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Bernie Ecclestone in Munich on Aug. 5, 2014. German prosecutors dropped the bribery case against the Formula One boss in exchange for a $100-million fine. (Matthias Schrader/AP)
Bernie Ecclestone in Munich on Aug. 5, 2014. German prosecutors dropped the bribery case against the Formula One boss in exchange for a $100-million fine. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 7: In Germany, it’s the same old, same old – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

It’s the same racket

Re Pay Fine, Do No Time (editorial, Aug. 6): In 1517, a German friar called Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg. The Theses were Luther’s arguments against the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences.

By purchasing an indulgence from the Church, a sinner could be absolved from his sin. In essence, you could buy your way out of trouble, and reduce or avoid punishment in the afterlife.

Money took the place of genuine penance. This, to Luther, was corrupt. Fast forward 500 years. Once again, we’re in Germany, and it’s the same racket.

Bernie Ecclestone pays the fine and does no time. He’s washed free of guilt of bribery charges.

Presumably, the guy Bernie bribed couldn’t afford to buy an indulgence? He got 8.5 years in prison.

How does one say “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” in German?

George Patrick, Oakville, Ont.

.........

A German court finds the recipient of a bribe guilty of accepting it, while the perpetrator of the bribe is not guilty of offering it.

This could never happen in Canada. Could it?

Anne Rowe, Oakville, Ont.

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It appears that German law subscribes to the philosophy of Anatole France who wrote: “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

Kevin Riemer, Pointe-Claire, Que.

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When bombs fall

Re Why ‘Strategic’ Bombing Doesn’t Work (Aug. 6): Ian Buruma provides a generally accurate history of “strategic bombing.” What he doesn’t consider is why, if Israel is engaged in strategic bombing, it chose to use precision means to target Hamas, issued warnings to Gaza’s civilians, and used a fraction of the Israeli air force’s capabilities.

Rather than being defined as (largely indiscriminate) strategic bombing, Israel’s precision approach targeted Hamas missile sites and operatives. Sadly, Hamas deliberately positions itself next to civilian buildings.

This summer, Hamas and other groups in Gaza fired more than 3,000 missiles and mortars indiscriminately at Israeli civilians. This is in addition to the thousands already fired by Hamas since Israel unilaterally left Gaza in 2005.

Hamas’s goals are spelled out clearly in its charter: jihad, destruction of Israel, and the murder of Jews. Like any criminal actor, Hamas must be judged according to its intentions, and not solely by its effectiveness.

E.S. (Ed) Fitch, Major-General, Canadian Armed Forces (retd.), Victoria

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Gaza’s Palestinians remain occupied as Israel blockades it from land, sea and air. It is the world’s largest prison. In any conflict, 1.8 million Gazans living in a tiny area will automatically come in harm’s way as there is nowhere for them to go. Their compatriots in what’s left of the West Bank remain occupied. No occupied people will support the security of their occupier and suffer constant humiliation ad infinitum. The status quo is untenable, so they protest, often violently.

The only solution accepted by most countries, including the “West,” is two states based generally on the internationally accepted boundary. Unfortunately, Israel does not accept such peace.

The “West” and America’s Jewish community, some members of which do not blindly support Israel, can play a major role in pressuring Israelis toward this goal.

Abbad Al Radi, Toronto

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Beware loss of face

Re Canadians’ Detention Fuels China’s Spy Spat With Ottawa (Aug. 6): The Chinese nation may be a burgeoning superpower but it is still an ancient society. A loss of face is a grave insult.

Our government’s ham-fisted approach to diplomatic relations is an embarrassment to Canadians and a danger to our foreign nationals.

Bruce Jackson, Kitchener, Ont.

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NATO’s failings

Re Stories Of Democratic Promise, Failure (editorial, Aug. 4): The failure of Libya to reach any semblance of democracy after the death of Moammar Gadhafi is symptomatic of the general problem with NATO interventions – an ineffective United Nations and lack of clear, harmonious EU foreign policy.

Removing Moammar Gadhafi with 21st-century air power and a selection of poorly trained and organized militiamen was no great victory; it could be considered quite embarrassing that it took so long. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a purely reactionary entity.

Post-Gadhafi Libya without leadership or unity illustrates how poorly the UN and EU and their members plan for regime-change. Whether one agrees with it as an organic or externally induced scenario, the world had over 20 years’ notice that the regime in Libya would fall, leaving a complete power vacuum.

A structure and plan would be needed, but this conversation failed to happen.

Now, unequipped Libyans are left to pick up the pieces using the only tools offered to them – guns and field experts, neither of which are suited for nation-building.

Omar Sarhan, Vancouver

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Bear with Russia

Re Russia’s Soul Is More Putin Than Gorbachev (Aug. 4 ): A few years ago, my husband and I went on a wonderful river cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It was a revelation in terms of our exposure to Russian history, culture and the “Russian soul.”

Ship staff had obviously been coached not to get into political discussions with tourists. One with whom I did have a brief discussion expressed his strong antipathy to Mikhail Gorbachev and glasnost, saying the reaction was widespread. “All he did was destroy the country and leave nothing in its place. Now there are no jobs, our pensioners starve, we no longer have access to the excellent health care we could once afford. The oligarchs have stolen the resources of the country, commit murders and have turned us into a gangster state. We are relieved to have Putin. He is reclaiming our country for us and giving us hope again.”

I could not help but be reminded of the United States after the election of Ronald Reagan and his slogan, “It’s morning again in America.”

The citizens of that country, too, whether rightly or wrongly, perceived themselves as being led out of the wilderness and back to a more familiar world.

Patricia Bruckman, Tecumseh, Ont.

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I spy #### spies

Re A Billet-Doux From CSEC (Aug. 6): Your editorial brought back memories of ######, knowing how much ###### cared about it. But it was also ####, and even ####### who thought it had more ########, if not ##########.

Nearly every ###### will take heart and wonder why ######## couldn’t be more like ############.

Frank Cain, Toronto

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