Politicians are using Paris attacks for their own agendas
It's now well over a week since the events in Paris, and yet, rather than easing off the often hysterical coverage, it's now escalating into a very worrying tone. This non-stop fear-mongering by our government and media must stop.
At times like these, politicians start to thrive on the attention they're receiving and go on an all-out power trip. A 'Tony Blair' if you like. They spread fear in the name of righteousness.
More surveillance and additional terror laws will ultimately be used against us, and will destroy the society that our so-called leaders claim to want to protect.
François Hollande is doing this very thing right now, and David Cameron is again pushing for the bombing of Syria.
As after 9/11, we often hear sayings such as "they hate our freedoms." Well, it's far more likely that they hate our policies, or perhaps, more accurately, our foreign policy.
We seem to forget that Western forces have killed around a million people, mainly in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The West has also been involved in the global assassination programme also known as drone attacks.
These are acts of terror, but on a bigger scale.
Isil is an appalling entity, but I'm far more worried about our elected politicians pushing for our health service to be privatised, and our wider welfare state being taken from us.
And as if that's not bad enough, there's the climate conference in Paris this weekend. That is the biggest issue right now, and so I hope your readers will make their voices heard at the marches this Sunday.
Tooting, London, UK
Bright news on economy
I note with interest Dan O'Brien's recent article about strong jobs growth in the Irish economy (Sunday Independent, November 22). Mr O'Brien suggests that the most important economic indicator is the quarterly national employment survey.
Rather than wait for statistics, damned or otherwise, may I respectfully suggest that this economics expert lifts his head and observes the changes around him for a forward indication about the economic situation. As sure as the rise in joy follows the rise in lumens, the early appearance of abundant Christmas lights suggests that Irish people are ready to spend after a series of lean holidays.
While anecdotal, the leading light indicator reveals that employment will be robust for at least another three months.
I recently re-read Ben Bradlee's memoir (1995). The most well-known editor of any newspaper died last year aged 93. There's a nice photo of him on the cover, full of life and battle-hardened. I like to quote from it - this was during Watergate before President Nixon resigned from the White House in 1974.
A 'Washington Post' reporter phoned Ben at home one night to ask if they could run a story. He describes the episode: "'What story?' I shouted. Just because the Chief Justice of the United States comes to his door in the dead of night in his jammies waving a gun at two 'Washington Post' reporters in the middle of a vital legal case involving the 'Washington Post', you guys think it's a story?"
It was a no, then.
He wasn't always shouting at his reporters. There was a serious and fun atmosphere in the paper. It was a fishbowl in Washington DC in his time as editor. Maybe it still is.
It is one of the smaller and more beautiful cities in the US. He had friends in the media, politics - and the CIA. His sister-in-law Mary Pinchot Meyer's husband was for a time in the CIA. She was shot in what is believed was a professional hit in late 1964 after the Warren Commission report on President Kennedy's assassination. It wasn't known that she was a confidante and mistress to the president. Bradlee didn't know of her being more than a friend until her death. When he and his wife went to her home to find a diary, they found a CIA man he knew who had broken in looking for it too.
A well-researched book by Peter Janney published in 2013 looked deeper into who may have killed her and the possible reasons.
In 1963 the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union with hopes for peace in most of the world. They believed it was achievable, if opposing sides talked to each other. In 2015 this seems impossible, with wars in the Middle East and Africa now spreading their tentacles into Europe.
IFA cat who got the cream
Whether the IFA's ex-general secretary was riding high on the hog or merely perched on the pig's back, either way he was in clover.
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
Changing attitudes to alcohol
The message on the beer mat tells us to drink responsibly - that is, if you can see the message, the print is so small. The alcohol industry would have us believe that we are drinking less than we ever were, yet it funds a campaign to stop out-of-control drinking. The supermarkets vie with each other to see who can sell the cheapest alcohol regardless of the damage it causes.
The Government is still in the process of passing the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill into law, a bill that bears little resemblance to what was recommended by the steering group. In the past number of weeks we have heard testimony from family members who have lost loved ones because of alcohol abuse.
These families and many others will have to deal with the heartache of the unnecessary and untimely demise of their loved ones. Their lives have changed forever and every family celebration can be a struggle.
I am sure as Christmas approaches that there is a very real possibility that more families will lose someone as a result of alcohol abuse. While we work on changing the law and attitudes around the culture of binge drinking, maybe a proactive approach would help save a few lives this Christmas.
Persuading someone to leave the car and use a taxi would be a good place to start. Publicans could provide high-viz vests for customers who decide to walk home. The sham that is the '12 Pubs of Christmas' should neither be allowed or encouraged. Try to ensure that anyone in your company who may be intoxicated and a danger to themselves gets home safely.
No doubt there will be many near misses that people will laugh about, but unfortunately there will be fatalities. I would be only too happy if my words were proven wrong, but somehow I don't think they will be.
Ballina, Co Mayo