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<b>Carter's assessment</b>

EDITOR: Discussing the Edward Snowden case recently, former President Jimmy Carter said, "America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy." I haven't seen Carter's remarks in any American mainstream press. It was reported from Atlanta by the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The story doesn't appear in the English-language section of the Spiegel website and is only available in German.

How is it possible that a statement as dramatic as this from a former president of the United States of America is not front-page news in every newspaper in the U.S.?

MICHAEL WILLETTE

Santa Rosa

<b>Monolingual Americans</b>

EDITOR: Mark Wardlaw ("Being monolingual in a polyglot world," Close to Home, July 25.) addressed a topic very close to my heart as a bilingual faculty member. I came to this country right out of high school. I spoke Spanish, learned basic German in kindergarten and French in high school, and I had to pass an English test to enter this country with a student visa. Few knew about Chile, now famous for its wines, earthquakes and 23 miners who defeated the odds.

As I educated myself about the many reasons "Americans" are monolingual, I became more sympathetic. To be politically correct, everyone born in any of the Americas — North, South or Central — is an "American." This shows the ethnocentric approach that has made the United States an indifferent nation to the rest of a polyglot and multicultural world, as Wardlaw well expressed.

Being fluent in a second language has never been a priority on our schools' agenda or seen as an asset because of our sociopolitical history.

Research show that the brain is at its ripest cognition between ages 6 months and 15 years. Children who become fully bilingual are those who study from kindergarten on. We need everyone to prepare for today's global world.

ELLIE GALVEZ-HARD

Santa Rosa

<b>Promoting smoking</b>

EDITOR: Like the people who planned the "Cigarbq," you must have been asleep at the switch for the past several decades. Nicotine causes cancer. There is scientific proof. Yet you devoted an entire page of Sunday's paper with color photos to tell young boys (and the rest of us) that for fun and camaraderie "real guys" get together to smoke cigars.

You owe an apology to all of us who have seen our loved ones, friends and acquaintances suffer and die from nicotine-caused cancer. I had to quit smoking many times before I quit smoking.

NED LUZMOOR

Santa Rosa

<b>A new world</b>

EDITOR: Jerry Caine's ("Racial tension," Letters, July 24) snide remark that the Trayvon Martin case would not be a big deal had he been shot by a black man ignores the fact that a black teenager innocently walking through a white neighborhood would not have been shot by a black man for the simple reason that there were no black men around.

But to address his pathetic attempt at moral equivalency head on, it is a fair bet that a black killer would have been tried and convicted.

But, hey, it's a new world. Back in the day, when you went looking for trouble you didn't get to claim self-defense when you found it and got your tail kicked.

PAT COYLE

Santa Rosa

<b>Who's in charge?</b>

EDITOR: During the public comment portion of Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, I asked to speak to whoever is representing the 5th District. There was no response from any of the board members. I then asked the chairman to ask the county counsel who represents the 5th District. Chairman David Rabbit replied that after public comment was over the board would answer any appropriate questions. The board did not address this question. Can anyone tell me what is inappropriate about the question, "Who represents the 5th District now?"

THOMAS MORABITO

Sebastopol