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Agony of the fur catwalk; Letters.

Sir, - How ironic that on the day MP Maria Eagle's Private Member's Bill to end the barbaric practice of fur farming in this country received such support from Parliament - 127 MPs voting for the Bill and only four against - The Post should show us a Dolce & Gabbana model parading on an Italian catwalk resplendent in fur which, we're told, is the big theme in Milan this season (Mar 5).

I wonder how many of your readers were as sickened as I was later that same evening to see on BBC2's Newsnight Chinese dogs and cats being strangled and, in some cases, skinned while still alive for their skins. I for one will never be able to forget the sight of their struggles and moans of agony as they died a slow death.

Another killing method used is to wedge the animals' jaws open and pour water down their throats until they drown.

Viewers were shown a Chinese factory where millions of these skins are processed before being sold, mainly to European countries, including this country! With fake fur so realistic, it is virtually impossible to tell whether the fur trim used on coats is cat/dog fur or not - people interviewed during the programme had had to resort to DNA testing. All fur, whether from domestic animals or any other species, is always a product of immense cruelty and has no place in a civilised society.

Perhaps your readers would like to join me in writing to the Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency, Mr Ma Zhengang, 49/51 Portland Place, London WIN 4JL, asking him to do everything he can to stop the cruel killing of Chinese cats and dogs for their fur.

URSULA BATES

Dorridge,

Solihull.

Beware tarring all

with the same brush

Sir, - I notice one recent piece in The Post by Chris Gray bore a heading referring to how debate got hi-jacked surrounding the Stephen Lawrence case. Being a Labour supporter I would say Gisela Stuart has done much sterling work in her column.

One of the latest (Post, Mar 3) was given the heading "Battle for equality, not cheap points." I couldn't agree more with that, not least because if strides are made for equality then the Stephen Lawrence case won't totally have been in vain.

But Ms Stuart has been under personal attack, and the column begins "The Tories have always been prepared to get into the gutter," and I'm not sure about this. The problem is that this is tarring all Tories with the same brush.

When things escalate, people often make this mistake and in international relations, for example, it can be very serious.

GRAHAM JOHN SELLMAN

Stafford.

Politicians should

listen to real people

Sir, - With reference to West Midland Police facing budget cuts of pounds 9million, just imagine if that hard line had been from the last government.

Jack Straw, would have totally condemned the cuts.

The gun ban was intended to take out of circulation illegal and legal guns. There have been more murders with guns in Birmingham, more illegal guns found loaded, ready to use, than before the new law. If only our professional politicians would listen to people who live in the real world.

When in the Palace of Westminster, they soon seem to forget the voters.

They always know better.

COUN BILL ARCHER

Leader,

Conservative Group,

Sandwell Borough Council.

Ideology before

common sense

Sir, - I was interested to read your excellent editorial (Post, March 3) about high unemployment in Europe. However I cannot agree with your suggestion that the euro is largely irrelevant to the problem.

One major cause of European unemployment at present is the excessively deflationary convergence criteria that countries had to meet in order to join the Eurozone.

European unemployment rose by several million during the run-up period, largely due to Government having to adopt economic policies that they would otherwise not have chosen.

Furthermore the single interest rate, which is an unavoidable part of a single currency, has to be high enough to avoid inflation taking off in buoyant economies.

Therefore it cannot be low enough to tackle unemployment in countries such as Germany and France.

The single currency is an example of ideology being put before economic common sense. Millions of people have suffered and will suffer as a result. The Green Party is therefore totally opposed to the UK joining this mistaken project.

RICHARD MOUNTFORD

Media Officer,

Green Party.

We hate litter

- oh yes we do!

Sir, - In reply to V Brakespeare, the truth is someone does care about the litter problem. Earlswood residents regularly pick litter from the ditches and hedgerows and we are currently organising a neighbourhood watch litter-pick in our area. But, new rubbish arrives every day. Bottles, cans, plastic bags and regular dumpings, often all over the road, of the notorious Leylandi prunings. What can we do?

All together now "we hate litter"

MRS S COURTIS

Earlswood.

Ode to a

pure maiden

Sir, -

I hope that you're not given to partaking of the weed

It would shatter my illusions if you were

The thought of your trim frame

Inhaling smoke and flame

Is just too much for my poor mind to bear

Believe me when I tell you that on this No Smoking Day

No girl can puff and yet remain unsullied

Respect clean etiquettes!

Reject those cigarettes!

Your mouth will taste much sweeter my beloved.

ROGER WARING

Solihull.

How did Bill survive

the local lingo?

Sir, - The incisive, harsh, pragmatic style of BBC Radio WM's Edwin Doolan, occasional stand-in for the great Jimmy Young, puts him among the best of Australian exports for many years.

Notable among these was the Australian Army's 9th Division which helped us Brits expel the Afrika Korps from North Africa a long time ago; a certain beverage known as Fosters; and cricket commentator Richie Benaud.

As for some of Ed's immediate colleagues, I imagine international visitors to the NEC seeking an earful of Ye Olde BBC English would want to take the next plane home after listening to them, believing that they were somewhere else than the UK; and that listeners in Coventry and Warwickshire, accustomed to gentler, softer brogues, switched off long ago.

Whatever the manager of Radio WM believes about the richness of the local lingo, not everybody is addicted to the Brummie and Black Country accents. How did the G8 summit ever survive its Birmingham venue? I'll bet Bill was wishing he was back with Monica while sampling some of the local chat, supping his pint in Broad Street.

JOHN WOOD

Walsall.

Lessons for

Mr Doolan

Sir, - May I add my comments to the ongoing saga of the rights and wrongs of Ed Doolan. His otherwise excellent show is spoiled, in my opinion, by his aggressive and bullying tactics (especially towards the RSPCA) and his huge egotism.

What a pleasure it has been recently to listen to Howard Bennett. I would like to remind Mr Doolan of two things I was taught many years ago that self praise is no recommendation and sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

JJ BLAKEMORE

Yoxall,

Burton on Trent.

Brimming with

optimism

Sir, - C J Flood looks at Villa Park and sees a glass half empty; I see a glass half full. I'm convinced we have enough points to stay up.

JOHN W HILL

Great Barr,

Birmingham.

Concerned at

his absence

Sir, - I note with some concern the absence of any contribution in today's Post from your regular correspondent Mr Derek Bennett of Walsall. I trust the gentleman is not indisposed.

STUART STOCKDALE,

Lichfield,

Staffordshire.

Throwing light

on these sums

Sir, - Is it any wonder our city is in a mess when it is being run by Labour councillors who apparently can't even add up?

Your report about ageing street lights being replaced (Post, Mar 9) says pounds 1million has been set aside for this work.

The Labour vice-chairman of the Transportation and Technical Services Committee is then quoted as saying that "2,000 street lights . . . will be replaced. Each new light costs around pounds 750,"

When I was at school, 2,000 x pounds 750 equalled pounds 1 million. So either Labour is not intending to replace as many street lights as the vice-chairman says, or they are going to be way over budget.

DEIRDRE ALDEN,

Conservative Campaign

Co-ordinator for Edgbaston.

Learn and

remember . . .

Sir, - We have to get used to the idea that BBC radio and TV news reporting is progressively less accurate and clearly written, and that on commercial TV news is valued only for the number of trivial gimmicks that can be packed in.

It is therefore all the more important that reputable newspapers like The Post are careful about accuracy and clarity in news reporting.

Can you please explain to Jayne Howarth that "three times as much" and "three times more" have different meanings?

It is clear from her report of March 9 that she is in need of that guidance. Eight is three times more than two, OR eight is four times as much as two; those statements should not be confused.

The necessity for clear and accurate transmission of factual information is no mere quibble, it is central to the value and function of any news organisation.

JOHN RICHARDS

Edgbaston,

Birmingham.

Give us firm

evidence on GMF

Sir, - It is perfectly understandable that the public are concerned and confused over whether some of the food we buy in shops and supermarkets might be a danger to health.

On one hand the food industry encourages us to believe everything on our plate is perfectly healthy and with legislation as strict as it is, we can rest assured that will remain the case.

Yet, with food scares and disagreement among food scientists, alarm bells begin to ring.

Recent revelations about genetically modified foods are no exception.

While the GM food producers claim their products have been well researched and nothing is wrong with them, evidence arises contradicting such optimism.

This suggests we cannot be complacent if our concern is with healthy eating. And by the same token, should now allow ourselves to become over-anxious by the ranting of journalists seeking sensational headlines.

Rather, claims by food producers and biotech companies should be treated with a critical scepticism and involve refusing to accept as truth claims, not supported by firm evidence.

Only if the time comes when GM foods can be proved entirely safe should they be sold, so ensuring we are not part of a gigantic experiment.

At this moment, the results of the experiment are still not entirely known and so we don't know whether our health is damaged by eating them.

EDWARD DAVIES

Stourbridge.

Nice buses, shame

about the service

Sir, - Travel West Midlands are always telling us about their marvellous new buses.

But the reliability of the services is terrible. The 28 bus service was always poor, but since transferring the buses to Perry Barr garage the service is appalling, especially during the evenings and weekends.

Cannot Centro fine TWM for such poor services?

F COPLEY

Castle Bromwich,

Birmingham.

Evaluating

concerns

Sir, - "Charity faces inquiry after funding and welfare claims" (Post, Feb 22). I read this article with interest, as it covered the involvement of the Charity Commission with the charity Sunshine International Project.

However, I think it is important to clarify some of the information for the benefit of your readers.

The article stated that the charity and its founder were being "investigated" by the Commission, based on information sent to us which gave us cause for concern. There is also an implication in the article that we had an inquiry last year into this charity.

We are not investigating this charity. Concerns have been expressed to us about the Sunshine International Project and we are currently evaluating these concerns.

We undertake evaluations when concerns are expressed to us because we have a duty to look into complaints made against charities.

There is no suggestion at this stage that there is any actual wrong-doing on the part of the charity.

If our evaluation was subsequently to show that there was actual cause for concern, we would open a formal inquiry (sometimes referred to as an investigation).

The article suggested that we would remove trustees or the charity from the public register if wrong doing was found. This is only one of several options open to us in these circumstances and by no means inevitable.

The reference made to an inquiry last year appears to be an inaccuracy carried over from a previous similar report in the Sunday Mercury. There has never been a formal inquiry into this charity.

I hope this letter clarifies some of the confusion this article may have created.

NICHOLAS FEARON

(Press Officer)

Charity Commission for

England and Wales.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 13, 1999
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