msnbc.com
updated 3/9/2005 1:51:55 PM ET 2005-03-09T18:51:55

Reader:
Below is a selection of e-mail comments we’ve received in recent days to stories by our writers. Several have been edited for length.

January 27, 2005

The secret list of ID theft victims

You are kidding about this story, right? This is a rough draft of a sci/fi thriller ?
You can't be serious that the very Government that I trust to look out for mine, and hundreds of millions of fellow Americans best interests, can't do anything about this catastrophic problem.
I am not allowed to access the information that directly effects me, while a business can purchase this information from the credit bureaus. That it is against some idiotic federal law for me to repair and injustice done me by a a unjust federal law that might have put me in that predicament. I think the Supreme Court would have a field day with this and the idiots that created this conundrum.
Please don't think of me as a babbling fool. I am so irate after reading your article that I am using every ounce of my being to keep from getting on an airplane and heading back to the states right now. Unfortunately I can't just up and leave my current situation.
I can not believe that my Government knows about this and lets it go on.
Oh I definitely want some Social Security Reform, but not G.W. Bush's idea of reform.
Tracy T. Griffin


Violent stick-figure drawings put kids in cuffs

I know the knee-jerk reaction to the  drawings is to punish these kids for what they did, but whatever happened to common sense?  These kids are 9 and 10 years old.  It certainly did not look to me like a plot to mastermind a murder.  are we so paranoid in our society that we are unable to treat kids like kids.  what they did was childish because they are children.  when a child draws a picture of a plane dropping bombs are we going to haul him in and charge him with terrorist activities? Think people, think!  i'm sorry for the kids, but at least now i have a number one on the stupidest things i have ever heard list.
Regards,
Stephen Prosser

• January 26, 2005

Fired for smoking

What? Are you kidding me?  People are being fired for smoking?  Last I knew - smoking was LEGAL. How can someone else dictate what I do in my own home? The same home that I've paid for out of my own pocket. What happened to freedom? What are our boys/girls fighting for over there anyway?  This is both frightening & sad. Are we on the fast track to becoming a Communist Society? I cannot believe that people are letting this happen.  What next?
Please; enlighten me to your perspective on this matter; it would be much appreciated.
Sincerely,
Amy Hastings

The story this morning on Weyco Inc, was very disturbing.  I'm a nurse.  I understand the health issues.  This is a dangerous slippery slope.  This ill-conceived logic would mandate similar actions re: obesity, and the many behaviors associated with contribution to obesity.  Not to mention other categories of illness that could be argued to be self-inflicted.  I am not suggesting that similar moves be made towards obesity.  Both health challenges are complex biopsychosocial issues, require a re-education and re-training of afflicted individuals, and a lifelong commitment to self care.  I applaud and support the efforts of the Michigan ACLU. 
Thanks for listening. 
Sue Cody

Regarding "Postcards from Buster"

Regarding the article "Education chief rips PBS for gay character," I think the subject is summed up by the Education Secretary's statement that, “Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode.” That's a valid point.
We should make certain that children are never allowed to see people who are different from their caregivers. Because all Americans are straight, we should make sure caregivers are always able to shield their fragile charges from portrayals of homosexuals. Similarly, since all Americans are white conservative Christians, we should see to it that public funds are never spent on portraying other unacceptable practices, such as the "black lifestyle," or the "non-evangelical lifestyle."
I applaud the Education Secretary's efforts to cleanse public television of any indication that Americans are diverse.  It's heartening to note, too, that PBS has acquiesced to the same pressures, and will now, apparently, eschew the "open-minded lifestyle."  It's a great day for Americans.  At least the ones who matter.
Dave Wesner

Would parents be concerned if Buster were a black bunny or perhaps Buster only had one back leg? Then why oh why would anyone care if Buster were gay or lesbian? Celebrate diversity!  I am glad we are not all the same!
Froy Saldana, BSIT
(US Navy Veteran)

• January 25, 2005

Caplan: How old is too old to have a baby?

Keep older women from having babies? That's a slippery slope!  What about older men? Should we add people who have bad genes, are felons, alcoholics,smokers or drug users?  Mildly retarded people?  Just take smokers--aren't they more likely to have defective DNA, to have low birth weights and to damage their children's health with second-hand smoke?
How about the guy who wrote that editorial?  Is he really qualified to have kids?

Janet K. Shelton

Carlile: Jan. 24 called worst day of the year

I believe it is misleading when she writes, in a paragraph about winter depression, "nine out of 10 people report sleeping and eating more during the darker months." It would be quite more worrisome if people did NOT change their lifestyles during the winter. Cold weather sparks the consumption of more calories, and the short hours of sunlight change the body's rhythm to desire more sleep. These simple, biological processes are not bypassed in the human creature.

Ian Ragsdale

Radio station apologizes for tsunami slur

I would like to first off say that I'm a member of the Armed Forces and that this opinion only represents myself and not of the branch of service that I'm enlisted in. I would like to respond to the article concerning Hot97 Radio Station in NY in which a "Joke Song" was aired. Reading the article, I'm astounded by the lack of insensitivity by all parties concerned. It was clearly in bad taste and although an apology just washes the surface of the wound, I believe more is in order. This was not just a "Ooops, I made an error on the air-waves". How can you not realize that such a stupid act wouldn't offend anyone and yet, lets go further and make it public. One of the last places I want to hear racial slurs or jokes is on the public air waves. Hey, maybe the KKK will have their own station next. The damage is done so what's next? Like I said previously, an apology doesn't seem to fit the situation. I believe there needs to be some people FIRED! to really show how apologetic the radio station is. Thank you.
D.C.G. FS2

NBC: What do we owe our vets?

Regarding the week-long series on U.S. troops in Iraq and the listing of military aid and assistance organizations, we at the USO are surprised that the USO was omitted from the list.  The USO has been supporting service members and their families since 1941.  We have a network of 121 centers around the world – with a new one opening in Afghanistan in February.  We have distributed more than half-a-million Care Packages to troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (the USO Care Package program is endorsed by the Defense Department).  We also have distributed more than 180,000 free prepaid international calling cards to military personnel (an additional several hundred thousand have been included in Care Packages).  For more information on what the USO does to support troops and their families, check out our Web site at www.uso.org.
Donna St. John
Director, Corporate Communications
USO World Headquarters

• January 24, 2005

Flood-hit Guyana appeals for international help

Dear Editor: What about the flood disaster in Guyana (It's a small costal South American Nation [about the size of NY State] - located between Brazil and Venezuela)?  People dying over there - bodies are floating in the water.  Where is the coverage?  Where is the aid?
Can one of you mega news organizations please send someone to report about this?  Perhaps you can spare a Janitor with a camera-phone?
-Ian

The SpongeBob controversy

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am concerned about the reporting on the so-called "SpongeBob Squarepants controversy." The action that prompted the stories is the protest of a video in which this cartoon character is included and not the character itself. The video teaches tolerance - a noble goal- to elementary school students. However, the "tolerance pledge" includes a reference to "sexual identity," a topic that shouldn't be broached in a first-grade classroom. It is inappropriate subject material for 6- and 7-year olds and takes away the parents choice in how and when to discuss these types of sensitive issues.
I challenge you to be more responsible in the stories you publish. The reporting of the objection to this video is bad journalism. The objection was not an attack on SpongeBob or the Rugrats or Pooh or any other character in the video. However, this is not what the reader is presented. Past controversies about a single character in this video are not new news but it is treated as such. It is a device to discredit the objections to this video by focusing on the complaints surrounding the character of SpongeBob made by a different person at a different time.
Sincerely,
Kristen Young

With strength training, don't be a lightweight

In the above article .. Ms. Stenson makes some claims that are right on, and some that could be not be further from the truth. 
The premise of her article is right on target, however, her classification of Powerlifters “who make the mistake of quickly jerking very heavy weights, a practice that can cause injuries”, could not be further from reality. Powerlifting, is a sport that concentrates on the true measure of strength of the lifter’s upper, lower, and all around strength with three lifts, and is controlled by very vigorous rules regarding the actual performance of these lifts in a controlled manner. The bench press, squat and dead lift are, in fact, the true measure of power when it comes to the human body. The powerlifting athletes are well tuned and are as technique considerate as any other athlete in sport.
Although I appreciate Ms. Stenson’s efforts to bring to light some of the benefits of weight training; we in our sport, do not appreciate being classified as reckless, injury-ridden gym fodder.  Just like we would like to believe that your authors are somewhat educated in politics or economics prior to spewing their thoughts into the ears of the masses; I would like to request the same, or I would hope, better sense of the facts when it comes to something does not injure, offend, or disgrace any member of society.  Show up at a meet and you will all understand what I am trying to convey.
Mike De Laval
World Record Holder -- Bench Press

Secret unit expands Rumsfeld's domain

I read a very disquieting article today about the Department of Defense's new intelligence operation, the Strategic Support Branch, basically under the control of Rumsfeld, with no oversight by Congress. This brings back memories of the CIA running uncontrolled back during Vietnam and later. Not until Congress reigned them in did we relieve the embarrassment and loss of honor that those type of operations cost the USA> Now, under the control of a man who has no understanding of the geopolitical forces that dwell in the world, the USA is embarking on another path to self destruction. The very thing that they believe they are trying to defeat, they cultivate into growth. There is a taste of Fascism growing in this country. It is not overt, but as time goes by will reveal itself as a once mighty nation trying to remain as it is, and failing to do so. The view that this world is for the USA to control and maintain is fading fast, yet the people at the wheel are asleep or looking behind them. They are about to run aground on the shoals of disenchantment.
When a dog bites off more than he can chew, he coughs it out. The USA has done that now, and if we don't spit it out, we all are going to gag on it.
LV


• January 21, 2005

--
MSNBC images too graphic?

I am writing regarding the "This Week In Photos" section of your website posted Jan. 21, 05. While viewing these photos I read the editor's note regarding the graphic nature of the photos of the Iraqi family of 7 that were fired upon when they didn't stop at a checkpoint.
I appreciate that I chose to view these images, however one disturbed me greatly, and I am rarely offended.The photo of the young girl, hands covered in blood, crying after her parents death leaves me feeling sick. I'm not sure if I'm offened at the posting, at the photographer, or because this event occurred.
Perhaps the lack of empathy portrayed for the children by soliders, or journalists struck a nerve. Instead to just reporting the news this time, maybe the photo-journalists could have helped this child in anguish.

N. H.

Steroid dealers use ruse to sell wares on eBay

Thanks for the story but all I read is how sellers will be prosecuted or will be liable. What about eBay? If someone aids in illegal activity repeatedly (knowingly or unknowingly) wouldn’t they be responsible?  Hasn’t time come to pass a law to make these web sites responsible for what is sold on their web site? If some one sells the same products directly or indirectly in their store or retail business, (repeatedly) Government will not spare them.
My other question to you and NBC is, didn’t you see this coming? When Indian Government went after eBay for selling teenage porno on eBay site, the whole America was laughing, without understanding logic behind the story. We should have instead started checking these web sites for illegal activities. I emailed NBC editors in support of Indian Government but that is different topic that NBC and your editors never wants to publish letters explaining deeds by foreigners or other Governments because they love feeding American people about what is wrong with rest of the world, without even understanding heart of the story.
For some idiots who still have not understood why, here is the explanation behind India Government’s action on getting tough on eBay. “If a web site directly or indirectly aids selling of banned items, (fyi, porno films are banned in India just like certain steroids in U.S.) they should be hold responsible for what is sold on their web site just like any other entity would be. This sale may be via web auction or direct sales.”
We will have to apply same standard to these web sites as any other entity or they will keep on doing these. It is up to them to come up with a system to watch out what is sold on their own web site.  U.S. Government will also have to eventually pass a law and enforce this standard and hold web sites responsible for selling drugs and banned items. 
I am sure once you explain this logic to American people they will support the cause but why would NBC or media do that?  Mike and NBC, keep on publishing what is sold illegally on web sites…

Jack Mehta

Monday, Jan. 24, called worst day of the year

I’m a little distraught about the article on January 24, being the most depressing day of the year. It happens to be my birthday. This guy sounds like a fruitcake to me... He should get a real job.

Eric J. Hamblin, Process Engineer

• January 20, 2005

Who Are You Calling Divided, Buster?

I was flabbergasted that Alex Johnson came to the conclusion that it is the political parties but not the American citizens that are divided.  I can only assume that he lives around Washington D.C. and doesn't get out much.
I can tell you, from one who lives in a Blue State, that the level of anger, the feeling of helplessness,  hopelessness and hostility, the disgust for this administration is palpable. People who have Bush stickers on their cars glare and those who have Kerry stickers. Neighbors who are on opposite side of the political spectrum avoid each other. I had a friend of mine tell me that if he saw a drowning Republican, he'd throw them an anchor. And I must admit I agreed.
I've had Republicans yell obscenities at me. And I find myself instantly disliking anyone who is a Bush supporter. And this in not uncommon. I have talked to friends in other parts of the country who report the same types of behavior. This country is divided. I my 61 years, I have never seen it so divided. And I don't see it ending. Abraham Lincoln made the statement that a country divided could not stand. This administration has created such division, such discord, that I think the country will not survive.
Carol

The very sub-title of the article 'Are Americans really bitterly split? No, they aren’t.'
Is not only ridiculously untrue, it's also a completely transparent piece of partisan propaganda. Ever since the election, the media has been scrambling to downplay the intense opposition the president faces.
Did nobody notice that there were more votes against George W. Bush than against any president in history? It seems like your fact-checkers would have noticed that little piece of information and saved you the embarassment of running such an absurdly false story.
America is divided. And if you think we Americans are so stupid we're going to simply swollow every lie you big-business media conglomerates shove down our throats, you're quite mistaken. 
Your simply declairing 'America isn't divided' doesn't make it so, any more than saying 'Saddam has weapons of mass distruction' or 'I have a mandate,' makes it true.  In fact, your headline reads much more like a line from a presidential speech than a news headline to me.
Suffice to say, I suggest you stick to reporting the news instead of Bush administration propaganda.  As for me, I'll stick to another news source with the courage to report the truth.
In sincere sadness,
Jacob Gates

• January 19, 2005

Spanish Catholic church backs condom use

MSNBC should have known better than to print the article regarding “Spansh Catholic Church backs condom use.”  This is very confusing to believing Catholics, because they will get the impression that the Catholic Church supports condom use.  Catholic means literally “Universal” It doesn’t matter what the Spanish church thinks, unless they want to break communion with the Church like England did with the Church of England, which will never happen, because there are to many good Catholics in Spain.  Any person with even a grade school understanding of the Catholic Church would know this, and I believe you did know this, and ran the article anyway.
You should have the truthfulness to run a separate article giving the “Universal” stance that the Catholic Church makes about condom use, which the Catholic Church will always be against, because “Natural Law” does not change, and Nature will always be against condom use.  And in reality you do not want the Church to change on matters of Faith and Morals.  Because its not our Church, its Christ Church, and we will always be happiest in this life, when we follow His ways.

Tony Hayden, Jr.

Gregory: Is Social Security really in trouble?

David Gregory's piece titled "Is Social Security really in trouble?"  on the 1/18 Nightly News serves your viewers well by shining some light on the Bush administration's orchestrated hyperbole concerning Social Security. While he points out several useful facts, he left out three that really show the administration's claims to be deliberate fear-mongering: (1) the projected date for using up the reserve fund is based on extremely conservative projections of economic growth that is far smaller than our past experience; (2) even using conservative projections, the Congressional Budget Office (not under administration control) estimates 2052 to be the year the fund is exhausted; and (3) even if you assume that 2042 is the date of exhaustion,  that date is further into the future than was projected in the early 1990s.
Yes, even the administration's own figures, that it characterizes as a "crisis," demonstrate LESS of a "crisis" than existed 10 to 15 years ago.  In fact, the only way that the numbers add up to a crisis at this point in time is if the future economy is as abysmal as the depression of the 1930s, drastically cutting the amount of money the Social Security fund takes in.  Either the administration is deliberately manufacturing a crisis, or it knows something about the future economy that it doesn't want to share with the people.
Lee Russ


NBC: Tab for inaugural hits $40 million

With reference to the above "NEWS" commentary by the above authors, they fail to mention in the article who is picking up the tab for the balance of the Bush bash. Is the event 100 percent funded by private donations or not? Is the funding sources "private" in line with Clinton's '93 Inaugural BASH that cost an estimated $33 million. By the way, taking into consideration inflation over the past 12 years, what would be the cost of Clinton's bash if it were to take place today? Around 45M at 3 percent? One more point, is Busch the only President to have an Inaugural "BASH" during war time?
It's amazing the slant you allow to be put on stories and believe the "consuming" public will buy this as fact. You wonder why people are relying less and less on the traditional sources of "NEWS" and going else where to be informed.
Wake up, people are not buying what you are selling anymore!
James Keliher

"Rock band has FCC moment at inaugural youth concert

Fuel’s four-letter word fuels controversy at Hilary Duff show hosted by Bush twins"
Oh, please!  I am 68 years old and have long ago accepted the fact that the word "F**k" and all it's cases is a part of young people's language today.  Do the members of the FCC commission have their heads in the sand?   or do they get dirty thoughts when they hear the word?  I would bet that Hilary Duff and the Bush twins all use it in their daily language.
Jim Sutton

• January 18, 2005

Eastern U.S. wakes up to a freeze

Here I am, sitting in Tok, Alaska, at -60 below, and on the news, in Embarrass, Minn., thay cry when it gets a record low of -50 below. I can understand they are not used to it, but boy, it's not the end of the world.
Also, we have 45- below weather for the last  1 1/2 week straight and it is not any warmer here. If they wanna cry, send them here.
Maggie Brooks 


Harvard boss ripped over view on women

Dear Editor,
I am responding to your column on the Harvard head and his not-so-mainstream ideas on the possibilities of women in engineering and science. I believe this man has some very valid opinions that need to be explored further. People need to have an open mind and understand that engineering schools all over the country will pretty much accept a female applicant as long as they are of average intelligent and willing to attend.

However helpful this is in changing the shear numbers where an engineering school of 80% male population now becomes an engineering school of 75% male population, this has not attracted any considerable amount of females and there must be another reason other than social for this trend. Schools are not even necessarily attracting all qualified females as I have seen in my four years at an engineering school. I think we should have an open mind and look into this well educated person’s opinion so that maybe as a society we can better understand the matter at hand.
Aaron Bober

More on MSNBC's tone

Regarding those who claim MSNBC article writers need to make their articles more "accessible" to all (more lucid, perhaps?), I say they should go discombobulate themselves.  They are reading an Internet web site.
There isn't a web browser that won't allow more than one browser window up at one time.  And, best of all, there are many internet-based dictionaries that can be loaded into an aforementioned window.
I see nothing wrong with relishing the use of the English language.  There is no harm in it, except that some people (including myself at times) have to scurry off to find a dictionary. Is that really a pain to do?  No way!  Such activity broadens the mind, and is not a chore. And that should be more important than the dumbing down of our nation's people even further.
The moment that learning becomes a chore is the moment you can hear a great flushing sound, indicating our society's amalgamated intelligence has been flushed down the toilet.
Please keep up the good work at attempting edification while telling the story.  We NEED more entities like MSNBC in this regard!  And please feel free to use those "big words," and even more.

David P. Cole

• January 17, 2005

Wolk: Social Security, solvency & political spin

Mr. Wolk: If your article is going to analyze President Bush and his administrations stance on Social Security, in order to be really honest, you should probably have pointed out that President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and scores of Dems in Congress were "Chicken Little" about Social Security's impending failure, esp. during the budget surplus in the late 90s, when the debate was what to do with that positive balance.  For you or anyone else to try and act like President Bush is inventing a crisis is borderline hypocrisy.  In fact, President Bush is not saying anything that hasn't been said as a mantra by the left for the past 20 years during every election cycle.  I guess what has caused you to lose your memory over this political football after Reagan left office is the fact you realize President Bush isn't just paying lip service, he will actually do something about it, taking another issue away from the Dems like prescription drugs and Medicare...

You would do better to focus on the details from other world government's examples of private retirement accounts that have not always turned out as projected, and what the US could expect to learn from them.  I would be willing to be the odds are good President Bush will succeed, based purely on the polling data that most Americans under the age of 40 don't expect to see a dime from Social Security anyway (thanks the Dems beating the drum of its coming failure in the media for the past years, way before Bush took, office), so support for some kind of change will be there.  Making sure we don't repeat others mistakes would be a better place to put effort instead of trying to paint President Bush as proposing to fix something that isn't broke, when we all know it is...

Very respectfully
Bill Clarke

I found your article very informative as I have been hearing that Social Security is in trouble and at the same time that it is in good shape. I do need to disagree strongly with you that the the fund has assets. While the notes may technically be assets, and may be the same as the T bills the government regularly issues, the fact is that the monies collected as social security taxes are not being held in any real interest bearing accounts. they are spent as soon as they are collected by the government. this is not like a business investment which may actually earn a legitimate return. instead it is just more debt piled upon our deficit. And given the magnitude of the social security debt, it is one we should be worried over.
We need to institute a stronger needs test for our elderly. FDR envisioned social security as a safety net for the poor, and this is a legitimate and laudable goal which should be supported.   it should not be used as an entitlement for every retiree.
We should not be providing Social Security for people who have private and/or government pensions, and/or who have assets that they can use to support themselves. And none of this even begins to address the big dog in the mix -- Medicare.
Pete Stamatis

I just read your column on Social Security, and I would just like to add that there is a sort of urgency to fixing the problem. I think to view a problem as it being years away from becoming one is just wrong. If something is on the path to failure, regardless of the timeline it should be fixed. SS should be put in a state where it will no longer be a problem and further more if an american is relying on ss to feed themselves ( which is virtually null) they haven't really had much financial responsibilty throughout their lives to be dependent on such a flaurting system, but then again we are turning into a society that ways heavy on government protection, and losing are demorcratic and capitilistic ideas. However; What do I know in the end, I am only a 22-year-old kid...
Cpl. Ante Marijanovic USMC

Doesn't it make more sense to face a potential problem before it gets to crisis proportions?  Doesn't that give you more time to make the necessary corrections?  What is it with so many people thinking short term? Could it have something to do with the Keynsian quote, " In the long run we'll all be dead." The number of retirees discounts that notion.
  Dale Netherton

• January 14, 2005

Harry may visit Auschwitz

Regarding the furor about Harry's wearing a Nazi uniform, it would seem to me that his father's philandering, better said fooling around with Camilla Parker Brown, while still married to Dianna should have been far more embarrassing to the "royal" family. I don't recall his infuriated (livid with rage) father ever making a public appology and it wouldn't surprise me if Harry could care less about his "phony" rage.
G.H. Morse

I agree with the Duchess of York. This latest "issue" is way overblown.  It was a COSTUME PARTY, for God's sake!  A "Nazi" is a cartoon character to most people these days, like a "Gypsy" or a "Cossack." Poor Prince Harry.  He's only 20, and this will go on and on and on.
Steve Haarala

Is MSNBC's tone accessible?

I wanted to take a moment to let you know of the difficulties in the language used in the article "Harry Considers Auschwitz Invites" that is published on MSNBC.com this morning.
This article is clearly written by someone with a graduate level, college education, and terms such as "incandescent", "caustic", and "cavorting" are definitely not part of the everyday language usage of ordinary Americans, 70% of whom have a high school education or less.
I would urge all articles on MSNBC.com to be written in language that is accessible to all, and therefore avoid the risk alienating large segments of the American population.
Phillip J. Welton

Daily Diversion: Campus salaries

I find this table & graphic on the salaries of professors to be biased & disingenuous. Using an average rather than a median to describe the relative value or position of a subpopulation w/i a greater population is an elementary-level, social science statistical, absolute no-no. A handful of outlier salaries can easily skew the results in either direction. My 13-year-old daughter learned this in her 7th grade social studies course.
Further, you make no distinctions between two-year colleges, four-year colleges and universities. The decision to exclude religious-based institutions also produces serious bias. How could an analysis of professorial salaries exclude major institutions like Notre Dame, St. Louis University, Seton Hall, or DePauw?
This 'news' is a perfect example of an intentional attempt to distort the public's perception of relative economic-well being. A liberal media bias - my ivory tower! You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Tracy K. Dranginis, Ph.D.

• January 13, 2005

Jerry Garcia estate sues burrito franchise

It never ceases to amaze me how simply wrong journalists can get things and still go to print, e.g. "During his life, Jerry Garcia's image was of that of the freewheeling, tie-dye wearing lead singer of the band The Grateful Dead."
The  fact is, Garcia rarely wore tie-dye; usually it was a black or dark-blue T-shirt or similar -- just as he is wearing in photo accompanying the article. The only member of the band who often wore tie-dye was the bass guitar player, Phil Lesh. The writer confused the fans with the band.
E. Bailey

• January 12, 2005

Anti-Pledge atheist files new suit

Your Jan. 12 headline equating Michael Newdow’s legal struggle to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance as being synonymous with being “anti-pledge” is a typical distortion one might expect from those who oppose church/state separation and not what one would expect from a mainstream media outlet. While I can not speak for Dr. Newdow, those of us who oppose the current inclusion of these two words in the Pledge of Allegiance are not necessarily opposed to the reciting of the Pledge itself, but to the linking of belief in God with patriotism. There is a world of difference.

Tim Gordinier, Ph.D.,
Public Policy Director
Institute for Humanist Studies


Indonesia orders troops out by end of March

Dear Editor:
I am from Indonesia (and) would like to make a comment regarding an article written about my country and the Tsunami disaster. In that article, it is written that our government does not allow foreign aid workers to go beyond Banda Aceh because of security concerns from the Acehnese rebel (GAM). Then the article states that our government does not provide any "proof." Now I work in the private sector, so I don't really have high regards towards my government either, but I would have to say that the western media (including MSNBC in this case) has not been fair to our government in Aceh matters. It is true that our government may not tell you who those GAM people are.
Allow me to share you a public secret in Indonesia. The so called Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) are actually decentralized groups of local bandits. So there is no 'one' leader of GAM. The 'representative' who lives in Sweden is actually just another 'leader' among the many. I know this because the company that I am working with has had some of our distribution trucks kidnapped and ransomed. And from that experience, we know that there are many groups of them, and all of them wants money.
Please understand that our government are Asians, and most of us are ashamed to admit that we have bandits that we cannot control. We Indonesians also suffered because of those bandits. Aceh really is not a place to go, especially for foreigners. I hope my insight can be useful. Thank you for listening. I love MSNBC.

Martin Hartono

• January 10, 2005

CBS ousts four for roles in Bush Guard story

It is sad that viewership concerns interfere with ethical journalistic practices.  Rather should have been fired long before the four executives mentioned in the above referenced story. He is the very reason I no longer watch CBS evening news. All of this action, in my opinion, is too little too late.
Richard Lightfoot

Scarborough: "God and the Tsunami"

Your article titled "God and the Tsunami" is one of the most backwards bits of dribble I have ever read. Where did you find the people quoted in you little interview? Their opinions are retarded at best, really fiendish and inhuman. But of course you can put their ill-formed sentiments all over the internet rather than provide real information in the form of an informed and useful, and BALANCED article.
C.R.

NBC: Damaged sub hit undersea 'mound'

To Jim Miklaszewski: A) The "bridge" of a nuclear submarine is the top of the sail and outside the pressure hull. Any sailors stationed there while the ship (USS San Francisco) was at 525 feet had already drown before the collision; and,
B) The pressure at 525 feet isn't going to crush the ship, no matter what. Flood it beyond recovery, maybe, but not crush it.
Lee Steele

• January 7, 2005

Ashlee Simpson’s vocal malfunction

Michael Ventre's Jan. 6th commentary on Ashlee Simpson's performance at the Orange Bowl was entertaining and humorous except for one line he shouldn't have written: Ashlee’s singing sounded like a cross between a political prisoner being tortured and a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.
The abominable practice of torturing political prisoners should not be used in humor.  There's nothing funny about it.  Especially when our own leaders (Bush, Gonzales, et al.) condone the use of torture in the "War On Terror".
Otherwise, Ventre wrote a funny piece.
Rich McAdams

I would like to give you an introduction into the world of live sound, because it appears from your article that you didnt feel the need to research the topic before writing this very stabbing article.  If you will notice the small "buds" Ashlee was wearing in her ears and took out before her show; they are known as MONITORS. They are how the artist can or cant hear themselves sing, and without them Ashlee cant hear a word she's singing. 
The blame for this performance falls more on the sound man than on Ashlee. The only reason she would take these buds out is if the sound coming through them was more impeding to her performance than helping. The sound man at the show is responsible for giving her a good mix of sounds into those monitors and had he done his job right she would have been able to hear herself fine and would have been able to sing well and in tune. But without a good sound mix in her headphones the performance was doomed before she even grabbed the microphone.
Before you write something derogatory about an artist, would you please look further into a bad performance than just coming to the conclusion that they are a poor performer. Ashlee has a platinum CD in stores, she obviously isnt a hack.  Maybe you should give it a listen sometime.
Kevin B., Hudson, Ohio

• January 6, 2005

Andrea Yates murder conviction overturned

I was happy to read of the overturning of Andrea Yates' murder conviction. For all of the medical advances in the world, we are still in the dark ages when we refer to brain disorders as "insanity." We can land on the moon and Mars but lack the scientific ability to understand brain chemistry. The term mental illness should truly be abolished.
Andrea fell through the cracks in the medical world and failed to get treatment.  Bottom line, there is no money for this research as it is not deemed a priority.  So many lives are being wasted that could be helped with simple, inexpensive medication. 
Margaret Zambito RN BSN

Ashlee Simpson’s vocal malfunction

The other bad thing about the show is both USC and OS have great marching bands and could have put on a better show.  Isn't that what college football is about?  I can see hiring an entertainer (a stretch Ashlee Simpson) for a Pro game, but college have bands.
Regards,
Joseph H Pellegrino, Jr.

White House memo: Pitch Social Security doom

Why is it that in articles like the following: " White House memo: Pitch Social Security doom" , you manage to get the point of Mr. Wehner's memo across—- free publicity mind you-- without also mentioning the fact that both the non partisan congressional budget office AND the social security trustees themselves have recently released reports that Social Security is in fact in MUCH better health than most assume?
It is reminiscent of the shoddy media reporting that allowed the Bush administration to hoodwink the American people into supporting a phony war in Iraq. Please don't fall for the hype again.
Sincerely,
Jason Waskey

Media coverage of tsunami 'sickening'

Although my heart is wrenched by the suffering and death caused by the tsunami, I am absolutely appalled by the media's coverage of this event.
Once again it seems as if the focus has been not on helping the survivors so much as getting the first story, or having the first reporter on site. It sickens me.
Is every disaster from here on going to have a "Ground Zero"?  Is this what we have to look forward to in the future of news coverage?  Exploiting every possible angle of suffering and devastation so that in the future you can pat yourselves on the back with commercials saying "We were there first with the story", or "Voted best news coverage of the 2004 tsunami."
It makes me want to heave the way the media can take such a huge loss of life and try to turn it into a race for the highest ranking broadcasting award that means absolutely nothing the millions who are watching in shock at home.
Batrhys

Tsunami relief tops $3 billion

I read with interest of the extraordinary contribution of Australia to Tsunami relief efforts. How is it that a country with a population less than one-tenth the size of the U.S. can makes a contribution more than twice as large - yet American politicians are trying to grab the international headlines with their relief efforts? Don't misunderstand - I think the contribution of money, materiel and personnel from the US is terrific - but leave your politicians at home, and let your relief organizations do their work. For heaven's sake, what possible reason can there be for Jeb Bush to be touring the area - other than to launch his run at the White House for 2008?
Americans can be very generous people, but it is time you learned that other nations have much to contribute as well. For once, why not take a backseat and let  the United Nations do its work and let all the NGOs get on with their efforts. Provide what you can, but don't try to upstage  the leaders of the countries affected by this disaster. And while you are at it, why not try to match the per capita contributions of countries like Australia, Japan and Canada - because right now you are lagging far behind.
Jill Irwin, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

• January 4, 2005

On the tsunami disaster

Editor:
I cannot help but wonder how difficult it would have been for the U.S. Geological Service to give some warning to the nations affected by the tsunami, even though they have no official warning system. I have read that there was a great likelihood a tsunami would be generated by the earthquake that was detected almost instantaneously and there was at least 15 minutes to give Phuket warning and over 2 hours for Sri Lanka. There are many, many hotels in those two areas, several of which are American-based with 1-800 numbers.
I truly believe that a few calls to a few hotels would have been a start - to get people off the beach and into higher floors.  There is a U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka; I can't help but think it would have taken no more than 5 minutes to get someone on the line and a warning generated to the police departments of Colombo and Galle City. While these methods of communication are most likely not according to the book, sometimes common sense should prevail.  Could a few lives not have been saved with just a few phone calls?
Kathleen W. Selvidge
Topeka Kansas

Editor:
At least 50,000 Muslims have just been killed by the biggest natural disaster in recent years - and the world is rushing to provide aid and comfort - except Al-Qaida. They call on their brothers and sisters to attack non-muslem nations. To kill Americans and Europeans and Jews.  They call us evil.
Yet, we are running to help them. And we are donating money, not just from our government but individual donations, to help people we have never met.  We don't care about religion - we care about humanity. Where are you Al-Qaida?  Your own people, your brothers and sisters, are suffering.
Stephanie Worthington
San Francisco, CA

Re: Jerry Orbach dies

I am so sad hearing about the death of Jerry Orbach [Lennie]. I have never missed a Law / Order since the very first program and really connected to Lennie. I retired from the Mpls. PD after 30 years and would have enjoyed having him as a partner and co-worker. Tonight I put a black band across my gold shield in rememberance of Det. Brisco who was a good "cop".

Lee North

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