• Controversial Cover

    TIME's cover image and story about the young woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban were horrific [Aug. 9]. I do not doubt that this brutality would increase were we to pull our troops from the region. However, the death and trauma suffered by our forces in order to prevent the abuse documented in your cover story are too high a price to pay.

    Ken Rosner, MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

    Thank you for having the courage to print such a distressing cover image. The shock value of Aisha's mutilated face encouraged me to pick up the issue and read about the few advances that have been made against the Taliban when it comes to women's rights. We get so wrapped up in today's watercooler gossip in our celebrity-centric society (Mel Gibson's rants, Heidi Montag's surgeries, Chelsea Clinton's wedding dress) that we forget about the real issues affecting this world.

    Pat Schneider, TUMWATER, WASH.

    While I congratulate you on a powerful cover image and a well-written story by Aryn Baker, I find your cover line--"What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan"--misleading. The solution to the suppression of women in Afghanistan is not foreign occupation but the irreversible transformation of Afghan governance and societal values.

    Rouben Azizian, HONOLULU

    Putting a disfigured girl on your cover was a terrible editorial decision. Obviously our world has its horrors, but I have small children at home. Having that arrive through the mail slot was quite distressing. It seems inappropriate for a broad-based magazine like yours.

    Mary Gardner, BOSTON

    Surveying the Damage

    Michael Grunwald's statement that the BP oil spill is not an environmental disaster is at best premature ["Big Spill, Little Damage?" Aug. 9]. The deaths of thousands of shorebirds and hundreds of sea turtles and marine mammals are not insignificant.

    Robert W. Hastings, PRATTVILLE, ALA.

    No matter how many clean birds Grunwald saw or how many statistics he throws around, suggesting that millions of gallons of oil in our waters has anything less than a disastrous effect on our environment is beyond the scope of reality.

    Justine Benson, SALEM, MASS.

    Reacting to Ramos

    While Univision anchor Jorge Ramos rightly states that the Declaration of Independence says all men are created equal, the Founding Fathers never intended for criminals to be granted the same rights as law-abiding citizens [10 Questions, Aug. 9]. Illegal aliens, by entering this country unlawfully, deserve to be subjected to appropriate punishment (e.g., deportation) and certainly not afforded privileges.

    Paul Abbott, WALPOLE, MASS.

    I found Ramos' response about Nelson Mandela striking. I wish nothing but prosperity and success to all legal citizens of the U.S. However, to compare the plight of Mandela to the current situation regarding immigration to the U.S. from Mexico is disingenuous at best and, frankly, an insult to Mandela.

    Michael Thompson, DES MOINES, IOWA

    The Nut of the Issue

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