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OPINION

Swiss Brachuli

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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"Wonder if he'll be able to write with any objectivity about Gruyere cheese?" quips one-time Washington and Dallas journalist Timothy A. O'Leary, who writes these days from his office in Switzerland.

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He refers to this week's selection of Swiss-American Marcus W. Brauchli as executive editor of The Washington Post, replacing Leonard Downie Jr., an appointment that garnered attention in the European Alpine country.

Mr. O'Leary forwards an earlier story from the Swiss Review, in which Mr. Brauchli discusses the difficult challenges newspapers face in an age when news is more conveniently delivered online as opposed to dropped on a doorstep:

"'I don't share the newspaper industry's general mood of doom and gloom,' says Swiss-American dual citizen Marcus Brauchli, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal. However, only papers 'that rely on their own stories, comments and analyses' will survive."

Indeed, when Mr. Brauchli was introduced to his new reporting staff this week by Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth, he called attention to the "challenging times" when the newspaper industry is "being turned upside down by the Internet."

As for Gruyere cheese, if you've not followed the controversy over the years, there's been an emotional back-and-forth between the Swiss and French as to whether cheeses from France can carry the Gruyere label named, after all, for the village of Gruyeres in Switzerland.

INDIAN DAY

Americans observe holidays for Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Martin Luther King, and salute the country on Flag Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. We celebrate Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and even Groundhog's Day. Suckers even get their due on April Fool's Day.

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Yet there is no holiday in honor of American Indians, the original inhabitants of the United States.

Osage tribal member Paul Allen, president of the Council For American Indian Recognition, says the consensus of the various Indian tribes is that there should be a "national holiday" recognizing native Americans, and they are offering financial support towards that end while spearheading a campaign to win congressional support.

According to Mr. Allen, every American would benefit from such a holiday. He points to Americans who still believe Indians live in teepees and dress as they did centuries ago.

A holiday would help Indians "feel that they are, at last, accepted by society."

"It will give them a reason to feel proud of their heritage, and it will help to give them the hope and self-esteem that they need to function in society and work toward a better life for themselves and their families," he says.

PAY TO LEARN

For the sake of U.S. national security, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says it's time to consider rewarding what few outstanding math and science students exist in this country.

Writing in the Ripon Forum, Mr. Gingrich suggests offering direct incentives to students to expand their learning beyond what is expected of them by school curriculums.

"A more radical idea is to pay students directly for getting a B or better in their math or science classes," he says. "The idea offends many who either believe learning should be its own reward or don't think we should place special value on math and science over the arts, humanities and social sciences. …

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"Money is a powerful motivator in ever other area of American life. Why should education be any different?"

SAYING THANKS

Now that the "Greatest Generation" finally has a World War II Memorial created in their honor, many of the veterans, "now in their 80s and 90s, are unable physically or financially to visit the nation's capital," says Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran, who seeks co-sponsors for a resolution helping to bring them here.

The resolution would commend the Honor Flight Network, its volunteers and donors for using commercial and chartered flights to send World War II vets on all-expenses-paid trips to Washington to see the World War II Memorial.

The Republican notes that of the 16 million veterans who served in World War II, only 2.5 million are alive today. "We are losing them at a rate of 900 each day," he says.

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