IoS letters, emails & online postings (8 November 2009)

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While many of us may find the factory farming of animals in rich countries objectionable, farm animals maintained on pasture grass by herders or raised on crop by-products on family farms in poor countries help more than a billion people living on a little more than a dollar a day ("Meat creates half of all greenhouse gases", 1 November). The biggest concern of many experts regarding livestock in developing countries is the prospect of hotter and more extreme tropical environments, threatening livelihoods based on livestock, and supplies of milk, meat and eggs among hungry communities that need these nourishing foods most. For people living in absolute poverty and chronic hunger, the solution is not to rid the world of livestock, but rather to find ways to farm animals more profitably, as well as sustainably.

Carlos Seré

Director General, International Livestock Research Institute

Nairobi, Kenya

I am an illegal downloader, but I like traditional country music, and where do you buy old-timers like Dick Curless, Lucille Starr and Wilma Lee? ("Illegal downloaders 'spend the most on music'", 1 November.) I am not depriving anyone of an income. If I didn't download what I like, I wouldn't get it at all.

Ron Livingstone


My blog about the niqab in Egypt received very wide and positive coverage in the Arabic blogosphere and press ("Our man in Cairo rashly enters Egypt's veil debate", 1 November). One comment expressed gratitude for "the British Ambassador's understanding of the Moslem's sentiment". Another wrote that what I had written was "logical... and gives us an example of how to deal with sensitive issues". As to whether I as a non-Muslim am entitled to comment, my blog only represents my personal opinions. I remain passionately attached to the notion of tolerance and deeply fearful of any exhibition of intolerance. To exclude someone from a debate on the basis of religion is, to me, a sign of intolerance.

Dominic Asquith

Ambassador, British Embassy

Cairo, Egypt

While I compliment you on your "Army of Volunteers" feature (1 November), it is a pity that you do not include anyone involved in the criminal justice system – which includes magistrates, youth offending support, victim support, witness support, custody and prison visitors and special constables.

Mike Brayshaw

Worthing, west sussex

Thank you for publicising the spate of suicides in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire (The New Review, 1 November). It's high time that we saw our rural communities for the severely battered places they are: suffering a lack of affordable housing, and with around one in four households living in or at the margins of poverty in the English countryside, according to the Commission for Rural Communities. The same 2009 study reported that 25 per cent of children in rural areas – 1,000,000 children – live in households below the low-income threshold. The next government must press to end such root causes of despair.

James Derounian

University of Gloucestershire


That Wales is a hotspot for badger persecution should be no surprise when we have a Welsh Assembly promoting a badger cull, supposedly to lessen the incidence of bovine TB ("And they call us a nation of animal lovers", 1 November). Culling other wildlife is also on the agenda. The money wasted could be better used encouraging farmers to grow more fruit and vegetables, both difficult to source locally.

Derek Hector

Whitchurch, Cardiff

Connor Ferris asks why women should get special treatment via all-female shortlists, but not black or older people (Letters, 1 November). There may be a case for positive discrimination in favour of minority groups; but there is no equivalence with the case of women: women are not a minority and outnumber men by quite a margin. In general, whether black or white, young or old, their priorities are similar and differ from those of men. That is why they should have equal representation in Parliament.

Julie Harrison


Janet Street-Porter criticises Radio 4 apart from The Archers and Desert Island Discs (1 November). But what about the many book programmes, plays, news and interviews, investigations, and programmes on history, food and gardening? The list could go on and on.

Margot Kafno

London NW5

In your entertaining feature on bizarre formulae "The appliance of science" (1 November), it would have been amusing to see the funding formulae used by research councils to support the scientists.

Kartar Uppal

via email

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