Minimum wage & seniors

Has anyone taken a poll of all the seniors between the ages of 55-62 that are being exploited with this minimum wage law? I am approaching 60 and am being discriminated against because of my age. The only jobs that I can get are through Experience Works. I work at nonprofit organizations as an administrative assistant 20 hours a week for $5.15 an hour. It is not because I lack the skills, it’s because no one wants to hire anyone my age. I’m not in the minority with people my age there are a lot of us that no one considers in their arguments concerning raising minimum wage. Take a poll you will find that we are not in the minority, we are the hidden majority. We need someone to speak for us. Because of our age a lot of us are uninsured. We have medical needs and medications. Most of us are victims of job elimination due to downsizing or companies moving out of the area. We need to be counted.

Beverly King
Via e-mail

Ex-NASA chief responds

In the article “Time to end the Republican war on science” (PWW 7/29-8/4) Tim Wheeler writes a review of Chris Mooney’s recent book, “The Republican War on Science.” In the book, Mooney states that I, as NASA administrator at the time, told scientist James Hansen that he should not “talk about dangerous anthropogenic interference because we do not know enough or have enough evidence” to prove that use of fossil fuels is causing the earth’s temperature to rise.

I did not say this to Dr. Hansen. The referenced discussion was alleged to have occurred several years ago at a briefing Dr. Hansen gave to several senior NASA officials.

More than a year later, the New York Times and Washington Post reported Dr. Hansen’s recollection of the briefing and attributed this comment to me.

The Times and Post gave me the opportunity to respond and I maintain that Dr. Hansen is mistaken in his recollection. All others in attendance, including the director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the NASA associate administrator for Space Science, were also quoted that they had no recollection of any comments to this effect from me or anyone else at the briefing with Dr. Hansen.

I am disappointed that your publication would have reprinted an inaccurate statement. At a minimum, I would have appreciated your publication offering me the chance to respond.

Climate change is an important topic that deserves debate — and that debate is degraded by this offensive repetition of inaccuracy. Let’s get back to debating policy options.

Sean O’Keefe
Via e-mail

Sean O’Keefe is the former NASA administrator. A sentence was added to the online article that Mr. O’Keefe denies making that statement.


The recent manifesto by Communist Party Chairman Sam Webb on the war now engulfing Lebanon and Gaza was a disappointment. (PWW Online eXtra “The Middle East in crisis,” posted July 26).

It is my view that Webb’s analysis was off the mark.

Webb should have first read the declarations of the Israeli and Lebanese Communist parties. The Israeli CP sees this as an imperialist war aided and abetted by U.S. imperialism to “reshape the Middle East” as Condoleezza Rice openly and candidly declares, with Israeli youth being the cannon fodder and Israeli society paying the price. The Israeli CP is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of troops. Nothing is said about the so-called provocations by Hezbollah and Hamas.

The Lebanese CP is calling for all-out resistance and is supporting Hezbollah with over 100 fighters.

Webb says that all methods of struggle must be exhausted before any people resort to violent behavior. This is well taken, but is he aware of the two historic Palestinian intifadas and decades of peaceful struggle which resulted in increased oppression, more illegal settlements and dismemberment, more Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners and more homes razed by bulldozers thus weakening the moderate and left Palestinian forces and giving rise to the fundamentalist solution.

The Palestinians and Lebanese had reached the point of utter and absolute desperation. Our party should be more careful in its analysis of blaming the victim. Salam (peace).

Hazzim Yousif
Detroit MI

Correct position

Sam Webb’s position in “The Middle East in crisis” is, in my opinion, correct and statesmanlike. While Webb’s position will not satisfy many people who want straightforward rhetorical answers to assuage their anger, it is, I believe, a good position in a very bad situation.

Hezbollah and Hamas are, in my opinion, clerical fascist organizations that Marxists should not and would not support anywhere, even if they come from oppressed peoples. The Palestinian people are certainly a super-oppressed people and communists have long supported the PLO as their representative. The Israeli government has used the Hezbollah provocation to achieve strategic goals in southern Lebanon with the support of the Bush administration.

Marxists don’t and never should judge the nationalism of the oppressed as comparable to the nationalism of the oppressor but we never supported right-wing Zionist groups like Menachem’s Bitar in pre-war Poland in spite of the oppression of Polish Jews. Communists have supported anti-colonial, anti-imperialist nationalist movements in many nations that were not Marxist and were even anti-Communist, but had some relationship to a broader left, not clerical right-wing organizations feeding on the suffering of the oppressed and actively supporting violence to solve all problems. I realize that Israel is the one with the great military power here and has carried out the invasion, but it is not simply a question of either-or, imperialist vs. anti-imperialist, aggressor vs. victim.

Norman Markowitz
New Brunswick NJ