No one wishes to sound like a “prophet of doom,” but there are some very ominous signs coming out of the USA of late, which combined with certain political pressures, could well mean a pre-emptive strike/invasion by the USA, be it alone, against Iraq.

There is some, be it subtle, “sabre rattling”, the most recent being vice-president Dick Cheney's speech explaining carefully and coherently the case for removing Saddam Hussein and crew sooner rather than later. News broadcasts stating President Bush does not need the approval of Congress to go to war, and with the Republicans set to receive a drubbing in the forthcoming congressional elections in November, there is nothing like a major armed conflict to, on the one hand distract the voters from home affairs, and rally under the war banners.

That other nations are fast disassociating themselves from the Bush rhetoric, Germany and Saudi Arabia to name but two, will not deter him. In fact, the danger is that the more he is isolated, the more he will feel he has to prove something, as in his “cowboy” mentality he will not be able to back down when it's “high noon”.

With the more intelligent sounding Republicans, such as Cheney, laying the groundwork for the case against Saddam, it may not be a question of “if” but rather “when” - something for us to wake up one morning to discover on the breakfast news that one more can of petrol has been thrown on the highly inflammable Middle East crisis.

Another major non-event taking place at present, the World Summit in Johannesburg, is quite nauseating, ie to see the African leaders looking for aid from wealthier Western powers, whilst they (African leaders) themselves rob their countries/people blind, destroy their own economies (Mugabe is the latest culprit), continue with military conflict amongst the starving and Aids-ridden population of this rich-in-resources continent.

Unless there is the most absolute and strict control over aid funds, I wonder with what right Western governments spend the tax money of their hard working citizens, to only find its way into African leaders Swiss bank accounts or the pockets of arms dealers. Africa and its people certainly need help, but not in the mis-directed way to date, and until African leaders, elected or self-imposed, learn how to manage and run their affairs correctly, there has to be total control/management if the really needy in Africa are to benefit.

Graham Phillips

Swimming in the rubbish

Dear Sir,
I have just returned from an enjoyable holiday in Majorca, but felt I had to comment on the level of rubbish washed up and floating in the sea at Cala Millor.

It is not very nice paddling along a shoreline of plastic bottle tops and sanitary towels, or swimming with plastic carrier bags.
Where does all this stuff come from, yes storms bring it in, but who throws it into the sea in the first place. Whoever it is, is no friend of this beautiful Island or its tourist industry!.

John Gamage. By e-mail

We live on an island and a tourist tax would finish us

Dear Sir,
We are coming for our 12th year to stay at Puerto Pollensa and would like to know if the tourist tax has been implemented and how will it be collected? We feel that it is a shame that Majorca has put this tax on tourists and I'm sure it will reflect in the drop of tourists coming to the island. We live on an island and depend on tourist trade but if we had such a tax our trade would be finished! I would be grateful for your advice on this before we arrive.


Janet Donaldson. Isle of Skye

The tax came into force on May 1 and technically all hotels, villas etc. are charging it, but not all are physically collecting it from guests. Ed.