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Views in brief

September 2, 2005 | Page 8

Left Party's challenge
A win for hockey bosses
A strike for Sheehan

Lies they tell to sell war

AS I was walking in the subway in New York City recently, I noticed two recruiters trying to convince a young woman to join the Army. Knowing the lies they must be telling her, I quickly walked up to her and asked her if the recruiters had mentioned to her that one in three women in the military are raped or sexually assaulted.

Her face became shocked, and the recruiters reacted in anger. One recruiter charged towards me and started screaming that he was going to beat the shit out of me, and that I had better get the hell out of there.

As he screamed at me, I continued talking to the woman, giving her facts about lies the military tells and what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. The woman looked quite concerned, especially as the recruiter began getting more aggressive. As the confrontation dragged on, I was able to draw many people in, including a man who had taken a recruiter's pamphlet and quickly became angered at them after he heard what I was saying about Iraq and the lies they were telling people.

As I challenged the recruiter's claims of supposed U.S. liberation and democracy in Iraq, he became even more angered and started to threatening me with violence and pushing and assaulting me. If they attacked me like this I can only imagine how they treat Iraqis who disagree with them.

Then, we saw the cops, and he pulled them over. We quickly told them the story, and of course, they sided with him, stating, "He is just trying to do his business and job, and you are interfering." I quickly stated that recruiting people to die and kill for oil is no job opportunity.

But as the conversation went on, it was quite obvious that the cops and the recruiters were on the same side in repressing free speech when it threatens the military's quest for cannon fodder.

The recruiter's anger and violence shows the immense pressure military recruiters are facing--recruitment levels are down, and the U.S. is running out of manpower to fight the war. It's important that activists continue to keep up the pressure on recruiters so that they can't get anyone else to fight or die in their wars. We must be ready to challenge their lies and expect them to get more aggressive as recruitment levels drop because of the mass opposition to the war.

That's why the September 24 counter-recruitment contingents in Washington, D.C., will be such an important place to draw activists together in demanding: "Recruiters of our schools! U.S. out of Iraq!" Recruiters' frustrations show that they just can't take the we've got to turn that heat up!
Frankie Cook, New York City

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Left Party's challenge

THANK YOU for Jeff Bale's well-informed article ("The left's challenge in Germany," August 19) about the unexpected rise in Germany of the new Left Party, co-founded by the post-communist Party of Democratic Socialism and the pro-labor Electoral Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice (WASG).

I might disagree with him about the importance of Oskar Lafontaine's unfortunate one-time use of the word "fremdarbeiter" (foreign workers) and the brief appearance on the WASG Web site of a link to a satirical song with implicitly homophobic lyrics.

It's true that Lafontaine's comment was a serious gaffe, and attempting to explain away his use of the word merely prolonged the controversy. On the other hand, the word otherwise forms no part of the Left's electoral program, and the party has a clearly antiracist track record. The leader of the Turkish community in Germany would hardly have chosen to run for the Bundestag on the Left ticket if he suspected the party of harboring anti-immigrant politics.

Regarding the song with homophobic lyrics linked from the WASG Web site: This was apparently a satirical comment on the openly gay candidate of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, Guido Westerwelle. But the link was removed almost immediately.

Here, again, the Left Party is above reproach: It was the first and so far only party to seat two openly lesbian Bundestag deputies, has a well-organized gay and lesbian constituency, and advocates legal recognition for same-sex marriage.

Both incidents point to the fact that WASG is a very new movement with the organizational problems one would expect from a party that was formally organized only two months ago. And I think Lafontaine's refusal simply to apologize for his use of the word "fremdarbeiter" (which he should have done) has more to do with his ego than any attempt to appeal to anti-immigrant opinion in Germany.

In any case, neither the word nor the theme has appeared in a Lafontaine speech since then, and it has never been part of the political lexicon of any other politician in the Left Party.
Andy Lang, Cleveland, Ohio

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A win for hockey bosses

THE LONGEST work stoppage in the history of North American sports ended July 13, as the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) reached an "agreement" on principle. The 301-day lockout ceased when the NHLPA acquiesced to the demands of the NHL.

The Fresno Bee called it "one of the most one-sided negotiations in sports history." The players, who had refuted a salary cap of $42.5 million on February 15, accepted a $39 million cap.

The NHL also succeeded in establishing a link between salaries and revenues. Under the new contract, player costs cannot transcend more than 54 percent of league revenues. Also, no individual salary can make up more than 20 percent of a team's overall payroll. Therefore, no player will make more than $7.8 million. Additionally, team management can file for arbitration if they are dissatisfied with a player's performance.

The only apparent loss for the NHL is that it lost its television deal with ESPN (the new deal with NBC will give no money to the league until the network is guaranteed profits).

The deal represents a huge loss for hockey players. According to Dallas Stars wing Brenden Morrow, "I was hoping there was going to be a middle ground, but there wasn't. From our side, we ended up breaking, and they are going to get everything they wanted."

The NHLPA need our support in their struggle against the NHL, just as the Teamsters or the UAW need support against UPS or General Motors.
Aaron Bernstein, Fresno, Calif.

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A strike for Sheehan

AMERICA IS watching! Cindy Sheehan's vigil--a.k.a. strike--has the attention of America and the world. This is great, really...why don't we join her?

Just think if the Teamsters, the longshoremen and airport workers alone joined her. This would hit them right where it hurts, in their bank accounts. Commerce would be closed for business.

The recent Heathrow strike (a 24-hour strike) is alleged to have cost the airlines tens of millions of dollars. What if every peace activist in America and around the world joined Sheehan--not at Crawford (although that would be fun), but in solidarity.

Strike until it hurts! Strike until the war president comes out and talks to Cindy. Even better, strike until they bring the troops home.
Thomas Harrelson, from the Internet

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