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Sept. 18: Behind on Ebola – and more letters to the editor

More than one step

I agree that the world has been getting mixed messages about the gravity of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (One Step Behind – editorial, Sept. 17). The World Health Organization's response to this outbreak has been terribly disappointing since its onset.

You're right; there is nothing worse than being one step behind when it comes to infectious diseases. Médecins sans frontières warned the WHO and the rest of the world that the Ebola outbreak was out of control in June. Why hasn't WHO listened to the doctors on the ground?

Many of us in health care predicted this mess from Day 1 of the WHO announcement. Sadly, I think we are more than one step behind in our attempts to control Ebola.

Carolyn Acker, C.M., R.N., Toronto


Vitriol for Scots

While being a supporter of the No side in the Scottish referendum, I can't help feeling that Margaret MacMillan hasn't helped the cause (You Vote: Should Scotland Go Its Own Way? – online, Sept. 16).

She takes the No campaign to task for being "largely negative, rather than assuring Scots they are wanted and valued." But she proceeds to list a bunch of negative repercussions of a Yes vote: Negotiations will be difficult, the English will be angry, the EU may not play along, little leverage in Brussels, internal independence movements and so on.

Apart from a history lesson on great Scots, where are Prof. MacMillan's own positives for Scotland staying in the Union?

Tony Burt, Vancouver


As a piper, I am deeply offended by the comments about bagpipes and kilts from reader John Harold (P[l]ay The Piper – letters, Sept. 17). Can you imagine the outcry if such vitriol was directed at any other ethnic group?

After practising in dark halls all winter, we forgo our summer long weekend to play in Canada Day parades wrapped in nine yards of wool. We share the grief with mourners at funerals. And in countless communities, we parade on Remembrance Day with our bare … uh … legs exposed to the bitter cold. We also risk the documented medical and social problems associated with piping, such as deafness, alcoholism and marital breakdown.

And what kind of surname is Harold? English! And people wonder why Scotland may separate.

Gordon Young, Pictou, N.S.


The Harper election

Jeffrey Simpson is right. The next federal election will be about Stephen Harper (The Harper Election – Sept. 17). But it won't just be about his leadership style – it will be about the changes he has wrought in our country and the collateral damage they have caused.

The Conservatives have led us to a low-wage, fossil-fuel obsessed economy where whole regions have seen little economic opportunity, while Alberta and Saskatchewan in particular have prospered. The middle class is greatly diminished, young people are unemployed and under-employed at persistently high levels, and seniors can't afford to live on the current CPP.

There are always winners and losers in an economic system. But the Conservatives have rigged the system so that only a select few even have the opportunity to succeed. We will remember that in 2015.

Natalia Nykiforuk, Battleford, Sask.


Mr. Simpson's column about Mr. Harper leads me to wonder how the Prime Minister wouldn't have known about Senator Mike Duffy's reimbursement (Harper May Be Called To Testify In Trial – Sept. 17).

On the other hand, with such a heavy work schedule, I guess he couldn't know everything. He's only human – or is he?

Hanns Skoutajan, Ottawa


Re Regardless

Re Regardless Of Gender (letters – Sept. 17):

While it is true that the victims of domestic abuse can be of any gender, women continue to be significantly more likely to be victimized. There is also broad consensus among researchers that they are more likely to suffer severe forms of abuse, including physical injury. Discussing this issue from a balanced point of view requires that we recognize that the majority of perpetrators, for a variety of reasons, are still men.

Harry Chiu, Burnaby, B.C.


So much meat

WestJet claims that passengers who don't have checked baggage should not have to subsidize those who do (Bag-Fee Doublespeak – letters, Sept. 17). However, if you check a bag you have to pay for it, whereas if you jam it into the overhead bins, it's free (even if overweight).

That's not all. Recently, my wife and I sat on either side of a large (not obese) person in the middle seat. He spilled over the arm rest and occupied at least 15 per cent of each of our seats, for which we had paid 100 per cent of the fare. My wife almost certainly weighed less than half of what he did; my two granddaughters weigh even less and paid full fare as well.

Is WestJet going to correct those subsidies as well? The company's statements are pure hypocrisy. If they're going to treat passengers like so much meat, then charge by the kilogram for passengers plus their baggage.

Tony Fricke, Calgary


All of this will just lead to even more cabin overcrowding. The airlines would be better advised to enforce the carry-on rules they already have in place: one small bag and one personal item.

Bob Graham, Napanee, Ont.


It starts at home

Twenty-plus years ago I would have been one of Hieu Ngo's interview subjects (Young Gang Members: Their Numbers Are Increasing, But Why? – Sept. 16). The gangs described in the report are reminiscent of the groups I associated with as a teen.

Although each person who has has stumbled in life as a teenager (or an adult) has a complex story, the one overriding factor that is almost universally common is the absence of human capital at home. Many of the social constructs that middle-class families take for granted – e.g. parents reading to children, discussion of life or politics at the dinner table – are largely absent from immigrant families, especially those from less developed countries.

If we want to build a better society, it all starts at home.

Kai Chan, Dubai


A real spin-o-rama

The head coach of the Washington Capitals, discussing how he would like to see Alex Ovechkin improve his defensive play, says: "I don't need a 360-degree turn" (Trotz Not Looking To Reverse Ovie's Game – Sports, Sept. 16).

I don't think he does either, but I do think the coach needs to learn some math.

Michael Kennedy, North Vancouver

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