Views in brief

Breadlines for us, billions for Wall Street

FOR MANY Ohioans already caught in an economic hurricane, Hurricane Ike was a devastating blow. Winds of up to 75 miles per hour slammed Ohio in the aftermath of Ike as it left Texas for the eastern Great Lakes--leaving a couple million people without electricity, some for about a week.

Ike is gone now, but its effects linger in a state where unemployment reached 7.4 percent in August, the highest since 1992.

For many, losing a refrigerator's worth of groceries put an undue strain on the budget. Working families in Columbus who don't quality for food stamps turned to food pantries even a week after the windstorms ended, getting enough to tide them over until the next paycheck.

So when word got out that the Salvation Army was giving away $40 gift cards to Kroger grocery stores, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch and National Public Radio, crowds flooded their service centers. The rush was too great to handle. One center opened at 9 a.m. but ran out of supplies by 10:30, turning away 1,000 people on September 22.

One Columbus resident, Victor Price, told the Dispatch that he had hurried over to a Salvation Army center from his night shift at McDonald's and waited in lines from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.--before being told that no cards were left. "It was crazy. It was tense," Price said. "You give it another half-hour, and there would have been some fighting."

Price said he had $12 in his pocket that had to last until he got paid the following week.

How dare the politicians offer Wall Street billions of dollars while Victor Price and others like him have to struggle even for food!
Pranav Jani, Columbus, Ohio

Adding insult to injury for Troy Davis

AS AN anti-death penalty activist, I was excited that Troy Davis received a last-minute stay of execution on September 23 ("Troy Davis execution stopped"). It gives us another week to fight.

However, I was also angry--and not just because the state once again came within hours of murdering an innocent man.

A little after 5 p.m., we received news, relayed from Troy's family via one of Troy's pen pals, that the warden had unexpectedly told them that they were to be barred from witnessing the execution. In addition, it seems that Troy was allowed only two 15-minute phone calls on what was to have been his last day.

Given the uproar around his case, it seems likely that the authorities were trying to bury it as far as possible from sight. Those who had called and faxed the Board of Pardons, urging a halt to his murder, were now asked with equal urgency to call the warden to allow Troy's five witnesses the basic courtesy of being allowed to witness their loved-one's execution.

People need to know about this. That this system makes Troy's sister Martina Correia fight just to be present at his death adds the worst kind of insult to the worst kind of injury.

And now that Troy has another few days, and his executioners weren't quite able to sweep him from view as they hoped, this basic breach of protocol gives us another angle to expose how rotten the Georgia authorities are.
Ben Davis, New York City

Big government is not the answer

I SEE no case against capitalism ("A system out of control"). In fact, maybe a stronger case for it.

What we have is a case to put people in jail and throw people out of public office. We have a case for the Average Joe American to put the TV remote down and get educated. We have a case that says, "In 1913, Americans gave away their liberty to a corrupt banking system."

The American way is a wonderful way of life with truth, liberty and freedom. Big government is not the answer, but an honest government is. A government big enough to give you everything you need is big enough to kill you. How many millions have been killed and murdered in the last 100 years under all forms of government--what, about 150 million?

I believe in unions, labor and balancing power. I believe in the wonderful document called the Constitution. It's too bad we have a case of hypocrisy in America.

I've looked at all the political parties, and I now support Ron Paul and openly reject the two-corrupt-party system.

What we have here is a case for all of us to come together on issues we agree on, fight to run the corporate thugs out of our government and make sure our Constitution is intact so that we all can have a voice. If we ever balance a budget and have surplus, then we can argue how to spend the money.

The only "war on terror" is against Americans. We are under attack from the terrorists within out government.
Don Grinde, from the Internet

Tension rising in the U.S. "backyard"

TENSIONS IN Latin America reached new heights this month. Bolivia's Evo Morales and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez have both expelled American ambassadors since the recent murder of 30 Morales supporters in the Bolivian province of Pando.

In mid-September, Morales had the U.S.-backed governor of Pando, Leopoldo Fernandez, arrested for his role provoking the killings. In response, the U.S. has placed Bolivia on the shortlist of nations responsible for drug trafficking. Furthermore, the American Peace Corps as well as Fullbright Scholars are being evacuated from the country with revelations of the U.S. State Department's intention to use them as spies.

Not too far away, in the waters of the South Caribbean, Venezuelan and Russian ships have begun training together in response to the reactivation of the U.S. Navy's 4th Fleet. Russia certainly welcomes the strengthened ties with Venezuela (and now, also Bolivia) in America's "backyard" after successfully securing its own in the Georgia War this summer.

But the new alliance comes largely at the instigation of Venezuela, fearing its own military to be incapable of thwarting an American attack. Such an attack is unlikely due to the difficulties the U.S. faces militarily in the Middle East, but for millions of Venezuelans who took to the streets to restore President Chavez and defeat the 2002 U.S.-sponsored coup attempt, a stronger Venezuelan military is a top priority.

The reactivation of the 4th Fleet has not only stirred Chavez, but also Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: "I am worried about the US 4th Fleet, because it is going to go exactly where we have just found oil."

Lula was also quick to point out that no Latin American government has requested the "medical aid" the U.S. claims to be delivering with the fleet. He also stated his commitment to rebuilding Brazil's military and he renewed calls for a South American Defense Council, the formation of which, of course, would be seen in Washington as a violation of its dominance over the region.

American interference and intimidation is driving all of Latin America to revisit its footing toward the United States. Just as the participation of masses of Venezuelans was necessary to restore Chavez to power in 2002, Morales' power base--Bolivian peasants, workers and the indigenous movements--will be the key to thwarting the increasingly confident right.

On the other hand, years of soft neoliberal accommodation weaken Lula's promise of heightened defense. The governments of Latin America need to make clear break with such accommodation, as Morales appears to have been forced to make.
Chris Dols, Madison, Wis.