Friday 3 September 2010

Declining wages and missing jobs are hallmarks of a Great Recession
By Robert Reich

3 September 2010 Washington D.C.  Welcome to the worst Labor Day in the memory of most Americans. Organized labor is down to about 7 percent of the private work force. Members of non-organized labor — most of the rest of us — are unemployed, underemployed or underwater. The Labor Department reported on Friday that just 67,000 new private-sector jobs were created in August, which, when added to the loss of public-sector (mostly temporary Census worker jobs) resulted in a net loss of over 50,000 jobs for the month. But at least 125,000 net new jobs are needed to keep up with the growth of the potential work force.

Face it: The national economy isn’t escaping the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. None of the standard booster rockets are working. Near-zero short-term interest rates from the Fed, almost record-low borrowing costs in the bond market, a giant stimulus package, along with tax credits for small businesses that hire the long-term unemployed have all failed to do enough. Read the full story, 1,556 words.

Afghans reach out to America, by Matt Borrs,                                                                (Matt Bors,, September 1, 2010.)


No kidding?

Toronto Chief of Police admits the obvious
Police made mistakes during G20 protests

Acknowledgment follows raft of complaints, lawsuits, inquiries
into police actions during that June weekend
By Kate Allen
The Globe and Mail

By Krystaline Kraus

Looks like lawsuits against the G20 police are beginning to take form; yet another post-G20 action in an attempt to hold the police accountable for their actions. If more lawsuits come to light, this could become an almost tit-for-tat battle with activists using the court system just like the government and police.

Another class action lawsuit -- this time for $115 million dollars -- has been launched on behalf of activists who were arrested and detained and business owners who had their property vandalized during the G20 Summit in Toronto. Read the full story, 354 words.

3 September 2010 TORONTO The corralling of 250 people at Queen and Spadina Streets for hours in torrential rain at the end of Toronto’s G20 summit remains a flashpoint in a weekend that saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.

In the face of an onslaught of complaints, lawsuits and inquiries, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that he made mistakes that night.

“We probably could have and should have reacted quicker,” Chief Blair told The Globe and Mail. “When I became aware of [the ongoing containment], I said, ‘That’s it, release them all immediately and unconditionally,’ and that was done. But it probably could have happened sooner.”

The admission is a new tack for Toronto police. In a news conference soon after the release of the corral, Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire said of the detainees, “To those people, I cannot apologize to them, and I won’t.” He called the situation “unfortunate,” but said officers had the right to detain the group.

The confrontation began at around 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, after a group of protesters on bikes and on foot, along with a number of bystanders, arrived at the downtown intersection of Queen and Spadina Streets. Within minutes, several flanks of police in heavy riot gear surrounded the crowd from all sides and squeezed them into a contained area, a tactic known as “kettling.” The group of about 250 was contained there for approximately four hours, much of the time in a chilly downpour, as officers pulled detainees one by one out of the crowd for arrest. Read the full story, 700 words.
Editor's Notes
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 38 (242)
Friday, September 3, 2010
Reculer pour mieux sauter
Managing Editor
True North Perspective
Welcome back to True North Perspective.

Though we did not abandon your inbox, the summer of 2010 was a decidedly low-key season for True North Perspective, during which we were not resting, but rather, re-tooling and re-thinking, along with a smidgen of fund-raising.

As with all living internet projects, the re-tooling is a never-ending affair. Like it or not, neither the hardware nor the software sides of computer technology has reached its maturity and so our new surface look and our new internal systems will continue to evolve as the weeks and months and years roll on. (For the geeks among you, our new innards are built upon the open-source content management system called Drupal.)

In particular, expect to see tweeks to True North's design in the coming few weeks. We want to keep things simple but we also want to make it easy for you to find the stories and authors that you want to find.  . Read the full article inside, 502 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.
Or use our new Paypal system! Just click the secure link below —
and if you're paying by credit card, you don't need a PayPal account to make a donation!


If I had my way ...

Background and circumstances may have influenced who we were
but we must choose who we become
True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more:
I took a mini-vacation at the end of July, heading for Québec City, one of my favourite destinations. This time, I traveled by train with Via Rail and was quite impressed by the comfortable, hassle-free experience. I immediately made a friend on the first leg of my trip. Huguette was joining family north of Montreal. An animated conversation covering various topics ensued and we discovered that my late husband had managed their property at one time. (We live in such a small world) We exchanged email addresses before she got off at Dorval and I continued to the main terminal where I had ample time to relax and have a delicious vegetarian lunch.
If I had my way, I would travel more often because I always return enriched by the experience and it’s the only way to leave my daily chores and responsibilities behind and enjoy a different pace and a change of scenery. And speaking of scenery, I marveled at the vast farmlands with their promise of a bountiful crop for this year. My Canada! What a beautiful country! Read more inside, 1,484 words.
From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
Victoria Lavoie
Victoria Times-Colonist

Active logging operations are creeping closer to the largest Douglas fir in the world and environmentalists fear the 1,000-year-old tree will be left vulnerable to blowdown and its value as a tourist attraction will be degraded.

"We are extremely angry and frustrated to see this logging nearby what is clearly one of the natural wonders of the world," said Joe Foy, national campaign director for Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

Foy wants the Red Creek fir and surrounding forests included in an expanded Pacific Rim National Park, as suggested by Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Keith Martin. — Read the full article, 401 words.

As in Europe in 1940, we daydream on the edge of cataclysm,
this one threatening all civilization
By Stephen Henighan

Image by Quinn Kelly.

On September 1, 1939, the German Army invaded Poland and the realization spread through most of the northern hemisphere that the world was once again at war. On Dec. 10, the First Division of the Canadian Army sailed for Europe. The Canadian troops expected to enter a spreading conflict, but when they reached their bases in the United Kingdom they found that the Allied and Axis sides, armed and mobilized, were at war in word but not in deed. For months, nothing happened. As some wag put it, having expected to confront the German Blitzkrieg, they found themselves in a Sitzkrieg.
Known as the Phony War, this period of unearthly calm lasted until April 1940. The knowledge that death and destruction were on the horizon did not prevent many people in Europe from continuing to live as they had before. My grandparents, for example, decided during this lull before the storm that they would have their fourth child. My grandfather continued to work at the clothing shop he owned in London until the day he went to work to find that German bombers had left a large hole in the ground where the shop had stood. The awareness of approaching disaster did not alter my grandparents' behaviour. Only the next spring, when Germany invaded Norway, did the full import of their decision to enlarge their family become apparent.

Today we are once again in a Phony War. This time the antagonist is the damage we have done to our climate. Most people who are attentive to the news media are aware of the virtually irrefutable evidence that the planet is becoming warmer as a result of human activity. This conclusion may not be universally accepted in Fort McMurray, or on George Bush's ranch, but beyond these outposts of obscurantism, the debate is over. Read more, 1,182 words.

Spirit Quest

The lesson of the Good Samaritan as relevant as ever

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

3 September 2010  Two paramedics with a gurney between them moved up the church aisle. I had just been getting into my sermon when an elderly gentleman was seen to be unwell. Someone called 911 and, it being a Sunday morning, an ambulance was quickly on the scene.

This was not the first time this has happened to me. There have been other occasions when a worshipper had fallen ill. I have been reassured that it was not my words but the heat of the day that may have played a part in his malaise.
Remarkably, on this occasion I happened to be preaching about the Good Samaritan. You are undoubtedly familiar with the story of the traveller who was mugged and left lying on the roadside until a Samaritan came along, bound his wounds, put him on his donkey and transported him to the nearest inn. Then he went a second mile and paid for his accommodation until the traveller was ambulatory once again.  Read more inside, 839 words.

In case you missed it ... and always worth repeating

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.

Breakfast with Abdullah

By Rick Salutin

3 September 2010 I met Abdullah, the seven-year-old terror suspect, at a dinner near Toronto on Canada Day. He came last year from Gaza with his dad, Izzeldin Abuelaish, who's here teaching global health at the med school, and five surviving siblings. His three oldest sisters were killed in their home in Gaza by Israeli shelling during the 2008 invasion. His mother died shortly before, of cancer. You can read about it in Dr. Abuelaish's remarkable book, I Shall Not Hate. Abdullah has a sweet, mischievous look. Fireworks went off nearby and he asked his dad, Is it the Israelis? His dad reassured him.

This summer he took the kids back to Gaza to visit family. He hoped to vacation in the United States first but learned, after a blizzard of visa forms, photos etc., that the visa for his 12-year-old, Mohammed, was suspended for "review," so they just went to Gaza. On their return and after a U.S. congressman intervened, he went for the visas, so he could take the kids on his book tour. He was told the rest were fine but the seven-year-old's was now under review. No reasons or discussion. Read more, 693 words.
From the Desk of Alex Binkley, Contributing Editor

By Dr. Rebecca Schalm
HR Columnist
Troy Media

Many baby boomers who have been successful in the private sector actively seek ways to bring ‘meaning’ to their lives by translating their skills into other sectors, such as non-profits.

In fact, there has been a definite trend in the upsurge in corporate executives pursuing significant leadership roles in the not-for-profit sector. There are even a number of organizations which are dedicated to helping them make a successful transition into the not-for-profit world. 

I have spent time with these leaders and, while their desire to make a difference in the world is genuine, they often find the transition between sectors to be challenging or downright frustrating. 

I recently had the privilege of spending a couple of days with a few senior public-sector executives who were in competition for a CEO role in a venerable and critical institution.  To say I was left with the acute impression that I am an under-achiever in life would be an understatement. Read the full story inside, 772 words.


1 September 2010 The 33 trapped Chilean miners may not receive any wages while they are trapped underground, a union official has claimed.

Evelyn Olmos says that San Esteban, the company that operates the mine, has said it has no money to pay their wages and absorb lawsuits, and is not even participating in the rescue.

Mr Olmos has called on the government to pay the workers' wages starting in September, as well as giving help to the roughly 100 other people at the mine who are now out of work and 170 more who work elsewhere for San Esteban.

'We want the government to pay our salaries in full until our comrades are freed and then pay our severances,' said Olmos.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said the government was prohibited by labour laws from assuming responsibility for the salaries. He said it was up to the mining company and would have to be worked out in Chilean courts.  Read the full story, 846 words.
Link not working? Story not loading? Can't click on the links?
Got another computer problem? Never fear! Doctor Carl is here!

If you have any problems with accessing True North Perspective or problems with your computer, send an email to Carl Hall, He will be more than happy to assist you.

If I told them once, I've told them a hundred times, 'Stop smoking that stuff.'
 — Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective.
A Somali man has admitted attacking a US warship in April after mistaking it for a merchant vessel
BBC News
The pirates' skiff was left burnt-out after the attack on the USS Ashland

Jama Idle Ibrahim and five others chased the USS Ashland and opened fire on it before being captured, court papers said.

He pleaded guilty to piracy-related charges in Norfolk, Virginia, and faces 30 years in jail. Five other Somalis also face charges over the attack.
Prosecutors said it was Norfolk's first piracy-related conviction in 150 years.
"Modern-day pirates must be held accountable," said Neil MacBride, prosecuting.
After making a deal with the authorities, Ibrahim pleaded guilty to attacking to plunder a vessel, engaging in an act of violence against people on a vessel, and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Read the full article, 255 words.
I can't get over the fact that two clandestine entities
recently had unfettered access to my tighty whities and amateur poems
By Nelson Thacker

23 August 2010 ARLINGTON, Virginia The slightly dilapidated red-brick Rahill apartments, where I live, occupy a prime tract of Arlington, VA, real estate just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The National Mall is a short bike across the Roosevelt Bridge; Georgetown is an even shorter walk across the Key Bridge going north. Despite the proliferation of swank townhomes and high-rise condominiums mushrooming up all around my building, there is still a clear view from my third-floor window of the Washington Monument and, beyond that, the U.S. Capitol.

So coveted is this address that when I used Craig's List to find someone to sub-let my apartment last year, I was inundated with phone calls from interested parties within an hour of placing the ad. Fatefully, I rejected the flood of Craig's List candidates and instead went with word of mouth to locate a tenant. A Russian acquaintance who was running a local travel agency recommended to me a friend of his who was planning to move to the area. That friend was Mikhail Semenko (pron. Sem-YEN-ko), a 27-year-old student working on his master's degree in international relations at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. In less than a year, Semenko would be charged, convicted and deported for the crime of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. — Read the full article, 3,702 words.
From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

The American Public Transportation Association released “Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits,” a comprehensive survey of recent research on smart growth communities, that argues people who live near high-quality public transportation ”drive less, exercise more, and live longer, and are generally healthier than residents of communities without high-quality public transportation.”

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute and Todd Litman conducted the survey of existing research studies and concluded that living in communities with public transit “provides large health benefits.”

APTA president William Millar said: “Public transportation enhances the overall quality of life of an individual and a community. Use of public transit simply means that you walk more which increases fitness levels and leads to healthier citizens. More importantly, increasing use of public transit may be the most effective traffic safety counter measure a community can employ.”
The survey authors contend: “Such communities also have less pollution because public transportation produces far less emissions per passenger mile than private automobiles.” - Read the full article, 401 words.

Health Watch

By Anneli Rufus
A modern pair of prescription glasses with a half rim design. The lens is held at the bottom by a high strength nylon string. Image courtesy of Victor Racha via August 2010 Those of us who need prescription eyewear need prescription eyewear. Are you wearing yours to read this? Imagine if you weren't. Imagine life without your glasses for a year, a week, an hour. Yet many health insurance plans, especially for the unemployed or self-employed, don't cover them.
Mine doesn't.
Last year, I went shopping for no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames. Name brands mean nothing to me. Price does. My high astigmatism and need for bifocals disqualify me from those buy-one-get-one-free deals, which almost always involve only single-vision specs.
In store after store, megachains and optical boutiques alike, small oval metal frames fitted with lenses matching my prescription started at $300. One popular shop quoted me $582 for the lenses alone.
I bought a pair of no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames for $44 online. I'm wearing them right now .Read the full article, 1,802 words.
Money and Markets
By Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.

Japan’s lost decades may have changed its society for the worse.
Twenty years of struggling with stagnation have left a mark, reports economics writer Charles Hugh Smith in an online article for AOL Daily Finance. He argues that the “consequences for the ‘lost generations’ that have come of age in the ‘lost decades’ have been dire.”
“In many ways, Japan’s social conventions are fraying under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline,” he writes. He points out that young workers, having endured so many layoffs and seen their opportunities diminish over the past two decades, have become less competitive. Many perceive as pointless the years of schooling and hard work needed to compete for a dwindling number of elite, well-paying jobs.
In the United States, we’re well on our way to doing ourselves similar or worse damage. The good news is that more Americans are becoming aware of the risk of a Japanese-type trap. But not everyone. — Read the full article, 792 words.

Health Watch

By Marni Norys
If someone took a hammer and bashed your finger every time you ate a piece of broccoli what do you suppose is going to happen over time? No one needs a introductory psychology course, or even has to see Clockwork Orange to hazard a good guess as to what this will do to a body’s taste for those green spears of goodness.
Association is such a simple psychological principle that even Pavlov’s dogs cottoned onto it with training. Do something that is tightly connected to pleasure and you will start to anticipate that thing or activity. Do something that is only associated with pain, and you will start to develop an aversion to that thing or activity.
Hell, even my cats get it! I used to spray them with water when they acted up. Nowadays though, I need only shake the spray bottle dedicated to their discipline and the little fiends scatter as though I were tear gassing them.
It all comes down to classical conditioning, and even us humans with our big fancy brains are subject to it. This is something to bear in mind, moreover, for folks who are striving to develop a fitness regime. Read more at 627 words.
Reality Check
Propaganda is as old as time, but it always wears new clothes
Here are (just) a few ways to see through its latest disguises
By John Pilger
Edward Bernays, the American nephew of Sigmund Freud, is said to have invented modern propaganda. During the First World War, he was one of a group of influential liberals who mounted a secret government campaign to persuade reluctant Americans to send an army to the bloodbath in Europe. In his book, "Propaganda," published in 1928, Bernays wrote that the "intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses was an important element in democratic society" and that the manipulators "constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country." Instead of propaganda, he coined the euphemism "public relations."

The American tobacco industry hired Bernays to convince women they should smoke in public. By associating smoking with women's liberation, he made cigarettes "torches of freedom." In 1954, he conjured a communist menace in Guatemala as an excuse for overthrowing the democratically-elected government, whose social reforms were threatening the United Fruit company's monopoly of the banana trade. He called it a "liberation."

Bernays was no rabid right winger. He was an elitist liberal who believed that "engineering public consent" was for the greater good. This was achieved by the creation of "false realities," which then became "news events." Here are examples of how it is done these days: Read more, 987 words.


A life travelled

A tribute to Ken Morrison 1923-2010
By Jean Morrison
(Adapted by Jean Morrison from Ken Morrison’s memoir My Fortunate Life)
Ken Morrison was a PK, a Preacher’s Kid. Wikepedia says this about PKs: 

“PKs preach their beliefs to anybody they encounter. They do not like to be wrong about what they preach. They start out as good, faithful children, but they later rebel."

From early on, Ken more than fit this description yet he considered himself fortunate for many reasons, the first being his parents. His father was a Methodist (and later United Church) minister, “a stern but loving disciplinarian who had a great influence on my life both in pointing me to a life of community service and religious concern.”

Ken did not see action in World War II, another good fortune. Later in life he discovered he had two undersized coronary arteries, the cause of chronic tiredness. He knew he never would have survived battle. After enlisting in 1943, he ended up in officers training with the British Army. There he witnessed the class system at its worst. In the military, he met several Communists, both British and Canadian, and rapidly came under their spell. Read more, 1,450 words.
The Reading Room
By Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor
True North Perspective
Originally published at Edifice Rex Online
Time travel is fraught with terrors, personal time travel most of all. Whether it is in the discovery that one's ancestors were criminals and murderers, or only that one's youthful tastes weren't as sophisticated as one thought (see note #74, on The Secret Garden here, for one example of that phenomenon).
My own childhood favourites include a surprising number of Brit-lit classics. Lewis Carroll and A.A. Milne, of course, held pride of place, along with the likes of Kipling's Jungle Books, Lang's Yellow Fairy Book, Edward Lear's nonsense poetry, Graham's Wind In the Willows, Barry's Peter Pan, Edward Ardizzone's marvellous Little Tim books and the Lonsdale/Turner translations of Tintin (just off the top of my head).
And E. Nesbit's now-105 year-old classic, The Railway Children, which I recently pulled from my shelf, starting another voyage into my own deep past. Read more inside, 823 words.

3 August 2010 Ever wish there were a video game where the point is to score as little as possible? If so, well, the Obama administration just may have several hundred thousand dollars for you.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is one such beneficiary, with a weird idea for a game and a fresh wad of taxpayer cash to drive its creation.

Yes, thanks to the National Institutes of Health, which awarded UCF $434,800 to continue this project, a small number of teen girls will soon get to wear spandex suits and ping-pong balls all over their bodies while pretending they're telling boys to leave them alone.

The project's stated goal is to reduce pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted disease among the Latina community ... Through video games, apparently.

"By donning a motion-capture suit, the players get to act out social scenarios that will then play out on the screen, earning points every time they turn down sexual advances," explains Robin Marty at Reproductive Health Reality Check.Read the full story, 729 words.

In case you missed it ...

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

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

The series begins with Deo Volente (God Willing). Followed by The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Sharing Lies, Flying High, The Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, One Lift Too Many, The Model A Ford, the out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only and O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! The series closes with the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.