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Tuesday 5 February 2013
Letters: Richard III, legislator and killer
During his brief reign, Richard III enacted the following legal reforms: bail; access to the law for poor people; measures to reduce corruption in jury trials; translation of the law from French and Latin into English; posting of the law in public places. He increased economic activity in the North and, when a prince, prevented his victorious troops from committing atrocities in Scotland.
Now that we have found him, can we persuade him to stand for Parliament?
Undoubtedly Richard III was not the all-black villain of Shakespeare's play.
He governed the North well when his brother Edward IV ruled, and introduced reforms as king, such as allowing prisoners bail.
But, if he had not murdered the princes in the Tower, why did he not show them to the public when rumours started circulating he had killed them? The Richard III Society has never been able to explain this.
In view of the desire to unearth lost kings, perhaps a lost princess should now be taken into consideration.
Princess Pocahontas, said to be the saviour of Captain John Smith, converted to Christianity and came to England in 1616 as the wife of John Rolfe, but caught tuberculosis and died the following year in a ship moored at Gravesend.
She is thought to have been buried at St George's Church there, but the grave's location is unknown. What a boost to Gravesend's tourism it would be if the grave of this Native American icon could be found.
The victims of Huhne's blatant lies
I take issue with Dominic Lawson in his article on Chris Huhne (5 February). One sentence destroyed the whole article for me: "In terms of evil done to an identifiable person there is no victim of Huhne's offence."
What about his then wife, whom he persuaded to lie for him, and the effect of his continuing and blatant lying since on her and the rest of his family? There are no victimless crimes – someone always suffers.
The only person to come out well from the sorry Huhne affair is the son.
Burwash, East Sussex
Well, who'd have thought it, a top Lib Dem failing to stick to what he said before the election?
Walsham le Willows, Suffolk
Threats to our wildlife
The "perfect storm" you describe ("Budget cuts may trigger 'perfect storm' of threats to UK wildlife", 4 February) is the perceived threat of cuts to farmland wildlife schemes, juxtaposed with a weakening of wildlife regulation.
While the cuts to England's Environmental Stewardship (ES) budget would be significant, they would not be catastrophic if managed correctly. Over a third of the £450m budget is dedicated to Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), an element of the scheme generally popular with farmers.
However, there is a general concern that it provides limited biodiversity and other gains, but the article correctly differentiated that the more complex and challenging Higher Level Stewardship is making a difference. With the parallel developments of the so-called "greening measures" in the current round of CAP reform, there is a legitimate case to be made for abandonment of ELS. Key ELS features could be incorporated without funding within the Single Farm Payment system.
I am more concerned with the weakening of wildlife regulation. New planning policies, including the National Planning Policy Framework, are not established, and pressures of climate change are coming more to the fore. We are also becoming more sensitive to competing demands for our countryside and to its place and value in delivering a range of ecosystem services. Now is most definitely not the time to weaken the regulatory systems.
Principal Lecturer, Land and Environment, Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester
Jargon masks empty art
Christina Patterson treads bravely where many have feared to tread ("Why it's time for galleries to dump the jargon", 5 February). In the art world the message has long eclipsed the medium, serving as a kind of in-house armour for a self-serving curatorial clique, plastering exhibition walls with the "old-fashioned" logorrhoea of which she complains.
A partial explanation can be found in the buzzwords "media" and "communication" that infest contemporary art education. No more stuffy old craft skills, not when lack of talent, originality and ability can be masked by Sixties management-speak and a regime of testing and targets that successfully alienates teacher from student, and public from both.
The result is a lot of little art emperors wrapped in some very verbose wallpaper and often not much else.
Well! The cheek of Christina Patterson to suggest that hard-working postmodernists are hiding their vacuous work behind a thicket of redundant and pretentious verbiage! Anyone would think there was a sort of Freemasonry of art!
Is this the gratitude these selfless toilers get when they are trying their best to articulate what we plebs cannot say about our difficult contemporary world? I suppose she wants them to create something that stands on its own! Oh really? And have to put up with any Tom, Dick or Harry knowing they aren't up to much? Get real.
The Kochs and climate change
Two stories in your January 25 issue by Steve Connor were predictable in repeating tired and debunked partisan accusations about Koch Industries and its shareholders, Charles Koch and David Koch. The approach starts with a reporter working hard to "prove" his theory about the Kochs and climate change, thus offering readers just one side of the story.
The pieces are littered with language intended to demonise the subjects of the stories by using loaded words such as "secretive", "anonymous", "billionaire", "undermine" and "closet sceptics".
The reporter asserts that much of the Kochs' funding given to a wide variety of organisations is tied to "promote scepticism towards climate change". Quite to the contrary, Charles and David Koch believe it is important to understand the primary and secondary effects that proposed costly initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will have on the earth's overall climate and public health, relative to the cost of implementation.
Are Charles Koch and David Koch secretive? No. The Kochs have openly advocated free-market principles for 50 years, including in Charles Koch's 2007 book, The Science of Success. Recently, too, Charles Koch and David Koch have done in-depth interviews with Forbes magazine, the Weekly Standard magazine and other media outlets. Not exactly secretive.
The Kochs are advocates of the critical review that is the foundation of sound science, as everyone interested in furthering discovery should be. Climate science is a complex and ever-changing issue.
International Government & Public Affairs, Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, Geneva
Don't talk, just play the music
Dennis Leachman (letter, 4 February) wonders why performers at classical concerts hardly ever speak to the audience. They do sometimes – unfortunately. At chamber concerts, I have not infrequently been subjected to ill-judged and over-long extempore introductions from the performers, even when good programme-notes are provided.
The best way for performing musicians to communicate with the audience is by doing what they are trained to do best – playing the music. There is a fallacy that performers are the ideal people to talk about what they are going to play; this has already led to endless inane chatter between items in BBC broadcast concerts. Leave live concerts alone, please, and leave discussion of the music to the musicologists and critics.
The issue that splits the Tories
The cost of living is rising, our economy is failing and hospitals are closing, yet it is the Bill for same-sex marriage that has caused greatest divide among the Tories.
Problems are rife which one would have expected to stir conflict within the Government; but it appears to be agreed that the only solution is to continue cutting benefits.
We all get value from state schools
In her letter ("Why parents choose to go private", 30 January) Alison Willott makes some valid points: particularly that the quality of private education can be wider and more life-enhancing (ignoring the privileges it also buys).
But she is wrong when she says that she and her husband "got not a penny's worth" from the taxes they paid towards state education. Whether for good or ill, the quality of their lives depends upon the education received by the 93 per cent of children in the state system.
Nowhere to lay your head
Although we are from different generations, I strongly identify with Owen Jones. It's refreshing to read good solid socialist principles.
His latest view on the "bedroom tax" (4 February) highlights the ever growing unfairness for the most vulnerable, dished almost daily by this obsessional austerity government. The truth is, the length and breadth of the UK there are no free single-bedroom apartments available. The fault for this lies with government and local councils, through inadequate housing policy, not with the tenants.
Sink the Bismarck
The audience also cheered in the Odeon Leicester Square when the first newsreels showed the Bismarck sinking (letter, 5 January). A woman suddenly screamed: "Well, there's a thousand mothers will never see their sons again!" The cheers changed to an awkward silence.
Not so fast
Where are all the supersonic airliners? Maybe HS2 is a sort of Concorde on rails.
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