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The Sandinistas' 'Pinata' and the Threat From the Right

There is error as well as illusion in the article "Sandinistas Opt for Stability," July 24. The writer says the measures introduced in Nicaragua's National Assembly in June were "to overturn two laws that facilitated the handout" which earlier is referred to as "the last-minute handout of land titles and government property by the Sandinistas prior to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro's assumption of power in April 1990."Law 85 (which protected the homes) and Law 86 (which protected the right to the land itself) were passed by the National Assembly after the election, but they protected no "last-minute handout." They applied to land and houses distributed before the Sandinistas' electoral defeat, for which they had never delivered titles, assuming there was no hurry to do so. As many as 1.2 million Nicaraguans may be affected by these laws. These laws are not the so-called "pinata" in which a small number of government officials may have benefited personally from distributions of houses and vehicles after the election and before the new government's inauguration. "The right's offensive" of which your writer speaks is as much a threat to Chamorro's government as it is to the Sandinistas, as demonstrated in Assembly repeal of accords reached between Chamorro and workers' and farmers' unions. The struggle symbolized by the Sandinista Revolution in the last decade continues in Nicaragua, and continues to be misunderstood. Grant Gallup, Managua, Nicaragua

Island of smiles The Home Forum essay on smiles, "Made in Japan," Sept. 4, is good for a tourist, but after living in Japan for 30 years and now teaching a college course on "Cultural Foundations of Japanese Business," I suggest a few deeper reasons behind them. Japan is a very homogeneous nation. It is not an immigrant country. Smiles come easier when it's all in the family, as it were. Japan is densely populated. Unless smiles greased the wheels of society, the friction would be unbearable. Smiles can cover embarrassment or, even worse, grief; Japanese do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. Smiles can be strategic: "When in doubt, smile." Walt Kelleher, New Orleans

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Fresh air, hold the burger I am deeply disturbed by the irresponsible article "Cookouts and Clean Air," Aug. 28, which cites an Oregon State University report that "meat cooking operations are a major source of organic aerosol emissions in the urban atmosphere," which in Los Angeles "beats the contributions of more obvious sources such as ... motor-vehicle exhausts." Yet the author inexplicably urges apathy and inaction to this problem and its resolution. After outlining the evidence which proves meat grilling to be a serious pollutant, he dismisses it with a simple "So throw another burger on the grill." It is through such apathy that our environment has been brought to its current state of emergency. The meat industry is exceptionally notorious for its transgressions against the environment. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that a large number of environmental activists are vegetarians. It could have done no harm for the author to suggest such an alternative to the barbecue grill. Sean A. Whelan, Augsburg, Germany

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