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The Guardian view on Gove’s clean air plan: just hot air | Editorial

22 May, by Editorial[ —]
The environment secretary must not use simplistic policies to avoid the complex and difficult trade-offs called for in dealing with the air quality crisis that is ending thousands of lives prematurely

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, made his name during the Brexit campaign for quipping that “the people have had enough of experts” and likening economists who warned against leaving the European Union to Nazi propagandists against Einstein. Mr Gove knows how to attract an audience. Nor has he discarded his insight that the public, if presented with facts that contradict a deeply held belief, will ditch the facts. This week Mr Gove was at it again: making headlines without making policy. The cabinet minister produced a clean air strategy which purported to tackle a public health crisis by getting families to open their windows more often because “air pollution inside the home can often be higher than outside”. This is true, but it smacks of the kind simplistic commonsense answer that Mr Gove favours because it avoids the knotty trade-offs called for in any policy, be it Brexit or the environment.

The main contributor to the air quality crisis, one that sees thousands of lives ended prematurely, is road transport – a subject about which Mr Gove has strangely little to say. Instead, his plan envisages local authorities finding the cash, presumably by defunding libraries or other essential public goods, to pay for an army of local inspectors to check the dryness of the wood being sold on petrol station forecourts that is used as fuel for stoves. Given his policy’s impotence, it would be absurd to say Mr Gove is taking the issue seriously. As lives are at stake, it is actually offensive.

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The Guardian view on papal infallibility: an authoritarian U-turn | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/world/pope-francisplay episode download
22 May, by Editorial[ —]
Popes rarely admit their own mistakes. But Pope Francis has now done so, spectacularly, in a case of child abuse

Popes hardly ever pronounce infallibly: in fact they have only ever done so twice; on the other hand it is almost as rare that they admit to making mistakes. Last week all 34 bishops of the Roman Catholic church in Chile sent in their resignations to Pope Francis after he got the report of an investigation into the hierarchy’s attempts to suppress a child abuse scandal there. That’s shocking enough, if not entirely unprecedented: in 1801 Pope Pius VII demanded, and got, the resignation of all the French bishops as part of his deal with Napoleon. What may not ever have happened before is for a pope to admit to freely and so publicly that he himself had been wrong on a matter of great importance. Only five months ago the pope had been outspoken in defence of the bishops.

The church in Chile had been badly damaged, like many others, by sex abuse scandals. A powerful and charismatic priest, Fr Fernando Karadima, preyed for years on young men and boys from the country’s elite. He was protected by Fr Juan Barros. Pope Francis appointed Fr Barros a bishop in 2015, three years after Fr Karadima had been removed from public ministry by the Vatican when the criminal case against him collapsed. This appointment was furiously protested by both laity and clergy, but the pope doubled down on his visit to Chile this year, describing the allegations against Bishop Barros as “slander”, and being photographed embracing him. This led to even greater and more outraged protests around the world so Pope Francis sent the Maltese archbishop Charles Scicluna to investigate the story. Archbishop Scicluna served for many years as the Vatican’s chief prosecuting counsel in child abuse cases, and the 2,300 page report he delivered to the pope was the result of interviewing 64 people.

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Letters: Tessa Jowell obituary

22 May, by Sebastian Kraemer and Julie Talbot[ —]

Sebastian Kraemer writes: During our Tavistock clinic training in family therapy in the late 1970s, Tessa Jowell and I were co-therapists with a particularly complex case. She was a natural, and had an intuitive grasp of family dynamics. We met again in the Tavistock in the 1990s, when Tessa was a prominent opposition MP. Prof Lynne Murray was presenting her findings of the link between maternal postnatal depression and childhood disorders, particularly affecting the behaviour of boys. You could hear the strategic machinery working as Tessa immediately saw the connection in policy terms. I am sure this insight helped to secure Sure Start as new Labour’s greatest social intervention. She said in 2015 that this was her proudest achievement.

Julie Talbot writes: Your obituary mentions the time Tessa Jowell spent as director of a community care special action project in Birmingham (1986-90). She proved to be a warm and human facilitator, taking time to listen to anyone who wanted to see her. On one occasion, after she had led a meeting for carers, a carer spoke with her at length – and then got the zip of her anorak caught up. Tessa spent a good quarter of an hour helping me to untangle the zip so the woman could go home properly dressed. Such a special person.

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The revolutionising potential of medical AI | Letters

22 May, by Letters[ —]
Readers respond to news that Theresa May has promised millions towards artificial intelligence that could help fight cancer and other diseases

The news that Theresa May has urged the NHS and technology companies to adopt artificial intelligence techniques in order to diagnose diseases such as cancer is extremely positive for both the healthcare community and for patients (May to promise millions for AI tools to help fight cancer, 21 May).

But to usher in an age of AI, there are several obstacles that must first be overcome. Beyond the prime minister encouraging greater adoption, increased investment into how AI can safely and successfully augment healthcare and research is needed. Far greater collaboration across different disciplines and geographies is also needed to fully realise AI’s potential.

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Is the railway timetable change on the right track for passengers? | Letters

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/transportplay episode download
22 May, by Letters[ —]
Robert Nisbet of the UK’s Rail Delivery Group on the reasons for the changes, Jonathan Tyler on the problems they’ve created, and Simon Hurdley harks back to railway efficiencies of the past

Last Sunday saw the biggest timetable change in a generation, but your report (Passengers voice anger over timetable shake-up, Money, 19 May) is wrong – many will benefit from the change.

We know it is vital that the network keeps pace with demand. Through timetable changes over the next four years the industry will be able to run over 1,200 more services every weekday.

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Golden age of female film critics | Letters

https://www.theguardian.com/film/marlonbrandoplay episode download
22 May, by Letters[ —]
Pauline Kael gushed about Last Tango in Paris, writes Will Goble, while Brian Baxter recalls the many prominent women writing about film

If Ann Tobin (Movie critics’ role in promoting violence, Letters, 19 May) had been an American cinephile, she’d probably have been aware that the sometime doyenne of US film critics, Pauline Kael, notoriously compared the release of Last Tango in Paris – “a landmark in movie history” – to the first performance of Stravinsky’s The Rites of Spring.

The rest of her gushing review contained similar hyperbole: “the movie breakthrough has finally come”. It was also “the most powerfully erotic movie ever made” and potentially “the most liberating” too.

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Turning Queen Mary’s House into luxury flats would leave NHS staff homeless | Letters

22 May, by Letters[ —]
Neil Macehiter says it will make recruiting staff harder, and Stewart Pimbley on the betrayal of the London building’s past

The response of Stephen Clark, spokesman for planning on London’s Camden council, to the marketing of Queen Mary’s House as potential luxury flats (NHS privately planning to turn London hospital building into block of luxury £10m flats, 19 May) is mealy-mouthed to say the least. His concerns should extend beyond the fact that the hospital has not applied for planning permission and that the council “wouldn’t want to see just luxury homes on the site”.

With the NHS struggling to recruit and retain key staff – not least because of the lack of local affordable accommodation – the council should be making its opposition to the Royal Free’s plans clear, or demanding that developers are required to replace the lost accommodation at an equivalent rent in the locality. Anything else would demonstrate an abdication of its responsibilities.
Neil Macehiter
Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire

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Proud to be born along with the NHS | Letter from Salley Vickers

22 May, by Letters[ —]
Salley Vickers writes of the obstetrician who helped her mother give birth after injuries caused by a German bomb

I am sorry that your editing staff managed to have my Liverpool-born mother, Freddie Lambert, bombed in Liverpool rather than Cambridge, where the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, a close student friend of hers, helped save her life (but not, sadly, her legs) by pulling her from the fire-wreckage left by a stray German bomb (Made in Stoke-on-Trent, Review, 19 May). I was consequently born in my mother’s home town, Liverpool, where the distinguished obstetrician Professor Jeffcoate, the only person willing to see my mother through the complications caused by the damage to her pelvis, was consultant. Although at the time he usually charged a fee, he celebrated the birth of the National Health Service, and my mother’s courage, by delivering me for nothing. I thus owe my life to the NHS.
Salley Vickers

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Scandalous not to mention Russell T Davies | Brief letters

https://www.theguardian.com/film/hughgrantplay episode download
22 May, by Letters[ —]
Extremism in Thessaloniki | Benefits of exercise | A Very English Scandal | Clothes moths

History repeating itself (Thessaloniki’s liberal mayor set upon by extremists, 21 May). In just under a week’s time on 27 May it will be 55 years since another progressive politician, Grigoris Lambrakis, was attacked and killed by a fascist thug in Thessaloniki.
Hugh Clark

• I was surprised that “Seven ways to manage anxiety” (G2, 21 May) did not include the benefits of physical activity. Particularly as it appeared next to an article extolling the virtues of the daily mile. Make that number eight!
Julia Gristwood
Ware, Hertfordshire

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