Re "Saving Seoul" [May 15], on the city's transformation into a greener urban environment: As a citizen of Seoul, I am so proud that we have reclaimed and cleaned up Cheonggyecheon stream, the centerpiece of the city's environmentally friendly future. Cheonggyecheon, Seoul Forest and Seoul Plaza are green oases where a Seoulite can take a break, as free as a bird. Seoul's welcoming green spaces set a new standard in the design of urban parks for all Asia. I hope other Asian metropolises will learn from Seoul's example. If you visit Seoul, please stop by the green stream, and you will experience the best of South Korea.
The Hong Kong government is working relentlessly to improve our environment. Our work in Hong Kong has clear objectives and implementation goals backed by a well-established institutional setup. This setup now extends to Guangdong, where our Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, and the Guangdong Governor, Huang Huahua, oversee a Joint Liaison Group to agree on action plans and monitor progress on the environment for the whole Pearl River Delta region. The target on air quality is to achieve emissions reductions for both sides by 2010. The reduction program has started and 16 state-of-the-art monitoring stations are now up and running. If one compares the air quality of Hong Kong and Seoul in recent years, the two cities are very similar. Over 7.8 million trees have been planted in the past three years. Extensive urban-greening master plans are drawn up for all busy districts in addition to existing highway planting and slope coverage. Our country parks occupy nearly 40% of a total land area of 1,000 sq km and are located just 45 minutes beyond the concrete jungle. I would invite you to write about our Shing Mun River, which has been reincarnated recently from a dead nullah into a living river, sustaining its own course happily while allowing humans to enjoy itnot to abuse it.
Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works
While some may criticize the deal that former President Bill Clinton made with soda companies to remove high-calorie, sugary drinks from school vending machines, at least he made a deal [May 15]. Parents, PTAs and school boards have apparently been unable to muster similar strength to teach their kids and the vendors that the availability of soda is not a right. Some people lament the loss of revenue from the drink machines, but since when did revenue rate higher than the health of our kids? We as a nation must accept that until we change our eating habits and teach our children how to make better eating choices, we will not resolve our health problems.
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
I applaud Clinton and his allies for working to get sugar out of our schools. But as a parent who has served sodas and other treats to my kids and their teammates following baseball, basketball and soccer games, I can tell you that the blame for childhood obesity resides not in our vending machines but in ourselves.
Roseville, Minnesota, U.S.
At a time when sports and other extracurricular activities are being cut from schools throughout the U.S., solely getting rid of soda and other sugar-filled drinks is a Band-Aid for a bigger problem. Although I understand how those drinks help contribute to the problems of obesity and Type 2 diabetes faced by our youth, we must not forget that physical education and sports programs, which also prevent obesity and diabetes, are being trimmed from inner-city-school budgets every year. I commend the Clinton Foundation for its efforts, but I suggest that its campaign be extended to highlight the importance of the health-essential programs that are being eliminated from U.S. school budgets.
Mawusi Khadija Watson
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
That the soft-drink companies have agreed to remove sugar-filled soft drinks from school vending machines is certainly a step in the right direction, but it doesn't address the issue of another ingredient kids are addicted to: caffeine. Replacing sugary caffeinated soft drinks with artificially sweetened caffeinated soft drinks isn't much of an improvement. I say: Get rid of all sodas in our schools.
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
The days just before and after high-sugar holidays like Halloween and Valentine's Day constitute a veritable sucrose feeding frenzy in schools. Many school clubs and organizations depend on the sale of overpriced candy bars and other sugar-laden snacks as a fund-raising tool. There is seldom a time during the school year when some group is not selling some sugary treat. And obviously, if students buy it, they're going to eat it.
Richard Lee Hunter
Spiro, Oklahoma, U.S.
I was favorably impressed by Clinton's deal with the U.S.'s three biggest beverage manufacturers to expel sugary drinks from school vending machines and substitute bottled water, unsweetened fruit juices, low-fat milk and sugar-free sodas. Clinton is setting a good example by using his influence to improve the quality of nutrition at U.S. schools. Although many American schoolkids are of the opinion that his campaign is futile, since sweetened drinks will still be available at after-school events, his struggle is the first step toward helping young people become health-conscious. I wish I had been offered healthful nutrition at my school.
Aiming for New Gamers
"A Game for All Ages" [May 15] reported that Nintendo hopes its new game controller, which senses a player's hand movements, will appeal to girls and grandparents. As a female gamer who has been playing video games since the days of Pac-Man, I am always amused by game companies that feel the need to target female gamers. Not one of the games aimed at girls has appealed to me. You know what I want in a game? How about realistic female characters instead of bouncy, skinny, half-naked ones? I have given up playing female characters in any game because of how they look. Does anyone really believe female warriors ran around wearing little more than a metal brassiere? If Nintendo is serious about wanting to reach a female audience, it should treat us with some respect. We like questing too!
Santa Clara, California, U.S.
Nintendo believes that nongamers do not play video games because they are "really hard" and the "learning curve is steep." As a nongamer, I have another take: we do not play video games because we prefer fresh air and sunshine, exercise, good books and conventional card and board games that allow us to interact with other humans.
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
Nintendo's new game controller is quite intriguing. As a nongamer, I quickly saw beyond its recreational use to its potential in other areas. For example, could the movement and motion described as part of the gaming experience be incorporated into a program of rehabilitation therapy for people recovering from illness or injury? Could that be used as part of a strengthening program for older adults? If Nintendo is looking for new markets, perhaps its engineers and developers should meet with some physical-therapy experts and explore the possibilities.
Muscoda, Wisconsin, U.S.
Battling to Save the Cave
Thank you for shining a worldwide light on the crisis in Lascaux, France [May 15]. Clearly the cave and its irreplaceable paintings are still at grave risk. The French government must end its secretive handling of the cave, the crisis and attempted treatments. A truly international, independent group of scientists and experts in cave art and conservation should be allowed to monitor and report to the world on the cave and its health. Lascaux is not an heirloom of French or even Western culture. It is an expression of the earliest experience of being human. The Lascaux discovery in 1940 redefined what was previously known about human beings' creative development and ability to construct images from abstract thought. That critical leap and the resulting tangible evidence are invaluable to understanding global human heritage. Imagine if the great library of Alexandria survived today. How much richer would the world and collective human culture be if we could draw from that vast collection of ancient knowledge? The Lascaux cave is our proto-Alexandria, humanity's library of prehistory from the dawn of our ancestors' impulse to record. We must take immediate steps to ensure that generations of our descendants have the benefit of Lascaux's lessons.
Melody K. Di Piazza
International Committee for the Preservation of Lascaux
New York City
Maverick Mogul TIME's Feb. 16, 1968, cover story profiled John Kenneth Galbraith, the influential economist, diplomat and prolific author who died in April at age 97:
"Opposition to established thoughtor to 'conventional wisdom,' as he derisively calls itis hardly a new role for Harvard's Warburg Professor of Economics ... He has become an all-purpose critic in the U.S. and beyond, jousting with as many demons as a latter-day Vishnu, the many-armed Hindu god of a thousand names ... The foundations for Galbraith's current fameor notorietywere laid a decade ago with publication of [his book] The Affluent Society ... With its analysis of poverty in America and its plea for greater attention to the public sectorhousing, police, mass transit, education and welfareit established clear guideposts for both the New Frontier and the Great Society. Galbraith offered the best summation of its philosophy when he testified against tax reduction before a congressional committee in 1965. 'I AM NOT QUITE SURE WHAT THE ADVANTAGE IS IN HAVING A FEW MORE DOLLARS TO SPEND,' HE SAID, 'IF THE AIR IS TOO DIRTY TO BREATHE, the water too polluted to drink, the streets are filthy and the schools so bad that the young, perhaps wisely, stay away, and hoodlums roll citizens for some of the dollars they saved in taxes.'" Read more at timearchive.com.
Setting the Record Straight
Our May 29 Milestone on the death of Japanese actor Takahiro Tamura misidentified his father as Tamasaburo Bando. The correct name should be Tsumasaburo Bando, who was a screen legend in the 1920s and '30s. Tamasaburo Bando is a current Kabuki actor.