Khat the Bull
RE Seeing Red (NOW, December 9-15). What makes me sick is the double standards of the federal government. While herbal drinks such as Red Bull, SoBe, Venom, Adrenaline Rush and Whoopass are legal in Canada, Somali and Ethiopian Canadians are being criminalized for a harmless stimulant called khat.
Other herbal stimulants, like ma huang and Salvia divinorum, some of them more potent than khat, are not only legal in Canada but available in health stores across the nation.
Why is it so? I find out, for example, that drinking a cup of coffee or 250 ml of Red Bull gives me more buzz than chewing 150 to 200 grams of khat!!! Is it little wonder, then, that Red Bull is banned in Denmark while khat is not?
Khat, in fact, has health benefits. The latest research at King's College in London,England, has revealed that the khat plant boosts the power of men's sperm. Now will our Justice minister, who happens to be a human rights lawyer, scrap this unjust law?
Thanks for the insight into Toronto skyscrapers' impact on migrating birds (NOW, December 9-15). Keeping lights on is not only having a devastating impact on our bird populations, but it's also a massive waste of valuable energy and contributes to pollution.
Have any of your readers or writers commented on the virtual disappearance of common birds in this city? My neighbourhood every year has had flocks of starlings, sparrows, pigeons, robins and a few pairs of blue jays. Several other types of little birds too. My car sits under one of the trees where the starlings would gather, but this year there's not a starling to be seen, no noise and no white polka dots on my car. There are so few sparrows and pigeons that I can't even get rid of a slice of bread if I throw it out. And I have seen only one robin all summer, and no jays.
It's positively eerie around here. It's so quiet. What is going on? Does anyone know?
I am getting very annoyed by the barrage of letters you receive every time a mildly critical piece appears in your magazine in opposition to the Zionist state of Israel. Mindy Alter's letter (NOW, December 9-15) was the last straw. For the record, I am a Hungarian Jew born the year after the Holocaust and a person who grew up in the former ghetto where nearly all my neighbours had tattoos from Auschwitz. Moreover, my surviving relatives live in Israel, and I am writing as a close friend stands over my shoulder who was once a "settler" - that is, he started a kibbutz in Israel and returned to Canada to make a career.
Alter asked if the right of return to Palestine applies to Jews as well. My question is, how many countries could you emigrate to without facing any meaningful discrimination? Now put yourself in a Muslim outfit. That's what it was like once for us Jews.
Go make aliyah and oppress Muslims if you want, but don't pretend that Israel is the only place where you are safe.
Style and substance
I have been going through past issues of NOW online and thought it would be fun to scroll back to old My Style features. You should change the name of this section to My Clone. I don't see any style at all. Most of the featured people admit in the blurb that all they do is reach into the closet and throw on any old thing. This is style? This is the same grunge we all wore 20 years ago.
In fact, a lot of the clothes are from second-hand stores. There must be stylish folk out there in your counterculture, hip, cool world. Maybe I'm just not in tune, maybe I'm just an old fart who has no style of my own and am jealous of the parade of women wearing too-tight skirts with boots and hose or the men with little dweeby beards. All this having been said, I enjoy NOW Magazine now and then.
How amazingly sensitive of Hoa Pham (NOW, December 9-15) to tell Bony-Girl Blues (NOW, November 25-December 1) to start paying more attention to her eating habits! As one of the minority of slim girls of this ever-growing, overweight nation, I wish it were that easy.
You see, Hoa, there is this small but significant detail called "genetics." Thank you, Tammy Stone, for writing your article. It was refreshing to finally hear someone from our side speak out for a change.
Don't bet on Dalton
Anyone who eagerly awaits gas tax money from the province for Toronto is surely in for a sad surprise (NOW, December 9-15). Just as the Fiberals are denying their help to the film industry, where layoffs have already started, so too may they leave us with nothing.
My crystal ball says that for every cent of gas tax money the city receives, the Fiberals will claw back a cent. Come on down, Dalton, and say it ain't so. Not holding my breath
A number of things pissed me off about NOW's Upfront editorial concerning the Liberals' new ethanol legislation (NOW, December 2-8).
First, it was a cheap shot.
Second, it betrayed a shallow knowledge of the issues surrounding ethanol.
But worst of all, it had a tone of blind ideology that I usually associate with the right. Admit it: if the NDP had proposed this legislation, you'd call it visionary. Saying that the Liberals are "just a little bit better than Mike Harris's Tories" is simply absurd.
Isn't it hypocritical of Toronto to expect residents to comply with the pesticide bylaw while it manipulates the provisions of the legislation to allow the continued use of dangerous chemicals in public parks? (NOW, December 2-8). And isn't anyone worried that the public health department thinks government registration of a pesticide means it's OK to deliberately release products designed to kill into a natural area frequented by children, pregnant women, dogs and wildlife? In a report released last fall, the federal environment commissioner said that after her audit of the pesticide registration process, she shares public concerns about the safety of these chemicals.
It's time for the public health department to protect public health, not the hazardous practices of the parks department.
Pesticide Free Ontario
RE A Real Crapshoot (NOW, November 25-December 1) by Yee-Guan Wong. What the proponents of so-called "clean" incineration don't mention is that every 7 tonnes of incinerated refuse produces 1 tonne-plus of highly concentrated toxic ash that still has to be somehow "safely" disposed of. I would rather live with the shit!
The best way of getting rid of our excrement is to compost it much the same way as our green composting program does. It has been done on a municipal level in the U.S. and is perfectly safe if done correctly.
Hang the CDJ
Since you're wasting newsprint telling us all about CDJs, why don't you find room to list high scores from PS2 and Xbox games?
It takes talent to create such technology, but please don't give these so-called performers any props! Anyone could download digital media and play it back extra crispy, but where's the art in that? There is none.
Unfortunately, it's too risky for a DJ with crates of records to rely on airline baggage services, so the much-hyped international DJ is left fooling us with crappy CDs and less effort and style.
Support the local turntablist DJs. We spend twice as much money (gear, records, casing) and time (practising, record shopping) to bring you the killer cuts!
Bike Plan deserves scrutiny
The pictures of European bike lanes were great (NOW, November 18-24), but your copy didn't point out that the much-touted Bike Plan doesn't take our schools into account and neglects west-end urban cyclists. Harder copy would have fingered Case Ootes as helping delay Cosburn bike lanes.
The decline in city cycling conditions post-amalgamation is very real and deserves scrutiny.
Is Iran next?
When President Bush visited Ottawa (NOW, December 2-8), was it to get Canadian support for the current war in Iraq or for the next war in Iran? We need to be aware that this is a very real, frightening possibility.
The blame on Berton
I can understand that it may have been too late for anything to be published in the December 1-8 issue, but could you not have dedicated any of last week's 136-page issue (NOW, December 9-15) to a piece on one of Canada's greatest icons - Pierre Berton?
I know the world would fall apart if NOW didn't print full-page ads for Telus, Starbucks and Bay Bloor Radio. But surely you could have sacrificed half a measly page for an article on a man who dedicated his whole life to Canada!