Singh at India's Helm Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is an able statesman who leads a simple life [Sept. 27]. As one of the most capable Prime Ministers India has had in a long time, Singh will get things done in a cool and calm manner. He is not one to lose his temper. I am hopeful that during his term in office he will make India a country to be reckoned with. M. Shakir Khaleel Bangalore, India
No one can deny the honesty, soberness and austere public life of Singh. But there are also inabilities and inefficiencies that could work against him. Political problems may outweigh Singh's good personal qualities. India needs a firm initiative to establish political consensus. Mere advice to the political parties is not enough. Singh's humility and avoidance of personal publicity are exemplary and should be a permanent rule for all politicians. He should, however, have the courage to introduce compulsory family-planning legislation. A bold and decisive Singh will take India on a path of development and prosperity. Madhu Agrawal New Delhi
Who Owns the Truth? It is laughable and tragic that CBS's failure to authenticate documents affirming what we all already know about George W. Bush's questionable National Guard duty would be used by some as proof of liberal bias in the media [Sept. 27]. If the media were truly leftist, they would be clamoring for the indictment of Bush and John Kerry for launching an illegal war on Iraq and for crimes against humanity perpetrated against Iraqis. CBS's Dan Rather may be an idiot, but it's an insult to true progressives to label him a leftist. He's just one more in a line of celebrity journalists. Ronald O. Richards Los Angeles
Although it was obvious that CBS and Rather aired this story before they looked at their source closely enough, they should be commended for admitting their mistakes. Still, the story should not end there. Bush should come clean, and let us know the truth about his military-service records. Taiwo Fasoranti Spring, U.S.
Everyone in the U.S. is being held to a higher standard than the President. The same people who are so vehement in their criticism of CBS and Rather continue to overlook the fact that Bush took us into war on the basis of faulty intelligence. Rather has apologized. Bush has expressed no regrets. The President should take responsibility and apologize for misleading the American people, just as CBS did. Nobody died as a result of the CBS program.
Now that Republicans can no longer blame the nation's troubles on communists, Democrats in Congress or the White House, they attack the free press. Problems in Iraq? It's because the media report only the bad news. Economic woes? It's because the media do not acknowledge the recovery. The same goes for Bush's record with the National Guard. Instead of answering the charges, Republicans first try to spin the story and then attack the media for their coverage. And we still have no definitive answer to the question of whether Bush did his duty. David Berry Raton, U.S.
Why Are We in Iraq? As a soldier's mother, I say bring the troops home from Iraq now. The truth is that the American public was deceived by the Bush Administration about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq [Sept. 27]. And now our leadership is stubbornly adhering to a destructive course. Many Americans do not want our troops there. They are stuck in a quagmire largely of our government's making. There ought to be honest and compelling reasons for the risks to our service members and for the hardships imposed on their families and our communities. So far, the explanations given for the occupation of Iraq do not rise to that standard. JoAnn Sohl Palisades Park, U.S.
Before the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. was facing a far more dangerous world than anyone could conceive of. The 9/11 attacks were proof of that. What if Saddam Hussein had paid terrorists to explode a nuclear bomb in New York City? Anyone who believes that was not possible does not understand that rich, powerful killers like Saddam and Osama bin Laden do not respond to moral persuasion, international sanctions or reasoned arguments based on civilized precepts. Philip Schoonmaker Springfield, U.S.
How can President Bush justify the deaths of more than 1,000 U.S. troops in a war that is not necessary? No matter what Bush tells the world about fighting terrorism, Americans are now more in danger of being attacked. The President should withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. The puppets installed there are walking corpses. The moment they are not protected by U.S.-supplied security forces, those officials will be hounded to death by the insurgents. There should be no shame for the U.S. in getting out of Iraq. Nats Onoja Agbo Lagos
Americans are aware all is not perfect in Iraq, but we also know where Bush stands and that he will at least confront threats to the U.S. What would Kerry have done in response to 9/11? Kerry's problem is not that Bush has fooled the American people with some fantasy but that most voters don't want to take a chance on Kerry. Bob Fernstrom Hong Kong
Only time will tell whether the pre-emptive war in Iraq was the right course of action to take in the war on terrorism. Certainly nobody on either side of the political fence can truthfully answer that question now. Phil Ross Melbourne
I left hungary in 1956 as a 20-year-old refugee. I was escaping from a totalitarian regime and the oppressive demagoguery of its political leaders. I could no longer stand to listen to the meaningless platitudes about the great success of the latest five-year plan. I settled in the U.S. to get away from that. But I have now been living in Europe for the past several months. When I see President Bush on TV declaring that Iraq and the world are safer and saying that the U.S. economy is recovering, I get an eerie sense of déjà vu. For the first time since leaving Hungary, I have a feeling of helpless frustration when listening to the leader of my country. I thought only dictators could afford to shamelessly lie to their people. I thought I had left all that behind 50 years ago. Peter Stangl Calvisson, France
A Mushroom-Shaped Cloud There is a lot of speculation about the explosion in North Korea that produced a mushroom-shaped cloud [Sept. 27]. Although Pyongyang denies it blew up anything nuclear, I wouldn't mind if North Korea acted as a counterweight to the U.S. People the world over are supposed to accept the opinions and directions of the West and to follow the American way of life. Different viewpoints, which used to be valued by democratic societies, are not very popular these days; therefore, it is good when other nations and cultures try to resist domination by the West. The North Korean government feels threatened by the U.S., so it is highly understandable that a little country aims to protect itself. That, of course, could best be achieved by developing nuclear weapons. Tahir Niap-San Kuala Lumpur
The New U.S. Ally Your item about how Syria and the U.S. are holding talks to try to keep insurgents from crossing Syria's border into Iraq was both informative and amusing [Sept. 27]. President Bush famously said, "You are either with us or against us" in the war on terrorism, but by cooperating with Syria, a well-known harborer of terrorists and a suspected developer of weapons of mass destruction, Bush seems to have changed his mind. Sounds like a flip-flop to me. William Pass Kansas City, U.S.
It is frightening to the citizens of a country when war and chaos are prevailing right outside its borders. Syria shares a long boundary with Iraq and is highly interested in having a stable Iraq. There is no basis for the charge some are making that Syrians back Iraqi terrorists and support them with weapons. Abdussalaam Al-Hafiq Damascus
Big and Fuel-Efficient Michael Elliott's welcome piece on our report Winning the Oil Endgame [Sept. 27] had a headline, "Kicking the Big-Car Habit," that did not correctly reflect the thesis of the team at Rocky Mountain Institute. We support Americans' right to drive any type of vehicle they want, but we suggest that they be offered safer and more fuel-efficient choices. Ultralight but ultrastrong materials now remove the contradiction between big and efficient: cars can be big but also light and safe, saving oil and lives without compromising comfort or pep. For example, a midsize SUV made of carbon fiber could cut fuel use 72%, and the vehicle's extra cost could be repaid from fuel savings in about three years. Our proposals would expand car buyers' range and freedom of choice and increase automakers' profits and competitive strength. Amory B. Lovins, CEO Rocky Mountain Institute Old Snowmass, U.S.
Years ago, consumers were warned that small cars were unsafe. I got a bigger car. Now I'm supposed to give up the safety of my SUV for the better mileage of a lighter car? No way. Douglas Lent Citrus Heights, U.S.
I'm O.K.; You're an Idiot James Poniewozik's essay "The Age of iPod Politics," about Americans' ability to fashion their own insular world, was right on target [Sept. 27]. With the smorgasbord of available media coverage of presidential politics, we can see to it that even the news can be personalized to jibe with our own particular reality. America's endless supply of niche media outlets has given us the option of selecting a news source that suits our specific political ideology, leaving us with a narrower perspective and a brazen contempt for opposing viewpoints. Individualism and dissent are the lifeblood of our democracy. We have to remember, however, that we are all in this together, and the cacophony of so many angry voices vilifying one another is stifling informed debate rather than promoting it. Tyler P. Burke New York City
One irony of the technological age is how a plethora of choices has served to separate and isolate us. We have become electronic and ideological shut-ins. It's not only on Election Day that most of us will decide we don't care what our neighbors think. As the U.S.'s pre-emptive war in Iraq has taught us to ask: What neighbors? The hell with them. Edward C. Pease Petersboro, U.S.
Ebb and Flo Broadway lyricist Fred Ebb, who died this past month [MILESTONES, Sept. 27], collaborated with composer John Kander on a remarkable string of theatrical successes. They first teamed up on Broadway with the 1965 musical Flora, the Red Menace, starring Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland's daughter. In a cover story on Liza, TIME described Ebb's musical connection with her [Feb. 28, 1972]:
"A friend introduced [Liza] to Fred Ebb, the lyricist for an upcoming musical called Flora, the Red Menace. 'I remember this shy, awkward girl coming into the room,' says Ebb ... 'She just sat there and stared at me, and I stared back.' Liza convinced Ebb that she was his Flora, but she had a harder time with director George Abbott ... Liza's revenge was that the critics booed the play and raved over her. She received the 1965 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical. At 19, she was the youngest actress-winner in the award's history. When Flora closed, Ebb worked with her on a nightclub act. Not for the first time and not for the last, Liza realized how much her mother's aura hung over her. Ebb wrote a routine for her that opened with the songs Judy had taught her, then switched into a rock numberone of the songs she had taught Judy."