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Rethinking Changes in National Character and the World

The editorial ``New Demands,'' Oct. 9, should be a provocative lament to all Americans in the '90s. The sudden political changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union should rouse us to rethink the cold war standoff. It is well that the Soviets are removing their nuclear weapons from the ``the unstable outside republics.'' We are entering a period of disturbing instability, and we face increasing imperatives to eliminate mass-destruction weaponry. If superpowers can no longer assure containment of potential holocaust, might the United Nations finally be empowered to achieve its intended destiny as insurer of world security?

An equally grave concern should be the disheartening changes in our national character. We continue to float in a dream world of self-gratification, rejecting resolute, affordable government and rational life styles. The decay of our cities, competitive industry, banking, public safety, and national credibility has been persistent, and we've been blind to the totality of what's been happening. Nikita Khrushchev's ``We will bury you'' was a paper tiger. We are burying ourselves. Allan Dean, Swannanoa, N.C.

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Universal health care The article ``Trims in Medicare Are Long Overdue, Many Economists Say,'' Oct. 3, states, ``Sometime near the end of this century or the beginning of the next ... Medicare will run out of money.'' I hope that by the time Medicare runs out of money, it will already be forgotten and we will have a universal system of health care free to everyone and financed through insurance by those who can afford it. All civilized countries now have such a program. It's time we became civilized, too. Julian Wadleigh, Wendell, Mass.

Voice and verse of women poets Regarding the articles ``Sounds Link Lines and Meaning,'' and ``New Verse Forms Reflect Action,'' Oct. 5: It is distressing to see women poets so poorly represented in this article. Though there is a boxed poem by Mary Oliver, nowhere in the text of either article is a woman poet cited. And only two of the nine books listed as ``touchstones for [their] discussion,'' are by women. As a result, the presentation of the issues of sound, rhyme, and form is skewed. This country is brimming over with women poets. Let their voices be heard. Cynthia Anderson, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Art or pornography? The editorial ``Ex-X Movies,'' Oct. 3, reports on the hypocrisy in the management of film rating. The pretense that there is a dividing line separating the R and NC-17 rated material from pornography is an imposture.

There is a prevailing sentiment that the word ``art'' is so sacred that when a studio uses the term to describe a film, nothing can stop it no matter how loathsome. Aside from the question of excluding children, can adult viewers honestly feel they are patronizing art in viewing these trashy R and NC-17 movies? H.L. Keepers, Cincinnati

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