<i>IoS</i> letters, emails &amp; online postings (8 March 2009)

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The Independent Online

The horrific testimony of an Israeli soldier who courageously broke the silence about a "targeted assassination" may shock British readers, but it is no more than a commonplace occurrence for the Palestinians who have witnessed many such "operations" in the past ("Israel's death squads – a soldier's story", 1 March).

A report by Amnesty International on 23 February states that Israel's armed forces carried out direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, as well as attacks that were disproportionate or indiscriminate. Yet the army of self-proclaimed "unsurpassed moral values" continues to violate international and human rights law with impunity while Western leaders keep their damning silence.

Ruth Tenne

London NW6

David Randall and Jane Merrick write that the Government created yet another effective smokescreen by stoking indignation at Sir Fred Goodwin's pension ("The £1,300,000,000,000 bank job", 1 March). And who do we have to thank for the ease with which this was achieved? Did Gordon Brown contact me directly to vent his wrath against this man's payment for failure? No. Instead, we have an indolent and spiritless media to thank for fanning the fire.

The story of Sir Fred was a great source of dramatic, eye-catching headlines. Much harder is the presentation of a clear, meaningful description and analysis of the "big picture". Randall and Merrick have attempted to do this, but where was the media over the past 10 years?

Your business editor, Margareta Pagano, says that "we took for granted that the Government... was regulating the City over the past decade". Surely it is the role of media not to take things for granted? As mere citizens, workers and taxpayers, I and my family and friends could see problems ahead, with the seemingly bottomless pit of credit availability, the 125 per cent mortgages and the ceaseless pressure to spend, spend, spend. Where were our intelligent, investigative journalists of old; digging and burrowing to uncover the real nightmare that lay ahead?

Barbara Calvert

Nailsea, North Somerset

Both Gordon Brown and Barack Obama have talked of the need for green investment as a response to the economic crisis, but your report "Britain fails to deliver on pledge to lead world to 'green recovery'" is quite revealing (1 March).

As the HSBC study shows, the proportion of the UK's recovery package devoted to green initiatives, at just 7 per cent, is dwarfed by US green spending, at 16 per cent of their overall recovery plan. Barack Obama certainly talked up the importance of the green agenda during his election campaign, but within weeks of being sworn in he is now delivering $825bn (£585bn) of investment. What a contrast to the Labour Government who talked the green talk back in 1997 but whose commitment and delivery is as half-hearted and inadequate today as it was 12 years ago.

Darren Johnson

Green Party Member, London Assembly

London SE1

How sad if Bob Hough seriously thinks that the amount of work and resources in an artwork should decide its price (Letters, 1 March). Take Picasso: one of many geniuses whose work is knocked out in minutes or longer, and has none of the "visual science" of, say, Monet or the cubist Delaunay, yet sells for millions. And take all the hard work and inputs creating destructive or disabling goods: the arms industry; unecological design; gratuitous bureaucracy and laws; and so on.

A product's true worth is judged not by a tally of the labour in it, nor by the marginal utility theory of standard economics, but by the way the product functions: by how far it serves our flourishing and survival; and if art, by how far it embodies and develops the principles of perception and creativity necessary for these ends. Any other method is a can of worms.

David Rodway

Woldingham, Surrey

The real Gordian knot that every prime minister and parliament fails to face up to is the end of the English empire ("We live in Thatcher's monument", 1 March). They just will not do it, and meanwhile we sink under the waves.

Cancel the two aircraft carriers and the Trident nuclear update and all nuclear weapons. Withdraw from Belize, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Germany and those 54 other countries John Major famously bragged we had troops in. Join the European Union properly – it needs leadership – and the euro. Iraq and Afghanistan need to be debated openly.

We are trapped in a self-inflicted imperial time warp and need radical new democratic leadership.

glasgow24

posted online

A weekly Latin read will be an enjoyment, as bonum vinum laetificat cor hominis ("good wine fortifies the heart of man") ("Mea vita nova cum astris", 1 March). Bona fortuna et persista atque obdura (good luck and keep up the good work).

John McPartlin

via email

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Letters to the Editor, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk(no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2628; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2009/March/8

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