You've come to an old part of SW Online. We're still moving this and other older stories into our new format. In the meanwhile, click here to go to the current home page.
Views in brief

March 31, 2006 | Page 8

Jon Burge's rotten legacy
No death row in Iowa
Double standard for Cheney
Breakfast with a war criminal

Pushing aside victims of asbestos

GIVEN THE choice between profits and workers' lives, Congress picked corporate interests again recently with a decision to ax a bill that would set aside money for the victims of asbestos poisoning. Every year, about 10,000 people die from exposure to asbestos, usually coming into contact with the building material at work.

The legislation, which went down in a close non-partisan 58-to-41 vote, would have created a $140 billion fund, what would have been a small start to aiding workers who suffer from the horrible breathing illnesses and cancer as a result of working with asbestos. The New York Times reported that it was defeated by a combination of conservatives who opposed another so-called "entitlements" and liberals who said that the bill fell short of what was necessary.

The legislation did fall far short of what would be needed to make a difference in the lives of those poisoned by this material--but this misses the point. Rather than fighting for real legislation that might make the lives of workers better, Congress's pathetic asbestos bill disappeared as quietly as it entered the scene. Workers deserve better.
Todd Lester, St. Louis

Back to the top

Jon Burge's rotten legacy

I AM an African American community activist here in Gary, Ind. The many challenges we are faced with here are enormous. As you probably already know, we have the dubious honor of being labeled the murder capital of the country. One of our primary problems is self-hatred. That is not why I am writing though.

On Monday, February 20, the mayor of Gary, Scott L. King appointed retired Chicago police officer of 28 years, Jeffery Kumorek, chief of police. Gary has a population of 104,000. Eighty-three percent are African American.

Now, we have a white mayor and a newly appointed white police chief who is possibly a friend of fired Chicago police detective Jon Burge, the accused torturer of many young Blacks at the Area 2 police station in Chicago.

I recall many cases of Burge torturing young Blacks in an attempt to persuade them to admit to various crimes they didn't commit. As a matter of fact, in 1972, I was interrogated at Area 2 concerning a murder I knew nothing about. Eventually, I was charged with armed robbery and murder. In November of 1973, I was rightfully exonerated.

The reason for this letter is to request any information regarding individuals who not only participated in the torture cases with Burge, but every official who had knowledge of what was going on. Any participation Chief Kumorek had with Burge during not only the violation of my civil rights, but the violations of civil and Constitutional rights of every African American during Burge's era, will eventually be implemented here.

We are in a potential state of martial law. It is transparent what could conceivably happen here in Gary, especially if Chief Kumorek think it is going to be business as usual. Any kind of data will be well received and appreciated.
Dwight Taylor, Gary, Ind.

Back to the top

No death row in Iowa

SOME MEMBERS of our state legislature seem all fired up about reinstating the death penalty in Iowa. Since states and nations that decline to execute people have lower violent-crime rates than those that do execute, one might wonder why. I guess these folks just like the idea of killing people--well, only people that really have it coming and only for very good reasons.

Given humanity's less than perfect nature, these enthusiasts ought to be able to count on a plentiful supply of good reasons being always provided by someone--it will sort of make their day. Hum, but I wonder about that approaching day when it is time for each of the rest of us to go. As death-penalty advocates lie there on their deathbed, will they draw any comfort from the love and forgiveness that they have in life been able to extend to and receive from others, or will they wish that they had been able to spend more time at the gallows?
Sam Osborne, West Branch, Iowa

Back to the top

Double standard for Cheney

SOCIALIST WORKER was right to use Dick Cheney's hunting debacle to point out his most egregious crimes--supporting South Africa's brutal apartheid regime in the 1980s and masterminding the devastation of Iraqi people since 1991, among countless others ("War crimes and hunting misdemeanors," February 24).

But it must also be said that the way Cheney's assault with a deadly weapon--a crime, last I checked--was dealt with by law enforcement was glaringly hypocritical. Cheney shot an old man in the face and was allowed a full day to get his story straight. In the end, the local sheriff's department announced that it would take no action whatsoever.

This stands in stark contrast to the treatment of so many youth of color by the criminal injustice system. For us, the cops arrest first and ask questions later, and for much less serious crimes than shooting people. The hypocrisy and bankruptcy of the so-called upholders of justice, from the courts of international law, right down to local law enforcement agencies couldn't be clearer.
Khury Petersen-Smith, Boston

Back to the top

Breakfast with a war criminal

"IN OUR opinion, citizenship and patriotism is something we try to instill in our scouting program. Oliver North is an example of those qualities."

These are the words of Tim Harper of the Boy Scouts of North Carolina, on why they chose Oliver North to speak at their, "Breakfast with Col. Oliver North" fundraiser.

And imagine, for only $750, you too can listen as this convicted war criminal fills these scouts' heads with the glorious tale of how he, Oliver North, planned the successful invasion of the second-smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere; the mighty island of nation of Grenada!

In a sane world, North would be rotting behind bars and the Boy Scouts would bring Camilo Mejía to speak on why he resisted the war in Iraq.
Ben Lassiter, Greensboro, N.C.

Home page | Back to the top