Having worked in the northern Negev on and off for more than 30 years, I see the Palestinian territorial accessions proposed as part of Trump’s quid pro quo as the ultimate geographical pig in a poke (Palestinian leaders strongly reject Trump’s peace plan). The two enclaves along the Egypt-Israel border are arid, verging on hyper-arid, with annual rainfall of around 50mm. Likewise, the adjustment of the Green Line in southern Judea would give Palestine more great desert scenery; however with only 100mm of rain each year, the region is currently uninhabited, and is likely to remain so. By contrast, Israel would keep the western shores of the Dead Sea (for security, minerals and tourism) and the Jordan Valley (for security and irrigated agriculture). Some deal! But not for the Palestinians.
The fragmented territory that is proposed is no recipe for successful nation-building nor the encouragement of regional peace and harmony. And, although the desert has great beauty, we need to be aware that the areas being offered may be appropriate for nomadism, but represent a very poor exchange for what will be lost.
In highlighting the government’s exceptionally high threshold for measuring aircraft noise, the CPRE and The Independent have exposed a significant failing in the Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) approach to aviation policy. And were expansion to proceed at Heathrow – which lies at the heart of the most densely populated residential region in the UK – a scandal would be in the making.
When the DfT claimed that merely 97,300 more residents would be exposed to adverse aircraft noise, the Transport Select Committee concluded that the DfT’s methodology was “not of the real world”. Indeed, under a freedom of information request, we then learned that an internal DfT study had implied 2.2 million people would be affected – if the department had only applied the more realistic noise thresholds used elsewhere. When I broached this study with the aviation minister, she professed to know nothing of it.
Just before Christmas, the government’s own new aviation noise body, the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, declared the DfT’s evidential basis for assessing the noise impact of Heathrow expansion to have been “inappropriate”.
We are grateful to the CPRE and The Independent for shining a light on this matter. But we do remain startled that a government department, purportedly responsible for protecting communities from aviation noise, should plough on in this reckless – and perhaps deceitful – manner.
Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition
Immigration own goal
Given that the median salary for qualified nurse is £23,000, how will lowering the minimum salary required to immigrate to the UK to £25,600 allow more desperately needed nurses to gain employment in the NHS?
Cathy Adams writes that the Fish River Canyon in Namibia is “the second largest in the world, after the Grand”. She might like to know, however, that the canyon of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra when it flows through India) is the deepest in the world and slightly longer than the Grand. However, its lack of visitors no doubt plays a part in her mistake – one only knows of the canyon if one visits the region, it seems.
An unfree market
Like Adam Weinstein, I grew up with a blue-collar, self-employed father and the notion that a primary-care physician was a “wild luxury”. However, our healthcare system cannot be “proof” of any free-market failure because healthcare in America is in no way a free market. Free markets need perfect information (or at least some information), but hospitals provide little-to-no information about the prices and quality of healthcare.
I too feel outraged and helpless in the face of our medical system, but I feel even more incensed when I see the way the government provides healthcare at the VA (Veterans Affairs). Between certificate of need laws, narrow scope-of-practice restrictions, and restrictions on innovation, the government oftentimes make healthcare worse, not better. Perhaps the government should be less involved in healthcare, and not more.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies