- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Yes, Saddam is not an Assyrian

In his column, "Stumbledee and stumbledum" (Op-Ed, Jan. 29), Tony Blankley calls Saddam Hussein an "Assyrian," but I do not think he is aware of who modern Assyrians really are. We are repressed in Iraq, even though we are the indigenous people of that region, with a history that spans more than 2,000 years since the fall of the Assyrian empire. We are a Christian people not Muslim and we have our own language and culture, which are not Arabic in any way.
The Assyrians are currently active in northern Iraq. They have an Iraqi opposition party called the Assyrian Democratic Movement, which is recognized by President Bush and will be involved in the "regime change" process. We are not only a people of the past but also a people of the present and future.
Saddam Hussein may indeed be a "dunderhead," as Mr. Blankley calls him. Upon that we agree. But he is a 100 percent Arab dunderhead.

ASHUR ISAAC
Sydney, Australia

No German-first in Austria

I wish to comment on an article lifted from the London Sunday Telegraph, "New law forces foreigners to learn Austrian customs" (World, Jan. 26), which criticizes the amendment to the laws concerning the rights and status of aliens in Austria. The article creates the false perceptions that Austria is (1) a xenophobic country with (2) anti-immigration legislation introduced by (3) a right-wing government. Allow me to refute these perceptions, one at a time.
The legislation requiring knowledge of German was not introduced by a government "then led by the anti-immigration Freedom Party," as the article claims, but by the conservative People's Party led by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. The photograph depicting the Freedom Party's Joerg Haider, governor of Carinthia, is therefore misleading. It is untrue that foreign workers and their families wishing to settle in Austria are compelled to learn the number of brass bands in Carinthia and the name of the governor in Tyrol as a precondition for taking jobs. Such a legal requirement does not exist in Austria.
The Austrian law regulating the rights and status of aliens distinguishes between the right of temporary residence and the right of permanent residence. The article neglects this distinction, which is important and should not be overlooked. While it is true that foreigners wishing to stay will be required - under certain circumstances and with numerous exceptions - to undergo German language training (per Section 10a StBG of the Austrian Nationality Statute), this legal requirement does not apply to any of the examples quoted in the article. Key employees, including family members, of international companies or international research institutes are exempt from this requirement and may stay for longer than 24 months if overall economic interest exists during their stay (Sections 12 and 24 AuslBG of the Statute on Employment of Foreign Nationals).
With more than 9 percent, Austria has - except for Luxembourg - the highest share of foreigners in the European Union. Acts of violence or expressions of xenophobia against foreigners are a rare exception. The Annual Human Rights Report of the State Department proves it.

CHRISTOPH MERAN
Director
Austrian Press and Information Service
Embassy of Austria
Washington

Maryland must give teeth to parental notification law

Diane Onken, regional organizer for the Maryland chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, claims that having a parental notification law in which exceptions must be adjudicated would result in "making it impossible to access those [abortion] services" ("Abortion foes hope Ehrlich aids them," Metropolitan, Jan. 26). She is wrong.
The Supreme Court, just three years after Roe vs. Wade, upheld state parental consent requirements with a judicial bypass option (Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City, Missouri Inc. vs. Ashcroft). The pro-abortion court found no denial of abortion services, nor did it disparage judicial bypass, as does Miss Onken.
The Planned Parenthood Web site indicates that parental involvement laws are in effect in 32 states. Many have been in effect for decades, during which time the teen abortion rate increased. So it wasn't at all "impossible" for a teen to get an abortion.
Planned Parenthood lists Maryland as a state that has a parental notification law. As Planned Parenthood notes, however, the abortionist can "waive notification on the basis of the minor's maturity or best interest." Yet, in the vast majority of cases, the abortionist has never seen the young girl before, let alone know her best interests. Also, the law prohibits civil or criminal lawsuits against an abortionist for deciding not to inform a parent or guardian. Add to this the abortionist's financial conflict of interest, and Maryland's current notification law is a sham.
In its June 2002 video, Life Dynamics interviewed a Pennsylvania mother who was unaware that her boyfriend was sexually abusing her 13-year-old daughter. He impregnated her and brought her to Maryland for an abortion in order to avoid Pennsylvania's parental notification law. Five months later, he brought her back to the same clinic. The girl's mother finally found out, and her former boyfriend is serving a long jail sentence with civil lawsuits pending.
This one example illustrates how much parents need the option of protecting their daughters. They must be allowed the opportunity to counsel their daughters about the many physical and psychological problems associated with abortion.
That is why the Maryland Legislature should revise the parental notification law to give it some teeth. This can be done by requiring parental consent under threat of heavy penalties. Everyone would benefit from this change: minors, parents and even abortionists.

BERNARD A. MCLOUGHLIN
Chairman
Right to Life of Montgomery County Inc.
Rockville

Stop fueling a national security threat

While Tom Bray calls President Bush's proposed commitment to development of hydrogen-powered vehicle technology "a dubious use of government's research dollars" ("Energy independence fantasies," Commentary, Monday), the fact remains that American dependence on foreign oil is an ongoing and growing national security threat. Most of Mr. Bray's attention is focused on the environmental debate surrounding vehicle fuel efficiency and pollution, giving short shrift to important national security implications.
Roughly 55 percent of the oil consumed every day in America is imported. More important, oil-derived fuels provide virtually all fuel for the transportation sector. A major disruption of our foreign oil supplies would cripple our economy and detract from our military's operational capabilities. (To provide some perspective, the two oil shocks of the 1970s cost the U.S. economy more than $1.5 trillion.)
Mr. Bush's research dollars are in the right place. The steppingstone, however, to a hydrogen economy is through making better use of natural gas an abundant domestic resource. Natural gas can be used in conventional combustion engines with minor modifications. With existing natural gas pipelines reaching most American communities, natural gas fueling stations can be developed efficiently.
Currently, nearly a million natural gas vehicles operate worldwide, with more than 75,000 in America alone. Expanding the use of these vehicles is the most viable near-term solution to reducing our foreign oil dependence by using existing technology.
Following widespread acceptance of natural gas vehicles, the transition can readily be made to hydrogen power, which builds upon natural gas technology.

HEIDI BONNETT
Research assistant
National Defense Council Foundation
Alexandria

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