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It's a wonderful article

Re: Christmas classic has surprising dark side, Dec. 20.

Belated thank-you for Alison Gillmor's essay on It's a Wonderful Life. Thoughtful, well-written articles such as hers are what make reading the daily newspaper an irreplaceable part of the daily routine.

I hope 2009 will see more writing of this type.



No rockets, no attacks

I read with amazement the world's reaction to Israel's right to defend itself. If the Palestinians and Hamas in particular would stop lobbing rockets into Israel, then Israel would not have to go after the perpetrators.

This is not a complicated situation. Any country attacked as Israel has been since 1948 has a right to defend itself.


Maple Ridge, B.C.

Keep housing out of Forks

Re: New project pitched for Forks, Dec. 31.

I simply cannot understand why The Forks is so determined to have housing on that precious piece of land. Twice before they have put forth plans for housing there and both times the public has said no.

Space is limited at The Forks. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will take up a sizable piece of land that is now a parking lot. It will become a landmark for this city and that site is most appropriate for such a building. If the previous plans for housing had become a reality, there would be no space left for this beautiful and significant building.

Why build condos and apartments at The Forks when downtown would benefit so much from having some housing built there? Would it not be sensible for The Forks North Portage Partnership to look at the 'North Portage' part of its name and aim its housing-building plans in that direction?



Forks steadily degrading

So much for Winnipeg's green space. The Forks area was originally advertised as being a large green area for the enjoyment of all Winnipeggers -- a place to gather and enjoy the place that is the joining of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Since then, it has steadily degraded into a huge retail area. Converting the buildings made sense, but now the green area has been filled with multiple small structures, a large parking structure, a hotel, a children's theatre complex, and very soon a large (and glitzy) museum.

The original parking area is now pushed back to a point where you almost need to take a bus to make it to The Forks buildings themselves, especially if you have small children. And now the idea has been raised to fill what space is left with housing, a hostel, another hotel or a fitness centre, or some other commercial developments.

And who will benefit from all this development? Certainly not the people of Winnipeg. A few well-heeled entrepreneurs, certainly, but not the people who like to take their kids down and let them run through the area. And who will be able to afford living in housing located there? Certainly not the average working family. Only the favoured few would be able to afford the price of any housing in that area.

We have all sorts of space available for that sort of thing in other areas. Why must our former "green space" be home for everything but the original dream? Green space, yes. Commercial development, no.



It's gravel, not green

To all of the naysayers opposed to the proposed project at The Forks, I would ask you one simple question: What is your real issue with this proposal? The most common and widely used argument against this development is that we should not ruin any more green space. Wake up! This is a gravel parking lot. There is nothing green about it. It is not a green space itself, and further, it encourages single-vehicle transportation to the downtown, thus adding to greenhouse gas pollution.

The second most common argument is that The Forks is too crowded. Stop taking your car everywhere you go and you will see that crowding is not that big of an issue.



Prevent negative pressure

Re: Negative pressure in home could be a positive thing, Dec. 28.

Ari Marantz's article on negative pressure was very important. Each winter there are people who die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The answer may be very simple, as Marantz points out. Perhaps they have added a fireplace to their house or a range with a high-speed exhaust fan or electric drier or gas-fired stove or hot water heater. Any of these could result in negative pressure. Yet there is no building code that keeps people informed or keeps builders from installing equipment that could change the intake and exhaust balance in their house.

It would seem simple to pass a law requiring negative pressure hazards from killing people.



No free-market paradise

Re: Business failures needed, Jan. 2.

In his recent letter on the recession, Francis Trueman tars liberalism, Roosevelt and Barack Obama with the same brush, provides a succinct summary of Fox News talking points, none of them accurate.

FDR did not prolong the Depression. The one year the U.S. slipped back into recession was when Roosevelt conceded to conservatives and cut back on spending. Conrad Black (no statist he) points out that employment was rising before the U.S. joined the fight.

Neither was the subprime crisis a product of the Clinton years. It is a phenomenon driven almost entirely by low interest rates post-9/11. American T-bills were providing next to no return for global investors and Wall Street brokers packaged mortgages as low-risk investments. They weren't, but short-term returns helped fuel a massive bubble in the U.S. housing market that is still bursting.

The market is not a logical or rational instrument. It operates based on greed and fear, and when bubbles burst, good companies (and their employees) are dragged down with the bad. The social consequences of millions of unemployed can be dire.

The ability of the Obama administration to deal with the current crisis has been seriously compromised by Republicans, who from 2000 to 2006 controlled the Congress, Senate and White House, and combined massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans without controlling spending. The result has not been a free-market paradise.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 6, 2009 A6

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