New efforts to control a whole range of "conflict minerals', often mined under difficult conditions, bring reader comment. Other letter topics: retailing, xenophobia, cricket and boxing.
Supervising gold trade much easier said than done
The OECD's effort to supervise the ethics of the world's entire trade in minerals (New rules to tighten gold trade, November 9) is one of two things.
Either it is high-minded progress towards just world governance, or else it's useless sanctimonious meddling with the markets. I'm having trouble deciding which.
The key will be enforcement, and when it comes to gold, which has so many potential buyers, I strongly doubt that they can all be made to play by idealistic rules.
Something like cobalt, which has few suppliers and relatively few buyers (I imagine) can be more easily controlled. But will anybody really care about "conflict cobalt"?
Arthur Tremblay, Dubai
The photo of open-pit mine workers in the Congo is hard to believe in the modern age.
But the solution to abuses there is not a boycott on some minerals; that would just drive up costs at every stage, and is subject to cheating and abuses.
Instead, what's needed is a government that can impose order - by military means, first - and then allow the multi-national mining companies in. They can then be held to some standards in labour relations and worker safety. Everything comes back to governance.
Leonard Cadogan, UK
No hiding place for Afridi any more
Misbah leads Pakistan through the calm after the storm (November 9) was an excellent piece, but I disagree with you on the public still giving a blanket "get out of jail free card" to Afridi.
Sure, public support was behind him when there was talk of stripping him of the captaincy prior to the World Cup. And it was still there when he vowed to take the Pakistan Cricket Board to court during the messy Butt-Waqar-Afridi tug of war. His actions since then have belied a much more opportunistic personality than he has always claimed to have. They now see him for what he is.
Misbah on the other hand has shown himself to be above such petty disputes. Another reason why the team needs him to be in charge for the next couple of years.
Ali Mehdi, Abu Dhabi
Bittersweet Frazier memories recalled
Hard to believe that it was 40 years ago when Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali slugged it out at Madison Square Garden, as shown in your photo of Joe Frazier 1944-2011 (November 9).
They were two of the great boxers and those of us old enough to remember the fight were pleased to be reminded of it, although the news of Frazier's death was sad.
Karim Jaros, Dubai
Leaders paying for long-term debts
Now Silvio Berlusconi is going to leave, too (Pressure mounts on
Italian premier to go as debt crisis deepens, November 9).
It's amazing how the leaders of European countries are dropping like flies under the pressure of the debt crisis.
I'm sure many of them are just bearing the burden of mistakes made by their predecessors, who are now comfortably retired to fat pensions, corporate directorships, and comfort in their old age.
It doesn't seem fair for the former leaders, who enjoyed being in office in good times and didn't ask enough questions, to avoid responsibility now.
Mahdur Jamal, Dubai
Keeping tabs on tobacco sellers
What kind of a conscience - or rather lack of conscience - belongs to the shopkeepers involved in the practice described in your report Tobacco sold 'like sweets' to children (November 8)?
Yes, life is tough for small merchants. But making a few dirhams at the expense of exposing children to tobacco is just unforgivable.
These people should lose their trading licences.
Maria Castro, Dubai
Nationalism rises in times of crisis
Your account Migrants bear brunt of Greek cash crisis (November 9) was sadly familiar. Whenever the economy goes sour in any country, xenophobia rears its ugly head.
Some call it racism and there may be some truth in that, but I believe it's just natural for humans, in hard times, to divide the world between "us" and "them". And foreigners, especially visible minorities, are the first to pay the price.
These risks are part of the gamble any immigrant takes; that so many continue to leave home around the world is evidence of how hard life is in their homelands.
Katherine Pratt, Abu Dhabi