Re "Inside Man" [Jan. 21]: I have been following President Thein Sein's speeches and decisions in the past few months, and he gives me a strong impression that he is sincere and willing to change Burma for the good of the nation. But the military continues to hold extensive influence as can be seen from the number of representatives it has in parliament. Thein Sein would have to maneuver carefully to eventually democratize the country. That may take several years, so the world has to wait and see.
Monn Titan, BANGKOK
Hannah Beech's article on Burma is full of interesting information, but in one aspect of the situation, her reporting seems somewhat selective. When journalists report on the oppression of minorities, the word Christian seems to fall out of the vocabulary. The Muslim Rohingya and Kaman get a mention, but the Karen, Chin and other largely Christian groups get none at all, although they have been subject to systematic rapine by the Burmese military for decades.
Alasdair Livingston, MITCHAM, AUSTRALIA
The story should have mentioned other minority groups, especially the millions of Indians who live mostly in Rangoon, Mandalay and Moulmein. Apart from Burmese they speak major Indian dialects like Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and Gujarati. The numerous temples and churches, existing side by side with pagodas in Burma, are patronized by them and lend a multicultural scene to the landscape. Their forefathers once formed the backbone of the country's administration in matters of civil, military, financial services and commerce during British rule. They have lived in Burma for many centuries, but hardly any mention is made of them in stories pertaining to the makeup of the nation's populace. Their ancestors' contributions to the well-being of Burma have been forgotten.
R. Mahendra Raj, KUALA LUMPUR
Is There a Baby Deficit?
"The Baby Deficit" gives the reader a feel for the cruel, roller-coaster emotional ride the Shimkuses and the Kyrgyz 65 (now down to 22) are going through [Jan. 21]. However, I wonder if the changing attitudes toward international adoption are the real cause of heartbreak for American families. The "baby deficit" is an artificial one since millions are discarded in federally funded abortion clinics in the U.S. With the intense and genuine desire of American couples like the Shimkuses, who go through great lengths in order to adopt, I am convinced there is no such thing as an "unwanted baby."
Reggie Ocampo, STUTTGART, GERMANY
Adopting displaced or orphaned children is a "uniquely American thing to do"? What a uniquely U.S.-centric thing to say. If you compare the numbers of foreign adoptions quoted in the story with national populations, 11,000 in the U.S. in 2010 was approximately one for every 28,000 Americans. The equivalent figure for France was one per 18,000, and for Italy one per 15,000. One could argue that makes Italians twice as welcoming as Americans. The truth is that compassion is a human virtue, not merely an American one.
Bryan Betts, LÜNEBURG, GERMANY
The caption of the LightBox photo taken in Belfast reads, "Catholics and Protestants continued to clash over the decision to fly the British flag" [Briefing, Jan. 21]. However, it would be more accurate to describe it as a clash between extreme forms of British unionism and Irish nationalism. The issues in Northern Ireland have long since transcended religion. They have turned into a form of tribalism that most people on both sides of the historic divide deplore.
Karl Hamilton, LONDON
It is incomprehensible, yet factual, that two entirely separate cultures exist within the small island of Ireland. Those living in the Republic of Ireland have completely different attitudes and aspirations compared with the majority of those who reside in Northern Ireland. Sadly, many throughout the world, and in particular within the republic itself, do not accept this concept of truth. It is absolutely necessary, if peaceful existence is to be achieved, that this fundamental fact be recognized once and for all.
Peter Hughes, BURNHAM, ENGLAND
Creating U.S. Jobs
Rana Foroohar makes some good points but has not seen the bigger picture [How to Grow, Jan. 21]. U.S. businesses have improved productivity by outsourcing manufacturing to countries with cheap labor. Perhaps when U.S. living standards have fallen to third-world levels, the jobs might return.
Peter Schaper, BIGGENDEN, AUSTRALIA
The briefing captures the cognitive split in U.S. businesses: Americans acknowledge the threat of global warming, but they scramble to exploit new sources of oil and gas like there's no tomorrow. After the profligate burning of fossil fuel has wrecked the planet, there will be no tomorrow.
Digby Scorgie, KAIAPOI, NEW ZEALAND