29 September 2013 More Books books books
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they are to provide transport for the Admirals barge naturally Leslie forgets it then sinks it Priceless.
I put even more books on Amazon
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today Mary wins and get under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.
Stephen Malawista, who has died aged 79, led the team of scientists which in 1976 identified the tick-borne infection Lyme disease, a crippling ailment affecting an estimated two to three thousand people a year in Britain and 300,000 or so a year in the United States.
5:45PM BST 29 Sep 2013
Lyme disease is a serious multi-stage infection which comes from the bite of a tick infected by the bacterium Lyme borreliosis. Left untreated it can attack the central nervous system in unpredictable ways, spreading to muscles, joints, the heart and even the brain. Neurological problems following tick bites had been recognised from the 1920s but because the symptoms of Lyme disease were often mistaken for those of other ailments, before the 1970s outbreaks tended to go undetected.
In 1975 two mothers living in Old Lyme, on the east side of the Connecticut River, whose children had fallen ill with fever, aches and swollen joints, independently refused to accept a vague diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis from the doctors and began contacting other mothers in the area. In one street one mother found four children with similar symptoms. Convinced that the disease must be caused by an infective agent, they contacted health officials and asked them to investigate.
The matter was referred to a team under Malawista, head of rheumatology at the Yale School of Medicine, and Allen Steere, who began painstakingly reviewing cases of the then unnamed disease. Comparing the incidence of the illness on the east and west sides of the Connecticut River, they found that cases were 30 times more frequent on the east side, where there was also a greater population of deer and deer ticks. In the adjacent towns of Lyme, Old Lyme and East Haddam, they counted 51 cases, a rate about 100 times the normal incidence of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Moreover they noticed that most victims of the disease lived in wooded areas and that the cases had occurred, almost exclusively, in the summer months — an indication that it could be an insect-borne disease. (Later, some would speculate that the infection-bearing ticks had arrived centuries before on the livestock imported by Dorset-born immigrants, some from what is today Lyme Regis).
In January 1977 the scientific team reported on a disease they named Lyme arthritis (later renamed Lyme disease) in an article in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism; six months later they published another article suggesting that antibiotics could help in some cases. At the time, however, they thought the disease was caused by a virus (it was later shown to be a bacterium with a distant kinship to syphilis).
The identification of Lyme disease led to Yale Medical School becoming a centre of research into the disease, and in the 1980s Malawista helped to demonstrate the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating the disease in its early stages. However efforts to develop an effective and reliable vaccine have not yet borne fruit, while the protocols for treating the disease with antibiotics remain hotly debated.
Meanwhile recent years have witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of infections — in the United States Lyme disease is one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases — due to a combination of factors including more people taking up outdoor pursuits, a growth in the population of deer — the ticks’ most common animal host — and climate change.
Stephen Evan Malawista was born on April 4 1934 in Manhattan and studied experimental psychology under BF Skinner at Harvard University, after which he took a degree in Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. After two years at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, he joined the Yale School of medicine in 1966, becoming head of its rheumatology department.
As well as leading the team that identified Lyme disease, he was a leading authority on the role of white blood cells in inflammation.
Stephen Malawista is survived by his wife, Tobé.
Stephen Malawista, born April 4 1934, died September 18 2013
Your editorial (Unthinkable? Teaching CPR in schools, 27 September) raised a very important issue of public health. Schools in Bolton have already taken Fabrice Muamba’s near-death experience as an impetus to extend the PE curriculum to include the British Heart Foundation’s Heartstart programme. For example, Rivington and Blackrod high school, near Bolton Wanderers’ stadium, begins at the start of year 7 by teaching basic life-saving skills, and these are updated and extended annually through to year 11. This programme, now in its second year, fits well within the healthy living module and is embraced by staff and pupils.
It is a shame, however, that efforts by Bolton West MP Julie Hilling to persuade the government to include this in the national curriculum have fallen on deaf ears, despite a 100,000-signature petition. She has now teamed up with the local paper, the Bolton News, to ensure that all children within Bolton receive life-saving training before they leave school. This goes hand in hand with a goal of providing defibrillators in schools and public places.
We hope schools in other areas, who have not considered teaching their young people invaluable life-saving skills, will now follow Bolton’s innovative example.
Megan Scott and Judith Marsden
• Earlier this year, I helped launch a free app and website, Lifesaver, to teach practical CPR using interactive films based on real-world scenarios. In the absence of a co-ordinated approach to teaching CPR in schools, the app makes a vital contribution to raising skills and awareness.
I understand that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a new heraldic device (Report, 28 September). Might I suggest, as an alternative: helicopter volant (or) hovering over party bag rampant (azure) quartered with an impaled stag and a couple of disembowelled foxes (gules) supported by a taxpayer couchant (vert). Tasteful enough?
• King’s Cross Square might be a pleasure (In praise of…, 27 September), but the new underground system has become a Kafkaesque maze of endless tunnels, with signs maliciously pointing travellers away from the shortest routes, many of which have been cut off. Was that really necessary? Just think of disabled people! The designer should be made to walk the tunnels for a whole day. At least!
• As the ending of the spare room subsidy has become known as the bedroom tax, perhaps not benefiting from a tax allowance only available to married couples (Report, 28 September) should be known as the sin tax.
Rebecca Linton and Brian Corrie
• Since the average cost of a wedding is now around £20,000, it would take around 100 years of tax breaks to make it financially worthwhile.
• In response to your special supplement (50 best views in England, 28 September), surely the best views are standing on Offa’s Dyke looking west.
In regard to the uncomfortably large uncertainties with respect to global warming predictions, your editorial (27 September) states that “uncertainty is political anathema”. I submit that politicians are deluding themselves if they think they cannot deal with uncertainty, because they do it all the time, except that the uncertainties are either not given or are sometimes contrived.
What was the uncertainty for weapons of mass destruction before George Bush and Tony Blair went into Iraq? Where were the uncertainties in economic models when the world economy came perilously close to freefall in 2008? Does anyone really believe the costs and benefits of HS2 estimates? Did Nasa really know there was a one in a hundred chance for a crash before the first space shuttle disaster? The list goes on and on.
The public should be thanking climate scientists for an open and honest assessment of uncertainties, which – although they have been reduced somewhat over 20 years – are still troublesome. What the public really needs to do is hold politicians to the same level of uncertainty scrutiny as they do the climate scientists. And politicians in turn have to ask much harder questions about their own proposed course of actions rather than just doing what “feels right”, and then hanging on to their decisions for ego reasons.
Former professor of geosciences at the University of Edinburgh
• George Monbiot misunderstands the process of scientific peer review (Climate change? Try catastrophic climate breakdown, 28 September). He describes how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report has been produced through a process of negotiation between scientists which is then endorsed by politicians, claiming that this constitutes “perhaps the biggest and most rigorous process of peer review conducted in any scientific field in human history”. The point of peer review is to ensure objectivity, to the extent that it is ever achievable. In order to do so, scientific peer review is conducted “blind” by experts in the field in question, and it is their expertise that qualifies them as peers. Scientists producing the IPCC report were in effect openly negotiating around a table, not blind-reviewing each other’s work. Further, while politicians have a role to play in considering the implications of climate change for the people they represent, they are, by definition, not impartial scientific peers. Monbiot should therefore not find it surprising that many reasonable people suspect elements of the report may be partial.
Dr Eamonn Molloy
Pembroke College, Oxford
• The reasons why climate-change deniers control the political agenda are many and pernicious, but one of them should not be articles by George Monbiot. George knows that it was not during times of “benign climate in which humans evolved and have prospered”: our species evolved in Africa during (and probably thanks to) the last ice age, spread to the rest of the world in its rapidly changing climatic aftermath, and has prospered as the world has gone from glacial to interglacial via bouts of sea-level rise, warming and cooling. Using a scientifically incorrect, easily deniable statement to characterise what the IPCC “report describes” (I’m sure it doesn’t say any such thing) just plays into the hands of the deniers.
• In view of the frightening prediction set out in the report by the IPCC, humanity is left with few, if any, possible solutions if it is to survive for much longer on our planet. A central campaign must be the introduction of energy rationing, as unpalatable as that will be for many. Like the ban on smoking – seen as a utopian demand only a few years back, but then accepted as normal and necessary – we would very quickly adapt to, and accept, individual energy rationing. This has to be made a central, urgent demand and our MPs asked to commit to it – we owe it to our children and future generations who will otherwise perish in a devastated and desolate world collapsing in a final violent and existential struggle for water and land.
• Why all the fuss about whether human activity is responsible for climate change? Surely the only questions that matter are: is it happening? If so, is it bad? If so, can human activity slow or reverse it? Those answers are much more certainly “yes”. So let’s forget who is to blame and just get on with it.
• The IPCC’s latest assessment was released the same week that Ed Miliband pledged to introduce an energy price freeze and to build an extra 200,000 new homes per year. Given the hardening certainty on human-made climate change, will Miliband commit to the following: a programme of new investment in renewable energy in order to lessen the country’s dependence on fossil fuels; and a low-carbon building programme for all new-build housing?
Same question for the leaders of the other political parties.
• Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze fuel bills has certainly grabbed the headlines (Report, 25 September). But the Labour leader’s promise to decarbonise the UK power sector by 2030 is equally significant, because this would end the nation’s addiction to fossil fuels – which have rocketed in price in recent years and are the main reason for soaring fuel bills.
If we want to fix our broken energy system we must embark on a major energy-efficiency programme to really stamp out waste. For too long our homes and offices have been heating the atmosphere – while the people inside frequently shiver in the cold. The UK is also blessed with huge renewable energy resources, with the potential to create thousands of new jobs. Unfortunately, the coalition has completely undermined confidence in clean power and driven investors away.
Policy and campaigns director, Friends of the Earth
Generations of journalists were inspired and encouraged by Geoffrey Goodman (obituary, 7 September). He was generous with his time and tireless in his support. No strange handshake or secret codeword was required to become one of Geoffrey’s unofficial apprentices. You just had to ask.
Quite often he would listen more than he spoke. But when he did speak he summed up your situation with clarity and wisdom, making him a kind of secular rabbi to half of Fleet Street.
At the party to mark Sir Brendan Barber’s retirement from the TUC last year, trade union leaders from this and other eras came over to pay homage to Geoffrey. Their respect for him was enormous and endless.
Geoffrey showed that, in a naughty world, it is possible to be successful without doing others down, to gain respect and admiration on all sides while keeping your integrity intact.
Your leading article’s statement “ultimately, the solution [to climate change] lies with the market” (28 September) is astonishing since climate change is caused by none other than the market itself.
A cursory look at the major stratigraphically significant trends over the past 15,000 years shows a sharp rise subsequent to the industrial revolution and the onset of the market economy. This is why when analysing environmental indices (CO2 emission, global temperature, sea levels, biotic and sedimentation changes, etc), they are compared with pre-industrial levels.
While the actions of mankind over the past few thousand years have had a detrimental effect on the environment, it wasn’t until the industrial revolution and the onset of capitalism that such effect became geologically significant – so much so that two eminent scientists, Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer, proposed in 2000 that this age be called the “Anthropocene”, “the recent age of man”.
Capitalism – a system that is incessantly expansive and inherently wasteful – is the precise opposite of what is required to combat climate change. You are right that “the cost of mitigating climate change is certainly high”; the cost is the market economy itself and that’s the reason for the US, UK and other governments’ reluctance to take up any serious measures to counter global warming.
It is a stark choice that confronts us: save the planet and ditch capitalism, or save capitalism and ditch the planet.
Fawzi Ibrahim, London NW2
Two facts: earth’s climate is changing; there are things we can do to reduce the damage. Why are we standing around arguing about the causes?
If I see a heavy truck rushing towards me I take evasive action – the sooner the better. I don’t stop to argue about whether the driver is mad, the brakes have failed, or it is an uncontrollable skid. I get out of the way, as quick as I can.
Let flat earthers believe what they like. Let climate-change deniers pretend they are shivering. If they obstruct, they will have to be pushed aside. But for heaven’s sake, stop wasting time arguing with them. Get moving! Go on! Move!
Kenneth J Moss, Norwich
Mark Avery (25 September) is right to highlight the lack of concern by the main British political parties about the state of our environment. Our future well-being is dependent on a healthy environment and the only way to achieve this is policies which put the environment first. This means long-term thinking. There is a gaping hole in our politics here. At the moment, none of the mainstream parties are anywhere close.
Mark Holling. North Berwick, East Lothian
Land seizures, from Henry VIII to Ed Miliband
The rule of law, cited by James Paton (Letters, 27 September), exists to uphold the interests of the community at large, not just segments of it, such as property developers.
Indeed, Ed Miliband’s “use it or lose it” plan for developers’ land banks is not without precedent in England. In the 1540s, when most people rented their homes, difficulties were being caused by owners who had let their properties fall into decay or ruin. The outcome was a series of urban regeneration acts. One such, passed in 1540 under Henry VIII, was an “Act for re-edifying of decayed Houses in sundry Towns, and Places of the Realm”. The measures it laid out were radical. Head-lessees, and then owners, were required to repair or rebuild the properties concerned. If neither did, then after five years they would forfeit their leasehold or freehold interests to the local authority concerned.
The measures worked – not surprisingly, in view of their stringency. To them we probably owe some of the fine 16th-century houses which are now so much admired.
Arthur Percival, Faversham, Kent
The compulsory purchase of land banks proposed by Ed Miliband puts Labour’s housing policy in line with the supporters of land value tax (LVT). We believe that the present taxation system is flawed and unfair. When the value of UK land increases due to increased demand, the owners, including UK and international speculators, have done nothing to increase their personal wealth.
Renters gain nothing while their rents increase. The issue is how to make some of the increase in land value available to all. LVT taxes some of that increase in land value.
It should result in the abolition of the regressive council tax and business rates. It should cover all land, used and unused, so bringing land banks and empty homes into use, making investors look for income from renting, building and creating jobs to cover the tax. HMRC would spend less chasing tax-free money parked in overseas accounts; banks have yet to find a way of moving land into their vaults.
John Lipetz Coalition for Economic Justice Richard Murphy Tax Research UK Dr Stephen Battersby Pro-Housing Alliance Rev Paul Nicolson Taxpayers Against Poverty, London N17
The niqab affects all our freedoms
May I add something to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s article on the niqab (23 September)? When she writes that “some good friends I deeply respect defend the choice [of the niqab] as a fundamental liberty” we need to make a total denial of that fallacy.
There is really only one fundamental liberty; the liberty not to be incarcerated without due cause and process. All other liberties are conditional on not affecting those of others. Whether it is the supposed liberty to take other people’s property, to drive uninsured, to wear Nazi regalia at a Jewish funeral, or use foul language in a public place, the rights of others may be legally enforced to limit it.
Those who have been most vociferous in the cause of liberty to wear the niqab – if it is in fact a liberty – are from cultures which are most punitive in respect of female dress and female activities. The niqab is offensive to a majority of British people including many Muslims; it has led to breaches of the peace in France; it is discriminatory, being discarded in all-female gatherings; it damages free intercourse between people; it poses dangers through restriction on peripheral vision, denial of recognition and the possibility of substitution of one person for another. These matters must not be swamped by irrational opposition.
Tony Pointon, Portsmouth
Bad experience of Lariam
Eight years ago my daughter went to Ghana during her gap year, to work in an orphanage. She was prescribed Lariam as her anti-malarial drug before leaving. (“The Lariam scandal”, 27 September.)
She experienced unusual feelings of depression and detachment despite liking her new environment, and it took her a couple of months to work out that these were chemically driven and not a reaction to being far away from home etc. She went to a hospital and her anti-malarial medication was changed. The symptoms abated, never to return.
At around the same time, I emailed her because I had been sitting at dinner next to a medical consultant who told me “I wouldn’t give Lariam to my dog”.
B Davey, London N6
How to limit the cost of libel suits
I don’t entirely agree with your leading article “Fettering of the press” (17 September): the Ministry of Justice’s one-way cost proposals would not entirely remove the restraint on opportunistic claims for libel, defamation, or invasion of privacy, since claimants would still, after all, be liable for their own costs.
But a better idea might be that the losing side, be they claimant or defendant, should only be liable for their own costs plus a maximum of the same again from the other side. This provides a greater disincentive to vexatious claims, while still discouraging the other side from throwing money at teams of expensive lawyers. Because it would apply either way, it also gives some relief to newspapers or journalists threatened by rich claimants.
Overall, costs should come down, since both sides are aware of the hazard of out-spending the opposition. The result would be more even-handed justice and fewer protracted cases.
David Watson, Reading
The modern game exemplifies technical expertise and stamina but the behaviour of the players on the pitch would make Ebenezer Morley turn in his grave
Sir, Ben Macintyre (“Sporting hero who thought outside the box”, Sept 27) rightly pays tribute to the foresight and achievement of E. C. Morley in the establishment of the Football Association on October 26, 1863 and the later promulgation, under its auspices, of the first set of laws for Association Football on December 8 of the same year.
Less well known is the fact that the earliest surviving written laws of soccer were drawn up in Cambridge and signed on December 9, 1856 by university undergraduates including two representatives each from the main protagonist footballing schools of the day, Eton, Rugby, Harrow and Shrewsbury.
This followed earlier attempts to unify the laws made by Cambridge undergraduates a decade earlier (of which unfortunately no record survives) notably H. de Winton and J. C. Thring (1846) and H. C. Malden (1848).
Their contribution was recognised by your late Football correspondent Geoffrey Green, in his book The History of the Football Association (1953).
Trustee, Cambridge University AFC
East Horsley, Surrey
Sir, In celebrating English football at 150 and those who made the beautiful game what it is today, let us not forget the Royal Engineers. Under Major Francis Marindin, the Royal Engineers (The Sappers) were one of the founding members of the Football Association, playing in the first-ever FA Cup Final in 1872 and winning the Cup in 1875.
The Sappers invented the “passing game” in which the team plays in combination rather than individually, and consequently they were the first team ever to be described as playing “beautifully”. This approach now forms the core of all modern tactics. They also invented the goal net.
However, their greatest contribution was to take Association Football to all corners of the British Empire and beyond, hence sowing the seeds of what has become a truly global phenomenon.
President, The Royal Engineers Association Football Club, 1992-2002
Sir, I fully endorse Ben Macintyre’s nomination of Ebenezer Morley, the founding father of English football, for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square but cannot agree when he states that the game has hardly changed during the last century. The rules of the game remain largely unchanged, but football is now a billion-pound global enterprise. During the transfer season players are bought and sold for millions like commodities in an auction mart. Our Premier League teams are largely owned by oil sheikhs and businessmen from abroad who have hardly any cultural link with football. The game thrives on television franchises and advertisements. By virtue of free market, our Premier League teams are dominated by players from South America, continental Europe and Africa. As a result, the English national team lacks home-grown talent.
The game exemplifies technical expertise and stamina but the behaviour of the players on the pitch such as “diving” histrionics, gambolling after scoring a goal, surreptitious elbowing and disabling tackles, biting an opponent and spitting would make Ebenezer Morley turn in his grave.
Healthcare is not a simple market: the primary relationship is intangible but always lies between the doctor and the patient
Sir, We support the interim report of the Competition Commission’s investigation into private healthcare, and its call for transparency of information in both the NHS and independent sector. However, the Commission has not focused on those Private Medical Insurers (PMIs) which are increasingly imposing clinical restrictions, causing detriment for subscribers when they are sick and reliant on their policies.
Healthcare is not a simple market; the primary relationship is intangible but always lies between the doctor and the patient. The PMIs do not have any data about the quality of medical care or about specialists’ competencies, a fact noted by the OFT and which all PMIs, apart from Bupa, have acknowledged. It is unacceptable that a commercial financial services company should interfere with clinical pathways or propose medical treatments. Nor should it propose clinical guidelines which are the responsibility of NICE, medical royal colleges and specialist associations.
Some PMIs are now using an “open referral” method (actually a “closed” method) which prevents GPs from advising patients about the most appropriate consultant. Patients lose choice and continuity of care may be broken. Reductions in subscriber benefits by some PMIs may also impose an unavoidable shortfall.
We ask the Competition Commission to recognise the need for portability of private medical insurance allowances which would permit all insured patients to use their agreed benefits however they wish when they are sick. Only then can patients exercise true choice about how and where they wish to be treated and by their consultant of choice.
William Harrop-Griffiths, President, Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain & Ireland
John Primrose, President, Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland
Tim Briggs, President Elect, British Orthopaedic Association
Valerie Lund, President, ENT-UK
John Schofield, President, Hospital Consultants & Specialist Association
Adrian Casey, President, British Association of Spinal Surgery
Simon Donell, President, British Association for Surgery of the Knee
Rajiv Grover, President, British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
Graeme Perks, President, British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons
Mark Speakman, British, Association of Urological Surgeons
Rohit Kulkarni, President, British Elbow and Shoulder Society
John Timperley, President, British Hip Society
Simon Henderson, President, British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
David O’Brart, President, United Kingdom Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons
Duncan Dymond, President, London Consultants’ Association
Ian Mackay, President, Independent Doctors’ Federation
The Police Act makes it unlawful for officers to undertake any form of industrial action – unlike members of the fire service
Sir, Ian Graham makes a good point in respect of industrial action within the emergency services (letter, Sept 28). He can, however, rest assured that the police will remain on duty whatever grievance they may have. The Police Act makes it unlawful for them to undertake any form of industrial action or for any other person to encourage them to do so.
It is not the place of government to dictate whether parents vaccinate their children – we run the risk of paying vaccine damage compensation, as in the US
Sir, Many of us are aghast at Labour’s proposal to cut child benefit for parents who don’t vaccinate their children (report, Sept 23). This is not consistent with the British ethos of freedom of choice. It is not the place of government to dictate whether parents vaccinate their children.
The big pharmaceutical companies have consistently put pressure on the government and the medical establishment so that they in turn bully parents into vaccinating their children, in the absence of balanced and objective information on the downside of vaccines. America has already paid out $2 billion in vaccine damage compensation. If one day Ed Balls’ retraction is overturned, there could be a similar flood of damage compensation claims in the UK.
Our long-standing legal framework has fostered a strong safety culture that ensures the UK has one of the best aviation safety records in the world
Sir, Ian King (Sept 27) criticises the Civil Aviation Authority for not naming specific airlines involved in safety incidents. Legislation prevents us from disclosing details of individuals or organisations who report such incidents. This guarantee of anonymity is balanced by a legal obligation on all UK airlines and pilots to report all safety-related occurrences. The legislation does not preclude us taking action against individuals and organisations in cases of gross negligence. This long-standing legal framework has fostered a strong safety culture that has been copied by many other countries — and industries — and ensures the UK has one of the best aviation safety records in the world.
Civil Aviation Authority
Sir, The assertion that native English speaking pilots are not required to demonstrate their competence in actually speaking English is not correct (report, Sept 27). All pilots, regardless of nationality or background, are required to demonstrate to a Civil Aviation Authority examiner their competence in this regard, and only upon award of a “level 6” pass are they exempt from further periodic testing.
Certain elements of the pilot fraternity, however, have expressed reservations about level 6 passes awarded to Scots, Geordies, and estuary-English speakers.
Harrogate, N Yorks
SIR – I very much hope that Godfrey Smith, the first responder who was sacked for doing 33mph in a 20mph zone and driving the wrong way around a bollard, is re-instated and his steadfast contribution to lifesaving recognised.
He will have developed skills that anyone at risk would have been praying for: the ability to assess a life-threatening situation rapidly and then take immediate and effective action.
I would like to see the Government considering a legal change to highway standards for first responders rather than letting someone die while the first responder trundles along at 19mph in a 20mph zone.
Labour’s energy price proposals are a step back to the Seventies
29 Sep 2013
SIR – I am not aware of any Standing Orders that Godfrey Smith’s Authority may have in place, but he should have been protected by the Emergency Vehicle Road Traffic Legislation under Sec 87, RTR Act 1982.
He can also claim an exemption to drive on the wrong side of a “keep left” bollard if safe to do so when responding to an emergency. At all times it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure the safety of road users.
Retired senior ambulance service driving instructor
SIR – Once again the Labour Party demonstrates why it should not be allowed to govern.
First we had Gordon Brown’s raid on pension funds, leading to lower private pensions; light-touch regulation contributing to a greater impact from the global financial crisis; and gross mismanagement of the public purse, causing a prolonged period of painful austerity.
The latest proposal from Ed Miliband on energy prices belongs in the same bucket.
It fails to take into account the reduction of tax revenues to the Treasury and the impact on small shareholders or their pension funds who own part of these companies. It may not even be legal under EU law.
It is clear that Labour is intent on dragging us back to the Seventies.
Let common sense prevail for this community hero
29 Sep 2013
SIR – There is a simple method of reducing the nation’s energy bills that seems to elude most politicians. Abolishing the wind farm subsidy will remove the need for one of the many stealth taxes imposed by Gordon Brown which the current Chancellor now thinks it prudent to retain.
Not only would prices come down, but many millions would be lifted out of fuel poverty.
SIR – I despair at the immaturity of Ed Miliband’s latest policy announcement; not only is a 20-month freeze a short-term measure, but it will have the unintended consequences of: increased prices in the run-up to the next election; reduced or delayed investments until after Labour fails to return to Government; and massive increases after the 20-month freeze. The way to fix the market is with proper regulation. The public will have confidence when retail charges fall in line with any downward movement in the wholesale price.
There should also be a robust challenge to Green energy subsidies.
Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Ed Miliband’s price-freeze promise is obviously going to be popular with many voters, but he seems to be missing the point.
The difficulty is not simply the cost of gas and electricity, it is also the sustainability of supply, and the two are linked. As there is an ever-increasing demand for power, the cost of supplying it must rise. We have to find new sources of fossil fuels, build more nuclear power stations and invest in sustainable energy.
Giving everyone a fixed price is a senseless way of tackling the problem; it can only lead to our continuing to use energy at the present level – or even increasing our usage if we are not concerned about the cost.
SIR – Ed Miliband’s pledge to give the vote to 16-year olds ignores scientific research about the formation of the human brain. Several independent studies have revealed that the young adult brain is not fully developed before the late teens and early twenties. Perhaps the Labour Party hopes that these immature young people will be persuaded by its over-simplistic arguments.
New Milton, Hampshire
SIR – The development of new and renewable energy production is mostly funded by foreign companies who are allowed to sell energy back to us at extortionate rates.
I’m naive, I know, but I would like to see our utilities as British-owned and British-controlled monopolies, giving us national resource security, where the pricing structure is simple and poor families can be helped directly through the tax system.
SIR – Twenty-five hours per week of free child care? Does Ed Miliband not understand that there is no “free” – and that someone, some time, has to pay?
Oh well, stick it on the national credit card with all the other debt. After all, what really matters is that Ed gets the keys to number 10.
Price guarantee for British dairy farmers
SIR – Ben Fogle is right to shine a light on the difficulties faced by our dairy industry (Country Travels, September 22). But not all supermarkets are the same. Sainsbury’s has worked hard for years to create a sustainable model that guarantees a fair price for our British milk producers.
Many dairy farmers have long been faced with volatile costs, but for our farmers at least there is no “supermarket effect” that abandons them to making a loss. From October 1 our farmers will in fact see a price increase to 34.15p per litre.
The pricing model we use was adopted following a vote among our farmers last year and includes a bonus that rewards them for high standards of animal health and welfare and reducing their impact on the environment.
Head of Agriculture at Sainsbury’s
SIR – The global warming “scientists” should concentrate on reducing the immense amount of pollution pouring out of the emerging economies of India, China, Brazil, etc., beside which Britain’s pollution is quite insignificant (Opinion, September 22).
We should instead be focused on the inevitable national power cuts to which Green policies are condemning us.
Holme, West Yorkshire
SIR – I suspect and fear that the climate change scaremongers have too much at stake to admit that they were wrong.
Assisted dying Bill
SIR – With Lord Falconer’s Bill on assisted dying scheduled to receive its Second Reading in the spring of next year, the BBC is to be commended rather than criticised for instigating debate on the subject. (“BBC ‘shows bias for euthanasia’”, report, September 22).
The Bill has a narrow focus which is confined to giving mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option of a physician-assisted death. This would be achieved by providing patients with a prescription that may be used at a time and circumstance of their choice should their suffering become unendurable.
Opponents such as Dr Peter Saunders know this very well. Yet they continue to obfuscate debate by referring to euthanasia, which is when the doctor administers a lethal injection; or by using emotive language such as “killing the disabled”, when they know that neither euthanasia nor the disabled are included in the Bill.
Both the public and the medical profession need to be well informed about what Parliament will be asked to decide. This is not helped by inaccurate and scaremongering tactics from opponents of the Bill.
Sir Terence English
Married tax breaks
SIR – Will married tax breaks (Letters, September 22) also be for homosexual married couples? If so, taken in context with the end of child benefit, this government policy redistributes wealth from parents and children to couples who cannot reproduce. It also penalises children born out of wedlock, through no fault of their own.
While I do not wish to judge homosexual married couples, I feel that they should not receive automatic tax-payer subsidy and the same applies to childless heterosexual married couples. There is no benefit to society.
However, if we bring back child tax credits, any gay couple with adopted children would benefit from such a policy, as would married or unmarried couples deciding to raise children.
SIR – As a staunch unionist, the growing anti-English sentiment in the debate over Scottish independence (News Review, September 22) is both disturbing and unwelcome. My maternal grandparents migrated from Fife to Liverpool in the early Twenties, but neither they nor their relatives who settled in Birmingham forgot their Scottish roots. Cross-border ties were cultivated and continue to this day, making the independence campaign seem quite anachronistic in the modern era.
Violent video games
SIR – The perpetrator of the latest mass shooting in America was addicted to violent computer games. This has been a common denominator in many of America’s recent gun massacres.
We should heed the warning, especially since the release of one of the most violent computer games yet – Grand Theft Auto V. Such games should come with a mental health warning
SIR – Why is there a set pension age for everyone?
There are greater physical demands on builders and nurses than on office workers.
Over-feeding pets is killing with kindness
SIR – We read your report “Got a fat pet? It may be comfort eating” (September 22) with real concern. It’s already hard enough for vets to broach the sensitive subject of pet obesity with clients who think they are doing the right thing. Suggesting that reducing food intake increases anxiety will reinforce the mistaken view that giving extra food to your pets is a way of showing that you love them.
Too many pet owners are killing their pets with “kindness” by over-feeding and giving too many treats and inappropriate foods, such as leftovers from their own plates. If coupled with little or no exercise, their life spans will often be cut short by preventable obesity-related conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
Providing a healthy diet for pets involves restraint on the owners’ part. It can be hard to resist that hungry look from your dog and too easy to substitute real attention and interaction for treats, but it’s in the pet’s best interests to get it right.
Significant changes to a pet’s diet should always be discussed with a vet first to make sure it is done carefully and gradually.
British Veterinary Association
Dark side of shunga
SIR – Lesley Downer (Opinion, September 22) hails the attitudes to sex revealed in the Japanese shunga prints, but barely touches on the human cost of the sexually liberated culture they portray.
The great courtesans may have started out as slaves and reached the top of their profession, but what of those women who didn’t reach the top and remained slaves throughout? Nor are we told about the fate of the children born as the result of this “life-affirming attitude,” who were subjected to mabiki, or “the thinning out of rice shoots,” with the lucky being selected for nurture and the rest killed by smothering. Sex may have been free, but life was cheap.
David J Critchley
Battering the butcher
SIR – “Mumford & run: brother battles thug” (Mandrake, September 22) reminded me of an incident I witnessed nearly 60 years ago in Wellington, Shropshire.
A man and his wife were having a fight in the street when a butcher came rushing out of his shop to try to separate them, whereupon they both started to batter him instead.
Sir, – In his argument for abolition of the Seanad, Des O’Malley (Opinion, September 24th) pronounces that “Powerful second chambers merely slow down policy change”. Mr O’Malley presumably thinks this is a bad thing.
On the contrary, it is surely best practice to take some time to properly debate the principles and tease out the practicalities of a proposed change in national policy. The difficulty with the argument that as “a small open country Ireland has to be faster to adapt”, is that our chosen “adaptations” tend to be short-termist, with a plethora of unintended consequences.
If the boom times taught us anything, it is surely that rushed adaptation to temporary market demands is a recipe for long-term pain. If a reformed Seanad can serve to provide measured counsel of caution, then I am all in favour of its retention. – Yours, etc,
CATHAL MALONE BL
Carrigaline, Co Cork.
Sir, – I would like to compliment Des O’Malley on his persuasive argument, for voting Yes in the referendum (Opinion, September 25th). I have been in two minds on this issue. It is hard to argue in favour of retaining the Seanad, especially in its current format. However, voting No would not mean the Seanad would be reformed and would instead probably be allowed to drift along as it has done for many years. Against that, it is tempting to vote Yes as a response to the cack-handed way that Fine Gael have driven this issue: Enda Kenny’s mysterious conversion to abolition, the €20 million seemingly plucked from the air, their criticism of the Seanad for not reforming itself, etc.
Mr O’Malley has brought a dose of realism to the whole debate. Yours, etc,
Marino, Dublin 3.
Sir, – Des O’Malley opines (Opinion, September 25th) that Seanad Éireann is not the problem (with Irish politics), nor is it the solution. His conclusion is correct but his analysis in support of a Yes vote in the Abolition Referendum is flawed. Most accept the need for root and branch reform of our political system. They care more about what Mr O’Malley was not doing about it during his 34 years in Dáil Éireann and less about whether he was ignoring debates on the role of the Seanad. Voters care more about what he would do now about political reform and less about the consistency of his view on the Seanad over time. The difficulty with the referendum proposal is that it puts the cart before the horse.
Let us see the necessary political reforms implemented before we remove a fundamental plank of our existing constitutional democracy. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The dictum employed by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter (September 23rd) in relation to delayed justice over-states the case.
Justice delayed is, in most cases, merely justice temporarily denied. Expense, rather than delay, is the greatest impediment to justice for most potential litigants. Unaffordable justice is a much more complete denial of justice than delayed justice.
The proposed court of appeal will provide an extra layer of potential expense, as its rulings may still be appealed to the Supreme Court by a respondent with a large purse, such as the State. This will significantly add to the potential costs of litigation and significantly increase the financial deterrent to citizens from seeking remedy against the State in the courts.
Unless it is balanced by some mechanism of financial protection for citizens wishing to litigate against the State, the provision of an extra layer in the judicial system will result in a de facto reduction in citizens’ rights and a significant alteration in the balance of power between citizens and the State. This will be to the further detriment of citizens in an area in which they are already at a major disadvantage. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – As a newly-qualified (two years) secondary school teacher, I do not know what it was like to teach pre-austerity. I know only of daily life in a busy secondary school in Cork. I know of big classes, big work-loads and people doing their best. I have a Masters (in my subject) that is not acknowledged by the department. I am not in receipt of the teaching through Irish allowance.
Newly-qualified teachers’ pay is down 15 per cent since 2011. I’m appalled at the increase in the size of classes, at the cutbacks in special education needs resources and the constant air of gloom that pervades. What happened to valuing the individual and of nurturing their potential? I consider it an achievement just to have spoken to every student by the end of certain classes, never mind meeting their specific educational needs.
I invite Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to spend a day shadowing me through the minefield that is secondary education. Although I might not have time to speak to him. – Is mise,
Sir, – John McManus is to be congratulated for his revealing article (Business Opinion, Business + Innovation, September 23rd) on “O’Flynn and Nama triumph”. He exposes the true purport of Nama which was always to benefit the banks and developers. The Government’s reluctance to bail out taxpayers in mortgage arrears is explicable by its desire (and even more so in the case of its Fianna Fáil predecessor) to look after “the Big Guy” at the expense of “the Little People”. – Yours, etc,
PAT F O’CONNOR,
Sir, – As a Dubliner I’d like to congratulate all the volunteers who gave their time during the National Ploughing Championships. Along with the GAA and other institutions that depend on volunteerism, they demonstrate the best of us as a people. – Yours, etc,
First published: Mon, Sep 30, 2013, 01:08
Sir, – I am pleased to see that An Taoiseach (Opinion, September 20th) is advising prudence following the announcement by the CSO that the recession was over. His rhetorical question: “Does Ireland need a second house?” resonates. Isn’t that what got us into the economic mess in the first place – second homes! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Robert McCarthy (September 23rd) states that 50 per cent of children in a Dublin Protestant fee-paying school are Catholic.
In the same way that there are a number of Protestant children in Catholic schools, of course Protestant schools are open to those of any religious background. Parents’ choice may be because the ethos of the school appeals to them or that it is the nearest school. It is not always viewed as elitist education. My child attends a Protestant school not because it is elitist, but because it is a school catering for our ethos, and most parents at the school I believe feel the same way.
In my area, there is a choice of five schools – all of which are of a Catholic ethos. In order for my child to attend a school of our religious ethos, we have to pay for him to attend, whereas children of a Catholic background have a choice of free local schools and fee-paying schools. The nearest schools of our ethos are at least an hour’s car journey away, which means my son has to board.
There are a lot of assumptions made about fee-paying schools and I would suggest before anyone makes judgment, that they talk to the struggling parents trying to get an education of their ethos for their child in the same way every parent does. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Although there is a grain of truth in Desmond FitzGerald’s intemperate attack on Michael D Higgins (September 25th), his main argument – that only those who have divested themselves of all possessions can urge justice for the poor – is as hackneyed and as illogical as it ever was. Even Jesus liked his wine, we know that from the Gospels.
He is, however, right that €250,000 is not justified as a President’s salary. Neo-liberalism has been so unopposed for so long in this country that it clouds the thinking even of those who oppose it like Mr Higgins and the Labour Party. One of its tenets is the belief that money is the only motivator, and consequently if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. This pseudo-scientific doctrine has justified the opening of a huge gap between average wages and those of the elite.
Mr Higgins commendably took a voluntary pay cut when he became President, but if you want to oppose neo-liberalism, you must support a return to the differentials that existed before neo-liberalism became the country’s religion, under Haughey and MacSharry. Does anyone seriously believe the quality of our politicians has risen in parallel with the rise in politicians’ salaries in the past 30 years? I suggest the evidence of the crash points to a contrary conclusion.
Mr Higgins’s pay cut is not nearly enough to restore the relation that existed between politicians’ wages and the average industrial wage in 1987 and that is what what he and the Labour Party should be aiming for in the both the public and private sectors. Instead, both the President and Tánaiste have employed advisers whose pay has breached the Government’s own salary cap.
How can an adviser prepare speeches against neo-liberalism when their own pay contract implicitly condones the “L’Oréal – because we’re worth it” elitist fantasy that is at the heart of neo-liberal “philosophy”.
I’d still vote for him. Nobody’s perfect. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In the course of his well- reasoned case for the retention of the 9 per cent VAT rate for Ireland’s hospitality sector, Conor Brady (Opinion, September 26th) concluded, “The hospitality sector is in steady recovery. It is offering talented young people an alternative to emigration”. The facts are certainly there to demonstrate a recovery in the hotel and restaurant sectors, but what is happening with the resultant employment boost?
Over the past couple of months, I spent a series of short-term holiday breaks in well-known hotels near Athlone, in Westport, and in counties Donegal, Kerry and Waterford. There is little doubt all of these offer an excellent working environment. Yet a remarkable feature was the predominance of non-Irish staff in these hotels. Let me hasten to add, I have nothing against non-Irish nationals.
What puzzles me, however, is that we have hundreds of thousands of Irish people claiming unemployment benefits, and the prevailing media narrative across the airwaves and in print is that there are no jobs out there. So why aren’t more Irish people competing for, and securing, these additional hospitality jobs? – Yours, etc,
First published: Mon, Sep 30, 2013, 01:02
Sir, – If we are to have three constituencies for the European Parliament elections (Home news, September 26th) could we simply call them North, South and Dublin? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I’m absolutely flabbergasted by your report by Gordon Deegan (Home News, September 25th) detailing the obscene amount of money paid to a few farmers to conserve a few birds. €11 million to 377 farmers for 144 birds means €29,177 per farmer, and wait for it, €76,388 per bird!
This at a time when medical cards are being withdrawn from sick children and cancer patients, along with all the other cutbacks in health, education, etc. What have we come to and who decides our priorities? – Yours, etc,
Madam – I must take issue with some of the language used by Maeve Sheehan in her article, “Elaine and the fatal attraction of sexual fetish” (Sunday Independent, September 22, 2013). The analysis piece about the discovery of Elaine O’Hara’s remains in the Dublin Mountains was disturbing to me as an average reader.
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The opening paragraphs were especially distasteful in their tone: “A fibia here, a tibia there”, the opening lines read. In my view, this language is flippant, and did not reflect the tone one would use when discussing the remains of a woman who met such a tragic end. I appreciate that there is little a writer can do when describing a scene – but this type of writing is grossly inappropriate, and simply unnecessary in an ‘analysis’ article.
Not only was this description of Ms O’Hara’s remains undignified, but the writer then explained how “a body had been shoved into the undergrowth and left there to rot, gnawed on by wild animals and the bones dragged hither and thither”. What need is there to describe the “gnawing” of Elaine O’Hara’s body? Is this analysis?
The writer then had the presence of mind to add this at the bottom of her article: “The O’Hara family has pleaded for privacy to cope with their loss, understandably distraught at the developments of the past week.”
As much as Maeve Sheehan is correct in asserting the family’s obvious distress, wouldn’t her language as laid out above add further upset to a family member unfortunate enough to read her article?
Edenderry, Co Offaly
Madam – Recently I read an article on the stresses of being a teenage girl and coping with distress in mental health.
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Are we making too big a deal of ‘depression’ among teens? Many people with depression suffer due to financial problems, family issues etc – but what about teenage girls? Teenage girls stress about exams, self-confidence and schoolyard drama. Is this a form of mental illness or just a rite of passage during teen years?
Without a doubt there are many cases of teenage depression, but are we right in branding one in three teenagers as mentally ill?
Caring about appearance, stressing about exams, and having little to no self-confidence is all part of the teen years, and it is important to nourish and encourage girls to accept themselves and enjoy these years. Telling girls they are depressed because they worry about looks and weight isn’t good for their mental state nor will it benefit them in later years. How are girls supposed to differentiate between being upset and being mentally ill?
There are too many influences in the world telling girls to look a specific way, and obviously this will have a negative impact on many.
But learning to accept who you are is more important than being diagnosed with depression. Eating disorders are common among teens, and should be treated as soon as possible. Again, should we brand this as being linked to depression? Severe, yes. Depression? I don’t think so.
Emily O’Grady (16),
Fedamore, Co Limerick
1916 LEADERS HAD OPTIONS LIMITED
Madam – The letters by Mark Harten and Patrick Fleming on the violence and non-mandated aspects of 1916 raise interesting issues (Sunday Independent, Sept 22, 2013).
Mark Harten questions the effectiveness of those who used ‘innocence and shrewdness’ in dealing with the British.
Patrick Fleming, on the other hand, supports the view that ‘constitutional methods would have been better’ than the ‘unelected and unmandated’ rebellion of 1916.
We do, however, have to accept what Patrick Fleming calls ‘the facts of history’.
It could be argued that John Redmond used ‘innocence and shrewdness’ quite well to do what Parnell failed to do, i.e., get Home Rule. But the effectiveness and credibility of constitutional Irish nationalism, under Redmond, was destroyed by the imperial parliament in London.
The threat of civil war against Home Rule by the Ulster Covenanters, expressly backed by Bonar Law, the leader of the Conservative opposition, intimidated the most powerful parliament in the world from implementing its own Act.
The failure of that parliament, at the head of a worldwide empire, to implement an Act, passed and signed into law by the monarch, made the ‘unelected and unmandated’ rising of 1916 inevitable.
Sutton, Dublin 13
DEV KNEW COLLINS COULDN’T DELIVER
Madam – Mark Harten (Sunday Independent, Sept 22, 2013), does not seem to be in tune with modern historical thinking in relation to Michael Collins when he criticises me for leaving the former Irish leader out of my short list of effective politicians in the last 200 years.
He suggests that: “Collins made a great deal of progress for this country and was, indeed, one of the lead negotiators of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that founded this State.
“Collins, of course, does not accord with Mr O’Connell’s conclusions: he was shrewd, but he was certainly no dove, and yet he proved himself quite capable of dealing successfully with the British.”
I understand that the reason Michael Collins was sent to negotiate with the British was because he was not sufficiently competent to realise that he was not going to achieve what he had fought for and that he would have to sell a deal Eamon De Valera would not agree to, even though he sent Collins to do the negotiating.
I feel that Ireland was pushing at an open door at that time in relation to the 26 counties and that much of what happened need not have happened, particularly the civil war. And we’re still up here inside the UK, so it wasn’t good for us.
TIRED OF LONG SEANAD DEBATE
Madam – I am suffering from a new syndrome which I call ‘Seanad fatigue’. The Government first announced its proposals on the abolition of the Seanad in June. Since then the print media has bombarded us with superfluous column inches dedicated, for the most part regurgitating the same old arguments for and against. I suspect that anyone who is going to vote will have made up their mind long ago and will not be swayed by any more enlightened views.
Dunleer, Co Louth
HIS OWN CHILD
Madam – In Barry Egan’s column (Sunday Independent, Sept 22, 2013), he states that a celebrity left her partner at home “babysitting” their son while she attended a birthday party. In the ‘Dear Mary’ column, a man is advised as follows: “On a separate night, your wife should go out with her girlfriends while you babysit.”
According to the dictionary, the meaning of ‘babysit’ is to “look after a child or children while the parents are out”. When a man is socialising, nobody says his wife is babysitting. The fact that this word is used when the man is at home implies that the child is not really his responsibility, that he is doing his wife or partner a favour.
So, if a woman is out and somebody enquires “Is your husband babysitting?”, they should be told “No, he is looking after his own children!”
Navan, Co Meath
TELL CENTRAL BANK TO GET ON WITH IT
Madam – At last your newspaper, in The Despair Of Debt (Sunday Independent, Sept 22, 2013), has acknowledged the large number of citizens in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s that are struggling and just cannot cope with super-sized mortgages.
While economists write reams on the background, knocking ridiculous mileage from the causes of grossly overvalued debt products, they have proved ineffective in the ‘Solutions’, ‘Corrective Actions’ and ‘Continuous Improvement’ departments.
The top priority for people in despair is ‘Solutions’. Industry best practice restructures for grossly overvalued debt is not exactly rocket science. The Central Bank targets for leaving 80 per cent of these mortgage holders dangle in anxiety is just not good enough.
The Central Bank of Ireland plus the Irish banks need to work a 39-hour week and just get on with it.
TOUGH LESSON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS
Madam – Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have learnt a very expensive education about drug trafficking. When you are caught hook, line and sinker it doesn’t matter which way you plead, you are guilty by association.
For the two young women the consequences have been severe and brutally exposed to them by the authorities in Peru.
Anyone who might be gullible enough to consider undertaking the same venture will have a very good appreciation of what they are letting themselves in for when McCollum Connolly and Reid are sentenced next month.
However, the general rule of thumb is very straightforward when considering smuggling illegal substances in any jurisdiction; leave well alone.
Unless you can cope with losing years of your liberty incarcerated in virtual hellholes. The forfeiting of dignity and basic human rights in most circumstances. Plus the added dubious bonus of daily violence among your new-found chums
Some lessons are best never to be tutored in?
New Ross, Co Wexford