Forget the WMD debate; focus on Bush agenda

Regarding your Jan. 30 editorial "Kay-O'd on Iraqi Weapons?": Speculation regarding possible intelligence failures in the matter of Iraq weaponry is pointless.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has already stated that the possible existence of weapons of mass destruction was seized upon by the Bush administration as the single theme most likely to gain support for an invasion of Iraq.

That estimates were therefore either in error or purposely distorted is not the point we ought to be discussing.

We ought to be asking why President Bush and his advisers wanted American soldiers to invade and occupy Iraq, at the cost of so much blood and treasure, with no end in sight.

What were they intending and what will be their next step? What is their agenda and is it one the American people should accept?
Jim Woolsey
Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Showing progress in Africa

Jean-Marc Gorelick's Jan. 30 Opinion piece "The Africa we aren't shown on TV" is a rare and welcome example of a national newspaper paying attention to the activities of young Americans serving in the Peace Corps. I was disappointed, however, that Mr. Gorelick fed into the very stereotypes he purported to tear down.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like Save the Children and CARE long ago stopped using images of sickly Africans in their fundraising and advocacy campaigns - in fact, Sally Struthers is no longer a spokeswoman for Save the Children.

While there is no question that AIDS is ravaging many African countries, some have managed to contain the pandemic. For example, by 2002, 6.2 percent of the Ugandan population was infected with HIV, down from 18 percent a decade earlier. Wondering where all the "sickly, defeated Africans" are fails to recognize the diversity and significant success stories within Africa and its nations.
Amy Mehringer
Syracuse, N.Y.
The writer was a Peace Corps volunteer from 1998 to 2000 in Cape Verde, West Africa.

Creating readers for life

Regarding your Jan. 29 article "Reading choices narrow for schools with federal aid": The emphasis on phonics in early education is an important component but not the entire picture. Not only does a curriculum have to have a phonics element but also it needs phonemic awareness, sight word recognition, comprehension, and motivation.

And how do we motivate children to be readers beyond the classroom? We give them a reason to read, to figure out what those little squiggles on the page have to do with life. We give them positive successful experiences with books and other print materials. We engage them in actively thinking about stories. We get parents involved as role models who read every day and show their children that reading is something to be coveted, treasured, and practiced. That's what real reading instruction is all about.
Cathy Puett Miller
Canton, Ga.
The writer is an independent children's literacy consultant.

Canada's oil reserves

The diagram accompanying your Jan. 29 article "Has global oil production peaked?" illustrating global crude oil reserves, shows nothing for Canada. Canada is a major oil producer, and its oil sands are said to rival Saudi Arabia's reserves, albeit in a form much more difficult to extract.

Canada also has unknown and untapped offshore and Arctic reserves that are probably very large. In any event, I believe the world will never run out of oil. But as oil's price inevitably rises, alternative energy technologies will come to the fore.
Nigel Protter
Pemberton, British Columbia

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