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Cold War, Part 2

Re As Putin Celebrates, His Crimea Annexation Turns Bloody (March 19): The Cold War did not stop. It was only on holiday.

Tony ten Kortenaar, Toronto

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For the West to proclaim that it has undertaken costly sanctions against Russia is ludicrous: All we've done is stop a very few Russians from travelling. We don't need military action, but we must do much more, otherwise Russia's Vladimir Putin will take our inaction as justification to go after more of Ukraine's territory.

History has taught us that bullies will continue to press for more until you stand up to them.

James W. Suttie, North Vancouver

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Anyone trained in the martial arts will acknowledge Vladimir Putin as a formidable combatant who recognizes his foes' weaknesses and exploits them with decisive action (Set To Visit Ukraine, Harper Rediscovers His Cold War Warrior Heart – March 18). Mr. Putin has his own flaws, of course, the most obvious being a penchant for posturing.

Oddly enough, the Conservative spin minions seem to consider posturing a positive quality – in Stephen Harper's case, as he prepares to strut into the Ukrainian ring, steely resolve focused laser-like on the polls back home.

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Glen Taylor, Calgary

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In keeping with his newly discovered enthusiasm for democracy by demography, is Vladimir Putin now prepared to hold an "independence" referendum in Chechnya, where the population is 95 per cent ethnic Chechen?

Mark Kennedy, Toronto

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Mr. Flaherty's legacy

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Departing is a strong Finance Minister (The Flaherty Era Ends – March 19). Arriving is a compliant "party man" whose record in his previous Natural Resources portfolio only shows he can mouth the PM's "talking points" on demand.

David MacLellan, Woodview, Ont.

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Jim Flaherty's early budget decisions were very much driven by a neo-conservative ideology, which stated that by cutting revenues, a government could be forced to reduce the size of government. The double reduction in the GST, much against the advice of most economists, resulted in a flow of red ink. Corporate tax cuts didn't produce the anticipated increase in corporate spending and caused more bleeding.

Much of Mr. Flaherty's supposedly heroic struggle with the deficit was thus caused by self-inflicted wounds – hardly a cause for admiration.

The fact that Canada's economy performed better during the financial crisis than many other countries' was mainly due to strict banking regulations brought in by the preceding Liberal governments.

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Mr. Flaherty's record is mixed at best. Add his unwavering loyalty to Toronto's mayor and there is little cause for celebrating his era.

Walter Schwager, Toronto

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PQ career planning?

Inspired by PKP, imagine a political bucket list (PQ's Prize Is Now A Liability – March 19). Something like this one: After becoming chairman of my dad's company and making millions, marry a TV star. Then, after showing the unions who's boss, become premier of a province.

Next – my dream – president of my own country. I'd have fun reviewing my troops, speaking at the UN, joining NATO, having my face on our new currency, having my logo on our new passports and (best of all) comparing notes with Silvio on how to run a media empire while simultaneously ruining a country.

Who'd stop me? The voters?

Nah, they'd probably all be asleep.

Evita Finzi, Montreal

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Mideast flames

Re Abbas Contests 'Jewish State' (March 18): Palestinian recognition of Israel being declared a "Jewish state" is not just a request made by Benjamin Netanyahu, but also by Barack Obama, who described Israel as a "Jewish state" during his January State of the Union address.

Mr. Obama spoke then of "an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the state of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side."

Israel's (and America's) insistence on its Jewish-identity recognition is key to reaching a comprehensive agreement.

As is commonly understood, this conflict is more existential than it is territorial. As long as the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel's legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people and claim the "right of return," a demographic ticking bomb that would flood Israel with millions of descendants of refugees from the 1948 Arab war against the birth of the state of Israel, this conflict will continue to be protracted.

Mike Fegelman, executive director, HonestReporting Canada

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The photograph with this article shows a Palestinian youth leaping flames to an amazing height, contorted, hurling a rock at an unseen foe. Had this boy been lucky enough to be born your son or mine, I would see him tearing around the schoolyard with classmates, dodging friends instead of soldiers, not drowning in that intractable environment where peace seems so implausible.

We are so blessed to live in a peaceful country, free – mostly – of the poverty and hate that seem to trap so many.

I will hold my children a little closer tonight and think of the boy in the picture.

David Hughes, Toronto

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Natural-gas pain

Re Creativity Needed To Dim Soaring Energy Costs (March 19): It is true that higher natural gas consumption has resulted in much higher natural gas prices. This affects electricity costs when we generate using gas. However, high gas prices drive electricity prices up in the U.S. as well as Ontario. Ontario produced 11 per cent of its power from natural gas last year; the U.S. produced some 24 per cent from natural gas.

Where does the competitive disadvantage of higher gas prices seem most likely to occur?

Glen Estill, Lion's Head, Ont.

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Not impressed

Re What To Do If You're Caught Texting Behind The Wheel (online, March 17): I look forward to future instalments in this series, like "What to do if you're caught drinking and driving."

What happened to responsible journalism?

Peter Gorman, Toronto

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Hats off, Mr. Gable

Brian Gable's cartoons are spot on with the day's news and laugh-out-loud funny.

Wednesday's – with the maple syrup truck doing a U-turn at the Russian border – was no exception (Trade Sanctions …They're Playing Hardball).

I understand he has been nominated for a national newspaper award 14 times and has won six times. Is that all? Who can compare? He is one of Canada's jewels, and should be next in line for the Order of Canada.

Meg Cowan, Crystal Beach, Ont.

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