Local business dealings a key to ethnic peace

Your July 11 article "Nudge toward order in Kosovo" seems a little bit optimistic. I know the former Yugoslavia very well and am continually exasperated when I hear woolly statements from organizations like the United Nations and others talking about building a multiethnic society when their own actions have been questionable.

If there is to be any hope of stability between ethnic groups, forcing people together is not the answer. What needs to be done is fostering of small-scale economic programs between these groups, such as setting up UN-protected markets where traders from both sides can do business. The prospect of trade brings the prospect of prosperity, which does not require handouts or "aid" from international organizations. Business cuts across these ethnic cleavages and would bring stability to the region. Economic sanctions only entrench negative attitudes.

The day that the UN and other organizations start supporting local trade and drop sanctions is the day that relations between communities at their most basic level will start, and grow in some meaningful fashion.

A.P. Gerratt Etterbeek, Brussels

China should change its behavior

Regarding "China's new spin on propaganda - more information" (July 19): The negative image of the People's Republic of China will not be changed by their propaganda methods alone. That requires China to change its behavior. No matter how soon the Office of Foreign Affairs reaches the journalists, behavior such as persecuting Falun Gong believers, imprisoning Roman Catholic bishops, verbally threatening Taiwan, selling components and know-how to aid the Iranian and Pakistani missile programs, forming alliances with Russia to oppose US missile-shield plans, and oppressing Tibetan monks and people will not change China's negative image. It's not foreign reporters who form negative images of China, but its own deeds.

Francis Kai Cupertino, Calif.

Payment to Nazi victims is no solution

Nazi laborers should not accept compensation ("News in Brief," July 7). The recent deal signed by Germany to compensate nearly 1 million laborers is bad politics. The apology value of the payments is null. Furthermore, financial payments have zero value as deterrents to future holocausts.

The long-term effects of the payments are socially damaging. Not only do they serve to put a price on human experiences (which we should avoid at all costs), they set a dangerous precedent. It is now plausible that the millions of victims of every other holocaust (Rwanda, China, Russia, Albania, Ivory Coast, native Americans) will demand payment for their horrific encounters. The financial ramifications of such action would be globally bankrupting. These payments are meaningless and economically unsound.

Molly Donohue Falls Church, Va.

'Green' laundry

The item "Clothes dryers wash away your cash" (Work & Money, July 3) caught my attention. About 35 years ago, just as our youngest graduated from the diaper stage, I decided that sunny California was no place to squander electricity on a clothes dryer. My husband then installed a retractable clothes line in our garage. It has been wonderful!

Using your calculations, we have saved approximately $5,425 plus interest. Besides leaving the environment a bit cleaner, we have money to share, providing Salvation Army "camperships" for underprivileged children and a bit of travel for ourselves. The exercise is also beneficial. How good can things get?

Anita T. Bentle Woodland Hills, Calif.

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