Views in brief

May 17, 2018

The AFT puts on the brakes

IN RESPONSE to "#RedForEd versus the UFT-Cuomo blues": A thoughtful analysis.

As a now-retired teacher active for many years in United Teachers Los Angeles, I have attended many American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conventions. Though formally democratic, the AFT is organized to maintain all-important positions in one leadership group. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), as the largest local in the AFT, is the linchpin of that process.

Sometimes, the AFT takes progressive positions, but the usual strategy is to maintain a "seat at the table" rather than challenge the powerful.

The irony is that there are a number of self-identified socialists (or social democrats) among the leadership. But inevitably, both the AFT and UFT end up promoting "liberals" like Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, rather than more progressive challengers. It's very disappointing.

Only an unprecedented uprising from below will bring the change that is needed, not unlike the progressive challenge in dealing with the Democratic Party and U.S. politics overall. We have a long road ahead of us.
Brad Jones, Los Angeles

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Why Nicaraguans are rising up

I READ Michael Friedman's excellent article on Nicaragua ("Nicaragua's tyrant and how he switched sides").

As a Nicaraguan citizen, I think it would be very important for the Spanish-speaking leftists in Nicaragua and abroad to read critical reflections such as this. I would be very interested in translating the article and sending it for publication in Nicaraguan and other Latin American media.
Camilo Antillón, from the Internet

The FDA fuels opioid addiction

IN MAY 2016, the Food and Drug Administration rejected KemPharm's "abuse deterrent" claim for their drug Apadaz (a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen). Then, in February of 2018, the FDA approved the very same drug, Apadaz, for the management of acute pain, saying it has "a high potential for abuse."

Purdue, the pharmaceutical corporation that hooked America on OxyContin, wrote in February, "Opioids with abuse-deterrent properties are not abuse-proof and don't prevent addiction."

This is true for methadone and buprenorphine, the most commonly used drugs for addiction maintenance therapy, which keeps patients on opioids for years, if not life. Over the last 20 years, the FDA has flooded the market with multiple, similarly addicting products, which have generated billions of dollars in profits for pharmaceutical corporations.

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Now, the FDA is embarking on a plan to open the floodgates to even more drugs. Only one-third of specialty substance abuse programs offer abuse-deterrent drugs, but the FDA wants "to raise the number," while de-emphasizing non-drug maintenance therapies.

The FDA intends to expand the use of opioids, meaning more prescriptions written. David Kessler, commissioner of the FDA from 1990 to 1997, wrote in the New York Times in 2016: "The more opioids prescribed, the more opioid abuse there will be."

Tragically, the Department of Health and Human Services is paying little attention to the root causes of opioid-use disorders--the social and economic causes that prevent loving and stable homes for families: stress, insecurity, violence, abuse, unemployment, racism, poverty, anxiety and depression.
Dr. Nayvin Gordon, from the Internet

The reality of imperial withdrawal

IN RESPONSE to "The left can't be silent about Assad's crimes", you write: "We demand an end to all intervention by imperialist powers, including the U.S. and Russia, and we call on the U.S. to let in any and all refugees looking to flee the carnage."

This is inadequate. It is a mere propagandistic statement designed to keep you out of trouble.

Why do I say that? Because should it happen that your dream came true and all imperialist powers disappeared from Syria, that would leave Assad with his air force, and the rebels (shorthand here, we're not talking about who that means) with the same zero ability to stop the rain of murder from the sky, and nothing but Kalashnikovs or the equivalent to fight tanks, etc.

Now, it is true that no one I know thinks Assad could last for a long time, but that would still leave him with a decided military advantage, all so you can remain pure. What do you suppose Assad would do with such an advantage?
David McDonald, Seattle

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