Regarding Philip G. Altbach's March 16 Opinion piece "In race for international students, US erects hurdles and loses out": Mr. Altbach deals with important issues for those who have benefited from Fulbright and other international exchanges. We believe they should concern all Americans.
Altbach writes of visa processes and negative perceptions that make the US less attractive to foreign students, noting erosion of America's international influence, declines in foreign revenues for higher education, and the prospect of fewer international leaders educated here and leaving with favorable opinions of us.
Let me suggest another possibility, since international exchange is, after all, a two-way street. Americans who have participated in exchange and study abroad programs achieve improved understanding of foreign cultures and languages - skills that are needed more than ever.
When barriers - real or perceived - discourage foreign students, they will go elsewhere for their education. We may also see other countries become less open to receiving US students.
International educational and cultural exchanges like the Fulbright program build networks of productive relationships across borders that have long-term benefits for US national interests. We must find ways to keep foreign students and scholars coming to our universities, while, of course, maintaining due regard for national security.
President, Fulbright Association
Regarding your March 22 article "No-smoking forces taking new territory: the beach": If this is about beach litter, then adopt a "carry in, carry out" policy. I'm a smoker who travels to a Maine state park that has such a policy. You don't find cigarette butts or soda cans there. If, on the other hand, this is just about smoking, then it's another move by the "smoke police" who aren't content with existing laws and ordinances already in place to limit smoking.
Carleton N. Selfridge
As a nonsmoker, I find this ban ridiculous. If someone is legally smoking at the beach, and you don't like it, simply ask them to move their towel. Believe it or not, smokers are not mean people. Should governments ban all animals from every beach because of the possibility of someone having an allergic reaction? Should we ban perfumes? Unless beaches get roofs, smoking there should be allowed.
Regarding your March 22 article "You call it spam, they call it a living": I think a point that should be made is that spammers are acting as parasites for profit. Spammers are racking up costs for different companies, notably Internet service providers. And this business model will persist as long as the Internet is provided to users for free. I would argue that freedom of speech does not include the right to spend other people's money.
Regarding your March 18 article "Pipsqueak pariahs? The fuss over children in public": Ostensibly the problem is boisterous children. As an older parent, I expected from my children the same behavior in public that was expected of me when I was a child. To that end I made a conscious effort to keep them from running around and being noisy in restaurants, theaters, museums, and stores. We would do better to instruct our children about proper behavior rather than ghettoizing them to child-only events.
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