Readers accused the nation's rulers of setting the stage for petro-turmoil by lining their pockets and exploiting the locals, thus depriving them of a share in the profits and of hope for a better future
"Nigeria's deadly delta" [May 22] reported on the nascent insurgency in Nigeria's oil fields. The pervasive optimism that spread along with the re-emergence of democracy in Nigeria has been defeated. Poverty and corruption are still concomitant with Nigeria's struggling democracy, and unfortunately ethnopolitical opportunists have exploited the status quo for economic gains, as the Niger Delta crisis has illustrated. While politicians seem poised to tackle those ignominies, they have been preoccupied with personal aspirations, notably President Olesegun Obasanjo's efforts to change the constitution and run for a third term. Until government institutions embrace a truly democratic culture, the prevailing mayhem will hold sway.
Jide Martyns Okeke
I am glad that time has brought the plight of the people of the Delta region to the attention of the world. While Nigeria's oil industry has produced billionaires, mostly from majority ethnic groups, the people of the Delta are left in penury. All the wealth is stolen and controlled by the majority tribes, who look down on the people of that region as inferior. It is the oil that Nigeria values, not the people. What the Nigerian state does to the people of the Niger Delta is abhorrent and pathetic.
The neglect of the Niger delta by successive Nigerian governments is criminal, but the truth is that many other parts of the country have also suffered that same fate. Outside of a few metropolitan cities like Lagos, Abuja and Kano, Nigeria is a vast expanse of criminal neglect. The problems of the Niger Delta cannot be solved in isolation but must be addressed with all the other troubles plaguing Nigeria. And resorting to violence will only create more problems and solve none.
Bush's Secret Spy Net
time reported that the National Security Agency (NSA), with help from phone companies, has been tracking the calls of tens of millions of Americans in secret, without a warrant and without Congress's approval [May 22]. President George W. Bush will never stop al-Qaeda by spying on innocent Americans. In addition to being a waste of resources, that expansion of government power invades our privacy and tramples our freedoms. It must be stopped. If our government continues to spy on ordinary citizens, then the terrorists will have succeeded in eroding our liberty.
Robert Boden II
Tecumseh, Michigan, U.S.
Thank you for your article on the government's data-mining program. Like most Americans, I understand that al-Qaeda is planning more attacks on U.S. soil. But I have noticed something equally troubling. Every time Bush defends an action for which he is criticized, he states it is necessary for national security. Over time it seems more and more power is being amassed by the Administration at the expense of Congress and the courts. That is tinkering with the U.S. Constitution, and that concerns me just as much as any threat of terrorism.
Thousand Oaks, California, U.S.
President Franklin Roosevelt said it well: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Time's reporting on the nsa seems aimed at making the American people paranoid. Let the civil libertarians be fearful and anxious. If monitoring our phones keeps just one American from being harmed, the government can listen to my calls anytime it wants.
Fallbrook, California, U.S.
Send Missives, Not Missiles
"Why not talk?" [May 22] described the reasons President Bush will not respond to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rambling 18-page letter. Although Ahmadinejad's missive wanders, covering a multitude of issues, the central message is that Bush does not live up to Christian teachings. The letter repeatedly refers to Jesus Christ and Moses, followed by the acronym for "peace be upon him." Indeed, Ahmadinejad cites Jesus but never mentions the Prophet Muhammad. Bush should reply in kind by citing Koranic passages to point out how Ahmadinejad does not live up to Islamic principles. Who knows? A continuing correspondence might reveal some common ground between two religious heads of state.
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Richard Nixon would have talked to Iran and would have done so while relying on historical knowledge, a certain craftiness in foreign affairs and a perspective of global reality. But Bush's approach to the Iranian nuclear problem looks remarkably like his No Child Left Behind education policy, which simply punishes noncompliance.
John Janovy Jr.
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
In Defense of the Dems
In Joe Klein's "Easy targets for Karl Rove" [May 22], the description of was excessive and uncalled for. Conyers and Rangel express a clear-eyed African-American perspective gained from hard experience. Klein may not share their politics, but he still owes them respect.
Rocky Hill, New Jersey, U.S.
The Sponsorship Circus
Thank you for your revealing article on the ferocious advertising battle between Nike and Adidas during soccer's World Cup [May 22]. While racism may be a big problem for the sport and every possible measure must be taken to remove that evil soccer's biggest problem is the overcommercialization detailed in the article. For many true fans, the billions of dollars the sport has accepted from sponsors has turned soccer into a circus.
Uprooting the Despots
I read with interest "Signs of freedom" [May 22], about democratic movements in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Syria and Lebanon. Attempts at democracy in Arab countries will be extremely difficult to realize, as despotism is deeply rooted here. My family and I joined Lebanon's anti-Syria independence demonstrations in March 2005, in the hope of drastic changes, only to see our leaders betray their principles through political intrigue. Someday, Muslim authorities will condemn the atrocities by hard-liners, just as Pope John Paul II denounced the Inquisition. In the meantime, Western powers might want to influence their political allies in the region to improve the conditions of their people.
The Personal Is Political
Re "10 questions for Mary Cheney" [May 22]: As a gay man, I was nauseated by her self-pitying indignation at John Kerry's bringing up her homosexuality during the third debate with George Bush. It was the introduction of anti-gay-marriage initiatives that tipped the election for Bush and her father in key states. Those initiatives didn't end up on the ballot by accident. Instead of pointing a finger at Kerry for what she calls a "cheap and blatant political ploy," she should remember that Republicans are masters at exploiting divisive issues that rile single-issue voters on the right and get them to the polls.
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
Catalan Pride on the Pitch
I was disappointed by Franklin Foer's essay about European football, "Homage to Catalonia" [May 22]. Foer said that over the years, his view of the Barcelona club "has grown ever more romantic," owing to its anti-Franco traditions. If he was willing to link football with politics and religion, he should have written at least a couple of lines about Athletic Club de Bilbao, the last romantic soccer team worldwide. It's not that I don't like Foer's favorites, Arsenal and Barcelona, but he should have mentioned that Athletic Club de Bilbao is one of the oldest teams in Spain and has always played with only Basque players. So if somebody wants to be romantic about the game, he should be an Athletic Club de Bilbao fan. It's not an issue of cups and success. It's a matter of pride and principles.
I am very glad some people abroad are able to fully understand the Catalan spirit. I have to say, your article was very close to the thoughts and feelings of many Catalans. May one day freedom reach us as well. As a matter of fact, we in the south of Europe are a key component in preventing fanaticism around the world. The day the geographically big nations listen to the small ones, things will be better for all.
I'm a Catalan living in London and, of course, a great Barcelona club supporter. Usually Catalans are portrayed as selfish people focused upon their narrow-minded identity, but your article offers an evenhanded take on what my nation is a small but vibrant, civic and open community.