Mail Call: Energy Boom, 2007

Readers of our special "Issues 2007" on energy shared diverse views. "The best collection of current topics!" praised one. But another criticized us: "Only a tiny mention of alternatives like solar power?"

The Geopolitics of Energy
I'm a Californian living temporarily in Kiev, Ukraine. The "Issues 2007" Special Edition of NEWSWEEK was the best collection of current topics I've seen in years. I'll now reread it and then mail it to my adult children in southern California. Thank you!
Hugo Schmidt, D.D.S.
Kiev, Ukraine

I read through the issue with interest but was left disappointed. The focus of the numerous articles relates, with very few exceptions (biotech), to the use and prospect of oil, natural gas and nuclear power. Only in a tiny little corner is solar power mentioned. This is shortsighted and deals with resources that were important in the past but not for our future. In the long run, solar power will be the major source of energy in the future, and unless we develop the needed technological facilities to use this unlimited resource we will run out of steam.
Gerhard Dilschneider
Ulm, Germany

We have a saying: "never ask the bartender about the quality of wine." So, I'd avoid asking the opinion of Leonardo Maugeri, vice president of ENI, one of the biggest oil/gas multinationals in the world. He paints a bright future for oil—finding it, extracting it and consuming it—imagining that the only constraints for the industry are oil reserves and oil markets. Greenhouse gases, emitted by the oil that Maugeri is so eager to extract and burn, will push world climate out of stability and predictability. To make matters worse, given the complete disregard that the ENI manager seems to have for the simple, wise advice that science gives us, if we don't change course very quickly, climate destabilization will arrive exactly when the world population will need a very stable climate to feed more people.
Alex Saragosa
Terranuova, Italy

You failed to mention the low rank coal water invented by Silverado. It has signed a $26 million contract with Mississippi to make coal water at $15 per barrel. This is the most promising coal technology in the pipeline.
John L. Wren
via internet

Toyota at the Top
I really enjoyed reading the article "Road Warriors" in your March 12 issue. Given the challenge, even if Toyota were generous enough to give away one of its best-existing plants to GM, the end result would still be a miserable failure. It is so pathetic that American bosses in pursuit of single-digit bottom-line improvements try painful downsizing, increase of sales, acquisition of businesses, new-product introduction, etc. Frankly, the "Toyota Way" has all along been the "American Way," or at least an offspring of "Ford Assembly" in the '20s. Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman, must have put his foot in his mouth when he spoke of Toyota as just another challenger that could be vanquished by a stroke of the wand. I don't see any magic in his words unless his CEO and the team start by rolling up their sleeves, and learn and appreciate what it takes to build that damned car! Toyota is not the enemy. They must fight the real enemy within themselves and revisit the basics. Learn from Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach. Like the old American adage says: "The height of insanity is doing things the same old way and hoping for a different result."
Dennis Ng

The Chinese Conundrum
Fareed Zakaria says "the sky isn't Falling in China" (March 12). Maybe so. But, as the Chinese idiom says, its color can change. Love of freedom is universal, and it is to be hoped that China's sky will one day revert to the democratic hue of ancient times; for China, too, has a millennia-old democratic ideal. Chinese people's debatable high satisfaction rate is the direct result of their insufficient information about the outside world, warranted by a state-controlled media. People in democratic countries enjoy virtually unlimited access to information and intelligent critiques of their countries; they can also travel freely to see other parts of the world. They are therefore in a position to know what should be changed in their own countries. The rank-and-file Chinese enjoy none of these privileges. Their satisfaction with their country originates from their current ignorance of what greater freedom could bring them.
Ben Shao
Director, Press Division
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
New York, New York

Repatriating Art and Antiquities
Why did the writer of your very interesting March 12 article "Whose Art Is It?" omit any mention of a 1990 U.S. act titled NAGPRA [the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act], which requires the return of skeletal remains and culturally sacred objects to their tribes and rightful homeland? NAGPRA should now be a basis for this global issue of cultural identity. NAGPRA sets a limit to scientific research and museum shows that disrupt cultural beliefs. NAGPRA also puts an end to warehouses filled with indigenous Americans' skeletal remains and sacred objects that were exhumed from their burial sites. Thus, it restores basic religious rights back to the first Americans. Western society enjoys classifying, dating and storing cultures in museums, but it fails to acknowledge how such acts can affect a culture's very struggle for existence. The repatriation of objects is essential to the regeneration of cultures around the world.
Tony Sharp
Ridder, Kazakhstan

One positive thing we learn from your article is the fact that museums in the West have gradually put a complete halt to the acquisitions of antiquities from other non-Western countries, especially those of dubious source. For the past several centuries, European invaders have pilfered and looted valuables from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The largest museums in Western Europe were, and are still, overflowing with the most treasured unique artifacts from ancient civilizations. Yet practically none of these nations ever make any serious effort to claim patrimony of their antiquities. You are right in arguing that Italy is likely to be successful in demanding the return of its "Euphronios Krater" from the United States. Such a paradigm shift toward acknowledging the unquestionable right of the owner is most encouraging. But what about those numerous ancient Chinese treasures looted by the Western armies after assaulting Beijing (then Peking) a century ago? Does the West own the past of China?
Tan Boon Tee
Kemaman, Malaysia

Save Our Young People
Apropos "The Lost Youth Of Europe" (March 12), youths everywhere have become victims of the system as politicians leave them in the lurch. In India, as in Europe, the young are either jobless or working for institutions which exploit them. It's really baffling why policymakers are so reluctant to come up with programs which do justice to the potential of the young. Though leaders often hail them as "the beacon of hope," they are least interested in doing anything substantial for them. To top that, the demon of globalization has further deepened the crisis by demanding specialization that most young people, especially in poor countries, do not have or cannot afford. Thus, in India, urban young people have a tremendous edge over their more numerous rural counterparts.
Arvind K. Pandey
Allahabad, India

Wrong Museum
I was very happy to see a positive nonpolitical piece about Jerusalem, my home for many years ("Four Hours in Jerusalem," March 26). Unfortunately your reporter did not do all the legwork, as she made a rather serious mistake in putting the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea scrolls, at Yad Vashem. The Dead Sea scrolls exhibit is located at the Israeli Museum, which by the way, is something not to be missed in those four hours. It's a world-class museum housing not only the Dead Sea scrolls but a rich collection of artwork, fascinating archeology and a truly unique Judaica collection. Yad Vashem is a museum dedicated to the horrible events of the Holocaust and the memory of more than 6 million Jews who perished during that dark time. Neither should be missed, but with only four hours to spend in Jerusalem, your readers should be given the right information with which to make a choice. Again, I appreciated the article, but accuracy is a journalist's calling card.
David C. Lewis
Gush Etzion, Israel

A Promotion of Democracy?
In "The Limits Of Democracy" (Jan. 29), Fareed Zakaria writes: "No president has attached his name more completely to the promotion of democracy than George W. Bush. He speaks of it with genuine passion and devoted virtually his entire second Inaugural to the subject." Perhaps Zakaria should have Googled George W. Bush's first Inaugural, for a truer picture of Bush's intentions, before writing such nonsense. There is no mention in that speech of promoting democracy around the world. The closest he comes to it is "America's faith in freedom and democracy ... is a seed in the wind, taking root in many nations." That's it. The seed was out there, just blowing in the wind. President Bush's "devotion" to spreading democracy was just another of the many convenient devices the administration used to cover the lies about WMD and Saddam's Qaeda credentials. If Bush really cared about democracy, he would have pushed it on his Saudi and Egyptian allies. He would have tried to impose it on Uzbekistan, rather than put a U.S. base there. It is one thing to support an illegal war, as Zakaria did, but to persist in peddling this administration's mythology at this stage indicates something else entirely. Zakaria wasn't a victim of the president's deception. He was, and through his writing remains, an accomplice.
Richard Gizbert
London, England

President Bush's State of the Union Message was delivered to a state that was not united in its approach to Iraq. Bush stood his ground, spoke of "victory" and said that he, like everyone else, would like the "war over and won." It appears the operative word here is not "over" but "won." He has not yet faced up to his follies in starting the war, conducting it badly and not giving up when the conditions deteriorated. He has not expressed any regret for the destruction in Iraq, the deaths of uncountable civilians and his major part in igniting a civil war there. Not to speak of America's earlier support and propping of Saddam himself when it suited its policies. It is tragically funny that Bush still sees the war in terms of "finishing with a victory for the United States," whatever that means. Democrats and Republican moderates better see through this sham and take steps to bring the war to an end at the earliest. There is no victory to be gained, only more deaths and destruction all around. Nothing can justify the continuation of this illegal war. There is no shame in accepting the Big Mistake that was made and getting the help of the United Nations and neutral countries to end this war.
S. Mohanakrishnan
Auckland, New Zealand

Secretary Rice's visit to the Middle East achieved nothing. Two of the stated aims of her visit were to nurture democracy and to promote stability in the region, and in doing so, gain widespread support for U.S. action in Iraq. Her visit to Palestine was to undermine the democratically elected Hamas government. What happened to promoting democracy there? Even though it is patently clear that a military solution in Iraq is failing, a political solution is not even being considered—it cannot be without consultations with Iran and Syria. President Bush has created so much bad blood between the United States and Iran and Syria that he is reluctant to approach either country for help. But he will have to, if there is to be any hope of fixing this terrible mess that he has created in Iraq.
Rory E. Morty
Giessen, Germany