Letters: Briefly

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The Independent Online
You criticise the Havels for honeymooning in Belgium ("Flat Earth", 23 February). Well at least they had the insight not to go to Britain, the country of the Dunblane killings, the Bulger case, child abuse scandals, several recent miscarriages of justice, not to mention BSE. How easy it is to sum up a country in a few negatives.

Bert de Fre, Gent, Belgium On 7 January 1996 you published the following letter: "Since much of astrology's reputation stands on its forecasting accuracy, you may like to judge the following after the due dates: 1) UK general election, February 1997. Labour wins, majority around 50 seats. 2) Prince Charles becomes king due to the Queen's abdication in June 2000. 3) Clinton is re-elected in November 1996. 4) A new radical Pope will be elected in September 1996." Three dates past, two incorrect. More evidence that astrology deserves its poor reputation.

Iain Sharp

Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear

It is misleading to describe the central east European nations' desire to seek protection as Nato expansion ("A nightmare for the year 2000", 23 February). The dominating factor is their wish to avoid another 50-year nightmare. Having signed them away to Russian domination at Yalta in 1945, Western democracies have a moral duty to help.

I Pikelis, Birmingham B37

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" - Mahatma Gandi. Further debate on the issue of cloning seems superfluous.

Andrew Lane

Cairndow, Argyll

The marketing men have done Penguin no favours ("The future may not be orange", Review, 23 February) but the roots of its crisis lie elsewhere. Until the 1970s it appealed to a popular left-wing sentiment. The audience is still there but Penguin now ignores it. While a left-wing critique of Tony Blair would sell by the boxload for example, Penguin has published instead an apologia by Tony Wright.

Keith Davies, Cardiff

Peter Corrigan says that "Racist remarks ... if not excusable ... are preferable to the physical variety" in football (Sport, 23 February). Wrong. The system can get to grips with the physical consequences; it's the remarks that exacerbate the deep-seated nature of this problem. Absent the remarks and confrontations diminish.

Michael Bailey

Colyton, Devon The growing powers of tax officials provokes indignation ("Why a junior tax inspector...", 23 February) yet we complain about tax evasion. We cannot have it both ways. As long as we rely on taxes on earnings, inspectors must have the necessary powers - sometimes draconian - to investigate. If we don't like it, we must seek alternative sources or revenue.

Henry Law, Brighton

Ian Garrow of Headway is wrong to say that the charity "still has to get any money from the National Lottery" ("Charity blames Diana for slump in fortunes", 23 February). So far, the board has awarded it pounds 517,742.

Paul Hensby, National Lottery Charities Board, London WC2