AT this start of a new year we can take an optimistic view of the future – if we are blind and lobotomised. The race towards extinction grows ever hotter, and the technology of industrialised killing makes ever more spectacular advances.

The old-fashioned Trident will be replaced with the exciting new advanced Dreadnought system, new hypersonic aircraft will deliver hydrogen bombs so quickly that their targets won’t even know they have been launched, there will be undreamt-of developments in the realm of cyber warfare – miniature drones and other amazing gadgets. We are bang on course for global suicide. And that is not taking imminent climate chaos into consideration.

In this fatal game our mutual cooperation is essential – and has ever been thus. We can see our future by looking at our present. Consider the unseen financial ramifications behind Trident. The Russian equivalent of Trident is the Dolgorukiy class submarine. This is manufactured by a company called Sevmesh, which receives its financing from the state-owned VEB (Vnesheconombank) bank. Being "state-owned", however, doesn't always mean state-funded, as an archived press release from 2011 shows.

In April of that year VEB signed an agreement for a syndicated loan worth $2.4bn, from 19 banks– and they were all outside of Russia. These included Barclays and HSBC, both UK banks which are also both directly funding Trident via investment and financing arrangements with Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and Babcock.

Most noticeably, this list of backers includes the Royal Bank of Scotland. The bank that we, the public, hold an 84 per cent stake in after the 2008 financial crash. Thus, a bank that invests in 10 companies involved in Trident, is also a financier of Russia's VEB bank, and bankrolls the Dolgorukiy submarine. So the RSB bankrolls Britain’s nuclear “deterrent” – and the Russian one too. And to add insult to injury, we pay for both of these, via taxation. We are paying for our own extinction.

This madness results from the blind worship of profit. The necrophilous heart of unrestricted capitalism stands revealed, and we are back to humanity’s basic moral dilemma. It is written “I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both you and your children may live.” And we have chosen death.

As Dorothy Day, the American founder of the Catholic Worker, said: “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy rotten system”.
Brian Quail, Glasgow

• JOHN Birkett's erroneous assertion (Letters, January 2) that the EU (and Germany in particular) somehow bear responsibility for the war in Ukraine cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

The only person responsible for the war of aggression in Ukraine is the Russian President. He called up the troops, gave the order to invade and has ignored all international pressure to cease his attacks, not just on military targets, but on civilian and cultural targets.

My personal view is that it will take 50 years – perhaps more – for Russia's standing in the world to recover from Putin's crazy military operation. Not least because, with many of the brightest and most able young Russians having already left, and many more sent or about to be sent to the "meat grinder" of war, who will be left to rebuild the country once the current madness ends?
David Patrick, Edinburgh

What happened to arithmetic?

ALTHOUGH not relevant to Scottish schools where education is a devolved matter, I am intrigued by the Prime Minister’s aspiration that mathematics be taught to pupils to age 18 in English schools.

The objective of this is laudable and aims to make people more numerate, to provide skills to allow them to budget and to help understand money matters such as mortgage interest rates and investments.

I recall these skills being taught to me at school in a subject called "arithmetic" where the ability to add, subtract, multiply, divide and do calculations such as percentages and interest rates were the result. Other more complex (to me) branches of mathematics such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus were taught under the "mathematics" banner.

I’d argue that "arithmetic" is more pertinent to day to day living and wonder where the emphasis is now in the Scottish "mathematics" course as I understand that "arithmetic" is no longer a separate course. Perhaps time to resurrect?

I also know my mental arithmetic has gone for a burton now that mobile phones have a calculator as one of its functions.
Willie Towers, Alford

Mask-wearing a no-brainer

WELL said, Neil Mackay ("If you’re not well, mask up and don’t be a selfish idiot", The Herald, January 5).

I made my own decision months ago that if I had the cold/virus I would wear a mask at work to protect others. It’s a no-brainer.

I still think there is some confusion for some people though regarding wearing a mask, they seem to be doing it thinking they are protecting themselves.

I do not support new legislation to go back to mandatory mask-wearing, however. It is up to each individual to be sensible and non-judgmental to others who have reasons not to wear a mask.
Mima Craig, Kirknewton

Businesses miss out on a basic need

ROSEMARY Goring ("The great bank meltdown means misery for millions", The Herald, January 4) laments the the loss of local businesses in Melrose, another Scottish town now without a bank. Could the reason some of these businesses she mentions have not prospered be that they do not have access to basic banking facilities such as depositing cash or obtaining change, which of course cannot be done online?

A small business cannot afford to make three-hour round trips simply to visit a bank, so as the banks count their profits towns and villages in Scotland will count the cost.
William Gold, Hielan Jessie bar, Glasgow

A Thor point

I GUESS Tina Oakes (Letters, January 5) is more lion-hearted than the timid Yours Truly if she would welcome Thor the walrus with a jeely piece on her doorstep. Faced with tusks over two feet long it would a quick “Ta, ta, you’ll have had your tea” on my patch.
R Russell Smith, Largs


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