Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Wal-Mart's image, nonnative bird species, the San Antonio Spurs, free writing, and protecting refugees.

Wal-Mart cares about polishing its image

Regarding the June 19 article, "Wal-Mart fight heats up in California": The last statement in the article, "However, 'what their opponents sometimes fail to realize is that Wal-Mart is still growing at a significant pace every year,' Mr. Livingston says. 'If they get a little negative press, they could care less. " is ludicrous!

Of course Wal-Mart cares. Why else would it have recently hired PR people with former Democratic Party ties to polish its image? The New Yorker magazine did a great article on Wal-Mart's concern over its tarnished image a few months ago. Wal-Mart is in serious trouble, and executives know it. If the company doesn't clean up its act, it'll lose even more business to the likes of Target and Costco.

Don't be fooled by Wal-Mart's public statements. Those in charge are concerned, as well they should be. Their unfair labor practices, etc., have finally caught up with them. They've become the poster child of corporate America run amok. What goes around, comes round.

Recommended: Six tips to get a seasonal job

C.M. Heidt
Ithaca, N.Y.

Clear out nonnative bird species

Regarding the June 15 article, "Common bird species in dramatic decline": It seems everything these days has to be linked to global warming, yet in this case why not mention that North American birds are being pushed out not only by man but also by other aggressive birds such as the European starling?

It takes only a quick look outside to the bird feeder to see the European starling chasing all the native birds such as cardinals and even jays.

Let's have an article about this and why we are not seeing a massive plan to reduce their numbers so native species have a chance.

James Barrett
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Praise the Spurs do and don't deserve

Regarding the June 8 article, "NBA's Spurs dig in without a fuss": While I greatly appreciate player Tim Duncan (I agree with the assessment of Mark Jackson, a former NBA guard, that Mr. Duncan may be the most underappreciated player in history), and I respect the Spurs' success (four titles in nine years is impressive), I wouldn't go so far as to praise the team for being all that is right with sports.

Defensive stopper Bruce Bowen has been called the dirtiest player in basketball, and several of his teammates have been accused of being either dirty or "floppers" (dishonestly falling to draw fouls). Neither is an admirable trait, and both appear to be condoned if not taught by their coach.

Praise Duncan, praise the four titles, but withhold the "squeaky clean" praise.

Kenny Herbert
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Writing is not for wimps

Regarding the May 30 article, "Uncensored self-expression, fourth-grade style": What the writer did in allowing her students to free write is exactly what I do in my college classroom.

First-year composition students find themselves writing for 10 minutes each class session.

While the article's author uses Natalie Goldberg's book on freeing the writer within as her guide, I take my lead from Julia Cameron and her book, "The Vein of Gold." Its purpose is the same. The big advantage is to get the censor off the writer's shoulder, but also to show young writers just how physical the act of writing is. Writing: It's not for wimps.

Dedria A. Humphries
Lansing, Mich.

Rebuild America's credibility: Do more to protect refugees

Regarding the June 19 article, "Iraqis find common ground – on a soccer field": The staggering numbers of Iraqi refugees that Jordan has accepted casts the United States' failure to shelter Iraqi refugees in a shameful light. As the writer notes, at least 700,000 Iraqi refugees have fled to Amman, a city of just 2 million, while the United States will accept just 7,000 Iraqi refugees this year.

More than 4 million Iraqis have fled persecution due to their status as Christian minorities, their work on behalf of the US, or for other reasons. Among the most vulnerable are women and their orphaned children who are struggling to survive after the kidnapping or assassination of their fathers.

Today, the US is neglecting its commitments to particularly vulnerable populations. But it wasn't always so. Since the Refugee Convention was adopted in 1951, the US has opened its doors to the world's most persecuted: Jewish people, the Vietnamese, and more recently the "Lost Boys" of southern Sudan. Our sheltering these individuals was integral to the US coming to be seen as a benevolent citizen of the world, and bolstered and sustained a vitally important international protection regime.

June 20 was World Refugee Day, and we Americans should reflect on how our failure to protect Iraqi refugees has undermined our status in the world and crippled the regime we did so much to foster. But while our reputation is damaged, it's not beyond repair. By meeting our responsibilities to those Iraqis who served with us, and accepting our international obligation to protect refugees, we can begin to rebuild our credibility abroad and restore our dignity at home.

Sarnata Reynolds
Director, Amnesty International USA's Refugee Program.
Washington

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