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Views in brief

July 28, 2006 | Page 12

Congress guts minority med programs
No justice yet for detainees

Afghans' right to resist

NICOLE COLSON'S report "U.S. escalates the violence in Afghanistan" does a good job showing the "mess" that the U.S. occupation has made of Afghanistan (SW, July 14).

Unfortunately, I believe it takes a far too neutral stance on the resistance that sounds a lot more like mainstream media spin than the clear anti-imperialist position we should expect from Socialist Worker.

The resistance in Afghanistan is clearly growing, and it is becoming more of a problem for the U.S. forces, NATO coalition troops and the "Afghan security forces" created to protect the isolated U.S. puppet Hamad Karzai.

Attacks against these forces are entirely justified as legitimate resistance against the occupation forces and their collaborators. Colson does not point this out and emphasizes instead the Taliban's threats and attacks on Afghan laborers.

With the demonization of Islam and racism against Arabs that suggests that any act of resistance in Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan is some crazy act of religious zealotry, we have to take a clearer stand in our articles when we talk about Afghan resistance. The Taliban have backwards politics but the brutality of the U.S.-NATO occupation has helped organize Afghan resistance behind the Taliban (as well as other groups like Hizb-e-Islami).

We can and should point out our criticism of resistance movements in occupied countries, but our position must always start from the right of the oppressed people to resist, our unconditional support of that resistance and the underling understanding that a defeat of the U.S. empire in any part of the world is good for workers everywhere.
Andy Libson, San Francisco

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Congress guts minority med programs

ON JUNE 30, the House Appropriations Committee proposed eliminating funding for all 74 Health Career Opportunity Programs (HCOP) and 30 of 34 Center of Excellence (COE) programs in the country. The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations subcommittee was scheduled to consider its version on July 18.

Many high school and college summer enrichment programs, pre-health student conferences, recruitment, tutorial and outreach programs would be eliminated if these cuts take place.

For the last 20 years, these programs have supported activities to identity, support, recruit, admit, retain, train and graduate Black, Latino and American Indian students in medicine and other health professions. COEs also support minority faculty development, minority health issues curricular development, and research and community-based clinical training with minority patients.

These programs were initiated to increase the number of physicians and other health professionals who practice in minority inner-city areas, as well as in rural areas, and to promote the cultural, experiential and linguistic skills to deliver effective health care to underserved minority patients.

Ultimately, several million largely minority persons living in underserved areas will not have physicians and other health professionals accessible to them if these cuts are adopted.

In fiscal year 2005, the HCOP was funded at $35.6 million and supported 74 programs. COE was funded at $33.6 million. For fiscal year 2007, the House appropriations bill would totally eliminate funding for HCOP and drop COE funding to $12 million--which would only support four of the original 34 programs.

An action alert that went out on June 29 is asking people to e-mail Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a "powerful chair" of the subcommittee, to urge him to restore full funding levels to full fiscal year 2005 levels. Who knows what will become of this effort.

One thing is for sure: In a world where the official Pentagon budget is $450 billion and rising, while spending for social programs is rapidly declining, we are going to need to do something more than e-mailing our representatives.
Jean Howell, American Indian Medical student, University of Minnesota

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No justice yet for detainees

THERE WAS great jubilation in liberal and progressive quarters upon the announcement on June 29 that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled against the U.S. government's plans to hold military tribunals against the imprisoned Arab and Muslim men held in Guantánamo.

Whenever the Supreme Court rules in favor of the oppressed, all should breathe a sigh of relief. This stinking body is one of the tripartite components of the U.S. capitalist government and as such is surely not a friend of the oppressed or the working class.

My concerns are twofold, however. The first is that this ruling will not be discussed in its proper context, and secondly, that the entire war on terror will remain uncondemned.

That is to say, will this ruling give credence to the war upon the Muslim and Arab people that the U.S. government unleashed after the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001? Will the thousands of men imprisoned in secret CIA prisons around the world that languish in the terror cells and torture centers remain there forever?

What is it that prevents the U.S. left, in unison, from saying: "Close the torture centers! U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan! No more Guantánamos!" I cannot really understand what prevents the antiwar movement and the socialist movement from finding common ground around these or other slogans.

Because of this lack of political leadership, the ruling by the Supreme Court takes undue weight and import, although it is important in its own right. Legal fights are a legitimate part of the reform movement, but they are not revolutionary in and of themselves. The prisoners in Guantánamo, in all of the U.S. military jails and prisons, and in all of the CIA secret torture centers must be released now!
Steve Johnson, Los Angeles

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