May 2014

Ukraine: Who Will Control Eurasia's Oil and Gas?

By Steve Weissman
Reader Supported News

Image: President Barack Obama pictured with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Ireland, June 2013. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

05 May 2014 Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea. Barack Obama and his European allies organized the coup in Kiev. Both actions violated international law. Both intruded massively in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Yet, most commentators limit their concern, loudly condemning one crime while silently ignoring the other. It cuts both ways, though Western academics are the worst, dismissing any idea that the US and Europe stage-managed the putsch. That, they insist, is a figment of Putin’s twisted imagination. Would that it were!
The conflict has gone more primal, the high-minded pretensions less persuasive. The world’s sole hyper-power still has game. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, the moving force is not Putin’s tactical genius (or home-court advantage) but the audacity of Washington’s strategic game plan, which US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt let slip when he first arrived in Kiev last September.

“Ukraine is in a fantastic position,” the American diplomat and covert warrior told the country’s pro-Western newspaper Day in early September. “[It] has a border with four EU member states. It has the opportunity to become the eastern frontier of a large European economic space at the same time as it serves as Europe’s gateway to the Eurasian heartland and Europe’s gateway to one of the most dynamic economic regions of the world which stretches all the way to Shanghai and Vladivostok.” (More)

The political fight for Ontario’s middle class

By Trish Hennessy -

“Middle class” is the new “working Ontario families.” Every second speech and press release here contains it now. – Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail reporter, Queen’s Park, Twitter, March 20, 2014.

Image: Behind the Numbers blog logo, via CCPA.
20 March 2014With election fever mounting in Ontario, the political field is quickly crowding around the middle of the income spectrum in search of votes.

And – surprise, surprise – low taxes are dominating the list of enticements.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is insisting she’ll reject any provincial budget that includes asking Ontario’s middle class to pay more taxes or tolls.

Premier Kathleen Wynne appears to be acquiescing by promising not to raise taxes on the middle class to finance much-needed expansion for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton’s public transit. Premier Wynne’s latest intervention focuses on asking the richest among us to contribute more.

And when Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak isn’t beating up on the labour movement, he’s baiting Premier Wynne to reveal just who she thinks the middle class really is.

So let’s talk about that: who fits into the middle of Ontario’s income spectrum and what can governments do to address their needs? (More)


Polled public opposes privatized Canada Post

Fearful that cuts spell an imminent sell-off, workers call to reinstate 'postal banking'

International evidence proves financial options work

but Harper still prefers to cripple the system instead

By Tom Sandborn
Image: Detail of photo by w.d. worden, via TheTyee.ca01 May 2014Amid fears that job cuts and service changes spell imminent privatization of Canada Post, the postal workers' union is renewing calls for the Crown corporation to consider revenue-generating alternatives.

Two-thirds of Canadians "have no appetite" for the privatization of their postal office, according to a poll commissioned and released yesterday by the union.

"Canadians have consistently rejected privatization as an option for our post office," said Denis Lemelin, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), in a news release. "This opposition has kept privatization-friendly governments at bay for many years, although it may not stop the Harper government."

In countries like France, New Zealand and the U.K., postal offices serve as widely-distributed sites where citizens can access banking services, an approach that experts say generates cash flow for the post office, improved banking service to "under-banked" communities, and provide much-needed competition for commercial banks. (More)


Municipalities oppose Canada Post’s cuts

to country-wide door-to-door delivery service

True North Perspective

23 April 2014 OTTAWA — In the wake of drastic cuts announced by Canada Post and backed by the federal Conservatives last December, a growing number of city and town councils are formally opposing the plan to eliminate door-to-door delivery.

That number is now on par with the number of communities with which Canada Post claims it had consulted.

“Forty-six municipalities, including some of Canada’s biggest cities, have now passed resolutions in support of door-to-door delivery and the number keeps growing,” said Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). (More)


Putin, Petrorubles and our PM's bad posture

On Ukraine, Harper as useful idiot — but for whom?

By Murray Dobbin

Image: Cartoon by Greg Perry.

21 April 2014 — Stephen Harper's embarrassing behaviour regarding the crisis in Ukraine — demonizing Vladimir Putin and upping the rhetoric — must be welcomed in the U.S. which created the crisis in the first place and apparently believes it still has something to gain by isolating Russia. But it is not clear that Harper even realizes — or cares — what the larger game is.

And that game may include a Russia-driven shift in global currency allegiance that could devastate the economies of the U.S. and Canada.

The generals surrounding Harper in the ridiculous war-room setting where he announced Canada was sending six fighter jets to bolster NATO's military buildup in eastern Europe looked very uncomfortable. Who likes being used as a prop for a faltering politician? The setting was a bad case of over-acting — as if we were joining the Allies in another world war rather than engaging in what one expert called "incremental posturing."

Is Harper just a useful idiot to the U.S. — ranting and raving about Russian expansionism and imperialism so that the U.S. position looks more reasonable by comparison? He declared: (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

Whatever happened to John Kerry?

Has he become what he was fighting?

John Kerry’s Sad Circle to Deceit

25 April 2014 — Exclusive: Secretary of State John Kerry is framing the Ukraine narrative to make the U.S. side – despite neo-Nazis overthrowing an elected president – the good guys and Russians the bad guys. But Kerry’s strident propaganda is a sad ending to a career that began as a truth-teller, writes Robert Parry of Consortium News.

Kerry grovels over Israeli 'apartheid'

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
30 April 2014 It is a mark of how upside-down Official Washington has become over facts and evidence that Secretary of State John Kerry, who has developed a reputation for making false and misleading statements about Syria and Russia, rushes to apologize when he speaks the truth about the danger from Israeli “apartheid.”

FOCUS: Robert Parry

Who's the Propagandist: U.S. or RT?

Parry writes: "After Secretary of State Kerry lashed out at Russia's RT network over its reporting on Ukraine, a senior aide assembled a list of particulars, which have backfired by showing how weak Kerry's case is and how hypocritical Kerry's State Department has been." 


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. 5 (347)
May 1 2014
Editor's Notes

Image: RT banner.

Image: Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher of True North PerspectiveWhile neo-nazi American-financed Ukrainian nationalists developed bloody armed attacks in the eastern Ukraine and in the southwestern Ukrainian Black Sea port of Oddessa US President Barack Obama falsely blamed Russia for the turmoil that the US started with a five-billion dollar investment. He was joined in a dismal duet by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On 02 May both leaders made public declaration in Washington that if the Russians didn't do as they were told, in effect, surrender to US demands they would face sectoral sanctions. However, despite their tough talk both leaders are haunted by the fact that "the folks back home" are opposed to US policy.
Something like 80 per cent of Germans and more than 60 per cent of Americans have rejected current and future hostility toward Russia on the Ukraine. Mostly they want a diplomatic solution.  (More)
Book Review — The Old Man's Last Sauna, by Carl Dow
By Alejandro Busto
Image: Cover of The Old Man's Last Sauna - click to buy at Amazon.  
Click to buy at  

29 April 2014The best parties are filled with interesting people, whose captivating stories echo throughout the room.

The short story collection The old man’s last sauna by Ottawa-based author Carl Dow reminds me of an interesting party. Published by the BumblePuppy Press, which is run by Dow’s son, each story can be compared to a different fascinating person, whose thought-provoking tale captures the room’s attention.
There is the story of a man who tries to commit a metaphysical murder (Sorry, Room for One Only).  Another describes a boy’s tendency to lie — and how his parents encourage him to use his active imagination (Sharing Lies).  The funny children’s story Our School Bus is Missing! recounts a lovable school bus driver, while The Richest Bitch in the Country contains dark humour as it describes a wealthy young woman who wants to be a stripper.
With this eclectic mix, one may wonder whether Dow had a particular audience in mind when crafting this book. (More)

Obama, Merkel threaten broad sanctions

in case the Ukraine elections are disrupted

Meanwhile, Russia blames West for turmoil

Image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama and talk before a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on May 2, 2014 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

02 May 2014 WASHINGTON DC United States President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that the US and European Union are ready to impose broad sectoral sanctions on Russia if upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine are disrupted.

Should Ukrainian presidential elections scheduled for May 25 be impeded by Russia, Pres. Obama said, then sectoral sanctions against Moscow would be “inevitable.”

Germany, Merkel added, is “ready and prepared" to impose sectoral sanctions on Russia in the event that Moscow refuses to help deescalate matters along its border with Ukraine. Both Pres. Obama and Chancellor Merkel told reporters from the White House Rose Garden that while a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis is preferred, further steps with regards to sectoral measures in the context of certain branches of industry could soon be announced.

The people of Ukraine are expected in three weeks to vote for a new president following the ousting earlier this year of former leader Viktor Yanukovych. But as tensions worsen near Ukraine's border with Russia to the east and south, both German and American leadership now say that further escalations on the part of Moscow would warrant broader sanctions being introduced.

Meanwhile, Russia's envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the UN Security Council on Friday that the US and its western allies have all but eliminated the possibility of a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian ordeal.

It is the interim government in Kiev, Churkin said, that hasn't adhered to last month's Geneva agreement, and is apparently being backed with the support of the west despite urging from the US and EU for a full-on deescalation. (More)



Ford Prison Camp: where curiosity is banished

and slogans take the place of reasoned deliberation

By David McLaren

Image: Mayor Rob Ford, official bobblehead doll, in package.

12 April 2014It is an easy thing to dismiss 'Ford Nation'.

Here’s how Jeffery Simpson does it in the Globe and Mail: “[They and their leaders] prefer to lecture rather than reason, to posture as … the “people” against undefined but dangerous “elites,” and live in an intellectually self-contained world where curiosity is banished and slogans take the place of deliberation.

And he goes on: they’re tough on crime, yet revel in the Mayor’s misdeeds. They vote for fiscal prudence, yet support his imprudent and expensive Scarborough subway. They insist on personal responsibility, but let their own off the hook.

To the elites, they are a mess of contradictions and political incorrectness. If he wasn’t an enemy of the state of 'Ford Nation' before, he is now.

You can hear the disdain, even in pollsters’ numbers: they earn in the lower regions of the 99% and almost half don’t graduate high school. They’re young (18-34) or old (over 55), and they live to the north and east in Toronto and here and there in rural Ontario. (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

Reflections on authorship of Humanity’s Saving Grace

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
  Image: Cover of Humanity's Saving Grace, a novel by Alex Binkley. Click to purchase at

01 May 2014 — There are few events that match the rush of holding your own book for the first time. All the hours of writing, editing and incorporating friendly suggestions and helpful hints into the final product are in your hands.

Yet this is just one step in a long process. Throughout the writing process, the author encounters wise advice about how completing the book is just the beginning of the adventure. Ahead lies marketing it and that process is just as time consuming and challenging as writing, the sages said. A few months out from the release of Humanity’s Saving Grace, published by Loose Cannon Press of Ottawa, I can only say they were absolutely right.

Unless you have a big publisher and/or a brand name, the author is his or her own marketing director. The launch is a good start followed by signings at book stores and participating in large sales like the ones we have several times a year in Ottawa. You have to be prepared to talk up your book at any opportunity in case a potential customer is present. You need to have a couple of copies of the book with you all the time. Then comes looking for ways to talk about it to potential readers through the Internet. That’s no small task because of the thousands of books always coming on the market. It’s one that I certainly have to work on. (More)


From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Good news: Climate Change report says

averting catastrophe is eminently affordable

Landmark UN analysis concludes global roll-out of clean energy would shave only a tiny fraction off economic growth

By Damian Carrington
The Guardian UK
Image: Pedestraians beneath row of solar panels, photo: AFP/Getty.13 April 2014 BERLIN — Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.
“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.

The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. Gas – including that from the global fracking boom – could be important during the transition, Edenhofer said, but only if it replaced coal burning.

The authoritative report, produced by 1,250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a trilogy that has already shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by humans and that, unchecked, it poses a grave threat to people and could lead to wars and mass migration. (More)


By Geneviève Hone

Where There Is A Family

There's always advice from Granny Witch

Am I mean when I mean it?

Hone, small image.

Image: Detail of Non non non, by Julien Mercure.Dear Granny Witch,

My wife and I are fed up with our kids’ attitude. We try to support each other, but we argue on how to solve this problem. We have attended lectures at the community centre on parenting unruly children and we have read two books, one of which you authored, Granny Witch. It’s the same message everywhere. “Children need firmness, direction, structure, consistency. It’s scary for children when parents abdicate.” We get it, Granny Witch. But all this lovely advice hasn’t worked for us. Today’s kids are bright and they know how to manipulate their parents. Can you teach my wife and me how to manipulate back? If you can avoid recommending firmness and consistency, it would be much appreciated. (More)


Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Sexual assault is a vicious crime

but especially pernicious when applied to children

'Shockingly, more than half of all sexual assaults take place in private homes'

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

“The mind, body and soul know that there is a right way to love and be loved.” (Lucie G. Spear, A New Legacy for Incest Survivors)

Image: Detail of photo of Rehteah Parsons.01 May 2014 As I write this introduction, I am reminded that Rehteah Parsons, a beautiful 17 year-old former student of Cole Harbour District High School in Darthmouth, Nova Scotia, attempted suicide by hanging on April 4, 2013.
Rehteah died on April 7 of that year when taken off life support. What caused such a beautiful young teen to end her life? The villain was a gang rape photographed and later posted. What ensued was constant and humiliating bullying and harassment.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, education, sexuality, or culture. Sexual assault includes rape, unwanted sexual touching, incest, sexual harassment, cyber sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, voyeurism, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and degrading sexual imagery. (More)
Easter, the season of hope, is still in the air
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

01 May 2014 — Easter is my favourite season of the year. That basket of beautiful coloured eggs  once again adorns our dining room table. Not only are those eggs beautiful but they are now more than 55 years old. I bought them from a vendor on the Old Town Square in the heart of the city of Prague in April 1968 on the occasion of my first visit after my mother and I had fled our homeland in 1938.

Prague was in a festive mood when I visited. The simple red, white and blue flag fluttered from every tower and mast throughout the city. The picture of Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of the newly created Czechoslovakia after the end of World War I, adorned many store windows and homes. It had been absent during the dark days of communism after the World War II. (More)


Cops hug each other in pot haze on Parliament Hill
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 May 2014 — When last in Ottawa I checked out what was going on and came across the Marijuana 420 demo on Parliament Hill.

Never missing a chance for a demo on Parliament Hill I ventured up to see what was going on. I had never heard of this movement 420 before but since I am in favour of legalizing Marijuana I thought I would check it out.

I went early not knowing that the main event was at 4.20 p.m. when 15,000 people showed up. Later, I thought to myself, I would sure love to see that many on Parliament Hill for a Peace demo, or for affordable housing or raise the minimum wage to $14 or better still to “Get Rid of Stephen Harper and his government” and have some compassion on The Hill. (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.

From the Desk of Hilda Young

There can be no life without laughter

From Dave Barry's brilliant comic mind

The difference between men and women

Let's say a guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Martha. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Martha, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then, there is silence in the car. (More)


By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

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

Big Book of Canadian Trivia cover


1. True or false. During treaty negotiations between Britain and the United States at the end of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the British give up Quebec as a gesture of goodwill.

2. In what city in 1951 was Canada’s first colour television used?
a) Toronto  b) Ottawa  c)  Edmonton  d)  Montreal
3. When Armand Bombardier invented the snowmobile, he gave it a name, but a typographical error changed the name to Ski-Doo. What was the original name he wanted?
a)  Ski-Dome   b) Ski-Dog   c)  Ski-Door   d) Skiing Doo
Randy Ray, publicist / speaker agent / author

 (613) 425-3873 - (613) 816-3873 (c)

From the Desk of Frances Sedgwick

O Canada! Getting to know you!

This is one of a series on the heartbeat of Canada

In moving my bookcase from one part of the apartment to another I came across books I had lost contact with. What a joy it was to rediscover some of these gems.

One such book is The Poetry of the Canadian People 1720-1920 Two hundred years of hard work.

Edited by N. Brian Davis -  NC Press Limited Toronto, 1976.

On reading these historic poems I was reminded of the struggles of the past and continuing struggles today. One poem brought to mind the controversy over the Temporary Foreign Workers Bill that has been recently in the news.

 A hundred years ago, it was traditional in many newspapers for a poem purporting to be from a newsboy or ‘printer's devil’ to appear on the front page of New Year’s Day. Besides asking everyone who owed the paper money to pay their debts, these poems usually summed up the events of the past year and told the readers what to expect in the coming year. Occasionally a poem from the printer’s devil would appear during the year, like this one which is from an August 1886 edition of The Labour Reformer.”

The Monopolists’
View of the Matter
By the Labour Reformers’s Devil
August 1886 edition of The Labour Reformer
We’ve a right to employ whom we choose,
   And to pay you what wages we like;
You’ve no right to a say in the matter,
   And certainly none for a strike.
It’s wicked to be discontented,
   To grumble at fate, or to kick,
The good things of life are for Croesus,
   The leavings for Hodge, Sandy and Mick.
If they don’t like the wages we pay them
   Hodge, Sandy and Mick may be gone;
We can easily fill all their places
   With Pedro, with Hans, and cheap John.
You needn’t try striking or boycotts,
   For the law will assist us to fleece;
We feel now pretty sure of the Colonel,
   And then there’s  McMurrich’s  “police.”
With the Mail and the Globe and the World,
   And the Telegram, too, at a pinch,
We can capture your votes for the parties
   Who will help us your shackles to clinch.
You may vote for what party you like;
   You may think you’ve elected a friend;
You may shout till you’re hoarse for your party,
   But our tool you elect in the end.
Don’t think to escape from our clutches,
   Nor in truth nor in justice place trust;
While we own the land and the money,
   We can grind you all into dust.
Be content with your lot and don’t grumble,
   Your Assemblies and Unions eschew;
We’ll feast on the meats on the table,
   And leave the dog’s portion to you.
  Image: Cover of The Poetry of the Canadian People 1720-1920. Click image to buy at
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Door-to-door mail delivery is not only

of practical but also of moral consequence

By Nick Aplin
Contributing Editor
True North Perspective

(Nick Aplin is a civil engineer. He was asked to speak on Canada Post cuts to the mail service at a meeting of Solidarity Against Austerity, at the Hintonburg Community Centre in west-central Ottawa, Canada. Here following is what Mr. Aplin said April 9 2014.)

Image: Dear Leader Harper offers thumbs' up and says You're Welcome against background of snow-in mailboxes.I support door-to-door mail delivery because it is just one of the attributes of the kind of society I wish to live in. In the society I would choose and toward which I believe it is worth working, there would be generally a sense of justice and fairness.

There would be very little emphasis on consumption, a great deal of emphasis on social solidarity. There would be equality of opportunity that would lead to a sense of social responsibility. There would be few if any foreign wars. We would not allow our environment to be fouled by corporations enjoying impunity as if it did not matter what pollution is dumped. The air, the water and the soil could produce nourishing foods. Our general health would be better.

This federal government, the one we have tolerated and endured for nearly eight years, as well as their appointee running Canada Post, have an ethic that I completely oppose. Theirs is totally different from what I see as desirable for Canada and for the survival of a world in which my grandchildren and other kids for generations into the future can expect to live well. (More)

Media Watch

South Sudan dictates media coverage of conflict

By Sadik Wani
Inter Press Service
Traditional dancers during celebrations to mark South Sudan's first anniversary of independence on Jul. 9, 2012 in Juba. However, journalists say the government has stifled freedom of the media. Credit: Charlton Doki/IPS 28 April 2014 JUBA — As rebel forces loyal to South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar declared on Tuesday Apr. 15 that they had captured the key oil town of Bentiu, the government has been accused of clamping down on local media in an attempt to influence the reporting on the conflict.

Though journalists here say that the government clampdown first began after independence in 2011, the situation has worsened since December when fighting broke out between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and Machar at military barracks in Juba, the country’s capital.

Other cases of South Sudan’s media clampdown: (More)

By Karin Gillespie
Image: Ink wash of woman with flower, by Esther Pearl Watson.26 April 2014 I’m a genre writer. Gary Shteyngart hasn’t blurbed any of my novels, and Marion Ettlinger has never photographed me for a book jacket. I’m more at ease with the sequins and shirtless men at the Romantic Times conference than I am with the serious eyewear at poetry readings.
When critics describe my work, which is basically chick lit, they don’t say it’s emotionally astute, sweeping or a tour de force. They call it “a fast-paced screamer.”

I’d had five novels published when, in 2008, just after the recession hit, my option was not renewed at my publishing house. I’d been supporting myself with book sales for five years. Now I had no contract, no agent and no new manuscript. Since I’d never had any formal writing training, I decided it was the ideal time to get my M.F.A. in creative writing. (More)

Montreal philosopher says economic evolution

points clearly in the direction of a 30-hour week

John A. Matheson is a Montreal-based philosopher and musician who argues that the 30-hour week should be at the top of our agenda.
By John A. Matheson
True North Perspective

Image: Photo of Woolworth employees demonstrating for 40-hour week.01 May 2014 It seems so obvious, and yet no one is mentioning it. All of the economic signs show that we need to sharply reduce the number of hours in the work week with no reduction in pay. Perhaps everyone is waiting for someone else to go first.

About three years ago there were significant protests about the economy under the OCCUPY banner. This seemed to be the antithesis which was rising up against the thesis of our current economic system. We can call it whatever names we like, but it is what it is. What could be the synthesis of these two factors? The only conclusion I can come up with after much thinking about the subject, is a

30-hour work week with no reduction in pay.

One big problem that has been identified with the current economic system is that all of the benefits of growth are accruing to the wealthy, leaving the 99% (the rest of us) behind. Wealth disparity is increasing, and it is economically inefficient. We do not need to make socialist arguments to show that if money is not circulating sufficiently, economic activity will be depressed. Despite massive stimuli by governments and central banks, economic growth is still sluggish. After a terrible recession like 2008, we should be strongly bouncing back to growth. (More)


Don't put your bottles in the blue boxes, says theft-plagued

Ottawa centretown resident, they're just bait for scavangers

with an eye out for potential theft to feed their drug habits

By Shannon Lee Mannion
True North Perspective

Image: Poster by Shannon Lee Mannion, showing man on balcony.01 May 2014 OTTAWA, Canada — As a long-standing Centretown resident, I ask the following trenchant question:

Is there a decent, law-abiding citizen in Ottawa who would willingly invite a drunk and/or stoned stranger onto their property and let them have a look around, checking out what's in the garage, letting them evaluate the patio furniture, the BBQ, even the family car, knowing that if they need money to support their habit, that they will return and steal in order to sell or trade for booze or drugs?  

This is how it appears to work in Centretown. Our driveways, back yards and rear alleys are fair game for vagrants who in their addled minds think that when they take someone's property it'll be okay because the victims can claim it on their insurance. (More)


Hungary's elections: Don't be fooled by labels

The re-election rout for Hungary's governing party, Fidesz, brought few surprises: With broad popular support, and a scattered opposition, the party coasted to a second term on 06 April.

By Neil Clarke

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter

Supporters of ruling Fidesz party wait for the preliminary results of parliamentary elections in Budapest April 6, 2014. (Reuters / Laszlo Balogh)08 Aprril 2014 RT — On the one side we have a government that has carried out renationalization, which has confronted the greedy foreign-owned energy companies, and presided over a rise in real wages and a fall in unemployment.

Also, this government imposed a bank tax and implemented other measures to help ordinary people — including a government-decreed cut in energy bills.

On the other side, there is an opposition alliance that supports further privatization, wants more policies to benefit global “investors,” which is unashamedly pro-banker and pro-globalist and whose main alliance partner when last in government imposed swinging cuts in public spending, destroyed state-owned companies including national airline Malev, and left millions of ordinary people worse off.

Now, you'd probably think that the government in question is “socialist’ or “leftist” and the opposition “conservative.” But in fact, it is the other way round. The Hungarian government, which has just been returned to power with about 45 percent of the vote, has undoubtedly done more for ordinary people that the “socialist” opposition did when in power from 2002-10 (and I say this as a lifelong socialist, not as a supporter of Fidesz). (More)


A step-by-step on how the US undermines democracies

as it now enters the second stage of its plan for Venezuela

Thugs are paid by opposition parties to act as students

By Tamara Pearson 
Image: Student Leader Alejandro Padron by Prensa Integracion UCV.23 April 2014 MERIDA — Military chief Vladimir Padrino said yesterday that the violent street blockades which began in February have moved on to a “second phase” characterised by “selective attacks and terrorist cells”.

“They are continuing the selective attacks on public transport units,” he said.

Student leader Alejandro Padrino says that the “first stage... in the continuous coup d’état” was the barricades, and also calls to high ranking military personnel to organise the removal of President Maduro. Three air force generals were arrested at the end of March for allegedly planning a coup.

The student said the opposition sectors were planning to consolidate their plan of “198 steps to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro”. Padron says that the plan is based on Gene Sharp’s text, which details how to overthrow democratic governments through destabilisation and media manipulation, “using the youth as cannon fodder”.

Padron described three types of actions he believes the opposition violent sectors are planning: “firstly... a plan of selective killings, which aims to kill students, well known sports people, and youth who are dedicated to the arts... in order to create a climate of anxiety in the population. It will be carried out by paramilitaries who are in various zones of Caracas, especially Sucre municipality, governed by the opposition”.

He said the second step involved supporting the “shock troops” of the private and autonomous universities, using “so called students who are really political cadre of [political parties and organisations] First Justice, Javu, Red Flag, Popular Will, and Democratic Action – paid by their parties to pretend to be students”. (More)


The dirty hand of the NED

(National Endowment for Democracy) in Venezuela

By Eva Golinger

Image: Man walks across NED logo super-imposed on CIA logo.23 April 2014 — Anti-government protests in Venezuela that seek regime change have been led by several individuals and organizations with close ties to the US government. Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado — two of the public leaders behind the violent protests that started in February — have long histories as collaborators, grantees and agents of Washington. The National Endowment for Democracy “NED” and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have channeled multi-million dollar funding to Lopez’s political parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and Machado’s NGO Sumate and her electoral campaigns.

These Washington agencies have also filtered more than $14 million to opposition groups in Venezuela between 2013 and 2014, including funding for their political campaigns in 2013 and for the current anti-government protests in 2014. This continues the pattern of financing from the US government to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2001, when millions of dollars were given to organizations from so-called “civil society” to execute a coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. After their failure days later, USAID opened an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas to, together with the NED, inject more than $100 million in efforts to undermine the Chavez government and reinforce the opposition during the following 8 years. (More)

A tribute to Hugo Chavez: a giant under the moon

By Eva Golinger
Post cards from the revolution

Image: Eva Golinger.06 March 2014 — A year has passed since the physical parting of Hugo Chavez and it’s still impossible to accept. His voice was a constant in revolutionary Venezuela, his discourse was a school in continuous development. A humble man with a noble soul, Chavez had the courage of warriors and a heart filled with patriotism. He defied the most powerful interests without ever flinching. His hand never trembled, he never bowed down, he was always firm with serenity and conviction, ready to confront the most powerful threats. His value was immense, a soldier of the people, a giant of centuries. Knowing him was a privilege and a priceless treasure.

Chavez had an impact on the world, leaving his fingerprint in struggles and dreams of social justice, from north to south. His legacy is transcontinental, without borders. “Chavez” translates to a symbol of dignity in all languages.

The evening air was brisk and so many people kept arriving that they didn’t fit in the venue. The organizers decided they had to change the event from inside, where only 500 people fit, to right outside in a public square, where thousands could arrive. Never before had there been a phenomenon like this in Vienna. Thousands of European youth had gathered outdoors in a Viennese square to listen to a Latin American head of state. The quantity of people present was spectacular. Chavez wasn’t just a Latin American leader, he was an international sensation. (More)



Columbia engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab

By Staff Writers
Intern Daily - doctors and nurses
Image: Full section of a tissue construct with cartilage at the top and bone substrate underneath. Blue stain marks proteoglycan, one of 2 key components of cartilage, and red marks the nuclei of the cells. Courtesy Sarindr Bhumiratana//Columbia Engineering.02 May 2014 NEW YORK, NYResearchers at Columbia Engineering have announced that they have successfully grown fully functional human cartilage in vitro from human stem cells derived from bone marrow tissue. Their study, which demonstrates new ways to better mimic the enormous complexity of tissue development, regeneration, and disease, is published in the April 28 Early Online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"We've been able-for the first time-to generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking in vitro the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation," says Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, who led the study and is the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia Engineering and professor of medical sciences. "This could have clinical impact, as this cartilage can be used to repair a cartilage defect, or in combination with bone in a composite graft grown in lab for more complex tissue reconstruction." (More)


Health Watch

We're constantly bathed in artificial light 

How much does electric light damage our bodies?

By Tara Lohan

Image: Photo of woman looking at computer screen. Andresr/

27 April 2014If you live in the developed world, darkness can be hard to find. Our plugged-in, 24-7 lifestyles deliver a barrage of not just technology, but also light. All the time. And this may have negative health consequences that scientists are only just beginning to understand.

We are a diurnal species, which means we are genetically programmed to do our work during the day when it’s light out, and sleep when it’s dark. For many thousands of generations as hunter/gathers we did just that, with the only light after dark coming from the moon, stars or firelight. With the industrial revolution and the invention of electric light, all that changed.

We went from incandescent electric light to fluorescents and neon. Now we are increasing our use of solid-state lighting, such as LEDs (light-emitting diodes). (More)

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Image: Photo of model in bikini. Studio10Artur/

28 April 2014My husband likes to squeeze onto what I’ve been taught to call my “muffin top,” the bit of “extra” flesh just above my hips. Recently, he planted a hand on it, squeezed and made a desirous grunting noise that made me think he might eat me alive. “Baby, no!” I protested, batting his hand away. “Don’t squeeze my fat.” His face softened. “But I love it. I love this juicy little oyster,” he said, referencing the  tender, most delicious part of a chicken. “It’s the best.”

Funny, I thought it was the worst.

This isn’t just a case of my particular insecurities and my husband’s sexual idiosyncrasies. Studies have shown that straight women overestimate the importance of thinness in heterosexual men’s perception of female beauty. That is to say, women think men prefer ladies much thinner — and “oyster”-less — than they actually do. (More)