Something smells

Word has it that Sen. John McCain is receiving $59,000 a year in benefits from the Veterans Administration for a 100 percent disability. Something just doesn’t smell right. Either he is 100 percent disabled and should not be running for president (since “great health” matters) or he received the diagnosis from a friendly doctor in order to get maximum benefits. Either way, somebody is lying. This from a man who claims to be the veterans’ best friend who would continue to send troops to Iraq no matter how long it takes, and who voted against a bill that increases both financial and medical benefits for veterans. And, in 2007, he voted 100 percent with Bush. This from a man who wants to be president?

Bill Mackovich

Chicago IL

Ready for the challenge

I am all for the trade unions fighting on behalf of their members. Throughout history both in the United States and Europe the trade unions have made sacrifices to win a lot of concessions for ordinary working people.

But in the U.S. they have not done as well as in Europe.

Now there is an opportunity for you all to do better than Europe by presenting a nonviolent economic model which will ensure real growth in the real economy as opposed to speculative growth in the capital markets which leads to only boom or bust.

Are you ready for the challenge: a paradigm shift not only for the U.S. but also for the rest of the world?

David Soori

London, UK

David Soori is a lifetime member of Unison, the largest public service union in the United Kingdom.

Update on Mumia case

There apparently is still confusion regarding the March 27 federal decision. A new jury trial was ordered on the question of whether the penalty should be life or death. The court did not rule that Mumia should receive a life sentence as some have stated. The penalty phase was reversed because the trial judge gave misleading and unconstitutional jury instructions. Nonetheless, I expect far greater gains.

There was a lengthy dissenting opinion on the issue of racism in jury selection. It found that there was evidence of the prosecutor engaging in racism. He removed prospective African American jurors for no reason other than the color of their skin. That violates the United States Constitution. This extraordinary dissent goes to the core of our effort to secure an entirely new trial.

Mumia remains on death row. The prosecution has vowed to appeal and continue its quest to see him executed. I will not let that happen.

This case can be won. In over three decades of successfully defending people in capital murder cases, I have not seen one more compelling. Racism is a thread that has run through the case since its inception. My objective remains to obtain a new jury trial in which Mumia will be acquitted by a jury so that he can return to his family, a free person.

Robert Bryan

San Francisco CA

Robert Bryan is lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Fact check

Wasn’t Coubertin (“Olympic creed: not the triumph but the struggle” PWW 5/24-30) suspected of being a fascist sympathizer? I read that the Nazis nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sean Mulligan,

Alpharetta GA

Editor’s note: Pierre, Baron de Coubertin, (founder of the modern Olympics) was a minor French aristocrat who was deeply affected by the French defeat in the 1871 war against Prussia, and the popular uprising in Paris that followed. That seems to pre-date the Nazis.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s recently published history of the Olympics: “France, in [Coubertin’s] view, had become a decadent country, which needed invigorating. Organized sports were the proper way to do this. Coubertin was a great admirer of the British public school system, with its stress on games and physical prowess. Sports, he believed, would restore national health, and not only in France. Vigorous competition would make people everywhere more industrious and less rebellious. Wars would become obsolete. And so in 1896 the modern Olympics were born, appropriately enough in Athens.

“For a nobleman of his time, Coubertin actually had a relatively liberal disposition. His brand of patriotism was never militant. Following the British public school style, his motto for the Games was that the important thing was not to win, but to take part.”

Burma, not Myanmar

You used Myanmar for that designated nation in your editorial “Responding to disasters” (PWW 5/17-23). Of course only symbolic, it does say something. The country of Burma, so named by its British colonial conquerors was then renamed Myanmar by the military junta that took charge in 1989. After that, even a semblance of freedom for the proletariat class was discarded.

But since words do have meaning, the PWW, as a progressive medium, should make it clear that we stand with the oppressed Burmese people and work for the day when that nation, whatever it is then called, will stand proud in its peoples’ freedom, both politically and economically.

I urge the PWW editors to tell its readers that we stand with the Burmese people, and will furthermore use “Burma” to identify that nation seeking its freedom.

Don Sloan

New York NY

Editor’s note: We stand with the Burmese workers and people. Many democratic and civil society organizations refer to themselves as Burmese or with Burma in their name. In the 5/10-16 issue we publicized the call by the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma for solidarity and aid.

We have done a little research on this and found, for example, the United Nations recognizes Myanmar, not Burma. And most English-language media outlets – around the world – use Myanmar. Despite the opposition towards the military rulers, Myanmar has been so named and we don’t think it’s our job to rename their country.

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