Help Africa to value itself

Regarding your Dec. 27 article "Days wane for African 'big men' ": This well-written article gives the reader an accurate snapshot of the nature of African politics. My hope is for "new blood at the top," but how will this be possible with widespread corruption in the government? How could one man allow his country to slip into absolute poverty, while he and his supporters live well?

When Black Power in America was on many an agenda several years ago, I wondered what I could do as an American to help our African brothers and sisters. The answer seems to be that Africa itself must first recognize and value its citizens as people.

I have met many Africans who look upon me as inferior because I am not of "pure African blood." This is true: I am a mixture of many races - European, African, native American. But I do not claim Africa as my country of origin. I am from America, and I wouldn't want to live in any other land. Blessings to the new leadership of Kenya and to its people.
Celestine Taylor-Davis
Dayton, Ohio

Today's dispossessed

In responses to your Dec. 24 article "Borders - cultural and academic - were meant to be crossed": Increased military action around the world has created a new breed of dispossessed. These are the millions of people around the world living under authoritarian, repressive, and sometimes brutal regimes. Even with the removal of these regimes, they are the first to suffer the effects of war, despite having no rights or influence.

For pursuing the most mundane human activities - working, raising a family - they are jailed, tortured, even killed. They cannot turn to their government, the liberating forces, or the UN.

One innocent person killed unnecessarily, whether in New York, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world, is one too many, and it is time the UN address the plight of these innocent people. Solutions will not be easy to achieve, but visionary thinking and dedicated resources will produce results.
Paul Bassaw
Port of Spain, Trinidad

Not all 'wired' teens revert to slang

Regarding your Dec. 12 article " 'r u online?': the evolving lexicon of wired teens": As a high school junior, I was appalled to read this article's insinuation that all kids my age use Internet slang. Many, like me, don't.

I admit that I will occasionally use slang like "brb" (be right back) or "ttyl" (talk to you later), simply because it takes less time when something else requires urgent attention away from the computer. I try my best, however, along with most people I chat with by AOL's Instant Messenger, to refrain from using Internet slang. Like most slang, it isn't necessary and decreases the grammar skills of those who use it.

The only other thing about the article that I found dismaying was that it persuaded readers to believe that every teen who uses Instant Messenger services incorporates this Internet slang not only into IM, but also into everyday life. This is not true at all.
Jennifer Yaney
Searcy, Ark.

A somber Christmas in Venezuela

Regarding your Dec. 24 article "This Christmas, it's politics vs. presents in Venezuela": Things are a bit more serious than just Christmas gifts here in Venezuela. The Chávez administration is involved in anything but dialogue to restore the situation, no matter how large the crowds grow or how much louder the pans sound.

What kind of information is US Ambassador Charles Shapiro sending to the US? Have you thought about what it will do in the future with Lula da Silva, Chávez, and Fidel?
Daniel Quintini
Caracas, Venezuela

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