IoS letters, emails & online postings (10 August 2014)

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Independent Voices

Children benefit enormously from visiting art galleries ("A gallery visit? Leave the children at home, says top artist", 3 August). If anything, children of primary-school age have more to gain from early engagement with high-quality art, as it can help them better engage with learning, develop their creativity and imagination, encourage communication and language skills, and most of all, inspire them.

Children may not "understand" a complex artwork (who can claim they do?) but they quickly develop an appreciation for what they're seeing and the thoughts, ideas and feelings it can stimulate. The more they see, the better; so the opportunity to visit an art gallery is hugely valuable. We work with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have seen the transformative effect that regular visits to galleries can have on children's lives.

Jeremy Newton

Chief executive The Prince's Foundation for Children & the Arts

London E1

Why does John Lichfield feel it is appropriate to smear Sir Edward Grey (Comment, 3 August)? There are extensive published documents about the lead-up to war, for instance The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and Military Documents, by Annika Mombauer. These generally support the case that Grey behaved honourably and worked hard to try to prevent war.

Peter Brooker

West Wickham, Kent

John Ashton ("They'd find a cure if Ebola came to London", 3 August) is very unfair when he says that it was only when "innocent" groups were affected by Aids that the scientific community took notice. It was scientists at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta who worked out its epidemiology from its beginning, showed its risk to blood transfusion recipients, and fought to make it a public health priority. They also went to Zaire in 1976 and investigated every case of Ebola fever in the outbreak that gave it its name, worked out its transmission and identified its cause as a new virus.

Professor Hugh Pennington


Stan Labovitch asks why atrocities other than Gaza don't readily attract similar protests (Letters, 3 August).The reason for me is that it is such an obscenely one-sided conflict, in which the Middle East's superpower has serially inflicted devastation on a captive impoverished people, who see their homeland continually diminish, where electricity and water are cut off, where homes, hospitals, schools and their inhabitants are routinely destroyed, where women and children form the greater proportion of deaths and injuries. Israel is protected at the UN by the US veto and funded by the US financially and militarily: these are my reasons.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

There is always a gaping hole at the centre of Hamish McRae's analysis (3 August). The "rising productivity" he desires can be fed only with a voracious increase in the use of energy and resources. Ultimately, even renewable energy will be finite but other resources, including many of the basics of modern civilisation, will run out much sooner.

A tiny handful of economists, most notably Fritz Schumacher and Herman Daly, have shown the breadth of vision to engage with this most pressing and fundamental problem. But how often is it even mentioned by classical economists who seem to live on another planet of their theoretical imagination?

Steve Edwards

Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex

Countries such as Poland are not part of a Western campaign of "encirclement and humiliation since communism fell in 1991" ("The West cannot keep poking the bear", 3 August). They are merely doing everything possible to preserve the freedom they've gained after decades of dictatorship, repression, poverty, brutality and incompetence under puppet governments told what to do by Moscow which, now a mafia state instead of a communist one, continues to show disdain for decency, democracy and human rights.

Jan Wiczkowski

Prestwich, Manchester