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What’s in Store for ’07
In your discussion on the upcoming French presidential elections in the What’s Next package [March 19], you neglected to mention the role of François Bayrou, the popular leader of the Union for French Democracy and former Education Minister. He has been rising in the polls more rapidly than Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal and is positioned to determine who will be France’s next President. He will be able to sway votes to either Sarkozy or Royal—or even become Jacques Chirac’s successor.
Michael Bayer,
New York City

Re “Rise of the Religious Left”: why was there no mention of John Edwards? Edwards has made eliminating poverty and helping working families his top priorities. He was director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina and has established One Corps to organize grass-roots efforts to help the needy. While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama frequently mention their faith, Edwards is quietly living his.
Kathy Callan,
Palo Cedro, California, U.S.

The religious left may now see an opportunity to flex its muscles in the 2008 presidential campaign, but the religious left is hardly a new phenomenon. Most Americans are probably familiar with the following names: Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Robert Drinan, William Sloane Coffin, Paul Moore, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Evan Edwards,
New York City

Re the report on compact fluorescent lightbulbs (): I own two hybrid vehicles and am as green as anyone, but I don’t encourage rushing out to replace incandescent lightbulbs. A CFL may consume 75% less energy to generate the equivalent light, but my furnace has to make up for the heat no longer provided by the incandescent bulb. Since there are also disposal issues (CFLs contain mercury), I suggest that CFLs be used only in the refrigerator.
Richard Wilhelm,
Port Angeles, Washington, U.S.

Richard Lacayo remarked that architecture has become “practically as glamorously daredevil as bullfighting.” But bullfighting is certainly not glamorous for the bull, which is destined to die in a hideous, cruel manner, nor is it daredevil for the coward who wields the swords. Any way you look at it, bullfighting is not a good comparison for great architecture.
Joyce Janicki,
St. Clair Shores, Michigan, U.S.

Spotlight on the Vice President
When I saw the story on vice president Dick Cheney [March 19], I thought I would be reading an informative and factual piece. Instead, I pored over an opinion piece with a number of unattributed quotes, more condemnation of the President and the Iraq war and a diatribe against I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby.
Tom Tock,
Dwight, Illinois, U.S.

Upon reading Michael Duffy’s “Cheney in Twilight,” I realize how out of touch the media seem to be. I am no fan of Cheney’s, but his vice presidency has been a political footnote. Only the media are hyping the Libby story. Compared with the scandals of the Clinton Administration, this one seems mild. It’s barely a blip on most Americans’ radar screen.
Ed Lybrook,
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.

Duffy is right: the Libby trial has shown that Cheney’s overbearing style has become one of the Administration’s biggest problems. He should be dismissed like Rumsfeld. Shed no tears for Cheney!
Hussain Syed,
Brossard, Canada

I like Bush, but there’s no doubt that having Cheney in the Administration was an even bigger mistake than hiring former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Long gone are the days when a Vice President only attended funerals and did not cause them—so many of them. Libby (now Fibby) has been ruined playing a dangerous game for the V.P. and losing. Halliburton is moving to Dubai. Let’s hope the company takes Cheney along.
Mel Maurer,
Westlake, Ohio, U.S.

your story claimed that president George W. Bush chose Cheney as his running mate. Have you already forgotten that Cheney chose himself? Cheney has been running the show ever since, not sock puppet Bush.
John Lovejoy,
Lebanon, Oregon, U.S.

Hope Lives in Ghana
I enjoyed reading Simon Robinson’s wonderfully descriptive article about the hopes and disappointments of the Deh family of Ghana [March 12]. I am a Tanzanian of East Indian ancestry, and I believe that Africa has a lot of potential, not only in its vast natural resources, space and beauty but also in its young people, such as 18-year-old Delight Kofi Aka Deh. If this potential could be harnessed by democracy (the best antidote to tribalism) and the economic freedom of private enterprise, Africa could be the next economic success story, even a miracle.
Ashok Sharma,
Flintridge, California, U.S.

I was glad to see a nuanced portrayal of Africa rather than the clichéd depiction we often see. Your article was honest because at the center it was a human story. Having lived in Ghana’s Volta region, I recognized in the Deh family’s story the tales of many people I know. I hope the article reminds readers of our common humanity. The people of Ghana are friendly and full of life. We cannot write off an entire continent. It is possible to have hope.
Rachel Tyler,
Sudbury, Massachusetts, U.S.

Your report captured the essence of a continent’s conundrum. Delight Deh is the embodiment of the African whose hopes and dreams are incessantly shuttered by the archetypal African Big Man, such as Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. My prayers go out for Delight. He is full of promise.
Henry Mukasa,
Sharon, Massachusetts, U.S.

Enduring Faith
Your report on James Cameron’s documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus and books that challenge the Resurrection referred to “a more speculative style of scholarship” [March 12]. This is not about Christianity bashing, by either those in Hollywood or anyone else. It is merely the presentation of evidence that invites enlightened discussion. Although the dogma of the physical Resurrection might be called into question, faith in Jesus and belief in his teachings should not be threatened by new findings.
Richard Miller,
New York City

Preaching Tolerance
re your report about the age-old divide between Sunnis and Shi’ites [March 12]: It never ceases to amaze me that people kill one another over trivial religious differences. Religious wars will be with us for a very long time. Isn’t the Shi’ite-Sunni battle the same religious trivia as the Northern Ireland Protestant-Catholic mess that has been going on for so many years? How could these issues be so important that one can kill one’s neighbor over them?
Jeff White,
Kilchberg, Switzerland

I wish the title of your story had read “Why They Kill Each Other” instead of “Why They Hate Each Other.” I am a Shi’ite Muslim, and I do not hate Sunnis. Millions of Sunnis and Shi’ites are like me. We are the silent majority. Ignorance and intolerance have helped ignite old dormant prejudices and led to sectarian and hatred killings. Provided that regional political and military troubles are resolved, it will take generations and new systems of education to make religious and political leaders preach progress, tolerance, care and love among all human beings, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or of any other faith.
Nagi S. El Saghir,

War in High Res
In his review of the movie 300 [March 19] Lev Grossman wrote, “The Spartans were sick, scary fighters, brutally trained from childhood, the ancient equivalent of special forces.” He should have stuck to the subject of his review without making backhanded insults about members of the armed forces. Grossman also called director Zack Snyder a “dork” for having read a comic book about the Battle of Thermopylae. Professional warriors in our armed forces read Thucydides, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu and Herodotus. I challenge Grossman to call those members of our military dorks.
Walt Stachowicz,
Inverness, Florida, U.S.

Your article on the film 300 quoted the actress Lena Headey as saying “Zack would go, ‘Come and see this stage!’ And we’d go, and there’d be, like, a rock. And we’d be like, ‘Has he taken acid this morning? Or what’s he looking at?'” And later, from the same actress: “You don’t have any emotional props. You can’t do this thing of ‘Oooh, I’m going to sit on this chair because I feel sad now.'” Did you have to inflict this gobbledygook on us? Couldn’t you have paraphrased it and spared us the pain of reading it?
Lyle McClure,

I take exception to the comment that 300 “Stars Nobody in Particular.” Gerard Butler, who plays King Leonidas, also appeared in the 2004 movie The Phantom of the Opera, a role that showcased his vocal talent. To prepare for 300, Butler went through weeks of strength training so he could portray the Spartan warrior, which your article dismissed as nothing more than “Hollywood pretty boys” bulking up. I saw 300 the day after its March 9 opening and thoroughly enjoyed both the visual effects and the acting.
Judi Ross,
Niles, Michigan, U.S.

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