26 July 2013 French books
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Captain Povey’s sister inlaw has come to stay and she is even worse then Mrs Povey. So Pertwee gets an old flame of Mrs P to make Henry look good, Priceless
Warmer today, collect some French books from freecycle
We watch Gay Divorce Fred Astaire
Scrabble today Mary wins and she gets under 400 perhaps I will get my revenge tomorrow?
Sir Bernard Schreier
Sir Bernard Schreier, who has died aged 95, left his native Austria for Palestine to avoid the Nazi threat before coming to England to become an industrial entrepreneur and hotelier.
Sir Bernard Schreier
7:24PM BST 25 Jul 2013
Having made his early career as a road-building engineer, Schreier established a thriving British business in buying, overhauling and reselling second-hand heavy equipment, notably earthmovers made by the American firm Caterpillar.
In 1977 he acquired another business specialising in opencast mining, which became the largest contractor in that field for British Coal. He often found himself in a position to take over failed competitors who had bid too low against him on contract work, and gradually built a substantial industrial conglomerate, CP Holdings, based at Watford.
After the collapse of communism in central Europe, Schreier took the opportunity to acquire the Caterpillar dealership for Hungary. He became a passionate enthusiast for the country — whose current prime minister, Viktor Orban, called him “a true friend of the Hungarian people” — and went on in 1995 to purchase a stake in the Danubius group of hotels, of which he eventually owned 83 per cent. Over the following decade he expanded the Danubius brand across the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, and finally brought it to London.
The son of a textile trader, Bernhard (later Bernard) Dov Schreier was born on March 28 1918 at the farming village of Goesting, now a suburb of the Austrian city of Graz. In the economic turmoil of the 1920s his father’s business collapsed and the bailiffs came to call — a memory which shaped Schreier’s cautious approach to financial risk in later life.
After the Anschluss, the family set about finding escape routes. Bernhard’s two older sisters secured permits to work as domestics in Britain; Bernhard and his younger sister were transported to Palestine in 1939 by the Youth Aliyah organisation, and were later joined by their parents. Before their arrival Bernhard lodged with another Austrian-Jewish family, the Geckts — and in 1943 he married the family’s middle daughter, Lilly.
During the Second World War he served as a volunteer in the British Army, and on the formation of the Israeli Defence Forces in 1948 he became a founding captain in the Engineering Corps and fought in the first Arab-Israeli War. He remained an army reservist while building a civilian career as a mechanical engineer in road construction, and in due course starting his own contracting business, which built Israel’s first dam.
Ahead of the Suez crisis in 1956 he was recalled to military service — and when his tour of duty was completed he decided to take up an offer to join an engineering firm in England. The family settled in London, and four years later he established the business that became CP Holdings.
He maintained his interest in Israel through hotel investments, a controlling shareholding in the official Caterpillar dealership there, and a stake in Bank Leumi’s British subsidiary, of which he was deputy chairman until 2011. He also acquired control of the African trading arm of the Israeli conglomerate Koors Industries, and built a new business distributing agricultural and other equipment across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Bernard Schreier was knighted for his services to trade between Britain and Hungary in 2000. Publicity-shy and intensely hard-working, but possessed of a fund of jokes for all occasions, he remained fully engaged in his businesses until the end of his life. He was also an active philanthropist, and was particularly generous to University College London, which named a wing of the Law faculty after his son and business partner Gideon, who died in 1998. The family fortune was estimated to be £265 million.
In 2004 Schreier bought a hotel opposite Lord’s Cricket Ground in London and changed its name to Danubius Regents Park, flying the Hungarian and Union flags side by side. In his last years he moved from his north London home to live in the hotel, and it was there that he died. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Sir Bernard Schreier, born March 28 1918, died June 1 2013
Phillip Inman (Report, 22 July) makes the important point that energy companies are misleading the public and the government on the price of renewable energy for fear of damaging their share prices. In doing so, these companies are conning households and endangering progress. Few can argue that securing reliable green energy isn’t one of the most pressing challenges facing us today. It is therefore disappointing that more attention has not been given to the very real cost-effectiveness of tidal-range power, and in particular Hafren Power’s plans for a Severn barrage. As the article explains, much of the added cost of renewables comes from the smaller scale of projects, in contrast with traditional power stations which benefit from economies of scale.
As a major infrastructure project, with the projected capability of producing 5% of the UK’s electricity needs, the barrage benefits from those economies of scale and, as a result, would keep prices down to make it one of the only truly cost-competitive renewable technologies. The strike price would be lower than offshore wind’s and close to nuclear’s. After the price-support period, it will generate virtually free electricity at around £20/MWh – less than half the cost of today’s dirtiest fuel sources. Norway invested in hydroelectricity a few decades ago. Now, 98% of their domestic electricity comes from hydro and their consumer electricity prices are 65% lower than ours. The minimum lifespan of a barrage is 120 years, but engineers think 250 years more likely. Compare that to the 60-year lifespan of a nuclear plant or 15 years for an offshore wind farm. That means that for at least 100 years, the barrage will be generating the cheapest electricity in the UK.There is zero chance of nuclear generating at £20/MWh by then. There is also zero chance of offshore wind generating at £20/MWh. The UK needs to think long term. This is not an oversight that bill payers or climate change campaigners can afford to make.
Peter Hain MP
So President Obama “vows to cut the inequality gap” (Obama attacks Washington gridlock and vows to cut inequality gap, 24 July). That is commendable and certainly necessary, especially in the US where whole swaths of society lack even healthcare cover. But what about the worldwide equality gap? We in the west produce almost none of the basic everyday goods which fill our homes and our cupboards and even many of our groceries and vegetable produce are (air-) freighted in from the other side of the planet.
But as so many of these goods, which contribute enormously to our comfort and our wellbeing, are produced in near slave-conditions, shouldn’t those workers also be entitled to demand a little less inequality? So when President Obama talks of inequality, maybe he should extend his scope to Mexico, which, in many respects, serves as a sweat shop for American (and other) companies’ benefit?
As Green party members, we were sorry to see the letter from Natalie Bennett (17 July), in which she creates the “vicious rhetoric” of which she complains. Many of her party’s supporters are as concerned as the rest of the public about a high level of net immigration, mainly because it is a major contributor to population growth. This adds to the uphill task of protecting our environment and moving the economy to an ecologically sustainable one. According to opinion polls, this is a concern shared by the majority of the public. It is, no doubt, this wider public concern that has brought about the political consensus of which Natalie complains. This has nothing to do with hostility to immigrants. Most people know the vast majority of immigrants are here legally, intending only to be good citizens and neighbours, and most achieve it. We must distinguish between the rights of immigrants as individuals, and the issue of overall immigration.
Natalie’s language implicitly dismisses the reasonable concerns of the majority as if they were the same as those of the objectionable minority hostile to the individual immigrant. This is just the kind of rhetoric that poisons debate. Even to honestly present the bare mathematical fact that immigration has added to the pressures on public services is, in her words, to “scapegoat immigrants”. Is it really? In the Green party we used to believe in reading the statistics, not blaming the messenger, but this is far worse, for by using these words Natalie implicitly accepts that if overall net immigration is a problem, then somehow individual immigrants must be “to blame”. In a mistaken haste to run away from the facts she actually reinforces the false logic of blame.
None of this is to defend the clumsy, inept, and unjust way in which the present government is addressing the public’s concern over immigration. But if we in the Green party are to provide an alternative, we must remove the mote from our own eyes, stop our scapegoating, stop our own poisonous rhetoric, and get back to being the party that prided itself on facing up to environmental realities, and the party that sought to introduce a new style of open and honest debate into politics.
Chris Padley, Nicola Watson and Sandy Irvine
Dr Martyn Thomas (Letters, 25 July) is simply wrong if he thinks giving the police more resources will solve the problem of illegal images on the internet. Of course having more police officers working in this area would be a great help, particularly with certain types of cases, but the scale of offending which the internet has facilitated in relation to child abuse images has taken us way beyond any conventional models of law enforcement. As a society we either have to accept that high volumes of these vile pictures are routinely circulating over the internet, or we must find new and better technical interventions to help kill off the trade. I know which I would vote for.
• The odd shoes on the motorway (Letters, 25 July) were tied separately on to the back of a going-away car after a wedding and fell off differentially. I wanted to stop and search for a body when I found an odd shoe on a lonely Highland road, but a couple of miles along, my husband pointed out the swish hotel romantically sited for weddings.
St Andrews, Fife
• Yet again we have an “influential parliamentary committee” (BT chief executive takes aim at ‘publicity seeking’ tax committee, 25 July). I searched in vain for any reference to a “weak”, “ineffectual” or “vain” parliamentary committee. Strange, given the influence possessed by the public accounts committee that not all multinationals are by now paying the full rate of corporation tax. Or is “committee” yet another noun that feels lonely without its familiar adjective?
• No acknowledgement of crossword number 2,000, published on Monday 15 July? Surely this is some sort of a landmark?
• I’m struggling to follow your correspondence about love (Letters, 25 July). What’s Gove got to do with it?
• Our Gove is Here to Stay – perish the thought.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Your coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis (Report, 25 July) has highlighted the impact of the civil war on those who have fled the country in fear of their lives. We have written to the UK government commending it for the provision of nearly £350m in humanitarian aid to assist the millions displaced by the deepening crisis, both inside the country and in neighbouring states, but also calling for action to relieve the growing pressure on the refugee camps. Latest reports from the UNHCR and others indicate that the scale of refugee and internally displaced people are of a scale that’s likely to overwhelm efforts to cope with the situation in the region. Consequently, we have called on the UK government to work urgently with our fellow member states in the EU on the establishment of a resettlement programme in Europe designed to move some of the more vulnerable from the burgeoning camps on the Syrian borders and, in doing so, to relieve some of the pressure created by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.
Maurice Wren Chief executive, Refugee Council, Dave Garrett Chief executive, Refugee Action, John Wilkes Chief executive, Scottish Refugee Council, Salah Mohamed Interim chief executive, Welsh Refugee Council
• Both your editorial and the article by Timothy Garton Ash (25 July) point to the consequences of the diplomatic mistakes made by the leading western nations at the beginning of Syria’s civil war. Bloated with the success of the Libyan conflict a few months before, foreign ministers such as William Hague and Alain Juppé and the rest of the EU forced the pace of the Syrian government’s diplomatic isolation and began issuing statements of no-fly zones, comparisons to Bosnia and trying to force through UN resolutions and talking of regime change. This led to the impression that the conflict was preceding the same “logical” path as the Libyan conflict. The setting up of the “Friends of Syria” grouping was the final denouement that propelled this fiasco forwards. Intervention in civil wars requires careful deliberations rather than the sound-bite mentality evident in this conflict.
Every statement and act has a consequence, no matter how small it may seem, but it all led the Syrian rebels to the belief the west would intervene and it increased their zeal to fight on and take the civil war to the awful situation it is now. The refugee camps resulting from conflict highlight the dangers of the “responsibility to protect” UN doctrine when it becomes twisted in order to justify intervention for political reasons or philosophies.
• A whole generation of Syrians is being traumatised by the war. We have met countless children who’ve watched their parents being killed or seen their homes damaged. With help from Cafod in the UK, Caritas Lebanon is supporting more than 100,000 people, providing food, healthcare, clothes, mattresses, blankets, shelter and psychological support.
When people ask me how Lebanon is coping with the influx of refugees from Syria, I say – we’re not. Lebanon has a population of just over 4 million, and we are now hosting more than 1 million Syrians. It is our natural instinct to welcome refugees, but we are being overwhelmed. People are extremely worried about the pressure on the economy, about the increase in crime, and of course about the sharp rise in sectarian violence. The words “military solution” won’t stem the influx of refugees. It will only drive more people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. We need the tenacity of influential peace-brokers to bring about a political solution and a lasting peace.
Director, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre
• Timothy Garton Ash tells us that people give more willingly in times of natural, rather than man-made, disasters. The clue is in the word “man”. When was the last time anyone saw scenes of angry women brandishing weapons? Or saw women terrorising those who can’t defend themselves? When do we hear of women stirring up ethnic or religious hatred? Never. I am sick to my stomach of male violence in all its forms. The knowledge that those who are least responsible for these situations suffer disproportionately in times of conflict is hard to bear. The women who are used as human shields, those who are trafficked as sex slaves, those who struggle to keep their families together under impossible conditions, those who live under the constant threat of rape and sexual violence are not those who begin these wars. That is why I do not willingly donate to these crises.
The news in your article (Adverts urging illegal immigrants to leave UK attacked by ex-minister, 23 July) has enraged all those who want to see communities where people can live together peacefully, wherever they happen to be born, whatever the colour of their skin, and whatever accent they speak with. Our rage is nothing compared with the fear, upset and victimisation of those who may look or sound a little different, when they and others see the “go home or face arrest” billboards. There are technicalities in how someone is defined by the Home Office as “illegal” that most people struggle to understand. It does not mean “criminal”, and can mean people who are here in our country seeking sanctuary from terrifying persecution. This includes victims of trafficking; those who have not been given leave to remain and are legally and validly appealing against those decisions; those who came here for safety as children and whose status nobody has yet regularised.
Most people in this country are proud to be able to give sanctuary to those who need it. The minority who do not understand this, or are blatantly racist, are being pandered to in this campaign that is at its best naive and misguided, but most likely the beginnings of a rightwing crackdown on anyone at all who may be perceived as different, or a problem, and that could include any of us, or our loved ones. I look for an urgent denial of any link whatsoever of Liberal Democrats to this threatening campaign, and a demand for the withdrawal of the billboards as quickly as possible.
Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary
• If these adverts targeted any other vulnerable group, surely this would constitute direct discrimination or incitement to hatred. These adverts give a green card to those who want to persecute anybody in Britain who looks different. They are likely to disturb social relations internally and damage Britain’s reputation abroad. The policy adopted by the coalition to create a hostile environment stands in stark contrast to the approach taken, for example, in New York and San Francisco, where TV, radio and billboards are used to extend a welcome to illegal immigrants. Needless to say, as status cannot be seen, these public adverts create a hostile environment for all black and brown people, citizens or not. How long before a return to private adverts saying “No blacks”?
• If John Harris thinks it is bad for refugees in London (London – the most diverse, tolerant, open city. Really?, 22 July), he should try being a refugee outside London or the major metropolitan centres. In the context of government policy towards refugees, which is intended both to promote a culture of disbelief and an outcome of destitution, life for refugees in areas with lower numbers of settled minorities has become almost intolerable as service providers take their lead from government. Private-housing providers place those seeking asylum in areas with known high levels of racist attacks, health providers generally do not acknowledge their needs, for example for culturally sensitive consultations, and local government frequently pretends that they do not exist. And if you’re a female Muslim refugee in a rural area, you might as well not exist.
Professor of social justice, Durham University
The Hindu community is outraged that it is being accused of caste discrimination in the UK (report 12 July). A vociferous lobby claiming to represent 400,000 so-called low-caste people is claiming that the rest of the Hindus are discriminating against them.
The Hindu population in the UK does not have the economic or political power to discriminate against anyone even if it wanted to. How can 400,000 people be discriminated against by a minority faith?
The proposed law to ban caste discrimination will open a Pandora’s box in which innocent Hindus will be accused of caste discrimination and every institution in the country will have to bring in measures to comply with an entirely useless piece of legislation.
This country has more then sufficient anti-discrimination laws to tackle any injustice. An alliance of evangelical groups, caste activists and left-wing politicians are pushing this agenda and attempting to bring India’s politics to this country.
Nitin Mehta, Croydon
I am writing following your report (12 July) stating that I was “deliberately scuppering legislation to ban caste discrimination”. This is categorically not the case and nothing in the letter that I sent to the Alliance of Hindu Organisations suggests otherwise.
Parliament made clear during the passage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill that legislation needs to be implemented to make caste discrimination unlawful. However, there is strong agreement from both sides that this is an extremely sensitive and complex issue, and that a comprehensive consultation needs to take place before new legislation can be introduced. I am committed to taking that work forward. I have never suggested, or implied, that the Government will not implement the duty and there is certainly no question of the outcome of the consultation being prejudged.
The consultation will focus purely on how we implement the duty, not whether it is implemented. It is vital that we get that right and that requires consultation with all parties. To that end, it is entirely appropriate that I discuss the issue with a wide range of groups and encourage everyone to participate in the consultation.
As I made clear in my letter to the Alliance of Hindu Organisations, prejudice and discrimination in any form is unacceptable in modern society – this is as true for caste as it is for race, sex or disability for example – and I remain fully committed to eradicating it.
Helen Grant MP, Women and Equalities Minister, London SW1
These dirty tricks put press’s antics in the shade
The Independent’s outstanding public-interest investigative journalism exposing the massive scandal of illicit blue-chip phone hacking and blagging now deserves the support of the rest of the media, the public and politicians (25 July).
For the press it presents another opportunity to highlight to the public that the activities of a small minority of newspapers in practising such “dark arts” are dwarfed by those of banks, insurance companies, law firms, credit agencies, mega-wealthy individuals and others. The simple fact that it has taken a doggedly determined newspaper to drag a 12-year-long “official” secret screaming into the light should serve as a timely danger signal to those inclined to swallow wholesale the Leveson/Hacked Off lobby’s recommendations for press regulation.
In the case of the politicians, it is now their duty to demand full answers over why the Serious Organised Crime Agency has held details of this massive corruption scandal for years and refused to tackle it. Keith Vaz’s Home Affairs Select Committee can set the ball rolling by rejecting Soca’s offer to share their dossier on condition it is kept secret. And if Soca refuses to co-operate unconditionally then the Vaz committee must be prepared to hold the crime agency in contempt of Parliament.
A further important irony should not be lost either; the viability of most British national and local newspapers is far more precarious than that of the blue-chip companies embroiled in this industrial-scale abuse of power with its massive breaches of privacy and the cynical cover-up surrounding it.
There is now a compelling case for a new judicial public inquiry to be ordered; but this time with a different judge at the helm and without the press in the dock.
Paul Connew, St Albans, Hertfordshire
Perfect welcome for royal baby
Contrary to the views of John Williams (letters, 25 July), I would like to congratulate The Independent for its coverage of the royal-baby arrival, although it was a little excessive. The only information we really needed was that the baby was born, and maybe its name. Nothing else required. This restraint is the reason many readers enjoy your newspaper. Please don’t change.
Jeremy Bacon, Woodford Green, Essex
I cannot agree with John Williams; as an uncommitted lukewarm monarchist, I was excited by the idea of a republican hidden in Bucklebury; and I continued to get The Independent this week, as a relief from the breathless excitement of TV news. Bucklebury may be “outside the M25, where civilised England comes to an end”, but I bet they’ve all heard of Oprah Winfrey.
John Dakin, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Congratulations on gritting your teeth and plucking up the courage to give a tiny mention of the royal birth on surely the most begrudgingly miserable front page of any national newspaper. I’m surprised you didn’t outline the announcement in black! Are the majority of your readers really the bunch of killjoy wet-blankets implied by your published letters?
Austen Moore, Walsall
Grace Dent (23 July) takes half a page on the birth to tell us to pay less attention to the Cambridges. Surely half a page too much?
Terry Bishop, Deal, Kent
I take it that by naming the new Royal baby George after the current Chancellor, the Royal Family are also sending a clear message about their view on paying taxes on their wealth as well.
Keith Flett, London N17
I imagine they did not consult the Beckhams.
John J Cameron, Great Missenden, Hertfordshire
Good may come of Tsarnaev photo
I don’t understand all the concern over the photograph of Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine (report, 18 July). The text beside it says: “How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam, and became a monster”. The cover photograph of Tsarnaev, apparently taken in his earlier, “normal” days, is therefore perfectly appropriate to the article.
I hope that people at checkout stands everywhere in America see that picture instead of a mugshot or whatever other photograph Rolling Stone could have used, and think to themselves: “I want to read this. He looks like he could have been my classmate/son/nephew.” It might lead to the early detection of another person who is on a downward spiral towards becoming a monster, and might help prevent another atrocity such as what happened in Boston.
Using a mugshot, or a photograph of the bombing scene would defeat the point of the article, which is to provide insight into Tsarnaev before he became a monster.
Christian Haerle, London E11
Where are all the women?
While I was delighted to find comment in your paper regarding the use of men-only clubs for national sporting venues (18 July), I was troubled to note that the paper the following day contained approximately 125 photos of men and 25 of women. I realise this is a small sample, but it is unutterably depressing that in the 21st century, women still struggle to find balanced coverage of their own gender in national papers.
I suppose I should be grateful that only two related directly to our sexuality (Christine Keeler) or our ability to be a coat hanger (model) and in only one was the women topless (protester).
Carrie White, Wretham, Norfolk
When doing nothing is best
Oliver Wright (“Doing something for nothing earns top marks at the school for civil servants”, Inside Whitehall, 23 July) is right: sometimes the best policy may be no policy at all.
“Something must be done” is an organising principle of political discourse. The media demand action from politicians. By acting, politicians can create an illusion of control of events, even when so much is out of their direct influence. The public conspire in this illusion partly because it can feel reassuring that someone is apparently in control. We effect our own infantalisation.
Dr Alex May, Manchester
Formula One’s tax affairs
I have to take issue with your article about Formula One tax avoidance (24 July). You say that HMRC “wins in the end” as “F1 itself employs 5,243 people and spends billions with UK businesses that do pay tax”.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses there are 4.8 million small businesses in the UK which employ 23.9 million people. Do you think that these businesses should also stop paying corporation tax as they employ people and use suppliers?
Matthew Walker, London N8
With a love of cricket song, I purchased 500 African field crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) from a reptile-food supplier and released them into my garden. For the past two nights we and our neighbours have been enjoying their delightful chirping.
This species is unlikely to naturalise because of our cold winters, and is widely available and cheap on the internet. Might I through your columns heartily recommend them as a wonderful complement to our hot summer.
Daniel Emlyn-Jones, Oxford
It’s all well and good saying that a Englishman won the Tour de France and now two Tests (“Va va Froome: cyclist Chris Froome and England’s cricketers cruise to success”, 22 July). But the truth is that a Kenyan won the Tour de France and the Tests were won with the help of South Africans, so should you be patting yourselves on the back when you use mercenaries?
Robert Pallister, Punchbowl, NSW, Australia
‘Turing was not wrongly convicted because he was a genius; he was wrongly convicted because his actions should never have been a crime in the first place’
Sir, The Bill to pardon Alan Turing is legally misconceived, ethically objectionable and constitutionally improper (Opinion, July 18, report, July 20, letters, July 22, 23 & 24, and Matthew Parris, July 24).
It is misconceived because in law a pardon merely removes the penalties while leaving the conviction intact. What use is that to a person long dead? It is ethically objectionable because it singles out an individual by virtue of his distinction when the many other persons similarly convicted deserve to be treated in exactly the same way. Turing’s eminence is entirely irrelevant. The proposal is repugnant to the notion of equality before the law and is thus constitutionally improper.
If Parliament is anxious to legislate, it should declare, after reciting the repeal of the offences in question and explaining why any convictions under those provisions are now regretted, that everyone arrested for, charged with or convicted of any of the offences should be deemed never to have been so arrested, charged or convicted; all records should be destroyed; and other provisions in connection with public disclosure and defamation could be added as in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
Whether rewriting history in this way is either necessary or desirable is another matter, but at least such legislation would conform to legal, constitutional and ethical norms.
Professor Graham Zellick, QC
Sir, Many arguments have been raised by your recent correspondents concerning Alan Turing, but the nub of the case can be stated simply. Turing was not wrongly convicted because he was a genius; he was wrongly convicted because his actions should never have been a crime in the first place. His conviction would have been equally unjust had he been a drunken layabout instead of a national hero.
There is no need for a retrospective pardon, because Parliament has already made clear that Turing and others should not have been convicted, by repealing the relevant offence, and by the passage of various equality laws in recent years.
Sir, With reference to Ralph Erskine’s letter (July 23) concerning Alan Turing and Colossus, recognition should also be given to Bill Tutte, whose brute force manual method of breaking the Tunny code gave Tommy Flowers something that he realised could be done much more speedily by machine. Bill Tutte was another example of a poor boy made good, having come from very humble beginnings in Newmarket to a university education and eventually a brilliant academic career.
Little Wratting, Suffolk
Sir, J. M. Carder (letter, July 24) is right that you cannot go back selectively “apologising” for all the cruel things our ancestors did. If Alan Turing is to be “pardoned” for what was then a crime but isn’t now, are they going to say an official sorry to everybody caught cottaging in the 1950s? Just because he was a mathematical genius that does not make him any more or less guilty within the context of the laws of the time. What we should be doing is exposing and abolishing the unjust, out-of-date laws and attitudes that still cause miscarriages of justice and which will disgust our descendants when they look back at today.
CND concurs with the Government’s own National Security threat analysis in concluding Britain ‘currently faces no nuclear threat’
Sir, Oliver Kamm (Notebook, July 23) suggested that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has had a “deservedly low profile” in the Trident debate. I suspect he is not fully informed on the subject.
The day before The Times (“Britain’s Deterrent”, July 17) came out roundly for replacing Trident, CND published a thoughtful analysis of nuclear weapons in the modern world, The Real Alternative, (http://tinyurl. com/n8jrfaa).
The day after, The Times did not carry a single word of a three-hour parliamentary debate on Trident, and the Cabinet Office report on nuclear alternatives to Trident.
The CND report cites Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Sir Hugh Beach and Major-General Patrick Cordingley — all former senior military commanders — writing in The Times that: “replacing Trident will be one of the most expensive weapons programmes this country has seen. Going ahead will clearly have long-term consequences for the military and the defence equipment budget that need to be carefully examined” (April 21, 2010).
These military men probably have a better idea of Trident and its implications than the philosopher Michael Walzer whom Mr Kamm chose to cite. CND concurs with the Government’s own National Security threat analysis in concluding Britain “currently faces no nuclear threat.”
Dr David Lowry
Former director, European Proliferation Information Centre
An airport the size of Heathrow would dominate and urbanise vast areas of Sussex and Surrey with increased noise reaching far into Kent
Sir, The call for more runways at Heathrow is a joke. The air and noise pollution already exceed EU standards and current and future aircraft still rely on suitable weather conditions for steeper approaches. The demolition of 3,500 homes — a gross underestimate — in an area struggling for more housing is laughable. As is the removal of reservoirs that struggle to supply adequate water during hot spells. The road and rail infrastructure is also often at breaking point during busy times. This is simply powerful lobbyists trying to influence the Government.
Sir, Brendon Sewill is right that there will be huge opposition when people realise just how destructive a second runway at Gatwick would be (July 24). An airport the size of Heathrow would dominate and urbanise vast areas of Sussex and Surrey with increased noise reaching far into Kent.
Local people will take a long look at the road congestion, pollution and noise around Heathrow and see the nightmare that those with vested interests wish to force upon them. Low background noise in rural areas makes aircraft noise far more intrusive and increases its perceived effect by around 10 decibels. Gatwick’s chief executive is therefore wrong to suggest that only 11,800 would endure noise inconvenience — the number affected and the level of intrusion would be much, much greater.
Nutley, E Sussex
Up to 20 hospitals may become financial failures because of PFIs, and it seems that nothing is being done to deal with the root problem
Sir, St John Brown (letter, July 24) cogently outlines the initial financial problems of using PFI as a method of raising money to pay for NHS buildings. Matters get worse as failing trusts become unable to pay because of the bizarre and artificial market within which the NHS has to exist and work.
My own hospital (Lewisham, which has one of the best intensive care unit mortality outcomes in England) is being forced to merge with a failing trust to try to provide income for it to pay for its PFI. Up to 20 hospitals may become financial failures because of PFIs, and it seems that nothing is being done to deal with the root problem.
If NHS spending is to be cut radically this should be made clear, rather than trying to disguise the fact that NHS money will still be used to pay for PFIs. The present Government did not create the problem but it needs to take appropriate action.
After the wide campaign to make sure that the new face of the £10 note is a woman, the news that it is to be Jane Austen has pleased readers
Sir, The appearance of Jane Austen on the £10 note (report, July 25) in 2017 is opportune, accounting as it does for most of the £13 profit on Mansfield Park which she lost when her brother Henry’s bank became insolvent in 1816.
The lesson is clear. If your bank goes down due to misplaced optimism, and you are prepared to wait 200 years, your sister will grace the currency.
So much for moral hazard.
Worcester Park, Surrey
SIR – As the founder of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), I applaud Tamara Rojo, the new artistic director of the English National Ballet, for addressing the need for more female ballet choreographers (report, July 18). In doing so, she raises awareness of this inequality in the dance world.
In ballet, male choreographers may dominate, but at LIPA we encourage our dance students to pursue long-term careers in the field, regardless of gender. All our students are offered the chance to choreograph a short piece, giving them a taste of career possibilities open to them.
We hope that by giving young dancers the chance to create and structure performances, we can help to produce the talented and emotionally driven choreographers Tamara Rojo is seeking.
SIR – John Thorp (Letters, July 24) raises the subject of elderly coronations and asks whether the new baby, Prince George, will ever becoming King.
Should the present Queen live to be 100, the Prince of Wales would be 78 and Prince William 44 at that time. Even assuming that both Prince Charles and Prince William live to be 95, Prince George would be in his mid sixties on becoming King, not considered very old even today.
Ian R White
SIR – In the lead-up to the royal birth, the republican prejudices of the BBC were all too obvious.
In one report on Monday, mention of the baby as the heir to the throne came with the extraordinary qualification “as things stand”, while another said the birth was welcomed by all except those who “yearn for” a republic.
C J H Hunter
Blandford Forum, Dorset
SIR – Could not Prince George be described as the heir apparent, to the heir apparent, to the heir apparent?
SIR – At a few minutes after 8.30pm on Monday evening, the vicar of Wigton raced upstairs to inform the assembled ringers of the royal birth.
Quite by chance, we were about to ring the method known as Cambridge Surprise Major.
Susan J Sewell
SIR – Becky Nesbitt (Letters, July 23) compares the Lindo Wing, where the royal baby was born, with her experience at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where, she claims, “the cost was nothing”. Because she did not receive a bill does not mean that it wasn’t paid for by someone else.
SIR – We cannot know the provenance of the crystal ball of Lord Lexden who foresees a continuing monarchy spanning the next many decades (Letters, July 24).
If the vision of the treaties of Rome, Maastricht and Lisbon come to fruition, the unified Federal Republic of Europe will have subsumed and replaced the nation states and their monarchies, not in 90 years’ time, the probable life of the new baby, but in about 20 years from now.
Of course, we could always retain a nodding and beaming tourist curiosity. That will probably be allowed, along with a pretend-parliament and pretend-borders.
SIR – I am not so self-centred as to think that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were swayed by my letter (July 23), humbly proposing that the prince be named George. But I’m delighted he has been.
Protection against porn
SIR – Content filtering technology has been in place in schools for many years (“Online porn: David Cameron declares war”, report, July 22). All the schools I’ve talked to as information and communications technology adviser for the Independent Association of Prep Schools, work hard to protect the children in their care.
But our efforts have been compromised by the content available to children through their mobile phones, and so it is excellent to see that this is also being addressed. Some may resist this initiative, citing personal freedom, but we have a balance to strike between freedom and the safety of our community.
We should all welcome these regulations and laws in the same spirit as we do those protecting us against any other threat.
New Milton, Hampshire
SIR – The coroner Michael Rose bemoaned the fact that “men no longer risk their lives to save others” after paramedics refused to help a dying man (report, July 19).
My aunt recently showed me the little-known Postman’s Park in London, where there is a poignant “Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice”. This details the selfless people who lost their lives in saving others, such as Harry Sisley, aged 10, who “drowned in attempting to save his brother after he himself had just been rescued”, dated May 24, 1878.
Perhaps, if we did more to commemorate these ultimate civilian sacrifices, we could again raise the nation’s conscience.
SIR – Inspired by Mandy Peat’s example of tidying away 17 things at a time (Letters, July 24), I decided to apply the “Rule of 17” in my study. Having applied it twice, I considered a “Rule of 51” too clumsy. I found I had only made an impression upon my desk and the windowsill. There still remained two bookcases, the armchair and the floor.
SIR – My late mother insisted that no stack of books, magazines or papers be more than a hand high. As our refuse is now collected fortnightly, she would be horrified at the height of Daily Telegraphs alone.
SIR – The Foreign Secretary has been soliciting from foreign governments dire predictions about the effects of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU (report, July 23). The Japanese government has even predicted that if we left the EU, our exports to it would suffer from the reimposition of trade barriers and we would face higher tariffs on our exports to the EU.
Yet there is no logic in this view. Apart from the fact that such measures would be illegal under World Trade Organisation rules, EU countries enjoy a trade surplus with Britain of around £45 billion a year. We are the largest and nearest market for German and French exports. If we placed retaliatory tariffs on German and French exports to us, they would be by far the bigger losers, while our exporters would redirect exports to the rest of the world, with whom we enjoy a trade surplus.
How far would our former American colonies have got if they had relied on the British parliament to negotiate the terms of their independence? We should follow their example and declare independence, stop paying our fortnightly tranche of around £800,000 into the EU’s coffers and negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU’s single market on our own terms.
Tied pubs model
SIR – I have been running pubs now for some 26 years (Letters, July 17). My wife and I take on bankrupt pubs, and the tied model has been responsible for these pubs prospering. Without the support of companies I have worked with (such as Hall & Woodhouse and WH Brakspear & Sons) they would have been long gone. My present pub is with the great family brewer Arkell’s. Their support has been exemplary, with rent discounts and total maintenance support made possible by the exclusive sale of their ales in their pub.
The last people I want involved are the Government. Labour nearly ruined the trade that I love and this Government is unfortunately little better – though at least it has scrapped the beer duty escalator.
Sing it again, mum
SIR – Parents should sing to their children because it will help with their self-expression and confidence in later life (report, July 16). Most of us understand that babies and toddlers react positively when we sing songs to them, but we may not appreciate that those endless repetitions of “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” are helping to “wire up” their brains for speech development.
Singing is something that anyone can do. It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing like a professional. There is nothing children love more than the sound of their parents singing to them, and if you sing a bit out of tune, then so be it.
UK General Manager, Jo Jingles
An endless problem
SIR – Yesterday, my wife and I were told, on reserving a restaurant table, that it was “not a problem” (Letters, July 24). Upon arriving and advising them of the booking, we learnt that this was “not a problem”. Upon ordering the food, I was relieved to have the young waitress confirm that that too was “not a problem”. We even discovered that two black coffees were “not a problem”. We were happy to pay the bill.
Financial speculation is driving up food prices
SIR – As food prices continue to rise, we need to make changes to the way we produce, distribute and consume food, from household to global level (report, July 22). Some of the changes required will take decades, but one can happen quickly.
Financial speculation by banks and hedge funds drives up food prices. Curbing it will help to stabilise prices. Controls to limit speculation are in the final stages of negotiation at the EU, but they contain loopholes that limit their efficacy.
European regulators must stop banks gambling on hunger. If they can’t get this right, what chance do we have of tackling the deeper, structural factors that also influence people’s ability to access food?
Director, World Development Movement
SIR – The prediction that food prices could treble, in real terms, in 20 years as a result of world population growth may prove to be a substantial underestimate if the frequency of extremes of weather continues to increase. In order to help protect food security, preservation of all cultivable land should surely be the Government’s priority. The Government should only allow development on brownfield sites. And how many acres will be lost to new track if HS2 goes ahead?
Encouraging people to have smaller families, here as well as abroad, would be equally hard to accept, but should be an equal priority if the future of our existing children is to be protected.
Dr J R Ponsford
SIR – If food prices are likely to treble in 20 years does it really make sense to permit solar parks – often covering 100 acres a time – to be built on our prime agricultural land?
Sir, – Reform of the Seanad is a hypothetical proposition. The people can only judge the Seanad by what it is and what it was and not by what it might be. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Would it be unreasonable to expect that those current members of the Houses of the Oireachtas who advocate the abolition of the Seanad would give a public undertaking not to seek future election to the Upper House should the electorate reject the Government proposal? People of principle should have no difficulty doing so. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Now that the date has been set for the Seanad abolition referendum and the date set for the referendum on rejuvenating the courts system, when will the referendum to reform the Dáil and the Cabinet be held, lest it be forgotten that these were the institutions that got us into the mess we are currently in?
There is no point cutting off an arm when you are having a heart attack. – Yours, etc,
Grand Canal Street,
Sir,– Stephen Collins (Front Page, July 24th) reminds readers that the Seanad referendum (due to be held on October 4th) will be followed some two weeks later (October 15th) by the budget. It looks like we’re in for yet another dose of austerity; if there were any goodies in the next budget the Government would have held the referendum after a generally well-received financial statement. – Yours, etc,
Dalkey, Co Dublin.
Sir, – The Government intends to change the system of identifying potential organ donors to a model where individuals are presumed to be donors unless they have previously expressly chosen not to be so. This is subject to the family of the deceased not objecting, a so-called soft opt-out model. “Soft” consent is the norm internationally. The central question that has to be answered is, does it work? Does it increase the number of transplants? In answering this, it is essential not to engage in ad hoc argument. Invocations to “Look at Spain” (which has a particularly effective system of organ donation) are likely to be met by “Ireland is not Spain”. A better approach is to look at peer-reviewed studies of organ donation in many countries.
The three most recent that I know of are by Abadie & Gay (2006), Healy (2005) and Johnson & Goldstein (2003). All three look at a pool of western, mostly European, countries over time.
Details differ but a clear general pattern that emerges is that presumed consent is associated with higher levels of cadaveric organ donation, even controlling for factors such as religion, GDP, legal systems and transplantation infrastructure. The first of these studies found, for example, that organ donations are 25-30 per cent higher in presumed-consent countries.
An important result that also emerges is that one of the most important sources of cadaveric organs for transplantation are road deaths. In Ireland, road deaths have been steadily declining for decades – the last 15 years have seen a fall in road deaths of 55 per cent. As a proportion of the population, this is a staggering 64 per cent fall. While this is good news in itself, it points to a significant continuing decline in the supply of organs for donation.
At the end of 2012, there were 563 people awaiting kidney and pancreas transplants. Given the shortages, many will wait a significant amount of time, on average 30 months, with a consequent reduced quality of life. In 2012, 14 people on this waiting list died.
Finally, while there is a strong argument in favour of presumed consent, it is certainly not a magic bullet. It is essential to invest in the necessary infrastructure, including in human resources. Otherwise the proposed policy will be a missed opportunity. – Yours, etc,
Dr KEVIN DENNY,
School of Economics,
University College Dublin,
Sir, – It seems the policy of Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is to have the shopkeepers and other retail businesses and workers pay tax to provide money for social welfare so that, you have guessed it, the social welfare recipients can purchase goods from (inter alia) the very shops and businesses that provide the taxes.
Why not burn the city centres to the ground so that we can provide work via rebuilding programmes? While we are at it we can smash hospitals and schools to rubble so that we can provide employment rebuilding them too.
When is it going to dawn on those in charge that part of the way out of this mess is to provide opportunities and incentives for those currently unable to find work to provide goods and services at costs below their market prices?
Modern western economies depend upon trained and skilled employees and managers to create value, with the creation of jobs being a side-effect of the value-creation process. Re-skilling, training and education must surely be central to this process.
Irish people want to work. They have proven this historically across the world and during our own ill-fated boom. Surely it is the duty of the Government to facilitate the creation of viable businesses by the provision of training, marketing, risk capital and tax incentives in a responsible and considered manner. Only when this is the case will we have any chance of getting Irish people back where they want to be – in work. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – You write in your editorial (July 24th),“Yet even if filters are imperfect, circumventable tools, better some defence against the tide than none? No substitute, however, for parents getting their own tech upgrading and eternal vigilance, however intrusive it may appear.”
As soon as we allow legal material to be censored at a general level as decided upon by the Government, we vest in them the power to censor any other legal material. And the list of the “opt-inners” shall have to be kept, safe and secure no doubt, by our internet service providers, in searchable and easily transferable format.
Surely, in the event that parents lack the technological ability to police their child’s internet use, or the parental ability to raise a child with an appropriate knowledge of sex, sexuality and the internet, the answer is for these individuals to opt in to a filter system, not to co-opt every user into a filter and have people opt out. The internet is a great and powerful source of information and allowing Governments to control our access to that legal information is a step that we should be very, very sure of before we take it. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Further to the report on Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton’s pledge to crack down on “sham marriages” (Home News, July 23rd), marrying a legal resident does not impart any “automatic right of residency”. In fact, even marriage to a full Irish citizen does not automatically give the lucky new spouse a right to enter the State, much less permission to reside here. Rather, applications must be made to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service on a case-by-case basis, and each application for residency is then assessed entirely on its own merits, with regard to a whole host of factors, and with no guarantee of success. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I have long had a soft spot for conspiracy theories – if only for their entertainment value. I have been reading Vincent Twomey’s article on conscience and the Abortion Bill (“Conscience, a last bulwark against totalitarianism”, Opinion & Analysis, July 24th) and am amazed to find that the failure of many priests and bishops to speak out on the matter was due either to their support for the Fine Gael party or to the fact that they had been taught heretical moral theology in the seminary (or perhaps a bit of both). Influential politicians had, it seems, been similarly theologically brainwashed and “legislators . . . were forced to act against their conscience”.
Conscience, Prof Twomey tells us, is not a personal belief or a private conviction but is “our capacity to recognise what we ought to do”. From the tone and content of the article, I suspect that he really means “our capacity to recognise what Vincent Twomey thinks we ought to do”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I share Kevin Courtney’s ire at dog fouling (Summer Living, July 19th). He is right to point out that the fine of €150 for dog fouling is paltry – but of course the fine itself not only misses the point but is unenforceable. In 2011 and 2012 there were no fines for dog fouling in Fingal County – and this is not because we don’t have the problem in Fingal. However, another statistic from Fingal County Council reveals what the real problem is. In the same years the number of unsupervised dogs that were impounded was 483 and 479 respectively. The majority of dog littering is caused by dog owners who leave their dogs run stray on our footpaths, playgrounds and green areas. It is also much easier to prove a stray dog than to prove dog fouling.
Yet in Fingal the fine for a stray dog is just €100, only recently up from €30. Stray dogs are not only to blame for dog fouling but are also serious hazards to motorists, cyclists and thus pedestrians. There needs to be a cultural change not only in local council thinking about stray dogs but also the public’s view in general. It’s not something we just have to live with. – Yours, etc,
* I was in my local post office last Monday morning when I witnessed three young men, who all appeared to be in their 20s, collect their welfare payments.
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Although they were in good spirits, it was a stark reminder of the life facing many young Irish citizens who don’t have any employment – as opposed to those who are employed, and who report to work on Monday morning and are paid at the end of the working week.
Hard to believe that this might be the highlight of the week for some, collecting unemployment benefit and with little prospect of better to come for the next five days.
As our 166 TDs commence their six-week summer break, perhaps it might be worth their while to visit their local Post Office next Monday morning and meet some of the people they work for and who don’t work themselves?
Even more radically, perhaps our TDs should consider taking two weeks’ paid holidays and decline payment for the other four weeks’ break.
Perhaps they could put the money saved towards local youth employment schemes that struggle for funding?
Once might speculate that these young men could have fared better by moving to Australia, but as Irish citizens surely they can expect more at home?
Name and address with editor
ALCOHOL ADDICTS’ FUND?
* I see that the new legislation covering casinos in Ireland has made provision for a Social Gambling Fund to assist with treatment services for gambling addicts, to be funded by a levy on gambling operators.
Why stop at gambling? Why not introduce a similar fund to deal with the problem of alcohol addiction?
Ballina, Co Mayo
VOW OF SILENCE MUST END
* I welcome the statement issued by the Sisters of Mercy on July 20, outlining the contributions to date made by them to statutory compensation funds.
This information may help to explain their decision not to contribute to the costs of compensation for women who spent time in the Magdalene Laundries.
The silence to date of the remaining three congregations – and that of the Sisters of Mercy up to July 20 – has damaged the good name of these congregations and of religious women in general in this country.
Many people, including those of us who care about the present state of our church, are puzzled and dismayed to hear no direct word of explanation from these congregations.
While we want to believe that there are good reasons for this lack of explanation, we have no answer to give those who ask us: ‘Why are the sisters refusing to explain why they are now silent?’
The ongoing general and media speculation about the reasons for this silence will continue until the congregations concerned tell us the reasons for their decision.
Spokesman, We are Church Ireland,
Dalkey, Co Dublin
MIND YOUR BUSINESS
* The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is at an extremely delicate stage at the moment, with the hope that negotiations will commence soon. Yet, this point would appear to be lost on some of our public representatives who take it upon themselves to hold forth at length on the issue with much naive eagerness and rather less knowledge.
In an interview last week on the Russia Today news channel, the Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy said “a struggle along the lines of the first intifada” was “necessary”. He then speaks of the “overthrow” of what he calls “the capitalist establishment in Israel”.
What gives him the right to prescribe such radical and, frankly, insane courses of action?
How would we feel if, in the midst of the delicate Good Friday Agreement negotiations, some foreign politician had called for a return to violence and street uprisings?
I think the advice we’d be imparting would start with the word “mind” and end with the words “bloody business”.
Ciaran O Raghallaigh
College Street, Cavan
BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB
* With reference to Dail gender quotas, I would like to express my support for the views of Robert Sullivan (Letters, July 22).
Mr Sullivan has not argued, “effectively” or otherwise, that “the talents, interests and perspectives of the half of the electorate that are women should continue to be marginalised”. He has made the perfectly reasonable and common-sense point that candidates should be chosen for their ability, not their gender.
Choosing candidates primarily for their ability should automatically lead to an increase in the number of women TDs without any need for gender quotas if women of the right calibre are available for selection.
However, as someone who has voted for women candidates in the past, the introduction of gender quotas would deter me from voting for women in the future because I could no longer be sure that these candidates were being chosen primarily for their ability.
Finally, women TDs were not generally more prominent than their male colleagues were in their criticisms of the excesses of the Celtic Tiger when that phenomenon was at its height.
Was that because they were intimidated into silence by Dail “fratboys” (as some feminists might want us to believe), or was it because they were no more able than their male colleagues were to see the bubble for what it was?
Castletown, Athboy, Co Meath
* Here we go again, tinkering with the Constitution.
On October 4, we will be asked to vote to get rid of Seanad Eireann – a move which will do irreparable damage to our democracy by giving free rein to the Dail. I agree the Seanad needs reform, as does the Dail, but the politicians should be putting their own house in order first. An end to appointees is a must. Tell your TD you expect nothing less.
Name and address with editor
SLAYING SEXUAL MORES
* Tuesday’s article by Colette Browne was really great to see. There is so little awareness about rape culture and inequality between the genders when it comes to sex, and it was empowering to see it in the Irish Independent.
Feminism is big nowadays, but there are still many aspects of life where there is inequality. If a man sleeps around, he’s cheered on. If a woman does, she’s called a slut.