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Shocking image

I’m a delighted subscriber and devour each magazine. As I started to read How we make poverty (NI 524) I was further thrilled to see that one of my heroes, John Christensen, co-founder of the Tax Justice Network, had a piece in it. But when I turned to that page, my stomach jumped as I saw what looked to me, undeniably, like a cartoon of a Hasidic Jew representing the reprehensible banker pillaging the world. I can only assume this was unintentional. I couldn’t imagine Christensen referencing the old, ugly, antisemitic trope of a Jewish banking cabal and was relieved not to find any. Rather, he soldiered on, telling us about the poisonous spider that is the world-wide secrecy jurisdiction system (aka 'offshore banking') robbing all countries of hundreds of billions of tax revenues a year that could otherwise be used for services and infrastructure for us regular citizens.

Sara Pascoe Bournemouth, UK

We’re equally horrified at the thought of this interpretation – the image was intended as a banker figure wearing a robber’s mask. - Ed


My wife and I have spent a number of agreeable holidays on Kangaroo Island, and your photo of its devastated forest (NI 524, Currents) is horrible to see. Some implications in the text, however, are questionable. That a country that emits some 1.3 per cent of the world’s total CO2 emissions [though it has one of the highest per-capita emissions rates – Ed] could make any measurable difference to the rate of climate change by ‘step(ping) up its efforts to tackle emissions’ is surely a logical solecism. Again, it may be a ‘false claim that environmentalists are to blame’ for preventing hazard-reduction burning, but the only voice that was given public airing came from members of those who are called ‘the Greens-Left’, many of whose supporters live in well-heeled urban regions. What they opposed was the practice of ground-level burning of forests in months before the start of the bushfire season so that, when the season comes, less fuel is available for fires. Fire policy is a matter for state governments (not the federal one), so blame must fall on them for their cowardly caving-in to that misdirected voice. Whether we have learnt any good lessons from the disastrous fires remains to be seen. 

Alasdair Livingstone Pasadena, South Australia

Courage counts

As a frequent traveller and observer of African cultures over the past 40 years, I read with great interest the article about the experiences of lesbians and bisexuals in Equatorial Guinea (Long Read) (NI 522) . I have wondered how hard it must be to live in such traditional societies in Africa, where conformity to social norms and sexual mores preserving the traditional heterosexual family is obligatory. The women in the article who recounted their defiant stories to the author are often living such precarious lives and must be very courageous, death-defying individuals. I would like to thank the author Trifonia Melibea Obono for tackling this human rights subject.

Peta Fulton Melbourne, Australia

Relative values

Given the recent political upheavals and the rise of populism internationally and at home, I am often left thinking, ‘Who is my neighbour?’.

I find immense solace in my search from your contributors, from around the world, who provide great food for thought with their superb letters and articles, but I still wished to meet a really local fellow thinker and was so pleased when, over Christmas, I popped in on my auntie (who lives a kilometre or two from me) – now in her early eighties – and saw the latest edition of NI on her coffee table. 

To my joy and great surprise my auntie revealed that, like me, she has been a long-time subscriber and buys the NI because ‘they tell you the stories nobody else will – it’s there you find out the truth.’ How right she is!

D Shearer Wigan, UK

Why I... will embrace the ‘Brexit coin’

Sometime during 2020, 50p coins celebrating Brexit will enter into circulation in Britain. The coins – 10 million of them – will bear the wording ‘Peace, Prosperity and Friendship with all Nations’. The irony of this reconciliatory message for a project that has relied on whipping up xenophobic sentiment is not lost on many, who see the coin as a kick in the teeth and plan to reject it as a symbol of intolerance. But I’ve got a different idea: I believe it’s more productive to use the coin to generate some positive action. So that’s why I‘m trying to persuade as many people as possible to pledge to donate the equivalent of all Brexit coins that cross their palm to a British-based organization that works for refugee rights. Through this simple gesture of kindness, we can transform something originally toxic into a message of genuine love and solidarity. You can sign the pledge at nin.tl/BrexitTransformation.

Umberto Albarella, Sheffield