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A National Treasure
Thank you for your special report in the wake of Corazon Aquino’s passing [Aug. 17]. She is one of the few people in world history who became a President by fate and not by ambition — a woman who changed Asia and a pioneer who led her people and triggered a revolution with little more than her faith in God. She was a talisman of peace and democracy and will be missed. Goodbye, Madam President. Alex Pakingan,
Cavite, The Philippines

In a country like the Philippines, where poverty and corruption are rampant, democracy is the best of the forms of government we could be faced with. Aquino truly was a saint of democracy, as you say, and her life gave spirit and meaning to that higher cause. Amay P. Ong Vano,
Cebu, The Philippines

Our Cory inspired not only filipinos but many freedom-loving people from around the world and preceded the many popular uprisings that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. Her simplistic but honest approach to good governance should be emulated by all, but that legacy has been tarnished since she left power. I only hope that her sacrifices, and those of her assassinated husband, will not go to waste. Jose U. Manansala,
Cavite, The Philippines

Of Crunches and Lunches
Re “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” [Aug. 17]: I must take issue with some of the points portrayed as fact. Numerous studies have shown that exercise is indeed central to an effective weight-loss program. The key concept is a simple equation of energy balance: calories expended throughout the day must exceed calories consumed as food. And contrary to the data selected for your article, studies have shown that most exercisers are not uncontrollably hungry after a workout. We strongly encourage reporting that portrays both sides of an issue so readers can decide for themselves — instead of being led down a potentially harmful path. James Pivarnik, President, American College of Sports Medicine,

This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the subject. I have maintained for years that exercise contributes very little to weight loss, but I could never have explained it so eloquently. My reasons for exercising are all the other ones listed. William Jenner,
Albuquerque, N.M., U.S.

Your entire article is based on the assumption that the vast majority of regular exercisers eat unhealthy foods. Why, then, don’t you focus on the food? Charles Toppan,
Brookline, Mass., U.S.

No credible fitness expert would argue that one can lose weight through exercise alone, but the tone of your article was unnecessarily discouraging. If people use exercise as an excuse to eat poorly, that’s a lack of discipline or guidance, not a “myth” about exercise. Interestingly, I find that now after workouts, I crave healthy foods, many of which are surprisingly tasty. Nancy Melucci,
Sacramento, Calif., U.S.

The story is a highly irresponsible piece of reporting. It could cause millions of diabetic and obese people to lose what little motivation they have to exercise and even drive them to a feeling of hopelessness and depression. It is a reality that exercise is good for the heart, lowers sugar levels and cholesterol, increases stamina and agility and releases a rush of endorphins. In all likelihood the overweight will eat that muffin or order golden French fries anyway — better they exercise and eat than just eat and not exercise. Meeru Pai,
Bangalore, India

A Light in Dark Times
Pointing to the value of sufism as a counter to violence in Islamic societies was perceptive [Aug. 17]. But perhaps it could have been extended in concept. All societies, from the savage prehistoric ones to the supposedly modern communities of today, have engendered tough, murderous elements, whose violence has often been tinged with a sense of righteousness. Our idealists, seeking against the odds to promote peace and reform, have come and gone. The suggestion that Islam’s reformists need to be reawakened ought to point to the uneasy slumber that now allows bloodletting everywhere else around the world as well. Gordon McShean,
Palmerston North, New Zealand

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