May 2015

Kevin Dooley, writer, musician, historian and activist

(and True North Perspective contributor)

named Ottawa's Irish Person of the Year 2015

Image: Close-up photo of Irish Society of the National Capital Region Person o fthe Year 2015 trophy. Photo provided by Onagh Dooley.Close-up of the Irish Society of the National Capital Region's Irish Person of the Year 2015 award. Photo by Onagh Dooley.
1 May 2015 — Kevin Dooley, who has succesfully laboured long and hard for official recognition of the Irish workers who gave life and limb to help build the Rideau Canal, was presented the Irish Person of the Year 2015 award at the Irish Ambassador's residence in Rockliffe, Ottawa, on Thursday 9 April 2015.
This award was presented by Dr. Ray Bassett, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, on behalf of the Irish Society of The National Capital Region, in recognition for Mr. Dooley's work with the Canal Workers Commemorative Group.
This is the first year the Irish Society of The National Capital Region has recognized the contributions of various people to the Irish Canadian community. Eight awards were handed out.
Image: Kevin Dooley receives  Irish Society of the National Capital Region's Person of the Year award for 2015, from the Irish Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Ray Bassett. Photo by Onagh Dooley.Kevin Dooley (right) receives  Irish Society of the National Capital Region's Irish Person of the Year award for 2015, from the Irish Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Ray Bassett. Photo by Onagh Dooley.

Demonizing Russia - Special Section

While the Middle East burns, US dares Russia to blink as Western aggression in Ukraine leads world to the brink of nuclear war

The Washington neo-con puppets of the Pentagon are conducting a deliberate propaganda campaign to demonize Russia by falsely accusing it of aggression. This calls to mind when in 1939 Hitler falsely accused Poland of aggression. Hitler dressed German troops in Polish uniforms and had them conduct false border raids. The US, to satisfy its adolescent imperialist obsession, clearly wants a hot war with Russia, so long as it's on European land and water. What the super-inflated egos ignore is that Russia (not to leave out China) has the capacity to easily bring a hot war to the heartland of the US, never mind its seashores. The US military/industrial complex, with its bought-and-paid-for bureaucrats and politicians, against which General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people, is riding high down the road toward a nuclear disaster. Let's hope that there will rise up those who can effectively stay the hands of these lunatics. Meanwhile, in the name of sanity and peace, we offer the following for your consideration.

CNN co-founder challenges demonization of Putin

'Putin is not the devil, he's just defending Russian interests'

Image: Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin, 16 April 2015.17 April  2015 — Vladimir Putin is defending Russian interests, and is not the devil the US media make him out to be, the CNN’s founding CEO wrote. Using historical facts and personal experience, Reese Schonfeld expressed a belief that Russia is not the enemy.

The Russian president “may not be a nice man, but he certainly is not the devil that we are making him,” Reese Schonfeld wrote in his Huffington Post column on Thursday 16 April, titled “The Russians are not coming II.” Putin was “acting as any political leader should, in trying to preserve and protect his country,” he added. (More)

‘We're not interested in a fair fight’

US army commander urges NATO aggression against Russia

RT - The Telegraph

Image: Detail of photo of US forces in southern Afghanistan Operations Director General Frederick 'Ben' Hodges.(AFP Photo / Ed Jones)20 April 2015 — US army commander in Europe says Russia is a “real threat” urging NATO to stay united. The alliance is not interested in a “fair fight with anyone” and wants to have “overmatch in all systems,” Lieutenant-General Frederick "Ben" Hodges believes.
A key objective for NATO is not to let Russia outreach it in terms of capabilities, the general said.
"We're not interested in a fair fight with anyone," General Hodges stated. "We want to have overmatch in all systems. I don't think that we've fallen behind but Russia has closed the gap in certain capabilities. We don't want them to close that gap,” he revealed. (More)

Stephen Harper loves the smell of Napalm in the morning

By Michael Harris
Image: Photo-illustration of STephen Harper in US Army fatigues, via April 2015 — It is be beginning to look like Field Marshall Harper has slipped a gear.
Going after the Ukrainian vote in Canada is one thing. But sending troops, even as trainers, into Ukraine’s “fratricidal” civil war and confronting Russia is quite another. If this thing goes sideways, he may wish he had sent diplomats instead of military advisors.
Has anyone told the PM that these are not toy soldiers he is dispatching — by the hundreds no less — but flesh and blood human beings?
This is an old story. From his opposition days, this leader has exhibited a fatal instinct to take it to the parking lot. The itchy trigger finger initially showed up in the second Iraq War. Cooler heads in the Chretien government scuppered his ill-informed bellicosity. But that didn’t stop Harper from dropping editorial bombs in the Wall Street Journal. He slammed Chretien, declaring that it was a mistake for Canada not to join in Bush’s necktie party for Saddam Hussein. (More)
Canadian troops in Ukraine could help train far-right extremists

Former Canadian ambassador deplores Canada in Ukraine


Image: Soldier in Ukraine's voluntary militia, the Azov Battalion, sports badge reminiscent of Nazi flag. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)21 April 2015 It is impossible for Canadian military personnel in Ukraine to weed out far-right militants when training, as some of the groups have been absorbed into the military, James Bissett, former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria told RT.

RT: The Canadian government seems confident that it can weed out far right extremists from the troops they will be training. Do you share that optimism?

James Bissett: That is of course nonsense. They will not be able to do that because some of the extreme militia like the Azov Battalion and others that we’ve seen on your screen are being incorporated into, or absorbed into, the Ukrainian army, into the National Guard. How are Canadian trainers going to make those distinctions between who are good guys and who are bad guys? They simply won’t be able to and I don’t think they are going to be trying very fastidiously to make that kind of identification.

In addition to that we have given Ukraine up to now $500 million and that money is not accountable. So we have no idea how it will be spent. It is another indication of the old saying: ‘It is inherently unwise to get involved into a civil war’. And now we stepped out and got involved in one. It is a provocation to Russia and it is an unnecessary aggressive move, and bodes ill for the second Minsk peace agreement. (More)


Image: Photo of Julian Assange addressing conference in Argentina via satelite. Image via March 2015 — Washington might hope that it has Assange cornered, but despite the man’s inability to physically move anywhere, it would seem that it is he who is doing all the cornering.
He explained to an Argentinian paper how US intervention in Ukraine had led to civil war, how the West had helped ISIS, and why Israel supported Hamas.
The United States has spent “A lot of time Trying to Bring Ukraine to the West,” the WikiLeaks Founder said in an Interview to Pagina / 12, Argentinian newspaper on Monday.
“If it cannot be with a NATO membership, at least it becomes independent from Moscow’s sphere of influence, to reduce Russian industrial-military complex and its naval bases in Crimea.” (More)

NATO activity near Russian borders increased by 80%


Image: Photo of US troops via Reuters INTS Kalnins, RT.17 April  2015 — There was a sharp increase in the aggressive intensity of the training of NATO troops near the borders of Russia last year, Russian General Staff said.
“In 2014, the intensity of NATO’s operational and combat training activities grew by 80 percent,” said Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of General Staff, when speaking during the IV Moscow Conference on International Security.
The leadership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization made no effort to hide the clear anti-Russian orientation of these activities, he added. (More)

US ‘crossed all imaginable lines’

forcing Ukraine to do its bidding


Image: US servicemen take part in military exercises outside the town of Yavoriv near Lviv, Ukraine (Reuters / Roman Baluk)16 April 2015 — The US has broken all the rules by dragging Ukraine into its orbit as part of its aggressive wider plan to expand NATO and to alienate Russia’s neighbors, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told a security conference in Moscow.
“In its effort to draw Kiev into its orbit the US and its closest allies have crossed all imaginable lines, and our reaction could not fail to follow,” he said, adding that the enforcement of the so-called European choice in Ukraine led to a civil war, in which over 6,000 people have already been killed. (More)

Shameful Western leaders snub Russian celebration

of the victory over Hitler's murderous war machine

The Washington war machine is doing its best to demonize Russia with false claims of aggression (please see Editor's Notes). Below we offer a context and the human face of the people that the neo-con Pentagon puppets want us to kill. Be sure to tune into some of the videos. Learn how deeply Russians yearn for peace.

By Carl Dow
Publisher and Editor
True North Perspective
True North Humanist Perspective
Image: Detail of photo of Moscow Victory Day celebrations 2005. Photo by via Wikipedia.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 to two American retired colonels, Colonel 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 29 million Soviet 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. (Click for text and videos)

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.'
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Click here for True North Humanist Perspective

Lia Tarachansky

A Jew reports from Israel


Putin proves US funding North Caucasus militants

Seems US secret service kicked Geo. W. Bush's ass


Senior Russian rabbi says Jews safer in Russia


Polish general ‘calls back support’

of Ukraine over nationalist glorification


Wake up call for one percent

May Day celebrations take sharp political turn


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. 10, No. 5 (356)
May 2015
Editor's Notes

Five billion $ is nothing short of an act of aggression

That's how much Washington spent to subvert Ukraine

A ruthless practice that leaves behind broken countries and millions dead

Ukraine  •  Crimea  •  NATO  •  Missile Defense (against North Korea!?)

Image: True North Perspective Editor and Publisher Carl Dow. Photo by the Phantom Phographer.

By its own admission Washington spent five billion (and counting) dollars to subvert the troubled country, Ukraine. They used (and use) phony NGOs (Non Government Organizations) to spread divide-and-conquer propaganda. The U.S. does this all over the world where hot wars don't serve their interests. What they do may be constituted as a crime against humanity because it results in millions who die or are physically and mentally maimed.

Since the end of the cold war, the United States has proven itself one of the most hostile, aggressive countries in history. In the name of democracy it pursues its adolescent ambition to rule the world. Fortunately it is losing ground.

Washington hypocrisy was exposed in a leaked recording of a phone call between Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. Washington had made public declaration that it was having nothing to do with developments in the Ukraine but a telephone recording published on YouTube revealed the lie. (More)

The Binkley Report

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 right recipe for food safety

'Food safety is as much about education as punishment'

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Image: Cover of Humanity's Saving Grace, a novel by Alex Binkley. Click to purchase at
01 May 2015The latest war of words between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Agriculture Union creates an excellent opportunity to remind everyone that all the government policies and inspectors in the world won’t make our food safer.
What will, is making sure that every step in the food supply chain understands what’s expected of them in ensuring the safety of our food, and then monitoring them to make sure they’re doing it right from the farm to the grocery store or market. If not, tell them to clean up their act and if that doesn’t work, hit them with fines and legal charges.
Food companies have a powerful incentive to make safe food. Their bottom line and reputation with retailers and foreign food buyers takes a big hit if they market an unsafe product that has to be recalled or worse sickens or kills people. Remember the pain and agony Maple Leaf went through in the aftermath of Listeria being found in some of its deli meats. If the companies can’t make safe food products, they won’t be around for long. (More)

Vancouver oil spill shows Canada’s lack of readiness

'After what happened in English Bay, how can we trust them?'

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Image: Photo of volunteers working to clean oil spill on shore of English Bay.1 May 2015 — However you want to describe it, Vancouver was lucky the fuel oil spill in its harbour was as small as it was because the clean-up system simply isn’t ready for a bigger disaster.
All the finger pointing among the politicians following the spill from a bulk freighter on its maiden voyage solved nothing and didn’t instill any public confidence.
Everyone from former senior Coast Guard members to top federal bureaucrats now retired have made that point over and over again. (More)

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor

Neil Young takes on Monsanto

Anastasia Pantsios
Image: Detail of photo of Neil Young, via Shutterstock.26 March 2015 There’s a cliche about people getting more conservative as they get older. But with 69-year-old musician Neil Young that opposite seems to be true. He keeps getting more passionate and outspoken about the things he believes—including the environment, Keystone XL pipeline, small-scale agriculture and taking on big corporations like Monsanto.
The unflaggingly productive Young has a new album coming out June 16 called The Monsanto Years. It’s all about the multinational chemical giant that has been a leader in the development of genetically modified seeds and pesticides. That includes the widely used Roundup herbicide, which has been linked to cancer. He mentioned the album in January in an interview with Rolling Stone executive editor Nathan Brackett but according to the magazine he appeared to be joking.. (More)

Finn Slough is like a normal community that's not

An off-grid urban wilderness on the Fraser River

'We live outside of history,' says resident Glen Andersen

By Yilin Wang
The Tyee  25 April 2015

Image: Detail of photo of Finn Slough, settled in the 1880s, still has a wild, frontier feel. Photo by Peterson Photogr@phy in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool. 25 April 2015 — On an Easter weekend in the 1990s, artist Glen Andersen collaborated with friends to re-enact the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a play that featured an artist-martyr nicknamed the ''artyr.'' In the play, performed on a downtown Vancouver street, a female poet portrayed the ''artyr,'' while actors playing journalists hounded her.

Decades later, Andersen's life bears a similarity to the ostracized artist figure from that performance art piece.

He and his partner live in an off-the-grid riverside village in Richmond, B.C. called Finn Slough, which, more than 100 years after it was first founded by Finnish immigrants, still has a wild frontier feel to it. (More)

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life 

Exceptional Mothers 

'Mothers live ordinary lives in an exceptional way'

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

'Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home' — Mother Teresa'

Image: Detail of photo of Alberte Villeuneuve-Sinclair

Image: Photo of pink and white roses, provided by Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair.1 May 2015 —  Today I would like to salute all the wonderful mothers of this world because motherhood may be the most difficult challenge women face during their lives and unfortunately, young women are often ill-prepared for it.
I remember, as a young woman, dreaming of the perfect family: three children, a loving husband and a beautiful house full of laughter. Like an unforgiving hurricane, destiny would soon reduce my dreams to shreds and make me a widow and single mom in a single day. But being a mom was the experience I have valued the most through the years.
Motherhood is not very often mentioned in fairy tales and when it is, it often points to a lack of feminine nurturing or even outright cruelty, yet women all over the world have risen to the task in an exceptional way. In order to become a good mother, one needs to have a combination of inner strength and maturity or as Maya Angelou called it:
“Mother wit! Intelligence that you had in your mother’s womb. That’s what you rely on. You know what’s right to do.” (More))

Annals of education (Ontario)

But think of the children!

How the hysterical attacks on Ontario's new sex-education curriculum reflect the power of neo-conservative and fundamentalist propagandists and the weakness of the mainstream media

Image: Icon featuring banana surrounded by pineapple slice with cherry on top, with words, 'That's phallocentric!'By Sabotabby
Sabotabby is a Toronto-based blogger whose trenchant analysis tackles Canadian and international politics, arts and culture and, sometimes, education.

Image: Screenshot of Ontario Minister of Education presenting new sex-ed curriculum in February 2015. Via National Post and Canadian Press.

2 May 2015 — It's a rare day — and especially in the middle of some acrimonious contract negotiations with my union — that I'll say something nice about the Ontario Liberal government. But here it is: They updated the antediluvian Grade 1-8 sex ed curriculum and it's pretty good. It needed to be done and the changes are thoughtful and vital, including information about LGBTQ sexuality and affirmative consent. So, yay government on this one particular specific issue! You done good! You are terrible and corrupt when it comes to mostly everything else, but I can rest assured that you are sensible when it comes to the health education of young children, and I genuinely do appreciate that.
If you are interested and have enough time on your hands that you want to read really dull Ministry curriculum documents, you can read it here. It's not very interesting unless you're a teacher or a parent but there you go — it's totally public information and you can read it for free.
You know who didn't read it, though? Most people with an opinion about it.
Naturally, when I Googled "ontario sex education curriculum," the curriculum itself was not the first search result. Or the second, or the third. It's at least halfway down the page. The top hits are about protests — very sympathetically covered by the media, in contrast to how left-wing protests are covered — and misinformation by the likes of extremist anti-abortion and right-wing hate groups. This thing has been incredibly controversial, with said hate groups appearing on mainstream media with absurd claims that the new curriculum teaches seven-year-olds how to buttsex. (Spoiler: No it doesn't.) (More)


Image: HarperWatch logo, narrow.

'Competent' economic management

Budget 2015

Joe Oliver's Budget numbers

are thoroughly crooked cooked

By Michael Harris
Image: Cartoon of lipsticked pig labelled 'balanced budget'. Joe Oliver advises, 'Pucker up, Canada!' Via theTyee.24 April 2015 — No wonder they're spending $7.5 million in public money to advertise Joe Oliver's budget. Bernie Madoff couldn't have come up with a sneakier sell than this.
Still, no one should be surprised. This misbegotten government's modus operandi is about much more than information control. It's about soaring, jet-propelled skullduggery in a never-ending political campaign. It's a power fantasy. It's Steve's way.
Armed with his narrative of convenience, Harper programs the electorate with fictions of prosperity, compassion and prudence. In the real world, he acts quite differently. There, he underfunds Coast Guard stations, veterans' offices, First Nations tribal councils, railway inspections, scientific research and Employment Insurance processing.
And don't forget health care -- $36 billion in cuts over ten years and still no Health Accord. (More)

You call this an auto strategy?

Canada lends Volkswagen $530 million — to build factory in Mexico

By Jim Stanford
The Globe and Mail
Jim Stanford is an economist with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union
Image: Photo of Volkswagen grill on factory floor.30 April 2015 — You could hear jaws dropping onto factory floors right across Ontario’s auto belt last week. Export Development Canada (EDC) announced a loan of €400-million (about $530-million) to Volkswagen. The money was not to lure the company – which this year may rank as the world’s largest auto maker – to Canada. On the contrary, we’re helping finance Volkswagen’s growth 4,000 kilometres away, with expanded factories in Mexico and Tennessee, and a new plant in Mexico.
EDC is a federally owned agency, offering loans and other supports to Canadian exporters. Why on Earth would it help Volkswagen expand in Mexico and Tennessee? It’s not as if Volkswagen needs our help. With revenues last year of €200-billion, and profits of €12.7-billion, it can easily raise all the commercial capital it needs. (More)

Harper’s Canada-EU trade deal sideswiped by Europe’s US fears

Canada’s prime minister is taking credit for jobs

created by a free-trade deal that may never exist

By Thomas Walkom
The Toronto Star
Image: Photo of Stephen Harper speaking at Honda factory, via Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo/The Toronto Star.1 May 2015 — Stephen Harper is already taking credit for jobs he says will be created by the Canada-European Union trade and investment pact. He may be premature.
“Put very simply, it’s because our government negotiated a free-trade deal,” the prime minister said in March after Honda announced plans to export an unspecified number of autos to Europe from its Alliston, Ont., plant.
There were only two problems with this pre-election bit of braggadocio.
First, Honda says its planned exports to Europe will create only a “modest” number of jobs. Second, and more important, the Canada-EU deal, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is by no means a done deal. (More)

Image: Photo of students working into the evening at the University of Toronto are reflected in a photo of the city's skyline. Both the city and the University of Toronto have asked that the mandatory long-form census be reinstated. Leyland Cecco, via Aljazeera America.

Five years after Harper killed the long-form census
researchers can't tell you what direction the country is going in
By Leyland Cecco
Aljazeera America

2 April 2015, TORONTO — When a major Western country stops counting its numbers, bad things can happen. 

In June 2010, the Canadian government unveiled a grand experiment in data collection. In the name of privacy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended the mandatory long-form census for the country and swapped it out with a voluntary survey.

Five years later, there is a mass scramble to make sense of a rapidly changing country. Despite an explosion of corporate data-mining in most nations, researchers interested in tracking poverty, immigration and public health in Canada know less and less about the country as time progresses. They’re not, for example, entirely sure if income inequality is accelerating, stagnant or closing. Across the nation there is a loud, collective uneasiness among them. (More)


The price of our wars? None of your business!

Cost to fight ISIL in Syria and Iraq declared secret by Harper government

By David Publiese
The Ottawa Citizen
Image:   Canada Prime Minister Harper is applauded after introducing a motion in the House of Commons, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in Ottawa, to expand and extend Canada's war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria. Canada is expanding its military mission against the Islamic State group to include airstrikes on targets in Syria, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday. Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS	31 March 2015 — Parliament may have approved a year-long extension to the country’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria, but the Harper government is once again refusing to say how much it will cost.
Nor will it reveal the estimated pricetag for upcoming involvement in NATO’s reassurance operations in eastern Europe.
Late Tuesday, the federal Treasury Board tabled its reports on plans and priorities for the coming fiscal year, which is a rough guidebook to upcoming departmental spending. The costs of Operation Impact and Operation Reassurance are classified, according to National Defence.
Dave Perry of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute says he’s astonished. (More)

Harper's 'principled' foreign policy

is empty rhetoric veiling profit

By Julia Smith
Image: Photo of weapons, via April 2015 — Both Swedish and Canadian foreign policy approaches were recently criticized for their stance on selling arms to Saudi Arabia, with the Canadian government defending its decision to supply Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) to a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world, at the same time as Sweden decided to cancel its arms deal with the gulf state.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper describes Canada's foreign policy as 'principled', though he is less clear about what these principles are. In 2014, the Canadian government signed its largest ever arms export deal, worth $14.8 billion, to supply LAVs to Saudi Arabia. Canada has supplied LAVs to Saudi Arabia since 1993, with exports increasing over the last few years. (More)
Image: poster on Bill C-51 debate in Parliament. Click to Reject Fear!

Canada's off-key, expensive gift to foreign music companies

By Michael Geist

28 April 2015 — The Conservative government's budget last week included benefits for some families, assistance for seniors, and future tax reductions for small businesses. While those measures were widely anticipated, more surprising was the multimillion-dollar gift to foreign record companies, who were overjoyed at the decision to extend the term of copyright and keep some sound recordings out of the public domain for decades.

The government unexpectedly announced that it was extending the term of copyright for sound recordings and performances from the current 50 years of protection to 70 years. While the industry emphasized the expiry of copyright for creators, the reality is that copyright in songs lasts for the life of the songwriter plus an additional 50 years. What is therefore at stake with the government's proposed copyright term extension is not copyright in the song, but rather in the sound recording. Recording companies, not the artists, often hold those rights. (More)

A Party — and birthday party — of one

Image: Maoist-style birthday card in honour of Beloved Lead Stephen Harper's 56th birthday, via
By Stephen Lautens
Image: Detail of photo of Stephen Harper and Lureen Harper examinging identical birthday cards.30 April 2015 — It's Prime Minister Harper's 56 birthday today, but even that is decidedly odd. It started with a report that blank birthday cards were being sent out to the Party faithful to sign and return to him.
I noticed the same thing last year when wife Laureen posted on Twitter a photo of Harper going through last year's haul of birthday cards. See anything odd? All the cards are the same. I've received duplicate cards once in a while for my birthday, but 200 exactly the same? What are the odds? (More)

Spirit Quest

Putting your teeth into it

Dental care should be avalable under Medicare

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

1 May 2015 — My son Stephen is an excellent mimic. Not only is he able to reproduce the sound of animals like the roar of an elephant which he experienced during his years in Africa, but the voices of people. He is also able to reproduce the sound of machines, and to my chagrin the distinctive whine of the dentist’s drill. Facing some extensive dental work his mimicry can send chills down my spine. Nor am I alone in  experiencing this phobia.
My aversion to the dentist goes back a long way. When I was in grade one in my first school in Czechoslovakia our whole class early in the year was marched off downtown to the dental clinic where the condition and needs of our teeth were attended to. I did not enjoy this visit. I overheard one of my classmates describe the sounds of my encounter with that of an ox on a spit — a bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but protest I undoubtedly did. (More)


Nestled in the heart of Cuba

you'll find Abby's Place in Havana

By Lisa Makarchuk
Special to True North Perspective
Image: Photo of the Malecon, which extends for many kilometres along the northern edge of Havana. Via May 2015 — A photo of my Cuban friend, Elena, taken more than fifty years ago, hangs on the wall overlooking the stairwell in my condo in Toronto. In It, she is one of an exuberant group of young women at Minas del Frio in the Sierra Mountains of Oriente province in Cuba in 1962. This group of young women was the face of the new world being born then before my eyes as I wended my way to that same place that year.

The young women were eager to complete their pedagogical courses that would then enable them to take on the teaching duties necessary after the spectacularly successful literacy campaign of the previous year when practically a quarter of the population of Cuba, formerly illiterate, learned to read and write up to the third grade level. (More)


From the Desk of Isabella Tandutella, Mexico City

Mexico's drug cartels are making millions

robbing energy multinational corporations

Image: Detail of photo of gold nuggets via (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)19 April 2015, MEXICO CITY — When gunmen in Mexico carried out one of the world’s biggest ever gold heists in April, Canadian pit operator McEwen Mining was left looking at $8.5 million in lost metal.

Under pressure, its CEO Rob McEwen went on TV to reveal an uncomfortable truth: Mining companies in Mexico have had to deal with organized crime for years.

“The cartels are active down there. Generally we have a good relationship with them,” McEwen said on the Business News Network. “If you want to go explore somewhere, you ask them, and they tell you, ‘no,’ but then they say ‘come back in a couple of weeks, we’ve finished what we are doing.’ … They might be harvesting [drugs].” (More)

​3 killed, 12 injured after gunmen

open fire on Mexican army helicopter

By Isabella Tandutella
True North Perspective
01 May 2015 MEXICO CITYThree were killed and 12 others injured after gunmen opened fire on a Mexican army helicopter in the western state of Jalisco on Friday 01 May, Reuters reported.
The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing. Three others are missing after the incident, according to the Defense Ministry.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel is believed to be behind the attack, according to a government official. Vehicles were also set ablaze in and around the Jalisco capital of Guadalajara on Friday. Security forces have come under attack in Jalisco over the past two months, with organized crime responsible for the deaths of at least 20 federal and state police officers.


'United. Organized. Together We Can Win'

Parkdale tenants win big against multinational

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

ParkTales Image, small

The following report is from Parkdale Organize (email, a local group in Toronto's Parkdale, organizing to fight back against greedy off shore landlords who are buying up property in Parkdale and pushing out sitting tenants so that they can jack up rents and change who can afford to live in Parkdale.

Akelius is one of these off shore companies, owning buildings in Sweden, Germany, the UK, and Canada with billions in assets and hundreds of millions in annual profits and based in the Bahamas.

The tenants in Toronto's Parkdale Akelius buildings have been organizing and fighting back against this unscrupulous landlord who has taken away their superintendents, raised their rent above the provincial guidelines, neglected to do repairs, and intimidated tenants. (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.

MPs should be leading by example

'Warrants? We don't need no stinking warrants!'

Personal drone cams will follow ruling MPs 24 hours per day

By Darren Jerome
True North Perspective

1 May 2015 — In spite of a mounting chorus of challenges from political, industry, and citizens' groups, it seems the government in power remains intent to move forward with Bill C-51. So, with this in mind, I have a suggestion that is based on the old truism:  Never ask others to do something that you would not do yourself. Simple words ... good words, and a powerful sentiment that I continue to carry with me since I first heard them as an impressionable young officer cadet in basic training. Since then, I have found the phrase applicable in virtually all aspects of life from coaching to parenthood to career as they embody the essence of leading by example.

Bill C-51, and its potential implications on civil liberties which may be sacrificed on the alter of national security, is yet to be fully understood, and, arguably, should be felt before being made law. Sunlight, after all, is the best disinfectant. And so, it could be argued, such a fundamental change should first be thoroughly tested. And who better to use as guinea pig for this analysis than those for whom the stakes, and standards, are highest: Our Members of Parliament who occupy positions of public office. This should not be an issue, of course. Clearly, all citizens, regardless of their position, will, ultimately, be equally subject to the same scrutiny once this Bill passes into law. Another legal instrument, The Magna Carta, that dusty old document signed back in 1215, made it clear that no-one, yes, no-one, is above the law. (More)

There can be no life without laughter

Archaeologists Discover First Hominid To Own Tools But Never Use Them

Draft Pick Hugs Family That Will Bleed Him Dry Over Next 5 Years

U.S. Government Offers 100 Million Americans Generous Severance Deal To Leave Country


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. Queen Victoria, whose birthday Canadians celebrate in May, was nicknamed “Tory” as a child.  True or false?

2.  At the beginning of the 20th century which city was bigger in population --  Ottawa or Halifax?
.3. What city will host the Grey Cup this year?
a) Ottawa   b)  Toronto   c)  Montreal   d) Winnipeg

Click here for Answers

Randy Ray, publicist / speaker agent / author

(613) 425-3873 | (613) 816-3873 (c)


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Lives Lived


Esther Terner Raab

'Esther Raab paid heavy price every single day

because she chose not to escape from Sobibor'   


By Richard Rashke
Special to True North Perspective

Richard Rashke is the author of nonfiction books including The Killing of Karen Silkwood and Escape from Sobibor. His books have been translated into eleven languages and have been adapted for screen and television. Mr. Rashke is also a produced screenwriter and playwright: his work has appeared on network television and in New York.

Cover of Escape from Sobibor by Richard Rashke. Click image to purchase from

I met Esther Raab for the first time in 1981 during an International Liberators Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Medal-chested soldiers from fourteen countries had gathered in Washington, D.C., my hometown, for the special two-day remembrance. But I didn’t attend the conference to learn how they had liberated Nazi camps across Europe and what horrors they had seen.

I came to see Esther who had liberated herself in 1943 from Sobibor, a death camp in German-occupied Eastern Poland. 

Esther had agreed to give a short talk about the prisoner revolt at Sobibor in October 1943 during a conference workshop on “Uprisings.”  It would be her first major public appearance as a Holocaust survivor-witness, the beginning of a new phase in her life and a new chapter in mine.  

When Esther stood to deliver her prepared speech, her hands shook, her face muscles tightened, and her lips trembled. I had taught public speaking at a Pennsylvania high school for five years and I knew stage fright when I saw it. But that afternoon, I was wrong. Esther wasn’t terrified at the thought of standing in front of an audience and making a fool of herself. She really wasn’t in the conference room that day. She was back in Sobibor. Afraid of Nazis. Seething with rage.  Hungering for revenge. Feeling helpless as she held onto God’s hand. Clinging to a fragile thread of hope. As she stood in that State Department conference room facing her survivor-peers, she didn’t know if she would cry, sob, scream, sit back down, or run out of the room. (More)

Media Watch 

Writers withdraw from PEN Gala

to protest award to Charlie Hebdo

By Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept
Image: World leaders and dignitaries attend a mass unity rally following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. (photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)27 April 2015 — As I was close to finishing my own story, The New York Times published a long article last night about the rather intense and fascinating controversy that has erupted inside PEN America, the group long devoted to defending writers’ freedom of expression from attacks by governments. In essence, numerous prominent writers who were to serve as “table heads” or who are long-time PEN members have withdrawn from the group’s annual awards gala and otherwise expressed anger over PEN’s decision to bestow its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo.

The Times story does a good job laying out the events and describing the general controversy, so in lieu of repeating that, I instead want to publish the key correspondence between the writer Deborah Eisenberg and PEN’s Executive Director, former Obama State Department official and Amnesty USA Executive Director Suzanne Nossel, which sparked the controversy; post the full comment given to the Intercept by the writer Teju Cole, who has withdrawn as a table head; and make a few observations of my own.

Though the core documents are lengthy, this argument is really worth following because it highlights how ideals of free speech, and the Charlie Hebdo attack itself, were crassly exploited by governments around the world to promote all sorts of agendas having nothing to do with free expression. (More)


Global News kills Koch Brothers story, fires journalist

Bruce Livesey says he was fired for talking to CANADALAND

By Jesse Brown
Imaga: Screenshot of black Global News webpage labelled 'The Koch Connection', via Canadaland.13 April 2015 — Veteran investigative reporter Bruce Livesey was fired by Global News shortly after talking to CANADALAND about the fact that management had pulled his documentary, The Koch Connection, from their broadcast schedule.
As CANADALAND reported in February, Livesey's documentary about the billionaire Koch Brothers and their ties to Canada was set for broadcast on Global News' 16x9 investigative newsmagazine, only to be pulled from the broadcast schedule and scrubbed from Global's website shortly before it was set to air. (More)

From the Desk of Izabella Tandutella

32 Journalists Killed in Mexico since 1992

For stats and background please click Here

Dealing with change in media at #CAJ15

Image: Enlarged, cropped logo for CAJ15.

OTTAWA, 28 April 2015 /CNW/ –Journalists have always dealt with one constant in their industry: change. That theme will underpin a series of workshops and sessions at the Canadian Association of Journalists' 2015 conference June 5-6 at the Hotel Atlantica in Halifax.
Be it technology, changes in how media raises the money needed to pay journalists for their work or brand-new ways of doing our business, change has been constant.
A key element of that digitally driven change will underpin the opening plenary for the conference on June 5 – understanding media audiences. New York Times' director of analytics James Robinson, CBC News and Centre's head of strategy Andrew Cochran and the Center for Investigative Reporting's director of digital media Susanne Reber will start the conversation with knowing who's out there in our audiences, taking it to the main question of how journalists can turn audience numbers into a two-way relationship. (More)


 Health Watch

Why peanuts and nuts are good for you

It's time to turn the peanut reputation around

By Neal Colgrass
Image:  Detail of Dec. 16, 1997 file photo, showing feed store owner Jerry Foote of Seminole, Texas, holding a handful of peanuts grown in Gaines County.   (AP Photo/The Avalanche-Journal, Brad Farris)30 March 2015 — You may hear that nuts and peanuts are fattening, constipating, and allergy-inducing, but don't worry: They're good for you after all, the New York Times reports. Several large studies — at least two with tens of thousands of participants — found that more nut consumption led to less chance of dying, particularly of heart disease or cancer.

While those studies looked at the fairly well-off, a new study of the less affluent published in JAMA Internal Medicine found similar results among 200,000 people. As for nut allergies, which are more common these days, a study shows that women can reduce the chance of having a child with the allergy by eating nuts or peanuts during pregnancy. Feeding peanuts to infants can also lower their risk of becoming allergic. (More)


One twin exercises, the other doesn’t

Genes and environment not necessarily destiny: Study

By Gretchen Reynolds
The New York Times
Image: Photo of two men arm-wresting, one heavily muscled, the other thin and flabby. Getty.4 March 2015 — Identical twins in Finland who shared the same sports and other physical activities as youngsters but different exercise habits as adults soon developed quite different bodies and brains, according to a fascinating new study that highlights the extent to which exercise shapes our health, even in people who have identical genes and nurturing.
Determining the precise, long-term effects of exercise is surprisingly difficult. Most large-scale exercise studies rely on questionnaires or interviews and medical records to establish the role of exercise. But these epidemiological studies, while important and persuasive, cannot prove that exercise causes health changes, only that people who exercise tend to be healthier than those who do not. (More)


When society isn’t judging them

women’s sex drive rivals men’s

New study finds women as likely as men to choose casual sex — if they feel safe

By Tom Stafford
Tom Stafford is a lecturer in Psychology and Cognitive Science at University of Sheffield
Image: Detail of photo of man and woman about to kiss. Photo via Shutterstock.28 April 2015Men just want sex more than women. I’m sure you’ve heard that one. Stephen Fry even went as far as suggesting in 2010 that straight women only went to bed with men because sex was “the price they are willing to pay for a relationship”.
Or perhaps you’ve even heard some of the evidence. In 1978 two psychologists, Russell Clark and Elaine Hatfield, did what became a famous experiment on the topic – not least because it demonstrated how much fun you can have as a social psychologist. Using volunteers, Clark and Hatfield had students at Florida State University approach people on campus and deliver a pick-up line.
The volunteers always began the same “I’ve noticed you around campus. I find you to be very attractive”, they said. They varied what they said next according to one of three randomly chosen options. Either “would you go out tonight?”, or “will you come over to my apartment?”, or “would you go to bed with me?” (More)