Discussion - Your Opinion

Please e-mail your contributions to gasser@eckerd.edu



The introduction of a basic income for all will become a hot political topic over the next decade, social ethics specialist Hans Ruh tells swissinfo.

A switch from the current system that provides welfare aid to the needy would be a radical change for Switzerland – a step that most politicians are unwilling to make.

The idea is nothing new: even liberal economists such as Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman have backed it.

All of a country's inhabitants would get a basic income, money to use any way they want. There would be no conditions linked to the distribution of funds.

In its most radical form, basic income would replace the social security system and unemployment benefit.

Posted Sept. 27, 2008
I have mixed feelings about Basic Income. It might encourage  idleness. Why work if I can collect funds without working? Why should  the very wealthy receive that money when they do not need it? Yes, harmful products should be taxed. That income could go to the needy. Distributing such largesse to everyone encourages socialism and higher government spending. The money has to come from somewhere.

I would vote "No"
Betty Wesolowsky - USA




Posted on 15.08.2008 by Scott Capper

Switzerland has - rightly or wrongly - had a reputation for keeping its doors shut to foreign immigrants. Membership of the European Union seems still far away and politicians who support the idea openly are few and far between.

But Switzerland has been slowly moving closer to its EU neighbors with a series of bilateral accords, including some that influence directly border security in the country. Under the Schengen accord, EU citizens can now reside in Switzerland far more easily - a fact some people find difficult to accept - and Swiss police will soon have access to a European criminal database.

But it also means border checks will be abolished with Switzerland’s neighbors soon, replaced by flying controls. For anti-European activists, this is hard to swallow despite the idea being accepted in a nationwide vote.

Around 670,000 Swiss citizens live abroad, the equivalent of nearly one tenth of Switzerland’s population, many of whom also benefit from the bilateral accords with the EU. So is it even fair for some Swiss citizens to want to keep the doors to the outside world closed?



Aug. 15, 2008

[Re: Newsletter article "Last Witch to be declared innocent"]

I just read the Anna Göldin text in your latest Newsletter. Nothing new to me, but an interesting summary.

For several years, I have been interested in this case, and I have probably all recent books dealing with this matter. At the 75th Anniversary of the Rotary Club Glarus (Glaris, as they pronounce it there. Probably the reason why all Glaris in the U.S. are not named Glarus.), I also met Frau Landammann of the Canton of Glarus, a young and certainly extremely able Lady. She had received the request to rehabilitate Anna Göldi from the Parliament of the Canton which had previously rejected all Government attempts to do just that. Now its
finally done.

Fred Jenny -Switzerland


Aug. 12, 2008

In previous swiss letters, I have read other articles about the high suicide rate in Switzerland. The availability of guns is one of the reasons, of course. Any other reason in your opinion?

Andree Slack -USA

Middle East - Two Worlds in Conflict


Oct. 19, 2005


I have recently come across an article by Sam Harris which I would like to share. (Sam Harris is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. Also, he is the founder and executive director of RESULTS, an international citizen's lobby who's purpose it is to create the political will to end hunger and poverty).


Open the newspaper today or tomorrow, or almost any day for many years to come, and you will discover that some pious Muslim has deliberately blown himself to bits for the purpose of killing infidels or apostates. It is likely that the bomber was male, middle class, and comparatively well educated. It is especially likely that he was guided by the sincere expectation of spending eternity in Paradise.

In fact, suicide bombing is now so commonplace in our world that most of us have lost sight of just how unimaginable it should be. It is, perhaps, the least likely thing human beings could ever be inclined to do. What, after all, is less likely than large numbers of middle class, educated, psychologically healthy people intentionally blowing themselves up in crowds of children, in front of the offices of the Red Cross, at weddings and having their mothers sing their praises for it? Can we even conceive of a more profligate misuse of human life? As a cultural phenomenon, suicide bombing should be impossible. But here it is.

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I am extremely critical of all religious faiths. I have argued elsewhere that the ascendancy of Christian conservatism in American politics should terrify and embarrass us. And yet, there are gradations to the evil that is done in name of God, and these gradations must be honestly observed. So let us now make sense of the impossible by acknowledging the obvious: there is a direct link between the doctrine of Islam and Muslim terrorism. Acknowledging this link remains especially taboo among political liberals. While liberals are leery of religious fundamentalism in general, they consistently imagine that all religions at their core teach the same thing and teach it equally well. This is one of the many delusions borne of political correctness. Rather than continue to squander precious time, energy, and good will by denying the role that Islam now plays in perpetuating Muslim violence, we should urge Muslim communities in the West to reform the ideology of their religion. This will not be easy, as the Koran and hadith offer precious little basis for a Muslim Enlightenment, but it is necessary.

Anyone who imagines that terrestrial concerns account for Muslim terrorism must answer questions of the following sort: Where are the Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers? The Tibetans have suffered an occupation far more brutal, and far more cynical, than any that Britain, the United States, or Israel have ever imposed upon the Muslim world. Where are the throngs of Tibetans ready to perpetrate suicidal atrocities against Chinese noncombatants? They do not exist.

What is the difference that makes the difference? The difference lies in the specific tenets of Islam. This is not to say that Buddhism could not help inspire suicidal violence. It can, and it has (Japan, World War II). But this concedes absolutely nothing to the apologists for Islam. As a Buddhist, one has to work extremely hard to justify such barbarism. One need not work nearly so hard as a Muslim. The truth that we must finally confront is that Islam contains specific notions of martyrdom and jihad that fully explain the character of Muslim violence. Unless the world’s Muslims can find some way of expunging the metaphysics that is fast turning their religion into a cult of death, we will ultimately face the same perversely destructive behavior throughout much of the world.

While the other major world religions have been fertile sources of intolerance, it is clear that the doctrine of Islam poses unique problems for the emergence of a global civilization. The world, from the point of view of Islam, is divided into the House of Islam, and the House of War, and this latter designation should indicate how Muslims believe their differences with those who do not share their faith will be ultimately resolved. While there are undoubtedly some moderate Muslims who have decided to overlook the irrescindable militancy of their religion, Islam is undeniably a religion of conquest. The only future devout Muslims can envisage as Muslims is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed. The tenets of Islam simply do not admit of anything but a temporary sharing of power with the enemies of God. Devout Muslims can have no doubt about the reality of Paradise or about the efficacy of martyrdom as a means of getting there. Nor can they question the wisdom and reasonableness of killing people for what amount to theological grievances. In Islam, it is the moderate who is left to split hairs, because the basic thrust of the doctrine is undeniable: convert, subjugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world.

We are now mired in a religious war in Iraq and elsewhere. Our enemies--as witnessed by their astonishing willingness to slaughter themselves--are not principally motivated by political or economic grievances. How many more architects and electrical engineers must fly planes into buildings before we realize that the problem of Muslim extremism is not merely a matter of education? How many more middle-class British citizens must blow themselves up along with scores of noncombatants before we acknowledge that Muslim terrorism is not matter of poverty or political oppression?

It is not enough for moderate Muslims to say not in our name. They must now police their own communities. They must offer unreserved assistance to western governments in locating the

extremists in their midst. They must tolerate, advocate, and even practice ethnic profiling. It is simply a fact that the greatest predictor of terrorist behavior anywhere in the world (with the exception of the island Sri Lanka) is whether or not a person believes that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet. Moderate Muslims themselves must acknowledge this fact without equivocation. The time for political correctness and multi-cultural shibboleths has long passed.

Moderate Muslims must accept and practice open criticism of their religion. We are now in the 21st century: all books, including the Koran, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal. If you disagree, you are not a religious moderate, and you are on a collision course with modernity.

The war in Iraq, while it may be exacerbating the conflict between Islam and the West, is a red herring. However mixed or misguided American intentions were in launching this war, civilized human beings are now attempting, at considerable cost to themselves, to improve life for the Iraqi people. The terrible truth about our predicament in Iraq is that even if we had invaded with no other purpose than to remove Saddam Hussein from power and make Iraq a paradise on earth, we could still expect tomorrow’s paper to reveal that another jihadi has blown himself up for the sake of killing scores of innocent men, women, and children. The outrage that Muslims feel over U.S. and British foreign policy is primarily the product of theological concerns. Devout Muslims consider it a sacrilege for infidels to depose a Muslim tyrant and occupy Muslim lands, no matter how well intentioned the infidels or malevolent the tyrant. Because of what they believe about God and the afterlife and the divine provenance of the Koran, devout Muslims tend to reflexively side with other Muslims, no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This is solidarity born of religious delusion, and it must end, or a genuine clash of civilizations will be unavoidable.

Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere have been traumatized by war and by decades of repression. But this does not explain the type of violence they wage against us on a daily basis. War and repression do not account for suicidal violence directed against the Red Cross, the U.N., foreign workers, and Iraqi innocents. War and repression do not account for the influx of foreign fighters willing to sacrifice their lives merely to sow chaos. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is not George Washington with a hood. Sawing the heads off of civilian contractors, humanitarian workers, and journalists is not resistance to oppression. It is the work of men who left their hearts in the 7th century. Civilization really does have its enemies, and we have met -- and, perhaps, made many of them in Iraq.

It is time we admitted that we are not at war with terrorism; we are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with millions more than have any direct affiliation with Al Qaeda. Every person living in a western democracy should read the Koran and discover the relentlessness with which non-Muslims are vilified in its pages. The idea that Islam is a peaceful religion hijacked by extremists is a dangerous fantasy, and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for moderate Muslims to indulge.

It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of devout Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is, after all, little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who areevery bit as zealous to die as the September 11th hijackers may one day get their hands on nuclear weaponry. As Martin Rees has pointed out, there is no reason to expect that we will be any more successful at stopping nuclear proliferation, in small quantities, than we have been with respect to illegal drugs. If this is true, weapons of mass destruction will eventually be available to anyone who wants them. It seems a truism to say that there is no possible future in which aspiring martyrs will make good neighbors for us.

It is not at all clear how we should proceed in our dialogue with the Muslim world. But deluding ourselves with euphemisms and pandering to the religious sensitivities of Muslims is not the answer. There is much about Islamic culture that should appall us. The treatment of women in Muslim communities throughout the world is unconscionable. All civilized nations must unite in condemnation of a theology that now threatens to destabilize much of the earth. Muslim moderates, wherever they are, must be given every tool necessary to win a war of ideas with their coreligionists. Otherwise, we will have to win some very terrible wars in the future.

Ken Sponagle - USA



 Nov. 1, 2003


Iraq's WMD, How soon they forget!
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
       - President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction program."
       - President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
       - Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
       - Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond
effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
       - Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin,
                Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
       - Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998
"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
       - Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999
"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In
addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless
using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
      - Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, December 5, 2001

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandated of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
       - Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
       - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for
as long as Saddam is in power."
       - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
       - Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

"The last UN weapons in "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in
October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
       - Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

 "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein
because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
       - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated  the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
       - Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years,
every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has  refused to do"
            -Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical
and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
       - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
       - Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002
 "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone
to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction.  ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass
destruction is real
       - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

Betty Wesolowsky (USA)


This is not a political statement.
No matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, we, as Americans and people living here must support the troops who are over there. We owe them our prayers and good thoughts, and wish them safe return home.

Betty Wesolowsky (USA)


President Bush's May trip to Berlin and Rome on NATO business has underscored once again how unenthusiastic Europeans are in the campaign against worldwide religious violence. Of course it's normal for government policy makers to heed the polls and the anti-American street demonstrations of recent weeks.   In the same way we can be sure European leaders privately "respect" the political clout of traditional anti-Semitism and understand that the latest outbursts against Jews in Europe are not just protests against Israel.

The United States and Europe don't have to see eye to eye on everything, but American policy makers must be aware that after Sept 11 Afghanistan was easy when it came to coalition building.  If a bigger crunch comes--say Iraq--multi-lateral support will be much harder to come by. The U.S. will have to go it alone. Until the Al Qaeda network attacks London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, it will only be natural for Europeans to duck and cover.

Bill Oglesby (USA)


In my view the feeling in this country, and I suspect it is true of France, is not anti-Jew but anti-Israeli.    The two are not the same, although it is true that in some extremist quarters it may be convenient to identify them as such.    Let us remember that the French, unlike the USA or the UK, were an occupied country during World War II; occupied by the Nazis.    It is hardly surprising that they should sympathize with Palestinians who have undergone occupation for the past 30 odd years; with people who have been evicted from their homes and seen illegal settlements built across their land; who have seen their houses reduced to rubble by an overwhelming military force which is acting, for those of us who can remember such things, in much the same way that the Nazis did in occupied Europe.  And all this by a people who have defied UN resolutions and even the express command of an almighty US president.   The refusal to admit international fact-finders to Jenin is merely the icing on the cake.

The writer of the USA article seems oblivious to all these facts.    Maybe like many of my countrymen I feel sympathy with the underdog - it is a British trait.    But it is hard to see suicide bombings, however regrettable, as anything more than an act of resistance by an oppressed and occupied people who have no other means of fighting back.   Just as the same was true of the Jewish "terrorists" of the post-war period who bombed civilian targets in order to get the British out of Palestine.   It is an episode of Israeli history which seems now to be forgotten. 

Bill Norris (GB)



From: "David J Blumberg" <DavidBlumberg@blumberg.hostpilot.com>

Friends, I am attending the Israel Venture Association annual conference in Tel Aviv and was introduced to Andrea Koppel from CNN as we were waiting for Prime Minister Sharon and Secretary of State Powell to finish their discussion Sunday evening at our hotel. While we were chatting, an American-born Israeli joined us to tell Andrea about his perception of media distortion in that the press that stresses moral equivalence between Israeli civilian deaths caused by Palestinian terror and Palestinian civilian deaths caused by Israeli military actions. He argued that Israel has tried to engage in a peace process since Camp David and has been double-crossed over and over by the Palestinian Authority. Further, he argued the civilian deaths caused by Palestinians are intentional, whereas the deaths caused by Israel are mostly the tragic, unintentional results caused by Israel trying to defend itself. Andrea replied, "So when Israeli soldiers slaughter civilians in Jenin, that is not equivalent?" Israeli: "What are your sources? Were you in Jenin? How exactly do you know there was a slaughter?" Andrea: "I just spoke with my colleagues who were there, and they told me of the slaughter." Israeli: "Did they actually see the shooting, the bodies?" Andrea: "Palestinians told us about the slaughter." Israeli: "And you believe them without evidence. Could they possibly be lying and distorting facts." Andrea: "Oh, so now they are all just lying??" [sic] The Israeli became emotional in describing that his children are afraid, his friends have been murdered, and if this goes on, "We could lose our lives or we could lose our country." Andrea, "Yes, you will lose your country." At this point, I interrupted the two of them and asked Andrea Koppel, "Did I just hear you correctly-- that you believe the current crisis will lead to the destruction of the State of Israel?" Andrea: "Yes, I believe we are now seeing the beginning of the end of Israel." Needless to say, I was stunned to hear a senior CNN correspondent express this extreme "world-view". It was very disturbing for obvious reasons, and I was particularly upset by her extraordinary geo-political conclusion that the State of Israel is bound for destruction. I asked her how she came this conclusion-- what was her background scholarship in Middle East history or military geo-strategy? Andrea: "Well, you know, I took a course on the Middle East when I was at Middlebury College, and our professor assigned us five books on the history of the conflict. So I first read a book written by an Israeli, and I thought all the land belongs to the Israelis. Then I read another book by a Palestinian and thought all the land belongs to the Palestinians. There are many points of view, and it is just so complex!" Her background scholarship and intellectual depth on the subject duly noted, I turned to consider what to do next. 1) Complain to CNN management? 2) Expose this to other press (say Fox or 60 Minutes, letters to the editor?) 3) Try to educate her towards a more realistic understanding of Israel's geo-political position? 4) Tell the Israeli Foreign Ministry and let them deal with it? 5) Do nothing? (I hope not) I don't know what do to about this, but I thought you may have the right suggestion. Feel free to forward this to your family and friends. David J. Blumberg david@blumbergcapital.com ___________________________________________________________ 

Tahlia Abel 
Israel Programs Specialist 
952-381-3552 Fax- 952-381-3555


[Take heart. The President and the Sec. of State are getting all the
press. But the American government is composed of three equal branches.]

The San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Congress nearly united behind Israel
Few speak out against West Bank attacks

Washington -- Rep. Mike Pence, a conservative freshman Republican from east-central Indiana, comes from a district with no more than a handful of Jews.

But he took to the House floor yesterday and delivered emphatic remarks supporting Israel's current offensive in the occupied territories, comments indicative of the strong sentiment coursing through both houses of Congress.

"Believing Christians and Jews and even many Muslims across Indiana say let us stand with Israel," Pence said. "I pray for the peace of Jerusalem almost every day.

"And the overwhelming majority of this Congress says let the United States stand with Israel," he added.

It is hard to find a negative word on Capitol Hill about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or his current offensive on the West Bank, and it is just as hard to find anyone with anything good to say about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. For President Bush, the heavy pro-Israel bent in Congress provides support for his diplomatic initiatives to end the current fighting, but it could spell trouble if he presses Israel too far for concessions in the face of Palestinian suicide bombings or other terrorist attacks.

A coalescing of factors provides impetus for the pro-Israel sentiment. The traditional strength of Jewish lobbying groups has combined with widespread revulsion against Palestinian suicide bomb attacks, mistrust of Arafat after he rejected U.S.-backed peace plans and a feeling that Israel, like the United States, is fighting terrorism.

Also, some fundamentalist Christians in Congress, backed by groups such as the Christian Coalition, believe that God promised Israel to the Jews and that the state of Israel is part of the apocalyptic scenario leading to the second coming of Jesus Christ.


One of the most influential GOP members of Congress, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas, also was emphatic in his support for Israel at a recent speech -- despite Sharon's military offensive in the West Bank.

"The state of Israel has been targeted by groups committed to her complete elimination. And on the basis of our shared principles and democratic values, America has an undeniable obligation to stand squarely with our democratic ally," DeLay said.

"The time has come to drop the empty pretense that we can serve the region as a mere broker. Israel is resisting a campaign of death. . . . It is time for us to stand squarely against the terrorist organizations which systematically attack Israel," DeLay said.

Congress is working to turn these pro-Israel sentiments into action.

Just yesterday, Republican senators pushing for energy legislation that would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling announced support from several Jewish groups, including B'nai B'rith and the American Jewish Congress. The groups jumped in after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein called for a 30-day halt in oil production to protest Sharon's offensive.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is drafting a bill with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. [Ed: she very liberal, he very conservative] that would deny Arafat a visa to visit the United States, curb
operations of the Palestinian office in Washington and seize any assets held by Arafat in this country.
Feinstein said in the Senate yesterday that Sharon's offensive should continue until terrorists are captured in West Bank towns.

"Israel cannot be expected to place a limit on its own self-defense or end her effort to capture terrorists so long as fanatics on the Palestinian side continue to plot and carry out these horrific attacks," she said.

On the House side, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, is working on a resolution expressing "strong solidarity" with Israel, while not interfering with Bush's efforts to calm the situation.


Among the few members who have spoken up for the Palestinians are Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, [heavily black district] who yesterday called for Israel to end its offensive and urged an end to suicide bombings and the start of a new peace talks.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Oceanside, who is of Arab descent, has introduced a resolution embodying similar sentiments.

One analyst who is close to many Republicans in Congress said they feel Israel is only doing what the United States is doing in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. "They feel that Sharon is involved in trying to eliminate terrorism. Shouldn't he be allowed to do that?" said Cliff May, the former spokesman for the Republican National Committee who now runs the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Dovid Ben Chaim
Blessed are You, G-d, who gives Your People Israel a mighty arm and the will to use it.

Be strong! Be strong! May we all be strengthened!


Jacques H. Weil (Switzerland)


  Bin Laden - Clash of Civilizations?



        I think there's no doubt that bin Laden is attempting to unify the Muslim world using his particular brand of fundamental Islam. His fervent hope is to destroy the western culture b/c he -- and many other Muslims - feel that the western world has encroached on their territory, literally and figuratively. As the western world in its ascendancy branded them "heathen" in the Christian Crusades, they in their turn have branded us "infidels" and wish to annihilate us. There is no middle ground, I fear. There is no outcry from the Muslim "moderates."

        When the Pakistani scientists who installed their atomic weapons near Kabul are coerced by the Taliban into providing more efficient yields and delivery systems (maybe from Iraq, Iran or North Korea), then the western world will have to make a very quick decision. It's us or them. They know it and deep down, we know it too.

        Ken Sponagle
        Academic Learning Center


Bin Laden might be quite pleased. America answered the terrible attacks on New York in the way he wished - they bombed Afghanistan. Now he can tell the whole Muslim world that we make war against the Islam. And the uneducated, highly religious fanatics of the Muslim world believe him - how could they know better?

And not only that. In Europe, in Switzerland there are more and more voices blaming the Americans of bombing Civilians. The attacks of 11 Sept. seem already a little forgotten. Even most of our good friends don't agree with US, even the ones who love America are afraid that this war could turn very ugly, an other Vietnam. Of course one had to do something. But Europe would have preferred more diplomacy and less weapons.  The leftist people (there are lot of those in Switzerland) speak loud against America, it is sometimes heartbreaking to hear their comments. Every commentator speaks about all the problems which could occur, and nobody really believes that US can find Bin Laden or overthrow the Taliban Government. And there will be a lot of dead American soldiers. It is so hard to fight against fanatics who like  to be killed because they are promised to go to Paradise.  I think there is much more pessimism in Switzerland than in US. Of course everybody is also concerned about  biological weapons. There are everyday calls to the police because letters with a powder are delivered. Until now nothing serious. We all hope that it will not be as bad as we believe.

In short - we are all very negative and sad and see an ugly war which we almost cannot win because the enemy is hard to find, and we cannot protect against all the atrocities he plans.
Rosemarie Pennington (Switzerland)


Bin Ladin is a terrorist. He wishes to destroy civilization as we know
it, and substitute his brand of "Islam".  They have targeted the Eiffel
Tower, embassies etc. Who knows what else they have - or had in mind? The
free world is banding together to destroy his Taliban. Hopefully, we shall
prevail. Our prayers and good wishes must be with those who are involved
in this struggle - good against evil. Betty Wesolowsky (U.S.A.)

It is the hope of Bin Laden to spread his ideals upon the societies of the world. His basis is founded on Hate of which the world has experienced world wars before which didn't succeed. Many nations have suffered greatly in the loss of life in the fight to overcome their strategies. The attack on our nation has been an attack on all free nations. Time will tell which nations will join our effort to put an end to terrorism. But it will never be stamped out entirely until some other group gets the same idea again. For the most part we consider our nation as a Christian nation and our faith will not be shaken. The scriptures tells us that there will be wars and rumors of wars until the end of time. A constant battle between good and evil will never end. We all should strive to turn the evil around and live for Christ which will always win. Wayne C. Blesi (U.S.A.)

The U.S.A. is not Godless. Overwhelmingly, most Americans have a belief in God. A good analysis of Osama's endgame is set out in Time magazine of October 15, 2001,at pages 70 and 71.

To accomplish Bin Laden's goal of expelling the U.S.A. from the Islamic world and uniting Muslims in one empire, the economic and political systems of western civilization must be severally damaged or destroyed. United together we will stand; divided we may fall.

Bud Sohngen (U.S.A.)

Bin Laden and his organization intend to bring the entire Muslim world together in a fight against the western world, the Christian and Jewish world, unbelievers, in his opinion.

He interprets the Koran in an entirely different way and gives words in it a different meaning than intended and interpreted by the majority of Islam scholars. His teachings are very dangerous to our culture and terrorist attacks planned by his groups are almost impossible to anticipate, as they can happen anywhere with whatever means they chose in their unlimited hatred.

There would be a lot more to say about the cause of this hatred and measures to take. This however would fill books and create more discussions.

Jacques H. Weil (Switzerland)

Subject: UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons -                        


Don't ever ask me why politicians do what they do--it defies me, but then, I'm not privy to their conferences. Just hope all turns out well.

Betty Wesolowsky (USA)

It's a very hard issue to dictate the use and sale of small arms. The people in the USA may lose the battle even though the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms for ones own protection. Even the Swiss in part honor this right as an example of this is that every Swiss man who served in the arms forces keep their guns with them as Switzerland has the largest standing army in he world. Has Switzerland made a study as to what extent that this has been a detriment to the country and well being of the people. The trend in the U.S. is becoming alarming when young children age 10 to 15 yrs. take guns to school. If we cannot legislate morality then how can we control what a person is going to do with small arms. It would not do any good to take away all the guns  from the citizens because the unlawful person will always find a way to get weapons. However all countries should work together to ban the sale of illegal weapons to any nation. If a person is going to kill another there are many other ways to do so without a gun. Are you going to ban knives, ropes or any other item to turn against his fellow man? The teachings in the home is the greatest influence of the growing younger generation which is being lost because of the type of society that the world is living in, whether it is by moral or faith living. Even here there are problems such as the warring between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland. Hopefully  the end results of these two factions now working together will bring peace to that divided nation. But I think it is more political than their difference of faith. The schools in the US don't show any respect for the pledge of allegiance and respect for the flag. So we lose our values because we don't teach any values. What do we expect the result will be a negative one. We don't enforce the gun laws in the US any more as a person can own an UZI or a machine gun when it is a law that to own one it had to be registered and the barrel welded shut so it could not be fired. If we don't enforce our own laws how can we force the rest of the world to live up to gun regulations. All light weapons should be banned and used only by military forces of the nation.

 Wayne C. Blesi (USA)

Former Subjects. (Your opinion is still invited)

" The Anthropogenic Greenhouse Effect" - Global Warming - CO2 ...  - To what extent are humans contributing to global climatic changes?

    "In scientific publications and reports of the mass media it is assumed that the small anthropogenic CO2 portion of 0.01 % in the atmosphere is to blame for the present slight increases in the global average temperature of the near-ground air. Although the correlations observed between CO2 and temperature graphs indicate a causal connection, cause and effect, however, remain open for the moment. As shown by the following example, contradictions between the fundamental physical effect of CO2 and climate changes in the past need to be clarified: The period of approx. 20,000 to 10,000 years ago had experienced a rise of 65 ppm in the CO2 content and of more than 6 °C in the average temperature. In the last 10,000 years, however, the CO2 content in the air rose by 100 ppm, although the average temperature of today is more likely to be somewhat lower than the temperature recorded at that time. " Heinz Kothen & Hans-Udo Knufinke (Germany) - Click here for the rest of this scientific paper.

Europe: A Commitment to Kyoto

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Friday, June 29, 2001; Page A36

David Ignatius's commentary "Parallel Fears for the Planet Earth" [op-ed, June 17] buys into one of the Bush administration's big lies: that Europeans are hypocrites because they have not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Here are the facts: When the United States, Europe, Japan and the rest of the world signed the Kyoto treaty in 1997, they knew that many of its key provisions for market-based flexibility, compliance and the like would need to be further elaborated before any industrialized country could ratify the accord. After all, until these critical rules were agreed upon, no country would know precisely what its treaty commitments would be.

So governments agreed to a plan of action under which they would negotiate these rules before they began ratification. The rule-making process was supposed to conclude at the climate summit in The Hague last November, but those talks were not successful, and governments (including ours) agreed to resume them next month in Germany. The nations of Europe are publicly committed to beginning their ratification processes for the treaty as soon as the framework for the implementing of rules is completed.

Everyone involved even peripherally in the climate talks knows this. That includes Colin Powell and all of the negotiators at the U.S. State Department. One would hope it includes the president.

Yet the Bush administration's cry of "European hypocrisy" has worked like other big lies: Come up with a half-truth to deflect attention from the fact that you have no plausible policy whatsoever on the issue in question, then repeat the half-truth over and over in briefings, speeches and press releases until journalists and pundits begin parroting it as if it were common knowledge.




© 2001 The Washington Post Company

    Yes, I firmly believe human activity contributes to GLOBAL WARMING. Of course, the physical activity of humans alone, would not make a difference, even 6 billion of us. But 6 billion people cutting down forests at an alarming rate reducing the conversion of carbon dioxide capabilities, driving more and more automobiles, buses and trucks spewing out exhaust gases, demanding more and more electric power from power plants and goods from factories belching tons and tons of stuff that kills trees hundreds of miles away from acid rain and converting blue skies into a murky brown gas ocean over industrial regions as seen in Los Angeles and an industrial city in China, that has got to make a difference. Common sense says it's going to make a difference. A pristine planet thrown out of balance once by natural cause, a massive impact, is being pressured out of balance by massive human activity demanding more and more of earth resources. And when that is backed up by one scientific study after another, who but those who have a stake in the status quo or who choose to pay no attention is not going to believe?   Gordon Hagberg (USA)

    We should do all we can to help with the causes of world warming of which for one thing is that all countries should cut down on heavy emissions from manufacturing such as smelting industries or factory air pollution. But the greatest cause of this problem is from nature itself with the many volcanoes in the world which is the worst pollution of the atmosphere and the ozone layer problem. It is not possible to put a damper on the volcanoes in the world, Maybe a method could be found to vent off these volcanoes and use the energy so that they would not erupt. We use thermal energy in some areas for heating and generating electricity today in some areas of the U.S.A.. Some say for every cause there is a solution. This is my opinion. Wayne C. Blesi (USA)

    I believe that it's better to err on the side of caution where there is such a great deal at stake re global warming and the possible disastrous effects. However, I must be in the minority and out of step with the rest of America. I didn't vote for Bush b/c I don't believe in what he stands for. However, a lot of people obviously do. How else did he get voted in? (I ask rhetorically and a bit facetiously!) The Bushies don't have a long-term approach b/c they're interested in only short-term "solutions." If any long range plans interrupt their maximization of profit taking -- possibly, like the Kyoto accord -- then this administration is going to veto it. The oil prices, I believe went up b/c "their" man was in office and would do nothing to stop them from maximizing their profits. The same mindset goes for the subject of global warming and many other topics. The "tax refund program" is an inexcusable abrogation of what I think is a responsible government's handling of taxation. What a crude and transparent way to buy votes and further an ignorant, self-serving mindset. I'll return my tax refund and put it back in reasonable and responsible social programs if allowed. I predict that we'll only have 3 and half more years of this type of leadership before the yahoos catch on and begin to understand that they've been taken -- very optimistically speaking.--- Ken Sponagle Academic Learning Center (USA)


    There is little doubt scientifically that CO2 emissions increase the content in the air and that this changes the albedo. What's the issue? Global warming is happening and will create immense problems. Jim Van Horn (USA)

    I personally do not believe that Global warming is an isolated issue. It is directly related to economy, education, population growth & other factors. It can't properly be discussed in isolation. According to Science News, humans produce 27 billion tons of Co2 / year, and problems related to it are growing. I believe that it is the product of human need, greediness & ignorance combined. John Khosh (USA)

... on the subject of President Bush in Europe

Controversial subjects he will be facing, such as "Star Wars", Global Warming, Tyoto Treaty, Land Mine Treaty and Death Penalty

Even if it is not 100% proven that pollution accelerates the warming of the earth, it is very unwise to wait any longer for reducing it. Climate change will not yet hurt our generation so much, but our grand-children will have big problems. Think of rising water-levels, more severe storms. 

Pollution is on many other grounds undesirable, and imposes costs on world-wide society - e.g. those related to medical needs. President Bush wants to implement more oil- und coal production for increasing the available energy, while Europe decided to go ahead with economizing. Bush says that that would hurt the economy. But Europe is doing it anyway. 

Differences in the European approach: Because of gasoline taxes Europeans have to pay approx.3x more for gasoline than Americans. Now they talk about rising the taxes even more. Therefore in Europe one does not buy the big SUV but smaller cars which take less and less gasoline. The taxes for heating oil are rising also. Therefore the Europeans insolate their houses much more than the Americans. 

Europe encourages with tax reductions houses with solar panels, or houses which use the warmth of the earth, for supplementing the oil consumption. In America the property tax rises when a house owner builds a solar panel. There is not much air conditioning in Europe. People are much more adapted to change of temperatures. In America the restaurants and super markets are cooled down so much that one needs an extra jacket. And in winter in Europe people might put on a pullover while in America the thermostat is put higher. 

For economizing water consumption most newly built houses have two buttons in the toilet. One for a small flush, the other for a bigger one In Europe most people live in relatively small apartments or small houses. Here almost everybody wants a big house, using much more space and consequently more energy. Europeans turn their light or television off when they leave the house. In America normally the whole house is illuminated and the television runs the whole day. There is a lot of waste in America, and instead of just increasing production there would be quite a potential for economizing. It is understandable that Europe is shocked by Bush's decision to renege on the Kyoto contract.  Rosemarie Pennington (Swiss)


Yes, we have opinions on many issues: 

Star Wars-maybe O.K. ??? Global Warming-a threat to all nations, BUT coping with the issue can hurt economically. A balance between the economy and Green House effect must be maintained. Iraqi sanctions - As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, nations must control his ability to do serious damage. Too bad innocent folks are suffering. There's got to be a balance somewhere. Death penalty-mixed feelings -Timothy Mc Veigh certainly deserved the death penalty. Our prisons are somewhat of a "motel" atmosphere-good food, medical care, entertainment, gyms etc. It hardly constitutes punishment. The punishment stems from loss of freedom. Land mines-always a danger, but as long as the world has lunatics as leaders there will be mines - unfortunately. Betty Wesolowsky (USA)


..... on the subject of UN sanctions and millions of Iraqis having perished as a consequence

... The notion that UN sanctions and the perfidious Anglo Saxons are responsible for the misery of the Iraqi people is ridiculous on the face of it. The government of Iraq does quite well smuggling commodities of all kinds with its neighbors. The government could easily let some resources trickle down to the malnourished and sick if they wanted to. But then they wouldn't have foreign devils to blame for their problems. Bill  Oglesby (USA)

I hope you do not believe this?  Jim Van Horn (USA)

I read your email re the Iraqis and the problem with the sanctions. It is a very difficult problem when the leader of that country is a madman. How do you deal with a country that is controlled by such a mindset?

The short answer is: I have no idea! The long answer would involve a complete analysis of incomplete and misleading information. I think countries like this are labeled as "rogue nations" for good reason. There is a general lack of acceptance of the normal rule of law and as such every transaction has to be made with great care. Even then, misunderstandings occur. For example, the Taleban of Afghanistan now want the small population of Hindus to wear identifying marks to differentiate them. It reminds me of Nazi Germany and their rejection of international rule of law.

But isolating countries and groups like this only leads to a further deterioration of life for the populations in those countries. So, opening up dialogues and sharing humanitarian objectives seems to be the only way. We've seen what happens when there is a military overthrow and installation of a pro-western leader, such as the Shah of Iran.

In short, I recommend openness and a sincere attempt at cultural accord.

Ken Sponagle
Academic Learning Center (USA)

I noticed my comments were published re the "Iraqi Sanctions..." problem. I don't know if I did any justice to the subject. There's so much more that can
be said about this particular type of problem. Overcoming cultural differences is so difficult if there is no incentive. But the incentive itself appears to have so much to do with the personal values that each individual and/or group has. In my experience with my foreign students, I see this wide range of values and beliefs and sometimes wonder how we can survive at all.

I hope that I would respond appropriately if my children were suffering under a dictator's rule. But let's consider the typical Iraqi. If his values and beliefs have been created and nurtured by the dictator himself, the fear and terror of challenging him might outweigh his love for his children. He might think the line of least resistance is to cave into the dictator and even support him. Does this sound somewhat like the famous effect where hostages "fall in love with" their captor and actually assist him in his criminal activities? (Sweden ...?)

So, similar to the propaganda experts like Goring and others in Nazi Germany, Sadam Hussein has twisted the "normal" social expectations of many Iraqis. I
think the basic word here is fear. He has terrorized his people to the point that they will actually profess love and admiration for him and at the same time, they are in a constant state of paralyzing fear and terror.

I hope that US backed efforts similar to "Radio Free Europe" and other programs will help the people of this country overcome Hussein.

Ken Sponagle
Academic Learning Center (USA)