Negroponte’s history a horror

It is difficult to express the degree of revulsion, contempt, and moral horror that I experience with the nomination of John Negroponte to be director of national intelligence. But I feel that I must try.

Negroponte was responsible for overseeing the death squads in Honduras between 1981 and 1985 while pretending to be a diplomat.

As his only qualification for this job is as a master violator of human rights, one can only take this as yet another sign that the Bush administration does not actual have any concerns about national security, but only with the repression of dissent.

His appointment to this position demonstrates yet again that George W. Bush is the moral equivalent of Adolph Hitler. Having Negroponte in charge of national intelligence operations is like having the head of the KKK in charge of the NAACP, or the head of the Aryan Nations running the ADL. It is morally reprehensible, an insult to the nation, and a terrible sign of what our current descent into fascism will bring.

I feel this matter more personally than most because Negroponte was responsible for the execution of one of my heroes, a priest named James Carney, who died giving spiritual comfort to the brave men who were struggling to overthrow the U.S.-sponsored dictatorship in Honduras during the Negroponte years. Carney was a bright shining star who devoted his life to helping people. His execution was ordered by an evil, murderous psychopath who has devoted his life to oppressing people.

Richard CurtisVia e-mail

Environmental disaster

In December of 2004 a plan to open an 800-acre peat moss mining operation was approved in the Big Falls, Minn., area. On completion, the peat plant will employ about 40 people at poverty wages. The jobs will be seasonal, as peat cannot be harvested from frozen ground.

This project is going to drain the bog, then shred and vacuum the moss out of the bog. Ditches will be dug to drain off the bog. These ditches will carry mercury-laden water and will be channeled into the Big Fork River. Bogs in our environment here act as a filter to trap many things. Mercury is one of them.

This project has been studied since the late 1980s. For years there were many environmental reasons why it did not go through. Now, all of a sudden, all the issues for stopping this potentially disastrous environmental nightmare have been dropped and the project given a green light.

There are many rivers that flow out of this bog into other waterways in that area. What impact will this operation have on those waterways, the sport of fishing there, and the people living there?

I feel that this is a very major concern to the people of Minnesota. We have many concerns lately, yes, but the land that we love could be adversely changed for a very long time because of this.

Just because we can’t see what is going on doesn’t mean that it won’t affect our lives.

Jan JohnsonEveleth MN

Missed opportunity

I felt that your Feb. 19-25 issue missed a marvelous opportunity. The story by Denise Winebrenner Edwards, “China defends Wal-Mart workers,” was new, different, and exciting. It stated that the Chinese government and its powerful All China Federation of Trade Unions announced that laws protecting workers’ rights to organize would be enforced at Wal-Mart operations, and threatened to sue if Wal-Mart continued to harass workers for organizing, or if they continued to violate wage and overtime laws. Wal-Mart caved!

This should have been the front-page story. It certainly hasn’t been shown anywhere else in the media. It gives food for thought to labor and anti-sweatshop activists who always put China in the same category as other Third World countries that accept capitalist industries to help their economies.

The front-page story you ran about cuts in the Children’s Defense Fund budget, while important, is like so many other stories the paper runs. We always need to keep an eye out for what’s new and different and will catch people’s attention.

Rose ShawRio Rancho NM

Golden years film

My name is Brian Murphy I am a documentary filmmaker. I’m embarking on a project with the working title “The Golden Years Gone Bad.” I’m interested in looking at the wave of older people who now occupy the retail jobs that used to be held by teenagers. I’m trying to contact someone who can speak to this migration in the work place. Possibly there’s an organization that keeps an eye on the treatment of older workers in these giant retail operations. You know what retailers I’m talking about. Some older people love this work. Most of them need the work to get by. Many were forced out of their careers because of ageism, outsourcing, etc. This is not how this generation pictured their golden years. Some people I talked to are wondering how the hell they wound up here. Can you help me? My e-mail address is

Brian MurphyVia e-mail

Baseball’s bottom line

Don Santina is right on when he writes that there should be a permanent asterisk for all baseball stats based on their being pre- and post-1947 when the Jim Crow color line was finally officially broken (PWW 2/12-19). So many of our legends never pitched or batted against the whole of the USA. They are all actually wearing a false mantle. Santina made that point nicely.

But he partly missed the big picture. Racism aside, the business of U.S. organized baseball is business, and steroids fit right in. We would never have been made so aware, or been aware at all, if the imbibers had all excelled in the game.

It came to light in baseball when Jason Giambi, for just one example, played below all expectations. Had Giambi done what Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and some others had, it would never have surfaced. Why? Because professional baseball has a bottom line. The economics of capitalism is the guiding force.

We must as well realize that in 1947, the owners did not allow all comers out of their rejection of racism. They did it because it meant big money, and as long as Black Americans did not aspire to become owners or managers but just performers, they were finally allowed in the door, and not always the front door. If you hit, run, throw with skill and fill the seats, the owners will open a corner drug store for you.

Don Sloan New York NY