Our anniversary issue commemorated the extraordinary lives of fearless leaders, freethinkers, innovators and charismatic cultural icons of the past 60 years. Readers celebrated achievements by heroes who have had a lasting impact on the world and reminded us of those we had forgotten
With the exception of Mother Teresa, your list was an assortment of achievers, intellectuals, artists and celebrities, but not heroes [Nov. 13]. Time should also have noted the nameless, uncountable millions of sufferers this world has produced in the past 60 years. Those who endured the struggle just to survive from one day to the next, or fought against incurable diseases, or tried not to succumb to pain or injuries inflicted by fellow humans they are also heroes.
Hans D. Chi
Afrobeat musician and political activist Fela Kuti was one of only two Nigerians included in your list (the other was novelist Chinua Achebe), and this distinction was no mean achievement. Fela's superhuman energy, his wild and wicked sense of humor and his rebellious attitude revealed a man who refused to let go of his youthful, rebellious spirit throughout his entire life. Your story said he was "an outspoken teenager who never quite grew up." Who ever said that was a shortcoming?
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl undoubtedly brought together East and West Germany, but George H.W. Bush's description of him "as the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century" shows a degree of naiveté. Kohl was yet one more politician who wanted to leave his mark on history, at the cost of neglecting the country's failing health-care system and the problems of unemployment.
The admiration that Czech president Vaclav Klaus' article showed for Margaret Thatcher's belief in human freedom made me snigger. I've chosen, however, to forgive him for the narrowness of his insight. Obviously, Thatcher's unswerving belief in human freedom did not extend to the repressed and disenfranchised blacks of South Africa when she refused to support sanctions against the apartheid government. She remained steadfast in her refusal when other, more conscionable leaders could no longer condone the injustices of that regime. The only freedom Thatcher truly valued was the freedom to amass wealth, the more the better.
The profiles in "60 years of heroes" proved that no matter where you are on the planet, you can positively change the course of the future. The odds stacked against you do not matter. Thanks for the inspiring stories.
Raise a Glass
As someone who likes good food and wine, I was delighted to read about how a substance called resveratrol in red wine proved to have a terrific health benefit in tests with mice [Nov. 13]. Then I read, "You would need to drink more than 100 glasses of red wine a day to get as much resveratrol as those mice got," and I thought, Wow, the good news just keeps on coming!
Mammoth Lakes, California
Peter Galbraith's article "the case for dividing Iraq" [Nov. 13] outlined the best solution for ending the Iraq war. The attempt to create a unified, democratic Iraq is doomed to failure. Modern Iraq as we know it has never been politically unified; religious and tribal factionalism has been suppressed either by the strictly autocratic rule of a British-imposed monarchy or the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The new U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush should make the issue of resolving the Iraq war their first priority when Congress convenes in January.
Wakefield, Rhode Island, U.S.
The idea that Iraq should be divided so that the U.S. can withdraw its forces is monstrous. Iraq's uncertain future cannot be dictated by escape strategies for the occupying forces. But just as dangerous is President Bush's bombastic and empty talk of achieving "victory."
New York City
Partitioning Iraq is a recipe for disaster. The civil war in Iraq could expand to engulf the whole region. No current or future government in Turkey would condone the emergence of a separate Kurdish entity in northern Iraq, as that would inflame the separatist tendencies of Turkey's Kurdish population. Other Arab countries would probably reject the possibility of another Shi'ite nation. Arguments in favor of partitioning Iraq are neo-imperialist and do nothing beneficial for the region.
Sait T. Tangor
Dividing Iraq will not end the civil war; it will be seen only as another example of heavy-handed U.S. imperialism, especially in the Muslim world.
New York City
Re "The snow show" [Nov. 13]: the Republican Party ought to nominate White House press secretary Tony Snow as its next presidential candidate. He is vigorous and intelligent and has a way with words. Unlike most of our politicians, he is neither stodgy nor crooked. He has a sense of humor and is fatally handsome in the bargain. In both stature and character, he's tall enough that we can look up to him. He's just the leader we need in our highest office.
Richard H. Utt
Loma Linda, California, U.S.
Snow may be the slickest press secretary in years, but that still makes him little more than the Bush Administration's court jester. Any credibility he had had as a journalist was ruined when he took the job as mouthpiece for the White House. He is going to end up as spokesman for some corporation or lobbying firm. No matter what, he will be highly paid. My hat's off to him.
LaGrange Park, Illinois, U.S.
Madonna's New Baby
I don't understand the controversy over Madonna's adoption of a Malawian orphan [Nov. 13]. Shouldn't it be taken as a sign of generosity and love? I think the media are to blame for all the accusations of impropriety. Doing something that may be seen as trendy is not always a bad thing. Madonna's action will hopefully encourage others to adopt orphan children who might otherwise have very grim lives.
Richard M. Valenci
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, U.S.
As a mother, I shuddered to read Madonna's pathetically low benchmark for motherhood: "Even if I'm the worst mother in the world, I'm better than death!" The comment was insensitive and reeked of arrogance. While Madonna's giving huge sums of money to charity is laudable, one needs an entirely different set of skills to be a good mother to an adopted child. I wonder how much Madonna understands that.
Re "Way too much monkey business" [Nov. 13], on the overpopulation of rhesus macaques in Delhi: The problem reflects the sad state of Indian society today. Indians see only the immediate trouble and its quick fix. In the quest for a high per capita income, the society is moving forward in much the same way it handled the monkey issue creating problems, analyzing those problems in retrospect, critiquing the possible solutions and finally learning to coexist with the problem. Then some entrepreneur sees a business opportunity: Let's bring in bigger monkeys to solve the problem of the smaller ones. The entrepreneur's income adds to the gdp, and society learns to coexist with the bigger problem. That's what India is today: brilliant entrepreneurs in a society that is content to coexist with poverty, illiteracy and corruption.
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.
Re "Warming to a global theme" [Nov. 13]: Climate change has been occurring since the beginning of Planet Earth, and it will continue to do so. It is ridiculous to assume that global climate can be controlled by more or less CO2 emissions. It seems that many people have forgotten that CO2 is a basic need for the earth's vegetation. More CO2 increases plant growth and harvests. The fight against carbon emissions and climate change is nothing but ideological and political hype. This will become apparent when the next and inevitable cooling period occurs.
Dietrich E. Koelle
If the world is waking up to the reality that global warming is here (not a future event) and wishes to take effective action, we need to listen to voices other than those who insist that economic activity must be curtailed. The way forward lies in increased wealth, better standards of living and less taxation. If we seek economic sustainability, we should adopt the motto "If an economy can't make a decent profit, it's not sustainable."
Pack Up for Provence
Film director Ridley Scott was right on target when he stated, "There is a very strong regard for 'living' in France" [Nov. 13]. My husband and I packed up when we reached retirement age and moved to Saignon, a village in Provence that's minutes away from where Scott's movie A Good Year was filmed. In trading the known for the unknown, we are having the adventure of a lifetime. The good life that novelist Peter Mayle and Ridley Scott have portrayed so well can be experienced by anyone who wants it badly enough. In ways big and small, the French joyfully share their country's beauty, culture, food and wine with anyone who comes here with an open mind and heart. A big merci beaucoup to both Scott and Mayle.