Why the NatWest Three should face American justice
Sir: I was dismayed by your article on the "NatWest Three" (11 July). You seem to be succumbing to the same hysterics as more lurid and irresponsible print media.
The Enron scandal affected tens of thousands of people in the United States, many losing their jobs, their savings and their pensions. If these three are implicated in any part of that sorry affair then there is a case to answer, and it should be before an American court in the US, where most of the evidence lies. The fact that the "three"are being extradited on fast-track procedures is immaterial; they would be under the old legislation. You are mixing justice with foreign policy and politics.
One thing is sure: they will receive a fair trial in a United States court. In my 37 years of living in the United States I never thought that the system was corrupt or inefficient, particularly at the level at which they will be tried. If I, after being found guilty of crime, had to look for fairness, it would be to a US federal judge.
The ends of justice are not being served by the attitudes of the British media. This type of trial should be before a court of law and not the court of ill-informed public opinion. The Americans are leading the way in the investigation and prosecution of "white-collar crime". We should be supporting them, not criticising them.
GRAHAM H DEERE
PENARTH, VALE OF GLAMORGAN
Veiled women pose challenge to society
Sir: Deborah Orr's criticism of the costume that covers women's faces (8 July) has raised an important issue which touches on the very nature of our society.
I recently visited the library in the university in which I taught for twenty years. Among the students were a number of veiled ones. I was shocked to see this, and especially at the idea that these young women would presumably be attending lectures and seminars hooded in this way.
Our educational system, and indeed our society, are based on equal and open contact between the participants. How can this possibly be the case where teachers and other students are confronted by women rendered anonymous by this garb? As a language teacher I would have found it quite unacceptable to try to teach in such circumstances. I hope I would have had the courage to refuse, and that my employers would have supported me.
I'm by no means sure they would. Unlike in France, where an attempt is made to sort out these questions in a coherent manner, we have no policy and not even any debate on a practice that goes far beyond a simple question of fashion, and is not dictated by the requirements of faith. Let us hope that Deborah Orr's article will lead to some serious discussion of the subject beyond the correspondence pages of your paper.
Sir: In Britain we communicate through facial expression as well as words. Those who wish to be regarded as integrated into British society should observe this custom.
There is also a security aspect. People wishing to evade identification on CCTV have only to disguise themselves as veiled Muslim women.
Sir: The Independent's columnist Deborah Orr and many of your readers cannot understand why Muslim women would degrade their womanhood by wanting to cover themselves modestly with hijab and loose clothing or even the full face-covering niqab.
Well as Muslims we cannot understand why the West degrades women by teaching them from a young age that to get ahead in the world they must prostitute their body image for the pleasure of men - forcing them through social pressure to wear revealing clothes and make-up and have the perfect hair if they want to dress to impress.
The truth is that the hijab is liberation for women and the short skirt and bikini is the true oppression. Islam teaches women to have a sense of worth that is independent of their sex appeal. In covering themselves, Muslim women can be judged by their intellect, personality and manners, not whether they did the make-up just right that morning or whether they are showing the right amount of cleavage or just happen to be have been born beautiful or not.
Sir: Mohammed Maasher, in his letter (10 July) is missing the point. The veil (for this read, all concealing, suffocating garments that inhibit movement) is normal attire for Muslim women. For non-Muslim Western women the norm is not drunken nakedness, but clothing that allows the body to move freely and with pride and that allows the wearer to look the world in the eye without shame. What would I rather see? No contest.
STOKE ST MICHAEL, SOMERSET
Sir: Is it better to conceal what you look like behind a veil or behind subcutaneous injections, anti-wrinkle creams, false tans and gruesome face-lifts? I'd say the first was more honest, more open and less enslaved.
And if we need further evidence of the role of women in western life we only have to read The Independent's man in New York, David Usborne, who writes with relish (10 July) about an acquaintance who photographs women naked and pays them "according to how naughty they are in front of the camera".
Without being a Muslim I have to say Islam seems pretty honest in these matters, whereas we are, comparatively, a cesspit of hypocrisy and female degradation.
Church leaders denounce Trident
Sir: It was heartening to read the letter from the Anglican bishops condemning as immoral the replacement or upgrade of the Faslane nuclear weapons (10 July). In Scotland Cardinal Keith O'Brien and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland have spoken forcefully on this issue since Easter 2006.
Cardinal O'Brien said: "The use of weapons of mass destruction would be a crime against God and against humanity that must never happen. Since it is immoral to use weapons of mass destruction in an act of war, equally, storing, accumulating and replacing them far from eliminating the causes of war actually risks aggravating them".
Sir: After we have been hearing so much about bitter divisions in the church about the relevance or otherwise of sex and sexual orientation to the priesthood, how refreshing and good it was to read the letter signed by eight bishops and 12 suffragan bishops on the immorality of nuclear weapons. This is a subject that really matters in which I hope all sections of the Anglican and other churches can unite.
The way in which they put the case should also unite both pacifists and non-pacifists. Furthermore, for all the reasons they cite, weapons of mass destruction are so appalling that surely for humanity's sake, even without the need to rely on Judeo-Christian teaching or that of any other faith, they should not form part of a country's defence system.
GEOFFREY P CUNDALL
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
Nanotechnology must be controlled
Sir: We are concerned at the Government's lack of regulatory control of the first generation of nanotechnology products, novel materials based on very small "nanoscale" particles. Over one hundred products based upon engineered nanomaterials - including sunscreens, cosmetics, fuel additives, cleaning products and wound dressings - are already being sold in the UK without adequate testing or regulation.
In a 2004 report, commissioned by this government, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineers raised serious concerns about the toxicity risks posed by engineered nanomaterials and advised a precautionary approach to their use.
The Government has yet to implement any regulation that deals specifically with nanomaterials. It proposes instead a voluntary notification scheme for "engineered nanoscale materials" to gather data which may not even be sufficient to assess nanotechnology hazards. This will delay regulatory action, whilst giving nanotechnology companies a green light to continue introducing nanomaterials into products untested, unregulated and unlabelled.
We urge the British government to scrap the current plans for a voluntary notification scheme and to introduce robust regulation. This should be based on the level of scientific uncertainty regarding the safety of existing products and comprehensive research into the health and environmental risks and other potential impacts posed by nanomaterials.
Regulatory control of nanomaterials should include mandatory reporting, safety assessment, emissions minimisation, labelling and liability for new and existing nanomaterials.
Until there is a fully researched understanding of the health and environmental impacts and appropriate regulation in place, we call for a moratorium on the commercial and environmental release of further engineered nanomaterials. We urge the Government to commit to a deadline by which mandatory regulations will be introduced.
DR DOUG PARR
CHIEF SCIENTIST, GREENPEACE UK PETER MELCHETT POLICY DIRECTOR, THE SOIL ASSOCIATION TONY JUNIPER DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH (ENGLAND, WALES AND NORTHERN IRELAND) ANDREW SCOTT DIRECTOR OF POLICY, PRACTICAL ACTION PAT MOONEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ETC GROUP DR ANDRE MENACHE SCIENTIFIC CONSULTANT, ANIMAL AID OLAF BAYER RESEARCHER, CORPORATE WATCH RORY O'NEILL HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT OFFICER, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF JOURNALISTS
Cheating at football is now an art form
Sir: Sport teaches us to follow rules and play fair in life, and there are still sports where this applies. Unfortunately, professional football at the highest levels is not one of them, as the World Championships have again shown.
Thinly disguised and persistent cheating and fouling has become an art form to be admired and rewarded, and those who excel at it command the highest earnings and status. Defences are prepared and practised with a range of deterrents for attackers designed to scare them off or, as a last resort, cripple them.
We still have the obligatory shaking of hands before and after the game. Then, sham gestures of innocence, helping up the injured and shaking hands after shameful assaults. There are signs to the officials about their eyesight and insulting language, but more often the culprit is seen writhing with fake pain which can only be soothed by the sending off of an opposing player.
We know from Rugby League that there are ways of stopping all this but it clearly doesn't appeal to those who control the game.
Sir: Your third leader (10 July) might well have been justified in applauding German efficiency and hospitality in the organisation of football's World Cup but surely goes too far in assessing the event as some kind of global love-fest with the beautiful game as a force for international spiritual renewal. This is the stuff of fantasy.
With a few exceptions the football was timid and tedious, and many individual performances as cynical as they were vicious. This was a monumental con practised upon the goodwill of the ordinary fan.
Torture and the meaning of words
Sir: Alan Dershowitz writes (10 July) to complain about the headline you chose for his article (3 July) "Should we fight terror with torture?" He says the letter writers who responded (5 July) had "read only the headline".
Of the four letters you published, three included direct quotes from his piece and the fourth complained of his "profuse use of the undefined terms 'terrorist' and 'democratic state'," throughout the article. Not one of the letters could have been based on the headline alone.
He states that the headline is misleading, saying that it "is not the article he wrote" yet, in his letter, he admits that the article included a call for rules "defining and regulating what constituted torture". Can I suggest that he sits down and re-reads his own article to check that it is the one he thinks he wrote?
Sir: Nikola Tesla ("From fishing rods to death rays", 10 July) is recognised in the field of magnetism, where his name is given to a unit (1 tesla) that is the measurement of magnetic flux density equal to 1 weber (another genius) per square meter of magnetic circuit area.
V J G BROWN,
Out of control
Sir: We are running out of oil, gas, water, certain types of frog, white tigers, certain types of whale, rhinos etc etc. At well over six and a half billion, we are not running out of people. At this rate, infertility in humans (report, 11 July) should be applauded not assisted.
Bags of pollution
Sir: Why on earth are we buying plastic bags into the country? They are an ever-present pollution problem, one which can almost be solved overnight apparently by the supermarkets charging 1p for them. This has worked in Ireland and in several places in Europe. The Independent should be spearheading this campaign. So should Peter Mandelson (letter, 11 July).
Game of skill
Sir: The late S J Simon, a world bridge champion and one of the four founders of bridge's Acol system, in his book "Why You Lose at Bridge" asserted that poker was the supreme card game of skill ("Is poker a game of skill or chance?", 10 July). He agreed that it was not so interesting as bridge, but said that chance played a lesser part than in other card games
N T SHEHERD
Give us a hug
Sir: Headgear seems to be a major topic on the Letters page. It would seem to me that the greatest threat to veiled women and helmeted cyclists is that they might be next on David Cameron's list to be hugged - do watch out!
MARLBOROUGH, WILTSHIREReuse content