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Swine Flu’s Revenge
The H1N1 virus reminds me of the SARS epidemic that hit Hong Kong and South China in 2003, but with possibly more dangerous implications [Aug. 24]. Whenever there’s the threat of a wider pandemic, it seems our scientists cannot cope easily with the task of dealing with the disease and eradicating it. The virus’ rapid ability to mutate and evolve is indeed scary. I fear for what’s next.
Jane Carla Yu,

The H1N1 pandemic across the world is testing all nations in their preparedness to combat the spread of the virus. Prevention, as we all know, is surely better than desperately seeking a cure, and schools may soon become the breeding ground for a deadlier strain of the virus. As a precautionary measure, all nations should shut down schools till some sort of herd immunity is attained. Let’s understand that it is more practical to safeguard our children in our homes against the upsurge of swine flu than it is to subject them to contamination in public. The swine-flu pandemic is a grave threat and should be treated as an international emergency.
K. Chidanand Kumar,
Bangalore, India

Call Him Mr. Green
Thanks for your encouraging article on Energy Secretary Steven Chu [Aug. 24]. Knowing that a man of his learning and talent is leading the Department of Energy gives me hope for the future. When major scientists like Chu tell us we are facing a global crisis — one that could be deadly to all life on earth — because of the damage we are doing to the environment, it is time to listen and act.
Doug Bridges,
Columbus, N.C., U.S.

As a green evangelist, Chu has chosen global warming as his theme to inspire America to move forward on his true quest — for the achievement of clean, abundant and cheap energy produced in and for America. This kind of energy will free us from our dependence on foreign oil and encourage venture capital to create new technologies that will in turn generate jobs. Climate change addressed in this way will not require sacrifices by Americans but will open a new chapter of American prosperity.
W. Philip Schirm,
Los Gatos, Calif., U.S.

The New Newt
I was surprised to read about Newt Gingrich’s conversion to Catholicism [Aug. 24]. It is alarming to think of Gingrich transporting his political circus into the pews. He gave us a preview of his trapeze act when he presumptuously chastised Notre Dame for inviting Barack Obama to be a graduation speaker and accused the President of being anti-Catholic. By making such silly and frivolous accusations, Gingrich performs a disservice to the enormous progress made by Catholics.
Judith Sparks Jordan,
Long Beach, Calif., U.S.

As a lifelong practicing Catholic, I feel privileged and proud that Gingrich has found a new home in the teachings of the church. Though the former Speaker of the House has had his share of moral struggles, I am hopeful that his newfound faith will be the light that leads him to a stronger and better future.
Mary O’Donnell,

You Are What You Eat
Re “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” [Aug. 17]: The basic premise behind any effective exercise program is that nutrition is 50% of the target. For years we have been told how to exercise but not how to eat better foods. There is another factor: in a country where all-you-can-eat offers are everywhere, portion control is derided in favor of eating big, which is seen as a birthright. I was recently in Hong Kong and I passed by an American-style restaurant, and outside the window there was an ominous sign posted: “Caution, American-size portions served here.” In my mind, that says it all. I live in Europe where food is enjoyed but rarely abused and it pains me to see how my compatriots who come to visit stand out in any crowd not just for their sneakers and denim shorts but for their bulk. America needs not just to exercise but to eat less and better foods.
Waldo Martin,
Frankfurt, Germany

Cloud’s article misses the point that if you eat the same amount, exercise will make you lose weight. He seems to imply that it is impossible not to eat more. But the same motivation that keeps you exercising keeps you aware of your diet.
Jason Anderson,

Having read your article while at the gym, I have to say I felt disheartened. While I enjoy exercise and understand its benefits, I can imagine anyone who finds it tedious and exercises purely for weight loss or maintenance would have found in that article a strong incentive to give up. Who knows what health problems they could have prevented by continuing to exercise?
Caitriona McPartlin,

Muffins can make me gain 1 to 2 kg overnight, even if I increase my exercise trying to melt them off. But last January I caught the flu, which made me lose my appetite. In four days I lost 2 kg with no exercise at all.
Lia Zampedri,
Brescia, Italy

Korean Kinship
The world is not black and white, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton has proved it by meeting with Kim Jong Il and obtaining the release of the two journalists [Aug. 17]. It would be naive to believe that a former American President and the Secretary of State’s husband acted without the U.S. government’s knowledge or quiet endorsement. The more isolated North Korea becomes, the more threatening it grows, and the U.S. Administration seems to comprehend this situation. We hope that this visit may lead to a new round of peace talks. This unannounced visit to North Korea by a prominent American representative symbolizes a most welcome change in U.S. diplomacy thanks to the leadership of President Obama.
Hugo Gustavo Pelliza,

Remembering Cory
Corazon Aquino had no ambitions to enter the world of men who either kill or are killed in the name of power [Aug. 17]. But the death of her husband inevitably catapulted her from a comfortable, safe place at home to the most powerful seat of the nation. Her administration was not one without controversies and it is true what a commentator once said about her: “She will make mistakes, but honest ones.” And perhaps that is how Filipinos will remember her, a mere human (imperfect and flawed), but one who tried to live life in the most honest way she could, with only the best interest of others at heart. In her death, she has once and for all stepped out of the shadow of her husband, the assassinated Benigno Aquino Jr. She is the icon of Philippine democracy and the talisman of People Power. Weeks after the funeral, yellow banners and tarpaulins bearing her picture and name still line the streets of Manila. I wasn’t even born when she ascended to power, but I know I wake up to her legacy every single morning. I wake up free.
Michelle D. Ong,
Quezon City, The Philippines

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