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June 14: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Mission creep

Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, the commander of NATO's air war against Libya, shows how out of touch the West is with the developing world when he says that Moammar Gadhafi is evil because he kills "his own people" and that "he has lost his moral authority to lead his nation" ('It's A Knife In A Phone Booth' - front page, June 13).

It's unlikely Col. Gadhafi regards those with whom he's at war as "his own people," except insofar as they happen to live within Libya's legal borders. And given that its borders are colonial creations, prospects for democracy are dim precisely because there's no single "nation" as Gen. Bouchard imagines it.

In much of the developing world, leaders respond to their predicaments by patronage or coercion or both. Like Gen. Bouchard himself, Col. Gadhafi is responding with force to those who don't see things his way.

I wouldn't expect any Western leader to offer Col. Gadhafi sympathy for his plight. But don't think for a minute that Western actions will change Libya's prospects.

Ian S. Spears, Department of Political Science, University of Guelph

.......

A far more accurate description of these bombing runs over Libya would be "shooting fish in a barrel." But let's hope the real "knife fight in a phone booth" takes place on our soil, in Parliament, with a vigorous debate over our involvement in this ill-thought-out sortie.

Peter Pinch, Toronto

Nyah nyah

Roy MacGregor refers to the behaviour and statements of players and commentators during the Stanley Cup final as "childish" (Canucks, Bruins Engage In Childishness - Sports, June 13). Fair enough.

But look at the amount of space your paper devotes to hockey compared with, say, climate change. Isn't it time the Globe's editors did some growing up as well?

Kegan Doyle, Vancouver

Harper values

It's simplistic to say, as John Ibbitson does in discussing Stephen Harper's foreign policy (The Harper Doctrine, In Black And White - June 13), that he supports Israel "without reservation." What Mr. Harper's foreign policy does reflect is his "slavish adherence" to democracy.

In a region full of dictators, Israel alone possesses the true democratic values that Canada rightly supports and protects. It's utterly admirable that Mr. Harper is unbending in following his strong moral convictions.

If he wavers in his support for these values, who will protect them for all of us?

Terri Sugar, Toronto

.......

It's time for Stephen Harper to explain how he plans to take "principled positions" in foreign policy when he openly supports Israel's contempt for United Nations resolutions, international law and human rights. He needs to understand that both Palestinian and Israeli mothers cry the same salty tears of loss.

Choosing one side over the other is neither courageous nor principled.

John Menzies, Orleans, Ont.

A soothing whoosh

Re The Turbine Problem Is Aesthetic (June 13): I remember with awe the first time I saw a wind farm - the one on the edge of the mountain between Los Angeles and Palm Springs (perhaps the same "desolate horizon" Neil Reynolds mentions). My heart went wow that day, just as it did when I rounded a bend three years ago and saw the wind farm at Pubnico Point, N.S.

To me, wind farms are what lighthouses once were, beacons of hope. And to me, the whoosh of the windmills isn't any worse than the cicada-like whine that rushes along the wires, powering those ever-whirring electronics we simply have to have.

But to talk about the aesthetics of wind farms in isolation is absurd. There's nothing aesthetically pleasing about the nuclear power plants that dot the shores of Lake Ontario, or the "menacing" (to use Mr. Reynolds's word) power grids that blur so much of Durham County. Nor are those projects human in scale. We long ago ceded that ground or any expectation thereof when it comes to the production of energy. Most major infrastructure projects are big and ugly.

Meantime, when I take to our highways and byways this summer, I know I'd rather see a wind farm on the horizon than a clear-cut forest or an open pit mine.

Elizabeth Clarke, Toronto

Consider this

The use of "summer learning loss" as a reason to modify the school calendar is laughable (Consider This - front-page editorial, June 13). If a two-month summer break from math is bad, how do you feel about teaching math on the semester system, where the summer break is the shortest possible interruption? If students can forget a meaningful amount after two months, imagine what will happen in a year.

It makes no sense to teach math, or any foreign language, on the semester system, because they all require constant exposure to stay "fluent."

When I explained to a co-worker from India with an engineering background how math is taught, his comment was: "That's insane." Exactly.

Paul Bennett, Richmond Hill, Ont.

.......

You offer no evidence that full-day kindergarten provides any more benefit to a young child than a half day of kindergarten combined with time spent in a good daycare centre or with a parent (Key Lessons From Children About All-Day Kindergarten - front page, June 13).

Spending a full day in school reduces the time available for taking music or swimming lessons, or just biking to the park to look at the leaves and play in the sand.

In fact, the park option offers much more expansive opportunities to meet new people and see new things, rather than spending a whole day in the same room with the same people. Any normal child of kindergarten age is going to display huge leaps in cognitive, social and physical development in the space of nine months regardless of whether they're in class for a full day or a half day.

Of course parents like the program, but let's call it what it is: taxpayer-funded daycare.

Alison Harvey, Nepean, Ont.

Masked varmints

Re How To Beat A Critter Invasion (Life, June 13): If human beings engaged in the behaviour that raccoons display habitually, they'd be thrown in jail for breaking and entering, theft, causing willful damage to private property, littering and such. Canada geese can apparently be culled because they're a nuisance in public places, but raccoons can only be trapped at an average cost of $400 a visit, and released a kilometre away. (Why don't we give them TTC tokens as well?)

Seriously, if rabies were to break out amongst Toronto's raccoon population, the city would become uninhabitable. That's why we should take preventive measures now.

Walter Schwager, Toronto

.......

I doubt talk radio will work. I was chatting with a friend the other day when a raccoon tried to open my screen door. And we were only a few feet away, talking and laughing.

Charles-Antoine Rouyer, Toronto

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