IoS letters, emails & online postings (6 September 2009)

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I was shocked to see the photo on last Sundays front page, of a famine victim in Ethiopia in 1984. I remember that young boy as if from yesterday: he was in a camp in Mekele in northern Ethiopia and I was there because I was serving with the RAF's detachment in Addis Ababa on famine relief operations.

The camp was grim. Hell on Earth was the scene outside the camp, where people newly arrived from outlying areas waited for a place in a tent and a meagre ration of grain. The boy you pictured was squatting in the dirt, too weak to stand up and with no one to help him.

It's depressing to read that the spectre of famine is stalking Ethiopia once again. This time the wealthy nations of the world simply must drive that spectre away. Action during the event may relieve the worst hardship for some, but is no substitute for timely action to prevent famine taking hold. I'm confident the UK government will step up to the plate; I hope other countries will join us.

Doug Maughan


I enjoy shooting, deer stalking, hunting and fishing, but I am no "toff", nor part of the "landed gentry" (Letters, 30 August). It annoys me that readers still stereotype the country sports fraternity and, to a larger extent, country folk. The statements by Richard Mountford of Animal Aid that "if hunters wanted to minimise suffering, they would use greyhounds or lurchers to catch the fox in seconds" and that hounds are bred to be slow "to make the chase last", are nonsense. Lurchers and greyhounds do not have the power to make a clean kill, so they are more likely to prolong death. Hounds are good for the job because of their combined strength, stamina and, to a certain extent, speed.

Ben Dorrington

Ripon, North Yorkshire

Richard Mountford exposes the injustice of the Hunting Act when he states that if hunters were concerned to minimise suffering, they would use greyhounds and lurchers. Many did, but this is now banned. Rather than being caught and killed in seconds, foxes are now legally shot in conditions that leave more than 60 per cent merely wounded. The Burns report rightly concluded that in some circumstances dogs are the best means of killing foxes.

Giles Bradshaw

Rose Ash, Devon

Alex Renton demeans his otherwise excellent article with his jibe about "Cath Kidston tents" at the Climate Camp on Blackheath Common ("Our ship is sinking...", 30 August). I have no idea how many tents were there, but those I saw looked pretty ordinary to me. What I do know is that for nearly two hours on a glorious bank holiday afternoon about 120 mainly young people were crammed into a stuffy marquee trying to get their heads round the fearfully complex economics of climate change. If the humanitarian agencies are to get the $150bn per year that Renton was calling for, there will have to be a powerful political movement in the old industrial countries to force the politicians to deliver it. The Climate Camp is nowhere near being that movement yet. But it is the best there is at present in the UK.

Paul Ekins

Professor of Energy and Environment Policy, University College London

Having read your coverage of the low spot(s) of Ted Kennedy's picaresque life, I have to conclude that Britain is better off with the House of Windsor (Charles of that ilk not withstanding) than a British version of the Kennedys.

S Hallett

By email

No appraisal of the Kennedy brothers can be made without taking account of their public policies ("Men like Ted Kennedy got feminism off the ground", 30 August). President John Kennedy's administration (1961-63), set up the food stamp programme, which continues today. This provides funds for poorer Americans to buy food from the federal government at affordable prices. This is important for many poorer women, such as single mothers with small children. The minimum wage, also part of the Kennedy liberal agenda, benefits many women working part-time in places such as supermarkets.

Shouvik Datta

Orpington, Kent

Simon Evans fails to appreciate the scale of the damage that the financial crisis is doing to the economy ("Turner's antidote would kill, not cure, the City", 30 August). If "recovery" continues, GDP will probably regain its 2007 level in mid-2012. But by then it will be about 15 per cent below where it would have been with no recession. To close that gap by 2020 would require the economy to expand at 4.5 per cent per annum – far above anything achieved for such a period since the war. By 2020, therefore, the economy will have lost at least one year's GDP at 2007 rates, or some £1,400,000,000. That dwarfs any tax contribution by the City.

Harvey Cole

Winchester, Hampshire

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