Letters: Homeland Security, Poverty, China Boycott

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Many of you responded to our interview with Frances Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

Steve Inskeep asked her questions about a report that finds al-Qaida getting stronger; and Gerri Brauneis was listening in Oak Park, Ill.:

"I really appreciated his persistent questioning which so well revealed her inability to respond to the government report. Her verbal dancing around would have been laughable were it not such a tragedy," said Brauneis

In Branson, Mo., Linda Lewis was unhappy that Steve Inskeep quoted Townsend, and that intelligence report, both of which referred to protecting "the homeland." Lewis would rather that people say "the U.S." or "America." And she contends that by quoting other peoples' use of "homeland," Inskeep was buying into the word:

"I wasn't alive during World War II," she writes, "but I associate 'the homeland' with Nazi propaganda. It's fascistic and offensive," Lewis said.

Many listeners also wrote in about Renee Montagne's interview with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. They were talking about Edwards' platform to end poverty in America when Montagne asked him this: "When you stake out the high ground on an issue like poverty you open yourself up to accusations of hypocrisy, and in this case you've been criticized for living in an expensive mansion, for getting a very expensive $400 haircut ...."

Listener Mary Severance of Berkeley, Calif., responds: "Many of the 'criticisms' cited by Ms. Montagne are patently absurd. What do haircuts have to do with anything? And where is the logic behind the insinuation that a wealthy person can't be genuinely concerned about the poor?! What about FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt), or the Kennedys, or LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson)!"

Gordon Spears of Orlando, Fla., wrote about Linda Wertheimer's interview with writer Sara Bongiorni. She attempted to live for an entire year without buying products made in China. Turns out several NPR listeners have attempted similar experiments, and Spears is one of them.

Spears writes: "My boycott started with the Tiananmen Square massacre, and over the years my determination to buy absolutely nothing from China has hardened. As Ms. Bongiorni found, this is increasingly difficult to do. But with perseverance and a few good mail-order outlets, which actually include country of origin in their catalogues, it is possible to maintain a modern lifestyle."

Finally, Jeff Bodenweiser of Salem, Ore., writes to say our piece on a new method for preserving old records was music to his ears. The technology enables users to transfer recorded sound from antique records using digital images of the grooves. Bodenweiser owns about 40 long-play records, including some vintage John Philip Sousa recordings that he has been unable to put on CD.

And he writes that the new technology "will bring back voices and bands and orchestras not heard since the passing of the original performers."

Your voice is always welcome here. You can let us know what you think by going to NPR.org and clicking "Contact Us."

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