I’m writing in gratitude for the poetry Naomi Shihab Nye selects for the Observer.

Issue after issue she helps us discover works by fine poets we might otherwise miss, and she stays to the high ground when it comes to quality of poems. As do your essay and article writers, Nye keeps the big issues before us: For example, Chip Dameron’s evocation of the rainforest and the fragile life it harbors (“Forest of Air,” July 20) reflects the political and economic conflicts of the region, yet gives us a new perspective.

Nye also effectively pairs her selections, as she did with “A Death in West Texas” by Robert Burlingame and “Wind Sleeve” by Saleh Abudayyeh (June 8). These poems speak to each other in their own mysterious and effective language.

Fine poetry does transcend boundaries, is a gift. So is the editor who brings it to light!

Judith Infante San Antonio


Alix Ohlin’s report on the San Antonio contemporary art scene is thoughtful and accurate, a good snapshot of a very diverse community. To correct the record, it should be noted that I cover visual arts for the San Antonio Current and other publications, but have not written for the San Antonio Express-News.

John Ewing San Antonio


I write in response to Molly Ivins’ column “Tracking the Kleptocrats” (July 20). I always enjoy her columns and usually agree with her, but in this case I think she is wrong.

In general money laundering laws, which Ms. Ivins supports, started as a result of the drug war, something which she has come out strongly against in the past. If we want to put the current drug traffickers out of business all we have to do is legalize, and regulate these drugs. Throwing more money at law enforcement has never stopped a black market when there is strong demand for the product. It does, however, increase the profit margin, i.e., incentive, for the dealers willing to take the risks and with this increased illicit profit comes a greater chance of government corruption.

She uses the “Russian financial meltdown,” as a non-drug war-related example to support her argument. The idea that somehow Russia’s economy collapsed as a result of money laundering is absurd. The Russian economy has been a shambles since the days of Stalin.

Finally, Ms. Ivins implies that privacy advocates, such as myself, are just conspiracy nuts. But what are we to believe about the world we live in, and our own government in particular, when we see such debacles as Noriega from Panama and, from her own list of examples, Fujimori of Peru. We fed these and other dictators billions of dollars and then acted surprised when they robbed their people blind. These are not figments of my imagination.

Until we clean up our own house and stop supporting authoritarian leaders with money and arms in the name of fighting a moralistically bankrupt “War on Drugs,” I will not support the money laundering measures of which she writes.

Greg Schorr via the Internet