Mark Halperin's "On the Fence: A Voter's Guide to the 2008 Election" was a sad reminder of how personality and strategy have winnowed away any attention to actual issues [Oct. 22]. The guide purported to instruct undecided voters, but it paid less attention to substantive policy issues than it did to the very political maneuvering that turns people away from political reporting. The piece provided inane details such as John Edwards' penchant for cheeseburgers and Mitt Romney's fondness for Lake Winnipesaukee. This trivia takes the place of information about such topics as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, economic uncertainties, labor strife and the lack of accessible health care. TIME should press the candidates on the issues, not engage in meaningless exercises far removed from the lives of voters.
Matt Carlson, ST. LOUIS, MO., U.S.
You cited Mitt Romney's Mormon faith as one of his liabilities. Interestingly, you cited neither Hillary Clinton's gender nor Barack Obama's race as a liability. Why is that? The bigots who would not vote for Clinton because she's a woman or Obama because he's black are in the same category with bigots who would not vote for Romney because he's a Mormon. You are perpetuating the notion that voters can legitimately dismiss Romney for a reason that has nothing to do with his political views, and that's wrong.
Stephen A. Hales, PROVO, UTAH, U.S.
Burma Deserves Better
Thanks to Andrew Marshall for his wonderful first-person account of the recent peaceful protests in Burma [Oct. 22]. As I read it, I couldn't help but think that perhaps this was the country Vice President Dick Cheney was thinking about when he said our invading forces would be greeted as liberators. It's a shame that Saddam Hussein was so evil and his country so rich in resources that we had to get rid of him by force. Yet Burma, a country rich in culture and tradition, can only wait for U.N. sanctions that will take a while to go into effect and will only hurt the Burmese people instead of the junta the sanctions are aimed at.
Kevin Heise, ROCHESTER, N.Y., U.S.
Your cover story told the world how brutal the repressive junta is, but I'm afraid that prayer alone will not change it. The Burmese have been praying for 45 years, and the situation seems to be getting worse. If the free world can bring Saddam and Slobodan Milosevic to justice, why not do the same with Burma's junta? If we are waiting for China to pressure Burma to change, we will have a long, long wait. China has to become a democratic country first; otherwise, how can China advise others to be democratic?
John C.M. Lee, HONG KONG
A Patient's Gratitude
I read your article on breast cancer with great interest [Oct. 15]. Kenyan Mary Onyango's comment that if you can't travel overseas for treatment, "you just sit and wait for your death," prodded me to respond. A year after learning I had breast cancer, I am once again fit and healthy. Contrary to being urged to go abroad for treatment, I had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in Nairobi, and I have nothing but praise and gratitude for every person involved in my treatment.
Hettie Tooley, ELDORET, KENYA
Yoga By the Book
There is no doubt that yoga can be harmful when practiced incorrectly, and your article highlighted several problems [Oct. 15]. According to yoga texts, all poses should be done with alertness and relaxation, which should be attained through awareness of the body and breath. The breath should be smooth and the body relaxed. There are more than a thousand yoga poses and many modifications of each of these. Not all are beneficial for each person. It is therefore important to discuss health issues with the yoga teacher when starting classes. Your article gave little regard to the vast array of benefits that can be obtained when yoga is specifically tailored for individuals and their health conditions.
Philip Ginsberg, CAPE TOWN
As Nancy Gibbs put it, the city of New York prevented Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from laying a wreath at ground zero because New Yorkers were revolted by "the prospect of a tyrant's hand touching sacred ground" [Oct. 8]. I do not want to discuss how many tyrants the U.S. has tolerated vs. how many it has fought. But wouldn't it have been good diplomatic form to have allowed Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath in honor of all the 9/11 victims killed by Islamic fanatics? What kind of impact would his gesture have made on the dogmatic, anti-Western Muslims? Maybe New Yorkers should have waved the flag of peace first and then just waited to see what might happen.
Bernhard Schroeder, FREIBURG, GERMANY
As an Argentine, I have to disagree that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is a "Latin Hillary" [Oct. 15]. To mark some differences: Fernández does not care to debate policy, she doesn't dare be interviewed by local newsmen, and she certainly has never worked on behalf of poor people. Fernández is a frivolous woman.
Norberto Mazzoni, BUENOS AIRES
The Great Arctic Grab
How interesting that the front page of the Canadian edition has the U.S. flag outstanding [Oct. 1], out of all other flags, with the Canadian one being the least visible, on a piece of ice that belongs to Canada. There is no extent to America's "supremacy over the world" syndrome and the shameful lack of knowledge of your northern neighbor. How interesting that America still considers itself the belly-button of the world, after all its unsuccessful attempts to run the world its way.
Marie-Andree Delisle, MONTREAL
Rugby as a Social Scrum
If Vivienne Walt had spoken to a single South African rugby supporter [Sept. 24] she would have realized that they just want their team to win every match it competes in, whether the players on the field are white, black, yellow or pink!
Willem du Preez, SOUTH AFRICA
Your article once again paints a negative picture of the transformation in South African rugby. While much remains to be done to increase the numbers of persons of color in our teams, there are dozens of players of color representing their provinces at the levels of premier and national competition, and many of these will soon make it into the highest level. Your article says that race should be the reason for selection and omits the simple requirement of merit. But selecting players based on race only serves to demean them. Brian Habana is regarded here as a rugby player not as a "black" rugby player.
Fred Levy, CAPE TOWN