Letters to the Editor
Readers write about science in the courtroom, the validity of Hamas, Kenya's strife, Sufi poet Rumi, and global-warming prevention.
The court system needs a background in science
Regarding Cody Corliss's Jan. 30 Opinion piece, "Electing judges – with cash": Mr. Corliss touches on only one aspect of equal justice under law – judicial selection. As a veteran of many court battles, I agree that proper methods of selection are important. But continuing critical oversight and publicity by an alert, independently funded watchdog agency are even more important, and have yet to surface anywhere in America.
Few people are aware that "judge shopping" can occur when a defending party with powerful legal, political, and media connections finds that an unfriendly judge has been assigned. That is a fact of present-day federal practice that dooms equal justice and outrages common sense.
Even more disturbing is the ignorance of judges and lawyers, generally, of the scientific way of thinking. I asked a leading member of the bar, who was also a legal educator, what would happen to a law school that required passing a basic science course for admission. His reply: "It would close its doors for lack of applicants."
Senior Fellow, American Physical Society
Continue refusing to deal with Hamas
Regarding Helena Cobban's Jan. 29 Opinion piece, "No way to avoid Hamas now": Ms. Cobban's call for the United States to engage with Hamas glosses over the reasons the international community has refused to deal with this terrorist organization.
Artificially dividing Hamas into "armed" and "political" wings ignores the fact that the organization as a whole continues to support the use of terrorism and violence and refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist. The hudna, or cease-fire, urged by Cobban is unrealistic, given that Hamas has historically used periods of calm to rearm and build up an arsenal for future attacks against Israel. This is why the international community continues to insist that Hamas take meaningful steps to renounce terrorism, to disarm, and to recognize Israel's right to exist as a precondition for engagement.
The Hamas leadership cannot possibly expect normalized relations while continuing to glorify terrorism and doing nothing to stop the onslaught of rocket fire from Gaza targeting civilians in Israel's towns and cities.
Michael A. Salberg
Director, International Affairs, Anti-Defamation League
Disagreement over Kenya's election results must be resolved
In response to the Jan. 29 article, "How a country came undone": The article was right on the money, for the most part.
For most regimes in Kenya's history, be they colonial or post-colonial, the issue of land has been a powder keg waiting to explode. Kenyans have always felt disenfranchised by the ruling elite.
Since 1992, when multiparty democracy was brought back, elections have been the instrument by which ordinary Kenyans voices are heard. Most Kenyans voted peacefully on Dec. 27, 2007, only to find that the Electoral Commission of Kenya had been arm-twisted to have the result turn out in favor of President Kibaki.
The fact is you do not steal an election in a country like Kenya and expect things to go on as normal.
For Kenya to move forward and for the bloodshed to stop, the events of Dec. 27 must first be dealt with and resolved.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
'Islam's poet' belonged first to Persia
Regarding the Jan. 1 article, "Islam's Poet of Peace": I would like to remind your readers that Mevlana Jalludin Rumi was a Persian who wrote most of his mystical poetry in Persian and some in Arabic. He was born in Balkh in present-day Afghanistan. Because of the Mongol invasion, his family escaped Khorassan proper and settled in the western provinces of Persia.
I am not surprised that the Turks are inclined to claim Rumi as one of their own. After all, the value of his poetry is universal. However, when one writes about medieval Persian poets and their influence in the modern Middle East, one needs to give proper credit to their ethnicity. It is important because they have contributed so much to Islamic civilization.
The word Islam appears often in Rumi's mystical poetry. However, his Islam is associated with sharia of the heart rather than with sharia based on strict interpretations of the Islamic texts. For Rumi therefore, religion is sublime rather than dogmatic.
Hamik C. Gregory
Remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere
In response to the Jan. 30 article, "Bush's much-maligned climate talks may yet help global warming treaty": It is tragic that the current paradigm for addressing global warming is for mankind to cut our emissions fast and drastically.
Besides greenhouse gases, our emissions also put global dimming aerosols into the air, cooling the Earth. In other words, fast and drastic emissions cuts will warm us up before they cool us down, potentially causing ecosystems to collapse.
Therefore, the paradigm for addressing global warming should be to remove the excess carbon dioxide from the air, rather than the weak mitigation strategy of cutting our emissions and waiting for a damaged Earth to remove it.
I suggest the low-cost method of biosequestration to remove the excess CO2 from the air. The last severe global-warming episode ended when oceanic life kicked into high gear and removed the excess CO2 over tens of thousand of years. We can improve nature's ability with genetic engineering.
It is highly unlikely that a rapidly growing population and world economy will cut emissions so fast and drastically as to avoid either abrupt climate change or runaway global warming. Instead, any feasible planetary rescue plan must include a method of removing carbon dioxide from the air.
Saint Louis Park, Minn.
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