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Originally published Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the Editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Questioning Gates

Story overlooked foundation's legitimate efforts at transparency

Editor, The Times:

Last Sunday's article, "Not many speak their mind to world's biggest donor" [Times, page one, Aug. 3], gave short shrift to the actions the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have taken to receive honest feedback.

As the president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, I was interviewed for the story and referenced a statement on the Gates' Web site by former foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer regarding the lessons learned from the grantee perception reports the CEP provided the foundation.

The article only lightly mentioned these anonymous, comparative, grantee-feedback surveys and didn't mention Stonesifer's statement, which describes with candor both the feedback and what the foundation is committed to doing about it. The article ignored the foundation's new efforts to hear more directly from the people whose lives it is seeking to improve. This initiative is groundbreaking in its ambition to hear directly from the end-recipients at Gates-funded schools.

It's totally appropriate to report on the perils of being surrounded by those who are predisposed to tell you what they think you want to hear.

At the same time, it's unbalanced not to report on the significant steps the foundation has taken to obtain honest, anonymous feedback, steps many other large foundations have yet to take.

— Phil Buchanan, Cambridge, Mass.

Suffragettes don't suffer

But good metaphors do

Ann Bergstrom ["Suffering suffragettes," Northwest Voices, Aug. 7] makes a good point — Sen. John McCain is no champion of issues important to women — but then buries it under some incredibly silly rhetoric. Some Clinton supporters, apparently, would rather see McCain in office than vote for Sen. Barack Obama.

Based on the actions of a few women, Bergstrom concludes that perhaps no women should have the right to vote. If you follow her logic, then men shouldn't have the right to vote, either, given that there are working and middle-class men who continue to vote for Republicans, despite the fact that the modern Republican Party has proved time and time again that its base, as President Bush so eloquently put it, consists of the rich.

— Kris Collingridge, Ballard

Stale political air

Attack ads smack of smog

I wonder if either of the main candidates for governor are aware of how distasteful their attack ads are? One candidate's ad is as bad as the other.

I now turn off the radio or TV when any of these ads appear, and sometimes forget to turn the program back on. So, even though the same ad may be aired 10 times in one half-hour program, I don't hear them.

These ads are the worst I have ever heard, and I am 81 years old and have never missed voting in any election. I will be so glad when this primary is over and, hopefully, there will be something other than the election to talk about. Perhaps the winners may talk positively about what they plan to do and how they can accomplish some good effort at legislation.

Wouldn't that be a breath of fresh air?

— Jean Mayer, Burien

A presidential prerogative

Playing chicken with tanks for freedom

If President Bush really wants to send a note for freedom that would be heard all around the world, he should ask the Chinese government for a full apology and acknowledgment of the Tiananmen Square massacre ["Chinese leaders angry at speech as Bush arrives," News, Aug. 8].

We only have to remember the Chinese man standing down the communist Chinese military tanks for freedom.

Our president should ask to shake this man's hand.

Who knows what sacrifices he has made for freedom?

— Jim Wright, Kent

Our rights are on sale, in China, that is

George Bush is critical of China's stance on human rights.

Does Bush know he has sold this country to China?

Our rights belong to China.

— Leo Shillong, Bellingham

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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