Listen to the 'scruffy kids,' too

Pat M. Holt's July 5 column "Rich versus poor, old versus young: heed the cries" makes a significant point about taking seriously the voices of protest heard at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. "Scruffy kids" are also citizens. The Constitution doesn't make a distinction among our citizenry, and presidents don't have an exclusive right to state-of-the-union assessments. Voices from the trenches of economic pain supplement the work of the fourth estate.

Betty Lokey Willamsburg, Va.

Inhumane treatment of Vanunu

The July 5 "Whatever happened to?" about Mordechai Vanunu mischaracterized Amnesty International's position. Amnesty International has long called for Mr. Vanunu's release, but not as an expression of support for his disclosures of classified information, as the article reported. Rather, Amnesty International calls for Mr. Vanunu's release as redress for the persistent and past human rights violations he has endured.

Sharon Burke Washington Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International

Kudos to personal initiative

I think Nadine Epstein is really onto something that is truly American ("Our patio-furniture tax cut," opinion page, July 12). People taking care of people. People taking personal responsibility to help their communities. Why depend on federal politicians to decide what your community needs? How could they know? But local concerned citizens know what their schools and parks need. Ms. Nadine has tried to belittle the tax cut, but at the same time she seems to support what many people in the US have wanted all along: people taking personal responsibility for their communities without depending on Washington. We need more of this in America.

Ken Salottolo Studio City, Calif.

People first, last, and always

My sympathies are entirely with the farmers who opened the irrigation floodgates on the Fourth of July ("Dampening the water wars," July 11). The government and its regulations are wrong and civil disobedience is entirely appropriate in this case. That's the gut reaction of a lot of us urbanite Oregonians who almost never set foot on a farm.

If the genes of suckerfish are so potentially valuable that this "endangered" species must be preserved at all costs, why not scoop up a netful or two and put them in some protected place where they'll survive? And do it quickly, please, while there's still time for the land in the Klamathto to put out a halfway decent crop.

People first. First, last, and always.

Nancy Charlton Portland, Ore.

Terrific tutors

I must add my enthusiastic support to the concept described in "Learning a language 1 on 1" (Learning, July 10). Over the past 10 years, I have studied Hebrew with a number of teachers, always in a group context, and the end result was unsatisfying. This year I arranged my academic schedule so I could take the summer off and focus entirely on learning Hebrew. I retained a brilliant tutor, Ms. Natasha Shabat. She is a Harvard educated linguist in Hebrew, and has made the past several weeks the true joy I always knew learning Hebrew possessed. I recommend this language learning approach to anyone who can afford it, and particularly to the older student who wants to go on learning aspart of an already long and productive life.

Spencer Blakeslee Boston, Mass.

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