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A Chinese flag flutters near the Olympic rings on the Olympic Tower in Beijing on Nov. 11.CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS/Reuters

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Pandemic prose

Re U.K. Maintains Hands-off Approach As Europe Cracks Down On Rising Cases (Nov. 23): The poetic genius of German Health Minister Jens Spahn may have gone unappreciated. His remarks are repeated here in a slightly different format:

Probably by the end of this winter,

As is sometimes cynically said,

Pretty much everyone in Germany

Will be vaccinated, cured or dead.

Mike Patterson Hamilton

On the other hand

Re Rittenhouse’s Acquittal Exposes An Illness In The U.S., But Not One With Its Courts (Nov. 23): How would we prove that Kyle Rittenhouse did not fear for his life? I can’t help wondering, if things had played out a little differently that night, whether the same court results would still have followed.

Mr. Rittenhouse shot Gaige Grosskreutz because the paramedic pointed a handgun at him. Given that Mr. Grosskreutz would have had good reason to fear for his life as well, what if he had shot Mr. Rittenhouse instead? Would he also have been acquitted?

The deadly consequences of this logic seem clear.

Sascha Maicher Ottawa

Olympic optics

Re Sudden Reappearance Of Tennis Star Peng Raises Questions About How Crisis Was Handled (Nov. 22): The main point in all this should be that an alleged sexual assault by China’s former vice-premier may be swept under the rug. If true, this raises disturbing questions given China’s penchant for “disappearing” people.

Do Chinese leaders “disappear” anyone who raises a public objection, or is this a one-off? Without brave people like Peng Shuai, we may never know.

Hal Finlayson Guelph, Ont.

It is laughable to me that International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach believes the world will buy any concerns he has for Peng Shuai’s welfare as somehow superseding his economic interest in keeping China happy.

The Olympic Games in Tokyo demonstrated to me that the IOC is only about money – sports and human rights seem way down the list.

Neville Taylor Toronto

Indian interests

Re Modi’s Reversal On Farm Laws Is A Cynical Electoral Strategy (Nov. 23): I think Narendra Modi deserves some credit for accepting his mistake on farm laws and promising to repeal them. However, many in India see a hidden agenda in any decision the Modi government makes, and they have reasons to believe this.

Based on past policies, farmers and labour unions believe that the Prime Minister is working only for his friends and not for the common good of people. He is also focused on spreading hindutva ideology (or “Hinduness”), which alienates moderates and minorities.

There is also a deep-seated belief among many in the educated population that India is no longer a democracy – only an electoral autocracy.

Avtar Dhanota Toronto

Yada yada yada

Re Parliament Is Back. And It’s About Time (Editorial, Nov. 22): I used to chair Question Period for the Ontario NDP caucus at Queen’s Park from 1987 to 1990. The Globe and Mail’s editorial about what Erin O’Toole would ask Justin Trudeau had me laughing. So when is “the precise timing of the moment Mr. Trudeau will finally come clean to Canadians and admit his government is a total failure?”

Perhaps we were having a slow morning. Richard Johnston, then-MPP for Scarborough West, offered this: “When will the minister resign and why not?”

David Reville Former MPP, Riverdale; Toronto

Common usage

Re Deal Would Help Rogers, Shaw Compete Globally, Telecoms Say (Report on Business, Nov. 23): Are there still people who take the word “compete” seriously when used by a corporation seeking to become an ever-larger monopoly? Surely most readers know that “compete,” in this sense, would mean that consumers and employees are gouged while the corporation reaps ever-greater profit.

Irene Tomaszewski Ottawa

(Don’t) cut it out

Re In The Next Crisis, Could GST Provide Best Stimulus Option? (Report on Business, Nov. 22): Cutting the goods and services tax may not provide the broad stimulus anticipated during an economic downturn.

Low-income earners, whose hard-earned dollars go toward a high percentage of zero-rated (basic groceries) and exempt goods (rent) and services (mortgage, insurance), wouldn’t benefit from tax cuts on non-taxable spending. There would be little impact to most businesses; they virtually get a full refund of GST paid and would have no enticement to spend. And with every rate change, businesses registered to collect GST need to update their point-of-sale systems, so there is an extra expense to be incurred.

Those with the luxury of discretionary spending would also have little additional incentive if the rate was cut, despite being the group that would see the most benefit. They are not necessarily where such stimulus is best directed.

Shawn Garrett CPA, CA; Mississauga

Don’t even think about it. I wager most people don’t notice the goods and services tax portion of receipts. If they do, the amount doesn’t deter them from buying. To expect a GST cut to stimulate the economy seems wishful thinking.

Reducing the GST would also reduce government revenues, just when the government would be in great need of income to help Canadians through a rough patch. A “temporary” cut to the GST would likely become permanent, so hard is it to push up tax rates.

Don’t cut the GST, but rather raise it to generate needed cash for government.

Judy Lindsay Vancouver

Come to life

Re The First Issue Of Life Magazine Is Published (Moment in Time, Nov. 23): As a child growing up in New York, I would look at these wonderful “picture books” before I could even read.

Life magazine was one of my father’s legal clients, so we had every issue in bound volumes in our library. I would sit with an enormous book on my lap, carefully turning the pages to find new discoveries.

Needless to say, I had no idea of the significance of the “stories” the pictures told, but I was entranced by these vivid glimpses into people’s lives all around the globe. As I grew older, I would dig back to the 1940s and 1950s and learn about wars, celebrities, science and more – all illustrated in living colour.

It was a magical education and one that has sustained my love of history.

Ann Medina Toronto

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