Educators refuse Wal-Mart

Thought your readers might be interested in this note from “the far Northwest” about the campaign against Wal-Mart’s exploitive policies, which include thrusting onto taxpayers the burden of paying for healthcare for many of its employees.

My union, Washington Education Association, sponsors the WEA Children’s Fund, which helps out kids who can’t afford school supplies or other items — perhaps a child needs a coat or a backpack. A WEA member can draw on the fund to purchase what a child might need.

The WEA board recently asked for members’ comments on covering purchase from Wal-Mart. There must have been many negative responses, including mine, as shortly later I received a note from the president stating, “You’ll be please to know that we will no longer reimburse members for purchases from Wal-Mart.” One small victory!

Elizabeth Yates

Seattle WA

Egypt: Great state, criminal regime

The majority of Egyptian people boycotted the referendum vote on May 25. Poll centers were empty all day long. Tens of thousands of demonstrators rushed to intersections and squares in Cairo, Alexandria, and cities nationwide to challenge the new constitutional amendment and to shout “No to [Pres.] Mubarak and no to Gamal, his groomed son.”

The cosmetic amendment does not add any real power sharing with the opposition and just institutes the status quo. Eyewitnesses said the notorious state security hired criminals to fight the demonstrators and to sexually intimidate female reporters and demonstrators. The head of Kefaya (the anti-Mubarak coalition, which means “enough”) and tens of other opposition leaders ended up with broken noses or ribs and hundreds were detained.

Egypt is sliding into civil disobedience and chaos. Mubarak, who served four successive six-year terms and brutally oppressed all forms of opposition, is determined to do whatever it takes to stay in office or to assign his son as a successor. However, the people of Egypt are uprising and more determined to throw both out of the office.

Mohamad Anwar

St. Paul MN

Treating mental illness

This is in response to the op-ed piece “Morality vs. Mental Illness” by Frank Valdez (PWW 5/7-13).

This was a brilliant analysis of how the Texas state government chooses to imprison mentally ill inmates who conceivably could have legal recourse, if treated in the community. Valdez skillfully exposes how “paranoid” diagnoses of the mentally ill are treated.

Hello, does anyone remember the COINTELPRO program?

John Kargewski

Jersey City NJ

The French vote

The French rejection of the proposed European Union constitution was more important than some people think. Why did Chirac choose to seek a referendum and not just have the Parliament vote on it, where he would have won easily? He has his own party’s “yes” vote; and, he saw a compliant Socialist Party, in full “yes” support. The Socialist Party’s labor federation, the CFDT, was also in full “yes” support. He surmised that the French Communist Party would follow the Socialist Party.

So, if you were sitting in Chirac’s chair, why not seek a referendum to show the French people support your presidency?

What happened?

Well, the Chirac privatization efforts in the health care system (the top health system in the world by World Health Organization standards); an over 10 percent unemployment rate; an agricultural economy that was teetering; the closing down of 25 percent of the much revered post office system; and a proposal that workers from Eastern Europe who are hired in France can be paid wages at the level of their home countries, not French workers’ wages (incredible but true) — all of these factors came to bear. The concept of “social solidarity” the basis of French society for decades would be destroyed.

The French Communist Party split from the Socialist Party and ran an aggressive “no” vote campaign.

The CGT labor federation’s executive board rejected their officers’ position and called for a strong “no” vote, and they mobilized the membership to vote no.

The mystery about the “no” vote is over. And the future of Europe as a playground for transnational corporations under the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is also over. The “Bush agenda” for Europe was rejected by the French as it was rejected in Holland. The “house of cards” of the European constitution is about to collapse.

The rebirth of the political and labor left in France is well underway. While all life does not live in Europe, especially with the rebirth of the progressive movements in Latin American, Asia and Africa, Europe is still a key financial and industrial center of activity that cannot be neglected by activists in the United States.

Phil Benjamin

New York City NY

Myths still guide policy

Norman Markowitz is absolutely right in his characterization of the president’s recent speech in Riga, Latvia, as consisting of myths (PWW 5/14-20). Bush’s notion that the United States should have used military force against the just victorious Red Army to “roll back Communism” is both ignorant and irresponsible, for the result would have been an immediate start of World War III.

However, this is not really the point of Bush’s speech. As he said last week at the International Republican Institute, “The United States has a new policy, a strategy that recognizes that the best way to defeat the ideology that uses terror as a weapon is to spread freedom and democracy.”

Bush is taking what would have been an insane policy in 1945 into 2005, where it is 1,000 times as insane. His administration’s sights are set on Iran, and the control of the lion’s share of the world’s energy resources that are under the countries of the Middle East. This is the lever with which they will rule the world.

Question: When do the ravings of a pathological lunatic make him incapacitated and incapable of continuing in his current office?

Ted Pearson

Chicago IL