In search of good news from Iraq

Regarding the July 15 article "US shifting guard duty to former Iraqi soldiers": I was glad to read about US troops training former Iraqi soldiers to take over guard duties in schools, hospitals, etc. It is good to read about positive actions that our troops are doing in Iraq. It seems the networks, and even my town newspaper, have been focusing on the negative occurrences that our troops are facing. Although I want to learn the negatives, I also would like to hear that our troops are doing well and are working to eventually hand over the reins of government to Iraqis.

Having spent 20 years in the military, I am not under the illusion that this conflict, or any conflict, will yield no casualties. But to focus on this aspect of conflict - and not on the progress our troops are making - is an insult to and a mockery of the sacrifices they and their families are making.
Roy P. Shelton
Fort Worth, Texas

Bravo to Berlusconi

In your July 11 article "Italians voice growing dismay with their flashy prime minister," you conveniently failed to state the reason for Silvio Berlusconi's outburst.

Mr. Schulz, the German parliamentarian, probably in a bid for momentary self- aggrandizement, chose a most unlikely time and place to call into question Mr. Berlusconi's fitness as president of the European Union. Mr. Berlusconi's problems in the Italian courts are a strictly internal matter and are being dealt with accordingly.

To his credit, Mr, Berlusconi refused to be politically correct. He chose not to turn over and play dead but rather address Mr. Schulz's remarks immediately. If apologies are in order, Mr. Schulz should be the one to apologize to the Italian people for his intemperate meddling in Italy's internal affairs.
Linda del Tinto
New York

An unwelcoming profession for men

As a veteran of 30 years in public teaching, I applaud your July 15 article "Too Few Good Men." Perhaps too little emphasis, however, was given to citizens' refusal to adequately fund education for proper facilities and salaries, and to address the increasing hurdles placed in the way of new teachers. The unnecessarily difficult, often irrelevant, and time-consuming courses and tests that new teachers must navigate are driving many men out of the classroom.

Often, new teachers complete rigorous requirements only to face challenging students and unsupportive parents. For many immigrants to our shores, the lack of respect for teachers, compared with that in their homelands, is startling. They are baffled by the American attitude that teachers are a joke. Our media often reinforce this attitude. How many can name last year's Teacher of the Year compared with MVP in any major sport? Last, sexism is alive and well in elementary education. The stereotype is that most men in elementary education are gay, and some women teachers prefer the field to remain female.
Patrick D. McGuire
Santa Monica, Calif.

Finding religion - in the library?

Regarding the July 7 Opinion "Different Religions Week: One small step for mankind?": Visiting places of worship foreign to our own should always be edifying. But setting aside a national week for the purpose reminds me of the family that offers heartfelt grace before dinner on Thanksgiving Day and forgets who puts the food on the table the rest of the year.

The public library is a better source of learning the genesis and proliferation of various religions as well as their practices and beliefs, because the library is not in the business of gaining converts.
Michelle Yomtov
Los Angeles

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