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Letters to MSNBC

A selection of comments about stories.
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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.

• March 31, 2005

Terry Schiavo's death

MSNBC has devoted to reader responses to the death of Terri Schiavo.

Give us a break!! If Bush would have kept his mouth shut before we went there to "find" WMD's, our intelligence may well have found some.
But, Mr. Bigmouth told them weeks ahead of time that "we were coming" to find WMD. Anyone in their right mind that may have had them, surely had enough time to bury them deep and secure before our "inspectors" even had their bags packed.
The buck stopped at Bush's desk, and so does the blame!

What about the False Alarm Rate (Type I error rate)?  i.e., how many quakes would have been predicted by this approach that did not actually occur during the same time period?
Such information is essential to prediction methods. Unless this rate is relatively low, I would question the "successfully predicted" phrase in the article.
Stephen V. Thomas

• March 30, 2005

Hey, remember that time the US was in Iraq, fighting a war the government threw us into with little concern for the safety of our soldiers?  Oh boy, what about that time when Kim Jong Il, leader of the DPRK, threatened us with his nuclear bombs?  Wow, what about that whole Social Security uproar and George W. Bush's private account plan?  Oh, oh, wait, I got one.  Remember when that kid from Minnesota shot up his school, all Columbine style?  How about that genocide in Sudan, remember that one?  Boy....whatever happened to all that stuff? 
Hey, get this one....Remember when the news
Craig Rothstein

I am deeply saddened and sickened by the validity the legitimate news media has thrust upon bloggers.
Equating bloggers with "journalists" is like saying American Idol contestants are "stars."  Neither paid the dues necessary to receive such a coveted title.
What in the world is wrong with the news media these days? Don't you receive enough criticism without stooping to let a bunch of kitchen-table "wannabe" reporters dictate your news cycle?
I have worked as a freelance writer for over 20 years, and am proud to say I've accumulated nearly 300 bylines. I take great pride in my professionalism and ability. I've worked hard to attain the level of respect that I enjoy. It makes me ill to think that a blogger with no such "street cred" would be considered my lateral counterpart.
Stephanie Hoover

I was surprised to see that Garrett Glaser's online article, "Will gas prices hit retail stocks?", missed the most obvious single point: the issue isn't just the price of gasoline that shoppers have to pay, it's the price of all oil-derived products.  Everything made from plastic, and everything that is to transported to the point of purchase via an oil-burning form of transportation is affected by an increase in the price of crude oil.
Persistently high and rising oil prices will result in broad-based cost-push inflation, which will take more money out of consumers' budgets for virtually everything they buy.  That extra money will go to oil producers, not retailers, and it will only hurt consumer confidence (as the increase in gasoline prices seems to have done already), which makes it a very bad thing for the retail sector once the cost increases filter through the economy and show up at the consumer level.
Lou Grinzo

I understand the need to report the news, However, the negative publicity the Boy Scouts are receiving is undeserved!  What are you trying to do, destroy the last great organizations left in the US? Something that actually HELPS young men? While I don’t believe this latest story is untrue, I do believe you are trying to disassemble something great. 
Here’s some better things to report on:
— Gasoline Prices
— War in Iraq
— Bush’s declining approval ratings
— Terry Schavio
— Michael Jackson trial
With the ending of this letter I question your morals, and your conscience. Please accept this as I am removing your web page from any PC I am in contact with.

Mr Johnson's article trivializes our organization's generational struggle to apply the same professional standards to workplace chaplaincy, as are applied to hospital chaplaincy.
Further, the glossing over of serious  violations by employers and the use of chaplains ast PR tools trivializes both poor management and the struggle for justice & workplace quality.
Mr Johnson has a cute style of deflecting important issues by introducing a "Miller" at Yale to turn the reader's gaze away from the issues discussed.
Clearly, the MSNBC editors are not doing their job! Such poorly written and biased interviews are not quality journalism. The public is being misinformed by such articles.
Again, for this article to have been approved and put out for public readership, clearly shows the editorial staff is asleep at the switch and not reviewing contributions for content, balance or integrity by the writer.
Tim Bancroft, D.Min., SPHR
Past President, NIBIC

• March 29, 2005

Terri Schiavo's desire to live or die could have been determined by hooking her up to a lie detector, asking her and then analyzing her body's unspoken responses to that question.
Chris Schaefer

I understand that Ms. Schiavo is in an hospice facility where there are 60 or 70 other patients. These patients, like Ms. Schiavo, are awaiting death.
Also like Ms. Schiavo, they deserve peace and dignity during their final hours.  Their families have a right of free and easy access to their loved ones who are near death to be able to give support and comfort to them.
Because of the protesters, police and security, media and their equipment these people have inconvenient access to these patients and, on occasion, are not able to reach them in time to be with them at their death.
Would it be possible to announce or suggest that the protesters and the rest of the crowd be moved several blocks away from the hospice and give the hospice back to the family members who are trying to give comfort and support to the dying?
Stan Holifield

Thank you MSNBC for reporting on the effects the protesters are having on the hospice unit and the surrounding community.
No one suggests infringing on the protesters "rights," however, the effects of their actions are hurting, disrespecting and violating others' dignity. 
The protesters could always go to city hall or all go to Washington D.C., they need to be aware of their actions and what effect these actions are having on others. Media coverage could enable the protesters to reflect and re-examine their actions. 

While the life -or- death decisions concerning this case have captured national attention, much more attention needs to be given to the root of her predicament. Eating disorders are a tragically common epidemic among young people in this country. Spreading awareness of the seriousness of the problem as well as the often tragic consequences of such behavior is one small but important step that must be taken to address the problem of eating disorders.
It would be a great disservice to the memory of Terry if the topic of eating disorders were not addressed more thoroughly on the national news front.

I ask for increased sensitivity in "news bites" concerning the Pontiff.  To suggest  the Pope "skipped" a planned service is to my mind inaccurate and disrespectful. I respectfully ask that you adjust your headline to more sensitively convey accuracy and respect for the monumental struggle this soul is enduring and with a grace and dignity worthy of us all deeply considering.
With thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts and request.
Bev Blissett

Your image caption reads: "The "Enormous Omelet Sandwich" contains two slices of melted, American cheese, two fluffy eggs stuffed with three crispy strips of bacon, and a sausage patty, piled high on a toasted bun."  (outer quotes are mine)
Are you advertising for Burger King?  Have you discovered, with all journalistic integrity intact, that the eggs are indeed 'fluffy?'  Are the bacon strips actually, as you say, 'crispy?"  Are the ingredients truly 'piled high?' 
Has the ratings war with FOX led MSNBC to such new lows that the fat drippings of a BK french fryer are audible in the background?  Has the sad passing of Mr. Nachman truly led to the demise of truth in reporting over at NBC?  More and more your inflammatory headlines and confused/ing reporting is mimicking the kind of yellow-tinged tripe more suited for the rich white men who opine racism and hatred two channels over.
This is truly sad.  I used to depend on MSNBC for news.  Now, it seems, you have become a pale shadow of the worst of Rupert Murdoch's propaganda machine, except you lack his fervor and creativity for reprehensible, hippocritical productions.
Craig Rothstein

• March 28, 2005

Test Pattern: Weather with you

Thank you so much for your lovely column on Paul Hester. That song was the first thing that went thru my mind, too, when I heard the sad news. However, i became a Crowded House fan in 1986 when I was going to university in Australia and their first album was released. Paul was the jokester of the group, the prankster, always smiling and always offering a wacky comment.
I can't believe his life got so bad that the weather was bad everywhere for dear Paul, but I'm so glad we had him in this world for a little while. And the wonderful music lives on.

• March 25, 2005

Weise talked about ‘guns and shooting people’

The day after Columbine, schools were closing there doors for security reasons. Children came home early.
Every news report was from the front of Columbine High School. Last week nine people were shot, four less than the Columbine incident and every newspaper has moved this story to page six or 10 and no one even knows the boys name. I hope we are not be desensitized. We really don't panic anymore.  I think we need to wake up and realize that this should matter.

Mary Beth Niciewski

It is about the ‘Son of Boss’ tax shelters and those that were involved getting punished.  I suppose this is a very good thing, but an angle that I would really like you to follow up on if available is those corporations that got people into these tax shelters.  It stands to reason that ~1200 people did not up and decide all of a sudden to engage in the same sort of deals.  There was a corporate facilitator.
What sort of penalties are these financial institutions, corporate facilitators paying?  What sorts of sanctions have happened so that tax payers will not be duped into these sorts of things again?  Or was this scandal just part of other scandals that they paid off pennies to the dollar?


If my information was stolen from my bank, I am quite sure they are not going to send me a letter telling me that. Do you honestly think they are going to just report something like that when they know it's going to hurt their business?
I'd leave that bank in a heartbeat if they sent me letter like that,  and they know it.  My question to you about this article is - What rules are in place to make sure that the banks report the hacks? They say they are going to do it, but as with most everything these days, saying and doing are two entirely different things.

Bill Banks

• March 23, 2005

It seems to me that people are missing the difference between 'food and water' which a person is able to consume and 'a feeding tube which is forced down a persons throat in order to give them artificial nourishment.' The second option should be used as a temporary measure to prolong life while medical procedures can be used to cure the underlying condition. It should not be used for 15-plus years.


Has anyone paid attention to the constitution when it says "everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  The key word is life -- not death. There is no other way to state the facts than to say the Supreme Court has sentenced an innocent person to death. Also, what right does her so-called husband have to say anything.
He is not her husband indeed. He is shacked up with another woman and they have two children. Shouldn't his adultery forfiet his right to have any say regarding Terri? Why doesn't he get a divorce?


Somebody needs to tell the government to go catch some criminals and forget about this chess game played while sanctions were in place. This was 13 years ago, and I could care less that he played chess when he wasn't supposed to.
Sometimes the government agencies are so full of ... I can't believe it.
There are more pressing needs than to waste time and money trying to extradite him back here.

The AP article ... is demonstrably incorrect. Social Security will not be "bust." Instead, the trust fund will have been depleted, and benefits will have to drop to 75% of what they would have been otherwise. Social Security will still be able to make payments (and as I hope you know, these projections assume a unprecedented pitiful rate of economic growth.)
The more outrageous distortion is the following
"However, the more important dates are when Social Security and Medicare begin paying out more in benefits than they are receiving in taxes because that represents the time the government must start redeeming the bonds in the trust fund. To do that, the government will have to increase its borrowing on financial markets, raise taxes or divert money from other government programs."
This is just White House tripe. The Social Security trust fund is treasury notes; these are considered among the safest investments on the planet (although our current president calls them 'just IOUs'). The government redeems bonds every year, even when the government runs deficits (after all, bonds have been redeemed every year since we started running deficits again). They simply buy more bonds.
After all, if the Social Security trust fund had not bought the bonds, someone else would have, and we would still have to pay for the redemptions. Put another way, the ONLY way to decrease our national debt is to 1) get serious about the deficit and run surpluses again or 2) default on our debt. So unless Bush wants to be the first (and only) president to ever default on national debt (or get serious about the deficit), he cannot complain about the "more important" 2018 date.


I was exceedingly disappointed to see MSNBC flag an AP story about the latest Social Security Trustees Report with the headline "New date for Social Security to go bust: 2041".
This headline is beyond misleading, as Social Security cannot go "bust" in any meaningful sense, any more than the Department of Defense can go bankrupt. Moreover, even if the worst estimates should come true and the Social Security trust fund should run dry by 2041 (very unlikely), Social Security will still be paying out benefits significantly greater than those people receive today, as new revenue will still be flowing into the system.  How on earth can that be termed "going bust"?
The phrases "Social Security will go broke", "go flat bust" and others like them are misleading and loaded phrases President Bush has been using to frighten the public in order to sell his Social Security privatization scheme.  It saddens me greatly to see responsible media outlets such as MSNBC adopting such partisan, one-sided and loaded language.  You do your readers a disservice by allowing the discussion to be skewed in this manner.

Jonathan Williams

As a parent of a 20-year-old male, I can tell you that if the Army wants to appeal to my patriotism so I can urge my son to put himself into harm's way for no apparent reason, they'll have to: Stop lying to prospective soldiers about the length of combat duty required; stop putting these young men into harm's way without signficantly just cause; stop using arogant leaders who truly believe, "you go to war with what you have," when talking about lack of minimum protection for these young men.
It does make sense, in some perverse way, to raise the enlistment age to 39-40 because: job opportunities are limited in this country; minimum wage and service jobs do not pay enough to cover minimum expenses, primary and high school education levels continue to decline, and social security will not be there to protect anyone in the older years.
Your results of your poll seem to reflect my sentiments!

Janis McDonald

• March 22, 2005

Dear Sir:
The media has lost all sense of perspective. Nothing of substance has  been printed or broadcast (that I have seen or heard) that would help any one come to a rational concept of this woman's true condition. If responsible physicians and judiciary have had ample opportunity to conclude that there is no hope for recovery, then how can this mass of ill-informed people reach a consensus that murder is being done? Only if the hysteria is propagated by media reporters choosing to editorialize rather than report factually on the matter. This practice of inflammatory rhetoric serves no one but a handful of "talking heads".
Dale H Farabee MD
I am curious that if the Bush administration would have supported stem cell research could this have helped Terri Schiavo? I think this would make an interesting news special program.


I have been struck by the juxtaposition of the news of Terry Schiavo and the horrific school shooting in Red Lake. MSNBC, like many of the other news sites I regularly check online, CNN, USA Today, Google and NPR, have either given the Schiavo story top-billing or have shown the two stories side-by-side. I have to wonder if this would be the case if this shooting had been in a white suburb with primarily white victims instead of a Native American Reservation where many of the victims were tribal members. 
What is wrong with this world when the right of one white woman to die is more important the violent death of 10 innocent people?

Annette Marquis

I'm writing in regard to the story on  Jeff Weise, the teen who killed himself and others at his high school on Monday.
Although I know this story is from the AP, I hate that the title is placing emphasis on his "neo-Nazi interest" instead of looking at the obvious mental health issues this young man had. My challenge to you at MSN is to take that approach and focus on the mental health issues which will be at the heart of the answers that people are looking for.
I am a licensed mental health professional and a child advocate at an organization that works with families who have children with mental health problems like depression which is so prevalent in our youth. This youth also has a family history of suicide which makes him a higher risk for this behavior as well.  I challenge you to do a forensic psychological "autopsy" of this youth.
Get some mental health professions to comment on clinical depression, suicide as a risk factor in clinical depression, family history of depression and suicide as risk factors.  This youth was known to be "odd" so the school was aware that he had problems and maybe they had made efforts to get him services, I don't know.  Look into that as well.
  Personally, I think the neo-Nazi thing is of little relevance here other than as something this youth did to feel more powerful because he felt so powerless to deal with whatever the stresses were in his life coupled with the high probability of a mental health disorder.

Connie Nelson, LCSW

Why is it that when 13 people are killed in an upscale suburban Colorado high school, it is front-page news for a couple of weeks?  When 10 people are killed in a remote Minnesota reservation high school, it is little more than a footnote.  Why does the Terry Schiavo case, although tragic in its own right, deserve more attention than a high school massacre?  Has our society become numb to this type of violence or is the media being blatantly prejudiced to the region and social class surrounding this massacre?

George Grubbs

I must say that my homepage is always set to and I find your news report to be very informative and professional.  However, the journalists responsible for putting the title on the story about the teen who killed a number of people in his Minnesota school are more than a little off.  Being a History student, I know that your use of the term 'Nazi' or 'Neo-Nazi' does not apply to this boy, seeing as he was of Native American descent.
The term Nazi is based around the beleifs that all other races are inferior to that of the Aryan race.  Seeing as how the boy was not White or of Saxon descent, this term does not apply, as he merely subscribed to hate and rascism to the same degree as a Nazi.
I apologize if this seems to be nitpicking, but as journalists you have the rather cumbersome task of informing a nation of what is going on in the world around them in past, present, and future, and serve in educating the masses.  With this fact in mind, getting the facts right would seem to be a quintessential part of that task.


I appreciate the pressure of the current times, but I am somewhat shocked and appalled at your "Faith in America" series. Does it include all faiths or just Christians. Is this news?
Also, I was wondering why you stopped covering the story about the man went to church and didn't like what the minister said, left for  20 minutes, came back with a gun and shot 8 people inside the church.
That story seems to have just disappeared off the map.
I was curious if you ever found out what the minister said, that caused him to become so angry? Or have you been pressured not to cover this story!
Thanks so much. I hope you have the time to reply.


The Pentagon made a big deal about no longer reporting "body counts" ala Vietnam.
Has that changed? Are they blatantly reconstituting that policy & hiding behind "Iraqi officials said Wednesday"? Just trying to fully appreciate "the spin"!

Jerry Swingle

• March 22, 2005

Why does the government have to step into this?? This poor woman has a right to die in peace!!! It's time the parents realize she is a vegetable and as the doctors told them she will never come out of this state of mind. It's time to let her go!! After 15 years of Hell they should be ashamed of themselves! I totally agree with the husband. He should know what his wife's last wishes were. I put myself in her position and believe me I, for one, would rather die then go through what she had to endure...
I feel the husband should have all rights to this decision! My God this man has gone through Hell and Torment for all these years! He wants to move on with his life and with all this attention with the media, parents and government its an outrage!
The government needs to focus on more important issues like our "war" and how we are going to stop all the killing of all the people and how we're going to get our soldiers back home!
I use to be proud of our country so many years ago and now I just shake my head in disbelief and can't believe what our government is doing to us. Our country is going down the tube and we are sending all our money else where to help other countries. What about us? We need jobs, healthcare, and affordable homes. What about our homeless and our seniors? As my mother use to tell me when I was a kid, "charity begins at home." 


I believe the Schiavo case goes beyond the argument of whether Terri has a right to live or a right to die.  Our judicial system continues to allow a man, her estranged husband, an adulterer, to have guardianship! Terri's estranged husband should not have any input as to her fate, given the current circumstances.
Michael Schiavo is no longer Terri's family!  He gave up that right when he established himself with and fathered children with another woman.   Guardianship should now be stripped from Michael Schiavo. Let Terri's true family, those who gave her life, make the decision on whether she should or should not now leave life.
If there is no legal document signed by Terri, why do the Judges (are they male judges?...I really don't know) continue to side with a man who now shares his bed with another!  And from what I've heard, Michael didn't make Terri's "alledged" wishes known for 7 years.   Give me a break!  If Terri would come around tomorrow, the first thing she would probably ask for is a quick divorce.   Get Michael Schiavo out of the picture.  


In your stories, you are creating an environment that promotes future shootings by naming the killers (rather than the victims) and having lots of slick graphics of guns. For a few minutes of fame, some desperate children will obviously go to horrible measures.
As a middle school teacher, I have seen young men revel in the killings, admiring the weapons and the "revenge" factor. By keeping the victims faceless and giving power to the killers through the constant repetition of their names, pictures, and weapons, you reinforce the wrong message. The message needs to be: This is a terrible tragedy, and here are the victims.  Leave the killers without names, don't display the weapons like some kind of phallic power symbol, and let's work on the root causes, like ending bullying and racism.


It seems to me that your special report "Faith in America" should be renamed: "Cristians in America with some placation for Jews and a mocked attempt to include Muslims." How this newsgroup can in anyway claim to be unbiased is beyond me. I had previously valued much of MSNBC's reporting, I now see that I was mistaken to do so. America is not so christian as your station wishes it to be, and those of us who are not and who do not believe in Jehova, still have faith.


• March 21, 2005

Why does MSNBC keep publishing a four-five-year-old photo of this poor woman?
Everyone keeps talking about the media slanting news left or right, but I think there is even more inaccuracy and bias created by out of date photo's and video clips.
Most people look at Terri Schiavo smiling, seeming to talk to her family members and if it wasn't that the same video's on the TV actually show the date your photo was taken, most people would think that's what this woman looks and acts like today.
Please use current pictures in your stories instead of slanting the truth with misleading ones.

Sal Palatucci

This (Schiavo) case is the grandest theaters l've ever witnessed in my life. Lots of actors without substance, each one playing their role for self-grandise only.
All is vain and nothing new under the sun.
We try to save an animated flesh doll  since 15 years, fed or not artificially, she is without any sign of consciousness. She doesn' talk, doesn't write, doesn't work, doesn't function at all etc... Keeping her on an artficial means to see her mechanism moving once in a while is masochism.
Dignity of life. Give me a break.
How many kids .. are starving to death only in this country, how many kids .. are abused in this country and blah blah blah!??? Does Congress care about them? After all they're fuctioning, they express themselves, make us know their needs and pains etc...
How many innocents (did) we kill in lraq in the name of dignity of life.
We prepare for war; therefore, killing become murdering. lt' s premeditated.. Dignity of life ?


How can you title a video “Congress works on Schaivo’s behalf” on your web site tonight?  Have you put yourselves in the position of judging what is in her behalf and what is not?  You should be ashamed.

Frank Mattson

• March 16, 2005

I cannot believe the lead headline regarding the Robert Blake acquittal which reads:
Some courtroom observers feel that the case was so flimsy that Robert Blake didn't need attorney Gerald Schwartzbach -- that he could have won even with a public defender.
Public defenders in this country have more desire, experience, and expertise than any other group of specialized professionals in this country.
What did Michael Ventre mean when he said the case is so flimsy that it could "he could have won even with a public defender."  Did he actually mean to say this, or is he so ridiculously stupid that he thinks you have to charge $1,000.00 an hour to adequately represent your client.
As a chief public defender and member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a policy board member of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, I am proud of the job that public defenders do in this country.  We do not do it for money or glory or fame, but because we care about our clients and the judicial system we serve.
Anthony S. Carter

I'm writing because I find it so disappointing that Scott Peterson's verdict is more important to the front-page editors of the MSNBC Web site than the Senate's vote to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Both headlines are on the front page, but the photo of Scott Peterson's face dwarfs everything else.
This type of news coverage contributes to the dumbing-down of the American public.
Lauren Fischer

Someone needs to tell the Cardinal that he will find the book in all libraries under FICTION.
It is just a book that happens to be a terrific read.  So what if it might cause an individual to question. I am amazed at people taking Mr. Brown's book as fact instead of fun!  Can't wait for the movie.

• March 16, 2005

The recent comments of Cardinal Bertone regarding "the Da Vinci Code" should be ignored. He, along with Sunni and Shiite clerics, rabbis and Justice Scalia should just practice their beliefs and leave the world devoid of their efforts to control or manipulate opinions. All of them have one thing in common; they are capable of causing the worlds problems and violence by being able to lead the unread and the un-thoughtful to unspeakable acts.  History has proven that happens when leaders assume theirs is the only way. It smacks of that old statement: "When I want your opinion I'll give it to you."
F Mannerino

I was greatly disappointed to see the headline “Vatican: Don’t Read ‘Da Vinci Code’” on your website. The article was not the problem; it was the headline that is both misleading and false. It is false in the sense that a single Cardinal, speaking on the radio, is not “the Vatican.” Such journalistic imprecision is irresponsible at best, malicious at worst. It is misleading in the sense that such a false headline seems aimed at re-enkindling negative sentiments that hearken back to the days the days of banned book lists, at coloring a reader’s reception of the article, even before reading it.  Could Cardinal Bertone be right: “anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice”?  Your presentation of the story seems to verify such a statement.

Chris Winkeljohn

Thank you for Arthur Caplan's excellent article on the ethics of dying.  As a practicing Catholic I am outraged that the current Pope and Vatican hierarchy are demanding that governments deprive us of our personal autonomy and the right to make such an intimate decision in the freedom of our consciences.  The right to choose or decline medical care is fundamental to us as "persons", to use the Pope's term.  It is taking away that right which makes us less than human. While I absolutely respect the Pope's right to make medical decisions for himself, I also must absolutely demand that he respect the same right for the rest of us.
Peter A. Alaimo

• March 15, 2005

The following article is misleading and it is unfortunate that people will be mislead by the information contained in the article as well as the attached "retirement calculator."  I am a Financial Advisor and have spent years helping people plan for retirement and can confidently refer to the information you have provided as garbage.  For example, your retirement calculator doesn't even factor in inflation.  Do you really think that a dollar today will buy just as much 30 years from now?  You should have a true expert review items like this before reporting on them and posting them on your website. 
Sean Campbell

You really need better sources if you want to give financial advice. Your All-Purpose Goal Planner is very inadequate. You don’t consider investment risk at all in your calculations. Did you know that there is only a 1 in 2 probability of obtaining (or exceeding) the average annual return in a volatile investment like an S&P 500 index mutual fund. You must plan for volatility by saving more than indicated by the average annual return. For a 30 year investment plan in a mutual fund with annual returns (8%) and volatility (16% s.d.) similar to that of the S&P 500 index over the past 50 years, there is a 1 in 10 probability of obtaining average annual returns of less than 4% over the life of the plan.
The odds are 1 in 34 of obtaining average annual returns of less than 2%. By the way, this is also why the president’s social security proposal is inadequate. Suppose that you would end up living below the poverty line during your retirement if your average annual returns were less then 2%. Would you rather have a 33 in 34 chance or the "full faith and credit of the U.S. government" backing up your retirement safety net?
Greg Marlow

I read the article written by Melissa Francis about Saudi oil and Al-Naimi.
Your reporter quoted Matt Simmons and said that Saudi Oil reserves were almost played out.
Widespread belief of what Saudi has as reserves is one of the reasons that oil prices are so high. 
The truth is that Saudi has been very protective of what its reserves are.  It is only a small sliver on the Eest coast of Saudi Arabia that is producing oil and in this region the oil reserves are lower.  Public knowledge reflects the surface reserves.  While working for Schlumberger in Saudi Arabia in the late 80's I became aware of exploration at deeper levels and in other parts of the country. The results of this exploration were hushed up very quickly because (a) of the Iraq war and (b) because of what people believed would happen to oil prices if the actual reserves of Saudi Arabia ever became public.  There are oil fields that cover the Northern,  Southern and Western parts of Saudi that I still have not seen talked about anywhere.
Instead we allow the press to sensationalize oil news which allows the oil pricing gurus or arbitragers to work and increase oil prices.
Dan Johnstone

OK! This really STINKS! The picture you used to highlight this is HIGHLY OFFENSIVE! Whatever happened to decency in the media. A photo of two men kissing is really disgusting. Whatever statement you are trying to make should not be made. Try using a little common sense in your reporting!
I know the photo didn't paste into this email -- unfortunately, if you want to view it you will need to return to the original article.
I really don't expect my outrage to make much difference with you, however, it must be acknowledged.  You have absolutely stepped over the line.
The war is on.

I would de-legalize all marriage. Why is marriage a legal status and not just a personnal or religious matter? Is not marriage, its limits, and its varying requirements driven by the various religious beliefs? Where's the liberal attitude about the constitutional requiremments of seperation of church and state here?
DJ Elliott

I wanted to read the stories on California's gay marriage status not see pictures of gay couples kissing...its simply wrong... Should I expect more of this? if so, you're another reason to keep my children off the net besides this, thanks for an informative site have a good evening.
Jonathan C.

This is the type of news that I would like to see on Clay Aiken.. UNICEF Ambassador for Education in Banda Ache today. In the World scheme of things this is much bigger news than Mario Vasquez. Thank You.
MK Jennings

I greatly appreciated finding out through Newsweek's recent story "Children of the Fallen" that over 1,000 American children have lost parents in the war in Iraq. But perhaps an even more important question that begs to be asked is how many families have been destroyed by the war. More than 1,500 American troops have been killed in Iraq. 11,500 more have been wounded in action. Thousands more have suffered non-combat injuries. Tens of thousands have suffered mental injuries and been evacuated for physical illness. And the strain on soldiers and families due to extended tours has been indescribable. Yes, what has been the true extent of the human damage of this war that seems so unnecessary?
Carl Mattioli

• March 10, 2005

(This) is a deceptive headline. Only portions of aviation security were given failing grades by pilots.  Other areas were given good grades, according to your story. There was no mention in the story of an overall grade.
Please strive for accuracy over sensationalism in both your headlines and reporting.
Christopher Cecil

Well, well, well. Come to find out it wasn't a "white supremacist" after all, yet that didn't stop MSNBC and every other major media outlet from declaring, before any evidence was found, that it was those evil racists who did it!
You were so hateful and prejudiced that you even put up a poll asking if people thought that the government should ban "racist" groups.
All you have is sensationalistic and hateful conjecture, there wasn't a SHRED of evidence pointing at those evil white racists.

Ouch, in your article about the Lefkow murder you lumped "heavy metal rockers" with "skinheads in Nazi regalia." Thats tantamount to lumping "people with really short hair" with "Hooded Klansmen." There are infinitely far more heavy metal rockers who oppose racism than profess it, in fact there are reams of metal bands and fans that preach peace and tolerance, if not simple individualism and the ability to mind ones own business. Please, dont be guilty of typecasting (which is a form of racism) yourself!!!
Bill Cuevas

I find it interesting that this piece did not note that we, the taxpayers, are paying for a study that grades how x, y, and z infrastructure categories are "doing"... but gives zero information on why they are failing and fails to identify how much the study itself cost. Could the problem with the current failing infrastructure areas reviewed by the study be...not enough money?  My guess is - not.
Gee, could it be widespread nepotism and corruption?  Now, that would really be going out on a limb with zero data, huh?  Maybe the study included such details yet the author of the piece deemed them irrelevant, or maybe the study did not include any hard data which means the taxpayer just paid - what? millions? - for a completely useless study.

Your article on our crumbling infastructure is a wake-up call on how our money should be spenk. Instead of the pie-in-the-sky missle defense shield, the $80 million embassy in Irag and that boondoggle tourist center in Washington, maybe someone ought to wake us to real problems this country faces. And lets not forget the millions wasted on space exploration. Why not work on this planet's problems first?
Sandra Wilton

• March 9, 2005

As I was reading the article titled “Crumbling Nation…US Infrastructure gets a ‘D’” I followed the link to the American Society of Civil Engineers and found the site was incredibly slow.  While I waited for it to load in my browser my husband went to the article and found no link to the site.  I thought to myself…perhaps Americans’ are so starved for this kind of information the ASCE web site was inundated with requests and was unable to handle the sheer volume and requested the link be removed from the story.
This story is considerable given the findings…I wish the media would do more in-depth coverage on these kinds of stories in primetime, where they reach a much broader audience, rather than all the sensationalism we have grown so accustomed to.  It’s not sexy or exciting, but it is enormously important!
Linda Kiewra

Oh my, whatever will we do? A political lobbying group that that stands to financially benefit from increased government spending on infrastructure says that we need to increase spending on infrastucture - imagine that!
In related news, GM, Ford and Chrysler have just completed a study that shows that people need to buy new cars more often. This is news?
I don't dispute that there are infrastructure issues in this country but can't you don't your own studies and investigations?
Does the term "conflict of interest" mean anything?  Do you not see the need for any disclosure when using a lobbying group's press release as "news"?
Jim Emmerson

Editor? Is there an EDITOR anywhere to be found at MSNBC (Website Version)? How did I know that those headlines "Jackson Accuser Admitted Lying" probably had nothing to do with this case?  How is it you guys go home and think you did a great job?

Is it the practice of "Editors" to take LSD before editing?  I mean you guys see and write things that are not only "not there", but just flat out has nothing to do with anything.  This is what's known in the real world as "2 Plus 2 = 4 but, your Mother is Fat too!" Like one has nothing to do with the other one... I guess when your an "EDITOR" well hell, get 'em to point and click...That's all that matters....Who cares if it really has anything to do with he case?

I used to say you guys crack me up...Now, I just shake my head.  We all agree MJ is a bit "tilted"....but as a strong suggestion, why don't you leave the facts up to the courts (the ones that really mean something)...
Mike Zito

I would like to suggest that you find another commentator for the American Idol series. It was extremely skewed, biased and irresponsible for Berman to suggest that the competition is already pointing to Bice.
We don't even have 12 contestants yet. He made this assumption based on one comment by Simon, ignoring the fact that Bice has not had consistent performances like the other contestants. Craig Berman's commentary on the contestants is so out of touch with the public's perceptions. Just look at your own poll. Look at the polls vast percentage difference between the contestants that Berman gave an A to--most of whom are at the bottom of the barrel. Read the idol community board which also supports your poll's findings. Please find a commentator who has more musical saavy and knowledge.

• March 8, 2005

Your website is soliciting votes on the credibility of witnesses in a felony trial. This practice represents a shameful perversion of the criminal justice system. It is also a new low in journalistic ethics for which everyone with your organization should be ashamed.
The credibility of witnesses can only be ascertained by a duly empanelled jury, not by casual observers of Internet reports. It's bad enough that you report the smutty details of this case solely to appeal to the prurient interest of some in the public, but don't get down in the gutter to help create trash "reporting."
Have some compassion for the victims of crime.

Dear sir, It seems Boeing cannot tell its ethics from its morals.
It is reported that the company recently entered into an agreement with the US Department of Defense in which it promised to uphold the highest ethical standards.
Well, Mr. Stonecipher’s affair with an executive woman colleague would have been unethical if he was a doctor and she, his patient. In France he would have been given a bonus for having an affair...In moral struck American he's been given the order of the boot. If having sex outside marriage has become a sacking issue in the USA then no red blooded male American should apply for Mr. Stoneciphers job ... Maybe just eunuchs should apply.
Michael Levy.

I check in with MSNBC just about everyday.
However, upon noticing that the Michael Jackson Trial has been placed in the category of "Entertainment," really leads me to wonder if you have any more credibility than the National Enquirer.
I find the designation totally abhorant, and it speaks volumes to the light-heartedness with which we (or at least, MSNBC) view sexual abuse. It is so incredibly rampant in our society, and it literally ruins people's lives.
My personal belief as to his innocence or guilt is irrelevant. However, either way it smacks of very low-brow journalism to place it in the "Entertainment" section. You would not dream of placing news regarding the holocaust or "911" in the entertainment section. Obviously that would be in bad taste. Hello?? Child abuse?
Whatever the outcome of this trial, none of it is a joke.
Child abuse is not fodder for your "Entertainment," nor is a man fighting for his life - if he is indeed innocent.
Don't get me wrong, I am watching this trial as much as the rest of the world; but call it what it is. Don't sully the issue of abuse, true or not. Even if the child has been coached by his mother - who has shown lack of moral character in the past - either way an abuse has occurred.
Child abuse is not entertaining - nor are allegations of such - contrived or real.
Please, take the high road here. A little respect.
Take it out of "Entertainment" and put it in "News".

• March 7, 2005

Why does the mainsteam media appear to be pandering to the rehabilitation of Martha Stewart's persona rather than to real news? Why doesn't the news organizations focus on the tragedy of 1500-plus soldiers dead and 10,000 wounded in Iraq in the pursuit of oil profits rather than whether Martha Stewart will make another billion dollars this year or not?
Have Americans become so vacuous and callous?
Allan P. Highcove

Zakaria's column .. like so many editorials, has a foundation that is built on styrofoam and sweet dreams.  Not a bad idea, but his proposal to simply declare that we will establish a goal of 500 mpg (but more realistically 100-150 mpg?) and then push the country to meet that goal inside some short time frame is simplistic.
The idea that the electric cars could eliminate the use of petroleum because they simply "plug in" and recharge never even comes close to addressing the question of what fuel is powering the electric plants that allow the cars to simply "plug in." God forbid that the power plant that is supplying the power to the "plug in" cars would be nuclear.  And the power plant can't be powered by hyrdrocarbons, that defeats the purpose.
Coal?  No, that's too dirty. And once we've decided to convert to a "plug in" car,  what do we do with all of the current vehicles on the road that use gasoline?  Do we simply ban them after, say, the year 2010? Where do all those cars go; who compensates people for the value lost on their vehicle; and, what do we do when that edict discriminates against the poor and minorities - does the government have to further tax these new vehicles to compensate the poor for losing their vehicle? 
And where does the new nation-wide infrastructure of alternative fuels and new electrical outlets come from?  Like all those disassociated from reality, Zakaria has a perfect solution that has nothing to do with the tangible world that we live in. How about this - we put Zakaria in a position of authority and accountability and then see what he thinks about his grand idea.  I'll bet that making him accountable would instantaneously make him more reasonable about such a proposal. 

Michael Schmidt

Nobody knows how expeditiously Bashar al-Assad will quit Lebanon, despite his promises to do so. That he and Iran's mullahs have jointly announced their intention to resist American policy is telling, considering their reputations as rogue states and that terrorist insurgency in the region remains at large. Mubarak and the Saudis have yet to deliver on their pledges. The Iraqis have much to do to make a genuine democracy work, and their heterogeneous society complicates that task.
Were the Lebanese to hold elections, they would face similar challenges. Moreover, democratization will not ensure that the Middle East will align itself with the United States.
Intense policy disputes do emerge among democracies. Resolving disagreement over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and nuclear proliferation, for example, will be difficult, even if democracy takes root.
Still, some reason for hope can be justified. The transition to democracy is never smooth, but other societies have made it. And, handling differences is often easier for democracies than for other regimes. More importantly, democracy is the surest way to promote human dignity.
American diplomacy is always most effective when it weds idealism to realism.  Admittedly, the Bush administration's Middle East policy has been a gamble, but, at this point it may be paying off. By all means, then, it must continue to navigate the course that it has charted.

Charles H. Rieper, Ph.D.

• March 4, 2005

Thank GOD the media has finally returned to its phenomenal coverage of Martha Stewart's life.  For so long now, we, the public, have been subjected to the ugly, heathen images of dying soldiers, executed Ukranian officials, Russian power-consolidation, nuclear threats from North Korea, torture and abuse in Guantanamo and Iraq, Osama bin Laden and the Isreali-Palestinian peace process.
I for one was getting quite sick of all that 'news' and have long awaited the return of our mainstream news sources to the vital and awe-inspiring life of this blonde bombshell entrepeneur. Whoever the editor is who charged the MSNBC staff with the challenge of returning this nation's news values to where it belongs, I would like to say 'Thank You.'  You have restored my faith in the media. I will once again grab a bag of chips, sit on the couch and stare blankly at your talking heads, talking of nothing other than the grand return of our lifestyle queen, Martha Stewart.
I will pay no attention to the war behind the curtain. I just want to know more about Martha.  And chimpanzees. And grilled cheese Mother Mary's. And Michael Jackson. Oooh, there's just so much!  Why, I haven't felt this enlightened about My Life in America ince...since...well, Sept. 10, 2001.
Craig Rothstein

I just don't understand the fascination with celebrity "news." Who cares so much about Martha Stewart that she should get top billing on your webpage?  Isn't there something significantly more important going on in the world?  Same for Michael Jackson. What a pathetic excuse for "news".
David Templer

• March 3, 2005

Why is it i have heard nothing about the Iraqi death toll - only U.S. I read the newspapers and listen to the news, and keep myself informed. I can only conclude that there is severe pressure from the U.S. government on news media not to reveal this - or the government is not letting this information be known? Could you answer me on this?
Anne Garramone

To the people that think autism is the 'flavor of the month' disability:
Come to my house.  Come visit with my two stepdaughters and see that autism is real. Come see them stare off into space. Come hear the echolalia in an 8-year-old who can not yet read, because she can not sit still. (Believe me, we try daily).
Rather than make your judgments based on these programs, go to a classroom with autistic children in it and then make your decision. Have your child play with mine and then see if your tolerance is the same or if you instruct your child to stay away from my girls. Shame on you.
Diane Hayes

After considering Newsweek a reputable, honest and unbiased source in reporting news for at least 3-1/2 decades, it has come to light that the cover of the Newsweek issue featuring Martha Stewart is merely an "illustration" of her head superimposed on a model's body. I find that style of reporting to be in bad taste and has certainly changed my view of your magazine. Apparently, nothing is sacred anymore. 
This is a blatant misrepresentation of reality and has now placed a slant on my opinion of Newsweek. I personally feel this is comparable to fighting for the dog-eat-dog world of tabloid journalism vs. maintaining the high standards that so many of us have come to admire and respect over the years from a magazine the caliber of Newsweek.
Martha Stewart is a self-made woman who had a MAJOR lapse in judgment that cost her millions of dollars, and credibility considerably above the $45,000 she initially felt she might gain, as determined in a court of law by a jury of her peers. However, she stepped up to the plate, and has served her sentence with dignity.
Confinement is confinement no matter what it is called by the media. After all, the time (and place) fit the crime. There was no murder or mayhem. There was no kidnapping of small children or even extortion of millions of dollars carried on the backs of widows and surviving children.
Let's leave her be. She has a surprising sense of resiliency. Also, I still need a good, honest and reputable news magazine to read in this white noise of mass information that bombards me from every angle. I hope Newsweek is still the one inspite of this issue!!
Connie Moody

I have a real issue with how you present the recent article "Fineman: What to make of 'new' Middle East."
Looking at the article, it is an obvious op-ed piece that is blatantly pro-democrat or left-wing (Fineman can't manage to discuss the momentous changes in the Middle-East for more than 2 sentences without taking a shot at Bush on Social Security).
Since this is the case, why do you continue to put this author in the 'News" section where readers such as myself expect to see real news? I have no problem when you generate an opinion piece and it is in the opinion section, or the inside MSNBC section. However, it bothers me when you present articles such as this as real news. This really is a trend with this site, and unfortunately you just lost a reader.
Jeff Clarady

• March 2, 2005

Your headline of March 2, "Topless dancers greet Britain's Prince Charles," denigrates the Australian aborigine culture by making T&A fodder out of an innocent act of respect by older women.  Of course, a story with the headline "Aboriginal dancers greet Britain's Prince Charles" is not newsworthy, but bare breasts seem to make it so. I guess indigenous women are not worthy of your respect because they are unlikely to sue. 

Deborah Adams

The Reuters article "Topless Dancers Greet Prince Charles" is an absolute disgrace. The reading begins with "Topless Aboriginal dancers welcomed Britain's Prince Charles in Australia's outback on Wednesday, where locals were preparing to throw a bachelor party for the newly engaged royal." This paints the picture that Aboriginal people are being used for entertainment while the Prince and his buddies prepare for a beer bust. I know for a fact that the Aboriginal people involved in this event are proud of their culture. They worked extremely hard to represent their culture and people in an effort to impress the Prince.
However, the author of this article has made these efforts look like a novelty for entertainment, a side show.
Does this need to be distorted to obtain readers? Do reporters enjoy making sophomoric headlines to belittle indigenous people and make the Prince look like a "good 'ol boy"? I think not, but poor oversight of this type of writing opens up the playing field.
Garth Reed

Not one of the Ten Commandments serves as the foundation of any of our laws.
(Maybe "Thou shalt not kill," but that is hardly unique to the Old Testament. Any cultures says it's ok to kill?) Ten Commandments are fine, but let's not delude outselves about their relevance to our laws.
John Constable

Reading Jack Ewing's piece about getting a German driving license, two thoughts come to mind. One the US driving education system is a joke - I had to take the Virginia driving test when I moved to the US because they wouldn't take my UK drivers license. So I showed up at the test center in my rented car (I couldn't buy a car without a US license, so I used my UK one to rent a Ford wagon) drove the tester around for a few minutes when he pronounced I knew was fit to drive.
I did nothing during that test to show I could do more than operate the vehicle, nothing to show I know how to pull out into traffic, nothing to show I knew how to deal with a busy four-way stop junction and nothing to show I had the slightest clue how to drive on an interstate. Experience has shown me that nobody else in northern Virginia, or anywhere else knows much about these things either.
The other thought that occured to me is that the German system for issuing driving licenses is probably the most complex and long winded in the world, but maybe there's a reason they have the safest roads in the world.
Andrew Visser

• March 1, 2005

In California they charge me $.05 per plastics bottle, but it can only be redeemed for a fraction of a penny. If I got my nickel back, or even four-cents, I would be more likely to turn it in instead of putting it into the garbage.
I think California is spending the money on something else and that their recycle plan is flawed. It makes no economic sense.
Mike Bryant

I have noticed the dilemma as well. There is just no convenient way to re-cycle these bottles, or for that matter any plastic drink bottle when you are out away from your home. At home it is controllable and I have a partial solution. I purchased a home water-filter system, a reverse osmosis filter system. Now I carry home and re-use all the water bottles by refilling them over and over again. Even soft drink bottles are good for this purpose.
The filter system was about $300 but I feel that I get my money's worth. I have tested the water such as Aquafina and Evian and my water has 9 ppm total desolved solids versus an average of 40 for commercial bottled water. Tap water in our area runs about 250ppm. Now I don't need to recycle the bottles through our city's recycling program even though it is an excellent service.
Bill Horton

How providential that gays and women will be allowed to serve in the military just at a time when enrollments are at a record low and the Marines and Army cannot even meet their lowest monthly quotas.  How nice that non-prejudicial thought has come to the fore.
And I hope a huge green elephant steps on my foot!
Mary Loftus