1 October 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 launch a rocket with one of them in it into outer space from Troutbridge. Priceless.
We good to hospital Mary a bit better. 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.
Professor Alan Carrington
Professor Alan Carrington, the chemist who has died aged 79, specialised in investigating the structure of molecules.
6:55PM BST 30 Sep 2013
Working at the level of subatomic particles, Carrington was aided by rapid developments in the abstruse and emerging world of quantum theory, which examines the apparently bizarre behaviour of the smallest units of matter. Yet his research had crucial practical applications, furthering our understanding of the ways atoms bond together.
Alan Carrington was born on January 6 1934, the son of Albert and Constance Carrington (née Nelson). He was educated at Colfe’s Grammar School and the University of Southampton where, as well as his aptitude for maths and sciences, it became clear that he was also blessed with great musical talent.
After completing his PhD he became a Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge, in 1959. It was there that Carrington worked alongside Christopher Longuet-Higgins, professor of theoretical chemistry and widely considered one of the pioneers of quantum theory as applied to molecular systems (later he would develop a profound interest in artificial intelligence).
On returning to Southampton in 1967, Carrington developed a reputation as an eminent chemist, wholly dedicated to his science. This was not always easy, particularly at a time when academics were beginning to come under significant pressure to do work of immediate commercial interest. Carrington instead pursued fundamental molecular science. This involved “interrogating” molecules through various spectroscopic methods.
In particular Carrington worked on electron spin resonance. A spinning electron creates its own magnetic field. Any molecule with an unpaired electron (which is known as a “free radical”) can thus – in the presence of an external magnetic field – exist in two states. In the first, stable, state, the field due to the electron spin opposes the external magnetic field – in an analogy with two bar magnets, the North pole of one is adjacent to the South pole of the other. The second, unstable, and higher energy state, occurs where the “North pole” of one is adjacent to the “North pole” of the other.
By driving electron pairs from stable to unstable states, Carrington was able to make breakthroughs in the field of electron distribution, so becoming a leading international figure in determining the structure of molecules. Later he also used vibrational spectroscopy and microwaves – the former method identifying the strength of bonds between atoms; the latter allowing the examination of the molecule in rotation, further revealing its structure.
Doing so successfully proved extremely challenging. Accurate use of spectroscopy required an understanding of the energy levels of a molecule. Yet according to quantum theory it is impossible to observe both the position and the energy of a subatomic particle, because the act of observation will change the particle’s energy. However Carrington understood that it is possible to observe the transition between two states, for example the energy at which electrons jump between orbitals around an atom’s nucleus.
He remained at Southampton until 1999, barring a three-year break between 1984-1987 at the University of Oxford, where he was professor of chemistry.
Never one to work on (comparatively) large molecules, in recent times he worked on the H3+ ion, one of the simplest triatomic bodies in existence. He resisted the urge to examine molecules in solution, preferring to study them in isolation. This required an extremely sophisticated set-up at his laboratory.
Outside that laboratory, Carrington was a sociable man and a keen sportsman. He enjoyed wicketkeeping for his local cricket team, and was a dedicated sailor, keeping a 505 dinghy on the Hamble, and later a larger boat at Lymington. Above all, however, he was a superb pianist. One of his proudest moments came alongside the 1971 Nobel laureate for Chemistry, Gerhard Herzberg. Just as Carrington had considered a career as a concert pianist, so Herzberg had mulled a career as an opera singer. Though they had preferred sciences, the two men put on a concert together which was very well received.
Alan Carrington was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1971. He received the Faraday Lectureship Prize in 1986 and the Davy Medal in 1992. He was appointed CBE in 1999.
He is survived by his wife and their three children. Their daughter, Rebecca Carrington, is a professional viola player; their son, Simon Carrington, is principal timpanist at the London Philharmonic Orchestra and senior timpani professor at the Royal Academy of Music.
Alan Carrington, born January 6 1934, died August 31 2013
I was disappointed by the lack of understanding of the dynamic position in the UK higher education sector expressed in your article (Party less, pay more: deal that delivers degrees a lot sooner, 28 September).
First, there are now four private, non-state-funded institutions in the UK to have been granted university title, not one. The University of Buckingham and Regent’s University London are not-for-profit charities that offer a broad portfolio of programmes, have strong international linkages and maintain a research profile. The University of Law and BPP University of Professional Studies have fewer degree students but offer first-rate professional training with real value for money. They are predominantly UK-focused but will undoubtedly increase their degree programmes and international reach.
Second, a university experience is not simply about gaining knowledge for a profession but about developing broader awareness, skills, perspectives and an understanding of the globalising environment. At Regent’s our students, from more than 140 countries, work face to face with tutors and each other for a minimum of 20 hours a week to gain an understanding of subjects and approaches other than their own, and enjoy their university years socialising – if you must, “partying” – to develop contacts that they will maintain throughout their lives.
This cannot be done in two years. Our programmes take three to four years. Without this breadth of experience we would not see many of the global leaders that play such a vital role in every area of our lives.
It may cost more upfront but the investment is justified by the return.
Prof Aldwyn Cooper
Vice-chancellor and CEO, Regent’s University London
What is remarkable about the Ministry of Defence document (How to sell wars to public – MoD study, 27 September) is that it wrongly argues that there was “robust” support for military operations in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 2007.
The first opinion poll indicating that a majority of the British public supported withdrawal was published in September 1971. From the mid-70s until the peace process there were consistent majorities in favour of withdrawal. The Conservative government and the military referred to the Northern Ireland experience as a reason not to become more aggressively involved in Yugoslavia in 1991.
Polls suggested majority public opposition to the war in Afghanistan a few months after the escalation of Britain’s involvement in 2006. This preceded the Wootton Bassett phenomenon and General Sir Richard Dannatt’s statement in 2010 that the commemoration could fuel support for British withdrawal.
Editor, The British Approach to Counterinsurgency (Macmillan, 2010)
• Your story demonstrates the impact that more than a decade of anti-war campaigning has had on public opinion. The MoD is clearly worried that such opinion makes it harder to wage future wars.
However we are concerned about the military response to this: more use of private security firms, drones and other remote weapons, and cyber operations. These are seen as less likely to be unpopular, because they do not involve high levels of British forces casualties. Surely a better course would be to recognise that these wars were wrong in the first place, and to look for solutions that bring peace.
Jeremy Corbyn MP Chair, Lindsey German Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
• If the MoD wants to deaden our senses to Nineteen-Eighty-Four-style endless distant conflicts resulting in an ongoing stream of pointless deaths rather than protect and defend its citizens and territory at home, it’s time it came clean and renamed itself the Ministry for War.
Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire
The nauseating effrontery of Michael Herzog’s jeremiad at what he terms “the smile offensive” of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, is breathtaking (Israel can’t trust Iran, 28 September). While he talks of “Iran’s history of deceit” over its “continual pursuit of nuclear weapons”, not a word is uttered about Israel’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, which it still officially denies and which for years it concealed from the world until Mordechai Vanunu exposed them, for which “crime” he was abducted and imprisoned for 18 years and has been denied permission to leave Israel ever since. And complete silence on Israel’s refusal to sign the non-proliferation treaty. Nor has he anything to say on the manner in which, applying the apt words of Milton’s Lycidas to the settlers’ colonisation of Palestinian lands under successive Israeli administrations, “the grim wolf, with privy paw, daily devours apace, and nothing said”.
All this from a man who, for the past 20 years or more, has played a key role in Israel both in the so-called “peace process” and as a senior aide acting as liaison between the Israel defence ministry, the IDF, the intelligence community and Israel’s powerful defence establishment, and who concludes his article with an ominous statement that Israel “will be left alone with a terrible decision between ‘the bomb’ and ‘the bombing'”.
It really is time for Jews worldwide to stand up and be counted: dissociate us from the suicidal impulses that are ever present in Israel.
• Michael Herzog might well be asked: why can’t Iran and most of Israel’s neighbours trust the Tel Aviv regime? Doubtless, were the UN to impose on Israel the kind of sanctions levied on Iran, forcing the regime to comply with international law, we would see a speedy, just resolution to the 65 years of oppression suffered by the Palestinian people.
• With Iran, it’s not really about nuclear weapons at all. It’s about the hawks in Israel and the US needing a suitable enemy to justify their belligerence. Rouhani doesn’t fit the bill – they’d rather have Ahmadinejad.
• Simon Jenkins (If we fear an Iranian bomb, we should back Rouhani, 27 September) rightly questions the effectiveness of sanctions, but he misses the irony of what has happened with Iran.
“Targeted sanctions” were devised in the late 1990s as a response to the manifest failures of traditional, broad-based economic sanctions. In 2006 this new approach was adopted to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme. The original aim was to focus economic pressure on key individuals and entities, but avoid causing extensive collateral damage to the general population. However, having failed to achieve anything, the sanctions regime has been successively “toughened” (ie expanded). The result is the sort of broad-based economic blockade that everyone agreed long ago to be a bad idea. It would seem that as far as sanctions are concerned what goes around comes around.
Associate fellow, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies
• It is difficult to disagree with the logic of Simon Jenkins, but he has overlooked a political dynamic. He says “Israel’s boycott of Iran’s hand of friendship is madness”. Not so. The “existential threat” reinforces US support for Israel and its hostility towards Iran. This leverage is too important to give away. And Israel has probably calculated that a rapprochement led by Obama can be defeated in Congress, especially with its help. To break this dynamic, Britain and Europe need to show willingness to pursue rapprochement without, if need be, the US.
• Is the Netanyahu who has “vowed to ‘tell the truth’ about Iran’s nuclear programme” (Report, 30 September) the same Netanyahu who refuses to tell the truth about Israel’s huge stockpile of nuclear warheads and the missiles with which to fire them, and who refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?
Gerald Kaufman MP
Labour, Manchester Gorton
Saturday’s magazine leaves me fashionably confused for the week ahead. On the one hand I’m shown how to pair a kilt with a white silk blouse that has a gold designer zip at the front (How to dress, Weekend, 28 September). And then on the same page you tell me that superfluous zips are “going down” (The measure). To quote: “a zip in the centre of a blouse doesn’t cut it”. Which is right, please?
• Not only were the “I’m Backing Britain” T-shirts made in Portugal (Report, 30 September), the union flag was printed upside down as well (the distress signal). Source: Blue Peter, 1968.
• I very much enjoyed the photographs and paintings illustrating Simon Jenkins’ selection of views (50 best views in England, 28 September) and have already decided to visit the few that I have not already seen. I have only one quibble. I have lived in or near Liverpool for more than 50 years and have never heard anybody referring to the buildings at the Pierhead as “The Three Graces”.
• So Malcolm Gladwell thinks that Canada has no luxury brands (Interview, G2, 30 September). Has he never stayed at a Four Seasons hotel?
• Regarding unmanned airliners (‘This is your pilot sleeping…’, G2, 30 September), several years ago I was told by an aircraft designer that plans were afoot to have a plane manned only by a dog and one pilot. The dog was there to attack the pilot if he touched any of the controls, and the pilot was there to feed the dog.
• I’ve heard so much about the economic crisis, the effects of the cuts, the unfairness of who pays how much tax, and more. There’s one thing I haven’t heard: I’d pay an extra penny per pound in income tax to protect the most vulnerable from the cuts. Wouldn’t you?
There are remarkably few Jobcentres in villages and small towns. Equally, in many rural areas, there is little or no public transport. How much will the Chancellor grant in extra benefits to the long-term unemployed to allow them to afford either the petrol or taxi fares to attend a Jobcentre that is, possibly, 25 or more miles away? Would he prefer tented encampments outside Jobcentres in larger towns so that people can be sure of being there daily?
Or perhaps he envisages small re-enactments of the Jarrow march as streams of people walk for hours to the Jobcentre and then back again? It is doubtful whether they would also find time to pick up litter or volunteer for charity.
As for those currently employed in clearing litter or cooking for elderly people, presumably they would be sacked so that the unemployed can do their jobs. Then, of course, they could find themselves doing their old jobs, but unpaid.
It would be reassuring to voters and taxpayers if the Chancellor would put such silly ideas to some sort of Common Sense Committee before he spouts them off to rest of the UK.
Pamela Guyatt, Lamerton, Devon
The Government decides to reduce the welfare bill by encouraging people to downsize (bedroom tax). It seems a good idea except that there are thousands more possible applicants for smaller homes than properties available.
They then decide to help people to buy their own homes by backing a 95 per cent mortgage. The demand will rise along with house prices because there are not enough affordable homes being built.
So then good old George decides to reduce the unemployed figure by forcing the long-term unemployed into work. How? There are not sufficient jobs available for school leavers and employable people. Who will employ those who prefer to live on benefits?
I despair of this government ever thinking a plan through. Any manager worth his salt would consider the whole programme, not just the party conference sound bite.
W Sandys, Chinnor, Oxfordshire
Pilots awake but still a danger to passengers
There is a danger arising from aircrew fatigue (report, 27 September) more insidious than falling asleep at the controls, and that is impairment of mental faculties, which may lead to poor judgement when decisions must be taken in critical situations. A fatigued pilot may be “awake” but not at his or her best at assimilating and responding to inputs to the brain from eyes, ears, and tactile senses.
Although alarming, both pilots falling asleep in an airliner flying straight and level on autopilot might not be as hazardous for passengers as an “awake” but fatigued crew flying a manual approach and landing at an airport poorly equipped with navigational aids in marginal weather conditions. Fatigued pilots might not even be aware that their judgement has become impaired.
Julien Evans, Retired Boeing 757 captain, Chesham, Buckinghamshire
Drug laws weakened
You ask (leading article, 30 September) how “die-hard supporters of the status quo” will react to the latest call for weaker drug laws, from the Chief Constable of Durham. The question itself and the absurd claim that drug liberalisers are “silenced” by derision show a curious lack of knowledge or observation.
Liberalisers are in fact guaranteed a prominent and uncritical hearing in most of the British media. Politicians, it is true, noisily proclaim their supposed toughness on the subject to gullible media. But the status quo – as any police officer should know – is that informal decriminalisation of drugs has been under way in this country for more than 40 years, and many of the ills that we now see are the results of that.
Those caught in possession of illegal drugs, including those in Class ‘A’, rarely face any serious punishment. Abusers of heroin are expensively provided with substitutes (mostly methadone) by the taxpayer.
As for the connection between drugs and crime, there is no reason to believe that legalisation would end it. Much crime in this country is based on the smuggling of cigarettes, and on the manufacture of alcohol. Both of these are, for better or worse, entirely legal.
PETER HITCHENS, London W8
Women who choose niqab
Patricia Baxter (Letters, 26 September) puts wearing the niqab in the same category as genital mutilation and honour killings. This will not do – the latter are monstrous things done to people; yet it is clear from your interview with Shalina Litt on 18 September that some women are choosing to wear the niqab.
A Radio 4 interview with a lady called Anisha Patel told how she and her teenage daughter were approached by two men who tore off her daughter’s face veil and then walked away laughing. The report said that the Cross-government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred put some blame on the media for prejudice against Muslims, and said that stories about the veil had not helped.
Your columnists have contributed to this. Such intolerance, expressed in liberal papers like the Independent, and the failure even to try to understand niqab-wearers’ point of view, are truly shocking.
John Dakin, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
The ostensible purpose of the niqab is to be modest. To most English people it is something strange and exotic, so it looks like attention-seeking.
I suspect that many of the new teenage adopters will eventually find that life is more fulfilling without it. Too much heavy-handed criticism will only polarise opinions.
David Ridge, London N19
Alleged bias in GP exam pass rates
I was dismayed by your report (“Ethnic minority doctors far less likely to get senior NHS jobs”, 27 September) about an article on bmj.com, which considered unproven allegations of discrimination against black and minority ethnic (BME) medical graduates taking our MRCGP examination – which is a gateway for entrance into general practice.
Your article said the report on bmj.com had stated that “racial discrimination in the marking of the [exam]” could not be “excluded” as a reason for the fact that BME candidates – many of whom are international students – fail our exam at a greater rate than their white counterparts. However, on the very same day as the publication of the bmj.com article, a six-month independent investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) found that “the method of assessment is not a reason for the differential outcomes [observed]”.
The authors of the GMC report said: “Our observations suggest that international medical graduates are treated exactly the same as British graduates.” They went on to say that “lack of preparedness” of international medical graduates “may be an explanation for the differences”.
The RCGP takes equality issues extremely seriously, and the official GMC report notes that we ensure all our examiners have “mandatory training” in equality and diversity issues.
Dr Clare Gerada, Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners, London NW1
Ian Dickins (letters, 24 September) displays supernatural certainty about what would have happened if the Lib Dems had not coalesced with the Conservatives. True, a minority Conservative government might have swiftly fallen and been replaced by a majority Conservative government. Even so, that would have been a different government, in which moderate Conservatives might have been stronger, less needful of support from the right.
But other possibilities are also conceivable. The Lib Dems might have continued to rise in popularity, and been even stronger in a second election. Labour might have got over their downfall and become more ready for a centre-left coalition. Alternative history-writing offers many possibilities for the imagination: the “no alternative” defence for the Coalition does not stand scrutiny.
Professor John Coleman, Oxford
Rail lines ripped up in the 1960s
Malcolm Everett’ claim (letters, 27 September) that our Victorian forbears “omitted to provide sufficient north-south rail capacity” is misleading.
The lack of capacity now – which Mr Everett quotes in arguing for HS2 – is as much about what was foolishly ripped up or down-graded in the mid-20th century as it is about what was built in the first place.
The Great Central main line from London to Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester was built right at the end of the Victorian era as a high-speed main line, and it was built to more generous dimensions than earlier railways so it could take the larger continental European trains. It would be a valuable asset now had it not been thrown away by closure in the 1960s.
John Harrison, Wokingham
My journey home from central Manchester on Sunday was considerably disrupted by row upon row of coaches which had brought protesters from south of Watford to the TUC march. What a pity we don’t already have HS2 so they could all have come to Manchester by train.
Graham Curtis, Manchester
Food aid will kill future children
Thoughtlessly providing food aid for children today will not merely mean that they might die tomorrow, as Ray Chandler implies (Letters, 24 September): it also means that an exponentially increasing number of children will inevitably die tomorrow. So will the environment which has hitherto supported their forebears.
I know that the cold-blooded expression of such facts opposes all sentiments of kindness and dignity, but the laws of mathematics apply to biological systems, which include ourselves, as much as they do to the performance of weaponry.
The unconditional provision of food alone or, probably worse, of food and an alien culture, may well increase the eventual total suffering.
Sidney Alford, Corsham, Wiltshire
Was that a “Spot the Psychopath” photo-competition that accompanied the story “Netanyahu moves to block Iran’s return to diplomacy” (30 September)?
Eddie Dougall, Walsham le Willows, Suffolk
‘Competition between children through incessant testing and labelling results in a public sense of failure for the vast majority’
Sir, We, the undersigned academics and children’s authors, are gravely concerned at the impact that current developments in state education in England are likely to have on our children and their futures.
The new national policies around curriculum, assessment and accountability are taking enormous risks with the quality of children’s lives and learning. Competition between children through incessant testing and labelling results in a public sense of failure for the vast majority. The drive towards ever-higher attainment in national tests leads inevitably to teaching to the test, which narrows the range of learning experiences. Harmful stress is put on young people, their parents and their teachers.
These damaging developments must stop. If they go ahead there will be devastating consequences for children’s mental health, for future opportunities and, most importantly, for the quality of childhood itself. Children are natural learners who deserve an abundance of new experience, but the proposed straitjacket of government demands on their teachers will destroy the educational richness that should be children’s birthright. Childhood is too important to be squandered or exploited. It needs wide horizons, high hopes, confident expectation and absorption in the joys and challenges of meaningful learning.
We urge the Government to suspend its proposed changes in education and to establish a major Commission that examines the potential consequences of these proposals and, if necessary, offers alternatives. It is time to seek a consensus of parents, teachers, academics, children’s authors, business leaders, politicians of all parties and other public figures to decide on what we want for our children and how best to achieve it. Arrest change and seek consensus on the future of education.
Prof Michael Bassey, Nottingham Trent University; Susan Cox, University of East Anglia; Prof Colin Richards, Cumbria University; Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate; Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate; Rachel Kelly, Chief Executive, Reading Matters; Alan Gibbons, author; Prof Patrick Ainley, Greenwich University; Sylvie Allendyke, Manchester Metropolitan University; Ashley Barnes, Sheffield Hallam University; Jonathan Barnes, Canterbury Christ Church University; Prof Bernard Barker, Leicester University; Prof Lori Beckett, Leeds Metropoitan University; Jon Berry, Hertfordshire University; Prof Ron Best, Roehampton University; Tamara Bibby, Institute of Education, London; Prof William Boyle, Manchester University; Prof Patricia Broadfoot, Bristol University; Prof Margaret Brown, King’s College London; Prof Tony Brown, Manchester Metropolitan University; Patricia Carroll, University of Cumbria; Prof Joyce Canaan, Birmingham City University; Prof Guy Claxton, Winchester University; Prof Clyde Chitty, Goldsmiths College, London; John Coe, Oxford Brookes University; Prof Frank Coffield, Institute of Education, London; Prof Helen Colley, Huddersfield University; Lucy Cooker, Nottingham University; David Cudworth, De Montford University; Gerry Czerniawski, University of East London, Helen Davenport, Manchester Metropolitan University; Kelly Davey Nicklin, Birmingham City University; Helen Demetriou, Cambridge University; Prof Justin Dillon, King’s College London; Sean Doyle, Institute of Education, London; Tony Eaude, Oxford University; Gail Edwards, Newcastle University; Anne Emerson, Nottingham University; Prof Keri Facer, Bristol University; Prof Martin Fautley, Birmingham City University; Prof Michael Fielding, Institute of Education, London; Tony Fisher, Nottingham Univerity; Judith Flynn, Manchester Metropolitan University; Colin Foster, Nottingham University; Prof Harvey Goldstein, Bristol University; Peter Gates, Nottingham University; Amy Godoy-Pressland, University of East Anglia; Tracey Goodyere, Birmingham City University; Prof Lucy Green, Institute of Education, London; Austin Griffiths, De Montford University; Prof Vivienne Griffiths, Canterbury Christ Church University; Stephen Griffin Newman, University College; Marilyn Grossman, Institute of Education, London; Prof Helen Gunter, Manchester University; Linda Hammersley-Fletcher, Manchester Metropolitan University; Jon Hanneke Jones, Newcastle University; Prof Richard Hatcher, Birmingham City University; Joanna Haynes, Plymouth University; Pete Hick, Manchester Metropolitan University; Christine Hickman, Liverpool John Moore University; Philip Hood, Nottingham University; Gillian Johnson, Nottingham University; Louise Khalid, Birmingham City University; Debra Kidd, Manchester Metropolitan University; Rene Koglbauer, Newcastle University; Prof Marilyn Leask, Bedford University; Prof David Leat, Newcastle University; Chris Loynes, Cumbria University; Gee Macrory, Manchester Metropolitan University; Prof Meg Maguire, King’s College London; Ralph Manning, University of East Anglia; Alpesh Masuria, Anglia Ruskin University; Gillian Marie McGillivray, Newman University; Jane Murray, Northampton University; Prof Roger Murphy, Nottingham University; Jane O’Connor, Birmingham University; Andrew Pearce, Leeds Trinity University; Rajesh Patel, De Montford University; Prof Heather Piper, Manchester Metropolitan University; Prof Richard Pring, Oxford University; Ariza Pura, Manchester Metropolitan University; Prof Alex Rendall, Birmingham City University; Gill Roberts, Birmingham City University; Prof Anna Robinson-Pant, University of East Anglia; Lesley Saunders, Institute of Education, London; John Schostak, Manchester Metropolitan University; Stephen Scoffham, Canterbury Christ Church University; Mark Simmons, Nottingham University; Peter Sorensen, Nottingham University; Prof Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham; Alison Taysum, Leicester University; Spyros Themelis, Middlesex University; Prof Norman Thomas, Hertfordshire University; Prof Pat Thomson, Nottingham University; Prof Paul Thomson, Nottingham University; Dave Trotman, Newman University; Prof Stan Tucker, Newman University College; Mary Tyler, De Montford University; John Wadsworth, Goldsmiths College, London; David Westgate, Newcastle University; Prof Julian Williams, Manchester University; Peter Wright, Institute of Education, London; Prof Terry Wrigley, Leeds Metropolitan University; Sarah Youngie, De Montford University; Janine Amos; Bernard Ashley; Ros Asquith; Steve Barlow; Martyn Bedford; Susan Bentley; Jon Berry; Mary Bird; Helen Bonney; Steve Bowkett; Lynn Breeze; Marilyn Brocklehurst; Melvin Burgess; Anne Cassidy; Cathy Cassidy; Alison Clarke; Lucy Coates; Isabella Coles; Rebecca Colby; Jo Cotterill; Dave Cousins; Kevin Crossley-Holland; Michael Dance; Berlie Doherty; Thomas Donaldson; Tommy Donbavand; Kay Dunbar; Trevor East; John Foster; Janet Foxley; Prof Maureen Freely; Mark Gallagher; Owen Gallagher; Carolyn Garcia; Marie Gray; Julie Green; R. S. Gregory; Joanna De Guia; Daniel Hahn; David Hamer; Sue Hampton; Sue Hardy-Dawson; Vanessa Harbour; Mary Heycock; Mary Hoffman; Michael Holroyd; Lynn Huggins-Cooper; Bernadette Hyland; Matt Imrie; Marie-Louise Jensen; Curtis Jobling; Kelly Jones; Terry Jones; Naomi Kingston; Aliss Langridge; Tanya Landman; Alison Macdonald; Bethan Marshall; Sharon Markless; Jane McLoughlin; Katherine Morgan; Moira Munro; Joanna Nadin; Beverley Naidoo; Carol Naylor; Donald Nelson; Angela Noble; Michael O’Connor; Korky Paul; Duncan Pile; Bali Rai; Danuta Reah; Anne Rooney; Michael Rose; Michael Rosen; Anita Rowe; Kate Scott; Louise Searl; Andy Seed; Izabella Shaw; Lesley Sharpling; Colette Shine; Nicky Singer; Alison Smith; Jane Spence; Susan Stegell; Jeremy Strong; Alan Summers; Sara Tomlinson; Jacob Turner; Sarah Vanden-Abeele; Meena Vyas; Kay Waddilove; Steve Weatherill
Sir, The Head Master of Rugby School (letter, Sept 28) is surely right in underlining the importance of encouraging students to embrace uncertainty, tolerate ambiguity and cultivate constructive reflection. The problem is that these qualities are largely independent of content, subject and the formal curriculum. They are not susceptible to education management but depend on the calibre, personality and skills of the teacher.
All the teacher training in the world is as nothing compared to one’s own memories of one’s own great teachers. Where such role models are sparse the solution lies not in further layers of educational theory but in the mentoring of new teachers by those with the required element of pedagogic charisma. Reinstating such excellence is not a quick process.
Dr David Brancher
Sir, Your Good University Guide (Sept 28) shows that Europe’s most successful economy, Germany, has no universities in the top 35 of the world ranking whereas we have four of the top ten. Does this suggest that we have the wrong sort of university?
Buckland Brewer, Devon
Private investors need to be persuaded to spend billions of pounds to create a cleaner and more efficient power sector for the UK
Sir, It is disappointing that the Chancellor has chosen to create more confusion about the direction of government policy on energy and climate change (“Osborne threatens to put brake on green taxes”, Sept 28).
His comments are likely to further undermine the confidence of private investors who need to be persuaded to spend billions of pounds to create a cleaner and more efficient power sector for the UK. Such investment would create jobs and growth while the economy is still sluggish, unemployment is high, interest rates are low, and many potential investors are in a strongly liquid position.
The Chancellor’s argument that the UK should slow down the rate of its reductions in greenhouse gases because he does not want us to be “the only people out there in front of the rest of the world” is based on flawed analysis. Many other countries are taking strong action, including China, which is moving towards a low-carbon future through its 12th five-year plan and intentions for the 13th plan.
Mr Osborne should remember that the main driver of the increase in energy bills over the past few years has been the UK’s increasing dependence on expensive imports of oil and gas. The Government should show it is serious about low-carbon energy because vacillation deters investment, increases the likelihood that the lights go out, and makes the UK a much less attractive place to do business.
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
The fund could be best used if every cancer patient had their genome and that of their tumour sequenced before treatment
Sir, The extra £400 million that is being put into the Cancer Drugs Fund (“Cancer fund extended”, report, Sept 28) is to be welcomed. The fund provides access for patients to drugs that have not yet been approved by NICE. I suggest that the fund could be best used if every cancer patient had their genome and that of their tumour sequenced before treatment. Such sequencing is already carried out in several centres. Most of the new cancer drugs are specifically targeted, and comparing the sequence of the tumour DNA to the patient’s normal DNA can show whether any particular drug could be effective.
Taking this approach would maximise the effectiveness of treatment and, by not treating patients with drugs that would not work on their tumour, would save money and avoid those patients being needlessly exposed to any adverse side affects of the drug.
The cost of whole genome sequencing is falling, and will fall further as more sequences are done; it is already less than the cost of a course of treatment with any of the new cancer drugs. So adopting this approach would be a win-win both for patients and the NHS.
Moreover, if the sequences are contributed to the public database then this will add to the sum of knowledge about genetic changes in tumours, improving future treatment regimes and helping the development of new drugs.
Dr A. R. Williamson
‘When Keynes put forward his economic theories he was responding to the problems of his times within the conditions of those times’
Sir, The name of John Maynard Keynes seems to have become ever more prominent recently (letter, Sept 27). The difficulty is that our economic problems are the problems of our times. When Keynes put forward his economic theories he was responding to the problems of his times within the conditions of those times. For example, in the 1930s the British Empire was still in existence: it had massive and underutilised economic resources that could be used to bolster the British economy. Nobody can be sure what he would have proposed as the way out of today’s problems. It is likely he would have made radical proposals not considered either by those invoking his name or by those opposing him. The shame is that he is not here to put forward some innovative cure.
Goldsborough, N Yorks
‘The evidence from the rest of the Western world is that a more balanced provision between ownership and secure rental is preferred’
Sir, Tim Montgomerie (Sept 30) is correct in identifying access to decent and affordable housing as a cornerstone of family stability, but he is wrong in focusing on home ownership as the only route. The evidence from the rest of the Western world is that a more balanced provision between ownership and secure rental is preferred. Mrs Thatcher’s policies on council housing lie behind today’s problems, not because of the sales aspects but for the forced removal of local authorities from the affordable housing market. For all their faults it should be remembered that, by and large, local authority-directed housing programmes had all but resolved the housing crisis created by the Second World War by the time Mrs Thatcher came to power.
We need more homes; politicians need to be less blinkered as to how they are provided.
SIR – On the matter of the origins of stage names (Letters, September 26), I believe Vesta Tilley, the male impersonator, born Matilda Powles, got the name Vesta after her manager heard someone say, “Pass the Vestas, Tilley.”
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
SIR – Hutton Conyers and Bretton Woods, the music-hall artists, stayed at a pub run by my parents in the Fifties, when they appeared at the Chatham Empire. Their stage names came from a village in Yorkshire and a resort in New Hampshire.
SIR – David Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives, trumpeted a £200 tax break for married couples on the very day when thousands of us were dropping off our children at university, to face an £18,000 fees hike over a three-year course.
If he doesn’t expect us to feel as if we are being treated as fools, what does he expect?
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
SIR – I wish politicians would stop courting votes with ill-thought-out carrots. The electorate yearns for less government, less tax and the freedom to dispose of its income as it chooses.
A music-hall artiste by any other name…
30 Sep 2013
SIR – The party conference season has brought a pre-election bribe-athon, with free school meals, frozen energy bills and married-couple allowances.
But, given the uproar created by the introduction of the Same Sex Marriage Bill – which did not feature in any party’s manifesto – perhaps the electorate should be more concerned with things the parties intend to introduce but won’t have the courtesy to mention before the election.
Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire
SIR – The Prime Minister says that marriage should be encouraged, and I agree. Yet by using the tax system, he will give those who become widows or widowers a £200 tax increase. Can it be right that the mourning wife of a soldier killed in action gets a higher tax bill?
Hove, East Sussex
SIR – Mr Cameron’s preoccupation with securing a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats (report, September 28) doesn’t inspire confidence. I don’t know whether it is due to arrogance or stupidity that he is not entering into discussions with Ukip, whose membership is largely made up of Right-of-centre Labour supporters and disaffected Tories.
SIR – It will not surprise Conservatives that Mr Cameron has held talks about a second coalition. It seems that he has finally recognised that his brand of politics without principle is so repulsive to former and potential Conservative voters that he has no other chance of clinging to power.
Dr Max Gammon
SIR – You report that Mr Cameron is seeking a further coalition with the Liberal Democrats to foil those people who vote against him.
I suggest he also seeks a coalition with Labour, and we can stop wasting money on elections.
The cost of drink
SIR – Britain has a drinking problem. Every year, alcohol-related harm is estimated to cost society £21 billion and the NHS in England £3.5 billion, yet we continue to drink to massive excess.
The Government’s 2012 Alcohol Strategy rightly committed it to a minimum unit price for alcohol and better access to treatment. But 18 months later, pricing proposals have now been dropped and treatment rates remain shamefully low.
The simplest way to reduce alcohol-related harm is to ban irresponsibly cheap drinks. This has been demonstrated in countries such as Canada, where minimum unit pricing has led to a 32 per cent reduction in wholly alcohol-related deaths.
Despite the enormous economic impact, and the burden on individuals and families, only about 6 per cent of people in England who are dependent on alcohol receive treatment. Yet evidence shows that for every £1 invested in specialist alcohol treatment, £5 is saved on health, welfare and crime costs.
The NHS acknowledges the impact of alcohol-related liver disease. A reduction in alcohol consumption would help to alleviate this and other such diseases.
As the Conservative Party meets in Manchester, we urge David Cameron to reinstate his commitment to minimum unit pricing and increased access to treatment.
Ambassador, Time to Change
Chief Executive, Alcohol Concern
Institute of Alcohol Studies
Professor Oscar D’Agnone
Medical Director, Crime Reduction Initiatives
Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health
Dr Nigel Carter
British Dental Health Foundation
Director of Policy, Adfam
Dr Carsten Grimm
Clinical Lead, Alcohol Misuse Services
Locala Community Interest Company, Kirklees
Director of Health, Family Planning Association
Dr Linda Harris
Chief Executive, Spectrum Community Health
Deputy CEO, Brook
Dr Francis Keaney
Vice-Chairman, Addiction Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Kieran Moriarty
British Society of Gastroenterology
Dr Tony Rao
Chairman, Royal College of Psychiatrists Older People’s Substance Misuse Working Group
Royal Liverpool University
Dr Jenny Lisle
Dr Louise Sell
Dr Fiona Wisniacki
SIR – We agree that the West must help persecuted Christians, whose plight has long been ignored in the media (Cristina Odone, Comment, September 26).
However, rarely in these situations is one minority suffering alone. For instance, although Christians in Pakistan are being murdered with impunity, so too are Hindus, Ahmadiyya and Shia Muslims.
It is time to talk of these situations in terms of human rights. It is time to talk in the same breath of the Christians in Syria; the Shia Muslims in Quetta, Pakistan; the Rohingya Muslims in Burma; the humanists in Indonesia; and the Baha’is in Iran.
The Foreign Office has made freedom of religion or belief a priority. Human rights abuses for many faiths and for humanists are on the increase. Supporters of our all-party group disagree theologically but agree on the right to freedom of religion or belief of those they profoundly disagree with.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has commented on BBC Radio 4: “We would stand up for any minority that is being targeted because of its faith. It is not acceptable to attack people because of their faith.”
It is 65 years since freedom of religion or belief was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the wake of the Holocaust.
We shall be asking the Government to commemorate this anniversary with the appointment of an Ambassador on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Baroness Berridge (Con), Chairman
Lord Alton (Crossbench)
Jim Dobbin MP (Lab)
Angie Bray MP (Con)
Baroness Cox (Crossbench)
All Party Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief
Too many handles
SIR – Clive Davidson (Letters, September 28) is quite right about public-sector titles getting too complex.
At a recent meeting at Wythenshawe Hospital (now the University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust), I had the pleasure of meeting the Directorate Manager, Respiratory Medicine Directorate; the Directorate Manager, Cardiothoracic Directorate; someone from the Patient Experience Team and the Chief Nurse.
I can’t be certain, but I think they were all nurses.
Edwina Currie Jones
High Peak, Derbyshire
SIR – Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary (Interview, September 28), insists that “GPs must treat elderly better”. He also says: “Doctors will be encouraged to consult their patients via email to save time and money.” Should he be reminded that, according to statistics, less than one in four elderly persons have access to the internet?
Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Vicki Woods (Comment, September 28) wonders why her dictionary prefers crematoria but referendums.
In Latin the ending -orium has the plural -oria. There are two endings -ndum: the future passive participle (sometimes confusingly called the gerundive) as in memorandum, which forms its plural in the same way as -orium, and the gerund, which, in Latin, has no plural at all.
If referendum meant “a matter which should be referred to the people”, the plural would end in -a. But it does not: it means the act of reference. Referenda is therefore a malapropism.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Stamp of Britishness
SIR – As the instigator of the oldest postal service, Britain is not required to show the name of the country, just the monarch’s head. It is one of the many things that defines the nation. Selling off the Royal Mail would be inappropriate if the Queen’s head cannot be guaranteed to appear on our stamps.
Dr A P J Lake
St Asaph, Denbighshire
The myth of television detector vans
SIR – From 1960 to 1963, I served as a uniformed Customs officer at Newry on the border of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. Our patrol cars were serviced at the local post office garage where the TV detector vans (report, September 28) were also serviced.
We were often there with the drivers of the vans and engaged them in conversation. The vans were open and there was never anything in them. However, it was probably a very effective deterrent.
Marlow Bottom, Buckinghamshire
SIR – As a television engineer at the time, I remember the old TV detector vans. The working principle was said to be based on picking up the high-frequency output from the third anode – that’s the whistling bit that connects 20,000 volts or so to the chunky body of old television tubes.
It may be that they don’t work today (no third anode), but they once did, I believe.
Joseph G Dawson
SIR – Television detector vans appeared all too regularly on the east London estate where I grew up in the Sixties. The alert would sound through the back gardens: “Switch off, switch off!”
One or two got caught, simply because their televisions were on too loud.
SIR – I’m surprised that the spokesman from TV Licensing was not forthcoming as to why the vans’ detection evidence did not feature in the leaked BBC document.
In answer to a Freedom of Information request from late December 2010, the Corporation – after some prodding – explained: “TVL uses detection evidence when applying for search warrants. If, following service of the warrant, an individual is found to be evading payment of the TV licence, then the evidence obtained via the search warrant is used in court, not the detection evidence.”
Dr Geoff Goolnik
Sir, – We are a diverse group of politicians, and we will all vote No in the Seanad abolition referendum.
We come from different political parties; some have never been members of any political party. We come from across every social, religious, and educational background.
We agree on very few things, but we agree to vote No. The interests of Ireland are best served if the Irish people vote No. The Seanad has an important role to play in our democracy.
There are many reasons to vote No, each of us has their own reasons why we will vote No. But this is not a sign of discord, it is a sign that a No vote goes beyond politics. – Yours, etc,
Senator SEÁN BARRETT; Senator PAUL BRADFORD; Deputy LUCINDA CREIGHTON; Senator JOHN CROWN; Senator MARK DALY; Deputy STEPHEN DONNELLY; Deputy TERENCE FLANAGAN; MEP MARIAN HARKIN; Senator FIDELMA HEALY EAMES; Senator JAMES HEFFERNAN; Deputy COLM KEAVENEY; Senator JOHN KELLY; Senator DENIS LANDY; Deputy PETER MATHEWS; Deputy MICHAEL McCARTHY;
Deputy MATTIE McGRATH; Deputy FINIAN McGRATH; Senator MARY MORAN; Senator RÓNÁN MULLEN; Deputy DENIS NAUGHTEN; Senator DAVID NORRIS; Senator MARY ANN O’BRIEN; Deputy MAUREEN O’SULLIVAN; Senator FEARGAL QUINN; Deputy SHANE ROSS; Deputy ARTHUR SPRING; Deputy JOANNA TUFFY; Senator JOHN WHELAN & Senator KATHERINE ZAPPONE,
C/o Leinster House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Sir, – Surely Breda O’Brien (Opinion, September 28th) is misguided if she thinks a ballot paper with anything other than the vote on it, will “probably” be counted. A spoiled vote is just that, as any self-respecting scrutineer would tell her. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – What’s the problem with Taoiseach Enda Kenny refusing to debate on Prime Time at Micheál Martin’s invitation? Were I at war with an enemy I would not go to battle on his chosen ground. To do so would prove my real weakness to lead. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I feel Enda Kenny’s refusal to debate with Micheál Martin on RTÉ (Breaking News, September 28th) not only goes against the origins of democracy, but also gives us a flavour of life in Ireland without the Seanad. Surely debate in Ireland is at our core? Is it not the Irish voice that has held our place in the world much more so than our economic relevance? Of course we have to reduce costs, but not at the cost of who we are. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Enda Kenny will not debate the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad because he has realised his mistake and he cannot justify the unjustifiable.
It is a power grab of phenomenal proportions. If this referendum is passed the Taoiseach can then remove Supreme Court judges, the ombudsman and the comptroller and auditor general if he has a sufficiently large majority to which the whip can be applied. Garret FitzGerald would never have proposed such a constitutional amendment. – Yours, etc,
Ardnacrusha, Co Clare.
Sir, – A letter from some of our university colleagues (September 27th) raises some valid points about accountability in Irish governance.
However, we argue that the wider campaign against Seanad abolition has overstated the potential of upper houses generally to effectively perform a check upon government.
It has been widely claimed that Seanad abolition would remove an important check on executive power, amounting to nothing less than a “power-grab”. But the purpose of upper chambers, where they do exist, is usually to assist in the legislative process, not to sanction government. In practice, oversight is better exercised by the lower chamber to which government is directly responsible.
Indeed the referendum will effectively make it much more difficult for the Government to secure the removal of a judge or a president because a greater level of cross-party Dáil support will be needed. If this is a “power-grab”, it is not a very well designed one.
We are also puzzled by our colleagues’ support for the Quinn/Zappone plan, as this retains the vocational and graduate-specific structure of the current Senate. The “panel” seats have never been meaningfully vocational, and there is no good reason to believe this could now be achieved simply by expanding the franchise. It is much more likely to yield a miniature and pointless replica of the Dáil, risking parliamentary gridlock.
Finally, we urge caution against our colleagues’ suggestion that the national parliament should give direct representation to “expertise”, whether through vocational panels or otherwise. There are many good ways of incorporating expert knowledge in the legislative process without giving experts parliamentary seats.
We believe a Yes vote is a reasonable step towards a reformed political system. – Yours, etc,
EOIN O’MALLEY, School of Law and Government, DCU; BEN TONRA, School of Politics and International Relations, UCD; EOIN DALY, Sutherland School of Law, UCD; KEVIN RAFTER, School of Communications, DCU; JOHN O’DOWD, Sutherland School of Law, UCD; MÁIRÉAD ENRIGHT, Kent Law School, University of Kent; ALAN DUKES, former TD and Minister; RICHARD HUMPHREYS, Law Library, Dublin 7; LIAM THORNTON, Sutherland School of Law, UCD; JIM POWER, Economist & SEAN DONLAN, School of Law, UL,
C/o Sutherland School of
Law, UCD, Dublin 4.
Sir, – With the exception of the six university seats, Seanad Éireann’s members are elected democratically, but by indirect franchise.
Forty-three of the Seanad’s 60 members are chosen by the members of the incoming Dáil, the outgoing Seanad and the country’s major municipal authorities, all of whom, with the exception of the outgoing Senators, have already been elected by direct universal franchise. Accordingly, the TDs, Senators and county and city councillors effectively constitute an electoral college for the election of a new Seanad. This system is not unlike that for choosing the president of the United States, with each state of the US electing a certain number of delegates to an electoral college, which in turn elects the president.
The Taoiseach’s 11 nominees also get their seats by indirect franchise. The Taoiseach is elected by the members of Dáil Éireann who are in turn directly elected by universal franchise.
While it can be argued that the university senators are chosen by a privileged minority, these panels could be extended, not only to include graduates of all third-level institutions, but also to give representation to members of trade unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and to registered members of employers’ and business groups such as the Irish Business and Employers Confederation and the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association. This would reflect a much wider range of interests and provide a valuable input into the scrutiny of proposed legislation.
The Seanad may need a makeover but it should be retained and reformed. – Yours, etc,
SEÁN Ó BRIAIN,
Dalkey, Co Dublin.
Sir, – The Labour Party’s Seanad referendum poster proclaiming One Parliament Yes! is intriguing. Is it possible the Labour Party thinks the Seanad is a national parliament? If it were, Ireland would be unique in the whole world. – Yours, etc,
Clontarf, Dublin 3.
Sir, – Breda O’Brien calls on those seeking reform of the Seanad to “choose No to abolition, and then write ‘Reform’ on the ballot” as the ballot will then “be set aside for later examination and, as any fair-minded scrutineer could only find there was a clear intention to vote No, it will in all probability be counted in that way” (Opinion, September 28th).
While this is technically correct, having observed many election counts I would advise her that the inclusion of political slogans or statements of any kind on the ballot is a very hazardous enterprise.
Under the Referendum Act 1994, the returning officer has the power to exclude a ballot “on which anything is written or marked which, in the opinion of the local returning officer, is calculated to identify the elector”. While this seems to restrict the power to exclude a vote to a very limited instance, in practice it gives the returning officer quite a degree of latitude to exclude ballots which have anything written on them. Personally, I wouldn’t be willing to take a gamble that my vote would not be counted!
There are only two options in this referendum. Anyone wishing to abolish the Seanad should vote Yes. Anyone who wants to retain it, or believes that it should be reformed, no matter how slim the chance of that might be, should vote No. With all due respect to Ms O’Brien, the detail of one’s views on a referendum ought to be conveyed directly to one’s political representatives, rather than to the returning officer on the face of a ballot paper. – Yours, etc,
Clontarf, Dublin 3.
A chara, – I was not aware until now that if the referendum is carried, Article 27 of the Constitution and a right of the people will be removed.
As it stands, a portion of the Dáil and Seanad may petition the President for a referendum on a new Bill before it is made law. In the event of a government being at odds with the people, this is a significant power.
The present referendum proposal, if passed, will ensure that power is taken away from the people. The referendum on the Seanad has been poorly discussed and the people badly informed. The Irish people should not be tricked into reducing what little political power they have. Voting No postpones change to our Constitution until the electorate is fully informed. – Is mise,
PADRAIG Ó LAIMHIN.
Béal Easa, Co Mhaigh Eo.
A chara, – It is distressing to note so few compatriots resident in the 26 counties have argued for the retention of the Seanad in order to extend the franchise to Irish citizens in the North and abroad. The Quinn/Zappone Seanad reform Bill would do just that.
As I have long argued, since the Seanad cannot overrule the Dáil, it is the appropriate place for such representation. Non-resident citizens would have a voice in the Oireachtas while citizens living in the State would retain their final and absolute say on legislation. Such a reformed Seanad would correct Ireland’s biggest democratic deficit. – Is mise,
MARTIN G PADGETT,
Charles Street East,
Sir, – In an elegantly written piece on “constitutional immobilism” (Opinion, September 27th), Frank Callanan, SC cautions against rejection of the Seanad abolition proposal as if all meaningful political reform depended on its acceptance. This is fallacious and profoundly unconvincing. It is simply wrong to suggest that what has not been reformed cannot be reformed. In the way in which the same argument is made by some in Fine Gael – particularly the debate-resistant Taoiseach – it is little more than a form of moral blackmail: if you vote No we will maintain the status quo. In the way in which it is made by Sinn Féin, it is shamefully defeatist: if you vote No we won’t be in a position to change the status quo.
I will be voting No because I believe reform of the Seanad is possible and desirable. – Yours, etc,
School of Law, NUI Galway.
Sir, – Politicians, wind farm developers and planners are quick to issue public statements about the importance of involving communities to ensure support and co-operation for wind farm developments. However, it would appear these utterances are sound bites with no substance. The IWEA (Irish Wind Energy Association) holds its annual conference this Thursday entitled Building a Sustainable Energy Future sponsored by Coillte. The following Friday, the Irish Planning Institute holds its autumn conference, Planning to Harness Ireland’s Energy Future.
Not a single representative from any of the 30 recently formed Midlands community groups concerned about the impact of wind developments has been invited to be present. It is not surprising that these proposals for large industrial wind-farms create division and polarisation when community groups are excluded from powerful stakeholder meetings; especially those supported and sponsored by State companies and addressed by Ministers Pat Rabbitte and Jan O’Sullivan.
Do the Government, planners and industry really want community engagement or is it just a box that must be ticked as part of the planning process? Our experience has been that wind developers and the Government have consistently refused to allow communities participate in any meaningful way. The absence of community representation at these two influential gatherings further confirms that belief. – Yours, etc,
Portlaoise, Co Laois.
Sir, – In recent weeks there has been an intensification of the long-running climate contrarian campaign of myth and misinformation. One of the most common claims is that espoused by Patrick Cooke (September 27th) that “There has been a reduction in the warming trend from 1998 to 2012”.
In fact, when all data – including ocean heating, air, land, and melting of ice – are taken into account, it is clear there has been a significant increase in global warming over the past 15 years. While it’s true the surface warming trend from 1997 to 2012 is lower than the average projection, this is easily accounted for by the cooling effect of ocean cycles on surface temperature during this period. Heating effects of such cycles also caused warming to exceed projections in the previous 15 years. Over time, these effects tend to average out, though temperatures are increasing slightly faster overall than had been anticipated.
There is no scientific controversy as to whether anthropological global warming is real and potentially catastrophic. Self-styled “sceptics” are nothing of the sort: to reject all evidence and arguments that contradict your world view, while failing to apply critical thinking to any claims that seem to support it, does not constitute scepticism in any useful sense of the world.
The unanimous agreement achieved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from so many scientists on a subject of such complexity and importance is unprecedented (Front page, September 28th); its latest report has been subject to one of the most rigorous peer review processes in the history of science and is quite possibly the most exhaustively researched scientific document ever published.
Despite its conservative nature, the report warns with greater confidence than ever before of the devastating and possibly irreversible effects if carbon emissions are not reduced. We ignore these findings at our peril. – Yours, etc,
Lower Rathmines Road,
Sir, – Someone should telephone Croke Park to let them know we are in the middle of a serious recession with record levels of emigration, unemployment, debt, and depression, while the GAA behaves like boom-time brats serving up enjoyment and happiness as if they never end; blasting the pundits of doom with levels of entertainment of the highest order at absolutely minimum cost.
Poor soccer has to pay Gareth Bale €100 million to score a goal a week while our heroes from Clare, Cork, Dublin and Mayo provide superior displays of skills and scores for practically nothing. Did you ever see the likes of Anthony Nash’s free? Lift, hop, swing, and whack! You’d feel like singing, “Messi, I hardly knew you”.
It’s just not fair, amateurs beating professionals at their own game while providing the populace with happy, healthy, wholesome entertainment for practically nothing.
The GAA should be reported to the European regulator for “unprofessional practices” and for defying all market principles. No! No! On second thoughts, better say nothing. I know it’s wrong to be smiling, laughing, backslapping, and (God forgive) smirking in this era of austerity, but we can’t help it.
Let’s discreetly congratulate the management and players of the Gaelic Games for the superb contests of skill, passion, endurance and commitment they served up this summer, and snuff the troika! – Yours, etc,
Synge Street, Dublin 8.
Sir, – Since Donald Clarke’s article about the changing meanings of words (Opinion, August 31st), I have received correspondence from two different hospital out-patient departments, informing me that, following receipt of referral letters, the patient in question had been “appointed”. (The position was unspecified). If this new found enthusiasm for “appointing” people could only be applied to the hiring of badly-needed staff, perhaps the patients would not have to remain at their appointed station on the waiting list for quite so long. – Yours, etc,
Dr HUGH NOHILLY,
Clondalkin, Dublin 22.
* It’s not just about “RTE’s licence to print money” (Letters, September 27); I would also take issue with the charge system itself.
Also in this section
Parasite devours host
Banks making all the rules
Inference is a bridge too far
On top of property, household, water and waste charges comes a household broadcasting charge.
While you are at it, Mr Rabbitte, why not introduce toothbrush, slipper, carpet, lightbulb and teapot charge systems as well? After all, most “non-cavemen” households have those too.
Just one more roundabout way to raise money without calling it tax, and as it is levied on property occupiers rather than owners, controls are scheduled to continue, costing the State €12m yearly in supervision added to internal accounting expenses – which could have saved some health service in the West of Ireland instead.
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, etc, have large public broadcasting stations with funding over the national budget. Outside Europe, specific citizen charges are the exception.
Do Canadian CBC or Australian ABC “lack” in government critical reporting? Hardly, also when compared to RTE. Government funding control is not the same as government editorial control avoided via separate boards making directorial appointments; funding can be set five-yearly by each incoming Government, and licence/broadcast charges can be altered by Government anyway, for what, after all, supposedly is a “public service”.
Also, with licence/broadcast charges going to sound and vision subsidies for all broadcasters, the RTE “connection to viewers” is not there either: an odd connection at the best of times, since not paying the licence puts people behind bars. Real RTE connection to viewers and listeners would mean internet forum with producers, ‘RTE Guide’ letters page, mailbag programmes or other critical review broadcasting with citizen feedback, none of which RTE has.
Similarly, Mr Rabbitte, is this public consultation not just another government ploy to appear democratic, and then you do what you were going to do all along?
Pearse Street, Dublin 2
KEEPING UP GOOD CHEER
* Someone should telephone Croke Park to let them know we are in the middle of a serious recession with record levels of emigration, unemployment, debt and depression while the GAA behaves like boom-time brats serving up enjoyment and happiness as if they never end – blasting the pundits of doom with levels of entertainment of the highest order at absolutely minimum cost.
Poor soccer has to pay Gareth Bale €100m to score a goal a week while our heroes from Clare, Cork, Dublin and Mayo provide superior displays of skills and scores for practically nothing.
Did you ever see the likes of Anthony Nash’s free? Lift, hop, swing and whack! You’d feel like singing, “Messi, I hardly knew you.”
It’s just not fair: amateurs beating professionals at their own game while providing the populace with happy, healthy, wholesome entertainment for practically nothing.
The GAA should be reported to the European Regulator for ‘unprofessional practices’ and for defying all market principles.
No! No! On second thoughts, better say nothing. I know it’s wrong to be smiling, laughing, backslapping and (God forgive) smirking in this era of austerity but we can’t help it.
Let’s discreetly congratulate the management and players of the Gaelic games for the superb contests of skill, passion, endurance and commitment they served up this summer, and stuff the troika!
Synge Street, Dublin 8
NO CHANGE IN POLITICS
* I do not wish to express a personal opinion on the upcoming referendum. I would instead like to refer to some words written in 1795, by Thomas Payne.
“It is the nature and intention of a constitution to prevent governing by party, by establishing a common principle that shall limit and control the power and impulse of party, and that says to all parties, thus far shalt thou go and no further.
“But in the absence of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle governing party, party governs principle.” ‘First Principles of Government’ (1795).
These words from over 200 years ago show how little politics has changed, or perhaps ever will.
Let the people decide.
Dundalk, Co Louth
* Thank goodness we have scientists in Ireland (Prof John Sweeney) who are not burying their heads in the sand. Ireland has led the way in law and literature and has educated some of the world’s best scientific minds.
However, I wonder if we can do anything about climate change when Australia dismisses a group of climate scientists in order to produce more coal. If we must mine coal, then at least put in place a means to collect the resulting carbon dioxide.
The ‘blip’ in the rise in global temperatures filled me with more worry than if the temperatures had continued to rise steadily. The graph of global temperature rise looked exactly like the one I drew at school when melting ice with a short levelling-out of temperature rise due to latent heat.
If ice is absorbing energy at the cost of temperature rise, we could be in more trouble soon. No scientist will be willing to cause panic by raising such fears until we have scientific reason for it but will it be too late then? Is it too late already?
It will be if some use the ‘blip’ as an excuse for continuing to produce greenhouse gases.
Killarney, Co Kerry
* Once again, we have a major report on climate change and yet once again nobody will mention the elephant in the room. We are still breeding like rabbits and there will be just too many of us on planet Earth.
Population control should be the number one priority on the UN’s climate-control agenda.
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
A BETTER WAY OF LIFE
* I was reading about Mr Noonan and the complete mystery it is to him why young people are still emigrating while having jobs. I would like to clear this one up for him. Young people, middle-aged people and people coming close to retirement age are all sick to death of the cuts and the lies that are constantly being spun by this Government.
We want a quality of life, the ability to grow and prosper and to live without the feeling that I am only one pay cheque away from being made redundant.
For the last two years, I have been working in a company hit by recession. I have suffered two pay cuts and tax increases, not to mention the property tax, increase in commuting costs, increase in food, education, medication, the list goes on.
I’ve looked for work in many places elsewhere and, despite my qualifications, I haven’t been able to secure an interview. With a 13pc unemployment rate, the competition is too high.
Will we do what Irish people are expected to do by the Government and take it and “ride out the storm” that has been raging for five years, or do we pack up like millions of Irish have done before us and find a better way of life?
It’s not too much to ask to want security in your life. Come the new year, I know what I’m doing.
Name and address