Caught in the Net
Re Ottawa Blames China For Hacking (July 30): I’m sure the National Research Council and other federal agencies and departments have state-of-the-art security measures involving elaborate encryption and password protocols to make it extremely difficult for hackers to gain access via the Internet to the vital information.
But extremely difficult obviously does not mean impossible, as the latest breach blamed on Chinese cyberintrusion once again demonstrates.
So here’s my simple question: Why connect such computers to the Internet in the first place? Unless the upside of the convenience of online access outweighs the downside of potentially compromising Canada’s national security, pull the plug on Internet connectivity.
Computer security can never be 100-per-cent effective, even on computers not linked to the World Wide Web, but those responsible for IT in all fields owe it to themselves and the communities they serve to undertake such a cost/benefit analysis before automatically linking to the Net.
Eric Bender, former IT director, Kirkland, Que.
Across the solitudes
Re It’s All About The Tunnels (July 30): Contrary to Michael Bell’s assertion that it is all about the tunnels in Gaza, I think it is about a suffocating, never-ending occupation, a seven-year-old illegal siege, collective punishments and brazen violations of a people’s human rights, sovereignty and the right to live in freedom, dignity, security and peace.
Tunnels are a byproduct of the siege, disruption of lives and frequent attacks by air, land and sea.
Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan, Ottawa
Contrary to letter writer Barry V. Fisher’s contention that “Israel is a failed state,” it is probably the most successful state in the Middle East by any parameters usually used to measure national achievements (War’s Casualties – July 30).
In the fields of education, medicine, science, engineering, agriculture, the arts and general well-being of its population, including the Arab Israeli population whose standard of living and democratic freedoms are higher than Arabs in any Arab country, Israel is a miraculously successful state.
Miraculously, as the odds have been against Israel since the 1948-49 War of Independence, when its neighbours tried desperately to destroy it, followed by the series of wars intent on eliminating it.
Despite his contention about the “Palestinian population returning from the squalid refugee camps,” if the Arab nations treated these people with respect and dignity, and absorbed them into their countries as Israel did after hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from their native Arab-country homes, the so-called “refugee problem” would have long been resolved.
Michael Gordon, Toronto
Ain’t it grand?
So the French government feels obliged to sell state-of-the-art military vessels to Russia, the country it has been condemning for its aggression against Ukraine, and against which, as a member of NATO, it may conceivably find itself going to war (On Second Thought, We’ll Keep The Ships – editorial, July 28). All because cancelling the sale to Russia would deal a significant blow to the French economy. Ahh, ain’t globalization a wonderful thing?
Mark DeWolf, Halifax
Not in our interest
One of the critical issues in Canada’s negotiations in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is the mechanism for solving disputes. Recent Globe columns and editorials have focused on Germany’s objections to the legal protections proposed in CETA for firms investing in other states, which would enable investors to sue a government whose legislation threatened their profits (Free Trade, Still Alive – July 29).
Thousands of Canadians also object to this basic concept.
Corporations should not be allowed to sue governments and thereby set precedents for global trade rules. Enshrining this in international agreements threatens our ability to maintain our own standards and prices, particularly in the area of public health and medical patents. State-to-state dispute mechanisms are enough.
Not only is there no need for investor-state mechanisms, Canadian negotiators should resist them because they are harmful to our national interest.
Ruth Evans, Toronto
Leacock’s sunny side
Re My Little Town (Books, July 26): John Semley criticizes Stephen Leacock for failing to “pry open the cracks” of human hypocrisy in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, but this was never his intent. Leacock’s kind-heartedness is a feature, not a bug.
The narrator’s overfamiliarity is not one of Leacock’s “little ticks.” He doesn’t exhibit it regularly in other works, and this feature of Sunshine Sketches has seen it remain a subject of scholarly interest where so many of his other works have not.
It is also no failing of Sunshine Sketches that it does not present an experience of the Canadian small town that is familiar to the readers of 2014. Such far-flung future Canadians were as distant a fantasy for Leacock as anything being written of at the time by H.G. Wells. We are not necessarily familiar with Leacock’s Mariposa – but the readers of 1912 were.
Mr. Semley asks why Sunshine Sketches endures as a popular Canadian text, but his explanation is incomplete. It feels safe to say that “Ford Nation” is not reading many books, let alone satiric books from 1912. Surely there is something more in this – so why not just let it endure?
Nick Milne, Department of English, University of Ottawa
24/7 visitor care
Re Now Accepting Visitors 24/7 (Life & Arts, July 28): There is a more realistic, but less altruistic explanation for the decision to do away with hospital visiting hours than “putting patients and their families – as opposed to doctors and nurses – at the centre of hospital culture.”
In fact, many health-care authorities actually rely on family members to act as an unpaid “shadow work force,” taking on tasks ranging from feeding their loved ones to assisting them with toileting and, in some cases, even changing their bed linens.
As a result, it is not uncommon for family members to feel that staying at the bedside 24/7 is a necessity, not a privilege.
Elizabeth Causton, Victoria
Above and beyond
Re Town Opens Doors, All Of Them, To Conventions (July 29): Reporting on the extent of Mahone Bay’s Nova Scotia hospitality to conference-goers, we’re told that “Bed and breakfasts hosted the participants while local restaurants fed them.”
Talk about going above the call of duty – most restaurants would only provide the food.
David Shore, Richmond, B.C.