We can't cheer Trump's actions in Afganistan and Syria and condemn Assad's air strikes at the same time


If you are dying, suffering agonising pain, fear and hopelessness from horrendous injuries, does it much matter to you whether they result from chemical attacks, big bombs, small bombs, killer drones or terrorist suicidal acts?

Further, to the victims of such attacks, does it much matter whether their suffering was directly intended, intended as a mere side effect, or merely foreseen as “collateral damage”? Whatever the differences regarding weapons, size and intentions, ought we not to be appalled at the perpetrators’ actions?

Peter Cave

London W1

Robert Fisk hits the mark, as always (Trump, who doesn't read books, is ignorant of history – and so is his pet chump, Thursday 13 April). It seems we are truly condemned to repeat history.

Sadly, there would be no point in either chump attempting to read and understand Murder in the Cathedral, in which TS Eliot (a rather brighter, if not always very kind, American) says: “The last temptation is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

Bombs over Syria, anyone?!

Sue Breadner

Isle of Man

Some of us still at school would back the return of grammars

So the grammar school debate is back in the news.

For me, too many schools at the moment are simply not good enough. I am all for improving standards, but that will take a lot of time. In the meantime, we need institutions that allow children to reach their potential. Too many youngsters have academic talent which ends up going unspotted, or there are children who want to learn but can't do so because others won't let them. We need grammar schools which can deal with these problems.

The issue of social mobility can be resolved too by having quotas, so children from poorer backgrounds who have clear academic potential can get in as well – there are many of those out there, we just don't realise it yet.

Furthermore, by introducing grammar schools, we are not turning our backs on comprehensives. We can still improve standards in these schools and make sure that these children have a bright future. It's not one or the other.

And surely if some parts of the country have grammar schools, then it is only fair that all parts do? Many parents want more grammar schools because they realise how beneficial they could be to their child's education – we shouldn't ignore this.

Lewis Chinchen (aged 17)


What to drink over the Easter weekend

Tesco's thoughtless advert about Good Friday is just another example of widespread ignorance of the Christian faith that has for so long been the foundation of this country, but misunderstood by many.

While it was careless and offence may not have been intended, it nonetheless caused upset to the millions of believers for whom Good Friday is a most solemn day. Given the selfless, sacrificial nature of what Jesus did that day in order to secure forgiveness for repentant sinners, there is no scope for making Good Friday better than it is already.

Tesco's action underlines the need for many in positions of influence in society to be better educated about the Christian faith so those who hold other faiths or none do not upset Christians on our important festivals.

Jonathan Longstaff

East Sussex

Your report on the Tesco Good Friday beer and cider offer raises an interesting point. I wonder what the reaction would have been if Tesco had offered a deal on Buckfast Tonic Wine, made by Benedictine monks for the charitable purpose of advancing the Roman Catholic faith. Might that have produced an interesting conundrum?

Alistair McBay


It is only compassionate to allow assisted dying

Noel Conway’s request to have his case heard for an assisted death for his terminal motor neurone disease has been agreed on appeal.

Surely it is time for dying patients who request it to be enabled to have medical help to die. There has been an open letter from 27 senior doctors, including 11 present and former presidents of royal medical colleges, calling for this.

Doctors intervene in all stages of life – heart transplants and IVF, for example – so why can’t they use their skills to help patients at the end of life? Palliative care is said by experts to need an overhaul as some patients die in great pain and distress.

Of course, no one should have an assisted death if they don’t want it, as it should only be given if it is the patient’s wish and safeguards are in place. Increasing numbers of countries now allow it, including six US states.

In the current television documentary series Vet on the Hill, a little Schnauzer dog was found to have terminal liver cancer. She’s not in pain yet and her owners were told to take her home and give her an enjoyable life with plenty of treats – but when the dog starts to be in pain, the vet will painlessly put her to sleep. If only terminally ill humans were treated this kindly.

Our bodies belong to us, so it is our decision to make, not MPs and the establishment. Many people would enjoy their lives more if they didn’t have the fear that they may suffer a long, painful and undignified death.

A Wills

Ruislip, Middlesex

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