August 4 2003


August 4 2003


‘We are being hypocritical by saying we accept immigrants, but then not giving them a chance to succeed for themselves’-ALusoN howie,souths¡mcoe,ont.

Letters to the Editor:

Stories of heroism

Veterans of the Korean War are generally pleased to read any story such as “Pierre Berton’s Korea” (Cover July 21) that recognizes the role Canadians played in the conflict. I can attest to the chaotic recruitment process Berton mentions, as I was the officer who did most of the nasty job of weeding out the misfits recruited and posted to CFB Petawawa, near Pembroke, Ont. At the same time, Berton’s article is incomplete, mainly because his assignment to Korea was quite brief, and he writes primarily about the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. The Patricias certainly distinguished themselves, but other units also made significant contributions. For example, my own unit, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, played a major role in halting what may well have been a renewed Chinese thrust into South Korea on Guy Fawkes Day, in late 1951. While an American Army regiment lost over 500 men in that engagement as well as the feature they were supposed to hold, a single platoon of the RCR under Lieut. Ed Mastronardi from Toronto held its ground with only a handful of casualties. (Ed was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts that night.) There are countless other stories of Canadian heroism in Korea. Perhaps one day they will be written.

Hugh S. Hardy, Guelph, Ont.

I served in Korea with the American Army of Occupation (1946-1947), and later with the Canadian Army as an infantry platoon commanderwithThe Royal 22e Regimént(l9511952). Having been there, I challenge Pierre Berton’s reference to the U.S. troops who had been forced back into the Pusan Perimeter as the “ragtag American force of cooks and bottle washers.” The men, such as those of the U.S. Army’s 31 Infantry Regiment (with which I had served earlier) and a regiment that had survived the Baatan Death March in the Philippines at the end of the Second World War, could not be called ragtag. Naturally, as part of an occupation force that had been sent to Korea to oversee the peaceful return of that country to freedom

following years of brutal Japanese occupation, the regiment was not prepared, much like our peacekeepers would be today, to meet the surprise onslaught of the North Korean forces fully armed for war by the Soviets.

Col. W. B. MacLeod (Retired), Kingston, Ont.

As a history teacher, I try to educate my students on Canada’s role in the World Wars as well as in Korea and UN peacekeeping duties. Many of my students at first have no clue as to Canada’s once-feared military prowess, and far too many Canadians in general are unaware of Canada’s role in the Korean War and the 309 men who lost their lives. I will be attending the memorial services at the Korean Memorial in Brampton, Ont., honouring Canada’s contribution to that conflict. Korea doesn’t get the media coverage of Vimy Ridge or Juno Beach, but it is definitely worth remembering.

Andrew Frise, Orangeville, Ont.

Thank you Maclean’s and Pierre Berton for your cover package on Korea. All wars are horrible and so was the Korean War. Let’s take note (prime ministers and presidents included) of Berton’s statement, “Korea should have taught us that wars are no longer winnable.”

Stan Penner, Landmark, Man.

Professional protectionism

Congratulations to Mary Janigan for highlighting the wisdom of providing prospective immigrants to Canada with complete information about the practice of their profession here, including assessing their qualifications for professional licensing before they make a life-changing decision to emigrate (“A scandalous waste” July 21). This is the approach Professional Engineers Ontario, the licensing and regulating body for engineering in the province, first put into practice in April 2001. Ontario has in recent years almost doubled the number of P.Eng. licences granted to internationally trained applicants, more than 60 per cent of whom meet the academic requirements for licensure without having to write any technical exams.

Kim Allen, CEO/Registrar, Professional Engineers Ontario, Toronto

Should we have different educational requirements for people vying for the same job, based solely on point of origin? Should we accept a person’s claim of “equivalent experience” without formalized testing by the professional bodies that regulate the applicable trade or profession? Will we also allow Canadians with lesser qualifications to claim “equivalent experience” in lieu of education? How can applying minimum academic standards to all potential applicants be possibly viewed as a “scandalous waste”?

Rick Petryshen, Kamloops, B.C.

Pools on the West Bank

Although Anna Porter (“Words, guns and anguish,” Middle East, July 21) eloquently describes the sad predicament of both parties in the Holy Land, she fails to recognize the systemic and intolerable racism directed against Arabs. For example: some native-born Palestinian farmers in the West Bank cannot feed their families because Israel forbids them from drilling wells, while newly arrived Jewish settlers from Brooklyn and Toronto splash about in their swimming pools as no such restrictions apply to them. Peace is impossible until such obscene injustice ends.

John Dirlik, Montreal

Anna Porter spent a week in Israel and the West Bank. I just came back from three weeks in the tiny village ofYanoun, near Nablus in

the West Bank. Last October, the messianic Jewish zealots of the Itamar settlement finally forced the Palestinian families to leave their homes and move in with relatives in neighbouring villages. Two days later, Israeli peace activists, augmented by international activists, came to Yanoun and convinced the families to move back. Picture Israelis helping Palestinian families pack up and transport their belongings back to the village of their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers. This is what happened, and then the International Women’s Peace Service promised the villagers that there would be volunteers there to help ward off the settlers. This is why I was there. It is too bad that Porter could not have spent a few days in Yanoun, meeting some of the most peaceful and hospitable people in the world. Instead, she went to a Jewish settlement. Even though these colonies make up 10 per cent of the population, they control 45 per cent of the land of the West Bank, 80 per cent of the water resources and all of the first-class roads, which Palestinians are not allowed to use. Until they have been dismantled, there can be no just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Louis Schmittroth, Athabasca, Alta.

Word play

You wrote that the Supreme Court agreed that Ottawa could keep the “principle” on money held in trust for mentally disabled veterans (The Week, July 28). If the “principle” stayed with the treasury, it would be somewhat of a milestone. By retaining the interest on the principal owed to the veterans, the treasury board has shown that it has no principles. Ralph Ritcey, Kamloops, B.C.

Josef Penninger

The article “A research mystery: Why has controversy dogged one of the world’s hottest scientists?” (June 16,2003) fails to point out that much of the scientific work ofjosef Penninger and his laboratory in heart disease has been reproduced. The Penninger laboratory has identified multiple peptides that can induce heart inflammation. In my own laboratory, we have used these peptides successfully for our work and I know of at least two laboratories that have used these peptides successfully, too. As a matter of fact, one of the heart disease-inducing peptides identified in the Penninger laboratory, M7A alpha (a component of cardiac myosin), is considered the absolute standard in the field, hav-

ing thus been included in immunology manuals (Current Protocols in Immunology) as a new model for experimental autoimmune disease, and multiple peer reviewed papers using this peptide have been published confirming the work of Josef Penninger. One astonishing part of your article is the claim that the Penninger lab “found the first biological proof that chlamydia could cause heart disease,” and another scientist could not duplicate Penninger’s work. Many other laboratories have established that chlamydia infections cause heart inflammation cardiovascular disease. What the Penninger laboratory published is the identification of a specific peptide motif which is present in some chlamydia proteins and that such peptides can induce heart inflammation. As a researcher involved in the study of heart inflammation, I am deeply insulted that Maclean’s published an article that casts a shadow over the scientific work of Josef Penninger. He has always been an extremely good colleague and has always shared his reagents, including his heart peptides, with other investigators so they can study the same disease. All data published in peerreviewed journals on heart peptides in fact confirm and substantiate his work.

Dr. Urs Eriksson, Basel University Hospital, Switzerland

I have known Josef Penninger for almost 10 years and have continuously interacted with him scientifically over that period. He is among the most imaginative and effective scientists I have been associated with. As a

consequence of his outstanding publication record, he has attracted a lot of attention from the scientific and lay press. Some of his peers consider his accomplishments too good to be true. There may be many reasons for this, including professional jealousy. Whatever, Penninger’s science is not the issue. He has never backed away from controversial ideas. This has clearly caused some friction among some scientists. Such disagreements are a natural part of the discovery process. Penninger’s work has an enviable record of validation and sets standards for others. He has opened dialogues with competing scientists, is very generous in sharing information and provides his reagents to many scientists upon request. The Austrian Academy of Sciences has achieved what dozens of others had tried and failed to do—lure him away. I am very sorry to see him leave Toronto. He has had to endure questions and smears while remaining silent, unable to defend himself in the gossip trails. Despite all of what he has been through, Penninger has always put his laboratory staff first. His accomplishments speak for themselves, and I know that the best is yet to come.

Dr. Jim Woodgett, Toronto

Unpublished data from our laboratory has been cited in your article in a simplified manner that may give the reader the impression that Josef Penninger has produced data in a fraudulent way. We would like to make it clear that we have no indication that Penninger or his collaborators have manipulated, fabricated or falsified data. It is a fact,

that PI3K gamma null mice developed tumours in the Penninger lab in the past. Penninger has sent us two PI3K gamma null mice with tumours, which were thoroughly analyzed in our lab. Two further males received in the same shipment were used to start a mouse colony with the Penninger knockout allele. When this colony was analyzed (unpublished, preliminary data), we found that the frequency of tumours was drastically reduced compared to the numbers given in Penninger’s original Nature publication. While this indicated that PI3K gamma is not a tumour suppressor per se, it does not contradict the fact that Penninger has really seen the tumours in his lab. One explanation (others are possible) for the discrepancy is that the embryonic stem cells Penninger has used to create his mice had an unfortunate mutation leading to tumour development, and that this mutation was then genetically segregated from the PI3K gamma null allele when we crossed Penninger’s male mice with females from another source. By sending us his mice, Penninger has shown that he is ready to accept a scientific challenge of his interpretations. I hope that the discussion of the above controversy will get back to a factbased, scientific level. Together with Penninger and other labs we are currently evaluating all available data on PI3K gamma and colon tumours with the aim to publish a coherent analysis of the role of PI3K gamma in colon cancer.

Matthias P. Wymann, Fribourg, Switzerland

This article quotes statements suggesting that the inquiry into allegations concerning the integrity of the research of the Penninger lab was “amateurish,” “scandalous” and a “cover-up.” It should be noted that the inquiry was convened under the joint auspices of the University Health Network, which oversees more than $100 million of research per annum, and Amgen, a giant research-intensive biotechnology firm that had helped to sponsor Josef Penninger’s lab. The inquiry included five distinguished scientists, two of whom were respected, senior and impartial academics based in Toronto. The unanimous conclusion of the inquiry committee was that scientific rigour and good laboratory practices were evident in the research of the Penninger lab and that allegations to the contrary were unfounded.

Peter Lewis, Vice-Dean, Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto