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Re Iran Is Too Weak To Start A World War (Jan. 6): Considering possible fallout from the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani, contributor Niall Ferguson says we don’t need to worry about a Third World War. I believe the danger here is not of a Third World War, but of unbridled, long-term anarchy. Not just in Iraq, as Mr. Ferguson suggests, but globally.
The overt, exultant assassination by one country of another’s high-ranking official is frankly, unheard of. This precedent beckons open season on any leader that a belligerent foreign government would like to eliminate.
Ian Smillie Ottawa
Kudos to contributor Niall Ferguson for his interesting perspectives on the current state of international bombast. Hovering above his illustrations, however, there is the diabolical fact that man’s inhumanity to man has escalated from age to age throughout history.
In the 20th century, it became acceptable to drop bombs on sleeping communities of ordinary people. It was unthinkable in the 19th century. Here we are in the 21st century, where we shall likely see the full-scale mobilization of hit-and-run mass murder at the hands of unmarked agents, women, children, senior citizens – whoever.
Iran may be too weak to start a Third World War, but its ladies and gentlemen are indistinguishable from everyone else, and every one of them could be lethal. This may be the century of sociopathy with teeth.
Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.
Re Mideast Braces For Iran’s Response To U.S. Drone Strike On Key Military Commander (Jan. 4): So Iran declares the takeout of Qassem Soleimani an "act of war.” Did it not already do that itself when it placed him inside another sovereign country?
I do not believe he was in Iraq for humanitarian reasons. I am waiting for Iran to justify his presence in Baghdad.
Lloyd Leonard North Bay
Re With Another Anti-Semitic Attack, We Ask: Will The World Wake Up? (Dec. 31) and Anti-Semitic Violence Will Always Be Shocking, But The Perpetrator Never Will Be (Jan. 1): Contributor David Shribman links the holiday machete attack to the Holocaust, stating “Never Again” has become “Yet Again,” while columnist Robyn Urback singles out anti-Semitism as “a unique hatred unconstrained by geography, political orientation, race, colour or religion.” Both authors appropriately condemn the machete attack. However, in keeping with the general trend in response to anti-Semitism today, they eventually devolve into its long history. In doing so, the authors tap into the Jewish traumatized psyche that pulls us, as Jews, back into the vortex of permanent victimhood.
This seems neither productive for Jews nor illuminating for society as a whole. Although recognizing historical patterns is a proper pursuit, if we inflame rather than heal, sow fear rather than spread love, we weaponize the past rather than glean from its many lessons.
Jeffrey Wilkinson PhD, Acton, Ont.
Road to safety
Re Ten Simple Changes To Reduce Pedestrian Dangers (Jan. 1): How about putting an end to tinted windows? I feel vulnerable as a pedestrian crossing in front of a car – doubly so when I can’t make eye contact with the driver.
Lawrence Scanlan Kingston
Yes, speed bumps, turning off countdown clocks and more enforcement of traffic laws would all be useful, but the bottom line is that drivers need to see pedestrians in order to avoid them in the dark.
In some northern European countries where there is scant daylight in the winter, reflective clothing or accessories are mandatory. It is the law in Finland, for instance, that pedestrians make themselves visible and, as a result, they produce beautiful reflective fabrics and fun reflective tags for purses and knapsacks.
It can be the ultimate simple fix, as can weaning ourselves from our love of black winter coats.
Kaia Toop Toronto
I think the role of pedestrians in their self-preservation should be given more emphasis. How about defensive pedestrian courses to teach people protective strategies? Mindful pedestrians have a greater chance of escaping unscathed from reckless drivers who are wreaking such harm on them.
Here are some of my suggestions: Look around at all times for motorists; put away cellphones and take out those ear buds; wear a reflective vest or flashing lights at night; do not assume that traffic lights will be obeyed by drivers.
This scourge of pedestrian deaths should be addressed aggressively on all fronts.
Gilda Berger Toronto
I live just north of a highway off-ramp with a light, and I’m able to see at least one car go through a red at high speed every two or three stops in traffic. When I phoned the city to ask for a red-light camera to be placed, I was told there weren’t enough accidents to warrant one. I guess I’ll just have to wait.
Steven Brown Toronto
Could Toronto do a ‘Montreal’ and ban the scourge that is right turns on red lights? For while walking against the flow of traffic may be utter madness, it still fails to excuse manic drivers from rarely looking.
Jamey Heath Toronto
Re The Perils Of Ignoring Climate Change (Editorial, Jan. 6): The cruise-ship industry ought to send its liners to be available offshore and use its tender system to transport homeless Australians from shallow-water beaches to water-level access entries. Housing, feeding and providing needed medical attention to Australians would be something that the industry could provide and be a demonstration of its humanitarian values.
Rey Carr Victoria
Australia always has been my dream trip. I started planning eight months ago, hoping to squeeze in a three-week holiday over Christmas before my son is off to university in the fall. But after the declaration of the second state of emergency in New South Wales in mid-December, my husband and I decided to call off the trip. Yes, we could have altered our itinerary to avoid the fires and haze. However, shouldn’t tourists stay home instead of burdening an infrastructure already so fragile during this time of crisis?
I got my answer when, in Mallacoota, thousands of tourists were stranded on the beach after fleeing catastrophic fires. A sea and airborne evacuation had to be planned. The country is burning, yet thousands of tourists have still been entering the country for weeks on end.
I went with my instinct about cancelling our trip. We would have done a disservice by visiting under these horrendous circumstances. I still hope to see Australia under blue skies one day. Hang in there, mates.
Elisabeth Samson Toronto
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