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Views in brief

March 25, 2005 | Page 4

A permanent occupation
The tough-on-crime fraud
Rolling over for Bush

Rank-and-file teachers fight

THANKS TO Randy Childs for his article ("Reformers win UTLA vote," March 11). I've been reading about the recent election, but his is the first rank-and-file perspective I've found.

I wanted to mention one thing--you might want to explain your use of the words "reformers" and "progressive" (as in Progressive Educators for Action). I say this because the "other side," if you will, uses those same words to describe themselves. (Just like the right wing to try to confuse people.)

I'm thinking specifically of Adam Urbanski and the Teacher Union Reform Network. In fact, Childs' local, presumably under the leadership of John Perez or perhaps his predecessor, joined this group. They are a group of American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association locals that push for a type of "reform" that amounts to class-collaborationist policies and pushing pay-for-performance schemes on their members.

Congratulations on the recent elections. I am very excited to see that one of the largest teacher union locals in the country is becoming more militant and rank-and-file oriented.
Debra Brim, from the Internet

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A permanent occupation

AMERICANS ARE being snookered by Republican and Democratic claims that the U.S. will withdraw its troops "when the Iraqis are able to guarantee their own safety."

Our government has no intention of leaving Iraq to the Iraqis. Evidence? In addition to a 3,000-person embassy in the Green Zone (our largest and most CIA-infested in the world), the U.S. is busy building 13 permanent airbases throughout the country.

According to the NewYorker journalist Seymour Hersh and numbers of returning veterans, these include elaborate quarters for Air Force personnel and at least one million-dollar-plus gymnasium complex. That's where the bulk of our $20 billion reconstruction tax money is going--not into clean water and electricity for desperate Iraqi citizens.

The corporate-controlled media refuse to report these incriminating facts. They refuse to confront Bush and the Pentagon with the evidence of permanent occupation.
Abbott Ikeler, Cumberland, R.I.

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The tough-on-crime fraud

HOPING TO bring capital punishment to Massachusetts, Gov. Mitt Romney is preparing to propose a bill that would legalize state executions. This comes against the backdrop of Connecticut preparing to be the first state to execute a prisoner in New England in 45 years.

Two new jails, costing the state some $59 million--one of which will house federal immigration detainees--are being planned or are under construction in western Massachusetts. In the past two years, the state has lost over 34,000 jobs, and many of our communities have faced budget crises.

Why is the state looking to build new jails--with more beds--while cities and towns alike have to make drastic cuts? Romney may be trying to score political points with his tough-on-crime policies, but building more jails or resurrecting the death penalty does nothing for our communities struggling with the real issues of unemployment, affordable housing and cuts in public education.

In response to these issues, the Northampton ISO will be organizing a public forum, including such longtime anti-death penalty activists as Shujaa Graham, Robert Meeropol, Russell Neufeld and local community organizer Holly Richardson. The event is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Arise for Social Justice, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the International Socialist Organization, Out Now, Traprock Peace Center and Western Massachusettes Citizens Against the Death Penalty.
Anthony LeBeau, Northampton, Mass.

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Rolling over for Bush

I WAS pleased to see Community College of Rhode Island President Thomas Sepe denouncing Bush's attacks on education ("Bush's Class War Budget," March 11). Unfortunately, I had to read about it in Socialist Worker. The Providence Journal was too busy quoting Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

Reed took center stage at the press conference, saying that he was going to fight against cuts to the Upward Bound Program.

However, Reed happens to be a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Just nine days before his appearance at the press conference, he announced the introduction of a bill, co-sponsored with Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), to expand the size of the Army by 30,000 troops, and the Marines by 3,000. Cost: $2.7 billion, or almost nine times the amount needed to fund Upward Bound.

This man is going to fight Bush's cuts?

The same day, Rhode Island Congressional Democrats Patrick "I-haven't-worked-a-day-in-my-life" Kennedy and James "Right-to-lifers-love-me" Langevin spoke about fighting the cuts at a press conference on aid to the homeless. Meanwhile, 8,000 Rhode Islanders are on a waiting list for Section 8 housing aid.

Rhode Island is a solidly "blue state," and Reed and Kennedy have been in Washington longer than Bush. If they're really so upset about Bush's budget, why haven't they solved this crisis already? These men are liars and hypocrites!
Brian Chidester, Warren, R.I.

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