Letters: Katrina Trailers, Native Americans, Olive Oil

Michele Norris and Andrea Seabrook read from e-mails from listeners. Topics include a story on Hurricane Katrina evacuees still living in trailer parks, sexual assaults of women on Native American reservations and discerning counterfeit olive oil from the real thing.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

On Thursdays, we read from your e-mail.

ANDREA SEABROOK, Host:

And we start with praise for Alix Spiegel's story about the mental state of Katrina victims still living in trailer parks. She spoke to, among other people, Kim Penechero(ph).

KIM PENECHERO: This is how I look at it. Everybody does go on with life. You know what? But we're down here and we are not okay. And I know you all have other news, but peek in every once in a while. Just peek in.

NORRIS: Alix Spiegel's report riveted me and has left me numb, writes Kathy Pawskill(ph) of Poulsbo, Washington. I can only imagine how she felt leaving the trailer park. We need to hear of these stories and others so these people are not forgotten.

SEABROOK: Gina Beakman(ph) echoed that sentiment. That story broke my heart all over again, she writes. The forgotten people of the disaster are still forgotten - almost. Thank you for not letting us forget.

NORRIS: We are still going through all the e-mails we received praising Laura Sullivan's recent pieces on sexual assault of Native American women.

SEABROOK: Nancy Barr(ph) of Houghton, Michigan, writes, your series was an example of journalism at its finest. It opened listeners' ears, eyes and minds to an, until now, unspoken tragedy. We as citizens of this country cannot sit back and do nothing now that we know of the problem.

NORRIS: From kudos to complaints, about a line in a story we aired yesterday, a line we removed for the last feed of our program. The story was about the presidential campaign and how the candidates are handling gay rights issues.

SEABROOK: This comment comes from Erin Rosenthal of Oakland, California. You summarized your report on the impact of gay issues by saying Democrats hope voters will likely be more interested in Iraq, health care and the economy than in sex. I think the word sex frames this issue inaccurately. The opposition that I hear to gay rights, particularly marriage, focuses on beliefs about what constitutes a family, not sexual behavior.

NORRIS: Tony Verona(ph) of Chevy Chase, Maryland was indignant. How profoundly insulting. My gay identity is much, much bigger than my sexual behavior. And support for equal gay rights is much bigger than support for sex.

SEABROOK: We apparently left a number of you hanging this week when we spoke with Tom Mueller. He wrote a piece for the New Yorker about fake Italian olive oil - oil that's labeled as extra virgin, but contains all kinds of things.

Dave Herrera of New Orleans is one of the many listeners who wrote in. He said, you forgot to ask the most important question of all. What can Americans do to ensure they're getting the real product?

NORRIS: Well, Mr. Herrera, we've got your answer straight from Tom Mueller himself.

TOM MUELLER: The first and best way is to know the producer, actually know where the olives are grown and who mills them, and who makes them into oil. Price is also a very straightforward way to gauge if an extra virgin olive oil likely be authentic. For imports, anything under about $10 per half litter is likely to be a suspect.

NORRIS: And, of course, Tom Mueller says, there is also the taste.

MUELLER: Good oil - true extra virgin olive oil - must be, by law, peppery, pleasantly pungent with some appreciable level of bitterness. And it has to be fruity, that's to remind you of fresh olives. Bad oil is - often has an edge of rancidity. It can taste kind of cooked or meaty, and it's almost invariably bland and unremarkable in taste.

SEABROOK: Finally, a correction. Monday, we ran an obituary for songwriter, producer and singer Lee Hazlewood. During his career, Hazlewood wrote many notable songs. He did not, however, write the "Peter Gunn" theme song. That was the work of Henry Mancini, of course.

NORRIS: If you think something you heard didn't work or if you like something you heard, we'd like to hear from you. Write to us by going to our Web site, npr.org, and click on Contact Us at the top of the page.

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