Letters: Our listeners sound off

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KAI RYSSDAL: We're going to start letters this week with a weather report. The National Weather Service says Hurricane Gustav could be a category 3 storm by the time it enters the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

There aren't any predictions yet as to where it's going to make landfall, but you can bet they'll be keeping a close eye out in New Orleans. The Crescent City has struggled to rebuild in the three years since Hurricane Katrina left its mark.

Last week, Tess Vigeland was here telling us about her trip to New Orleans earlier this summer and how there's still no real rebuilding happening in the areas hardest hit by the flooding.

Jeanne Sadler from Sacramento, Calif., said that should be taken as a sign that the residents are wisely relocating to higher ground.

Jeanne Sadler: This story could have been reported as a city moving forward and upward with an eye towards the future, instead of seeing a failure to recreate a catastrophe.

I interviewed Dr. Ross McKinney from Duke University a week or so ago about a particular kind of failure -- the failure of the drug Vioxx, which Merck pulled from the market four years ago. Dr. McKinney and I were talking about a clinical study of Vioxx that Merck did, where the research was at least partly done for marketing purposes.

New Jersey resident Peter Larson works for a pharmaceutical company. He says a report like that one should be taken in stride.

Peter Larson: One should not forget that without the pharmaceutical industry, that thousands of life-saving therapies that are currently extending not only the lives, but quality of lives, of millions of people worldwide would not be available.

We told you last week about a new standardized college entrance exam -- for eighth graders. It's the latest offering by one of the big testing companies, The College Board, which already markets the SAT and the PSAT.

David Rigby thought we'd all be better off if we focused less on testing.

David Rigby: How about some learning? Our children need to learn to think, not just regurgitate facts on a test.

Last Wednesday we aired an interview I did with Hugh Grant. He's the chairman and CEO of Monsanto. We talked a lot about the company's main moneymaker -- genetically modified seeds.

Hugh Grant: Twelve years, a billion-plus acres of these crops being planted around the world, and absolutely no problems.

Chris Knight from Santa Clara, Calif., had a response to industries that claim that kind of record.

Chris Knight: Twelve years and absolutely no problems? I wonder if they said the same about lead, asbestos or cigarettes. Unfortunately, the logic is fallacious. The lack of a problem doesn't indicate the product is safe.

One more thing about Hugh Grant. You can tell he wasn't born here, right? . . . I called that, on the air, a Scottish brogue. I'm told it's more accurately a burr. Brogues belong to the Irish, I guess.

One other correction for you: Last Friday, in a report about how the rich live, we mentioned an unusual gift-wrapping idea. Lobbyist and former adviser to the president Edwina Rogers wraps her presents in sheets of cash. Should you be looking to do the same, we gave the wrong source for the supplier of the pricey paper. It's the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

If you don't care for the way we package something, let us know. Go to Marketplace.org and click on that link that says "Contact."

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