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A wrecked bus is seen on a damaged street filled with debris in the old city of Aleppo on June 19, 2013. (MUZAFFAR SALMAN/REUTERS)
A wrecked bus is seen on a damaged street filled with debris in the old city of Aleppo on June 19, 2013. (MUZAFFAR SALMAN/REUTERS)


June 20: Ending Syria’s conflict, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Gone to graveyards

Re Five Reasons To Stay Out Of Syria (June 19): Proponents of quickie “solutions,” such as no-fly zones, arms shipments and military intervention, to unseat President Bashar al-Assad reveal a monumental lack of understanding of the complex broader historical, cultural and regional issues that fuel this conflict.

If the logic of Derek Burney and Fen Osler Hampson are unconvincing to the likes of U.S. Senator John McCain, perhaps a rereading (or singing) of the lyrics of Where Have All the Flowers Gone might evoke some deeper reflection in those who support military solutions to complex issues.

Jon Swanson, North Saanich, B.C.


The no-fly zone imposed by the UN over Libya morphed into bombing raids, called for by opposition forces on the ground, on Moammar Gadhafi’s strategic installations. This went far beyond what was initially intended. It is no surprise that China and Russia will not sign on to a no-fly zone over Syria. Once bitten, twice shy.

Ed Bodi, Oakville, Ont.


10 political commandments

Re Trudeau Seeks High Ground With Ethics Policy (June 18): Lawrence Martin’s catalogue of the Liberals’ proposed reforms suggests the time may be ripe for politicians to endorse principles of transparency and accountability by subscribing to 10 political commandments:

1. Reply substantively in Question Period;

2. Respond to access to information requests promptly; interpret redaction restrictions narrowly, not broadly;

3. Have government advertising vetted, by an independent group, for relevance and value to voters. Contracts should specify that the advertising is to be suspended during an election period with only time-sensitive matter permitted;

4. Abolish self-serving householder mailings;

5. Publish immediately upon receipt all publicly funded opinion polls and reports on focus groups;

6. Post expense claims and costs covered by others. Report all outside earnings;

7. Post a list of all communications with anyone outside government of a political or business nature;

8. Post names of individuals or affiliated groups making contributions to a party and its members totalling more than $1,000 a year;

9. Make the Parliamentary Budget Officer an Officer of Parliament;

10. Mandate Officers of Parliament to investigate suspected cases of inappropriate activity with power to issue subpoenas.

Michael G. Kelly, Ottawa


Vintage vs. antique

Re Have We Hit Peak Antique? (Life, June 13): Buying quality antiques has never been easy; there has always been competition from other dealers and knowledgeable collectors.

“Nostalgia,” “vintage” and “industrial” are a recent phenomenon in the collecting world. Twenty years ago, such things sold for little compared to today’s market. Many traditional antiques made by skilled crafts people in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century – with the exception of the very best – can be purchased today for 30 to 40 per cent of their market value 20 years ago. There is supply, but little demand: Steel, chrome and glass predominate in decorator magazines and Homes sections.

Many auctioneers rely on dealers for their offerings. You quote an auctioneer and dealer who says he sells items for five times what he paid. I envy him. Many antique dealers do quite well with 15- to 20-per-cent net-profit margins. Some have been successful selling for much less.

John McInnis, antiques dealer, Cobourg, Ont.


Mess in T.O.? Not so

Jeffrey Simpson judges Toronto’s municipal government “a mess” (In Search Of ‘Good Government’ – June 19). Toronto’s mayor certainly makes the news, but the government of the city is hardly a mess. Three times in the past decade, external analyses of the city’s finance and administration have come to the conclusion it is well managed by a capable public service.

On the political side, council has worked together to rescue its threatened transit and waterfront development plans, and keep the city operating effectively. Mr. Simpson should look elsewhere for his mess.

Alan Broadbent, Toronto


Crime on skates

Re Crime In Hockey (editorial, June 19): There is no greater hypocrisy in Canada today than the tolerance of criminal acts during hockey games. It makes the dubious activities of certain big city mayors, and of senators who aren’t sure where they live, seem trivial in comparison.

I’m a fan of good hockey. Good hockey is an art form of grace and beauty, executed by skilled athletes. Assault is a criminal act, anywhere, any time.

When is some police chief going to finally stand up and say: “What’s a crime on the streets of our community isn’t any less of a crime just because you’re wearing skates.”

Ian McKercher, Ottawa



Re Mmm … Brains (Life, June 19): Sheep and goats are prone to scrapie, closely related to BSE, otherwise known as mad cow disease. BSE is thought to be related to a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is fatal in humans.

Health inspectors are wary of brain meats; anyone serving this dish at a “zombie party,” inspired by the Hollywood fad, may be contributing to the “craze” in more ways than expected.

George L. LaRue, Ivy Lea, Ont.


I’m sure some readers immediately thought “eew, mad cow disease” and they’re not uncool to think so. But if the brains come from a trusted source, and are properly prepared, they are delicious. I first ate what became my favourite version, creier pane (breaded brains, usually served in ball-shaped portions) in Romania years ago. I subsequently astonished wait staff and cooks around that country by ordering it; a non-Romanian eating creier pane was unheard of!

George Tillman, Ottawa


Jacob Richler, in his article about brain cuisine, perpetuates a common misconception about zombies. He maintains that zombies, both in the George Romero films as well as television’s The Walking Dead, desire “brains – any brains.” This is categorically untrue.

The brain myth originated with the 1985 film The Return of the Living Dead in which the zombies not only ate brains, but retained enough sentience to groan “Braaaiiiinnnns!” This film is more a spoof of zombie culture and, while entertaining, it can’t be considered an accurate portrayal of proper zombie behaviour.

Practically speaking, no one, undead or otherwise, can bite through cranial bone. The generally poor dentition of zombies, as well as the fact that they don’t use skull-cracking tools, make brain eating preposterously unlikely. While it’s certainly true that zombies do crave the flesh of the living, brains have never been on their specific menu.

David Brooks, Toronto

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