Israel out of Palestine

Israel should pull out of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, so the Palestinians can create a Palestinian state. Jerusalem is a West Bank city. If it is not ceded to the Palestinians, then it should be partitioned between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Anthony DePalmaBronx NY

Warmongers

Big business controls our government in Washington and gives big support to the right-wingers and warmongers in both the Bush administration and Congress. Now Bush threatens to once again attack the Iraqi people even after they have sufferered through ten years of U.S. and British bombings.

Peace must prevail in Asia and in the Middle East. No U.S.-led attacks on Iran, Iraq or North Korea! No more U.S. support for Israeli assaults on the Palestinian people.

L. VukmanovichSan Gabriel CA

No butts about it

The other day my daughter and I took in the film A Beautiful Mind at a local theater. By and large it was a brilliant film, thanks largely to Russell Crowe’s great performance as the extraordinary mathematician John Nash. However, after reading Sylvia Nasar’s award-winning biography of Nash, I was very disappointed to see him depicted in the film as a cigarette smoker, particularly in his recovery process from his first attack of schizophrenia.

In fact, Nasar makes it clear in her book that tobacco was clearly a life-long Nash annoyance. Nash is depicted in the book reacting violently to cigarette smoke throughout his life, ranging from biting a fellow graduate student who brought second-hand smoke into Nash’s room to creating a public scene with his bride over her youthful smoking. In a life that has been rich with changes, Nasar’s book makes clear that her subject’s hatred of cigarettes has remained a constant.

Why then has Hollywood made this Nobel laureate a cigarette champion by example in this movie? Or why is there so much smoking by so many role modes in today’s movies? Is it because the tobacco industry has enormous money to enable movie production to be paid for more quickly in exchange for a few key smoking scenes? Truly the Marlboro Man is dead of lung cancer, but there are clearly plenty of other heroes to stick out there with cigarettes in their lips for a new generation of smokers.

It is a real shame that this kind of shilling has been stuck now on the image of John Nash, who is in his mid-seventies and who has battled mental illness most of his life. He was probably misrepresented in this way because Hollywood dismissed his own life’s value system as being unenforceable toward influencing this film. In any case, I had a conversation with my daughter afterward explaining that no matter how many brilliant or courageous people are shown smoking in movies today, this is one of the subtle and insidious ways that a new generation of young smokers is told it is “Kool to smoke.”

If you would like to send a letter of your own to Hollywood’s elite, go to www.smokefree.org/movies.

Chris SharpSanta Clarita CA

Protest Israel bombing

In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today, the Global Union Federations expressed “grave concern about the attack by the Israeli air force, which we understand took place in the early morning on Feb. 17 on the headquarters of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), an organisation affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), our partner in the global unions family.”

The Global Union Federations are sector-by-sector worldwide trade union organisations. They include the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM). The letter was sent on their behalf by David Cockroft, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The bombed Palestinian union headquarters was “built with the support of the international labour movement,” Cockroft tells Sharon. The building “was apparently severely damaged in this attack. I am sure that you will agree that military assaults on legitimate civil institutions like trade unions have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism. Such attacks risk instead damaging the functioning of legitimate, democratic civil institutions and movements, movements that will be essential on both sides in any future lasting peace for the region.”

The Global Union Federations called on the Israeli government to “publicly investigate the circumstances behind this air attack on the PGFTU and to make appropriate compensation to the organisation for what was, we hope, accidental damage to their headquarters and property.” In a similar protest to Sharon, the ICFTU said it was “appalled” by the bombing.

Fred Higgs
ICEM
Prague, Czech Republic

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