Your columnist Joanna Moorhead is right ("Benedict bites back", 19 September): the Vatican is a very slick operation, but no mention was made of the number of highly qualified women who work within the Vatican itself, curating a massive collection of treasures from round the world which reflect the missionary element of the faith over centuries, and caring for the collections of books and manuscripts with corridor after corridor of history deep underground. What always mystifies me is why the celibacy rule is so deeply rooted within church dogma when the central plank of it is that the Pope is the direct descendant by acknowledged Faith of Peter the Apostle. The Basilica is built over what is considered to be his tomb, complete with bones. Peter was a married man. There is reference to his mother-in-law within scripture.
Andy Atkins from Friends of the Earth describes environmental sustainability as "the forgotten goal" ("World fails to deliver on eight key targets: Missing the Millennium Development Goals", 19 September). But I believe the eighth goal, more than the seventh, deserves this description. Of particular importance is target 15: to "deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term". It is farcical for developed countries to aid developing countries when the IMF, World Bank and similar bodies remain unreformed, controlled by the richest countries for their own benefit. Money continues to be loaned to countries that already have an unsustainable burden of debt. Recent "aid" – loans of $3bn to Pakistan from the World Bank and Asian Development Fund – increased the country's debt to $49bn. International economic bodies need to write off all previous loans of dubious legality and give future aid solely as grants, while the system needs extensive reform. The Millennium Development Goals will never be more than a token unless goal eight receives serious attention.
Results UK, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
John Rentoul misses the main points about the coalition which won't go away ("Nick Clegg could yet be proved right", 19 September). The Liberal Democrats have broken faith with their own voters. It is entirely immoral to make the poorest pay the gambling debts of the bankers. The cuts won't work anyway because (a) it's a fantasy that the private sector is busting a gut to take up the slack left by a receding public sector; (b) export-led growth isn't happening; (c) a massive increase in unemployment will cause less tax and national insurance to be paid and reduce domestic demand so government revenues will fall and less debt can be paid; (d) increased family breakdown and crime will add to costs.
Your picture of the Deputy PM and Simon Hughes (19 September) arriving at the Liberal Democrat conference tells a story. Mr Clegg is attempting to button his jacket, while Hughes is pulling up his trousers. It appears the coalition is causing them no angst so far based on that appearance.
David Randall takes to task the thoughtless celebrity parents who burden their children with toe-curling names ("Meet Jamie's son...", 19 September). However, I feel I ought to come to the defence of Sting, who was on the list of villains for the crime of lumbering his daughter with the label Fuchsia. Sting played Steerpike in the 1984 BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the first two books of Mervyn Peake's darkly Gothic Gormenghast trilogy. Being a Peake enthusiast, Sting seems to have named his daughter after the books' imaginative, passionate, but ultimately tragic Fuchsia, Lord Sepulchrave's daughter. An "infantilising, equality-sapping fluffy pink confection" would have been far from his intention when he was choosing a name for his child.
Dan Plesch is right ("Let's clear away the Trident delusion", 19 September). We are told "we need our independent nuclear deterrent". It is not ours because the British public does not want it; it is not independent because it is dependent on American missiles, weapons and guidance systems; it is not a deterrent because it does not deter any real threat with which we are faced.
Greenpeace estimates Trident will cost £97m, or £2,400 per death. Are there no cheaper ways of killing people on a genocidal scale?
Author, The Nuclear Threat,
D J Taylor mentions a Gaga in Punch in 1929 ("Lady Gaga and the TUC prove there's nowt new under t'sun", 19 September). But an earlier appearance is in Emile Zola's 1880 novel Nana, a meat-market novel of theatres, showgirls and prostitution. "Don't you know Gaga?... She was the darling of the early 30s."
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