March 2014

Banks throw hissy fit after Elizabeth Warren endorses

plan to allow US Post Office to offer Financial Services

Warren says Americans need access to low-cost financial alternatives

By Helaine Olen

Image: Elizabeth Warren

11 February 2014 — The US postal service inspector general put out a report recently suggesting an intriguing way to shore up the ailing institution’s finances: Let the mailman double as a bank teller.

The plan? The post office would offer services designed to appeal to America’s unbanked and under-banked — the more than 50 million adults who either have no checking or savings account, or use high-cost, predatory services like payday loans to supplement traditional banking needs.

This sounds like a win-win. Americans — particularly low-income Americans — clearly need greater access to low-cost financial services. At the same time, many financial institutions have been complaining for years that providing banking services to low-income Americans is costing them money. So much so that they can barely bring themselves to open bank branches in anything less than well-heeled neighborhoods.

Surely, they would embrace any plan that could help rid them of these undesirable customers, while offering a new-found opportunity to make money. (More)


'Old Nazis, New Right, and the Republican Party'

The US is backing Neo-Nazis in the Ukraine

Exposing troubling ties in the US to overt nazi and fascist protesters in Ukraine

By Max Blumenthal
Nationalists hold torches during a march in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Jan. 1, 2014, as they mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera.(Photo: Yuriy Dyachyshyn, AFP/Getty Images)24 February 2014 — As the Euromaidan protests in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev culminated this week, displays of open fascism and neo-nazi extremism became too glaring to ignore. Since demonstrators filled the downtown square to battle Ukrainian riot police and demand the ouster of the corruption-stained, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, it has been filled with far-right streetfighting men pledging to defend their country’s ethnic purity.

White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev. (More)


The New Democrats need big ideas to win

Policies must win back trust in government

Here's a $40 billion idea waiting to inspire Canadians
By Murray Dobbin
Image: Skeleton medal winner, cartoon by Greg Perry24 February 2014 — Budget days should be days when Canadians are encouraged to imagine the possibilities for one of the richest countries in the world. Not the possibilities of the shopping mall or the offerings of Netflix, but the possibilities of building — or rebuilding — community.

At its best, that is what government is supposed to be about.

But the last eight budgets have been about smothering the national dream of prosperity and equality by systematically starving the federal government.

The outrageous tax cuts of the Harper government (and the Liberals' before that) have had one purpose: to dramatically reduce the role of government while redefining Canadian citizens increasingly as consumers.

It doesn't have to be this way. We know from years of polling and focus groups that Canadians have a strong and resilient attachment to the idea of activist government -- of doing things together. By significant majorities of two thirds or more they even say they would pay more taxes to get the things they want and need. But only if they can get the elephant out of the room -- the elephant being the profound level of public distrust of government. (More)


The Old Man's Last Sauna

by Carl Dow

'Life is scary, frustrating and sometimes funny. All of these themes are explored in Carl Dow’s collection of short stories, told with the pristine elegance that we haven’t seen since the likes of Stephen Leacock or even Pierre Berton.' — Award-winning author Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Order now, through the BumblePuppy Press Amazon store!

Image: Link to BumblePuppy Press Amazon store


Click here for True North Humanist Perspective

12 craziest things God did in the Old Testament

God was a bit of a hell raiser before Jesus softened him up


Christian conservatives love Jesus-hater Ayn Rand

Economic greed appears to trump Christian charity


There can be no life without laughter

Pope groomed by online pontiff-phile

A plumber who pretended to be God



TrueNorth Humanist Perspective



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. 9, No. 3 (345)
March 1 2014
Editor's Notes
How long will our politicians and their media
be able to lie to us before we stop listening?
Trans-Pacific Partnership
The neo-cons in control of Washington, followed faithfully by Me-Too Harper and their attack dogs, the so-called mainstream media, are working hard to hammer the last nail into the coffin of democracy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would establish a 'free trade' zone that would include all of the Pacific rim countries with their '.18 cents-an-hour' pay scale and thereby drive down the wages and salaries that North Americans have enjoyed since the economic bonanza of World War ll. If TPP is ratified then corporate power will be able to take court action against nation states making decisions that are in their exclusive interests. Countries like Canada and the United States will be subject to the the will and whim of unelected business power brokers who have only their narrow self-interests in mind.
Propaganda machine
The romance of a free and critical media is foundering on the rock of reality. With rare and to-be-treasured exceptions, the mainstream media continues to present itself as a propaganda machine for the corporate interests and their Washington yes-men. Prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics, there was a blaring campaign to malign the Olympics — everything from gay rights to exploding toothpaste tubes. Olympic stars, especially American, expressed their dismay at how the media had misinformed them about Sochi. There was no discrimination. Night clubs with men dancing in women's clothes were wide open. We'll never know how many didn't go to Sochi because of the media terror campaign.
Stunning hypocrisy on Ukraine and Venezuela
President Obama's brief statement on the Ukraine was an example of how far the man has fallen from his 2008 political posturing. In essence he warned Russia against involving itself in The Ukraine. This, after Victoria Nuland, Washington assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, exposed themselves as heavily involved in regime change there. Senator John McCain was there more than once encouraging the violence of the street gangs. Victoria Nuland revealed that the US had spent $5 billion in the Ukraine to effect regime change. When the issue of spending $20 million a year toward regime change in Venezuela came to the attention of John Kerry, his only response was, are we getting our money's worth? Then this gang of hypocrites has the gall to tell Russia to stay out of The Ukraine. They have no shame.
Keystone XL Pipeline
Don't hold your breath waiting for Obama to nix the Keystone XL Pipeline. Why he's holding back is not clear. Maybe he's waiting until the dust settles after 2014 elections. But he will approve it (I hope I'm proven wrong) because behind the smokescreen of his 2008 election campaign for president, there were clear signs that he was a false messenger beholden to corporate power and his own self interests.
For your reading satisfaction, if not pleasure, please peruse this informative issue of True North Perspective and True North Humanist Perspective.
Meanwhile, take it easy, but take it.
Looking forward
Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective
True North Humanist Perspective
Guest Editorial

What happened in Ukraine was

a Presidential Coup, pure and simple

In the upside-down world that has become the US news media, the freely elected president was a dictator and the coup makers were “pro-democracy” activists.
By Robert Parry
Consortium News
27 February 2014 There was always a measure of hypocrisy but Official Washington used to at least pretend to stand for “democracy,” rather than taking such obvious pleasure in destabilizing elected governments, encouraging riots, overturning constitutional systems and then praising violent putsches.

But events in Ukraine and Venezuela suggest that the idea of respecting the results of elections and working within legal, albeit flawed, political systems is no longer in vogue, unless the “U.S. side” happens to win, of course. If the “U.S. side” loses, then it’s time for some “shock doctrine.” And, of course, the usual demonizing of the “enemy” leader.



Leading American politician says Keystone XL

would benefit only the Koch brothers and China

By Representative Alan Grayson
Florida Democrat in Washington 
Image: Representative Alan Grayson28 February 2014 Forty-one years ago, when I used to get up at 5 a.m. to get on gas station lines with my parents, I started hearing about "energy independence" — a secure source of supply for our energy needs. Today, energy independence soon will be a reality.

For China. Thanks to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Q. Cui bono? ("Who benefits?") A. China.

The Chinese economy consists of taking raw materials and energy, making that into stuff, and then selling that stuff — a/k/a "manufacturing." Chinese leaders understand that in order for that model to work, China needs steady supplies of raw materials and energy. By how do you get a steady supply of energy, in a world where those supplies are dominated by a cartel, and are concentrated in a part of the world prone to war? In America, we've been trying to puzzle that out for four decades, without success.

Well, the Chinese have figured it out. They're going to get their energy from Canada, a stable country, and pass it through the United States, another stable country. They will pay the Canadians the world price for oil. They will pay us nothing, or next to nothing. So Uncle Sam is Uncle Sucker. (More)


Journalists who broke NSA story

in Guardian receive George Polk Awards

Ewen MacAskill, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras honoured
• Polk curator: repercussions of NSA ‘will be with us for years’

By Martin Pengelly

Image: National Security Agency logo17 February 2014, NEW YORK, NY — The three journalists who broke the National Security Agency revelations from Edward Snowden in the Guardian are among the recipients of the prestigious 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras will receive the award for national security reporting, along with Barton Gellman of the Washington Post.

The George Polk Awards are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism. They were established by Long Island University in 1949 to commemorate Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered the year before while covering the Greek civil war. Winners are chosen from newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online news organizations.

Judges place a premium on investigative and enterprise work that is original, requires digging and resourcefulness, and brings results. Some of the most respected names in journalism have won Polk Awards, including Edward R. Murrow, Christiane Amanpour, Carl Bernstein, David Halberstam, Gay Talese, Fred Friendly, I.F. Stone, Morley Safer, Joseph Lelyveld, Anthony Lukas and Walter Cronkite. The awards are presented each spring at a luncheon in Manhattan and are preceded the night before by the Polk Seminar, which features a panel of winners discussing topics in journalism.

Janine Gibson, Guardian US editor-in-chief, said: “We’re honoured by the recognition from the Polk awards and delighted for Ewen, Glenn, Laura, Barton and their colleagues that their work has been recognised.

“It has been an extraordinary and occasionally menacing eight months of reporting for the Guardian and the support of our peers through this distinguished award is very much appreciated.” (More)


Western media trashed Russia at every opportunity

during the Olympics, distracting from big success story

Sochi showed Russia can transform economy by infrastructure investment

By Michael Hudson, Jeffrey Sommers
Counter Punch
Image: Sochi, Russia, construction site in 2014. Photo: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr24 February 2014 — The Sochi Olympics were the great success Russia had hoped for. The opening ceremonies proved a radiant display drawing on Russia’s most compelling cultural assets.  This artful look back to Russia’s past greatness proved both a reminder and challenge to its own people to reprise their historical greatness going forward. Meanwhile, its closing ceremonies reprised these themes, reminding the viewer of Russia’s continued vibrancy in the arts.
From an economic vantage point, national hosts for Olympic games always use them as an occasion for enormous infrastructure spending for economic development. One of us (Hudson) was the economist for Montreal brokerage houses back in 1976 when every French Canadian family seemed to become millionaires on the games’ cost overruns. The usual argument by governments is to hire a Keynesian economist who will say, “Spend tens of $billions and the multiplier will generate hundreds of $billions in national income. Taxes at 20% will recover all the expense, so in an economy with under-employment, whatever you spend on the Olympics will be free.” This is the kind of argument that World Bank economists use to justify infrastructure investment by underdeveloped countries, and what any Olympic host city argues to minimize the vast cost overruns that always occur. Construction contracts are about as honest as figure skating judging. (More)
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

On bees, trains, and silver bullets

A quick fix requires a long, hard look

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

01 March 2014 — There’re a couple of issues percolating away on Parliament Hill that serve as handy reminders than whenever someone advocates a quick fix, you should take a long, hard look at the problem.

Too often people who should know better clamour for the silver bullet solution to an issue when what’s really needed is a close study to get the correct actions.

Case in point, and also to highlight something useful being done by the Senate, the upper chamber’s agriculture committee is studying the state of the country’s bee population. Readers may recall considerable media attention about bee die offs in the spring of 2012 and 2013 that have been linked to a class of insecticides applied to corn and soybean seeds before they’re planted. The problem is that the machines used to plant the seeds released a bit of dust that is laced with the insecticide and the bees, which are foraging for nectar, breathe in the stuff. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that. (More)

From the Desk of Alex Binkley
'No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding' — Plato
Orwell was making a similar point… the suppression of knowledge and reason is the tyrant’s most powerful tool… and the greatest threat to freedom. “Orthodoxy,” he said, “means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness”.
'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities' Voltaire
By Allan Gregg
In his novel 1984, George Orwell paints a portrait of a nightmarish future where rights that we now take for granted — the freedom of assembly, speech and to trial — have all been suspended. Acceptance of this totalitarian state is justified by the interests of stability and order, and by the needs a perpetual war. But what makes 1984 endure where other dystopian novels have been forgotten is that Orwell removed one more right that is even more unimaginable in a modern context — the right to think.

Instead of reason and rational discourse, Oceania is ruled by doublethink — “to know and not to know. To be conscious of complete truthfulness, while telling carefully construed lies … to use logic against logic: to repudiate morality while laying claim to it”. As Orwell summarizes…. “In Oceania the heresy of heresy was common sense”. (More)

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

First Nations Action vs. the Montana Tar Sands

Lost in the media coverage of the blockade was the prominent role Native Americans played in organizing the protest.

The following originally appeared on Waging Nonviolence.

By Nick Engelfried

Image: Tar sands development: Photo by Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com16 February 2014 — On a cold winter night on January 22, 71-year-old grandmother Carol Marsh sat down in front of a megaload-sized vehicle hauling tar sands processing equipment through Missoula, Mont., en route to Canada. While more than 40 other protesters watched from the street’s edges, Marsh informed the police traveling with the load that she did not intend to move. After about five minutes Marsh was arrested, having temporarily delayed the load and driven up the cost of transporting it through Montana to the tar sands region of Alberta.

Marsh’s story was quickly picked up by local news outlets and spread across activist social media networks. Much of the media attention focused on the image of a lone grandmother blockading a giant piece of tar sands mining equipment. However, Marsh’s action — as is so often the case with the moment in a demonstration deemed most newsworthy — should be understood as one piece of a much larger organizing effort spearheaded by indigenous activists. (More)

By Geneviève Hone

Where There Is A Family

There's always advice from Granny Witch

Watch your 'step'

Hone, small image.

Image: Detail of painting by Julien Mercure.01 March 2014 — In a family, there are big people and little people. The big people are meant to take care of the little people. It’s as simple as that. The big people will continually engage in conversations with the little people. Some conversations will go beautifully and others will go wrong, of this you can be sure. Does this apply to all families? Yes. Let’s see how Granny Witch responds to a letter about big people, little people, and a conversation that went wrong.

Dear Granny Witch,

Three months ago I moved in with the only boyfriend I’ve ever had who deserves to be called “love of my life”. We had been together for three years without actually living under the same roof because of his children, an 11 year old boy, Alpha, and a 14 year girl, Omega, (not their real names). The children live half time with their mother. My boyfriend and I both knew that step-parenting is not an easy proposition, so we took things slowly, one step at a time, that’s why it’s called step-parenting, I believe.(More)


Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Amazing Women from the past to the present

'Tough times never last, tough people do!'

If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted – there is practically nothing she can’t do. — Helen Lawrenson

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

Image: Mireille Roy

01 March 2014March, the month of International Woman's Day, conjures up memories of strong women who have touched my life in some way, and amazing women I admire.
Let’s start with someone I never met in person but admired: Cairine Reay Mackay Wilson, Canada’s first female senator who at one time lived in Cumberland where I was raised.
A mother of eight, Cairine Wilson performed extensive volunteer work and was instrumental in the foundation of the Twentieth Century Liberal Association and the National Federation of Liberal Women of Canada of which she was president from 1938 to 1948. (More)
More Amazing Women

The teenage girls who hammered Hitler

from Stalingrad on the Volga to Berlin

'When it came to their demand for active duty the women would not take no for an answer'

By Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

Image: Detail from cover of When Titans ClashedWhile Hollywood Actor John Wayne* cowardly and successfully dodged the draft when the United States entered World War II more than one million Soviet women, most of them teenagers, rose up from the factories, farms, and schools to take on the invading Germans in direct combat in the air and on the ground.

On June 22, 1941, it was a confident Hitler who hurled his armed forces of 3,750,000 men against the Soviet Union. Why should he not have been confident? He had easily flattened Poland and then conquered France while kicking the British out of Europe in action time-spans that could be counted in weeks. His military machine was at peak strength. All that stood between him and the breadbasket of the Ukraine and the oil fields of central Asia were a mélange of subhuman Slavs. According two American retired colonels, David M. Glantz, who saw action in Vietnam, and Lt. Colonel Jonathon M. House, whose active duty included command positions in Korea, and who both taught university level military history, the war Hitler started on his Eastern Front saw a staggering 40 million military casualties. It cost the Red Army 10 million to stop Hitler, another 10 million to throw the Nazi war machine back, and a final nine million to take Berlin.

Kazimiera Jean Cottam, a retired member of Ottawa Independent Writers, has written a series of books that reveal the human face of the young Soviet women who volunteered by the tens of thousands for frontline action against the Nazi invaders. Prompted by love of country that transcended the politics of Stalinism many of them made the ultimate sacrifice in direct combat with the Germans on the ground and in the air.

Ms. Cottam is an expert military translator, a University of Toronto PhD graduate in history, and a former Research Associate of the Summer Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her interest in the subject began while she was working in Ottawa for what was then Canada’s Department of External Affairs. Articles would cross her desk about heroism of Soviet women during World War 11. The Soviet Union was the only country that allowed frontline action for women.

When it came to their demand for active duty the women would not take no for an answer. (More)


Spirit Quest

What if . . ? Churchill had not replaced Chamberlain

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

01 March 2014 — In my imagination I see them, a long line of horse-drawn wagons stretching beyond the hills across the prairie much like their predecessors many years ago. But these are not ordinary settlers but second time refugees. Only months earlier they had escaped from the Nazi take-over of their native Sudetenland (the German speaking part of Czechoslovakia), now they are once more on the run, hoping to make it to the US border before the vanguard of Hitler’s forces reaches them.

Unlike other settlers these are not farmers, most of them are labour union officials, leaders of the Red Guard, a paramilitary organization set up to protect the Social Democrats against the Henlein thugs (Nazis under the influence of Der Fuehrer next door prior to the Munich Agreement of 1938). It would be at least two weeks before the wagon train of my imagination reached the US border. Crossing would be no problem unlike today. It was after all the world’s longest undefended border. Later there might be some objections to their presence, they were after all socialists, not communists, a distinction the Americans have always found hard to define. (More)


Frances discovers that a silver medalist is a homeboy
Two strangers walk her home along icy winter streets
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.

ParkTales Image, small

01 March 2014 — I had to go to the library. It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I also had to be home to attend a 7 p.m. meeting in the lobby of my apartment building.

The meeting was to inform us tenants that the landlord had put in for an above the guideline rent increase. The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations (FMTA) was to give us information about the City of Toronto's Tenant Defence Fund grant. This grant allows tenant groups to access funds to hire a paralegal to go to court for them to challenge the increase. The FMTA is funded through the City of Toronto's Tenant Defence Fund.

I had to be there. I had to help tenants in our building get organized to get this rent increase lowered as much as possible.

I got dressed, and against my better judgement, went out into the threatening weather. It was supposed to rain but there was only a light snowfall. Okay, I said to myself, it looks safe enough, only light snow. (More)


From the Desk of Thomas Dow, Contributing Editor

Sudbury Ontario tightens security at city hall

with eye on 'high number of knife-wielding men'

By Scott Neigh

Image: OCAP protest at Sudbury City Hall02 March 2014 SUDBURY Ontario — This past week, Sudbury city hall announced new security measures. The chatter that I have seen about these changes on social media makes the very reasonable points that they are unnecessary, foolish, and anti-democratic. But I want to argue that they have even more unsavoury implications than I've so far seen recognized in the online conversation.

At the moment, the details of the changes are not entirely clear, but a few things are known. There will be new restrictions on where ordinary residents of Sudbury can go in city buildings. This seems particularly to apply to city council meetings and to city committee meetings -- there will be a clear separation between where residents must be and where staff and councillors can be. (More)


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From the Desk of Darren Jerome

A continuing update on the war against WikiLeaks transparency

Please be advised that the below is not just the same old thing. By clicking on it you'll find the petition in support of Julian Assange and discover fascinating on-going reports and videos related to one of the most important events in modern history, and the desperate attempts to put a lid on information that everyone should know. Don't miss this special opportunity to stay informed.

In Memory of

RCAF Lt. Col. Harold M. Wright

also known as 'Doctor of Punology'

There can be no life without laughter

Inspired man bolts up at 3 a.m. to jot down another great new worry

Manic researchers announce they are hours away from cure for Depression

Elephant in the room died of 'lonliness and neglect'

Open relationship gives couple freedom to emotionally drain others

Pagans and Druids issue apology to Stonehenge labourers

Lost tribe found in Amazon warehouse

Sochi’s euthanized dogs to be returned to streets after Olympic

Russian invasion would infringe US/UK copyright


By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

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

Big Book of Canadian Trivia cover


1. Skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is popular this time of year. What does the word “rideau” mean?

a) waterway  b) curtain c) rocky shore  d)  ice floe

2. Celebrated French author Voltaire described Canada in his 1759 play Candide as “a few acres of ____.  Was it
a) snow   b) bush   c)  birch trees  d) settlements

3. Some believe that a prince named Madoc discovered North America around 1170.  Where was Madoc from?
a) Scotland  b) Ireland c) Gibraltar d) Wales

Randy Ray, publicist / speaker agent / author

 (613) 425-3873 - (613) 816-3873 (c)

O Canada! Getting to know you!

This is one of a series on the heartbeat of Canada

By Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher

'I hardly remember your face'

A letter to my (inside) postal worker — Written in January 1976

Image: Detail of postal worker delivering mail in the snow.I hardly remember your face — mostly, you’re that woman who reminds me of an aunt, or a grandmother, or the girl who used to babysit; or else you’re the man who makes me think of my cousin Sam, or my Goddaughter’s father, or the man who gave me a hand the other day when I had car trouble.

But even with all that, I always have trouble trying to remember your face.

I remember the first time I ever had a good look at you.

It was just a little more than 13 years ago in November 1962. I was working as a reporter for The Montreal Star, the afternoon shift it was, and Christmas mail was dancing in the city editor’s head.

With a photographer, I went to the Central Post Office on Windsor Street.

Inside I saw a jumbled mountain of Christmas parcels and more coming down the chutes in a seemingly never-ending flow.

I recall thinking that it was something of a modern marvel that those parcels would be delivered to each destination on time.

I remember, too, the mail sorters (weren’t they mostly women?) standing at long benches on a cement floor, fatigue on their faces as they expertly did their jobs. (More)

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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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Nine things you need to know about Venezuela

the recent violence by students, and social media

By Pablo Vivanco
Basic News
Image: Small demonstration in Venezuela. Photo by Alba Ciudad.01 March 2014 — 1. The student marches are from the right-wing of the student movement.
Unlike in places like Chile, there is no single or united student movement in Venezuela. Not only are students groups highly decentralized, but they are also divided along political lines.

Another unique feature of the student groups identifying with the opposition is that they do not organize around accessible or free education (since education has been made accessible to the sector of society that was previously excluded, resulting in an increase of 1,809,432 post-secondary students from 1999 to 2014).

The most recent opposition student demonstrations began in the western city of Tachira near the Colombian border.  On the third day of student demonstrations about insecurity on the campus, the State Governor’s house was attacked and four people were subsequently arrested (two of whom weren’t students).  These arrests led to student demonstrations in other cities – all of these demonstrations were not shut down by police – which led to the February 12th demonstration,
where three people died. (More)


Venezuelan opposition takes cue from Euromaidan

but fails to win support of the majority population

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a sociologist, award-winning author, political analyst
Image: Detail of anti-Maduro government rally held in Dominican Republic Feb 23, 2014. Photo by Reuters / Ricardo Rojas.24 February 2014 The opposition leaders in Venezuela are taking their cue from the anti-government protesters in Ukraine by applying the same disruption strategy that has been used in Kiev.

The aims of the opposition are to create a paralyzing political crisis in Caracas, which they can manipulate to make gains they failed to get with the ballot box under the framework of democracy.

The mainstream opposition, however, doesn’t enjoy wide support. Mainstream opposition leaders have failed to earn a popular mandate from the majority of the population, or to secure the confidence of most Venezuelan citizens during the Latin American country’s elections. Failing to win any of Venezuela’s presidential elections or most of the South American republic’s parliamentary, regional, or municipal elections in the last fifteen years, the leaders of the mainstream opposition are now resorting to color revolution tactics and a Ukraine-style disruption strategy. (More)


How Washington is playing Venezuela like a fiddle

US 'softpower' always results in human death and suffering

By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News

Image: Photo of Venezuela President Nocolas Maduro. Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images.

21 February 2014 — United States foreign policy can be summed up as hard power vs. soft power. An example of hard power is the US backing the unsuccessful 2002 military coup d’état against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, when businessman Pedro Carmona Estanga briefly took power. An example of the US’s soft power is the current situation in Venezuela.

A leaked document from November of 2013 shows that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated with the Colombian government and Venezuelan opposition leaders to destabilize Venezuela and stoke massive protests. The document, obtained by journalist and attorney Eva Golinger, was the product of a June 2013 meeting between US-based FTI Consulting, the Colombian Fundación Centro de Pensamiento Primero Colombia (Centre for Thought Foundation of Colombia First), and Fundación Internacionalismo Democratico (Democratic Internationalism Foundation). The third tactic outlined in the 15-point strategy document openly called for sabotage:

"Maintain and increase the sabotage that affect the population's services, particularly the electricity system, that puts blame on the government for assumed inefficiencies and negligence.”

Coincidentally, during one of Nicolas Maduro's televised speeches outlining his economic plan in early December, the power went out for 60% of Venezuelans for several hours. Maduro blamed the act on sabotage. (More)

US support for regime change in Venezuela is mistake

South Americans plus Cuba declare Maduro backing

While John Kerry reveals hostility toward democracy

By Mark Weisbrot
Guardian UK
23 February 2014 — The US push to topple the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro once again pits Washington against South America.
Cuba has also joined the outcry against another example of Washington's regime- change policy. For full statement click Here.
Students protest in Venezuela. (photo: Alejandro Cegarra/AP)When is it considered legitimate to try and overthrow a democratically-elected government? In Washington, the answer has always been simple: when the US government says it is. Not surprisingly, that's not the way Latin American governments generally see it.

On Sunday 23 February, the Mercosur governments (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela) released a statement on the past week's demonstrations in Venezuela. They described "the recent violent acts" in Venezuela as "attempts to destabilize the democratic order". They made it abundantly clear where they stood.

The governments stated:

their firm commitment to the full observance of democratic institutions and, in this context, [they] reject the criminal actions of violent groups that want to spread intolerance and hatred in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a political tool.

We may recall that when much larger demonstrations rocked Brazil last year, there were no statements from Mercosur or neighboring governments. That's not because they didn't love President Dilma Rousseff; it's because these demonstrations did not seek to topple Brazil's democratically-elected government.

The Obama administration was a bit more subtle, but also made it clear where it stood. When Secretary of State John Kerry states that "We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors," he is taking a political position. Because there were many protestors who committed crimes: they attacked and injured police with chunks of concrete and Molotov cocktails; they burned cars, trashed and sometimes set fire to government buildings; and committed other acts of violence and vandalism. (More)


YouTube video exposes radical right thugs

using classic fascist methods in Ukraine

Shut the f**k up, b*tch!’ Notorious far-right

Ukraine leader attacks unarmed prosecutor

27 February 2014 KIEV Ukraine — Ukrainian radical nationalist leader Aleksandr Muzychko went on with the rampage against regional authorities, lashing out at a local prosecutor with obscene language, punches and threats. The radical claimed the prosecutors were “sabotaging” their job.

Muzychko, who is a member of the Right Sector radical movement, arrived at Rovno (Rivne) Oblast prosecutor’s office after he heard claims that a criminal investigation into a local murder is being delayed.

The controversial “activist,” known for taking part in the Chechen conflict against Russian troops, for his recent Kalashnikov brandishing in front of regional authorities and for making openly anti-Semitic statements, decided to take the matter into his own hands. For video click (More).


Will Russia put a lock on the Crimea?

'If Ukraine turns decisively West, it may find it's forced to leave Crimea behind'

By Josh Cohen
The Moscow Times
Josh Cohen is a former U.S. State Department official who was involved in managing economic reform projects in the former Soviet Union. He currently works for a satellite technology company in the Washington area.
Image: Map of Crimea in relation to Ukraine, via Wikimedia Commons  
Location of Crimea (red) with respect to Ukraine (white). Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

24 February 2014 As the battle on Maidan ends with the defeat and humiliation of President Viktor Yanukovych, some observers have turned their attention to Ukraine's Crimea region with the following question: If Ukraine turns toward the European Union and the West, will President Vladimir Putin move to seize Crimea?

While Crimea is situated far from the drama of Kiev, it stands out as the only region in Ukraine where Russians are in the majority, constituting about 60 percent of Crimea's population. There is also a critical naval base at Sevastopol that the Russians lease from Ukraine. Sevastopol serves as the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, and it gives the Russian Navy direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. Russia has signed a lease agreement with Ukraine that allows its fleet to remain at Sevastopol until 2042. (More)

By Veronika Kyrylenko
Truthout News Analysis

Image: Demonstrators around a fire in Ukraine. Photo by  Sasha Maksymenko / Flickr01 March 2014 — The massive, violent, anti-government protests resumed in Ukraine on February 18, 2014, the day Verokhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) was set to ratify changes to the Constitution. These changes (returning to the Parliamentary-presidential form of government) were among the demands of the opposition.

That day, aggressive groups of people tried to seize the building of Verkhovna Rada. Radicals burst into the buildings in downtown Kiev, burned tires and cars, threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the police and burned the office of the Party of the Regions, where two employees were killed. For the first time during the lasting uprising, protesters used firearms against the police. As a result, nearly 100 people are dead, almost 40 of them are policemen, and thousands injured. (More)


Yes . . . that's precisely what she said

US regime-change operation in Ukraine

exposed in leaked diplomatic phone call

US spends $5 billion and pays demonstrators $25 a day

By Patrick O'Connor
Global Research
World Socialist Web Site

07 February 2014 — A leaked phone conversation between Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, has exposed the anti-democratic and colonialist character of the Obama administration’s intervention in the former Soviet republic.

The discussion between the two officials includes a detailed review of which right-wing opposition figures Washington is working to install in office, and how it is using the United Nations to rubber-stamp the operation. While Germany and other European powers have worked closely with the Obama administration in promoting the violent protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, the leaked phone call reveals tensions between the imperialist powers. At one point Nuland tells Pyatt, “Fuck the EU.”

The discussion, posted anonymously on YouTube, underscores the thoroughly cynical character of Washington’s public diplomacy. The Obama administration’s rhetoric about “democracy” and the Ukrainian people’s right to determine their own future is a charade, concocted for public consumption. Behind the scenes, government officials speak frankly with one another about the real agenda—advancing Washington’s geo-strategic and economic interests in Eastern Europe by installing pro-US and anti-Russian puppet figures in the Ukrainian capital. (More)

Meet the American Empire's

Favorite NGO: Human Rights Watch

The world's most respected human rights group has deep ties to U.S. corporate and state sectors.

By Keane Bhatt
North American Congress on Latin America

Image: Photo of Jose M. Vivanco at Senate hearing in 2004. Photo by Jeremy Bigwood.

13 February 2014 — Over more than a decade, the rise of the left in Latin American governance has led to remarkable advances in poverty alleviation, regional integration, and a reassertion of sovereignty and independence. The United States has been antagonistic toward the new left governments, and has concurrently pursued a bellicose foreign policy, in many cases blithely dismissive of international law.

So why has Human Rights Watch (HRW) — despite proclaiming itself “one of the world’s leading independent organizations” on human rights — so consistently paralleled U.S. positions and policies? This affinity for the U.S. government agenda is not limited to Latin America. In the summer of 2013, for example, when the prospect of a unilateral U.S. missile strike on Syria — a clear violation of the UN Charter — loomed large, HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth speculated as to whether a simply “symbolic” bombing would be sufficient. “If Obama decides to strike Syria, will he settle for symbolism or do something that will help protect civilians?” he asked on Twitter. Executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies John Tirman swiftly denounced the tweet as “possibly the most ignorant and irresponsible statement ever by a major human-rights advocate.”[1] (More)

Distorting Russia

How the American media misrepresent

Putin, Sochi Olympics, and The Ukraine

By Stephen F. Cohen The Nation

(This article appeared in the 03 March 2014 edition of The Nation)

Image: Vladimir Putin leaves a helicopter. Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Pool11 February 2014 —The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines—particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin—is an indication, this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.

There are notable exceptions, but a general pattern has developed. Even in the venerable New York Times and Washington Post, news reports, editorials and commentaries no longer adhere rigorously to traditional journalistic standards, often failing to provide essential facts and context; to make a clear distinction between reporting and analysis; to require at least two different political or “expert” views on major developments; or to publish opposing opinions on their op-ed pages. As a result, American media on Russia today are less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War. (More)


For two decades US false fronts have seeded billions

in the Ukraine and Russia to foster regime change

Now with classic hypocrisy US blames government for violence

Paul Craig Roberts

Image: Paul Craig Roberts20 February 2014People ask for solutions, but no solutions are possible in a disinformed world. Populations almost everywhere are dissatisfied, but few have any comprehension of the real situation. Before there can be solutions, people must know the truth about the problems. For those few inclined to be messengers, it is largely a thankless task.

The assumption that man is a rational animal is incorrect. He and she are emotional creatures, not Dr. Spock of Star Trek. Humans are brainwashed by enculturation and indoctrination. Patriots respond with hostility toward criticisms of their governments, their countries, their hopes and their delusions. Their emotions throttle facts, should any reach them. Aspirations and delusions prevail over truth. Most people want to be told what they want to hear. Consequently, they are always gullible and their illusions and self-delusions make them easy victims of propaganda. This is true of all levels of societies and of the leaders themselves.

We are witnessing this today in western Ukraine where a mixture of witless university students, pawns in Washington’s drive for world hegemony, together with paid protesters and fascistic elements among ultra-nationalists are bringing great troubles upon Ukraine and perhaps a deadly war upon the world. (More)


Health Watch

500 foods besides Subway sandwich bread

that contain poisonous Yoga Mat Chemical

Your grocery store shelves are crawling with them

By Lindsay Abrams
Image: Sliced bread, by Seregam/Shutterstock.com27 February 2014 — Subway’s announcement, earlier this month, that its bread would no longer be made with a chemical foaming agent also found in yoga mats and shoe rubber, made a splash for two reasons: first, because it marked the success of a consumer-driven  campaign to get the company to reform its practices; and second, because most of us were surprised to find out that the chemical was being used in the first place.

The chemical, azodicarbonamide (also known as ADA), has been banned in Europe and Australia, but is FDA-approved so long as its presence is limited to fewer than 2.05 grams per 100 pounds of flour or 45 parts per million. The World Health Organization  links it to respiratory illnesses, allergies and asthma in workers handling large volumes of it. ”When you look at the ingredients, if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it,” Vani Hari, the activist blogger who started the Subway campaign, said.

But it isn’t just Subway — as the company pointed out, it can still be found in products at Starbuck’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts.  And according to a new report released by the Environmental Working Group, it can still be found in nearly 500 food products on grocery store shelves. (More)
My compulsion began when I was 12 and took me to dark places. I wasn't just hooked on porn -- I was hooked on shame.
I was the one who needed rescuing — mostly from myself.
By Erica Garza
Image: Details of a woman's bare leg, toes spread open.17 February 2014The first time I masturbated I was 12 years old. I was in the bathtub, helpless to a steady stream of warm water cascading down my lady parts, while the most intoxicating buildup brought me to my first orgasm. Nothing in my hush-hush Catholic upbringing and innocent friend circle had prepared me for this earthshaking experience, equal parts pleasure and shame. I didn’t know what I stumbled upon, only that it felt scary and wrong, but I tried not to care. No longer would I be crushed out on Eddie Vedder or Chris Cornell. H2O had stolen my heart.

After that, sex was always on my mind. Dredging through the book Treasure Island in seventh grade, I told myself I was allowed to masturbate to orgasm at the end of each chapter so I could finish by the due date. There are 34 chapters in that book and, having made that deal, I breezed through them over the course of a few blissed out days. Robert Louis Stevenson will forever be an erotic novelist in my mind. (More)

Money and Markets

Investors imperiled by easy money

John Ross Crooks, III 
Money and Markets Investing Insights
Image: Shoppers hurry into The Gap25 February 2014 — Our policymakers in Washington, D.C. have indeed sown the seeds of economic destruction. I think the threats all boil down to the liberalization of U.S. and global monetary policy.

The idea of thriving in harsh conditions made me think of an article I read in last year:

“Study: neuroscientists develop equation for predicting future disasters”

The article summarizes what neuroscientists are working on that could explain, and even help anticipate, what would generate a coming collapse in risk appetite and financial markets. My emphasis:

“The dynamics of complex systems – like the brain and the economy – depend on how their elements causally influence each other; in other words, how information flows between them,” said lead author Lionel Barnett.” . . . (More)

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