Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why Israel needs time

In “Give Israel time to complete the mission” (Editorial, Monday) The Washington Times boldly writes: “The most important thing that Israel needs — particularly in Lebanon, where Hezbollah had been permitted to stockpile upwards of 10,000-12,000 rockets and missiles to target Israel — is time: time to root out the weapons caches stockpiled in private homes; time to hit the rocket and missile-launching sites and terrorist training camps Hezbollah has established throughout Lebanon; and time to hunt down the jihadists in the Bekaa Valley and elsewhere whose life’s work is to destroy the Jewish state.”

This conflict is a window of opportunity to rid the civilized world of the rogue leadership in Syria and Iran, which are the main sponsors of international terrorism. President Bush should encourage Israel to attack Syria, and the U.S. should launch air strikes simultaneously against Iran. Cut off the heads of the snakes, and Hezbollah will die.


Williamsburg, Va.

‘Off-duty’ employee behavior

The story “Face it: ‘Book’ no secret to employers” (Page 1, Monday), about employers and social-networking sites, reflects a rapidly increasing concern that employee behavior in a public space, even “off duty,” can affect the business. The story also shows that some employers may regard an applicant’s publicly viewable activity as, like dress, indicative of character, temperament or fitness for a competitive job requiring the ability to function in a social hierarchy.

The Internet has offered ordinary people free access to a global audience to discuss sensitive issues. This is good for democracy, as in the long run, the effect of special-interest groups, with their “lowest common denominator” appeal, can be reduced. The capacity to draw worldwide attention to oneself presents unprecedented, but double-edged, ethical and legal issues that need new principles. It will be regrettable, and harmful to public integrity, if employers routinely use Google as a test for social conformity.

Common sense says that the kind of job should affect its sensitivity to the employee’s personal reputation. Managerial positions (requiring direct reports) or marketing jobs (representing the company in public outside of the physical workplace) raise particular concerns.

Employers should develop blogging policies tailored to their different jobs. In some states, employers may remain silent regarding background checks because of legal concerns that may arise down the line. And as a result, we are seeing a lot of under-the-table surveillance of applicants, often without their knowledge. Announcement of this, and of a company’s policies regarding social-networking sites, to applicants and employees would be much more ethical.



Slovenia and the Balkans

As a former invited contributor of articles on Slovenians to the World & I journal, may I attempt one more step at clarification on the question of whether Slovenia is a Central European or Balkan state (“Slovenian anger,” Embassy Row, July 12).

Indeed, to list but two prominent sources, why is there a discrepancy of opinion between the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which has used the Balkan label and respected, highly specialized scholars such as Robert Lee Wolff, the author of the definitive work “The Balkans in our Times” who emphasizes that Slovenia is geographically and historically not a Balkan country, but a Central European one?

When Slovenia was for centuries (until 1918) a part of Austria, no one ever referred to it as a Balkan land. However, as it later became the northernmost province of Yugoslavia, much of whose territory was, indeed, in the Balkans, it became easy and convenient to refer to the entire state of Yugoslavia as a Balkan country, which meant that Slovenia, too, was considered by many to be a Balkan land by its association with Yugoslavia.

The truth is, of course, that Slovenia, like Switzerland and Austria, is an Alpine land and is much closer to Vienna than to Belgrade. The Slovenians, a numerically small group of people living in a highly exposed territory, opted out of Austria because they did not want to become gradually Germanized (the fate of many in Carintia who have remained under Austria). In order to escape the Yugoslav communist oppression, they also overwhelmingly voted for independence and, in 1991, defended it against brutal attacks by the communist-dominated Yugoslav army. Because Slovenia has been an independent state for 15 years, the last reason to incorrectly consider the Slovenians a Balkan people, even if only by association with Yugoslavia, which no longer exists, has disappeared.


Professor emeritus of sociology

Kent State University

Director, Slovenian Research Center

of America Inc.

Willoughby Hills, Ohio

Embryonic stem cells’ limitations

Though Terence Jeffrey’s column “Stemming from Nuremberg”(Commentary, Sunday) illuminated some issues on stem cell research, he omitted critical facts. He failed to distinguish between successful, proven, potent adult/umbilical cord stem cell research and (unsuccessful to date) embryonic stem cell research.

There have been zero cures found using embryonic stem cells.

Tadeusz Pacholczyk, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience at Yale University and has done post-doctoral research at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, has stated: “Adult stem cells … have already cured thousands. There is the example of the use of bone marrow cells from the hipbone to repair scar tissue on the heart after heart attacks. Research using adult cells is 20-30 years ahead of embryonic stem cells and holds greater promise. This is in part because stem cells are part of the natural repair mechanisms of an adult body, while embryonic stem cells do not belong in an adult body (where they are likely to form tumors, and to be rejected as foreign tissue by the recipient). Rather, embryonic stem cells really belong only within in the specialized microenvironment of a rapidly growing embryo, which is a radically different setting from an adult body.” (The complete report can be found at www.stemcellresearch.org/stemcellreport/index.html.)

We don’t need to abandon ethics to engage in stem cell research. We simply need to learn the facts about potency and effectiveness of cord and adult stem cells — and the ineffectiveness and impotency of embryonic stem cells.



Tesla’s tragedy and Croatia

Nikola Tesla was one of the world’s greatest minds, yet one of the most forgotten and unappreciated (“Tesla’s memory a healing force,” World, Sunday). With his myriad inventions (including radio, fluorescent lighting, radar, X-ray technology, alternating current and remote-controlled devices), this single genius literally gave us the 20th century.

There is not a human being who has not been impacted by his inventions. Tragically, Mr. Tesla’s ancestral country, Yugoslavia, was bombed using the very technology that he had made possible.

Because of Mr. Tesla’s Serbian ethnicity, the Orthodox Church where his father served as a priest and his childhood home were destroyed by the Croatian Ustashe during World War II and damaged during the recent civil war in Croatia.

I visited his hometown, Smiljan, in 1988. Recognizing, celebrating and appreciating Mr. Tesla’s contributions to all humanity despite his Serbian Orthodox ethnicity would be a positive step forward for Croatia.

However, until Croatia fully welcomes back and safeguards its Serbian minority, hundreds of thousands of whom are still languishing as refugees, ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homelands in Croatia, efforts to claim Mr. Tesla as “Croatia’s greatest son” will ring hollow.


Henderson, Nev.

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