Dear Editor,

Being Chinese is not a crime

It is not a crime to be Chinese, or to have a newborn baby. Nor is it a crime to be unable to speak English.

If Chinese people are buying buildings and running businesses all over South Africa (Letters nose169), that’s far better than invading land and burning businesses.

If I am able to choose between a hard-working immigrant and a bunch of anarchists, I’ll go with the immigrants every time. I don’t care whether they are Indian, Greek, Portuguese, Chinese, or a couple of boring middle-class Anglos from Liverpool. All the great economies of the world were built on immigration, and it wasn’t always white.

If letter-writer Berry has reason to suspect that his particular bunch of Chinese are breaking laws and not paying taxes, he should advise the authorities (copied to Noseweek, perhaps).

Ron McGregor

Most South Africans love Chinese shops and Chinese babies are by far the cutest, no argument. But is your real argument not: better an illegal (but hardworking 24/7) Chinese immigrant, whose function is to promote the sale of cheap imported/smuggled Chinese consumer goods, than a rampant, uneducated and unemployed South African? Wonder whether the South African government had that angle in mind when they gave the Chinese government the nod on the deal? Ed.

Fire for the smoke

Your report on lawyers’ arguments against plans to force cigarette manufacturers to use repulsive generic packaging (nose169) coincided with an announcement by the Japan Tobacco Company that it is retrenching 1,600 people and closing four factories. It explains that this is because its customers are dying off. Duh!

Chris Marshall
Cape Town

Warming theory is not science

The Noseark article “Denialism: the argument overheats” (nose169) falls far short of your usual high standards. I don’t know what scientific training its author, Adam Welz, has but to simply try to write off the “denialists” as nihilistic hedonists is cheap, unscientific and unedifying. And to suggest David Gleason’s criticism lacks basic logic simply confirms the author’s lack of it.

That man-made CO² emissions cause global warming is a theory that not all scientists concur with and to consider counter theories as simply a joke reveals Welz’s lack of an open mind.  

It is certainly not true that low-carbon electricity generation technologies are as cost competitive as he suggests. A lot of funny accounting and hidden subsidies are used to do this. Wind turbines in Germany, the country with the highest percentage of its power generated in this way, put out an average of only 17% of their installed power rating and need to be backed up by normal coal burning power plants to balance the fluctuating wind. This now burdens Germany one of the costliest electrical power prices. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9559656/Germanys-wind-power-chaos-should-be-a-warning-to-the-UK.html


Richard Becker

The Los Angeles Times recently took an editorial decision not to publish climate change-denying rubbish any more, but this is Noseweek, so I’ll take the time to reply. I’ll ignore your baseless accusations about my presumed lack of basic logic, an “open mind” and scientific qualifications, and get on to your references which you say support your claims. None come from peer-reviewed scientific journals. One is by an anti-environmentalist, anti-government newspaper opinion columnist with no apparent qualification in anything; another is a seven- year-old presentation by a mining company executive to a “think tank” set up precisely to deny the science of climate change, and the third is an opinion column written by (gasp) an actual scientist who actually agrees with the basic premises of the theory of human-caused climate change.

Market research and consulting firm Frost and Sullivan recently conducted a study that found that, in South Africa, solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants would provide electricity at a far cheaper rate than coal – possibly at less than half coal’s price – by 2020. These are not massively subsidised, government-owned plants. Other studies show wind also becoming cheaper than coal, and Eskom is addressing the intermittency problem inherent in solar PV and wind by piloting Concentrated Solar Power plants that can provide baseload electricity. (If you hadn’t noticed, renewable energy is booming in South Africa.)

Over 97% of working scientists have been found to agree that human-caused climate change is real. If you’d like to side with the less-than-3% of scientists who think it isn’t real, the bullshitter columnist/pundit/blowhards and the fossil fuel company-funded whackheads, be my guest. Sometimes those in the minority are just plain wrong.
–  Adam Welz

Lies take their toll: de-tag!

Despite what the Transport Minister may have said, it is clear the Gauteng e-tolls are not ready to go live. Sanral is lying to us when they say they’ve been ready for two years. Hell, I doubt they are ready now!

It is clear, from looking at an invoice they’ve just sent out, that their systems are not working and if you buy an e-tag, you will find yourself in a world of trouble.

People are fed up with our government’s lies and non-delivery of basic services and infrastructure, while our people go hungry without health care, homes, education. How many hundreds of millions of rands has Sanral wasted on e-tolls already?

Don’t buy; de-tag!

South Africans won the struggle against apartheid; now let’s win the struggle against corruption and elect a ruling party that cares for the people.

Jason Fivas

Fishy air to a coffee complaint

If I call a customer care line with a problem with a branded product, I would expect it to be answered by someone from that brand. Yet dealing with Douwe Egberts, part of the Sara Lee giant, judging from the letter in nose168, you get a response from someone who works in a laboratory, fetchingly called Inco Labs.

I’m told that Douwe Egberts cares about coffee, the people who grow it and the planet it comes from. But lab technicians dressed in white coats messing with my coffee? It doesn’t smell right. Give me a barista anytime.

Jeremy Sampson
Illovo, Johannesburg

GrandWest gambles with people’s lives

I am a small-time slots player at Cape Town’s GrandWest Casino, which is how I stop my brain from overwork. (It actually saved my life the year my son died.) Because I don’t go there to make money but to chill and give my brain a break, I invariably either come back with my original stake or a few rand richer.

Occasionally I lose, but I know my limit and I am very disciplined. Mostly I just check out the hundreds and hundreds of people who are spending hours ensuring that the shareholders of GrandWest [with friends in high and dubious places – see noses54,58] reap rich dividends. Twice I’ve had to get a gambling friend out of financial trouble; she was juggling payments from Peter to pay Paul. And I have encountered stupid people (two estate agents) who spent from R30,000 to R46,000 when the maximum win was R22,000.

Children’s grants, government pensions are going into the slots and the chance of actually winning a big one is something like four-million-to-one.

I have seen builders, electricians and TV installers, obviously one-man businesses, park their cars for hours. I have heard gamblers tell their bosses they are on their way to a customer, but not moving. I have listened to two big-time builders proudly discuss the millions they have lost.

In the middle of the month, on a “draw” night – and there is a lucky or special draw practically every night of the week – the place is absolutely packed and I have to wonder where on earth do these people find the money.

I have been told that GrandWest, on a bad day, takes in excess of R5 million but it is still retrenching staff.

There are rumours that suicides occur regularly in the car park. Perhaps that’s why more security is wandering around. If so, I wonder how they have managed to keep it a secret for so long.

On the FNB ATMs there is an offer of a quick loan. Wonga.com must be coining it, while families go hungry and the rent, unpaid.

In the early days of GrandWest the jackpot bells were ringing continuously. Now, hardly ever. They have also got crafty by installing more 2- and 5-cent machines, thus tempting the poor to spend. Problem is, one needs to play maximum to make it worthwhile, and people are stupid enough to play the minimum, possibly 50 cents and watch it all disappear.

While GrandWest has had a monopoly in Cape Town for nearly 13 years, do we really want another casino? Anyway how did they manage to hold on to their monopoly for so long?

This is such a sickness and sometimes I am quite tired of feeding the poor – people who could well be hungry because of GrandWest.

Jo Maxwell

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