The failures of the old year and the goals of the new

There have been some plusses, and there have been quite a lot of minuses: 2009 summed up in a letter.

Abu Dhabi - October 25, 2009 - Construction of a temporary structure that will be testing how light falls into the atrium of the Louvre continues at Manarat al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island near Abu Dhabi October 25, 2009. (Photo by Jeff Topping/The National)  *** Local Caption ***  JT002-1025-MANARAT_MG_1222.jpg

A new year is unfolding. The key achievements of 2009, have been: pragmatic recession management in China and India, reduction of violence in Iraq, no major terrorist attacks globally, President Obama's positive signals to Russia and Iran, and some progress on global warming in Copenhagen. The key failures of 2009 have been: Afghanistan continues to bleed;  Iran, Venezuela, North Korea are still estranged; a billion people are hungry and thirsty globally; massive worldwide debts, and no remedies for cancer and Aids. The key goals for 2010 should be: rapid economic recovery in all countries, reduction of people below the poverty line from one billion to 500 million, resolving Afghanistan issues through talks, not guns, fostering frugal living to reduce debts in the US, the UK, Spain and Greece, and learning to live in peace with each other. Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai

In reference to the article Why do young couples divorce? (December 31), one of the reasons for the increase in divorce rates among Emiratis, apart from the various reasons mentioned by NGOs and government organisations, could be the increased earning opportunities women are exposed to. It is obvious that as more and more women are filling the job markets, there has been a corresponding increase in the divorce rates. Perhaps in conservative and religion-oriented societies, the balance between the male and female relationship hinges precariously on the male's traditional role as bread earner.

Once this is disturbed by women taking up jobs, not for any financial necessity but more in compliance with social trends, the divorce factor comes into play more often than otherwise. This newly acquired financial freedom and power makes the woman less dependent on the man for her upkeep. Syed Qamar Hasan, Abu Dhabi

Colin Randall in his opinion article As a punctuation vigilante, I am adopting a mellower outlook (December 19) rebukes Americans for using "practice" as a verb as well as a noun and raises eyebrows at "indorse" for endorse. It's a dangerous practice so blithely and all-encompassingly to label something as wrong. After almost 37 years on this side of the Atlantic, including nine in the US, I can say that while "practice" may be the American spelling of choice, "practise" is also quite widely used. As for "indorse", Colin's 1877 Bartlett's may use it, but my 1977 Webster's gives it only the briefest mention as a variant of "endorse". Until now, I'd never come across "indorse". The OED confirms that "gotten" is of British coinage. It's to be found in the works of Shakespeare and Pope. As several websites point out, derivatives such as "ill-gotten" and even "forgotten" are standard English. So the word isn't quite as misbegotten as Colin chooses to believe. Bill Taylor, Canada

In reference to the article Louvre contract revision to delay award (December 29), this was good thinking from the Tourist Development and Investment Company (TDIC). Money is a scarce resource. It needs to be spent wisely. The Louvre might be a luxurious project but well-designed cost control mechanisms should be in place to avoid cost overruns for the developer. Usually costs will increase if done in-house because of a relaxed and noncompetitive environment. However, the in-house management of Emaar Properties can be cited as an efficient in-house structure. Radha Krishna, Dubai

Thanks to Peter Hellyer for his article Red tape is poor prescription for good health care (December 21). There are many other examples of difficulties we face with the Abu Dhabi health authorities: the delay of renewal of licences, inspection requirements and downgrading of doctors. One surgeon, who was the head of a department for more than 10 years, was asked to go for an evaluation without any complaint against him or any malpractice. Another specialist of more than 20 years went to renew his licence and discovered that he had become a general practitioner. Name Withheld by Request

I refer to Rym Ghazal's article Reflections on a decade: cosmonauts and a cup of tea (December 30). It is surprising how people tend to forget or not give much thought to events of the past. The lessons we can learn from them are plentiful and the ideas they spark are insightful. Thanks to Rym Ghazal for a very stimulating article. Mohammed Kazim, Abu Dhabi