Iraqi Shiites in concert with Iran?

I am very troubled by your April 24 article "Democracy's push, theocracy's pull." Iraqi Shiites would not federate with Iran. Anyone who knows them knows they have gone to great lengths to maintain their independence of Iran, now and throughout their history.

To print such an assertion at this time is dangerous. The US government tends to be uninformed or misinformed about the Shiites and may be moving toward a misguided policy in Iraq. This kind of article promotes such a disaster.

It is also untrue that the Iraqi Shiites generally want a theocracy - although a few may. A fine newspaper like the Monitor should not be using mistaken experts, moving us to thwart majority rule in Iraq and no end of instability for the long-suffering Iraqi people.
Joyce Wiley
Spartanburg, S.C.
Government and International Studies

University of South Carolina, Spartanburg

Pipeline in no condition to pump oil

John K. Cooley's April 23 opinion piece "An old Israel-Iraq oil line ... reopening?" concerning the old pipeline to Haifa is the first and only one I have found that mentions that the old line is not just lying there ready to go.

The salts associated with oil damage pipe and, as your article accurately explains, the pipeline will have to be replaced to be of any use, as will the pumping stations and other infrastructure.
Jim Tanner
Glenn Rose, Texas

Examining culture in the classroom

As a second-teacher and a mother, I read with great interest your April 22 article "Twenty years after 'A Nation at Risk.'" I understand that our educational system has room for great improvement and I am encouraged that we continue to search for the reasons behind our failures. This study, however, examines our educational system as if it exists in a vacuum. I'm afraid the real reasons why "in global comparisons US students still fail to score among the top nations" will never be found until our culture is studied as well.

I would be very interested to read a report that compares not only our educational system with those of higher performing nations, but also some of the significant cultural factors that contribute to students' success. It may be easier for politicians to simplify complex cultural problems into quick quotes that do not insult their constituents, but this, I fear, does not wholly reach the core of the problem.
Keely Loe
Tehachapi, Calif.

Clean water not negotiable

Regarding Roger T. Rufe Jr.'s April 23 opinion piece "Bush water follies": Don't governments on both sides of the US-Canadian border at least pay lip service to the idea that if the people vote them in, they will look out for the interests of their citizens? What has changed? It's shameful that clean water is negotiable.
Bill McIntosh
Port Elgin, Ontario

Chef's success

I enjoyed your April 23 article "Learning to cook the Julia Child way" and can relate to all of the frustrations and fun of dealing with the world of cooking. My wife, not knowing how to boil water when we married in 1961, used "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" as the ultimate "cooking bible." Not only was her cooking upscaled, but she was further inspired, finally graduating from Cordon Bleu in Paris - the school Julia attended. She is now a retired chef having once cooked for a two-star restaurant in Brussels - and the really good news is I have put on only 20 pounds since we married.
Harvey Sklar
Riverton, N.J.

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