its best

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

29 April 2013 — The noise awakens me at 4:52 a.m. For a moment or two, I struggle to identify its source. Suddenly, I know where it comes from. But my first reaction is to deny it. “It can’t be”, I say to myself. “She has never arrived in the middle of the night.”
I go to the window and look down to the river. And there she is right under the bridge, though of course I can only see her lights. I am absolutely delighted! I return to bed and touch my husband’s shoulder to awaken him gently. He will want to know, I’m certain. “Do you hear that sound? C’est la grenouille!
“Wow! Cool”, he mumbles mockingly as he turns his back to me and goes back to sleep. He knows that the grenouille will still be around when dawn breaks. He also knows of my love affair with the grenouille, and later today he will smile indulgently when I take numerous pictures as I have been doing for the past five years. (More.)

Spirit Quest

Existential Hockey

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

29 March 2013 — Once in a blue moon I am confronted by an existential question. “So what in the hell is an existential question?” you may well ask.

Most of our time we don’t walk around asking existential questions but for nearly everyone there will be occasions in their lives when the surface meaning of life is stripped away and we are confronted  with the question: who am I? and what is my identity? and nature?

I was faced with such a probing query by an invitation I received to attend a women’s hockey game to be played between the Czech Republic and Germany.

Women’s Hockey World Championship Tournament, Nepean Sportsplex, Ottawa, April 5, 12 PM (More)


Beating the Drum

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. She is the author of the blog Ancient Wisdom, which will be found at

Cultural influences are universal and eternal

By Beverly D. Blanchard
True North Perspective

29 March 2013 — It is unfortunate that when we look at history, all too often we look with a myopic view. We pick and chose scenarios that support our presuppositions about what happened. In addition, we apply today’s morals and values and think that how we live today was the same as days gone past.

As First Nations we tend to focus on the diseases and the devastation that were brought to the Americas by the Europeans. We have a tendency of saying the white man destroyed our way of life even though there were commodities and lifestyles that made our lives easier. It was the adoption of some of these ways of life that eventually moved us away from our spiritual connectedness. (More)


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Cross Town with Carl Dow

Today Hugo Chavez, tomorrow 100 million Chinese

'Carl, I'm afraid to come in here anymore. Every time I come back, someone's dead.'

(In memory of more than 15 of my peers in Montreal journalism killed by tobacco)

Last Monday, March 25, I nursed a glass of beer for a couple of hours at a pleasant pub called Irene's. It's located on the east side of Ottawa's Bank Street between Fifth and Homewood avenues.

Irene's has an old-fashioned atmosphere and stages excellent live music that respects traditional right up to the proverbial cutting edge. As I was hobbling out on crutches with the light of my life, I saw two men on the sidewalk smoking cigarettes. I looked down and saw what must have been hundreds of dead butts.

I said to the two smokers, Good Lord(!) if we gathered up all these butts we could make a fortune selling it all on the black market!

I quit tobacco in 1985. And today I'm entirely free of the urge to smoke. From time to time I wonder at the patience and forbearance of those who didn't smoke when about half the population did. A filthy, stupid habit, that's killed millions of innocent victims. Convinced that it would kill me, I decided to quit when the cost of a 20-pack reached one dollar. I didn't manage to escape until the weed was two dollars a pack.

Tobacco killed many of my friends in Montreal journalism between the ages of 45 and 55. After I moved away, I would reconnect during the Christmas holidays with a diminishing number of them at pubs in downtown Montreal, one of which was Minnie's on Crescent Street. I recall sitting at a bar with Ian Mayer. I was shocked when Ian pulled out a pack of Export A and offered one to me.

I declined, saying Ian, what the hell are you doing, still smoking? With all the information out there, you've got to know that you're committing suicide. (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.

There can be no life without laughter

From the Desk of Nick Aplin

Out of respect for the new Pope, we'll give Catholics another shake

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, 'Father, my dog is dead. Could ya' be saying' a mass for the poor creature?'

Father Patrick replied, 'I'm afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there's no tellin' what they believe. Maybe they'll do something for the creature.'

Muldoon said, 'I'll go right away Father. Do ya' think $5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?'

Father Patrick exclaimed, 'Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus! Why didn't ya tell me the dog was Catholic?"


April fools quiz

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

They might call it getting punk’d these days but on April Fool’s Day everyone could end up a potential victim of someone’s prank. To get you in the spirit of the day we’ve got a nine-pack of foolish questions to see what you know about April 1.

1. True or false? In Portugal on April Fool’s Day, people celebrate by throwing small cakes at each other. 

2. In what country did playing April Fool’s’ pranks originate?

a) Norway  b) Austria   c) France   d) the United States 

3.  What Canadian organization was officially formed on April 1, 1924?

 a) Canadian Wheat Board  b) Royal Canadian Air Force  c) National Film Board  d) Canadian Auto Workers union  

4.  Which province or territory officially entered Canada on April Fool’s Day—Nunavut or Newfoundland? 

5. Which entertainer passed away on April Fools Day in 1984?

       a) John Candy  b) Marvin Gaye  c) Red Skelton  d) Redd Foxx

 6. In Scotland, April Fool's Day is devoted to spoofs involving a body part. Rearrange the letters below for the correct part of the anatomy.


 7. Fill in the missing word in this April Fool’s related Chinese proverb:  

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me _ _ _ _ _,  shame on me.''

8. A classic April Fool’s prank from BBC-TV in 1957, which fooled a lot of viewers, depicted people in Switzerland “harvesting” from trees a popular Italian food.  Was it

a) spaghetti    b) lasagne   c)  biscotti   d) tiramisu

9. On April 1, 2001 this country became the first in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.  Was it

a) Sweden   b) Belgium  c) the Netherlands  d) Canada



Climate Science

The cry is everywhere: 'What in the world happened to spring!?!'

How global warming is behind our long, cold winter

The Thom Hartmann Program via Truth-Out
28 March 2013 — Last week, Butler County, Ohio prosecutor Mike Gmoser "indicted" famed weather-predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, after the groundhog inaccurately predicted an early spring.
Gmoser filed the tongue-in-cheek indictment after snow was forecast to fall in Butler County after the official start of spring.
The halfhearted indictment was dropped Tuesday however, when Gmoser realized that good old Phil had a "defense with teeth in it."
And, while this whole ordeal may seem quite silly, it did help to raise a very good point: How could Phil be so wrong about the arrival of spring, when he's usually pretty accurate?
Typically around this time of year, we expect to see spring flowers beginning to bloom in gardens after sun-spotted rain showers because, after all, spring showers are supposed to bring May flowers.
Instead, east coast Americans are still dealing with the effects of an already nasty winter season that has brought unprecedented amounts of snow to just about every region of the United States. (More.)
Science & Technology
Chat over beer generates way to make hydrogen from water 1,000 times cheaper
By Emily Chung
CBC News
29 March 2013 — A new discovery by a pair of University of Calgary chemists could make the large-scale use of wind and solar energy more feasible.
Curtis Berlinguette and Simon Trudel have invented an environmentally friendly, highly customizable way to make a key component in a process that stores electricity by turning water into hydrogen fuel — at a price they say is roughly 1,000 times cheaper than current methods for making that component.
They published their method this week online in the journal Science Express and are currently trying to commercialize it through a new spinoff company called Firewater Fuel Corp.
Wind and solar energy are considered clean, renewable sources of electricity, but they have a major drawback — the amount of power they generate at a given time depends on the amount of wind and sun at that moment. That doesn't necessarily correlate with the demand for electricity at a given time, so in order to use wind and solar power efficiently on a large scale, there needs to be a way to store it for later use. (More.)
By Ann Jones
TomDispatch via TomDispatch
24 March 2013 — Picture this. A man, armored in tattoos, bursts into a living room not his own. He confronts an enemy. He barks orders. He throws that enemy into a chair. Then against a wall. He plants himself in the middle of the room, feet widespread, fists clenched, muscles straining, face contorted in a scream of rage. The tendons in his neck are taut with the intensity of his terrifying performance. He chases the enemy to the next room, stopping escape with a quick grab and thrust and body block that pins the enemy, bent back, against a counter. He shouts more orders: his enemy can go with him to the basement for a "private talk," or be beaten to a pulp right here. Then he wraps his fingers around the neck of his enemy and begins to choke her.
No, that invader isn't an American soldier leading a night raid on an Afghan village, nor is the enemy an anonymous Afghan householder. This combat warrior is just a guy in Ohio named Shane. He's doing what so many men find exhilarating: disciplining his girlfriend with a heavy dose of the violence we render harmless by calling it "domestic." (More)
25 March 2013 TORONTO Canada — Adriana Pérez, wife of one of five Cuban intelligence officers arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in the United States for their efforts to monitor violent anti-Cuba groups in Miami, will be speaking at a special event in Toronto at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

Pérez is married to Gerardo Hernández, one of the men known as the Cuban Five. Sent to Florida in the mid-1990s to infiltrate anti-Castro organizations involved in a wave of terrorist activities against Cuban citizens, the five were exposed, arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. After a widely condemned trial, Hernández and the others – Ramón Labañino, René González, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González – were sentenced in 1998 to severe jail terms in difficult conditions. (More)

By Tim Goodman
The Hollywood Reporter
Lena Dunham and her series overcome outside influences to complete a great season. Note: This column contains spoilers about the season finale and previous nine episodes of Girls.
Girls image17 March 2013With two of its four main female characters finding connections that Girls often keeps at arm's length — a kind of emotionally available and heartwarming take on love and happiness — season two of Girls closed out with a tightly written, insightful and even kind-hearted season finalé that stood in stark contrast to the darkness of last week's penultimate episode.
What Girls has excelled at in two seasons is showing how people -- especially post-college types in their 20s still trying to figure out what the world has in store for them -- often implode emotionally and revert to ironic detachment or the comfort of screwing up and suffering through hard failures. Failing is so much more noble than success, to some. Series creator Lena Dunham knows this territory well and seems to mine it effortlessly, but even she must understand that hilarity via cynicism and crushed souls is a whole lot easier to sell to the target audience than something that even hints at a strain of romantic comedy or optimism. (More)

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

Top ten real estate deals in the United States

Hot Home News: The Big Chill and Nightmare on Elm Street Movie Homes!

This week's Top 10 homes spotlight at includes a look at the Tidalholm Mansion, more commonly known to film fans as The Big Chill movie house. Historically known as the Edgar Fripp House, this is the iconic South Carolina southern mansion, and the pick of Columbia Pictures as the set of their 1983 film, The Big Chill, and also the 1979 Bing Crosby production of The Great Santini. Jutting out into the Beaufort River, the mansion is practically surrounded by water the same way the house itself is surrounded by first and second story verandas, live oaks dripping with  Spanish moss and the brilliant blooms of azaleas. The house was originally built in 1853 by plantation owner Edgar Fripp as a summer house which the invading Union soldiers later turned into a hospital during the Civil War. Famous movie home and Civil War hospital for sale at $4.5 million.

In other home news:

Enjoy the same luxury as a former president, without the commitment to ownership. The Colorado ski and golf vacation house that Betty and Gerald Ford built after his reign as commander-in-chief is available for rent at fees ranging between $2,850 to $11,195 per night. For the Fords, winter days in Beaver Creek Resort were spent on the slopes while summer days were usually on the golf course. Evenings were often spent entertaining guests such as Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger. The 10,000-square-foot home has an actual presidential office, a billiard/poker room built in the former secret service quarters, and the president’s lap pool - the only indoor private pool in the area. President Ford still enjoyed the home’s lap pool at age 93, while Betty rode her stationary bicycle nearby.

The house of bad dreams in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street, not only sold, but sold in seven days. And for the full asking price. In 2006, Annie Hill drove down picturesque North Genesee Avenue in Los Angeles and noticed a shambled house in the midst of a neighborhood of nice, well kept homes. It turned out to be Freddy Krueger's old place that the previous owners had let completely run down. Ms. Hill snapped it up for $1.15 million and began a yearlong renovation. Kicking Freddy Krueger to the curb, Ms. Hill sold it for $2.1 million faster than you can say, "Wake up and run for your life!"

Mel Gibson has made a few mistakes and episodes of bad taste in recent years, but there’s no denying that Mel has always had good taste in real estate. We’ve drooled over Mel's Lavender Hill Farm, the Costa Rica jungle farm on the beach, Beartooth Ranch in Montana and the Fijian island of Mago among others. Mel bought Old Mill Farm in Connecticut in 1994 for $9.3 million when he was married to his now ex-wife Robyn, and sold it in 2010 for $24 million. The estate is now back on the market at $33 million.

When Jules and Eddie Trump say they built “The World’s Finest Penthouse,” they aren’t just playing with words. They might be right! A little hint: If you’re not one of the top four on Forbes billionaire list, you probably need not apply for the big prize . . Palazzo d'Oro. We have high res photos.

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 weird celebrity homes, haunted homes you can actually buy, and dirty real estate tricks.

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.