Meg and Ben Again

8 October 2013 Meg and Ben again

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they are back from leave and Pertwee is in the muck, but which of hids many crimes has been detected? Priceless.
I get Meg and Ben to put books on Amazon
We watch Glums
No Scrabble today too tired early to bed

Obituary:

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who has died aged 93, was one of Israel’s most influential rabbis and the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox religious party Shas, representing Sephardic Jews from Arab and Afro-Asian countries.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Photo: AFP/GETTY
5:29PM BST 07 Oct 2013
Rabbi Yosef won a reputation for his considered judgments and his stress on the practical applications of religious law. His writings in such areas as the status of women or egalitarianism in Judaism, as well as his rulings in the ritual areas of Sabbath and Kashrut (Jewish laws pertaining to food and its preparation), reflected rather than shaped the trends in the ultra-Orthodox community. However, in the area of public policy, Rabbi Yosef sometimes parted company with his colleagues and followers.
At a symposium in Jerusalem in 1989, Yosef proclaimed: “To hold or conquer territories in the Land of Israel by force is a sin.” The next year, wearing brocaded black robes with a purple turban-like ceremonial hat, he repeated this message on Israeli television, saying that if Israel could give back Arab-occupied land and thereby avoid war, “we are obliged to do so”.
This was anathema to many of his followers, most of whom were hawkish, anti-Arab, working-class Sephardic Jews from Morocco and other Arab countries. Defending his views, Yosef said that territorial compromise was permissible if it would prevent bloodshed on the (Talmudic) principle of pikuach nefesh (preservation of life).
At other times, however, Yosef felt able to compare Palestinians to snakes and to declare that gentiles had been put on Earth only to serve Jews — observations that caused some to condemn him as racist and describe him as “Israel’s Ayatollah”. In recent years he had firmly opposed unilateral action by Israel — including the proposals that Israelis should be resettled from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — unless there was an undertaking by the Palestinians to abandon terrorism.
In a ruling in 1996, Yosef designated organ donation a Mitzvah (a religious duty, or good deed), thus permitting and even encouraging those who could afford to spare a kidney to donate one to people in need. This was a breakthrough in the effort to involve the traditional and religious population in the practice of organ donation.
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07 Oct 2013
In another ruling, Yosef banned nose-picking on the Jewish Sabbath. He delivered this ruling in a sermon beamed by satellite to his followers in Israel and abroad, and his reasoning was that Jewish law forbids shaving and hair cutting on the Sabbath . Yosef explained that when a Jew picks his nose he risks pulling out the tiny hairs inside the nostrils, which is equivalent to shaving and hair cutting.
Ovadia Yosef was born on September 24 1920 in Iraq, the son of Ya’acov Yosef, a renowned and popular Rabbi of the Jewish community in Baghdad . When Ovadia was four, the family emigrated to Eretz Yisrael (Palestine) and settled in Jerusalem, where he was educated at the Porat Yosef Sephardi Yeshiva, situated in the old town of Jerusalem and one of Israel’s most distinguished Jewish theological institutions. Ovadia was noted for his diligence, phenomenal memory and intelligence, and at the age of 20 he was ordained rabbi.
In 1945 Yosef was made a dayyan, a judge in a Jewish religious court of Sephardim in Jerusalem; in general he inclined to leniency in his rulings. Two years later he was elected head of bet din (a religious court) in Cairo and deputy Chief Rabbi of Egypt.
As in Palestine, a war was raging between Jews and Arabs; and there was — in Egypt — growing hostility towards the Jews. Occasionally, Egyptian police would come to search for weapons, and Yosef would point to the books on his shelves, saying: “This is the weapon I hold.”
Throughout his years in Egypt, he resisted the pressure put on him by the authorities to issue proclamations against the state of Israel, and he also insisted on his right to preach in Hebrew.
In 1950 he returned to Israel, where he was appointed a member of the rabbinical court of Petach Tikva. At the age of 45 he was made a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Appeals in Jerusalem, Israel’s highest religious authority. In 1968 Yosef became Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo .
Yosef’s own life mirrored many of the frustrations and resentments of his Sephardic followers. Despite his reputation as a scholar, he was never accepted as a peer by the senior Ashkenazi rabbis (from Europe, Russia and America), ostensibly because he did not speak Yiddish.
Some of these rabbis derided him as primitive, and many of his religious rulings (such as that trained monkeys may turn off lights or perform other chores forbidden on the Sabbath) and his issuing of warnings against demons did little to convince them otherwise.
In 1972 Yosef was made Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and President of the Supreme Rabbinical Court. He also headed the Torah ve-Hora Yeshiva, the Tel Aviv branch of the prestigious Porat Yosef Yeshiva (of Jerusalem). He set up and ran the institute for dayyanim (religious judges) in Tel Aviv.
In 1973 he ruled that the Ethiopian Falashas were authentic Jews, descendants of the lost tribe of Dan. This decision, which opened the gates for Ethiopian emigration to Israel, made him even less popular among the European-descended rabbis of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. A number of Ashkenazi rabbis and politicians passed legislation in 1983 that limited his term in office, thus stripping him of his cherished position as Chief Rabbi of Israel, which he had expected to be a lifetime appointment.
Yosef did not take this lying down, attacking the Ashkenazi establishment in simple and graphic terms. In tape recordings of his speeches to students, Yosef can be heard saying of Attorney General Yosef Harish, “May his home be destroyed”; of State Comptroller Miriam Ben Porat, “That woman who is the enemy of religion”; of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, “a rodent eater”; and of Shamir’s wife, “that wicked woman who would never go to a Jewish restaurant” (a reference to the Shamirs’ alleged fondness for nonkosher food).
In the same year Yosef resigned his position on the Supreme Rabbinical Court in order to campaign actively for the new religious political party Shas, the Hebrew acronym for the Sephardi Torah Guardians.
Shas’s political rallies were essentially revivalist sessions. Speakers would whip up crowds into a frenzy before Rabbi Yosef entered the auditorium. People would then rush to the stage, groping for Yosef’s touch and for a chance to kiss his hand. Some would thrust hastily scrawled pleas for blessings at his aides. Yosef’s actual addresses were usually soft-spoken and soothing, messages of hope and encouragement, a promise of happiness to come once Shas had taken its rightful place as a major force in Israeli political life.
Shas contested the 1984 Knesset elections and won four seats, a remarkable achievement. In the 1988 elections it won six, emerging as the third largest party in the Knesset and the largest of the religious parties. It went on to play a leading role in Israeli politics.
In March 1990 Rabbi Yosef allowed his protégé, the Minister of the Interior Arye Deri (who in 1999 would be sentenced to four years’ jail for corruption), to bring down the government in a vote of no confidence and establish a Labour-led coalition. While the government did fall, Yosef cracked under the pressure and was forced to back down, resulting in the establishment of a Right-wing Likud government.
In the June 1992 elections, Yosef gave his blessing to Shas to join Yitzhak Rabin’s Labour administration, and three years later he permitted Shas to join Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Even though most Shas supporters favoured Netanyahu’s hard-line policies, Yosef himself appeared at odds with the Prime Minister, supporting the previous government’s land-for-peace policies. At the height of its success, Shas (which is now in opposition) held 17 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, and Yosef had the role of political “kingmaker”.
Under Yosef’s leadership, an entirely new religious school system, called El Ha’maayan (“back to the source”), was established. A network of child care centres and after school clubs, it provided low-cost supervision, hot lunches, free transportation and religious instruction for children. Sephardic parents in poor neighbourhoods, many not particularly observant, signed up their children to the scheme.
Rabbi Yosef was an impressive figure with his thick eyebrows, silver beard and signature sunglasses, and took pride in wearing the traditional gold-braided purple robes and blue turban of the Sephardic rabbinate. A plain-spoken, charismatic leader, he had the ability to touch the emotions of the Sephardi in the street.
A prolific writer, he published his first work — Yabbi’a Omer, 10 volumes of Responsa dealing with religious problems in daily life — at the age of only 18.
Ovadia Yosef lived in a small, cramped apartment in which hundreds of books lined the walls and spilt across the tables and floors in precarious piles.
He and his wife, Margalit Petel, had five sons and six daughters.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, born September 24 1920, died October 7 2013

Guardian:

Your piece on Astley Castle winning the Stirling prize comments that “Eyebrows may be raised that the award has gone to a luxurious holiday home, which costs up to £2,500 a week for eight people … over the reinvention of an affordable housing type, or the renovation of a concrete council estate” (Report, 27 September).
This rather implies that Astley Castle is money-spinning venture by a commercial body. In fact, the project was the work of a building conservation charity, the Landmark Trust, and was funded entirely from charitable grants and donations (including from the Heritage Lottery Fund).
Astley Castle is accessible to absolutely everyone. The castle can be seen for free every day, thanks to the public trails we have created through the grounds. The island is accessible on Fridays, and the interior during our annual open days.
Any surplus we make from letting the castle will go directly towards saving, for everyone’s enjoyment, more of Britain’s abandoned and neglected buildings.
Dr Anna Keay
Director, The Landmark Trust

Like many teachers in state schools I wasn’t particularly enamoured or impressed with Tim Hands’s attack on the education policies of successive governments (Report, 1 October). This, perchance, might have been influenced by the nature of the school he leads, Magdalen College School in Oxford, with its rigorous academic selection and fees of £14,628 pounds per annum. It is ironic to be lectured by the public schools (many of them established as charities) because it was only competition from an improving state sector that forced them to abandon practices such as the disdain for maths and science, the games cult and anti-intellectualism.
But I have to acknowledge that Hands has indeed hit the nail on the head about the “flawed mechanics of the league tables” and the prescriptive curriculum. Sadly, I don’t foresee him influencing the coalition government. It will merely present another justification for wealthy parents to choose independent schools because they are free from government control.
Richard Knights
Liverpool
• After recent Ofsted experiences, both as a school governor and mother of a primary school teacher, I find myself in sympathy with Tim Hands. Where is the concern with the development of the whole child rather than obsessing over the child as a unit of progress?
It is time for an independent cost-benefit analysis of Ofsted. Can excoriating judgments that reduce conscientious, inspiring and consistently good teachers to shreds following a 25-minute lesson observation – and silence (volunteer) governors who feel their school serves their children well – possibly improve a school?
Of course, I am just a cynic. Cynical of the independence of a service that seems to have an increasingly political agenda, and the industry that Ofsted has spawned to help schools and children’s services “pass their Ofsted”. The Office of the Supreme Goviet is an apt epithet for an institution with such a reductivist notion of education.
Annie Clouston
Northampton
• Tim Hands rightly says that “love” and “happiness” have disappeared from the classroom. I would like to point out, however, that beyond the world of state interference, in a small number of enlightened, alternative schools, exactly the opposite is happening. I used to teach in a Steiner school, upon which an Ofsted inspection team gave this verdict: “We are impressed with the inner dignity of your students.” Ofsted also recommended that aspects of Steiner education be incorporated into mainstream practice. I know some state teachers that have done this unofficially with wonderful results.
Alexander Gifford
Artistic director, The Gloucester Theatre Company
• The chief inspector of schools has probably annoyed the headteachers in the state, as well as private, sector (Ofsted chief accuses private schools over help for poor, 3 October). Independent schools owe their apparent success to the money they receive in fees and the inbuilt advantages their pupils have rather than to the quality of their leadership and teaching. It is ridiculous to suggest that independent schools have any part to play in righting the deleterious effects of the divisive education system in this country that they fundamentally cause.
John Gaskin
York

Having met earlier this year with the NHS pay review body to discuss external trends in pay progression and rewards, I find the Department of Health’s submission to the pay review body urging it to cancel the agreed 1% rise and remove pay increments remarkable from a number of perspectives (Hunt on collision course as he says no to NHS pay rises, 5 October).
First, it apparently ignores the amendments to the Agenda for Change pay agreement negotiated after lengthy discussions between NHS employers and the trade unions earlier this year, which already allows for greater flexibility in pay progression to reflect performance and contribution.
Second, it apparently reverses a century of motivation theory and practice, suggesting that staff are already motivated so they don’t need a pay award. In fact, Aon Hewitt’s extensive database of UK employee attitudes shows that with the general decline in real incomes, pay dissatisfaction has grown, as has the importance of pay in explaining staff engagement to perform.
Third, research clearly shows that safe staffing levels and the use of better-paid, higher-skilled staff are complementary – not conflicting – initiatives to raise the quality of patient care.
Prof Jill Rubery’s research demonstrates this relationship very clearly in social care, where better-trained, better-paid and motivated staff were found to deliver better care. This was what Robert Francis’s report into the Mid-Staffordshire hospital case recommended, along with improved leadership – not pay freezes and individual performance pay. The Department of Health’s submission only makes sense from the perspective of a government that has overwhelmingly prioritised cost control, and clings to a belief that individual performance pay is the route to high performance in all settings.  
Duncan Brown
Aon Hewitt
• As a GP, I strongly believe in primary care being the bedrock of the NHS. Everyone will have seen a GP at some stage in their lives. The same cannot be said of any other area of the NHS. The public has heard a lot recently about A&E overload, four-hour targets, access to primary care, 8am to 8pm opening times, walk-in clinics, out-of-hours services and 111. Public and professionals alike could be forgiven for getting confused about government policy – and where to turn to for help. Policy by dripfeed and soundbites is rather difficult to follow, and suggests to me any number of hidden agendas. I’m not interested in any of this – I’m interested in protecting the future of the jewel in the crown of the NHS, primary care.
The challenge for Jeremy Hunt is to cut the cloth without losing too much of the fabric. If we lose primary care as it is now, it will never come back and I believe history would not look kindly on him. He stated that he wants to be the most pro-GP secretary of state ever. Now is the time to prove that.
Dr Richard Cook
Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex
• Let us hope that the independent review bodies stand up for the rights of NHS staff. If savings need to be made, ask NHS workers to show managers how to cut out wasteful practices. All too often their views are ignored.
Wendy Savage
President, Keep Our NHS Public
• Earlier this year, despite opposition from my union, Unite, the system of incremental pay awards was superseded by performance-related pay. NHS staff now have to prove that they have earned increments. I’m surprised that Jeremy Hunt isn’t aware of this, and suspect he wouldn’t do too well if performance-related pay were applied to his job. In Manchester, the Tories claimed that they were for hard-working people – yet it seems that hard-working NHS workers are an exemption.
Liz McInnes
Rossendale, Lancashire
•  I can’t wait to be looked after by nurses or other medical staff who are seething about not only not receiving a promised 1% pay rise but being denied progression up the pay scale of their grade. But to look on the bright side, thanks to Jeremy Hunt they will now have more time to spend venting their resentment at me.
Valerie Crews

I am disappointed by your letter from the circuit leaders (MoJ’s misleading evidence on the cost of the legal system, 4 October). I have met with the circuit leaders on numerous occasions and continue to do so.
To respond to their concerns: we are not accusing lawyers of refusing to reduce costs. Whether costs have reduced over the past few years is, sadly, immaterial. The point is, in the current economic climate, our legal aid bill is unsustainable and we have to bring it down.
The figures we use are accurate. The total legal aid bill is around £2bn and criminal legal aid spend is just under £1bn. We have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world and have been careful to compare our spend to countries who have similar legal systems, eg we spend £39 per person on legal aid compared to £18 in New Zealand and £10 in Canada.
It is disingenuous to state most criminal barristers are low earners in the way the letter does. It implies this is their only income – when they can and do undertake prosecution or private work – and it’s not representative of what barristers at the top end (QCs) earn. We have tried to ensure our proposals have more impact on those who earn very high amounts than the more junior Bar.
While it is true the circuit leaders made some suggestions, sadly we cannot adopt them, which we have explained. I have been very clear I am open to considering all suggestions that are sensible and make the savings I need to make, and my door remains open.
Chris Grayling
Justice secretary

It is well-known that the UK is losing out culturally and economically because of inadequate foreign-language skills among English native speakers. This problem has been significantly exacerbated by the fact that pupils choosing modern languages have not been rewarded adequately for excellent performance.
Ofqual has acknowledged in its corporate plan 2013-16 that “relatively few A* grades are awarded in modern foreign languages when compared with other subjects with a high proportion of A grades”. This finding confirms evidence by schoolteacher associations that has repeatedly been presented to Ofqual and the exam boards since introduction of the A* grade at A-level in June 2010.
The disadvantaging of modern languages candidates in school examinations has been blighting the subject at all levels, and will continue to do so until the unfair grading is addressed effectively. Gifted linguists discouraged by poor results drop the subject after GCSE. Some of the brightest linguists are wary of choosing modern languages at A-level for fear of losing out on top grades and university places. Modern languages departments in schools are under pressure from management because the subject is unfairly perceived to be underperforming. University departments struggle to recruit students because A-level uptake is falling and candidates are missing their offers.
While welcoming Ofqual’s stated intention to investigate the matter, we, as university teachers of modern languages, ask Ofqual to take urgent action to put appropriate measures in place that will ensure fair outcomes for modern languages in the 2014 examinations, and restore confidence in the examinations in schools and universities.
Prof Katrin Kohl vice-chair, modern languages, University of Oxford; Prof James A Coleman chair, University Council of Modern Languages; Ivor Roberts, president, Trinity College, Oxford; Prof Ann Caesar pro-vice-chancellor, University of Warwick; Prof Charles Forsdick president, Society for French Studies; Prof Adrian Armstrong president, Association of University Professors and Heads of French; Prof Mike Kelly head of modern languages, University of Southampton; Dr Elizabeth A. Anderson head of modern languages, Newcastle University; Dr Birgit Smith head of European languages and cultures, Lancaster University; Jocelyn Wyburd director, Language Centre, University of Cambridge; Laurence Richard director, Centre for Language Study, University of Southampton; Prof David Midgley professor of German, University of Cambridge; Prof Edwin Williamson professor of Spanish, University of Oxford; Dr Laura Dominguez senior lecturer in linguistics, University of Southampton; Prof Seán Hand professor of French, University of Warwick; Prof Martin McLaughlin professor of Italian, University of Oxford; Prof David Wood professor of Latin American studies, University of Sheffield; Dr Helen Swift lecturer in French, University of Oxford; Prof Robert Gordon head of Italian, University of Cambridge; Dr Giuliana Pieri reader in Italian, Royal Holloway, University of London; Prof Catriona Kelly professor of Russian, University of Oxford; Prof Mary Orr professor of French, University of Southampton; Dr Jonathan Thacker lecturer in Spanish, University of Oxford; Nicoletta Di Ciolla head of Italian, Manchester Metropolitan University; Prof Allyson Fiddler professor of German, Lancaster University; Dr Helen Swift lecturer in French, University of Oxford; Dr Laura Rorato senior lecturer in Italian, Bangor University; Prof Stephen Milner professor of Italian, University of Manchester; Dr Caroline Warman lecturer in French, University of Oxford; Dr Stefano Jossa senior lecturer in Italian, Royal Holloway, University of London; Prof Federica G. Pedriali professor of modern Italian Studies, University of Edinburgh; Prof Philip Cooke professor of Italian, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow; Dr Marco Paoli lecturer in Italian Studies, University of Liverpool; Dr Rebecca Braun lecturer in German Studies, Lancaster University; Prof Henrike Lähnemann chair of German studies, Newcastle University; Dr William McKenzie career development fellow in French, University of Oxford; Dr Heidi Armbruster programme leader in German, University of Southampton; Andrea Klaus teaching fellow in German, University of Warwick; Dr Scott Soo lecturer in French studies, University of Southampton; Dr Nick Hodgin lecturer in German studies, Lancaster University; Adalgisa Serio associate lecturer in Italian, Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr Áine McMurtry lecturer in German, King’s College London; Dr Delphine Grass lecturer in French, Lancaster University; Prof Michael Perraudin Professor of German, University of Sheffield; Olga Gomez-Cash senior teaching fellow in Spanish, Lancaster UniversityDr Helmut Schmitz lecturer in German, University of Warwick; Dr Peter Skrandies German language co-ordinator, LSE; Prof Marion Demossier French and European studies, University of Southampton; Dr Seán Allan reader in German studies, University of Warwick; Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex fellow in German, King’s College, Cambridge; Prof Christina Howells professor of French, University of Oxford; Francis R Jones reader in translation studies, Newcastle University; Dr Stephen Goddard lecturer in French, St Catherine’s College, Oxford; Dr Joanne Leal senior lecturer in German, Birkbeck, University of London; Dr Christine Achinger associate professor of German, University of Warwick; Prof Annette Volfing professor of German, University of Oxford; Dr Silke Arnold-de Simine Birkbeck, University of London; Dr Georgina Paul lecturer in German, University of OxfordDr Julie Curtis lecturer in Russian, University of Oxford; Prof Ritchie Robertson professor of German, University of Oxford; Dr Sandra Salin teaching fellow in French, Newcastle University; Dr Richard Scholar lecturer in French, University of Oxford; Dr Sarah Leahy senior lecturer in French and Film, Newcastle University; Dr Alex Lloyd lecturer in German, Magdalen College and St Edmund Hall, Oxford; Prof Rosaleen Howard professor of Spanish, Newcastle University; Dr Ela Tandello lecturer in Italian, University of Oxford; Sophie Stewart project manager, Routes into Languages, Newcastle University; Dr Robert Gillett senior lecturer in German, Queen Mary, University of London; Dr Elinor Payne lecturer in phonetics and phonology, University of Oxford; Dr Aude Campmas lecturer in French studies, University of Southampton; Dr Neil Kenny senior research fellow, All Souls College, Oxford; Dr Carole Bourne-Taylor fellow in French, Brasenose College, Oxford; Prof Karen Leeder professor of German, University of Oxford; Dr John Walker senior lecturer in German, Birkbeck, University of London; Dr Tim Farrant reader in French, University of Oxford

When did the humble asterisk become an “asterix” (Review, 4 October)? Was it about the time we joined the common market or later, when we signed the Single European Act, enabling the creeping Gallic influence over our linguistic culture? Or maybe it was when people began to say “eksetera” instead of “et cetera”.
Paul F Faupel
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
• I have been a fan of Penelope Lively (So this is old age, Review, 5 October) since she won the Booker prize. Now, at 90 I find her wise words quite wonderful and she is only 80. As she implies, the road of old age is rocky but some of the rocks are nuggets. Let’s hope those on the journey reap the benefits of her wisdom.
Dr Mike Courtenay
Banbury, Oxfordshire
• Dickens could head a list of prominent people who hated Britain (Report, 7 October): all those inflammatory novels about social and legal injustice.
Lin Wilkinson
Newbury, Berkshire
•  If the energy companies (privately owned) consider that the £4.5bn loss of earnings from a 20-month price freeze will prevent them from investing (Report, 2 October), why don’t they follow the example of the NHS (publicly owned), where a £20bn efficiency programme is in progress to fund future developments?
Michael Sweet
York
• Only one pot for Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for chicken with potatoes, prunes and pomegranate molasses (Weekend, 5 October)? Cue collapse of dishwasher market. I hope this doesn’t forecast a longer-term recession in pan usage.
Ian Macilwain
Aberdeen
• Shinty demands “stick skills that excel those of hurling” (Letters, 7 October)? Ireland has won seven of the 13 composite hurling-shinty games played against Scotland since 2003, with one game drawn.
Michael Carley
Bath
• Never mind a new-build Crystal Palace (Report, 4 October). Restoring Stonehenge to its peak would benefit the nation much better.
John Starbuck
Lepton, Huddersfield

Independent:
Below is a letter in response to this article by The Independent’s Robert Fisk
I found myself obliged to write a response to Mr. Fisk’s article of 29 September 2013 titled “Khaled Mahjoub: The man with President Assad’s ear” due to the false accusation which put my family and me under direct threat from armed fanatic groups operating globally.
My response will be stated in facts and nothing but facts:
When you “look someone in the eyes” this is a signal of honesty and truth, and not interrogation skills as described by Mr. Fisk.
I met him with great pleasure and admiration, as one of the most objective and professional journalists in the region and I am still wondering why “me looking in his eyes” made him nervous.
The most dangerous part of his article was his false conclusion that I met the French-Algerian terrorist to find out about what he told him during their closed meeting. He made it worse by accusing that I am reporting this meeting to the President.
Needless to say, the President of Syria does not need a civil activist like me to assist him. Syria, despite continuous attempts for three years to become a failing state, it is still a country with operating institutions.
He framed me as a dangerous man and interrogator, whereas I am a civil society activist. Pointing at me in this negative way made me a potential target to the fundamental groups, like the one with whom the French-Algerian terrorist was associated.
Well, Mr Fisk, I met the French-Algerian person on December 7, 2012 – a few days after you met him – during an interview with the BBC, which you will find in the link below and not as an interrogator.
Please watch the proof:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20649670
Unfortunately, I find myself obliged to hold Mr Fisk personally, and The Independent, responsible for putting my family and me in danger of being targets for any fanatic group, in addition to all kind of damages and risks.
As a civil activist and socio-economic developer, I have been working in parallel on two objectives.
The first: Reconciliation:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-22941966
The second: empowering the middle-class society with zero-carbon footprint development programs. So please watch my accomplishments and judge me from the outcome of my work and not from illusionary conclusions.
Please watch both links:
 http://www.mahjoub.com/windows/News/Alarabia_Sukna.mp4
 http://youtu.be/bqG0kW3o_dE
Conclusion: I work for the enlargement of the Syrian secular middle-class society by stopping the bloodshed with the power of reconciliation and low-carbon green socio-economical development. Leading to a better tomorrow for all Syrians.
It is also important note the following points:
Syrian Sufism:
The hard examples of the current living Syrian Soufizem – that Mr Fisk is denying – are the forgiveness of the Grand Mufti and the Minister of Reconciliation to the killers of their sons.
2000 years ago from Straight Street in Damascus, Saint Paul sent his first letter to spread the loving doctrine of Christianity.
Almost four trillion dollars plus hundreds of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, Afghans, British and others have been killed, injured mentally and physically, plus millions of refugees and still the conflict continues, with no one winning.
The reason of this continuous dilemma is the missing engine of (Syrian Soufizem ideology vs. the Salafi Wahabi Jihadi ideology).
Yes the Syrian Islamic Soufizem is the curing ideology engine, empowering it will save many citizens of the world from the fast growing self powered sleeping cells like the one of Boston.
Today’s terror attack will need no more than an ideology and kitchen tools, proof can be seen below:
http://news.sky.com/story/1022491/syria-rebel-prisoners-on-their-religious-warp
Finally, let’s focus on what will make a safer today and a better tomorrow for all.
Reserving all my rights,

Times:

The campaign to keep GP surgeries open seven days a week will ultimately lead to privatisation of the NHS
Sir, Public opinion is in favour of general practices opening during the weekends. Government must be clear what type of service it proposes. Does the Secretary of State want the service at weekends from 8am-8pm from GPs to be a full routine general practice service or emergencies only? Where I work in the Cambridge area, GPs staff an excellent emergency out-of-hours service already. I can see little point in altering this arrangement if the Secretary of State proposes purely an “urgent service”.
If he proposes seven-day, 12-hour routine work this would mean opening each practice for around 40 extra hours a week with, inevitably, substantial extra costs. Recruiting extra GPs will be difficult because of low morale, increasing workload and decreasing reward.
Hospital and community services now available five days a week will be needed to support the GPs’ seven-day working. Primary care runs as an integral part of the whole service, not in isolation. Can the NHS afford this change?
The Secretary of State needs to be clear what he is proposing. Can the country really afford such a change in these straitened economic times?
Angus Stewart, GP
Little Abington, Cambs

Sir, Why does our Government insist on imposing unsustainable demands on the NHS for popular political gain? It is painfully obvious that our health service is under immense pressure from an ageing population with complex health needs. The campaign for GP surgeries to be open seven days a week is a short-sighted, ­­ill-considered farce. Any cost-effective service should provide routine appointments during basic hours (for example 8am until 7pm), with only urgent appointments provided outside these hours. How can it be cost effective to have surgeries up and down the country staffed at weekends with one or two doctors each, all requiring administration staff and on-site nursing or healthcare assistants?
Our health service has the capacity to provide high-quality, routine GP care free at the point of delivery, which the population accesses during working hours on weekdays. The campaign to keep GP surgeries open seven days a week will ultimately lead to privatisation of the NHS. The choice is stark.
Dr Katie Musgrave
Loddiswell, Devon

Sir, Dr Clare Gerada’s rant (report, Oct 4) about everyone trying to get at poor GPs was, happily, a valedictory speech. Let us hope a more reflective doctor follows her who is able to see that doctors have brought much of the disapprobation they receive on their own heads.
They complain about money in spite of being well paid. Hospital doctors are stunned by the earnings of GPs. The standard of practice is variable. About 30 per cent are dedicated, selfless souls. Half are merely adequate. Between ten and 20 per cent are poor at their job. These doctors should not be practising. Everyone knows who they are, but no one speaks up. All is not well in general practice and much of the problem lies within.
Marian Latchman
Braishfield, Hants

In the 21st century the UK’s products under threat from foreign competitors, and we should emulate our 19th-century forebears and seek drastic action
Sir, Sir Peter Marshall (letter, Oct 5) rightly points out that the Great Exhibition was a showcase of products. It was intended to demonstrate the pre-eminence of British products, but the organisers suffered an unpleasant surprise. At a banquet given by the Lord Mayor of York in October 1850, Prince Albert said that all the reports received from abroad “lead us to expect that the works which are to be sent will be numerous and of a superior character”. Indeed, foreign exhibits showed the accuracy of his forecast.
In the 21st century the UK’s products are again under threat from foreign competitors, and we should emulate our 19th-century forebears and seek drastic action: there is now a pressing need for concentration of quality resources on technologist and technician education at many levels.
Ken Dixon
Bolton

While most people believe benefits are an important safety net, one in four hides the fact they are supported by benefits
Sir, Today we launch Who Benefits?, a campaign to give a voice to the millions of us who have been supported by benefits at some point in our lives — whether because of low pay, losing a job, ill health or caring responsibilities.
Our poll shows that while most people believe benefits are an important safety net, one in four hides the fact they are supported by benefits, and half of us who haven’t claimed would be embarrassed to do so. Politicians need to do more to understand the experiences of people supported by benefits who are too often ignored, misrepresented or even blamed for their situation.
We have come together with more than 70 charities and community groups to seek to change the nature of this debate and ensure these voices are heard.
We want people who are supported to be treated with more respect and politicians to make decisions based on those experiences.
Who benefits when support is there for those that need it? We all do.
Matthew Reed, The Children’s Society; Leslie Morphy, Crisis;
Fiona Weir, Gingerbread; Ciarán Devane, Macmillan Cancer Support
Paul Farmer, Mind

Nigel Farage’s strategy is self-defeating because he is wilfully seeking to deprive the Conservative Party of votes in marginal seats
Sir, You rightly say (leading article, Oct 5) that “Mr Farage wants UKIP to be taken seriously”. You also state that the only thing that a party such as his “can do is split the vote keeping the Conservatives out”.
This is only part of the story. The more important thing he is doing and on which I directly challenged him in the Bruges Group debate at the Conservative Party conference and then on ConservativeHome is that
he is undermining the Eurosceptic cause. His strategy is self-defeating because he is wilfully seeking to deprive the Conservative Party of enough votes to hold its marginal seats in a general election and
letting in the Euro-integrationist Labour/Lib-Dem parties and increasing the likelihood that there would be no referendum. Fatally, UKIP will probably fail to get even one seat in the House of Commons and has no possibility of having enough votes there to repeal even one EU law.
It is the Eurorealist core of more than 100 Conservative MPs who are increasingly and effectively achieving Eurorealist objectives, such as the current Referendum Bill, and not UKIP. This is why UKIP is dangerously heading for a Euro-pyrrhic victory and must not be taken seriously.
Bill Cash, MP

Perhaps Ralph Miliband’s confiding in his diary that the English were a nationalist bunch was no more than a response to his daily experience
Sir, I know no more about the Ralph Miliband affair than I have read in your newspaper. It appears that the Daily Mail’s case turns largely on a diary entry in 1940. We should remind ourselves what life must have been like in England in 1940 for a schoolboy born in Germany with the name Adolphe, and a Jew to boot.
I was merely a ten-year-old English-born Jew who “spelt his name funny” so got off relatively lightly. My best friend came from Germany on the Kindertransport. His life was made a nightmare. It took great courage every morning to go to school to face the taunts and insults.
In the circumstances I suspect Miliband’s confiding in his diary that the English were a nationalist bunch who perhaps did not deserve to win the war was no more than a response to his daily experience and a commendably mild one at that.
Professor Gerald Goodhardt
London NW8

Despite the antics of a few of our compatriots most of us expect to be treated as decent law-abiding citizens when we travel abroad
Sir, I visited Romania and worked with Romanians several times over a number of years and experienced only hospitality, generosity (sometimes from people who were themselves desperately poor) and kindness. I agree with the letter (Oct 5) describing most Romanians arriving in the UK as respectable, hardworking people who have taken advantage of their right to move within the EU to seek employment.
Despite the antics of a few of our compatriots most of us expect to be treated as decent law-abiding citizens when we travel abroad, so can we not extend the same courtesy to our Romanian guests?
Bill Simpson
Greatham, Hants

Telegraph:

SIR – Living near to Crystal Palace Park and as an architect with three decades of experience, I was shocked by Stephen Bayley’s negative comments about a Chinese plan to rebuild Crystal Palace on the original Victorian era site (“A fake Crystal Palace will shame Britain”, Comment, October 4).
The visionary proposals by the Chinese property developer offers the best prospect for revival of this strategic area of south London for decades. The design concept is in the earliest stages, and with proper development by one of our brilliant home-grown architectural practices, it is hard to see how this will not become a worthy successor to the original Crystal Palace. I suspect that when the full benefits of the scheme are made clear, local people will want to support this magnificent contribution to our community by its Anglophile developer. I understand that the proposals include restoration of the Victorian terraces, and a major centre for cultural events, concerts and cinemas.
What is proposed is not a “fake”, but a landmark iconic building which will be a link with our past, present and future.
Chris Phillips
Beckenham, Kent
Comments
SIR – I sympathise with the public school prejudice that exists in certain aspects of society. I am concerned, however, as to the merits of attacking a good state school such as the London Oratory School as a means of defence of private schooling (report, October 1). The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) has not visited or consulted with the school to discover for itself the facts regarding the issues it has raised.
To suggest that the school’s population derives from neighbouring houses “reportedly on sale for millions of pounds” is misleading. The school is situated in Fulham, but its pan-London catchment means that only 7 per cent of local residents attend the school, with a number of those from neighbouring Peabody and Guinness estates, as well as other local residents. Similarly, while the school is comprehensive with regard to ability, it is not comprehensive with regard to Catholic practice, as priority is given to those families with established practice. In that respect the proportion of pupils eligible for free lunches is representative of the population it draws from and not from its local authority.
David McFadden
Headmaster, London Oratory School
London SW6
SIR – Edward Vale (Letters, October 4) suggests that private school parents are doing hoi polloi a favour by donating their children’s places in the state system to others, and that high earners contribute disproportionately to state education through taxes.
Related Articles
Chinese plans for Crystal Palace are visionary
07 Oct 2013
An alternative view would be that the state is contributing to independent school pupils’ fees by allowing the schools charitable status – which is of negligible benefit to wider society. The answer is to remove charitable status from private schools so that they are purely profit-making businesses.
John Roberts
Cardiff
SIR – As with many other independent schools, direct access to our school in the form of means-tested bursaries has long been a way of showing our benefit to the community before any Charity Commission ruling on the subject.
We do this because it is the embodiment of our school’s ethos. We offer bursaries to those girls who would most benefit from the kind of education we offer. Many of these pupils have gone on to great things, and, in return, are only too willing to support others as a result of the education they have been afforded.
Jo Heywood
Head, Heathfield School
Ascot, Berkshire
SIR – Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, should ponder why private schools are having to lend their playing fields to state schools, despite it being only “crumbs off their tables” (report, October 3).
Peter Hamilton
London SE3
Preventing diabetes
SIR – Diabetes has been lurking in the public subconscious for long enough (report, October 2). We need to take note about the dangers of diabetes, highlighted recently by Diabetes UK. My mother died a lingering death thanks largely to complications connected with Type 2 diabetes. It is a horrible condition, but it is often preventable, in that it is strongly connected with diet and weight.
To raise a child into obesity is to let them down just as seriously as to hand out cigarettes. We need to see that the most loving answer to the child’s plea “I am hungry” is often not “have a biscuit”, but “so am I”, or “you’ll enjoy your tea, then.” We must not condemn a proportion of those youngsters to an early death.
Andrew Steane
Oxford
Royal Navy recognition
SIR – Michael Field (Letters, September 27) says that we need an appropriate day to remember sacrifices made by the Royal Navy. I wonder if it should be May 31, 2016 when 100 years to that day 6,300 sailors lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland.
My grandfather was the commander on the battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary; he was among the 1,200 who lost their lives when it went down.
Robert Tomkinson
Towcester, Northamptonshire
SIR – We should also remember the losses of the Royal Naval Division. The Division, made up principally of Royal Marines, Fleet Reservists and the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, played a vital role on land at Antwerp, the Dardanelles, Salonika and on the Western Front, suffering huge numbers of casualties.
Christopher Dickson
Leatherhead, Surrey
Tips for fig tree owners
SIR – Congratulations to Anne Donaldson (Letters, October 3) on her crop of luscious figs. We also achieved the same success. The secret may lie in having grown our small tree up against the whitewashed south-facing wall of our house.
In order for a second crop to ripen before the growing season ends, the first crop would need to have ripened by the end of July. My advice to Mrs Donaldson is to gently break off any unripe figs larger than pea-sized before the onset of winter in order to promote a good crop next year.
Dr Richard Quinton
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Working in Gambia
SIR – I was interested to read Con Coughlin’s article (“Gambia is left alone to face the whims of its deranged dictator”, Comment, October 4). On news of my father’s transfer to Cyprus, having been Governor of Gambia from 1947 to 1949, African members of the Executive and Legislative Councils petitioned King George VI for an extension of his term of office, offering to grant him an allowance to offset any financial loss involved.
As a tribute to his work, he was presented with an inscribed address signed by the representatives of the various communities, part of which read: “By your policy of Africanisation and meritorious awards to African Civil Servants, you have opened a prospect of advancement to the people of the Gambia.”
The native authorities of the 35 districts in the protectorate expressed: “their gratitude for his sympathy and help in all their undertakings.” It is doubtful that similar sentiments will be expressed by the Gambian people when President Yahya Jammeh finally leaves office.
Philip Wright
London SW11
Police sickness
SIR – Some years ago, when I took charge of a large police station, I found an inordinate level of sickness compared with my previous stations (“My officers phone in sick with hangovers, admits chief constable”, report, October 2). I let it be known that, as I was concerned about staff health and welfare, either myself or another senior officer would visit the homes of those reporting sick to see how they were. And we did.
Within a month “sickness” fell by 62 per cent, and within six months by another 17 per cent. Thereafter it remained below average, much to the relief of those who had to cover for their sick colleagues.
Joe Emery
Standlake, Oxfordshire
Utility bill conundrum
SIR – I received three letters last week, on consecutive days, from my electricity supplier. The first told me that I was required to read my own meter, and supply them with my meter readings within three weeks. The second was an estimated bill. The third was a bill based on my own readings from two days previously. This informed me that my monthly direct debit was going up because I should be supplying my own meter readings on a quarterly basis. What next?
Perhaps I should answer my own query by writing to myself or even phoning myself up, and adding any costs incurred onto my bill.
Jonathan Chasemore
Potter Heigham, Norfolk
Not just for sitting on
SIR – At my convent school, not only did we tuck our chairs in once we left our desks (Letters, October 5), we were also obliged to flip them up and place them seat side down on the desk ready for the cleaners.
Ginny Hudson
Southampton
SIR – My wife and I have taken to tucking our chairs under the table after a meal, before negotiating our way out, as it gives us the opportunity to straighten our backs.
Charles McCartan
Loxwood, West Sussex
SIR – In our house, failure to tuck the chairs in results in our dachshund hopping from chair to table, and eating the butter.
John Manners-Bell
Brinkworth, Wiltshire
Unusual foreign encounters with parakeets
SIR – Pam Ledger (Letters, October 2) is concerned about vanishing parakeets. I can report that there are colonies of parakeets nesting in the trees near the seaward end of La Rambla in Barcelona.
Three weeks ago, while enjoying lunch at a restaurant, one of their more inquisitive and noisy number almost drowned in the ornamental pool next to our table. It was rescued by a Spanish couple, who wrapped it in a sweater and fed it. Lunchtime entertainment was seldom bettered.
John Garrett
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
SIR – In 1942, my father was stationed in New Delhi, and we had two other officers billeted with us at our house.
We had a prolific crop of maize in the kitchen garden which was regularly plundered by flocks of ring-necked parakeets, so my father and his friends organised parakeet shoots with great success. Even I, with my bow and arrow, managed to bag a few. We ate them regularly, roasted, and they were delicious. They tasted a bit like snipe.
Anne Naylor
Bentley Heath, Hertfordshire
SIR – Brian Fokes (Letters, October 4) suggests that some people may have used Mrs Beeton’s Australian recipe to make parakeet pie. Canada geese are far more deserving of being turned into pie. These birds are pernicious, stripping the banks of rivers down to bare earth, messing on footpaths and driving out native species.
Tony Lloyd
Coulsdon, Surrey

Irish Times:

   
Sir, – Seanad reform will now be a top priority for the No side – as it has been for the past 80 years. – Yours, etc,
TOM NEVILLE,
Leopardstown Avenue,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.
A chara, – I call on all those senators who facilitated the passage of “The Abolition of the Seanad” Bill through the Oireachtas last May by voting for the abolition of their own jobs and the Seanad to resign immediately.
Following months of claiming that their political existence was a waste of taxpayers’ money and that they had never contributed positively to legislation in this country, their positions as Senators have been rendered untenable. Their resignations would also pave the way for the meaningful reform of the Seanad that is so urgently needed. – Is mise,
DAVID J TANSEY,
Larkhill Road, Sligo.
A chara, – Wouldn’t it only be right, proper and fair that the cost (€14 million) of the recent failed referendum be deducted from the wage packets of Government Ministers? – Is mise,
JOE KELLY,
Montpelier Gardens,
Dublin 7.
Sir, – I wonder if there are any similarities between Enda Kenny’s decision to send Richard Bruton to debate the Senate referendum rather than go himself and Éamon de Valera’s decision to send Michael Collins to the Treaty negotiations? – Yours, etc,
JACK MONTGOMERY,
Ard Na Mara,
Blackrock, Co Louth.
Sir, – Following the referendum result, is it time for Enda Kenny to face up to what we all know already. He should realise he is not up to the job and resign. Then someone more competent could take over. – Yours, etc,
RAYMOND KERNAN,
Drumakill,
Castleblayney,
Co Monaghan.
Sir, – Will Enda Kenny et al please take note and proceed accordingly: “The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.” – Gandhi. – Yours, etc,
JIM O’SULLIVAN,
Rathedmond, Sligo.
Sir, – Now the Taoiseach has gracefully taken his wallop on the chin, I do hope he will give serious consideration to any future such fundamental reform of the governance of Ireland with the help of the appropriate experts and citizens’ groups.
This last effort to abolish the Seanad smacked more of management consultants than of constitutional lawyers, political scientists and historians, not to mention the Constitutional Convention. – Yours, etc,
UNA O’DWYER,
Nutley Park,
Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
Sir, – Anagrammatically “The Seanad” has been reformed from “Enda’s Hate” to “Hates Enda”. – Yours, etc,
KEVIN O’SULLIVAN,
Ballyraine Park,
Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
Sir, – Given that every constituency returned a 50-something/ 40-something vote in one direction or the other, isn’t talk of urban/rural or east/west divides a bit overblown? – Yours, etc,
COLIN McGOVERN,
Vernon Avenue,
Clontarf, Dublin 3.
Sir, – The decision by the Irish electorate to keep the Seanad is not an unconditional endorsement of it, merely a stay of execution. Members and supporters of Seanad Éireann do not have the luxury of being complacent nor should they imagine, if they shirk immediate and proper reform, that the electorate will indulge them again in the future. – Yours, etc,
CHRISTIAN MORRIS,
Claremont Road,
Howth, Dublin 13.
Sir, – Next time the government holds a referendum to abolish the Seanad, might I suggest that the voting be carried out in accordance with the current voting procedures to elect members of the Seanad with one significant reversal. Allow only those who currently do not have a vote in the Seanad elections be allowed to vote in the referendum and let the rest be disenfranchised. Referendum passed! – Yours, etc,
KEVIN McDONNELL,
Berrings, Co Cork.
Sir, – When the electorate is persuaded by government that it made the wrong decision in rejecting the constitutional amendment to abolish Seanad Éireann, as happened with both the Nice and Lisbon treaties, will we be required to re-ballot on both the Seanad abolition and court of appeal referendums, or just on what was voted down? – Yours, etc,
TOM COOPER,
Delaford Lawn,
Knocklyon,
Dublin 16.
Sir, – What is the difference between the Government and An Post?  An Post delivers! – Yours, etc,
KEVIN DEVITTE,
Mill Street,
Westport, Co Mayo.
Sir, – When my wife Liz was collecting two grandchildren from national school last Wednesday in Killiney, she remarked that they would be off school on Friday, because of polling. “Yes, Granny,” nine-year old Tom replied, “there’s going to be a resurrection”. As Psalm 8 metaphorically puts it, “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength”. – Yours, etc,
MARTIN MANSERGH,
Wilmount,
Killiney, Co Dublin.
Sir, – Joe O’Connor, president of the Union of Students of Ireland (USI), has described the vote to retain Seanad Éireann as an extremely positive result for Irish democracy. There is a slight chance that this may yet prove to be true, but only if sufficient numbers of citizens mobilise to campaign for reform of our political system.
In a referendum in 1979, voting rights in Seanad university panel elections were extended to all Irish third-level graduates. Despite the expressed solemn will of the people and repeated requests from USI delegations, the required legislation for Seanad university panel reform has never been drafted by Dáil Éireann.
In this light, post-referendum promises by all political parties to truly reform the Seanad ring hollow. – Yours, etc,
JOHN HUGHES,
(Disenfranchised graduate
of NCAD),
Indreabhán,
Conamara, Co Galway.
Sir, – Now that the people have spoken, can I make a special request for our local Senator, Terry Leyden’s stamp money to be refunded? – Yours, etc,
JOHN BURNS,
Athleague,
Co Roscommon.
Sir, – It’s said that a poll should be treated as a snapshot of opinion at a point in time. So, why the big surprise when the eventual outcome is a negative? – Yours, etc,
JOHN O’BYRNE,
Mount Argus Court,
Harold’s Cross,
Dublin 6W.
Sir, – Brian Nolan (October 7th) highlights the question of the Government engaging in realistic Seanad reform by quoting Lewis Carroll on belief in impossible things. The following is equally apt given the current autocracy, “ ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less’.” (Through the Looking Glass). – Yours,etc,
JOHANNA LOWRY
O’REILLY,
Moyne Road,
Ranelagh, Dublin 6.
Sir, – How can we have confidence in a referendum process that produces an unintelligible ballot paper? Having had difficulty deciphering the papers issued last Friday, I asked two locals about their experience at the polling station. One had walked out mystified without voting, the other had voted in a manner opposite to their intention! – Yours. etc,
RGV BOELENS,
Portroe,
Co Tipperary.
Sir, – My commiserations to Taoiseach Enda Kenny on losing the Seanad referendum and the Senior All-Ireland football final. – Yours, etc,
DEREK HENRY CARR,
Harcourt Terrace,
Dublin 2.

   
Sir, – Keith Harris’s pending homelessness (October 4th), due to a further reduction in the already inadequate rent supplement, is a situation facing many people in the private rented sector.
In my experience with homeless people in Dublin, it is now almost impossible for them, or others dependent on the rent supplement provided by the State, to access accommodation in the private rented sector. This highlights the absurdity of the Government’s homeless policy which is almost entirely dependent on the private rented sector to achieve its objective of eliminating homelessness by 2016. – Yours, etc,
Fr PETER McVERRY SJ,
Jesuit Centre for Faith and
Justice,
Upper Sherrard Street,

Sir, – I was so relieved to read Anthea McTeirnan’s piece (“Women are not hurt by abortion. It is normal”, Opinion, October 4th). At last some honesty.
Having moved to Ireland from England some 20 years ago with my returning Irish husband and our two young children, I found myself pregnant at 44. Our children were then eight and six years of age. I had had two difficult births resulting in emergency Caesarean sections and by the time of this new pregnancy had become very overweight. I had no doubt that I could not proceed and within days had made preparations for the four of us to travel back to England to stay with my mother; to be with my family who understood my decision, sad as it was. I was also able to confide in my old friends back there.
I went to the clinic to be checked out, to find out exactly where I was along the line (eight weeks), to discuss the procedure and my decision with doctors.
This next description is what upsets me and angers me still, two decades on. The hypocrisy. I was in a small ward (with maybe 10 beds), filled with Irish women. Very young and not so young. A woman who already had six children and just could not cope with, or afford, any more. She had flown over on a “shopping expedition” to London and was returning home to Ireland that night, calm and determined.
I ended up with two very young girls lying on my bed with me, crying their eyes out. Scared. No, their families did not know. No, they had not been to their doctor in Ireland. Nobody knew their situation and they were flying home that night. No follow-up care. No counselling. Nobody to talk to. Nobody with whom they could share their feelings, their doubts or their fears. And, hopefully not, any repercussions from the surgery. After only a few hours in hospital in London, they flew back to Dublin and Limerick. Alone. Scared.
As advised, I stayed in for the night. Then my husband collected me and took me home – to my precious children, my mother and family to be cared for before returning to Ireland. Where I could not say a word to anyone for fear of shock and condemnation.
I don’t regret the decision. I regret the hypocrisy that allows thousands of women to travel secretly. Alone. To another country and without the support they need and deserve to go through what is undoubtedly a difficult and a sad situation following a decision which they have taken after careful consideration. – Yours, etc,
MOIRA MURTAGH,
Somerby Road,
Greystones, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – Anthea McTeirnan (Opinion, October 4th), claims “women do not die of abortion”. McTeirnan seems to forget, or ignore, the multitude of unborn women who die due to abortion. – Yours, etc,
ADAM HOBSON,
Upper Rathmines Road,
Dublin 6.
Sir, – Anthea McTeirnan’s piece, “Women are not hurt by abortion. It is normal” (Opinion, October 4th) is the first sensible article that I have ever read on the issue! (I am over 60). – Yours, etc,
DERMOT FAGAN,
Llewellyn Grove,
Dublin 16.
Sir, – The foetus is a different biological entity to a woman, not a part of her body like a tooth. Are you really a patriarch or a priest if you believe that a foetus has a greater claim to the right to life than a tooth? – Yours, etc,
LARRY WALSH,
Templeville Road,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W.

I’ve even thought of a spurious “Yes” argument for this, based on my own “back-of-an-envelope” financial calculations. If 60 per cent of an electorate of three million must pay a €50 fine for not voting, that makes €90 million in fines. Even allowing for those with a valid excuse, or who those simply won’t pay, many millions could be raised every year! Come to think of it, given that there were two referendums last Friday, wouldn’t that then make each non-voter liable for €100, as being guilty on two counts of failing to exercise their franchise? The same would apply next year, with local and European elections scheduled.
I jest, of course, but the fact that so many people do not vote is something that surely must be addressed. – Yours, etc,
SEAN BELLEW,
Upper Faughar

Sir, – Dermot Curran in An Irishman’s Diary (September 30th) attributed the phrase “Peace in our time” to Neville Chamberlain.
Chamberlain never said this. The correct quote is, “Peace for our time”. This quote came from a speech Chamberlain delivered outside 10 Downing Street on September 30th, 1938: “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British prime minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
The commonly misquoted “Peace in our time” most likely stems from the Book of Common Prayer (“Give peace in our time, O Lord”), the contents of which the Unitarian Mr Chamberlain would not have been overtly familiar with. – Yours, etc,
PATRICK CORKERY,
James Street,

Sir, – Do we now have to refer to the Four Courts as the Five Courts? – Yours, etc,
COLIN ROGAN,
Bushy Park Road,
Rathgar, Dublin 6.

   
Sir, – John Collins’s article on his experience of the Mater Hospital accident and emergency department (while attending recently with his mother) dramatically brought home the appalling state of the public health services after a decade or more of mismanagement and neglect (Home News, September 30th).
The article was very moving on many levels. However, as a GP in the north inner city, I was struck in particular by the response of the Mater Hospital which accompanied the story and which, inter alia, made the claim that attendances (at emergency departments) are higher during the afternoon “when GP practices close”.
In fact the vast majority of GPs in the area offer morning, afternoon and evening surgeries and indeed there is also an excellent out-of-hours service for the area run by local GPs themselves.
Your correspondent painted a very revealing picture of the chaos at the heart of our public hospitals which is directly linked to the lack of adequate resources to cope with the increasing complexity of delivering first-class health services to our citizens.
The situation in general practice is no better. Following draconian cuts of almost €150 million to general practice, many GPs are struggling to maintain services and we appear to be moving further away from the Government’s stated aim of getting patients out of hospitals with more emphasis on primary care.
There is much talk of reform in the health services, but it should be reform for the better, not the current situation whereby patients are suffering needlessly and doctors are struggling to deliver care in an increasingly under-resourced health service. – Yours, etc,
Dr RAY WALLEY,
Chair IMO GP Committee,
FitzSir, – Recycling companies are running an advertising campaign asking us to improve on our recycling. We are being asked to “wash and dry containers before recycling”.
I am quite happy to do this, but we are also being asked by another source to conserve energy, water, heating fuels and be as “green” as we possibly can. A lot of food containers need to be washed in hot soapy water. Which is the lesser of two evils: to recycle unwashed containers, or waste valuable water and fuel washing them? I am in a quandary. – Yours, etc,
URSULA HOUGH-
GORMLEY,
Donnybrook Castle,
Donnybrook, Dublin.4.

william Place,

Sir,– If Gay Byrne introduced sex into Ireland, can there be any doubt that in contemplating the eye-catching, noble image of Clare’s Shane O’Donnell and his fan-club in your pages (Sport, October 5th) that 50 years on, in introducing sex into hurling, truly, the Gods have spoken. – Yours, etc,
OWEN MORTON,
Station Road,
Sutton, Dublin 13.

Irish Independent:

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