US could be a beacon in treatment of detainees

Regarding "Fate of 'detainees' hangs on US wording" (Jan. 17): For many years I was a teacher in Iowa, and many of those I taught ended up in Vietnam, some as prisoners. We've heard the stories of how the Viet Cong demeaned and tortured them, and we were horrified at the barbarism.

As we deal with Al Qaeda prisoners, I imagine some will be illiterate peasants, caught up in a movement they little understand, fighting because other options in their decimated country were almost nil.

Americans are people whose government is based on laws that recognize basic rights: to be treated humanely, considered innocent until proven guilty, and given a speedy and fair trial. We pride ourselves on being a good, generous, and kind nation. It appears some of these prisoners are guilty of horrendous attacks on the US, and they must be punished. But here is an opportunity to show the world a different way, the civilized way, of dealing with prisoners.

Betty Neville Michelozzi
Corralitos, Calif.

Chiapas forest hurt by fast track

"No quick solution to deforestation in lush Chiapas" (Jan. 14) describes this southern state of Mexico as I found it on two trips and correctly diagnoses rural poverty as the cause of increasing destruction of the Lacandon Jungle. It fails to state that a major cause of increasing poverty here is NAFTA. In the seven years of NAFTA, the number of Mexicans in extreme poverty has risen by about 10 million, and Mexican workers have lost 29 percent of their purchasing power. Poor corn farmers have been forced into city slums, because they can't compete with the prices of Iowa corn.

Now by a single-vote margin in the US House of Representatives, we're on a fast track to allow a vote in Congress, with no possibility of full review of any amendment, to extend NAFTA to the whole hemisphere as the Free Trade Area of the Americas. And this at a time when thousands have struck against corporate globalization in places like Bolivia, Ecuador, and now Argentina.

Peter D. Mott Pittsford, N.Y.

Getting the wiggles out

Regarding "Find those gym shorts! Phys Ed makes comeback" (Jan. 22): I remember having a half-hour recess in grade school. Once you ran around for half an hour you could then remain seated for the rest of the day.

I thought this was obviously not enough when I was a child, but apparently it hasn't been so obvious to many administrators whose notion of education is sitting still.

The last paragraph makes mention of a teacher selling candy bars to students on their way out of class as a way to raise money for a new playground. After reading the article about overweight kids and junk food, I was astounded the teacher would sell candy. Is it any wonder that the youth in our country are overweight?

J. David Reno

A benefit of bringing back Physical Education and activity to our schools might be a behavior change. My 7-year-old is hardly a case for attention deficit disorder, but he is a typical young, active boy and he has a hard time sitting still all the time. He kept having notes sent home.

My sister suggested making him ride his bike in the morning before school. It helped a bit. But he only has gym twice a week for 20 minutes or so. He has outside play time at the end of the school day at 3 p.m., but this is not enough.

There is no avenue for children in school to get the wiggles out during the day. I hope our school district reads your article.

Mary Ann Lomascolo
Garner, N.C.

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