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Armenian self-determination

Re: ‘Reintroducing Serzh Sargsyan’, NI 463. The Armenian population ‘vulnerable to Islamophobic manipulation’? The Armenians are not vulnerable to any manipulation, least of all Islamophobic: they have good connections with Iran (where they have an established community), as well as Lebanon, Syria (even now), Egypt and Jordan. Their problem with Turkey lies in the planned mass-killing of 1915, which amounted to genocide against them. This was only peripherally ‘Islamic’: the organizers of the killings (which took place in the old Ottoman Empire) were professed atheists.

Nor did Armenia seize Nagorno Karabagh from Azerbaijan in 1994. The majority people of the enclave were and are Armenian and they had demonstrated and voted for separation from Azerbaijan since 1988. When Azeri forces intervened to shut them up, local Karabagh self-defence forces threw them out (as imperialist aggressors). Armenia itself, so recently independent, had no army to speak of at the time. That of the Azeris simply collapsed in June 1993. The separation of Nagorno Karabagh from Azerbaijan should be hailed as a victory for independence, liberty and self-determination, against alien aggression, cultural chauvinism and imperial bossiness.

Chris Walker London, England


Land Grabs (NI 462) complemented to the max The feral rich (NI 459). To complete the unholiest of unholy trinities, NI should publish a synthesizing issue ASAP to show how Cannibal Capitalism is screwing Planet Earth via Land Grabs, the Feral Rich and Big Biz.

Land grabs, aka thefts, have been the enduring evil constant of the human condition and represent the principal reason why the human species is doomed to eventual (and probably sooner rather than later) extinction.

Tony Hosking Dover Gardens, Australia

Maximum wage

Re: Mark Engler’s ‘The case for a maximum wage’ (NI 462).

The gap in income has significantly widened for many first world countries over the last 30 years with the corresponding increase in social ills.

How to reduce it? The short answer is obvious – increase the effective income of the poor and reduce that of the rich. There are currently attempts to lift the wages of the poor, including efforts to raise minimum wages. For example, the local authority in London, England, has adopted a ‘living wage’ minimum based on what people need for a basic standard of living.

More work needs to be done in creating enough well-paid jobs – government responsibility, I believe – and a well-educated workforce to do these jobs.

At the other end of the scale of incomes there are two main approaches. A progressive, fair tax regime would help significantly, similar to that which existed in many countries some 30 to 40 years ago.

The other approach is to set maximum wages. Engler suggests this be 100 times that of the lowest-paid employee. A figure of 20 I believe to be far more realistic in terms of seriously reducing the income gap.

However, regardless of the figure chosen, the principle is important and its adoption would be a significant step towards a more equal and better society.

Peter Malcolm Tauranga, NZ/Aotearoa closingthegap.org.nz

West Papua

I found the Country Profile for Indonesia (NI 462) disappointing in that only in the map was there an oblique reference to West Papua being an ‘occupied’ region of Indonesia.

Elsewhere in the text, there is mention of an HIV epidemic in West Papua but no mention of the epidemic of imprisonment, torture and death of West Papuans perpetuated by the Indonesian military and police on any individual that dares to protest at the lack of democracy and denial of basic human rights.

With their cultural and environmental habitats desecrated by Indonesian-sponsored mining transnationals and the rapid transmigration of Javanese Indonesians, West Papuans are rapidly being marginalized in their own country.

I hope NI will correct the imbalance in the profile by reporting on the growing international campaign for the independence of West Papua.

Brian Turner North Canterbury, NZ/Aotearoa

Beyond bickering

What a disappointment – after reading your eye-opening and illuminating Big Story on Land Grabs (NI 462) and other good articles – to come across the pathetic Argument: ‘is it time to ditch the pursuit of economic growth?’ How could you – on such a crucial subject – print such a poor, bickering, small-minded debate? It reads like a discussion about the problem of expanding deserts with an ostrich which lives by an oasis.

Finding an alternative to the pursuit of economic growth needs to be an in-depth study for a future issue of your excellent magazine. We need to find an answer fast! Not among the ‘chattering classes’ of élite journalist and academics, but in real life.

Percy Mark Croydon, England

Party pooping

Re: Steve Parry, ‘It’s party time!’ (NI 462). The current major parties are political dinosaurs, relics of a bygone age. I want people power to replace the power of political parties that claim a tiny majority as ‘a mandate’ to do whatever they damn well want regardless of the people’s opposition to many of their policies.

We now have the means of transferring power to the people, by holding electronic referenda by phone or internet on individual bills before Parliament, so that the people can vote policy by policy to prevent any political party being able to implement the whole of its ideological agenda, the bad with the good. The only thing still needed is to find a way to make the party politicians get out of the way so that the people can govern themselves.

Peter Schaper Biggenden, Australia

Double dose

Love your mag. I am sometimes slow in reading it, so have just caught up with The feral rich (NI 459). Just when I thought you had given it up, you give me a double dose (Editor’s letter and Owen Jones article) of that misleading term ‘Global South’. It may work in Britain or the US if everything south appears poor, but it does not work in rich Australia.

Enjoyed the cartoon version of the Feral Rich story but number 7 on targeting contraception towards rich problem families I did not find funny, as overpopulation is a serious issue.

Fred Carter Australia

[We use the term Global South in the spirit in which it was conceived, as a primarily political term that arose out of the movement against economic globalization. There are limitations with all such blanket terms. We welcome suggestions from readers for good alternatives. – Ed]

Ranging wide

I am a new subscriber and am writing to say congratulations for producing a really fine informative, educational and interesting magazine, because it covers a very wide range of issues from around the world, like health, development, environment, economics, inequality, politics, culture, hypocrisy, debates, food, the exposure of how people – especially in poor countries – are being manipulated, abused and totally trampled upon, by people with no heart for the sake of more money.

Sammy Camilleri Sault Ste Marie, Canada