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Poetic Inspiration
I just had to let you know that today's piece by Lakshmi Chaudhry on the right-hand ring was extremely on-point. It's a subject that's been discussed at length in my circle of female friends (I even wrote a little poem about that I've included below in case it makes you laugh). It's wonderful to have an article that summarizes so exactly our collective feelings on the subject.

The Right Hand Ring

Though you're an ugly gal,
nothing should be missed
you can have a diamond,
even if you can't get kissed.

Who needs a hubby?
Who needs Kris Kringle?
You can rock a diamond
Even if you're swinging single

So have some more chocolate,
Eat more Krispy Kremes,
Give up on the man-hunt,
But get the diamond of your dreams.

Jenny's hopes were dashed
When she broke up with Trevor,
"I'll be an ugly old maid,
I'll be single forever."

After years of depression,
Jenny finally found the thing
A jeweler introduced her,
to a right hand diamond ring.

Now she can be happy,
Now her days are clearer,
For it still looks like she's married,
When she looks in the mirror.

Becky Zimmerman
Washington, DC

Listen to Granny
Arianna, you are so right about the power and strength in the young. I'm a 63-year-old grandmother. My voting-age, philosophy-student, nose-ring-wearing grandson and his friends are up in arms, ready to fight in the current political system. I live in north Dallas, my senators don't even bother to respond to my e-mails they are so sure of their Republican selves.

I've noticed that when you start listening to these freaky looking kids, well first, you might be afraid to approach them, these freaky kids all have their 2004 voter registration right behind their fake IDs. And they are talking about the real issues, the same issues all the disenfranchised are talking about. They're a little left of Bill Maher, while staying on the planet.

But they've listened to their granny tell about 1968 and 1972 and what we did back then to stop a war, and how it took us 10 years to stop it, and segregation and the right of one special group to stomp the other groups into the ground. We'll all be going to our precinct conventions with serious handouts. Those kids in North Dallas are going to yank W's chain in a very big way ... the old fashioned way ... the Martin Luther King Jr. way.

Granny fears that like the '60s, 'The Government' will become a police state. I don't tell them too much about the Backlash.

Peg Luther
Addison, TX

Australian Skeletons
Thank you so very much for Irena Brezna's intensely moving (and outrage-stirring) media-ethics article. I have never read a more searing indictment of the dark side of war reporting. Ms Brezna's article should be engraved in bronze letters a meter high and placed at the entrance to all News Corp/Fox Cable workplaces around the world. It would help if her story was engraved into the top of Rupert Murdoch's desk.

Once again, may I take this opportunity to again apologise, on behalf of Australia, for Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. Sadly every country seems to have skeletons in their national closet -- regretably, ours escaped on to the world stage. I'm really very, very sorry.

Rod Olsen
Canberra, Australia

Hep C Disinformation
I have just been reading the otherwise well-written article on Ken Kesey's literary legacy when I came across the statement that "most people get hepatitis C from promiscuous sex" or drug abuse.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and you do a disservice to the estimated one-twelfth of the world's population ravaged by this disease. Studies have proven that Hep C is not contagious through sexual intercourse, and that the percentage of patients contracting the illness through drug abuse is infinitessimal. This illness has been proven to be contracted through contaminated water and food, although in most developed nations the main vector of infection until the past three years has been blood transfusions. All known vectors of infection account for only 40% of cases in western Europe and North America; worldwide, they account for approximately 15% of cases.

W.W. Newman III

Boycott Wal-Mart
Why isn't Wal-Mart on your list of 10 Worst Corporations of 2003? Their labor practices are driving the attempts by Safeway and the other grocery chains to cut back labor costs. Wal-Mart also drove Kmart into bankruptcy and has Target in financial straits. Wal-Mart squeezes both their employees and their suppliers. Pressure on suppliers to continually lower prices is one factor in the export of manufacturing jobs. There are many current lawsuits pending against Wal-Mart for their labor practices.

We should all be boycotting Walmart! Until consumers and taxpayers express concern about the ways companies conduct business and quit chasing the cheapest products, no matter what is sacrificed to produce them, we'll have more companies copying Walmart's sleazy practices.

Laura Harris
Denver, CO

Dumping Dean
So, you and others credit Dean for bringing leftist issues to the fore, but you abandon him for the establishment when it's convenient, like a man who has been sensitized to be a better person by one woman and then abandons her for a younger, prettier woman who then reaps the benefits of his "newfound" sensitivity.

Now we can have the "presidential" John Kerry, who has run a despicably smarmy campaign against Dean, distorting much of what the latter has said, while shamelessly exploiting his own career as a trained killer in a questionable war. And the young and the Greens and the Naderites will come aboard, you think. In the last election, I campaigned vehemently against Nader, saying that even if one compromised it was important to vote for someone simply because he was not a Republican. After watching the insidious attempts during the last couple of weeks of the media whores, the centrist Dems and the rightwing to bring down Dean, if Dean is not the nominee, I am decamping from the Democratic party and will be casting my vote either for a third party candidate or writing one in (probably Dean).

Wesley Clark voted for Reagan and Bush and didn't become a Democrat until he ran for President. John Kerry and John Edwards voted to give sweeping powers to make war anywhere anytime to a stupid, mean-minded, vindictive, intolerant, uninformed man. If they didn't know this about him, they are fools. If they did know this and voted to give him these powers anyway, they lack all conviction. If Kerry or Edwards wins the nomination, the war wins, the corporate structure wins, fear wins, and, probably the Republicans win next November, as both of them will have lost the ill-conceived, poorly-executed war as an issue. Too bad. With the lily-livered opposition provided by the Democratic party, what difference really does it make? An electorate who are swayed by the idiot winds in the media and the mainstream party machines doesn't really deserve the genuine article, do they?

Sheila Held
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

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