Stop sniping - Geldof is passionate about improving the world
Stop sniping - Geldof is passionate about improving the world
Sir: Andy Kershaw has obviously got it in for Bob and his tedious, clapped-out, rock-star friends ("The myth of Saint Bob, saviour of Africa", 17 June). I am thankful that he has such friends and that he is able to persuade them to participate.
Look at what has been achieved in a short space of time: an ever-expanding bill of artists with enormous appeal performing on several continents, drawing worldwide publicity to focus attention on the efforts of the leaders of the Western world to do more to help Africa.
I think Bob Geldof and Midge Ure are motivated by nothing but a passion to improve the world. I don't see that anyone's image or income is going to change significantly following this event and even if their motivations were suspect, I still don't see that as reason for not supporting their efforts. I can see only good in what is planned.
There was a bias towards those predominantly white Western artists on the original bill because that is who Geldof knows, and that is who will provoke the greatest interest in the West. Again, I don't see a problem with the logic.
I am delighted at the opportunity to travel to Cornwall to see Yousou N'Dour, Salif Keita and other major stars. I am quite keen to see Pink Floyd, too, and numerous other clapped-out tedious white folk (who, despite being clapped out and tedious, seem to be massively popular).
I am thoroughly sick of those such as Andy Kershaw who waste their energy moaning rather than doing something helpful themselves. Lighten up and participate for heaven's sake!
Sir: I am very glad to see The Independent has championed the issue of the exclusion of African artists from the Live8 concerts. The condescending remarks made by Bob Geldof and the Live8 spokespersons over the past week have infuriated African, African/Caribbean and non-African alike.
However, poverty and unfair trade in Africa need to be the focus here - not the lack of cultural awareness that has been demonstrated by Bob. It doesn't matter whose idea it was originally to hold the Africa Calling concert in the Eden project in Cornwall - I am very glad its happening and I for one will be there.
We Africans have a collective spirit that can never be diminished, and in the midst of negativity we will always remain a positive united force.
CHAIR, THE AFRICAN IMAGE ALLIANCE LONDON W1
Sir: Sir Bob Geldof has described the sale of Live8 tickets on eBay as "sick profiteering". If you haven't got a ticket for Live8 then you can always go to see U2 on their current world tour or buy a copy of Coldplay's fabulous new album, X&Y. It's in the shops now!
Bush snubs Blair and the planet warms up
Sir: It is disgraceful, though unsurprising, that the Bush administration is seeking to water down the proposed wording on any agreement over climate change so that it amounts to very little. It is depressing, though also unsurprising, that our Prime Minister is apparently preparing to cave in to this.
When it comes to the environment, George W Bush is Public Enemy Number One. His administration not only refuses to act to cut its carbon emissions (despite the fact that they are by far and away the planet's largest contributor of greenhouse gases) but still pretends that human activity, particularly US human activity, is not causing climate change.
Sadly for Mr Blair his empty-handed return from Washington earlier this month cruelly demonstrates his words count for very little with the US President, despite his slavish loyalty over Iraq. But while Mr Blair may not get anything much out of the Bush administration at the G8 summit, he cannot allow them to stymie the wishes of other, more enlightened, nations to push ahead with a more radical programme to tackle climate change in the 2012 post-Kyoto period.
We need a target-based, country-based successor to Kyoto. To roll back to warm words, hot air, and empty aspirations would be disastrous. By all means let's agree what we can with the US, but if they won't be party to a target-based approach, the majority of countries who are prepared to should go forward without them.
Climate change is the greatest threat facing our planet. No single nation can be allowed to stand in the way of the rest of us in our efforts to tackle it.
NORMAN BAKER MP
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT SHADOW SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS, HOUSE OF COMMONS
Sir: If the leaked G8 document on climate change described in the 17 June edition of this newspaper is indeed the version that emerges from the Gleneagles summit, it strikes me as grossly inconsistent with the series of statements by Messrs Blair and Brown (not to mention positions of the Secretary of State for Defra and the Chief Government Scientist) on the magnitude of the global warming threat we face.
It does, however, conform neatly to the Blair government's pattern of placing the "special relationship" with America before all other relationships which should also be "special" to his government, such as those with EU allies, Parliament, and (not insignificantly) the British public. As a Texas-born Londoner who holds dual American and British citizenship, I find this latest episode of political kow-towing by Blair to Bush doubly upsetting.
As we have recently seen, the Bush White House is unapologetic in its undertakings to dilute the findings of its own scientists. If the threat from climate change to mankind and the global environment is indeed as severe as Blair's earlier rhetoric would indicate - and based on volumes of peer-reviewed empirical evidence, it is - then his decision to let the Bush administration off the hook with a watered-down summit communiqué should be viewed as a supreme and disgraceful abandonment of duty to the British people, as well as to posterity worldwide, for the sake of misguided political expediency.
GEORGE C DEL VALLE
Sir: It is easy to complain and point out the faults of others, especially when it comes to the United States and the Kyoto Protocol.
Nowhere in your 13 June edition, decrying the current US administration's failure to sign up to Kyoto, did you mention the fact that there is a movement led by the Seattle Mayor, Greg Nickels, to urge the federal government and state governments to enact policies and programmes to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol. So far more than 164 mayors have signed up to the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, including the mayors from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
All too often in British newspapers there is a tendency to tar all of the US with the same brush, painting a picture of arrogant, uninterested Americans. This is not the case. There is huge dissatisfaction here in the US with the current administration's environmental policies.
Sir: A propos Philip Dewhurst's letter (14 June), can anyone explain how the French, with their fashionably maligned economic model, can generate 60 per cent of their electricity from nuclear energy (and sell some surplus to England), with nary a squeak about leaks or waste disposal.
CAP helps to save rural communities
Sir: Steve Richards (Opinion, 16 June) touches on an aspect of the Common Agricultural Policy which is seldom mentioned in this country: the role it plays in maintaining the vitality of village life in France.
The French are apparently baffled at our failure to understand; and it is baffling. Throughout this land campaign groups are fighting to preserve local shops and services. So why don't we exploit the CAP to preserve these communities as the French have done? I was heavily involved in the recent election as an election agent for the Green Party; one issue the voters failed to draw to our attention to was the budget rebate. Local services,on the other hand, were a constant drumbeat.
The CAP certainly needs to be reformed to stop the damage that it does to poor communities outside Europe, but we should retain the best parts of it: a commitment to preserving our own rural communities.
Sir: Ecologists and environmentalists should not only support the CAP but demand its extension. In the long term, the more each continent is as self-sufficient as possible in its own food provision the better. This will diminish the wasteful and polluting transportation of food across the world, and also make the West less dependent on cheap and underpriced provisions from a starving Third World.
Own up to tyrants you have backed
Sir: Alan Norman makes a very fair point (letter, 16 June) when he asks that those of us on the left at the time of Zimbabwe's first free elections in 1980 should admit to having supported Robert Mugabe and his Zanu party at that time.
This I freely do, and I am embarrassed and contrite that the man whom I supported then has become an oppressive dictator 25 years later. To support him or his regime now would be to condone the actions of a murderous tyrant.
Now, I ask those on the right to justify their support for (and their arming of) Saddam Hussein in the 1980s when they had the full knowledge that he was just such a genocidal despot.
Jews cast as victims of unending abuse
Sir: The desecration of Jewish graves in east London is an appalling thing, and something that merits attention, especially with a view to preventing what appears to be a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. However I can't help feeling that the response of Mr Cohen (letter, 17 June ), is as unhelpful as those who leap up screaming anti-Semitism the moment anyone criticises some of Israel's less savoury policies towards the Palestinians.
His claim that posters on the Labour party website have contributed to the recent attacks is ridiculous. Many people saw the posters as at the worst misguided and not anti-Semitic, and it would seem that the most likely culprits for the cemetery attacks were young teenaged or early-twenties men.
I would hazard a guess that if these people have any political notions they are of the far right. The idea of them studying the Labour website, understanding an allusion to a Shakespeare character and then deciding that gave them carte blanche to go off smashing graves is beyond me. Their actions are almost certainly born out of poverty, ignorance and stupidity and whilst I find them horrifying, I also find Mr Cohen's insistence on blaming such attacks on the Labour posters depressing.
It seems indicative of a mentality that forever casts the Jewish people as the victims of unending abuse from all corners, which almost certainly makes negotiations in the Middle East more difficult. These attacks are a disgrace, but please can we restrict our anger to the real causes of them and not just anything that happens to be passing?
The good news about credit unions
Sir: Johann Hari's article on debt (10 June) exposes another example of the scandal of "sub-prime lending", whereby doorstep lenders suck cash from the poor to fill the pockets of the well-off. He doesn't mention credit unions - an alternative way in which those unable to open bank accounts can access loans. Mary, whose debt of £200 escalated to £2,227 in six months, might have had a £200 loan from her local credit union and paid back just £213 over the next 12 months.
Although credit unions are developing rapidly in the UK - and are big in Ireland, the US, and Canada - they are not well known over here, perhaps because they are not very good at publicising their activities. Perhaps when Johann returns to this subject - and it is one which won't go away - he will be able to point to other, happier, examples of underprivileged people accessing credit.
F R WATSON
Sir: David Payne draws attention to Michael Jackson's wearing of British Army badges (letter, 16 June). Michael Jackson sported a South Lancashire Regiment badge at the beginning of the trial. I haven't informed the Regiment's archivist.
Sir: In your summary of Margaret Beckett's career (Monday Interview, 13 June) you left out "1994: Leader of the Labour Party". Since she is the only woman ever to have led the British Labour Party and one of only two women to have led a major political party in this country, I don't think you should have ignored this period, however brief.
Great asparagus rush
Sir: So Jamie Oliver has created a panic search for the last of this season's asparagus crop (Third Leader, 17 June). Well here in north Worcestershire, we have not been hit by frosts and the crop is still plentiful. I can still purchase a 16-spear bunch from a local farm, cut fresh each morning, for £2; compared with the eight spears for £4.80 in Brighton, as reported in a recent Sunday newspaper's monthly food magazine. Perhaps I should fill the boot of my car and start frequenting key motorway service station car parks as Asparagus Man.
The fastest man
Sir: Congratulations to Asafa Powell on shaving a thousandth of a second off the 100 metres world record (report, 15 June), but that doesn't make him the fastest man in athletics as you suggested. That title is still held by Michael Johnson the holder of the 200 metre world record. Powell's new time of 9.77 represents a speed of 0.0977 seconds per metre. Johnson's time of 19.32 represents a speed of 0.0966 seconds per metre.
Sir: Sign outside a shop in Southend. Essex: "Disabled Access Available - please ask inside for details."
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