Not so sweet
The following are excerpts of a letter sent to President Bush by New Mexico state Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino and 10 other members of the state the Health and Human Services Legislative Committee:
We request that you order FDA commissioner nominee Andrew Von Eschenbach to rescind the FDA approval for the artificial sweetener Aspartame.
Its approval was forced through the FDA in 1981, and the USA has had 25 years to observe the incontrovertible medical effects. Aspartame is now found in 6,000 USA food products and more than 500 medications.
There is excellent precedent for this: Richard Nixon in 1969 ordered that the FDA rescind approval for another proven carcinogenic artificial sweetener, cyclamates. Given the evidence that has accrued thus far concerning Aspartame’s harm, its effects as a teratogen, causing birth defects and chromosomal damage, its being the most complained about chemical on the market, according to FDA statistics (FDA stopped taking complaints on Aspartame in 1995), and because of our concern for protecting the health of Americans, as well as the health of the many nations which subsequently approved it for general use as a result of the FDA approval, we ask that you order Aspartame rescinded by the FDA as soon as possible.
As you know, the Institute of Medicine has completed a recent report sharply critical of the FDA regarding the FDA’s inability to ensure the safe and effective use of prescription drugs. Our concerns in this letter are not with drugs, but with the obvious need to overhaul the entire process of the FDA granting approval for food additives in general, which are often forced through the approval process based only on the strength of industry-paid-for studies. Your concerns should not be with corporate objections and continued allegations that their products are “safe.”

Stephen Fox
Santa Fe NM

Segregation in Alabama
Re: Jim Crow hangs on in Alabama (PWW 2/12/05): The Jim Crow article was appalling. I think there needs to be more attention and pressure put on Alabama. We are Americans and we have come so far. We should not sit back and let a state dehumanize anyone. I am from Ohio and will be moving to Alabama and have no idea how I will handle segregation, if at all. I would love to find a place there that does not practice segregation. What about poll taxes — isn’t that against the law? What can we fellow Americans do to help? I have taken many African American studies classes at Ohio State University; I may not be an expert but I sure can do my part in helping.

Amanda Price
Via e-mail

Across the pond
Most of my friends in Bradford (England) think that the Americans are all right-wing religious warmongers.
I like to let them read my copies of the People’s Weekly World and then they realize that vast numbers of the American people oppose the Bush-Blair war in Iraq and demand an end to this fiasco.

Donald Sandwell
Bradford, W. Yorkshire, England

Solidarity with Iraqi people
Thanks to all who came and those who supported our vigil for the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21 in London. We were expressing solidarity with people inside Iraq who are asking for an end to the violence, an end to sectarianism, the right to life and to an independent and safe country.

Nadje Al-Ali
Act Together:
Women’s Action for Iraq
London, England

Labor energized in Indy races
For the first time in many election cycles Indiana is awash in races that the Democrats can win in local, state and national levels with the help of the energized labor movement here. Two years ago the Democrats lost the governor seat and control of the Indiana House and also lost ground in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Now the labor movement is talking about regaining the Statehouse and, possibly for the first time since 1995, a majority of Indiana’s U.S. House seats. There are three and possibly four Republican seats in play. The Democratic candidate in the 2nd district, Joe Donnelly, has a double-digit led in the polls over incumbent Chocola.
In Northwest Indiana, an SEIU-organized busload of SEIU workers, a teacher and steelworker from Gary traveled to LaPorte and campaigned member-to-member on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for Donnelly and Andrea Renner, who is running for a state House seat. That seat came into play because of the widespread dissatisfaction with the Republican governor, former Bush budget director Mitch Daniels, over his selling of the Indiana Toll Road and other issues.
Labor activists have a choice from a potpourri of candidates to campaign for in the area. There are other U.S. House races, and in one city three council seats are being challenged by labor union members including a USW president who is running against the head manager of the local Wal-Mart store.
The labor movement is already in a fevered pitch of activity.

Paul Kaczocha
Gary IN

Although I had lived in many places, particularly in the City of New York for 10 years, I am a native Pennsylvanian. My father e-mailed me and mentioned a radio program to which he listened. They were speaking about the senseless deaths in that Amish community in Lancaster. What struck my father, and surely most listeners, was that the Amish community forgave the shooter, went to the shooter’s funeral, consoled the family, and took up a collection for them. The host of the talk show ascribed it to their core beliefs. My father expressed to me that what the Amish did makes a profound statement in that “It is in forgiveness that we are forgiven…”

Michael Adam Reale
Owensboro KY
Michael Adam Reale
is pastor at New Hope
United Church of Christ.