Helping Afghanistan help itself

In your Aug. 27 article, "Aid flows to Afghanistan, in drips," I found one of the Afghan comments most interesting: "The Russians came; we tested them, and they failed.... Now it is the time for the Americans to be tested. We hope we can remain helpful to the US in the war on terrorism, and we hope they will also help us."

The real problem is that the Afghans are not testing themselves. I have no respect for people looking for handouts. I have great respect for people willing to work hard to improve life for themselves and their countrymen.
Robert Shisler
Frederick, Pa.

Regarding "Aid flows to Afghanistan, in drips": Thank you for underscoring America's need to honor previously made commitments to alleviate some of the suffering in this war-stricken region. This is the perfect opportunity to exercise the courageous and moral leadership that builds friendship and respect.
(The Rev.) Matthew Floding
Holland, Mich.

Europe will never give up the stick

As a stick-shift devotee, I read with amusement your piece entitled "Why drivers may give up the 'stick'" (Aug. 26). What I found interesting was the point that only 9 percent of cars sold had a manual transmission – in the US, that is.

In Europe, I would guess that the ratio of cars sold with manual transmissions is much higher. European car manufacturers – the world's best – will continue to offer their cars with stick shifts for that all-important home market. US firms hoping to be competitive overseas will do this, too. Consider Chrysler minivans which, as opposed to here in the US, can be ordered in Europe with a manual transmission.
James Nelson
Carlisle, Pa.

Regarding your Aug. 26 article, "Why drivers may give up the 'stick'": The fuel-efficiency of the new engines sounds great. But I drive a stick not just because of its fuel economy, but because of its extra power on mountain roads. Right now I am living in Boston, and I wouldn't miss the stick one bit as I commute, but I'll keep it for driving on mountain roads.
Karen Johnson Jacot
Brighton, Mass.

Government money for ESL

Regarding your Aug. 27 article, "Immigrants' first stop: the line for English classes": By not fully funding ESL classes for immigrants, we are laying the groundwork for future problems. I teach ESL in Juneau, Alaska, where the newcomers have made great sacrifices to come here, and they are not given the support they need to become the strong citizens we need them to be. They are our future. Let's help them to prepare for a glorious one.
Bridget Smith
Juneau, Alaska

I want my MP3s

I'd like to make a few points in regard to your Aug. 19 article, "Digital copying rules may change." First, I've been downloading music for years, but mostly a song or two per album – nothing I would run out and spend $15 to $20 on. I have purchased CDs based on music sampled from the Web.

Second, I rent movies at the local video store, and through "pay-per-view," and I purchase new official versions from local outlets. I have also downloaded a few movies from the Web. These files have mostly been of "worn VHS" quality. I would venture a guess that almost all who download movies look at them as novelties. I know I do. I have yet to watch one start to finish on my PC.

I am a consumer. Take away my right of "fair use," and I will stop buying.
Marat Bandemer
Beaver Dam, Wis.

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