The Pope, Africa and AIDS:

Mark Jeanes writes: Re. “Abstinence doesn’t make the Pope grow fonder” (yesterday, item 15). Let’s stop beating around the bush. It’s about time we all stopped being “tolerant” of religion and the damage its deluded proponents wreak on people’s lives. Tolerance should not be on our minds with news that the Pope has travelled to Africa and declared that condoms make the HIV epidemic worse. In one fell swoop this old fool has just set back years of titanic effort and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to preventing a continent-wide holocaust.

Let us not remain “tolerant” and “respectful” of these beliefs that prompt influential people to make these outrageous statements that lead to death and destruction. Islamic terrorism. George W Bush’s God-inspired war on Iraq. The Troubles. The Crusades. It just doesn’t stop.

Let’s start being honest and start condemning religion, like astrology and alchemy, as the preserve of irrational and deluded twits. Their belief in myths and fairy stories have cruel, deadly effects on those who are worse off than them.

Geoff Tapp writes: Jeff Sparrow is spot on when he suggests world leaders have an obligation to speak out about the Pope’s statement that condom use increases the risk of contracting HIV Aids. In fact, to take it to its logical conclusion, any leader worth his salt should publicly declare extremely loudly that they will refuse to meet with the pope while he proclaims such damaging and deranged views. Be warned — keep your industrial-duty earplugs handy.

Justin Templer writes: In the debate about condoms and AIDS there is one thing that is certain — if the couple of hundred million dollars of taxpayers’ money spent on bringing the Pope to Australia had instead been used to distribute condoms in Africa there would be many fewer orphans in the world.

Golden handshakes:

Kapil Talwar writes: Re. “Kohler: rich payouts and poor politics” (yesterday, item 4). Nice article that dissects the provenance and then challenges of executive remuneration. It suffers, though, from one blind belief — that there are a finite number of “best executives” out there without which companies can’t run properly. This isn’t true.

Why, for example, is the evidence ignored that a number of them were shoddily run by the very same “best executives”, but undetectable in the good times? One problem appears to be that these guys reward each other, sit on each other’s boards, a cabal of temptation and greed that attracts similar minds with similar wants. It’s all dressed up in the window dressing of reward-for-talent, flashy suits, hands in pant pockets and defiant glares to the camera.

These turkeys give the many great executives, who are more serious and truly interested in company results, a very bad name.

David Gothard writes: Why not have such handouts included in the taxation schedule as a special item? Any gratuity above the normal annual salary including value of share options, performance payments, golden handshakes and everything else outside normal salary should be taxed at a special rate of, say, 99.5 %, of every dollar. It is time we stopped this rorting and made these incompetent individuals earn their salary.

If they don’t like it, then let them go elsewhere and be replaced by competent Managers.

Frank Moore writes: The best solution to these problems of insatiable greed is, in addition to the Treasurer’s changes, to enact changes to law which would require that executives receive total packages not exceeding 25 times the remuneration package of their lowest paid employee.

The Jewish lobby:

Harold Zwier writes: Re. “John Brumby: Jewish lobby puppet” (yesterday, item 14). As someone who actually agrees with Greg Barns, that Brumby and members of the Jewish community should be willing to engage with former Iranian President Khatami, I still find his contribution annoying because it smacks of good old fashioned anti-Semitism.

In the first instance he makes the assertion that Brumby’s decision not to meet with the former Iranian President Khatami is as a result of opposition from a Jewish Lobby. He needs to be explicit about which Jewish Lobby he refers to, since not all Jewish Lobbies oppose Khatami’s visit. He also needs to explain why he believes Brumby’s decision was only made as a result of the lobbying of some Jews and not, for instance, as a result of advice from other sources such as Foreign Affairs or other communities.

Of course the mainstream Jewish community leaders have as much right to argue their case as anyone else. The implication of Greg Barns’ assertion is that some Jewish Lobbies (the ones with which he disagrees) have undue influence, and have the power to decide what politicians will and won’t do. His strong inference is that the power they wield is not merely their ability to argue their case, but that they have a hidden and underhanded power that coerces and controls people’s behaviour, ie. Jews control things behind the scenes.

The assertion is not very new. It permeated the social fabric of much of Europe up till the last world war when it was proved to be wrong.

Queensland’s oil spill:

Glen Fergus writes: Re. Lloyd Lacey (yesterday, comments) who wrote: “Crook reports both four-to-six metre waves and ‘calmer conditions on Moreton Island’. Where would those calmer conditions be? Ashore?”

The wind and swell were from the southeast. Anyone familiar with the location would realise that Andrew Crook is referring to the long northern coast of Moreton Island, which is well sheltered from such weather. Oil there entered the Heath Island Lagoon, where it will probably kill most of the mangroves and marine life. Prompt deployment of suitable booms might have protected the lagoon, but, to be fair, that would have been some ask in the circumstances.

More to the point, Maritime Safety Queensland needs to explain what a container vessel under its control was doing trying to make it to the tortuous Port of Brisbane entrance channel in a 100 km/hr gale, rather than waiting at sea for 48 hours.

Gerard Henderson’s dog:

Moira Smith writes: Re. Gerard Henderson (yesterday, comments). Oh goodness me Guy Rundle, you were rude about Gerard’s dog and didn’t realise she (Nancy) was *disabled* [gasp] — how cruel and insensitive! Oh maybe you couldn’t tell from the photo … But, of course, if you’d been sensitive and PC enough, you SHOULD have been able to. Guy, you are AWFUL.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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