IoS letters, emails & texts, 17 August 2008

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I am pleased that Pat Rattigan's daughter survived measles unscathed, but to conclude that the purpose of childhood infections is to protect against themselves is bizarre (Letters, 10 August). The WHO's figures show that, in 2006, measles was responsible worldwide for 242,000 deaths – 663 every day, 27 every hour. Those who survive are at risk of brain damage, deafness or blindness.

Babies breastfed by mothers with immunity are protected to some extent, but this immunity rapidly drops off after breastfeeding is stopped, so it is unlikely that a five-year-old has any significant immunity as a result of his mother's previous infection. And just which toxins were supposedly "cleansed" by the virus?

As a GP who has seen some children who were extremely unwell with measles, and others who have suffered long-term damage from the virus, I would urge parents to look at the evidence regarding immunisation.

Dr Ian Campbell

Collessie, Cupar, Fife

Pat Rattigan states "there are no cases... of any child in reasonable health and with properly managed treatment, being harmed by measles". I suppose that children who are not fortunate enough to be in good health to begin with or to receive good medical care will just have to suffer or even die from the sometimes extremely unpleasant complications of measles.

Dr Kate Hough

London N8

After catching measles in 1953, my brother developed encephalitis. He survived, but died relatively young. We were a well-off, professional family who lived in a large house in a prosperous village, and there was no question of us being under-nourished. Neither of us had previously shown any sign of ill-health.

My mother was overjoyed in later years when she read about the vaccine for measles being available. She would have thought it irresponsible of parents not to have their children vaccinated.

Sheila Perry

Edinburgh

The last case of measles I saw (before vaccination had made it a rare disease) was on a table in a post-mortem room. Measles is nasty, even when uncomplicated. I know: I had it. We have the power to protect our children. We should get on with prevention, rather than indulging in pseudoscience.

Professor Thomas H

Pennington

Aberdeen

Why is Martin Durkin so committed to reviling the green movement ("To greens I was worse than a child abuser", 10 August)? He seems to imply that the climate science supporting the evidence that global warming is happening... has been believed by the majority for decades, and that it is those like himself, who don't believe this science, who are in the minority and should be given more air-time.

It is the greens who have had to fight over many years to get their voices heard against the stupid majority, of whom Durkin is, it seems, a member. Surely he could agree that there are some horrific things happening around the globe as a result of consumerist greed.

Of the audience response to his film he says, "many of them thought this global warming stuff was baloney and were rather relieved that someone had stood up and said as much". This alone suggests that the green movement is far from winning the battle of hearts and minds. Why does he want us to spin headlong into disaster and tragedy?

Rosemary Haworth-Booth

London SW18

Camila Batmanghelidjh refers to the Joker's scars, which a drunken father inflicted upon him ("Not in my name...", 10 August). But the Joker also says the scars are a result of his wife never smiling, and that he inflicted them on both her and himself so that they would both look happy. He begins another explanation while battling with Batman. This is the Joker as enigma, who tells conflicting versions of events; he represents cases where criminality defies understanding. It doesn't necessarily reflect a hopeless society, but a recognition that crime is not always as simple as we think it will be.

Luke Smith

via email

How does what Russia is doing to Georgia over South Ossetia differ from what Nato did to Serbia over Kosovo? The same leaders and politicians who insist Georgia has a right to keep its borders intact express the opposite view when it comes to Serbia. Why are they so clear in their belief that Kosovo should become independent but not apparently that South Ossetia should be independent or ruled by Russia?

Jeremy Campbell

London

When we see youngsters roaming the streets with nothing to do and then remember that knife crime is on the increase, let's not forget that family-friendly links such as working men's clubs used to build a community ("Death of working men's clubs", 10 August). As a youth in the 1970s, I went to the MG factory workers' club in Abingdon – closed in 1980 – a link to people from the whole area. They weren't strangers I could practise crime on. There aren't many venues now where youths can get to know their neighbours; they have been disenfranchised. The hatred of no connection with society swells up – and strangers who walk by without a smile only feed the fire.

Politicians aren't thinking about where and how society interacts. These clubs' closures are a sign of society dying, and the rise of selfish individualistic subjects.

George Scott

Brighton

As an Exmouth resident, I don't give a damn where they build the 40,000sqft Asda monstrosity, so long as it's not on the proposed site, on the shores of our beautiful estuary. This protected site provides habitats and feeding grounds for birds of passage and over-wintering birds, and contains rare eel grasses. Unfortunately, this development looks like a done deal between East Devon District Council and Asda. If I were a tourist and the first thing I saw coming into town was a huge, ugly Asda blotting out the shoreline and the seascape, I'd keep going until I got to Sidmouth.

Diane Hill

Exmouth, Devon

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