Letters

Government necessary for addressing natural disasters

Regarding the Sept. 20 article, "Government failure, private success": The needs of the people affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are enormous and cannot be served by voluntary, or private, help alone - regardless of how efficient that help has been thus far. Government help is vital.

The reason why the spectacle of government's ineptitude was so disturbing was because there is no private system that will automatically respond if the key first responder system breaks down. It is fantasy to think that voluntary or private organizations will be able to meet all needs; the charities themselves will tell you the necessity of government involvement.

Even now, there is no system set up for large-scale delivery of healthcare services. Are we to expect Wal-Mart, as laudable as its actions have been, to provide this service to all the victims of Katrina? Government is a necessity and insinuating otherwise is simplistic. The issue is making sure that professionals are appointed to key positions in agencies like FEMA and that sufficient funding and attention is devoted to helping make government work properly.
Walter Sweet
Former program officer, September 11th Fund
New York

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100-Minute Bible: praise - and a caveat

Regarding Mark Rice-Oxley's Sept. 27 article "Christianity in a nutshell: Britain's '100-Minute Bible'": I've done a sermon titled "The Whole Bible in 10 Minutes" for years. The audiences that most appreciate it are those in their 80s and 90s who have been exposed to the Bible in detail. I suspect that the "verse-by-verse" people miss the point. There is danger in someone mistaking the reading of a 100-minute Bible for complete knowledge. There is also great danger in someone being exposed to isolated verses woven by a preacher or devotional writer and thinking that, too, is the same as reading the Bible. At least the short version lets you know there is a whole story of salvation beyond the condensed text, and those who published it don't call their work "the same as the Bible."

As I endlessly tell those going through Confirmation, complete understanding does not come instantly; it builds over a lifetime. Even the original disciples didn't "get it" the first time.
Dan Lozer
Struble, Iowa

Google and copyright law

The article, "Copyright lawsuit challenges Google's vision of digital 'library'" (Sept. 26) raises critical issues about Google's attempt to circumvent US copyright laws, but there's another sleeping giant that has yet to be reckoned with: If Google can scan and share copyrighted works with impunity, what's stopping other web-based information businesses, and everyone else, from copying and distributing digital copies of copyrighted works without permission?

When did millions of copyright holders give Google the right to scan, reproduce, and make available excerpts from their copyrighted works - and for free? US copyright laws explicitly forbid such practices. Why is it that legitimate copy shops require permission to copy copyrighted works, i.e. for college course reading packets, yet the doors of America's major libraries are suddenly being thrown open to Internet giant Google with total disregard for intellectual property rights and royalty requirements?

The digital age is now on Main Street, but where are the police - US regulators and courts - who are supposed to protect copyrights from electronic thieves who are abusing technology for illegal profits?
Amy Vickers
Amherst, Mass.

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