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Modern cities carry an increasing burden of costs associated with creating healthy environments and caring for their citizenry. As such, looking only to trim fat seems myopic and out of step.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Odd priorities

Re The Other Sides Of The Mountain (July 29): It's remarkable how in the current debate about the U.S. debt ceiling, the extravagance of American military spending is seldom even mentioned. In its fiscal 2010 budget, the United States gave $685-billion to the Department of Defense - more than the total military spending of the next 20 countries combined. Does the U.S. need to maintain at least 94 air force bases at home and abroad? Does its navy alone require as much money as the combined amount that Russia, Germany and Japan spend on their entire defence budgets?

Of course not. But to raise such questions in Washington now might be considered un-American, while to eviscerate budgets in health and education is considered patriotic.

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Mark Abley, Montreal

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Pot and kettle

Re Fix The Mess, Banks Tell Congress (July 29): That is rich: the banks warning Congress that the consequences of its inaction would be "very grave" for American businesses and families. More grave than the global financial crisis caused by the banks?

Do they think we all have very short memories or are they in complete denial about their role in the debt? Perhaps the banks should deem the government "too big to fail" and bail out the U.S. Treasury.

Nancy Brookes, Toronto

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Give him space

Re Public Officials Owe The Public Full Disclosure (July 28): Your article raised perplexing questions of integrity and accountability.

In 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer while a candidate for municipal election. I shared the information publicly, tough and unpleasant as that was for me. I felt obligated to be open because I was asking the voters to give me a job as a city councillor. My situation seemed similar to a job applicant who already knew they'd need time off for medical treatment.

After being elected, it was both heart-warming and scary to have the public metaphorically watch over my treatment. At first it was all good, but when the first and then the second treatments didn't turn out well, it became more difficult to manage. And the kind and caring public expressed their concerns wherever I went - whether to the drugstore, buying groceries or in church.

For the third treatment I found the only way I could harness my energies was to maintain a cloak of secrecy. I absolutely needed just to look after me. Since then I've been blessed with good health.

I write this to request members of the media and the public to allow Jack Layton the space he needs at this time to give all his energy to nurturing himself.

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Madeleine King, Calgary

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Unfair labelling

You are baffled why groups supporting refugees would oppose posting mug shots of 30 men on a government website (Real Liberals Are Tough On War Criminals - 28 July). Firstly, several of these men are not war criminals - no one is even claiming that they are. They were found inadmissible under broad provisions that cover people with only distant connections to any crime. Labelling them war criminals is unfair. Secondly, privacy is a fundamental Canadian value, which we owe to all - yes, even non-citizens. Thirdly, if you really are tough on war crimes, you will support prosecution rather than deportation where necessary.

Janet Dench, Executive Director, Canadian Council for Refugees, Montreal

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Sanitizing sport

Re Kicking But No Screaming (July 28): Oh goody, another sanitized activity for today's youth. What's next, just leaving them at home to play virtual sports on their gaming devices so that in addition to not being "confused by shouting coming from all directions," they also needn't worry about becoming sweaty or tired?

Instead of the truly ridiculous "silent soccer," how about parents behave like the responsible adults they are supposed to be and refrain from coaching and yelling from the sidelines?

Victoria Brown, Toronto

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Mental health care

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Re Hospitals, Judges At Odds Over Mentally Ill (July 29): With respect, how are the mentally ill harmed by the judges' attempts to pressure the province to come up with more beds, as one well-meaning psychiatric professional claims in this article?

What other recourse do advocates for the seriously mental ill have in their legitimate insistence that the Ontario health-care system serve all sick citizens?. As it stands, there is no appropriate and timely care and treatment for these citizens whose symptoms of their no-fault brain disorders are not "pretty" and often disrupt our social order. Is it fair that governments do not offer them the natural empathy or health care that other chronic diseases receive?

June Conway Beeby, Kingston

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Interpretations

Re It's Time To Confront The 'Counterjihadists' (July 27): David Schanzer claims that al-Qaeda's violent ideology does not flow directly from holy books, but is rather a faulty interpretation of them. Not two paragraphs later, however, he say that, while counterjihadists aren't calling for violence as a means to further their goals, there is little doubt that their writings are directly responsible for the recent terrorism in Oslo.

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The truth of the matter is, bad ideas should be open to criticism, whatever they may be.Religion should be no exception. While bigoted and violent intolerance should be extinguished wherever it appears, fair criticism of ideas that are based on faulty logic or poor evidence - a sort of conversational intolerance - should not.

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto,

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City costs

Re Don't Cut A Thing, Presenters Tell Mayor (July 29): Modern cities carry an increasing burden of costs associated with creating healthy environments and caring for their citizenry. As such, looking only to trim fat seems myopic and out of step.

Instead, why not try to look for more sustainable funding streams. For example, large urban areas should get at larger portion of the gas tax. Or, why not add one per cent more to the HST that flows directly to city coffers? This would allow our urban areas to be more structurally autonomous instead of always having to go begging to the province and feds for a handout. Getting stuck in "gravy dialogues" is not going to get us anywhere substantive.

Rob Kleysen, Toronto

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Re Is The tide Turning Against Mayor Rob Ford? (July 28): Perhaps the people of Toronto do not understand Rob Ford's neo-con speak. Let me elucidate. "Lower taxes, no service cuts" means lower taxes on things I use, like my car, but user fees on services I don't; no service cuts on services I use, other services are gravy.

Similarly, "Toronto has a spending problem, not a revenue problem" means spending money on services I don't use without recovering their cost is a problem, taxes are high enough to pay for the services I approve of. So please no complaining that he's not doing what he said he would!

Mark Thornton, Toronto

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