x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US backs away from space

The end of the space shuttle program is a sad end to American manned space flight programmes, a reader writes. Other letter subjects: speeding, Gaza, mobile banking, unwelcome email, and the vital issue of the Oxford comma

FILE - This Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007 picture made available by NASA shows the space shuttle Endeavour docked to the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. The space shuttle was sold to America as cheap, safe and reliable. It was none of those. It cost tens of billions of dollars, ended the lives of 14 astronauts and managed to make fewer half the flights promised. Yet despite all that, there were monumental achievements that in the beginning were unforeseen: major scientific advances, stunning photos of the cosmos, a high-flying vehicle of diplomacy that helped bring Cold War enemies closer, and something to brag about. (AP Photo/NASA/file) *** Local Caption *** Space Shuttle Legacy.JPEG-07cd9.jpg
FILE - This Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007 picture made available by NASA shows the space shuttle Endeavour docked to the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. The space shuttle was sold to America as cheap, safe and reliable. It was none of those. It cost tens of billions of dollars, ended the lives of 14 astronauts and managed to make fewer half the flights promised. Yet despite all that, there were monumental achievements that in the beginning were unforeseen: major scientific advances, stunning photos of the cosmos, a high-flying vehicle of diplomacy that helped bring Cold War enemies closer, and something to brag about. (AP Photo/NASA/file) *** Local Caption *** Space Shuttle Legacy.JPEG-07cd9.jpg

In the UAE, road deaths will only decrease if a more stringent black-points system is introduced for speeding on roads (Road deaths in Al Ain drop, July 5). If caught at 179kph where the speed limit is 120kph, drivers are only fined. Motorists are allowed 24 black points. Australia allows only 12 points in a year.

Speeding has been the main factor behind the UAE's high road death toll in the last 10 years.

In the UAE, a driver can keep his or her driving licence even after being caught four times driving at 180kph in 120kph zones.

The term "speeding" can be used to describe the behaviour of drivers travelling at speeds considered too fast for the prevailing conditions (inappropriate speed) or driving at speeds higher than those specified by the posted speed limits (excess speed).

An urgent review is required.

Sumi Tiwari, Dubai

Gaza blockage targets regime

The current assistance given to Israel in prohibiting the peaceful protest of the flotilla is another manifestation of the power of the Likud government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman (Economy starts to rebound in long-stagnant Gaza, July 1).

Probably every politically aware person knows full well that the blockade of Gaza has nothing whatsoever to do with the smuggling of a handful of small arms to be used against the fourth most powerful, with secret nuclear weapons, state in the world. It has everything to do with the Israeli agenda to effect regime change in Gaza by keeping 1.6 million souls on the point of economic collapse.

Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu and Mr Lieberman authorise more and more illegal settlements on Palestinian land - and the world stays silent in the face of this naked aggression.

John Kidd, UK

Ditching space flight is wrong

It makes me sad that Friday's planned launch of the US space shuttle will be the last one.

America has its financial problems, but the idea that the US is for all practical purposes abandoning manned space flight just seems wrong.

People say that the private sector will pick up the slack, and there are some private sub-orbital flights planned. But sending people to the moon and to Mars is not a project for any one company, and perhaps not for any one country.

The international co-operation we see on the space station could be a model for an international effort to send people to Mars, even to establish a human colony there.

This may sound visionary but what's wrong with that?

Robert Lyman, Dubai

Use Oxford comma, please

Thank you for the update on the Oxford comma (Angry exclamation over comma question, July 5).

I laughed out loud about the comment that the Oxford or serial comma "is what separates us from the animals".

That is a slight over-statement but I do find the extra comma in a list does simplify comprehension.

I have noticed that The National does not use the Oxford comma and I humbly suggest that you change this policy.

Linda Livingston, Abu Dhabi

E-mails violating privacy

I too have received a deluge of unsolicited e-mails from an agency that labels itself as a deal hunter (Deluge of daily deals irks e-mail users, July 5).

Even more repulsive than the spamming is the fact that some company expects people to call them or tweet them to be removed from the database.

Regardless of how huge the database is, unsubscribing should be an easy and automated process.

Tweeting or calling to unsubscribe is an unacceptable response.

This is complete disregard for privacy.

Bazile, Dubai

 

Retailers accept mobile payment

I refer to your article Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank launches mobile payment system (June 1). The list of outlets accepting Mobi (a payment system that doesn't require a customer to have cash, a card or even a mobile phone) is steadily on the rise.

The clincher for the outlets is that they can launch a mobile rewards programme for frequent customers at no cost at all.

The response has been fabulous from the target audience and there is a tremendous spillover too.

This is the future of micro-payments.

Name withheld by request