Both Middle East foes at fault

Margaret Huddy (Letters, July 21) wonders why ''the world is indifferent to the loss of a Palestinian life'' in contrast to the outrage felt over the recent murderous act in the Ukraine.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Palestinians are a rabble which elected as its government a terrorist organisation that has the sole aim of wiping the state of Israel off the face of the earth.

At the same time, the sympathy which one felt for Israel as it repeatedly defended its seemingly undefendable borders from the onslaughts of its Arab neighbours has been tempered once the country began to elect ultra-right wing governments which have treated the Palestinians with disdain.

Both sides in this dispute have cause to exercise a degree of moderation.

T.J. Marks Holt

Kennett's unlikely role

I'm not sure whether it is ironic or appropriate that Jeff Kennett is offering advice on how to cope with losing your job, given that his government sacked tens of thousands of public servants, teachers and public transport workers (''No work? Then keep busy, says Kennett'', Forum, p1, July 19). It is surprising he thinks job loss is a problem at all. In an interview on Radio National's Breakfast program (May 20) he claimed that retrenched Victorian public servants, far from being upset and bitter, thank him for the chance they were given to start a new life. I think that if I was looking for advice and understanding I would look elsewhere.


G. Burgess Kaleen

Road to nowhere

I am not at all surprised that the motorists of Weston Creek and Molonglo are fed up with the never-ending roadworks on Cotter Road. Ron Forrester should have realised by now that most roadworks in the ACT never end, they just proliferate. Before it all began on the Cotter Road, I used to shop at Coolamon Court where all my requirements were met. In no time there was a maze to get through, plus a few more lights. At one stage a whole section near the RSPCA appeared finished, but no, part of it was dug up again - and so it goes on. I now shop elsewhere.

If the ACT government insists on inflicting 1600 dwellings on us near the Yarralumla Brickworks, we can look forward to this sort of muddled construction in our quiet suburb for years. The sooner this frightful concept is cancelled, the better.

John Sutton Yarralumla

No apology from US

Boris Johnson's article ''MH17: Putin must pay'' (Times 2, July 22, p1) is a fair summary of the Iran Air flight 655 disaster, and a welcome reminder that such tragedies are not caused only by rogue states. It occurred during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War in which the West, including the US, materially supported Iraq despite it starting the war and using chemical weapons.

What if that flight had been downed by Iraq using a US-supplied missile? No doubt the US would have behaved properly in the end, but its stated views on responsibility 10 days afterwards might not have been very different from those of Russia now, especially as the US has never apologised for the actual tragedy for which it was directly responsible.

Mark Westcott Farrer

Call for censorship

Reading with sadness Jenna Price's reference to the 67 women who have died as a result of violence (Times 2, p5, July 22) I was reminded of a segment on Q & A (ABC, July 14). A questioner asked the panel what could be done to deal with the scourge of domestic violence against women in our community often leading to death.

In reply, the headmaster of The King's School, Sydney, expressed the view exposure of young men to hard-core pornography, now readily accessible, was a significant factor in the subsequent behaviour of some of them. Viewers of this material are encouraged to abandon discipline in responding to testosterone-driven impulses even when the welfare of women is at risk.

If the headmaster is right, some form of censorship of pornographic material is required for the safety of women to be fostered.

Eric French Higgins

Matter of trust

Nicholas Stuart's column on financial advice [CT, July 22] sounded very authentic to me. Who can we trust?

Those that, over many years, constructed an income taxation system that is beyond the average citizen's comprehension and full of loopholes for those who are wealthy? Those in favour of deregulation for financial advisers? Those who are the banks' successful financial advisers, and who are awarded commissions for selling products that benefit the banks' shareholders? No way. However, I would trust Nicholas Stuart.

G.L. Larmour Canberra City

Culling our cash

Whatever sympathy I had for the anti-cull movement has been evaporated by their vandalism. The ACT properties they destroy are bought and maintained with tax money from the entire population. It's not just government property, it is for the benefit of all residents. If through these senseless acts the ACT budget runs short, we are all the losers.

M. Pietersen Kambah

Split Abbott

I'm confused. There are two Tony Abbotts. Which is the real Abbott?

One moves heaven and earth to help MH17 families. The other dumps families in Stalin-era prison camps. When will Abbott's 5867 captives be freed from gulag tyranny?

When his crimes against humanity are exposed and (like refugee-hater John Howard) he loses his seat. A double dissolution? The sooner the better.

Graham Macafee Latham

Dumping on garbos

I have walked my dog in Kambah daily for more than 10 years and have often been appalled at the amount of garbage I have seen strewn about our streets.

My presumption was that it's all to do with lack of respect for others and a poor upbringing which has generated a ''who cares'' mentality. This week, however, my theory has been blown out of the water.

Monday morning is garbage collection time in my neighbourhood and while walking the pooch, I witnessed a recycle collection truck rumbling along Crozier Circuit with litter bellowing out from within. Based on that anecdotal incident, I reckon about half of our litter problem is caused by these vehicles.

So come on ACT government and garbage collection contractors - clean up your act!

Doug Mulley Kambah

Boris wrong to compare MH17 with US downing Iranian flight

Boris Johnson (22/7) speaks for us all in demanding that Russia tell the truth about who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. But he weakens his case by inaccurately comparing the initial Russian response to the Pentagon's admission in 1988 that its forces shot down Iran Air flight 655 over the Strait of Hormuz.

The initial US response in 1988 was to blame the victims. The then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Crowe, told the world that flight 655 was flying outside the civilian corridor, was emitting military transponder signals, had ignored radio warnings, was flying low and was descending on the USS Vincennes at 450 knots when the captain ordered it be shot down.

All these claims were false, even if Crowe believed them at the time. It was only two days later, under intense questioning from journalists, that the Pentagon admitted the evidence showed that flight 655 was in fact a routine scheduled flight, emitting civilian signals, flying in its proper corridor, climbing to 4000 metres at normal speed.

How did US sailors get so much wrong at once? Blame the fog of war, poor training and poor judgment. As Johnson recounts, minutes earlier they had destroyed three Iranian gunboats that had fired at a US helicopter. They were unnerved, and they panicked. Their radar could not tell a big Airbus from a small F-14 fighter. They were confused by signals from some military transponder. They sent warnings on emergency channels, when the plane was listening to air traffic control.

There are similarities here with the Ukraine rebels who mistook MH17 for a military jet and appeared to be unaware that commercial airlines routinely fly above their land.

To its credit the US military admitted its mistakes. But President Reagan never publicly apologised to the families of the victims.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron puts it, Russia is facing ''a defining moment'' in its history. The US offers both good and bad examples for it to follow.

Tim Colebatch Hackett (The Age correspondent in Washington, 1986-89).

Don't blame Russia

Why do so many commentators take it for granted that pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are puppets of the current Russian government?

As a senior British Tory, Boris Johnsonshould know that British history suggests a more complex view. The Government of Ireland Act 1914 envisioned home rule for a united Ireland but its implementation was postponed due to the outbreak of war in Europe. When the British government later revisited the act in 1920, the vision of a unified Ireland was abandoned in favour of its division into two separate domains, in part because of pressure from a substantial armed minority in the north.

In this case, far from following its lead, pro-British separatists undermined the policies of the British government and they have been a menace ever since.

One would hope that senior British politicians, in particular, might recognise the lessons of their own history and refrain from blaming Russia for the behaviour of pro-Russian separatists elsewhere.

Barry Hindess School of Politics and International Relations, ANU

Military rules Putin

When will the world's media and government stop peddling the myth that President Putin is the key to ensuring justice for the MH17 victims?

Putin obtained and retains his presidency through the goodwill of the Russian military. The decisions to create, support and arm the so-called Ukraine separatist movement were made by the Russian military, not by Putin. The reason why many of the separatist militants conceal their faces is to hide from the Russian public, and the world, that they are Russian soldiers.

Given the level of training required to operate the SA-11 missile system, the crew that brought down MH17 must have been Russian regulars or special services.

Ed Dobson Hughes

Israel gets free pass

Does anyone care or are all our politicians toeing the Israel line?

The Israeli military is using flechette shells that spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts in its military operation in Gaza. Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on July 17, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. The centre provided a picture of flechettes taken by a field worker last week.

The Israel Defence Forces did not deny using the shells in the conflict. ''As a rule, the IDF only employs weapons that have been determined lawful under international law, and in a manner which fully conforms with the laws of armed conflict,'' a spokesperson said.

It was unlawful phosphorous in 2009, now flechettes in 2014, all ignored by an apathetic world. A criminal act, but as I said, who cares? Certainly not the US, which supplies these deadly weapons to the Israelis.

Rex Williams Ainslie

Prejudice clouds issue

Thomas Mautner (Letters, July 18) has labelled my response to his previous letter as sarcastic. He claims that he was not making an assertion as to the legality of Australian maritime actions, merely posing a question.

May I refresh readers with a portion of Mr Mautner's original letter: ''So by what right does the Australian navy intercept this boat on the high seas? By what right does it take control of those on board? Freedom of the seas is a basic principle of international law. Interception is not the right word. What is the difference between recent naval action and a hijacking?''

Mr Mautner is obviously an educated man. However, his feeble attempts in his latest prose to mask his bold claims about the illegality of these actions as merely posing a question are laughable to any fair-minded reader. The examination of these issues by Mr Mautner is clearly coloured by prejudice. I am glad, though, that his identification of sarcasm is unimpeded.

T.J. Farquahar Ainslie

Right move on dope by Chief Minister

The Chief Minister is to be congratulated on her decision not to approve so-called medical cannabis or legalise the use of the plant in the ACT. It will stand as an example for all jurisdictions, and save thousands of children from being swept up into the drug epidemic. If epidemic is considered too strong a word, consider the following two points.

First, Australia's 200,000 dependent cannabis users represent a figure greater than the total of all problematic drug users in Sweden - 29,500 (Swedish Institute of Health, 2012). Sweden has 40 per cent of Australia's population.

Second is is that ''medical marijuana'' did not originate from the medical profession.

We owe the Chief Minister a huge vote of thanks.

Colliss Parrett Barton

Rattenbury spot on

Shane Rattenbury has a better understanding of the wishes of the ACT regarding medical cannabis. According to the 2010 Household Survey, 72.4per cent of residents support the proposal.

But the proposal is not for recreational use as recent letter writers seem to believe. It is for specified medicinal use only.

Research shows cannabis is effective for relief of nausea resulting from terminal cancer treatment. People do find relief with this drug but buy it on the black market. For the short term they have left to live they should be allowed to take it under medical supervision without the added burden of fear of prosecution.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed with bipartisan support. Why would we allow someone to suffer when comfort and relief can be provided in their final months of life?

B. McConnell president, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, Higgins



So the shortage of suitable land to open embassies has grown critical (''Put diplomatically: use the land or lose it'', July 23, P1). Rather than the social and environmental disaster proposed, the ACT government should sell the open area outside the Yarralumla brickworks to the Commonwealth for such use.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla


Mr Abbott is (correctly) pursuing Australia's interests through the UN Security Council with respect to the MH17 tragedy. Is this the same Tony Abbott that opposed the Gillard government's initiative seeking a seat on the Security Council?

Dan Buchler, Waramanga


Are they talking about the same thing? J. McKerral (Letters, July 21) quoted from a report that says Australia is a net sequester of CO2. Adrian Gibbs (Letters, July 22), extrapolating from another report, suggests to farm Australia's carbon use would require a bluebell woodland covering two-thirds of the country.

Ken McPhan, Spence


Every cloud has a silver lining for someone. As the MH17 tragedy (300 dead) dominates the Western press, the destruction of Gaza continues - more than 500 dead and counting. But you'll be lucky to find anything in the paper until page six. Israel got lucky.

Murray Johns, Aranda


Given that Raiders fans were promised so much when Terry Campese returned, could someone please advise when that will happen?

P. Carthy, McKellar


The difference between a four-star general in China, that is three rows of medals, just viewed on TV, and someone such as US ex-general David Petraeus (10 rows), seems to reflect a combination of the ease with which the US dishes out awards and its continuous military dalliances. Mind you, for a man who never had a shot fired at him in anger, 10 rows of medals seem a series of gross ornaments on a heavily decorated jacket.

Alan McNeil, Weetangera


I support Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell's notion that the proposed light rail will have ''beyond economic'' benefits. Perhaps a quieter and more social travel experience or a smoother ride? Valid reasons indeed, but they must be quantified. Do the ''beyond economic'' benefits cost more or less than, say, $200 million? Just wondering.

Mark Holland, Gungahlin

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