What is Israel's strategy?

I found Thomas Friedman's March 17 analysis in the Times, of President Barack Obama's then-forthcoming trip to Israel as a venture having little substance or purpose, quite persuasive.

Friedman pointed out that the changes in petroleum resources, great power relations and Middle Eastern uprisings have made the Israeli/Palestinian conflict a low priority item for the United States, and apparently for Israel also.

He believes Israel's complacency in accepting this situation is detrimental to its long-term interest, a view with which I agree. As a friend of Israel, Friedman concluded his column asking of that government, "What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?"

In the past, these questions used to occur to me, but looking at the record over the years of many Israeli governments, conservative and liberal alike, their actions speak louder than their words and indicate they do have a long-term policy: It is that all of Palestine will be Jewish and the Arabs are not welcome.

Larry Waldron

Berkeley

The urgency of global warming

You may wonder why we hear little about global warming. The mass media, industry and even government fail to educate the public.

Fear of panic seems most lively to motivate obfuscation, negation, and obstruction of vital information the American public needs for it to understand and make crucial decisions about global warming.

Perhaps the ruling class sees itself as the only fit vessel for such information. In the process, democracy weakens, undermined for denied relevance by elitists.

President Barack Obama once suggested the public often lives in a trance. I ask Obama to please help waken the citizenry with the truth about warming in order that democracy can proceed as it must.

U.S. citizens elected Obama and we want to work with him to solve major problems such as warming, caused by high and growing carbon and methane in earth's atmosphere. That problem seems to define our age.

Our progeny will feel gratitude that at least we worked to solve this urgent dilemma.

Terry Cochrell

Berkeley

Sterilizing feral cats is better

This is regarding the recent Times article about the Spay/Neuter Impact Program and reducing feral cat populations through Trap-Neuter-Return.

The effectiveness of TNR in controlling cat population growth is well supported by research. In this approach, free-roaming cats are trapped, sterilized and vaccinated in veterinary clinics, and returned to their colonies, where they are fed and their health is monitored by caring individuals.

Cats no longer suffer starvation, disease and continual pregnancies. Colony size is reduced through natural attrition.

The alternative to TNR is euthanasia, which has not proven effective in reducing numbers. Though Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose have embraced TNR as the official means to controlling outdoor cat populations, sadly, the Contra Costa County Animals Services Department -- which operates what are commonly known as animal shelters -- continues to kill thousands of cats each year.

TNR programs are also cost effective. They spend taxpayer dollars on intake, sterilization and recovery. In contrast, trap-and-kill programs budget for staff and materials to trap, transport, intake, feed and care, euthanize, and dispose of bodies.

It's time our county supervisors and animal services director embrace TNR. It's the compassionate approach and one that is financially prudent and long overdue.

Ellen Sasaki

Richmond

Puppets in Congress

There is no practical purpose for our society to endure the consequences of the use, or mere existence, of assault weapons. But maybe seeking practical or purposeful policy is no longer the goal of our elected leaders.

The fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would choose to remove the assault weapons ban from the Senate Democratic gun control plan and, thus, preclude any discussion on the floor -- because he deemed that it "won't succeed" -- clearly indicates the state of our federal legislative branch.

Instead of being a forum for discussing and weighing creative policy ideas with open and active minds and hearts, we have a collection of close-minded and gutless puppets responding to the pull of the strings of their puppet masters.

They have traded in their integrity for membership in an utterly corrupt culture club.

Ron Greenstein

El Cerrito

We are not all in this together

Reading the Times March 20 editorial, "Humility is best lesson we can take from Iraq," I can only conclude that the "we" in your title refers to the Bay Area News Group, the national media and the politicians who took us to war in Iraq.

A large portion of the working class, as well as the minority and intellectual communities, wanted no part of a war predicated on lies disseminated by the national media.

Recently, the all-inclusive word, "we," has been bantered about by the media and politicians as if it reflects reality. It does not! For example, "We are all in this together." Since when do my neighbors and I have anything in common with bankers and Wall Street? How about, "We are all middle class?" Tell that to the millions of unemployed and underemployed throughout this country, including many residents of Richmond.

Stop talking about "us" until you know who and what you are talking about.

I didn't support the war. We are not all in this together and I'm a member of the working class.

Charles T. Smith

Richmond

Evolution is not a 'viewpoint'

Thanks, Times, for printing the hilarious letter from Bob Humphrey, "Schools teach kids what to think." Humphrey is a soul so pure, irony is unknown to him.

Evolution is not a "viewpoint" -- it is a proven theory demonstrated today (see genetic changes in fruit flies). Credible science professors would certainly be impatient being challenged by students with minds mired in the Bronze Age.

Those fortunate enough to attend university should embrace the adventure of expanding their mind, not closing it. If they have religious interests, they should study comparative religions, archaeology, anthropology, mythology and, above all, logic.

You cannot call yourself a Christian and also claim to be a critical thinker. Some Christians believe in evolution (the Vatican, for one), but still, Christianity is a stumbling journey that leads to one believing in a sky god which impregnates a woman who bears a son who dies and is resurrected.

Anyone who explores the above disciplines recognizes this as just a contemporary version of many ancient myths. Which reminds me, now is the perfect season to revisit Monty Python's brilliant film "The Life of Brian."

Jayne Thomas

Richmond