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Wednesday 1 August 2012
Letters: Romney's cynical bid for power
Many of us Palestinians and Israelis work very hard towards reaching a peaceful settlement back home to allow us to live in peace and harmony together. Imagine our horror when war-mongering cynics like Mitt Romney come along supporting war with Iran and walking roughshod over our aspirations for peace ("Romney pledges to 'stand with Israel' on Iran threat", 30 July). Romney's attempt to harness Jewish and Evangelical Christian votes at the expense of peace is a cynical bid for power.
The Wailing Wall is for Jews to pray at and not for Romney to purloin gullible American votes at. Yet I fear his victory next November no more than I do Obama's. For us Palestinians, they are as bad as each other.
Dr Faysal Mikdadi
The Palestinians are in good company, in the aftermath of Romney's oafish comments (report, 31 July). Colonialist powers have often justified their oppression and violence by reference to their own "higher culture" and the hand of providence.
These were factors which the Afrikaners frequently employed in informing the world why they kept black South Africans in such complete subjection. The notion of providence was lifted directly from the Calvinist theory of the Elect of God, preached by the Dutch Reformed Church.
This theme plays well among Evangelical pro-Israeli Christians in America today, many of them imbued with Calvinist theology. But is it one that is hard to square in a Jewish context. For if one accepts God's providence in the Israeli context today, what does this say about his providence in Hitler's Europe 70 years ago? God, if one believes in him, is unchanging.
I don't care what Mitt Romney thinks about the arrangements for the London Olympics. What worries me is that, as a Mormon, he believes the golden plates allegedly dug up by the illiterate roughneck Joseph Smith, and then taken back by the angel Moroni, were inscribed with the Word of God; that Jesus appeared in America; that the dead of all nations, regardless of their religious beliefs while on earth, must be baptised before they can enter the specially reserved Mormon heaven; that women can play only a subservient role in the life of the Church of Latter-day Saints; that God lives, with his wife and children, on a planet called Kolub; that the spilling of blood is to be avenged by more spilling of blood; and that his Church should be ruled by a bunch of nonagenarians who receive "divine revelations" from time to time. And even then, none of this would worry me except that this is the fella who wants to be President of the United States!
Dr Meic Stephens
With Mitt Romney apparently fast becoming the Sarah Palin de nos jours, perhaps it would be best if he returned to "the middle of nowhere" (to quote our Prime Minister) and stayed there, thus saving himself and the rest of us any more embarrassment.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Catastrophic effects of library cutbacks
Your front page "Revealed: the full cost of the cull of public libraries" (31 July) is timely. However, not revealed is the situation here in Lewisham. This borough intended to close five of its 12 libraries. After a vociferous campaign against this policy, the result is 41 per cent of Lewisham's public library service is now provided by a social enterprise company, a charity and volunteers. The borough states that some back-up is provided by the local authority.
To date, it is extremely difficult to pin down exactly what the financial savings are, as public money has been used to fund some aspects of these community libraries. What is known are the issues and visits figures, which are showing a catastrophic downturn. In the remaining hub libraries run directly by the local authority, the trend in issues and visits is also down, but not as severely.
Lewisham is one of the most deprived boroughs in the country and several of these libraries are in the most deprived pockets of the borough. It is not providing a comprehensive and efficient library service as required under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.
Patricia & Peter Richardson
The Users and Friends of Manor House Library,
Libraries for Life for Londoners
Too often, a library closure seems to be the first option on the savings list, not one of the last. But before the books go, councils should ensure that they have slashed bureaucracy. This is the route the London councils of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Kensington & Chelsea have taken, retaining all our libraries across the three boroughs.
The merger of library management across our councils means we are already on track to save £1m through reducing expensive senior back-office posts by nearly two-thirds. These savings behind the scenes mean we can keep our libraries open and retain front-line staff.
Our residents will soon be able to access libraries across all three boroughs, expanding their choice to one million books, and we plan to open four new libraries over the next 10 years – reassuring evidence that tightened purse strings can help create new life for public libraries.
Cllr Lee Rowley
Westminster City Council, London SW1
Boris is not a serious candidate
It is hopefully far more than logistics that will prevent Boris Johnson from becoming Tory leader. ("Boris to lead the Conservatives? It won't happen – and here's why", 31 July). While Boris is undoubtedly affable, the bonhomie wears pretty thin when he stands for real political office. True, he has achieved re-election in London where his natural power base is, but his lack of real policies and reliance on vanity projects will surely catch up with him in the end. On a nationwide basis it is amazing upper-class-twittery was elected through Cameron. I have no doubt that the nation would not be fooled for a second time. Boris was engaging and funny as a comedy panel-game participant, but the joke should have ended there.
Let us hope that Steve Richards is correct in predicting that Boris Johnson will never lead the Conservative Party. Johnson is amoral (an adulterer), arguably racist (he has referred to Africans as "piccaninnies"), and certainly neo-liberal, as his defence of the bankers attests. Indeed, it is highly likely that he is even nastier than Cameron, Osborne, and the rest. We should not be fooled by his carefully crafted persona; although it's a measure of his contempt for us that he knows we probably will be.
Steve Richards argues that Boris Johnson will never reach Downing Street. I've observed Boris closely since we were both at university. More than any other British politician, he knows how to galvanise support through charisma, and to move with the wind. He's only just 48. My money's on the Mayor!
Andrew M Rosemarine
MPs responsible for dole queues
At a time when those on benefits are being pilloried for being lazy, feckless scroungers lacking the motivation to get employment, it's rather telling that recent statistics show that as a result of Government policies, the benefit bill has risen to £22m an hour.
Closing Remploy factories, cutting Connexions advisers, making tax inspectors redundant and slashing services which push people out of jobs is not the way to get Britain out of the economic crisis. It is rank hypocrisy that the Government then blames the very people it's forced on to the dole for the Coalition's failures to get a grip on economic policy. With 23 people going for every vacancy, surely it's time the Government invested in creating new jobs. Our MPs have voted these policies through; our MPs have voted to put people on the dole rather than create employment – our MPs should be called to account.
King's Lynn, Norfolk
In praise of an ethical bank
Natalie Haynes (Opinion, 28 July) will not need to walk three miles to pay in a cheque if she chooses to bank with the Co-op. We have banked with the Co-op and, latterly, their internet bank, Smile, for several decades, and have not visited a branch since 1979. All our banking has been done online or by phone. We pay in cheques by post in a pre-paid envelope or at our local Post Office, where we can also withdraw cash.
In all this time, we've never knowingly been victims of any bank errors or computer glitches, never paid any bank charges, and have enjoyed efficient service from a bank with ethical principles.
Is Olympic fever to blame?
I know Tom Daley is an engaging and talented young fellow but six photographs of him in the 31 July paper is a bit over the top. What will you do if he wins a medal?
Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen (16) stands guilty of the newly minted crime of possession of outstanding sporting talent without benefit of US citizenship.
I have heard that on a USA TV network, during a live commentary of the Olympic opening ceremony, the commentators were bemused when a man named Sir Tim Berners-Lee appeared. They commented that they might need to Google him to determine who he was. Who says the Americans don't do irony?
The ethics of circumcision
Howard Jacobson's justification for the circumcision of young boys (Opinion, 28 July) is that he finds foreskins unaesthetic. He is, of course, right in saying that "an eight-day-old boy is in no position to make an informed choice". Surely it would be right, therefore, to use the same criterion that applies to other forms of cosmetic surgery: a man should be allowed to make his own decision about circumcision when he reaches the age of 18.
Stourbridge, West Midlands
I'm really not sure how the male appendage could be made more aesthetically pleasing. Certainly, as grooming advice goes, circumcision seems to be like telling the Elephant Man not to wear polo-neck sweaters.
Garibaldi's thousand men
"Here lies Garibaldi? Body of unification hero to be dug up" (28 July), was fascinating, but Garibaldi did not march south with a thousand volunteers. He sailed from Quarto, near Genoa, on 5 May 1860 with his "thousand" in two steamships, the Piemonte and the Lombardo. There were actually 1,150 men, but "thousand" has more resonance. They arrived off Marsala, on the west coast of Sicily, on 11 May, with 1,089 men and one woman, having called in at Talamone on the way.
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