If sports education is free, what about band?

Regarding your Sept. 20 article "Will pay-to-play ruin school sports?": High-school marching band members have been paying to play for years. Schools no longer subsidize music. However, many fundraising activities are provided for students and their families. By raising funds, we see a higher number of parents participating in the lives of their children. No child is turned away due to the inability to pay.

While sports have long been paid for out of school coffers, marching bands are highly competitive and provide students with leadership, organizational, and multiple social skills. It's about time sports programs paid to play. If for no other reason than equity.
Susan Duncan
Concord, N.C.

In response to "Will pay-to-play ruin school sports?": It is a sad day when we have to pay for kids to play sports in a public school. I feel that if the schools cannot afford the programs they should cancel them. At least this way the families are not paying for their child's education twice.

It is an outrage that a district or a state is allowing this to take place.
Jerry McInturff
Shawnee, Okla.

War is a question of votes

Regarding your Sept. 20 article "Is war on Iraq inevitable?": There is a scenario that would deter this administration from attacking Iraq: if it became politically imprudent.

The US voting public is capricious, and if sentiment suddenly shifted to one where George Bush and his cohorts decided that by invading Iraq, Republicans would lose more votes than they would gain, some rationale would be found for them to declare victory without going to war.
Ronald Rubin
Topanga, Calif.

Incomplete victory in Sierra Leone

Regarding your Sept. 18 article "Sierra Leone: The path from pariah to peace," While it's true that demobilization in Sierra Leone is considered by many to be a success story, it has been largely a failure for the women who were forced to be among the fighting forces; particularly those who were not traditional combatants, but were abducted and served as cooks, servants, wives, and sex slaves to the fighters.

The disarmament process did not take into consideration the noncombatant roles women played among fighting forces, focusing instead on those who took direct part in the hostilities. As a result, these women have no access to health services, schools, or job-skills training, and little is being done to address their needs.
Jane Lowick
New York
Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children

Keep a poker face against Hussein

In response to Daniel Schorr's Sept. 20 Opinion column, "Can Bush trump Hussein's ace?": Does anyone think that Saddam Hussein would have agreed to let the weapons inspectors come back to Iraq if it were not for the threat of his being removed from power? Does anyone believe that Mr. Hussein will live up to the inspection agreement if he no longer feels threatened? Would President Bush invade Iraq without a UN go-ahead? We don't know, but evidently Hussein believes he would, and that is the point.

President Bush has spoken the only language Hussein understands. Unless the threat of invasion by the United States remains credible, Hussein will be back at his old tricks, and sooner or later the world will have to face him.

In poker you know that no bluff is effective unless you are willing to carry it through to the end. Let's allow the president to play his cards. He has done a good job so far.
Harry J. Peterson
Corpus Christi, Texas

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