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Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich in a glass cage inside a Moscow court room on Aug. 8, 2012. Prosecutors have called for three-year prison sentences for feminist punk rockers who gave an impromptu performance in Moscow’s main cathedral to call for an end to Vladimir Putin’s rule. Today’s topics: (Misha Japaridze/AP)
Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich in a glass cage inside a Moscow court room on Aug. 8, 2012. Prosecutors have called for three-year prison sentences for feminist punk rockers who gave an impromptu performance in Moscow’s main cathedral to call for an end to Vladimir Putin’s rule. Today’s topics: (Misha Japaridze/AP)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 13: Pussy Riot speaks to power, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Paths of power

For most of the last century, the Russian Orthodox Church was subject to ruthless repression by the reigning Soviet politburo in the name of a scientifically based political system. Now at last these two factions are reunited, arm in arm, in the name of – what? Their mutual fear of Pussy Riot, a third-rate female punk rock band (Madonna Draws Russian Wrath From Church And State – Aug. 10).

Strange are the ways of man. But stranger still the paths of power.

David Bryant, Regina

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First, we have The Vagina Monologues. Now it’s Pussy Riot. Pray tell, what is this world coming to? Vladimir Putin does not stand a chance.

Geoff Smith, Kingston, Ont.

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A word to avoid

I have several concerns with the terminology used in The Globe and Mail to describe indigenous peoples, for example, in your editorial Option To Own (Aug. 8). It mixes and confuses terminology. Aboriginal peoples include three peoples – Métis, Inuit and Indian, now referred to as First Nations. When you use the term “aboriginal,” you include all three peoples, however, only Indians/First Nations have reserves.

To confuse matters even more, you throw in the term natives, which is a generic anthropological term that doesn’t necessarily refer to indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples is more accurate, and recognized by the international community. The term “aboriginals” objectifies and dehumanizes us, and it should never be used.

Richard C. Powless, Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan, Ottawa

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Chance to prove it

I am greatly encouraged that Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq so strongly states in her letter (HIV, Political Will – Aug. 9) that there is no lack of political will “to make antiretroviral drug therapy available to those infected domestically and internationally.”

She has an opportunity to prove this when the bill to fix Canada’s unworkable Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) comes to the House this fall.

Legislation to allow developing countries to order affordable generic medicines from Canadian companies passed unanimously eight years ago. Since then, only one Canadian generic manufacturer has shipped an order to one country – and no company will do so again until the government removes the many bureaucratic barriers that make the process unworkable.

In the meantime, millions continue to die each year in sub-Saharan Africa for lack of affordable antiretroviral drugs. If her avowed commitment is genuine, Ms. Aglukkaq will end this unconscionable delay and vote “yes” to Bill C-398.

Valerie Swinton, Ottawa

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China and faith

We are told by a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy that there is “harmonious co-existence of religions in China” (Faith, In China – letters, Aug. 10).

Since China would include Tibet in this description, why is the teaching and study of Buddhism, a core value of Tibetan culture, restricted?

After the Cultural Revolution, there appeared to be a liberalizing of the Chinese attitude, but a new report by the International Campaign for Tibet indicates that China has shifted its religious policy to actively suppress further religious growth. This involves measures to halt unauthorized rebuilding of the 6,000 monasteries destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, restricting the number of monks and nuns in monasteries and limiting how many youths may join them.

Harmony? Have we lost something in translation?

Anne Spencer, Victoria

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Pharma’s obligations

The pharmaceutical industry has responsibilities that have social ramifications that are quite unlike most other manufacturers’ (The Case Of The Vanishing Drug – editorial, Aug. 7).

By withdrawing a product, they can keep people like me functionally house-bound while they’re in pursuit of a better return on investment. There has to be a balance between shareholder rights and public rights. Yes, “Health Canada cannot compel a pharmaceutical company to manufacture a drug,” but 30 days notice is useless. Just because 90 days satisfies the American FDA, it’s still next to useless. A year doesn’t seem like an unreasonable standard.

Phenobarbital, for example, is a low-cost medicine that does the job, just as many other out-of-patent medications do. The threatened disappearance of effective low-cost medicines is the sort of elephant-in-the-room situation that will only blossom as more of the boomers graduate to fixed incomes and start counting their pennies. Odd that patent expiry only theoretically brings the bonanza of multiple lower-priced manufacturers.

Ian Gardner, Mississauga

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CMG explained 4 U

OMG standing in for Oh! My! God! is just the start, with its usage dating to a British admiral’s correspondence with Winston Churchill during the First World War (Back In 1917? OMG – Social Studies, Aug. 10).

Higher degrees of the Order of St. Michael and St. George are CMG (Call Me God!), KCMG (Kindly Call Me God!) and GCMG (God Calls Me God!). This from someone who should know: my father, Martin J. Marshall CMG.

Claire Marshall, Ottawa

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Strength to millstone

Your authors, including two former Canadian ambassadors, briefly touch on a practical issue that underpins problems Canadian and other international negotiators have in dealing with the Americans – an issue some feel has moved from being a strength of U.S. democracy to a millstone: overaggressive bicameralism (This Good Neighbour Has To Work The System – Aug. 8).

There are important lessons for Canadians here. A recent example: A difficult U.S. legal issue for Canadian banks is FATCA, a new U.S. law about international tax evasion. By way of relief from this extraterritorial law, the U.S. announced a template bilateral agreement with foreign countries that pass certain laws. There is a reciprocity provision, but the “commitment” of the U.S. to pass reciprocal laws is so weak as to be almost embarrassing.

Why? Presumably because U.S. negotiators know how uncertain it is that they can get the reciprocal laws passed.

In a fast-moving world, there is strength in having dynamism in the legislative system. Half the world’s sovereign states have a unicameral system. Worth remembering when, inevitably, we cycle back to discussing the idea of an elected Senate in Canada.

Bob Walsh, Wilton, Conn.

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Cincinnati flash

Great news about Sarah, the fleet feline from the Cincinnati Zoo, on her new speed record, 100 metres at 98 km/h (Cheetah Breaks Speed Record – Social Studies, Aug. 6). Now, when we hear the phrase “Cincinnati cheetah,” we won’t have to think of Pete Rose.

Bill Kummer, Newmarket, Ont.

 

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