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Views in brief

June 9, 2006 | Page 8

Australian left and East Timor
Hypocrisy over the hijab
Covering the environment

New Orleans' mercenaries

I READ your article on the ZNet Web site, and I was glad to finally get a few answers to questions that I've asked since last year ("A mercenary army," June 2).

My name is Michael Dardar, and my family and I lived in southern Plaquemines Parish, a few miles south of where the eye of Katrina made landfall. Needless to say, we lost our home and most of our possessions to the storm.

One of the things that got my attention early on was the presence of at least four Blackwater agents at every FEMA relief center I visited to process my application for aid. I relocated to Raceland, La., and there was a FEMA office just down the road from my house until about the end of February or March. And yes, there were four armed mercenaries there the whole time.

Why was that level of security needed in rural Louisiana, and how much of the funds dedicated to hurricane relief went into the pockets of these politically connected "security firms"?
T. Mayheart Dardar, from the Internet

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Australian left and East Timor

IT'S RATHER galling here in Australia to read in SW quotes from Green Left Weekly about the lack of good intentions by the Australian government in East Timor ("Behind the violence in East Timor," June 2).

Green Left Weekly supported--indeed, campaigned for--the Australian invasion in 1999 and are not now opposing this colonialist takeover. They are only calling for the government to take notice of the needs of the population!

Any self-respecting socialist in Australia should be openly and clearly against all military intervention by Australia. Australia is a major military power in the immediate region. It is one of the most strident supporters of U.S. imperialism.

It was absolutely predictable that the Australian ruling class would not develop East Timor after 1999. Both the conservative Liberals and the Labor Party have supported the Indonesian occupation since 1975.

Their purpose in 1999 was to end "instability," the constant refrain used against every national liberation or democratic movement in this region--which they call "our backyard"--and to get control of oil in the Timor Sea. The fact that most of the Australian left not only supported, but called for, Australian troops to intervene in 1999 gave credibility to the military of an imperialist power and legitimized the biggest defense budgets in years.

It is not credible for those who called for Australian imperialist intervention to now cry crocodile tears about the government's indifference to the rights and wellbeing of the mass of East Timorese.
Sandra Bloodworth, Socialist Alternative, Australia

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Hypocrisy over the hijab

IT WAS not long ago that France passed its ban on the wearing of religious symbols in public schools, declaring that the headscarf worn by some Muslim women threatens secular society. Many on the French left, including the leaders of key militant workers' organizations, agreed that Muslim girls needed governmental protection from religious repression.

Yet if French officials hold secularism so dear, why were all government offices, countrywide, closed on May 25 in observance of the Catholic holiday of Ascension? If the government is truly concerned about women's rights, why hasn't it challenged the Church's attacks on birth control and abortion rights as a clear threat to women's autonomy?

Clearly, the ban on the hijab has nothing to do with safeguarding secularism and championing women. Instead, by promoting anti-Arab racism and national chauvinism, the government has tried to protect itself from a powerful potential challenge to its security-shredding agenda: a united French working class.
Nancy Welch and Didier Delmas, Toulouse, France

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Covering the environment

I LOOK forward to reading your paper online every week. You do such an excellent job. Thanks so much.

I am writing to thank you specifically for publishing the letter by Phil Haggerty ("Fight for the environment," May 26). He says he is only 14--wow! It brings me real hope to know that the future of our world will contain people like Phil.

I want to second his idea about a weekly column on the environment. I know you have articles about the environment frequently, but I cannot recall seeing one for a few weeks now. Thanks again for all the hard work and effort your staff performs each and every week.
Todd Graczykowski, from the Internet

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