Wise words

The May 30-June 5 issue is better than ever: thanks! The front-page article “Warning: Free stuff now…” is very helpful, the kind of educational service working people need. Adding a splash of color is a good idea, but the white font on a red background isn’t very reader-friendly. Not enough contrast. Maybe black on red would work better?

Keep up the great work!

Dave Zink

Steilacoom WA

Cyclone Aila

Reports continue to come out of Bangladesh, more then a week after cyclone Aila struck, concerning the ongoing humanitarian crisis there. The cyclone, which struck on May 25, has killed at least 237 people and left tens of thousands of others homeless.

According to Heather Blackwell, Oxfam’s Bangladesh representative, “It’s an emerging humanitarian crisis. And it’s getting worse every day.” Bangladesh is a nation of just under 154 million people. Most of its geographic area is at, or just above, sea level and with the all too frequent cyclones and the perennial monsoons the people of Bangladesh are in a precarious position.

Some reports indicate that thousands of people still do not have access to food or water.

Farmers and fishermen will face difficulties for some time to come as the coastal regions were heavily damaged and salt water seeped into coastal area farmland.

Another area of concern is disease and waterborne illnesses; already there have been several deaths due to diarrhea.

As Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world it is the moral responsibility of the rich countries to help in these situations. Many are, including the U.S., but it appears to be of an insufficient amount.

Brian McAfee

Muskegon Heights MI

Cap and tax

In the article on Social Security (PWW 5/30-6/05), Joel Wendland says that if the economy continues to falter, Social Security will have to be saved by “raising payroll taxes.” That seems to be a vague solution. All that is needed to “strengthen” the Social Security fund is to raise the cap on contributors. It is ridiculous that the highest paid people pay nothing into Social Security. The “cap” has been raised several times already, and can be raised again.

Betty Smith

New York NY

Joel Wendland replies: Raising the cap on contributions is raising payroll taxes.

On Korea

I was dismayed by the PWW editorial “No way to act,” published May 26 online. A newspaper committed to socialism and anti-imperialism should not trash socialist North Korea. Shouldn’t we Americans show some humility in criticizing other countries’ nuclear policy? Only our country has ever used nuclear weapons in war. That was in 1945, against another Asian people, one not far from Korea. The U.S. has some 10,000 nuclear weapons. The leaders of North Korea have good reason to be anxious.

In effect, if not in intent, the editorial blames the victim. The editorial “condemns” North Korea’s actions, but that strong word is not applied to U.S. policy. Yet, North Korea has been on the receiving end of U.S. aggression, occupation and provocation for more than half a century. This is a reality, not a “claim.”

In fact, the main violators of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are the nuclear-armed imperialist powers (U.S., UK, France). Under the treaty, they agreed to disarm. They didn’t. Under the treaty, non-nuclear states are free to develop nuclear energy, a fact seldom mentioned in the corporate media. The editorial notes that Obama has pledged to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Let’s hope he does so. Obama also said he was getting out of Iraq. The other day Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said that the U.S. is prepared to be in Iraq for 10 years.

J. Jamison

New York NY

“Greetings! You have been selected by the People of the United States.

Please Report on February 12, 1953, at 7 a.m. to Whitehall Street, for your physical exam and possible induction into the armed forces of the United States of America.”

The Korean conflict was raging, and our forces were being killed at a faster rate then occurred in the Vietnam War. Korea was a place that I had no interest in visiting, but I lacked the courage to resist being drafted.

After a physical examination, several dozen draftees were directed to a room for our swearing in. Five minutes later I am a member of the United States Army. “OK, guys take 30 minutes to call your family, then get on the bus,” they said.

Next stop Camp Kilmer, N.J., where they gathered us, then separated us based on our next destination. I was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland for my basic training, then transferred to Ammunition Supply School, also in Aberdeen, to become an ammunition inspector.

I still did not feel ready for war, a view held by a majority of those sent to enforce “the police action,” which was Korea.

A plane flight to Seattle, Wash., (my first) and then on a troop ship bound for Yokohama.

Boy! That was a very fast ship, an 11-day voyage.

On the tenth day, the ship’s newspaper announced a ceasefire. What a pleasant day for all the troops on July 27, 1953! A discernible sense of relief quickly swept through the entire ship, smiles were everywhere, as new soldiers, and veterans returning for another hitch, breathed a sigh of relief.

The Korean people endured unbelievable suffering, even before the “police action” began: the puppet-president of South Korea was waging a murderous war against the strong unions, thousands were imprisoned and killed, in an attempt to suppress the organized workers’ movement, led by the left, and much opposed to the fascist-like government imposed with the support of the United States.

These comrades were calling for a united Korea, so the natural resources of the North could combine with the enormous grain-producing South to build a strong democratic united Korean nation.

Americans should denounce any talk of possible aggression from the North as just propaganda meant to frighten our people with charges of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea calls for talks to unify the two Koreas, a task that was delayed by 50 years of Cold War.

No war in Korea. Bring our soldiers home at last! Out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

Jesse Kern

St. Petersburg FL

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