On John Paul and Benedict

Millions mourned the death of Pope John Paul II. The grief was felt hard in my home city of Chicago with its large Polish community. As a Polish-American Catholic, I still remember the pride and excitement I felt when a Polish pope was selected in 1978. John Paul supported social justice, peace and many things I agree with.

Nevertheless, I had many disagreements with this pope. Cable news channels boasted of how the pope had disgracefully collaborated with the CIA to overthrow socialism. He maintained ultraconservative positions on abortion and matters of Catholic doctrine. He appointed outright reactionaries to high posts in the church, and all but quashed liberation theology in Latin America. He was cruelly anti-gay.

This was out of touch with how I interpreted the Bible, and it helped to fuel the ultra-right in the U.S.

The selection of the new pope was very much influenced by John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI, a conservative, will have to respect the feelings and outlook of the many Catholics who don’t agree with conservative doctrine. Surveys of American Catholics show majority support for female priests and the right of priests to marry. Plus there is a growing movement among clergy and parishioners to fight poverty, promote peace and fight against the death penalty.

Eva Gornik

Chicago IL

New union can’t lose

Leo Gerard, president of the new USW union, now presides over a mighty industrial army with varied elements of the very militant Mineworkers, Paperworkers, and Steelworkers. Don’t challenge him to a game of “rock, paper, scissors.” He has all three!

Jim Lane

Dallas TX

Those ‘worthless IOUs’

George W. Bush is rich. In May 2004, he filed a financial disclosure report showing that he is worth between $8 million and $20 million. His biggest asset is his ranch, which he values between $1 million and $5 million. He has a number of bank accounts and CDs, and a few other investments. But more than half of Bush’s wealth — between $5 million and $10 million — is invested in U.S. Treasury notes.

This is not remarkable. U.S. treasuries are regarded as amongst the safest investments in the world. And for a politician, it is a completely non-controversial investment.

Except for one thing. Earlier this month, President Bush stood next to a filing cabinet at the federal Bureau of Public Debt. The cabinet holds the assets of the Social Security trust fund: $1.7 billion in U.S. treasury bonds. Bush said that these are not “real assets,” and later said, “There is no trust fund. Just IOUs.”

This begs the question. President Bush, if you really think the treasury bonds held by the Social Security trust fund are not real assets, why have you invested over half your personal fortune in these same worthless IOUs?

Art Perlo

New Haven CT

A rose would be a rose…

I was amused to read Dave Zink’s letter in the April 15 edition of the PWW. While I respect his opinion and realize that the name “People’s Weekly World” is problematic for some, it seems, to me, the most logical descendent of the Daily Worker and the Daily World.

I was also puzzled by the idea that “People’s Weekly World” might be considered “ultra-left.” “Wha?” as we say in cartoonland. I wonder how the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA could be anything other than ultra-left? I would think that anyone who finds being too far left a problem probably wouldn’t agree with the politics of the CPUSA anyway. We should not hide our lineage and affiliations. On the contrary, we should be proclaiming it as loudly as possible.

One final thought. “Weekly World” would be unusable due to the existence of the supermarket tabloid, “The Weekly World News.” Even though the exploits of Bush and Co. push the limits of believability beyond the tales of the Incredible Bat Boy, the World’s Fattest Baby and the Face of Jesus on Mars, I can see the confusion between the PWW’s facts and the Weekly World News’ fiction. If only Bush were a trite work of fiction. The world would be such a better place.

David Baldinger

Greensburg PA

Holocaust lessons

Although seldom mentioned in most Holocaust accounts, the Jasenovac camp, run by Croatian Ustashe, was Hitler’s principal death camp in the Balkans and third largest overall. The victims there included Serbs, Jews, Romas, as well as antifascists of many nationalities.

During a commemoration ceremony on April 17 at the New York City Holocaust Memorial Park in Brooklyn, Father Djokan Majstorovic of St. Sava Church blessed a monument to the camp and its victims. Rabbi Ephraim Isaac recited prayers in Hebrew.

Both Jewish and Serbian survivors of the camp, as well a representative of the Romas, spoke out about the horrors of the Holocaust. Others, including local community activists who established and run the park, spoke about the sufferings of the victims, the dangers of the resurgence of fascism, and what must be done to prevent human rights abuses, including genocide, both now and in the future.

A reader

New York NY

Mothers against police crimes

“Volunteer of the Year” awards highlighted a celebration of Paul Robeson’s life to the applause of nearly 100 Seattle neighborhood activists and supporters April 9.

Mothers for Police Accountability honored the Racial Disparity Project of the Defender Association, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Center School students, and Kristin Joy.

MFPA maintains a 24-hour hotline at (206) 329-2033. Its ACLU wallet card, “What to do if you’re stopped by the police,” is available by phone request or by writing to PO Box 22886, Seattle WA 98122.

“Paul Robeson was a lifelong fighter for world peace with justice,” noted MFPA Director Rev. Harriet Walden. Rev. James Wilmore compared Robeson to Mahatma Gandhi, quoting the latter: “We must become what we want the world to be.”

Don Patrick

Seattle WA