Abstinence-only flunks out

I was happy too see The New York Times headline “Abstinence education faces uncertain future.” The article discussed the numerous studies showing the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education. It talked about how states are taking measures to replace abstinence-only programs with comprehensive sex education.

The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world by a large margin.

As a teenager who has spent time in both private and public high school, I can attest to the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education. The classes feel more like propaganda sessions. The teachers don’t even attempt to give you real, unfiltered information. Contraceptive lessons were limited to failure rates and how no form of birth control would keep us “pure” for our future spouse. The courses didn’t play a significant role in our decisions concerning sex.

Discussing the issue with several European exchange students, I learned that in Europe, sex education is much more comprehensive, including frank discussion and lessons on the use of contraception. These measures have helped keep teen pregnancy rates less than half of what they are in the United States.

The rejection of abstinence-only education is a big step in the right direction. Finally science, statistics and sound reasoning, not the religious right, are setting government policy. Hopefully the steps taken by the Iowa, Colorado and Washington state legislatures and eleven other state health departments will be the beginning of a trend. My generation is being robbed of vital information we need to make informed decisions about our own bodies.

Jon Allen
St. Charles IL

Sarkozy attack on labor

Details are not completely set as yet, but the French Senate has passed a new labor law that would severely curtail the rights of workers in France. This is the first step of right-wing President Nicholas Sarkozy, who has consolidated his power by attracting many right-wing socialists to his party.

Under the proposed new law, similar to the Thatcher anti-labor laws, the right to strike will be sharply limited. Unions seeking to strike must have all their members cast a vote, as if they were voting in an election, at a post office, and a strike vote must get a 50 percent plus one majority, six or so days prior to the strike date.

Then, if they strike, after the sixth day another vote is to be taken at the place of employment. Employers will be heavily involved in that vote.

All transport workers will be affected, as well as health and education workers.

The next step is a vote in the French Assembly.

Major demonstrations are planned throughout France in early September. Stay tuned.

Mike Tolochko
Via e-mail

Write more letters

The New Haven Register did not publish my letter responding to their effort to justify Immigration and Custom Enforcement raids and breakup of peaceful working class immigrant families. Here are excerpts from my letter:

Is it the immigrants who are “illegal” or is it the warrantless break-in raids that are illegal?

Are these immigrant families “criminal” or are they hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying commendable residents?

Many of the undocumented are victims of U.S. transnational corporations that have used one-sided trade and anti-union laws to drive 4 million Mexican farmers off their land. They faced a life-and-death drive to migrate to the U.S. to be able to feed, clothe and educate their families. They deserve praise and support, not condemnation.

I urge PWW readers to speak and write in support of immigrant workers’ rights. If this is done by union, church, community and family groups, letters will help each other to be published.

George Fishman
New Haven CT

‘They shall build houses’

My friend Esther Cicconi and I attended an enormous gathering around the housing crisis, and Esther suggested I write this for both of us.

The organizers exceeded their expectations of turning out a thousand people to hear about the work being done to create more housing. Looking over the crowd in that large Catholic church, I saw what I love most about LA, our cultural diversity. The speakers and attendees also covered a broad spectrum of ages.

The interfaith event was organized by LA Voice – PICO, and had speakers from a variety of churches, government officials and grassroots activists telling personal stories and giving reports on their work.

The theme was printed prominently on the cover of the program: “They shall build houses and inhabit them, they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer shall they build and another inhabit, nor plant and another eat.” That’s from the prophet Isaiah speaking out in protest long ago.

Climaxing the evening, the three local officials were asked for commitments to work for specific goals outlined by the groups. All three answered “yes” to each question.

The goals are: 1) dramatically increase the Housing Department’s role in proactively educating tenants, 2) secure funding for the Housing Trust Fund, and 3) create a mixed-income housing strategy for Los Angeles.

It was exhilarating, showing the potential of faith-based communities working for good causes with their non-religious allies.

Oh, by the way, Happy 88th birthday, Esther Cicconi!

Carolfrances Likins
Los Angeles CA

Good questions

Where have all the workers gone? West Coast foundry workers are told they “just pound sand and can be replaced by unemployed.”

“Service stations” are steadily being replaced by “gas stations” with no one to help drivers.

Numbers of Northwest Park Service workers have been eliminated and replaced by volunteers. As a result officials estimate it will take five years to replace trails and bridges destroyed by the 2006 floods.

Street cleaning and street garbage removal has been virtually eliminated so our streets gather dust.

Does this affect the quality of our lives?

Lonnie Nelson
Seattle WA

No PWW next week

In keeping with our annual practice of skipping one issue each August, we will not publish a paper next week. Our first August issue will be dated Aug. 11-17.

We want to hear from you!

By mail:
People’s Weekly World
3339 S. Halsted St.
Chicago IL 60608


Letters should be limited to 200 words. We reserve the right to edit stories and letters. Only signed letters with the return address of the sender will be considered for publication, but the name of the sender will be withheld on request.