US can't split Europe
Regarding the May 12 article "Europe considers its alliances": It should be remembered that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was reelected on a program with a central idea: No war in Iraq. So far, Mr. Schröder has not deviated from this idea and has backed France's position at the UN Security Council. Politically, Europe is split, but one should keep in mind that the public opinion in continental Europe holds that the UN has a role to play in the world. None of the countries backing the US-UK alliance has the financial means to send any of its own troops into Iraq. And for most Europeans, the first step of Poland on the international stage looks rather like a farce.
Europe will survive the Iraq crisis. Public opinion is that the present split has been caused by the US desire to drive European affairs. Even if Europe is not still a single entity, to Europeans, US policy looks like interference in our own affairs.
Regarding the May 14th article "Iraqi holy men leap into postwar politics": I found this helpful in understanding the history of the Shiite-Sunni Muslim split as well as the variety of strategies taken by different Shiite clerics in southern Iraq today. The Iraqi approach to political decisionmaking, however, is puzzling. How are we to believe that Shiite leaders are "united to remove sectarianism from Iraqi politics," when the people look to the same religious leaders for guidance on questions of public policy?
I was disappointed in the May 13 article "For shrimpers, a vanishing way of life" about the decline of the US shrimping industry. It did not give any attention to the real reasons behind the various restrictions on the shrimp fishery. These regulations are in place to protect the viability of the fishery in the long run, as well as the nontargeted species like the endangered turtles and other species listed in the article. These regulations are based upon scientific data and are not to force shrimp fishermen to go under.
The ripe stuff
The May 15 story "Eating food with local roots" was excellent. I have been wondering why Americans do not mind eating half-ripe bananas that taste like starch and other fruits that are picked before they are ripe. Why do we choose to eat tomatoes in winter that are picked green from a vine and forced to ripen? Some may say that we are supporting the agricultural economy - if we all have to eat, we have to buy. But buying from small growers instead of mass producers would still support the economy.
I could relate to your interesting May 7 article "Hitting their stride." Even though I graduated from high school 20 years before Title IX, I too am having fun as a mature female athlete. I compete in the Senior Olympics in running and basketball - a sport I took up only two years ago. Indeed, women in their 40s and beyond are discovering that hey can be athletes, too - no matter what their age.
Lorelei de la Reza
Regarding the April 30 article "A century of conflicting advice": The advice isn't conflicting. The variety of child-rearing advice produces different kinds of children. Social diversity has replaced genetic diversity.
Ellen Armstrong Milwaukie, Ore.
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