Shock and awestruck
RE Bush's body count, by Gwynne Dyer (NOW, October 19-25). While the war in Iraq has claimed a horrific number of Iraqi lives, the recent Lancet estimate of 650,000 dead is outlandish. A total of 650,000 would equal an average of over 500 killed per day for the past 43 months! The fact that the Lancet numbers differ by several orders of magnitude from most other reports and sources should gives any truth-seeker pause.
A UN survey in 2004 came up with 24,000 killed at a time when the Lancet was claiming 100,000. Divide the current Lancet estimate by three or four and you're probably in the right ballpark with a number that is still shocking and horrendous.
RE Glenn Wheeler's article on the anti-Israel conference held recently in Toronto (NOW, October 19-25). I can think of a lot of adjectives to describe those deluded Jews who ally themselves with Israel's enemies in an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state, but progressive isn't one of them.
Tories forfeit green future
Regarding the tories' plan for greenhouse gas emissions (NOW, October 19-25). In 2002 I was one of the few children attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was asked to speak to the UN's General Assembly. After being introduced by Kofi Annan, I and two other children addressed all the world's leaders on what the world's children were concerned about. Later that same day, Jean Chretien announced something spectacular that Canada planned on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, promising emissions cuts by 2010-2012. Now the Conservative government has changed its mind. It plans on making this so in 2050. I haven't finished grade 10 mathematics yet, but I know that 2012 is a lot sooner than 2050. In fact, I will be 59 in 2050. Those changes won't even apply to my generation. This is an outrage!
One thing the tories would never mention in any environmental legislation is industrial hemp. Hemp produces polymers that could replace oil-derived plastics for car bodies and thousands of other products.
This would further reduce our dependence on crude oil and reduce the pollution that we put into the air, soil and water.
Finally, hemp gobbles CO2 like crazy, which would further help us eat up some of our own emissions and those from the U.S. But then, using hemp to meet our energy needs and reduce pollution might "send the wrong message to youth" about marijuana, so it looks like we're stuck with crude oil and dirty air.
Harper's tenuous grip
Prior to the last federal election , Canadians were told that Steve Harper is a dangerous man. How dangerous has he been in nine months? He told the world recently that Taiwan is an integral part of China, giving a diplomatic green light from Canada to China to reintegrate Taiwan.
Similarly, several weeks ago Canada's prime minister called Israel's bombing of civilians in Lebanon a "measured response." In Afghanistan, he has given Canadian troops the most dangerous frontline mission available.
Prior to becoming prime minister, Harper travelled little. As opposition leader, his first trip out of North America was to the late Pope's funeral. Recent bluster on the world stage suggests he does not grasp the many sides of world cultures and their complex relationships.
A dog's breakfast
I am somewhat amused at the furor over whether or not Peter MacKay called Belinda Stronach a dog. Even if he did, who cares? The Oxford English Dictionary defines dog as "a despicable person." Stronach has shown a lack of ethical behaviour in her political life, attempting first to buy the leadership of the Conservative party and then fleeing it, and her lover, when a better offer came along.
MacKay, of course, is no better. He achieved his current exalted position at Harper's feet as a result of an act of political opportunism and betrayal that was just as blatant as Stronach's. They are both dogs.
Drinking water on drugs
RE Keeping our drinking water off Drugs (NOW, October 19-25). It's great that you folks are following this issue. For more information, your readers can go to the CIELAP website (www. cielap.org) and download for free a recent paper on this subject: There Is No "Away" Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products And Endocrine Disrupting Substances: Emerging Contaminants Detected In Water. As we begin to work on how to get some movement on the recommendations in our report, we look forward to any comments or suggestions from your readers.
Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, Toronto
Wow. First you blame the conservatives for dealing nuclear technology to Pakistan in the 1980s (NOW, October 19-25). I'm no fan of any of the Conservative regimes we've experienced at any level of government, but the 80s included the Liberal regimes of Trudeau and John Turner, and I don't recall either putting a stop to the practice of exporting nuke secrets. Then you turn and slag the host of The Hour for lacking news credibility. After watching George Stroumboulopoulos ride another Liberal academic for his serious campaign errors, I think I know who has more credibility. Here's a hint: it's the person who got to interview Michael Ignatieff.
Next time, don't let the sparks from your axe blind you.
Regarding all the hubbub over k-os (NOW, October 12-18). I was unaware that artists get crucified in Canada if they flirt outside the boundaries of their appointed genre. While flouting your street-paper credibility, it's easy to see the twisted dichotomy you have come to embody. Liberal, indie, underground culture has become your narrow telescopic vision, and any homegrown artist you can't suppress with your thumb of humility is out of the club. And all you can do to save face is claim that those you are threatened by most are playing the race card? Open your eyes.
The Canadian musical landscape is shifting in a successful direction because of the likes of k-os, and you won't even give him one sentence of recognition.
Shame. No wonder they all flee to the States.
I'm sure the shake a tail crew are nice guys, but from the photo in your article (NOW, October 12-18) it's obvious they couldn't do mod if they tried. They look like they bought their clothes at Value Village blindfolded. There's nothing "new and refreshing" about DJing off the Nuggets comps, the Stones' Hot Rocks, the Beatles 1962-66 and whatever happens to be on Q107's Psychedelic Sunday playlist. I'm baffled by the suggestion that the Toronto 60s scene is or was "Brit-centric." The scene, which has thrived for more than two decades, has treated that era with depth and respect, embracing garage, soul, psych and ska from around the globe.
That such a diverse community of hardcore enthusiasts and supporters could be considered "overworked" can only be the product of a disturbingly underdeveloped view of a rich body of music.
Arguing for endless war
Many thanks for the article about Captain Caroline Glick's appearance in Toronto (NOW, October 12-18). She seems to argue for an endless war. This sad scenario had in fact been foreseen by quite a few Jewish thinkers, from rabbis to Hannah Arendt, who opposed the very idea of a Zionist state. The fact that my recent book about Jewish opposition to Zionism has been translated into six languages suggests that the subject has not become obsolete. Many people, including Israeli Jews, are looking for a way out of the impasse.
Yakov M. Rabkin
Department of History
University of Montreal
Say, I've got an idea! When an exciting development in the artistic community occurs, like Nuit Blanche (NOW, October 5-11), send a fool who doesn't know the slightest thing about art to cover it! Obviously, Vanessa Milne has other fish to fry than to be bothered discussing Nuit Blanche, with her condescending: "Toronto threw a party and it didn't suck. I get to knock a fedora off an all-too-Toronto guy one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done in this city." God, what a dull life she must lead.
What is it with you Toronto media types? Why all the self-loathing? Easier and more comfortable to keep sneering at this city's emergence rather than actively be part of the birth of an exciting Toronto?
Empry belonged to the stars
My dear friend Gino Empry has passed away. I will never forget him. The last time I was invited to his place was to meet Gordon Lightfoot, whose incredible work he knew I loved. The last performance of mine Gino attended was just after my father's death. Gino was there to encourage me when I broke down minutes before going onstage. I still have his condolence message on my machine; it meant that much to me.
He knew that at the end of the day it's about your spirit. Even though he was so involved in the entertainment biz, he never lost that. Gino, may you go on to fulfill your destiny elsewhere, my friend. You certainly now belong to the stars.
Seeing things thrice over
Is it my imagination, or have you run the same Ernie Pook's Comeek for three weeks in a row?