Your Feb. 27 editorial "Fatal burning" asked how a handful of troops could be so insensitive. Yet you answer that in the next paragraph: "… religious texts had been sent by mistake to be incinerated." There you are; it was a mistake.
You say that the political side of war is made difficult by cultural and other atrocities by American forces. You forget that we have been attacked by Taliban fighters, and that there have been atrocities by religious individuals, such as the kidnapping and beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
You say incidents such as the burning of Qur'ans make it difficult to conduct reasonable relations with Muslim countries. But this is a two-way street. You talk about training our soldiers to be more sensitive and punishing those who are not. They are not diplomats, they are solders, and are the most highly trained in the world.
Column omits reasons for war
In his March 5 op-ed column, "Qur'an burning ignited pent-up frustrations of war-torn Afghans," Dr. S. Amjad Hussain noted the alleged mistakes our military forces have made in relation to the religious beliefs of Muslims.
Nothing was mentioned about why United Nations troops, including those from America, became involved in what is called an invasion and now looked upon as an occupation. The history of our troops' heroic efforts to help clear Afghanistan of the evil Taliban forces that played a role in the 9/11 attacks, and then stayed on to help Afghans set up a stable government and train a police force, seems to be forgotten.
An uprising of religious radicalism has taken over the battlefield. The violence in Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar described by Dr. Hussain should convince Americans that it is past time to get our troops out of Afghanistan.
Surely Afghans are prepared to fend for themselves, or they would not be intentionally killing their American military colleagues in cold blood.
Afghan deaths, not Qur'an, the tragedy
I disagree with Dr. Hussain's halfhearted apology for Afghans' uprising over the so-called desecration of their Qur'an.
The burning of the books was accomplished not out of disrespect, but out of expediency. The real abomination is the number of people killed -- men, women, and children -- including our beloved troops.
Birth control must be there for women
There are practical reasons for women to require birth control ("GOP fails to overturn policy on birth control," March 2). Catholic bishops cannot give birth and therefore don't have the necessary point of view to determine how women will or will not become pregnant.
It's naive to suggest that women abstain from sex. Because of the threat of male violence or religious or cultural ideology, many women cannot refuse their male partners. In many parts of the world, they would be beaten, disfigured, jailed, or killed if they did.
Because birth control is available to them, men also need to be held responsible for any pregnancies they cause. Most men would probably opt for birth control over abstinence or abortion.
Forcing a woman to become and remain pregnant if it's jeopardizing her life, because of religious or cultural beliefs, is slavery. If she were to die, that would be murder. Birth control would have been a better option.
Unless we can resolve these issues, birth control will continue to be a necessary health issue for women. The chance of pregnancy is the physical reality women must deal with, as is caring for any children born to them.
Society needs to support and respect a woman's intellect and self-sovereignty, without the religious beliefs and ideologies of others affecting her choices.
Because a planned pregnancy and a wanted child is better than an abortion, birth control needs to be available to all women, and their choice to use.
Politicians should not cross Catholics
Do politicians really want to take on Catholics at the voting booth ("Obama's 'accommodation' on contraception is no such thing," op-ed column, Feb. 16)? I'd say no, but if they want to see rage at its finest, try us.
Vasectomy? It'd be up to women
Women in Congress need to appoint a committee of women that would appoint several women from every state to serve on a board.
If any man wanted a vasectomy or Viagra, it would be the decision of these state boards whether he could have the operation or the pills. The decision would be based on his reason for the request.
Child-aid change to affect women?
Your Feb. 27 article "Change in rules to impoverish thousands of men; States to be allowed to seize all benefits of support debtors" says a change in government policy will allow states to seize federal benefits from people who owe back child support, and "advocates estimate that 275,000 men could be left destitute as a result."
Won't this rule change also affect women? The presumption is that mothers retain custody and fathers are obligated to pay child support when a couple splits.
Fathers who are deemed better able to care for their children than mothers are no longer an aberration. There are plenty of deadbeat moms too.
Air-conditioning cost hike a hot issue
Your Feb. 21 article "Air conditioning to cost more to fix; Price jumps for old-model refrigerant" offers another example of government sticking its nose into private businesses and the lives of citizens.
The price of a product was dictated by supply and demand. Evidently this is not good enough for the government.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered that manufacturers of R-22 Freon cut production by 45 percent. The cost for a 30-pound tank went from $150 to $400, which means recharging an old air-conditioning unit will cost more than it did last year.
How many older people on fixed incomes can afford the higher cost? How are people with ailments to keep cool in the hot and humid summer months?
I wonder whether our government is dictating the high price of gasoline.
Good judgment a must when driving
The writer of the Feb. 11 Readers' Forum letter "Red-light cameras should be on ballot" states that traffic cameras create double jeopardy. Were we taught in driver's education class to speed up when the light turns yellow?
No. We were taught to exercise good judgment when we come to an intersection and make every attempt to stop, short of causing an accident.
Marines' actions unjustifiable
As an honorably discharged Army veteran, I cannot support the letters I have seen in the past few weeks that ask us to condone the actions of the Marines who urinated on dead combatants ("Don't be quick to judge Marines," Readers' Forum, Feb. 22).
We hold our military personal to a higher standard, no matter what other combatants may do to our honored dead. The Marines in question crossed that line. They made the choice to soil those bodies, and now they have to accept the consequences of their actions.
It is not up to the public to decide the severity of their punishment, if any. It is up to a general court-martial board, or another military proceeding.
Regardless of the outcome of this incident, no situation our military personnel are in would ever justify this type of behavior in combat. We are better than this.