June 2016

Sorry for all the trouble we caused! (But will their bosses pay attention?)

Wrong all along: Neoliberal IMF admits

neoliberalism fuels inequality and hurts growth

Top International Monetary Fund researchers concede austerity, privatization and deregulation can hurt more than help

Image: Detail of a photo of a woman in a Brazilian shantytown (Credit: AP).

By Ben Norton

31 May 2016 - The world's largest evangelist of neoliberalism, the International Monetary Fund, has admitted that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Neoliberalism refers to capitalism in its purest form. It is an economic philosophy espoused by libertarians — and repeated endlessly by many mainstream economists — one that insists that privatization, deregulation, the opening up of domestic markets to foreign competition, the cutting of government spending, the shrinking of the state and the "freeing of the market" are the keys to a healthy and flourishing economy.

Yet now top researchers at the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, the economic institution that has proselytized — and often forcefully imposed — neoliberal policies for decades, have conceded that the "benefits of some policies that are an important part of the neoliberal agenda appear to have been somewhat overplayed."

"There are aspects of the neoliberal agenda that have not delivered as expected," the economists write in "Neoliberalism: Oversold?", a study published in the June volume of the IMF's quarterly magazine Finance & Development.

In analyzing two of neoliberalism's most fundamental policies, austerity and the removing of restrictions on the movement of capital, the IMF researchers say they reached "three disquieting conclusions." (More)

In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act

— George Orwell, English essayist, novelist, and satirist (1903 - 1950)

In our dedication to provide a broad spectrum of news and ideas, True North Perspective/True North Humanist Perspective publish news and views from the sober political right to left, and from atheist to theist. The news, statements, views and opinions expressed in this edition are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of True North Perspective/True North Humanist Perspective.

Smuggled hostiles threaten Florida's fragile eco system

Pythons swallow large 'gators; Nile crocs swallow humans

Image: Future man-eater? Detail of photo of baby crocodile, WIKISPACES via DailyKos.
By Pakalolo  
Daily Kos

May 19, 2016 — Another blow to the fragile South Florida ecosystem as Nile crocodiles have been captured in the southernmost tip of South Florida near Miami. They are the second largest crocodile after the Saltwater crocodile. It is a very aggressive species and is able to kill any animal within its range. The bite is very powerful and razor-sharp conical teeth sink into flesh allowing for a grip that is almost impossible to loosen. This crocodile is able to survive in saltwater but prefers brackish lakes and rivers.

The Burmese python had been the most destructive invasive species in Florida before the recent discovery of Nile crocodiles. The python has decimated the population of small and medium size mammals in Everglades National Park. They have even been caught on camera consuming large alligators. (More)

Hillary Clinton won't say how much

Goldman Sachs CEO invested with her son-in-law

Image: Detail of photo of Hillary Clinton with microphone, by Henrik Moltke, via The Intercept.
By Lee Fang and Henrik Moltke
The Intercept

30 May 2016 — When Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law sought funding for his new hedge fund in 2011, he found financial backing from one of the biggest names on Wall Street: Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.

The fund, called Eaglevale Partners, was founded by Chelsea Clinton’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and two of his partners. Blankfein not only personally invested in the fund, but allowed his association with it to be used in the fund’s marketing.

The decision for Blankfein to invest in Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law’s company is just one of many ways Goldman Sachs has used its wealth to forge a tight bond with the Clinton family. The company paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 in personal speaking fees, paid Bill Clinton $1,550,000 in personal speaking fees, and donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. At a time when Goldman Sachs directly lobbied Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the company routinely partnered with the Clinton Foundation for events, even convening a donor meeting for the foundation at the Goldman Sachs headquarters in Manhattan. (More)

Demopocalypse: Jon Stewart comes out of retirement

Don't miss this video on Hillary Clinton (Click Here)

Ted Rall, mainstream media columnist and editorial

cartoonist, declares he will never vote for a monster

Image: Ted Rall's homepage banner.

'Hillary Clinton not just a flawed candidate, she's a monster'

Frederick Theodore "Ted" Rall III (born August 26, 1963) is an American columnist, syndicated editorial cartoonist, and author. His political cartoons often appear in a multi-panel comic-strip format and frequently blend comic-strip and editorial-cartoon conventions. The cartoons appear in approximately 100 newspapers around the United States. He was President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from 2008 to 2009.
By Ted Rall
23 May 2016

Hillary Clinton’s coronation at the Democratic national convention is likely but not a foregone conclusion. Since the superdelegates won’t vote until July, and neither she nor Bernie Sanders will arrive in Cleveland with the requisite number of pledged delegates to clich the nomination, there is still the possibility that the party bosses will see sense, internalize the polls that show she’s weaker than him against Trump, and push the superdelegates to support the populist senator from Vermont.

But sense is in short supply in American politics, especially this year. So I’m preparing for the worst: Hillary versus Trump.

It’s one hell of a choice. The more I delve into Donald Trump and his past (to research my biography, which comes out in June), the more scared I get. Nevertheless, there is no way I’ll vote for Hillary. (More)

Obama, Clinton, glow with satisfaction as criminals

seize control of Brazil; meanwhile Lula girds his loins

Image: Photo of deposed Brazillian President Dilma Rousseff, © Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters, via RT.com.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff may have made mistakes but she's not a crook

By Pepe Escobar

12 May 2016 — (Brailian president Dilma) Rousseff may be accused of serious economic mismanagement, and of being incapable of political articulation in the shark pool of immensely corrupt Brazilian politics. But she is not corrupt. She made a serious mistake in fighting inflation, allowing interest rates to rise to an unsustainable level; so demand in Brazil dramatically dropped, and recession became the norm. She is the (convenient) scapegoat for Brazil’s recession.

She certainly may be blamed for not having a Plan B to fight the global recession. Brazil essentially works on two pillars; commodity exports and local companies relying on the teats of the state. Infrastructure in general is dismal – adding to what is described as the “Brazilian cost” of doing business. With the commodity slump, state funds dwindled and everything was paralyzed – credit, investment, consumption.   

The pretext for Rousseff’s impeachment – allegedly transferring loans from public banks to the Treasury in order to disguise the size of Brazil’s fiscal deficit – is flimsy at best. Every administration in the West does it – and that includes Clinton’s, Bush’s and Obama’s. (More)


Could U.S. trade threaten sustainable agriculture in Cuba?

Image: Detail of a photo of crops growing in Las Terrazas, a sustainable community built at a former reforestation site in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba (Alan Kotok/Flickr).

Cuba is known for its innovative approach to sustainable agriculture. But a new U.S.-Cuba agricultural accord could change that.

By Ming Chun Tang
3 May 2016 — With limited access to chemical and mechanical inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and farm machinery, Cuban farmers have pioneered innovations in sustainable agriculture out of necessity since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Although most continue to employ conventional agricultural methods, and Cuba continues to import more than half of its food, around a quarter of the country’s farmers have nonetheless succeeded in supplying some 65 percent of national agricultural output using agroecological practices. These achievements, however, could come under threat with the expected resumption of U.S.-Cuban trade relations.
Having lost the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc trade partners, Cuba suffered an 80 percent reduction in foreign trade between 1989 and 1991, leaving it fully exposed to the U.S. trade embargo. Its agricultural sector was hit particularly hard given its heavy dependence on agrochemicals. Chemical fertilizer use per hectare, which had been roughly double that of the U.S. in 1989, fell by almost 90 percent in the following decade, while herbicide and pesticide use dropped by a similar amount.
The result has been a rapid de facto transition toward agroecological and organic methods that has been strongly supported by the Cuban government, including a proliferation of urban and suburban farms that provide some 70 percent of vegetables in major cities such as Havana. Innovations such as organopónicos — urban gardens powered by household waste, manure and crop residues in place of chemical fertilizers, and found in a range of urban environments including rooftops, vacant lots, alleys and backyards — have helped to drastically improve Cuba’s food security. (More)


By Dennis Carr, Contributing Editor, on an 'excellent adventure'

Vietnam by bicycle, rowboat, and ferry (Part 3)

Dennis Carr's report on his family trip to Vietnam will continue in our July edition. If you missed them, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Bill Rooney says CCOC has a social responsibility to

promote housing for those of low and moderate income

Image: Detail of logo of the Centretown Community Ottawa Corporation.

Speaking at the May 2016 annual general meeting of the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC) president Bill Rooney said his organization's mission statement is as important for what it says as for what it doesn't say.

"It doesn’t say promote social housing or promote housing for CCOC tenants; it says promote housing for low and moderate income people," said Mr. Rooney. (More)

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The Old Man's Last Sauna
'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
Image: Cover of The Old Man's Last Sauna, by Carl Dow.

Click here for True North Humanist Perspective

Ontario votes ‘NO’ to hospital cuts


New evidence, including the Panama Papers, support

thesis that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was assassinated


Saudi officials were 'supporting' 9/11 hijackers

former Republican commission member says


The legacy of Chernobyl: More than 60 million have died

of cancer world wide as result of radiation contamination


ISIS laws on 'proper' sex slave treatment revealed

in documents seized by a U.S. Special Ops in Syria


Hillary Clinton's no Republican

but the Resemblance Is Striking

Clinton is a lot closer to Richard Nixon than Trump is

but she's really a Cold War liberal left behind by history


Donald Trump: Existential threat to U.S. democracy


TrueNorth Humanist Perspective

True North Perspective publishes in
the best traditions of Canadian journalism
If you think it's too radical, please rea
Wisdom is a result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience
Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective.
True North Perspective
Vol. 12, No. 07 (367)
June 2016

Editor's Notes

The spoiled brats who control Washington

pose the greatest threat to human survival

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

From gullible in the extreme to died-in-the-wool pathological liars, the crowd that has seized control of Washington represent everything that General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about.

In his final speech as president Eisenhower warned against allowing the military/industrial complex to win power. The gang in Washington, including, sadly, Barack Obama, are happy houseboys and handmaidens of the U.S. war machine.

To keep the lucrative (for those who own) war manufacturing industries humming they have made the pretense of military aggression by Russia while breaking American promises of no eastward expansion of NATO. Now missile systems have been established in Rumania, and will be in Poland in 2018, as direct military threats to Russia. (More)

Op Ed

The Brazilian coup and Washington's 'Rollback' in

Latin America that opposes national independence

By Mark Weisbrot
Center for Economic and Policy Research

It is clear that the executive branch of the U.S. government favors the coup underway in Brazil, even though they have been careful to avoid any explicit endorsement of it. Exhibit A was the meeting between Tom Shannon, the 3rd ranking U.S. State Department official and the one who is almost certainly in charge of handling this situation, with Senator Aloysio Nunes, one of the leaders of the impeachment in the Brazilian Senate, on April 20. By holding this meeting just three days after the Brazilian lower house voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Shannon was sending a signal to governments and diplomats throughout the region and the world that Washington is more than ok with the impeachment. Nunes returned the favor this week by leading an effort (he is chair of the Brazilian Senate Foreign Relations Committee) to suspend Venezuela from Mercosur, the South American trade bloc.

There is a lot at stake here for the major U.S. foreign policy institutions, which include the 17 intelligence agencies, State Department, Pentagon, White House National Security Council, and foreign policy committees of the Senate and House. An enormous geopolitical shift took place over the past 15 years, in which the Latin American left went from governing zero countries to a majority of the region. For various historical reasons, the left in Latin America tends to favor national independence and international solidarity, and is therefore less willing to go along with U.S. foreign policy. I remember the first time I saw Lula Da Silva. It was in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2002. He was speaking to a crowd at the World Social Forum, and standing under a huge banner that said "Say No to Imperialist War in Iraq." (More)

The Binkley Report

Alex Binkley is a foremost political and economic analyst, whose website is www.alexbinkley.com. Readers will be aware that his columns in True North Perspective have foreseen political and economic developments in Canada. In this edition ...

It's time to rewrite the book on research

Image: Detail from Agricultural Institute of Canada 2016 Conference logo.
By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective
Once upon a time, good scientific research might have been seen as data in and new product out with a lot of laboratory work in-between.
It’s time to abandon that notion in favour of one where research Image: Cover of Humanity's Saving Grace, a novel by Alex Binkley. Click to purchase at Amazon.caincludes the ongoing collaboration of potential users and customers as well as consideration of a variety of end uses for the final product or knowledge, says Sandra Schillo, an assistant professor at Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.
A research project “has to be open to inputs throughout the process,” she said during a keynote address to the 2016 conference of the Agriculture Institute of Canada. “It has to reach both traditional and new markets and generate spin off benefits.” (More)

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, LEED® AP. Sustainable Development Editor

Fort McMurray one of Canada's prime polluters

Why scientists are amazed at oilsands smog levels

Image: Detail of photo of Alberta's oilsands: The 'smell of money' more toxic than thought. Photo by Dru Oja Day, via TheTyee.ca, Creative Commons licensed.

Air pollution report in Nature shocks even Canada's top researchers

By Andrew Nikiforuk
30 May 2016 — On any hot day Shell and Syncrude tour guides used to call the gasoline-like vapours that wafted from Fort McMurray's huge open-pit bitumen mines "the smell of money."

But a new study in Nature has another name for the stench: air pollution and megacity volumes of it.

In fact the tarsands, already the largest source of climate disrupting greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, have a new grim moniker: "one of the largest sources of anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols in North America."

Researchers define "secondary organic aerosols" or SOAs as gases and particles that interact with sunlight in complex ways and that are released by both the globe's plant matter as well as fossil-burning machines and industries. (More)

'Sitting idle is not an option'

Image: Photo of OC Transpo bus driver Alain Charette Hailey, a Muslim woman who wears the niqab. Hailey said a fellow passenger made Islamophobic comments at her and asked to take a selfie with the driver after he had thrown the abuser off his bus.

OC Transpo driver sticks up for Muslim woman
Praise is pouring in for OC Transpo driver Alain Charette, who confronted a bus passenger for making Islamophobic comments to a Muslim woman

By Lucy Scholey

30 May 2016, OTTAWA, Canada — An OC Transpo bus driver is being called a hero after standing up for a young Muslim woman who was bullied for wearing the niqab.

Hailey – who only wants her first name used for privacy reasons – said she had just boarded the bus to the Rideau Centre on May 12 when a fellow passenger started calling her a terrorist and freak for her traditional head and face covering.

About five minutes into the packed bus ride, other passengers started telling the man to get off the bus. Apparently he had been making rude comments to other people during that trip.

According to Hailey, OC Transpo driver Alain Charette yelled at the man to get off the bus or else he would get the police involved.

“And the guy was like, ‘But look at her, sir, I’m afraid of her.’ And the bus driver was like, ‘You shouldn’t be afraid of her, you should be afraid of me,’” Hailey recalled. (More)

From the Desk of Dennis Carr, LEED® AP. Contributing Editor

It's time for a National Postal Bank

in both Canada and the United States

Image: Photo of Canada Post branch office, via AlbertaPolitics.ca.
By David Climenhaga

24 May 2016 — We now live in the 21st Century, a digital age, and it’s time to recognize access to fairly-priced banking service as a human right.

A decent life, after all, is all but impossible without a bank account. Access to banking services has rightly been called a passport to the modern economy.

Social activists recognize the first steps to getting our most vulnerable citizens off the streets and into a productive and healthy life include helping them to open a bank account.

So while the Alberta NDP Government’s legislative crackdown on the predatory payday loan industry is a useful step in the right direction, it only really tackles a small part of much bigger problem when it imposes caps on borrowing fees and requires exploitive lenders to provide customers with an honest accounting of the true cost of their usurious loans.

Bill 15, An Act to End Predatory Lending, introduced by Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean and given first reading on May 12, also includes some modest measures through an Alberta credit union to provide lower-cost alternatives to extortionate payday loans. (More)


The changing face of Toronto sports fans

Image: Detail of graphic showing logos of Toronto's professional sports teams, via TML Forum.

NBA has a certain 'cool' missing from hockey and baseball

By Nigel Aplin
Sports Editor
True North Perspective

June 01 2016 — I attended the very first Toronto Raptors regular season game in November, 1995 at Skydome (as it was then called) and I have been a fan of the team ever since. In the 20 years which have followed that game, the NBA and the Raptors have grown the fan base in Toronto by capturing the interest of millennials, hip hop fans and artists, women, people of colour, new Canadians and even a few older white men like me. Fast forward to the current NBA season and the Raptors have become a flagship franchise for the league with both on-court success and regular sell-outs at the gate. The Raptors reached the final four for the first time in their history this spring and Toronto’s daily newspapers have featured front page, above-the-fold coverage of every playoff game. The NBA offers a certain “cool” factor which hockey and baseball never have. Outside the Greater Toronto Area however, Raptor support is very thin, as evidenced by surprisingly low television ratings for this season’s games despite the team posting a franchise record 56 regular season wins. (More)

Granny Witch returns!

True North Perspective is very happy to welcome the return of an old friend. This month, Geneviève Hone's Granny Witch confronts a parent's fear of a runaway child and the need to create safe spaces for healing. Returning also is Granny Witch's beloved artist, Julien Mercure.

Where there is a family

By Geneviève Hone

Image: Detail of a drawing by Julien Mercure showing youth hitch-hiking. Copyright 2016 by Julien Mercure.

Granny Witch on runaway children

and allowing safe space to heal hurt

Hone, small image.

Dear Granny Witch,

Maybe I worry too much about the future, but I’m afraid that my son will one day run away from home to become one of those lost teenagers who wander around the country, unable to find work since they have not finished high school. They end up in bus depots, begging for coffee money that will probably be used for drugs or alcohol. Eventually they disappear from the face of the earth entirely, leaving their parents to cope with a giant hole in their hearts, not even knowing if their child is dead or alive. (More)

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Mothers: the good, the bad and the ugly

“Motherhood is difficult … and rewarding …”

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 www.a0lbertevilleneuve.ca.

Image: Detail of photo of Alberte Villeuneuve-SinclairImage: Mother surrounded by many children. Photo provided by the author.1 June 2016 — Motherhood is not meant for every woman. I have always admired women who understood that motherhood wasn’t for them and decided to forego having children. At the same time, I have always admired women who couldn’t have children of their own but decided to adopt and fulfill their dream of nurturing a child.

Being a mother can be one of the most difficult challenges in a woman’s life because it requires skill, patience, loving care, and a long-term commitment. We can all recall special moms who despite life’s challenges were able to remain focused and happy because the greatest gift you can share with others is your own happiness. (More)

Mexico roundup by Isabella Tandutella, Contributing Editor, Mexico City

Teachers punished for not heeding strike call

Women have their hair shorn during Chiapas protests

Image: Photo of two teachers enduring forced haircuts. Via MexicoNewsDaily.com.

Mexico News Daily
31 May 2016 — The teachers’ union and sympathetic organizations in Chiapas today punished half a dozen teachers for refusing to join in the current strike, shearing the hair of two women and forcing all six to march barefoot through the streets of the capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
The six were reported to have been documenting the names of teachers who had not turned up for classes in the municipality of Comitán de Domínguez. Members of the CNTE local Section 7 and other groups seized their paperwork and cut their hair before forcing them to wear signs proclaiming themselves as “traitors to the motherland,” among other messages.
Teachers have been protesting in Chiapas for two weeks now following the CNTE’s call for a general strike. But according to federal education authorities, most schools — including those in Chiapas — are operating normally. (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.

WikiLeaks exposes text from

secretly negotiated TISA trade deal

Image: Photo of Julian Assange with WikiLeaks graphic superimposed.

The classified annex to the draft "core text" of the Trade in Services Agreement is part of what is being secretly negotiated by the U.S., EU and 22 countries

25 May 2016 - The website WikiLeaks released on Wednesday classified documents from the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA, which is a huge trade agreement being negotiated in secret by the United States, the European Union and 22 other countries.
The documents include a previously unknown annex to the TISA core chapter on "State Owned Enterprises," which imposes unprecedented restrictions on SOEs and will force majority owned SOEs to operate like private sector businesses.
The leaked documents show how stipulations outlined in the TISA documents advanced the "deregulation" of big corporations entering overseas markets.
According to the leaked documents, the TISA rules would also restrict governments’ ability to determine the size or growth of certain economic activities and entities, preventing nations from limiting the size of foreign companies in the market. (More)

There can be no life without laughter

Headscarf vs Haters

teleSUR English

Image: Photo of Islamic woman wearing a hijab taking a selfie in front an anti-Islam demonstration in the Flemish region of the Netherlands. Photo by Jürgen Augusteyns, via Telesur's Facebook page.

18 May 2016 — What do you do when you're a young Muslim and you walk by an anti-Muslim rally? You enjoy them by casually making selfies with them.

That's what the Belgian 22-year old Zakia Belkhiri did at an Islamophobic protest by the far-right group Flemish Interest. (Read More, see more pictures)


Top tips for the man who has it all

“Top tips for men juggling a successful career and fatherhood” hilariously nails how sexist the advice given to working women is

The Poke

Image: Photo of a male spacewoman.

17 May 2016 — @manwhohasitall is a superb Twitter account that highlights the phrasing often found in women’s magazines and reverses it to be about men.

And the result both highlights sexism AND is extremely funny.

So here’s 17 of the best: (More)

Classic Quiz

By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

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

Big Book of Canadian Trivia cover


1. When did the Toronto Blue Jays last win the World Series?
a) 1991 b) 1992  c) 1993  d) 1994

2. True or false?  Muskoxen are the only animals that don’t seek shelter during Arctic blizzards.
3. This province has the world’s largest population of red-sided garter snakes. 

Is it a) Ontario   b) Manitoba   c) New Brunswick   d) Quebec


Randy Ray, publicist / speaker agent / author
www.randyray.ca  www.triviaguys.com

 (613) 425-3873 - (613) 816-3873 (c)

O Canada! Getting to know you!

This is one of a series on the heartbeat of Canada

The Lost Town of Pine Point

Image: Photo showing what was once an open-pit mine, now a lake. Photo by Hannah Eden/Up Here.
A road runs through the bush in the NWT, and it tells a story of tragedy, hard truths, and the circle of life
Up Here

2 November 2015 — A poplar sapling has broken through the pavement in the middle of the street, reaching toward a violet twilit sky. The smell of the bush clashes with the feel of cement underfoot as I walk on the sidewalk past the tree. There are crosswalks but no traffic. Roads but no buildings. The only thing that stands is a sign back where I turned left off Highway 6 to enter the old townsite. “Pine Point” is painted proudly upon it, with stuffed animals arranged around it on the ground and in trees. It’s a memorial. It ties my stomach in a knot, as if something terrible happened here. 

Without that sign, the site would be a mystery. But with it, every memory, death, birth and anniversary held in this town still hangs in thin air. But this sadness and nostalgia was foretold from the town’s very beginnings. It was never permanent, after all. It only existed from 1964 until 1988. And now it’s gone. All I see is an eerie blend of forest and concrete. But then I look a little closer. (More)


The delightful perversity of Québec's Catholic swears

Image: Graffiti in Québec which roughly translates to "We don't give a fuck about the special law (Bill 78)". (Photo: Gates of Ale/CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_French_profanity#/media/File:Loi-78-Bill-Montreal-graffiti.jpg.)

The Canadian province has expletives like no other

By Dan Nosowitz
Atlas Obscura
26 May 2016 - Québec is bilingual, but reluctantly. As a French province with small pockets of English, and a few larger pockets that will willingly use both languages, the signs, by law, are in French. The language on the street is French. Ordering food or browsing a store will likely involve some amount of standard conversational French, and should you get in trouble with the law, it's going to be time to find a Francophile lawyer.
The profanity, though, is pure Québec. Québec's swearing vocabulary is one of the weirdest and most entertaining in the entire world. (More)

Liberal Family Values, Ontario edition

People on social assistance in Ontario are

in worse shape now than under Mike Harris

Image: Chart showing poverty rates in Ontario between 2002 and 2014.

Press Progress
10 May 2016 — If you're receiving social assistance in Ontario, you're actually worse off now than you were when Mike Harris left office.
And let's not forget: things were really, really bad under Mike Harris.
According to a new study published by CCPA Ontario, the poverty gap has grown dramatically since the mid-1990s and is wider now than it was back when the Harris conservatives dramatically slashed social assistance rates. (More)

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-- PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
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Media Watch

This filmmaker was forced to cast an actress

in her documentary after politician turns tail
Image: Photo of filmmaker Holly Fifer (screenshot via 'Daily VICE').
By Amil Niazi
Associate Editor
Daily Vice
06 May 2016 — Filmmaker Holly Fifer spent four years of her life documenting a fierce battle between a group of settlers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and a new holiday resort development threatening to evict them from their land in her new film playing at Hot Docs, The Opposition.

For the people of Mount Paga in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the plan for a massive resort and gated community called Paga Hill means total displacement from a community they not only call home, but have spent generations building.

Fighting alongside them for years has been Carol Kidu, a former politician. Kidu spent much of her political career as an MP in PNG fighting for the rights of the country's disenfranchised women and children.

Fifer's film captures Kidu smack in the middle of the battle over Mount Paga, including in a dramatic showdown between heavily armed police officers and the squatters. As Kidu calls the cops' tactics heavy-handed and tries to negotiate calm, it's clear she's invested in the future of the Mount Paga residents. (More)


When a clickbait headline leads to national outrage

Image: Detail of photo showing a crumpled newspaper, by Dylan Tweney, via http://dylan.tweney.com.

By Dylan Tweney
19 May 2016 — So let’s see if I’ve got this right:
Gizmodo publishes a story whose headline reads “Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News.”
The Internet goes apeshit, especially the conservative part of it, without reading the whole story, in which it becomes clear that ...
Although the headline says plural “workers,” there’s really only one worker, an anonymous one, who is making this allegation, and ... (More)

Seymour Hersh

The CIA and media lied to us about how Bin Laden

was killed — now what can we trust them about?

Image: Photo of Seymour Hersh (Credit: AP/Eckehard Schulz, via Salon.com).

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh reveals

how he unraveled a counter-narrative of the Bin Laden mystery

By Michael Schulson

2 May 2016 — Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre in 1969. He was the first to report the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison, back in 2004.

Hersh’s most recent break threatens to blur the boundary between investigative reporting and conspiracy theory. The story, published last May in the London Review of Books, alleges that Pakistan caught Osama bin Laden years ago and then kept him under house arrest in Abbottabad. Eventually, Hersh writes, a walk-in leaked bin Laden’s whereabouts to the CIA. The SEAL raid that killed bin Laden was military theater, staged in cooperation with the Pakistani government.

This story contradicts government accounts, as well as with the exhaustive reporting of Mark Bowden, whom I interviewed for Salon earlier this year. (Hersh and Bowden speak highly of one another). In the unstable postmodern game of who the hell should I trust?, the fallout from Hersh’s story offers an especially vexing tableau. There have been the condemnations from prominent writers like Bowden, and scathing takedowns in Slate and Politico — but also sympathetic coverage in the New York Times Magazine, and some corroborating details from veteran Times Afghanistan correspondent Carlotta Gall and from NBC News. (More)


The New York Times and Hillary Clinton

both betray abject cowardice on Israel

Image: Photo of Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu, via The Intercept.
By Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept
30 May 2016In January, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon delivered a speech to the Security Council about, as he put it, violence “in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory,” noting that “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation” and that “it is human nature to react to occupation.” His use of the word “occupation” was not remotely controversial because multiple U.N. Security Resolutions, such as 446 (adopted unanimously in 1979 with 3 abstentions), have long declared Israel the illegal “occupying power” in the West Bank and Gaza.
Unsurprisingly, newspapers around the world – such as the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the BBC, the LA Times – routinely and flatly describe Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza in their news articles as what it is: an occupation.

In fact, essentially the entire world recognizes the reality of Israeli occupation with the exception of a tiny sliver of extremists in Israel and the U.S. That’s why Chris Christie had to grovel in apology to GOP billionaire and Israel-devoted fanatic Sheldon Adelson when the New Jersey Governor neutrally described having seen the “occupied territories” during a trip he took to Israel. But other than among those zealots, the word is simply a fact, used without controversy under the mandates of international law, the institutions that apply it, and governments on every continent on the planet.

But not the New York Times. They are afraid to use the word. (More)

Health Watch

Low-sodium diets not always worth their salt,

McMaster study finds

Image: Photo of various kinds of salt, via CBC.ca.

Dangers include increased risk of heart attack and stroke, researchers say

By Chris Seto
CBC news
22 May 2016 — Contrary to popular thought, maintaining a low-sodium diet may not be beneficial to one's health. According to a recently published study, cutting down your daily salt intake could actually be harmful to your body.
A recent global study conducted by researchers of the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences found low-sodium diets actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death compared to diets with average sodium consumption.
The new study was published in The Lancet medical journal on Friday. (More)

Debate rages on which is better: a fat gut or a fat butt

But don't sweat it: what's in your jeans is in your genes

In recent years, the butt has broken the Internet, spurred discussions on cultural appropriation, and scored formidable victories in its age-old war against the breast. But tush-talk has also taken a scientific turn— according to recent studies and news reports, your derrière may be sending you a message about your health.  (More)


A gentle man's road map to that first kiss

Image: Drawing of a man and a woman with stylized heart between them. Via WikiHow.

How to kiss a girl smoothly with no chance of rejection

Going in for a kiss can be scary as it’s often hard to tell whether she’ll reciprocate or reject your advances. When you really like a girl, it’s natural to want a perfect first kiss: being rejected can leave you feeling embarrassed and awkward. While it's never possible to avoid rejection entirely when going for a first kiss, there are some steps you can take to gauge her interest and make your intentions more obvious. Reading her body language and asking her permission directly can help you avoid rejection and let her know that you respect her. (More)


Neanderthals built mysterious

cave structures 175,000 years ago

Image: Photo of the ringed walls made from nearly 400 stalagmites that have been pulled from the ground and stacked on top of one another. Michel Soulier/SSAC via The Guardian.
Constructions discovered deep in a French cave rank among the earliest human building projects ever discovered, but their purpose remains unclear

By Ian Sample
The Guardian
25 May 2016 — Mysterious structures found deep inside a French cave are the work of Neanderthal builders who lived in the region more than 100,000 years before modern humans set foot in Europe.
The extraordinary constructions are made from nearly 400 stalagmites that have been yanked from the ground and stacked on top of one another to produce rudimentary walls on the damp cave floor.
The most prominent formations are two ringed walls, built four layers deep in places, which appear to have been propped up with stalagmites wedged in place as vertical stays. The largest of the walls is nearly seven metres across and, where intact, stands up to 40cm high.
“This is completely different to anything we have seen before. I find it very mysterious,” said Marie Soressi, an archaeologist at Leiden University, who was not involved in the research. Unique in the history of Neanderthal achievements, the structures rank among the earliest human building projects ever discovered. (More)

French and Finn nuclear power firms

are head-to-head in multi-billion dollar suits

By Staff Writers
Helsinki (AFP)

Image: Photo of the Olkiluoto nuclear plant.26 May 2016Negotiations between France's struggling nuclear power giant Areva and Finnish operator TVO over cost overruns and delays for the construction of a Finnish reactor have been called off, TVO said on Thursday.

"Our understanding is that we were very close to an agreement over all major issues and principles and then came this somewhat surprising turn that the negotiations were called off," TVO's chief executive Jarmo Tanhua told AFP in an interview.

Areva had no immediate reaction to the remarks.

The dispute is over the liabilities of the Olkiluoto OL3 reactor that Areva and its German partner Siemens have been constructing in Finland since 2005, and which has turned into a major headache for France's beleaguered nuclear industry. (More)


MetLife legal suit questions extent of corporate liability

Image: Detail of photo of Christine Ramirez, who is suing MetLife after losing her personal savings in a Ponzi scheme. Credit Ann Summa for The New York Times.
By Victoria Finklemay

30 May 2016 — When Christine Ramirez signed over that first check in April 2008, she had no idea that the decision would eventually upend her life.

A broker offered a tempting deal. If she invested in a real estate fund called the Diversified Lending Group, which was managed by someone named Bruce Friedman, she would be eligible for a “guaranteed” return of 12 percent. She could use the proceeds to pay the premium on a new MetLife life insurance policy.

Ms. Ramirez chose not to buy the insurance policy, but she did invest in Mr. Friedman’s fund, a total of $279,769 including her personal savings, a retirement account and proceeds from a line of credit on her home in Simi Valley, Calif. (More)

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