New Year’s greeting

Unfortunately I am now totally blind, and am not able to do any more than to dictate this to you: A happy new year to you and all our comrades.

Celia and I do little more than endure our present existence. However, our spirits remain high and we maintain our vision of a socialist future.

Bill and Celia Pomeroy London, England

Bill and Celia Pomeroy are in their 90s. Bill was a correspondent for the PWW and its predecessors and wrote several books, including “The Forest, A Personal Record of the Huk Guerrilla Struggle in the Philippines.” During this Filipino nationalist struggle in the 1940s he met Celia Mariano, who became his lifelong comrade and spouse. Bill, a U.S. citizen, and Celia were forced into exile in the UK by the U.S. government because they were Communists and participants in the Huk struggle.

View the You Tube video: Balitang Europe: Bill & Celia Pomeroy, London exiles at


Who could but be outraged and feel sadness for humanity after reading the article “Waterboarding: Torture or mere interrogation technique” by Paul Hill (PWW 12/8-14)? Who indeed.

There are of course those we would not expect to harbor such feelings. From that lickspittle lawyer John Yoo who aided and abetted Bush and Cheney in their quest for power — he is currently a law professor at UC Berkeley — on up to Bush himself, who added his name to history’s list of degenerates when he proudly declared he was the “first war president of the 21st century.”

Hill touches upon the “who” question when he discusses the “desensitizing’ effect on the U.S. public of a TV show that regularly shows torture being used to save the day for the hero and the country.

I don’t disagree. But I would point my finger at a cause of much longer standing and deeper pervasiveness — the criminal justice system with its racist, dehumanizing treatment of prisoners and its obsession with the death penalty — both forms of government-sponsored torture.

That penal institutions are geared toward punishment desensitizes the public to the expectation or possibility of rehabilitation.

I cannot imagine any action by a government more numbing to the public’s sensibilities than to watch it take frightened, defenseless human beings and crush the life out of them.

Bill Appelhans
Chicago IL

Robeson season

April 9 will mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of Paul Robeson, artist and fighter for freedom, peace and social justice. The Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and others will celebrate the occasion in several ways over the next few months.

A January display of Robeson books, CDs, videos, DVDs at the Rockridge Branch, Oakland Public Library, will later move to the Cesar Chavez Branch (February) and then the West Oakland Branch (April).

On Feb. 27, “Paul Robeson, Words Like Freedom,” a CD compilation of Robeson’s spoken word, will have a release party at La Pena, Berkeley.

On March 30, Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade will dedicate the newly installed monument to the anti-fascist fighters on The Embarcadero, San Francisco ( The monument includes a 6-foot image of Robeson, with text about his support for the democratic forces during the Spanish Civil War.

It is hoped that PWW readers in other locations will be inspired to organize tributes to the 110th birthday of this people’s hero.

April will also see an exhibit on Robeson’s life and legacy in the Rotunda of Oakland City Hall. Readers who have Robeson memorabilia to contribute to our collection should write to

Bonnie Weiss
Oakland CA

After Iowa

Happy New Year and congratulations on a job well done. These have been trying times when the hyenas of war have again been turned loose on humanity by a greedy ruling class.

Now, beyond all the optimism I was capable of mustering, Mr. Obama won Iowa! He won in a political arena 95 percent white. It was a resounding defeat for the manipulations of the ultra-right and their right-liberal fellow travelers. Also it was a hard lesson for liberals who underestimated the political fury of the masses in these troubled times.

Obama’s victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle. Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface. This is the old revolutionary “mole,” not only showing his traces on the surface but also breaking through.

The old pattern of politics as usual has been broken. It may not have happened as we expected it to happen but what matters is that it happened. The message is clear: we can and must defeat the ultra-right, by uniting the broadest possible coalition that will represent an overwhelming majority of the people in a new political dynamic. We must quickly shed yesterday’s political perspective and get in step with the march of events.

Frank Chapman
Via e-mail

$100 a barrel

It is now almost a year since the American people began to experience the highest costs of gas and oil ever. There is no end in sight. The question is why? People are caught in the free market hypocrisy of an unregulated domestic oil industry. An industry that has not upgraded its processing capacity in order to keep prices inflated. An industry that receives billions in government subsidies, grants and loans while the people are faced with increases in everything that requires gas or diesel fuel for delivery. The economy is slowing down, real estate prices are falling, while mortgage costs are rising and foreclosures are reaching epidemic proportions. Now we are facing a “winter of discontent” with dropping temperatures.

The oil industry monopoly folks are so greedy and rich we could fund the U.S. budget several times over. There was even enough to purchase a U.S. presidency. Anyone who becomes president cannot have the kind of connections George W. Bush has to any national and global monopoly. We need to nationalize the oil industry lock stock and barrel. Whenever industry is allowed to run unregulated it can lead to destroying the entire economy.

Thomas Siblo
Via e-mail


Re: Hussein Ibish’s comments re: my recent letter about the Annapolis conference (PWW 12/22-1/11, 12/15-21). Recently, I’ve seen documents showing Mr. Ibish is correct (the PLO was represented; Mahmoud Abbas is PLO chairman). This does not change the substance of my criticism, that the process is excluding major segments of the Palestinian people and their elected representatives, censoring crucial issues and being used to drive wedges in the Muslim world.

I, too, hope that somehow this process can bring about a just peace. However, the U.S. and Israel are engaged in manipulations that, unchallenged, will lead to a divided and dependent Palestinian state and, indeed, an expansion, rather than a cessation, of violent conflict from Iran to Gaza and beyond. Under these circumstances, protest, rather than muted enthusiasm, is called for. I want to apologize to Sue Webb and the editors for the last paragraph of my letter which did not further my argument, but made unfair attacks regarding their commitments to fairness and justice.

James Jordan
Tucson AZ