Letters: Cuba, Corrections, Beijing

Listeners praise the story on the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. There are several corrections, including one on the proper pronunciation of the Chinese capital.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Several people wrote after Republican John Andrews of Colorado suggested last week that Democrats visiting Denver for this week's convention might enjoy driving to the top of Long's Peak. Mr. Andrews says he misspoke and says, "any flatland fool knows the summit auto road closest to Denver goes up Mount Evans, while Long's Peak is accessible only on foot. Mario Serami(ph) of Ithaca, New York, says, "please join most of my colleagues in pronouncing Beijing as Beijing, instead of Beiging. It is disrespectful and sounds like you have something in your mouth. Thanks, Scott." I'm sorry. Mr. Serami.

And several listeners wrote to complain about what they considered my lack of preparation in our interview with Pakistani Peoples' Party Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Glen Rose(ph) notes, "not once but three times Scott was forced to back off his predisposed notion about Zardari's legal problems. I have no idea if Zardari has been convicted, acquitted, or even tried of corruption charges. Neither did your interviewer."

I'm afraid the facts are somewhat hard to condense. Mr. Zardari was imprisoned from 1990 to 1993, charged with blackmail, but released when his political party took power and his wife Benazir Bhutto became prime minister until 1996. He was imprisoned again from 1997 to 2004 on charges ranging from corruption to murder. Mr. Zardari says he was tortured in prison. He was never convicted of any crime in Pakistan. A 1998 report in The New York Times claimed to trace a network of bank accounts in Switzerland and Dubai that were linked to Mr. Zardari and used to store tens of millions of dollars in illicit payments from foreign corporations in France, Poland, and Gulf states.

Authorities in Switzerland told Newsweek Magazine last week that Mr. Zardari remains under investigation on money laundering charges there, although Mr. Zardari's office maintains the case has been closed. An auditor general of Pakistan report in 2006 said the charges were largely engineered by former Pakistan President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, but some critics charged that this finding was only to facilitate Benazir Bhutto's 2007 return to Pakistan without facing arrest. I'm sorry if my question sounded unfair to Mr. Zardari.

And finally, Bernard Rubenstein(ph) of Santa Fe heard Reese Ehrlich's profile of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. "As an American conductor fortunate enough to have guest-conducted the National Symphony in Havana on many occasions, I've taken great joy in the mix of gender and color of this ensemble. We are too often presented with negative news about Cuba or news just about Cuban popular music. There is a rich tradition of classical music in Cuba which was beautifully reflected in your story."

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