Juan Torres, presente

Thank you for the award given to my father, Juan D. Torres. I will always be grateful for PWW for allowing people to hear our story.

Veronica Santiago

Via e-mail

Santiago’s brother, Juan M. Torres, was killed in Afghanistan under mysterious circumstances in 2004. See PWW 2/26-3/4/05.


I sent this letter to the Atlantic City Press in response to letters from soldiers returning from Iraq supporting the Bush line:

War-profiteers are having their heyday with billion-dollar no-bid contracts. But when the well runs dry, the war will end. The chickenhawks will crawl back into their rat holes. The veterans who fought the war will be out on the street begging for their benefits.

Why don’t we talk about getting Bin Laden? He is the one who takes responsibility for 9/11.

Serving in the Korean War, our unit was occasionally visited by people from Intelligence. They came to perform a brainwashing session about the war. I did not buy any of that crap. I am a firm believer that “truth is the first casualty of war.”

I believe that with the sanctions, the constant bombings year in and year out, the no-fly zone, UN inspectors roaming the country looking for WMDs that were more scarce then Bush’s National Guard records, we had Saddam Hussein contained. No American GIs were being killed. No way was Saddam Hussein going to come over here and “liberate” our country.

The returning soldiers from the war against the people of Iraq, I say to them: Save your criticism and energy to fight the chickenhawks who sent you to war. These chickenhawks are already cutting back on veterans’ benefits. As a disabled veteran and antiwar protester I will be at your side fighting to preserve your benefits.

Richard Neill

Cape May Court House NJ

False promises

It is excellent that the Solomon Amendment, which mandates that colleges and universities allow military recruiters access to students on the same basis as other potential employers, is being challenged as discriminatory against gay, lesbian and transgendered people.

There are also other bases on which campus administrators, if they have the nerve, can challenge the presence of military recruiters. The most important is that these recruiters peddle a false picture of what the “job” they are offering is like.

Colleges can have, and perhaps some already do, a policy of excluding job recruiters who make false promises to student applicants. If a private corporation were to come onto campuses and continually make such false promises, would not university administrations eventually kick them off campus? For example, if a bank were to come and recruit business graduates, and then it turns out the bank expects them to engage in illegal money laundering (or simply does not deliver on promised salary and benefits), would not the university be on good legal grounds to exclude that bank’s recruiters in the future?

Emile Schepers

Northern Virginia

Hurricane relief

When the federal government drops the ball as it so often does when assisting poor minorities is its responsibility (read: FEMA), community groups must come to the rescue. One such is Sabathani Center, Minneapolis, which is providing for the needs of some 200 families who came to Minnesota after Hurricane Katrina.

I’m unsure how many of the evacuees lost loved ones, but many not only lost their homes and possessions but have been forced into a climate change beyond their worst nightmares. “Strangers in a Strange Land” might well describe their plight.

Anyone interested in learning more about this valiant inner-city social services agency and perhaps helping out with a contribution may contact project director Matthea Little Smith, matthea@sabathani.org, (612) 821-2396.

Willard B. Shapira

Minneapolis MN

Wrong priorities

I read with great interest your article in the 12/10-16 issue on how Citgo is supplying affordable home heating oil to poor folks here.

How ironic, that a developing country such as Venezuela is compelled to send aid to the poor in the richest nation in the world! This illustrates how our country’s current administration has got its priorities all wrong.

I run a residential program for people with mental illness and addiction problems. While we try to survive on a tiny budget that has been level-funded (same dollar amount) for a decade, Bush presses ahead with his expenditures of hundreds of billions of dollars to continue his butchery in Iraq. As a result, I sometimes have to choose between office supplies and food for my clients. This is utterly insane.

It is time that Americans unite and make a stand against both the Bush war crimes abroad and the inadequate funding of vital social programs at home.

Bruce Burleson

Boston MA

Al-Arian verdict

On all the many charges against Sami Al-Arian and the three other defendants, not a single guilty verdict was reached. The jurors were very courageous in the face of government pressure and extreme media-created bias in the community. They were not willing to convict on faith.

A government lawyer told the jury that if they started with the assumption that there was a secret terrorist cell in Tampa, everything would fall into place. (Trust me, he’s guilty?) The jury did not buy this, but instead insisted on evidence of guilt — and there was none.

There are many happy people in the Bay area. I too am happy, because I saw much of the trial and the evidence, and I know that Sami is innocent. And I am so proud of the jurors, who have renewed my faith in the goodness and fairness of the American people.

Yet in the midst of my happiness, I am sad. Al-Arian has spent almost three years in solitary confinement under very harsh conditions. He lost his tenured position at the University of South Florida, and the lives of his family have been devastated. If he is deported, my community will lose a very fine man. I have heard over $300 million was spent prosecuting this case, money that could better have been spent on low-income housing, or feeding the more 50,000 people that go hungry in Hillsborough County every year. If the prosecutors decide to re-try the case, millions more will be wasted.

Al-Arian was not found guilty, yet he remains in jail. The government lost this case, but do they still win?

Melva Underbakke

Temple Terrace FL