New York City

Thank you for your editorial “The AIDS Challenge” [Dec. 22] and for The Nation‘s attention to the global AIDS crisis. It is unfortunate, though, that you refer to Thailand as a model in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Thailand’s achievements in HIV prevention early in its epidemic have long since been overshadowed by its brutal repression of injection drug users, a group at very high HIV risk. The Thai government’s recent crackdowns in its “war on drugs” have resulted in more than 2,500 extrajudicial killings. The government has consistently vilified drug users and denied them the most basic human rights, making it nearly impossible to establish HIV prevention or AIDS care services for drug users. HIV is on the march among Thai drug users, who have little hope of humane treatment either for their addiction or for HIV-related illnesses. With regard to combating the AIDS challenge posed by injection drug use, Thailand is a model of worst practices.

HIV/AIDS Program, Human Rights Watch

Joanne Csete is absolutely right–Thailands recent war on drug users is both brutal and wrongheaded. But we sang Thailand’s praises for condom promotion, and in that regard, it truly is a model: Since 1991, when the government instituted its 100 percent condom-use campaign, HIV infection rates dropped among one carefully studied group, soldiers, from 12 percent to less than 3 percent. Infection rates among sex workers also declined. As the United States seeks to spread its unproven abstinence-only approach throughout the developing world, Thailand’s success with condom promotion is a story that needs to be told.   –The Editors


Washington, DC

Doug Henwood is a bit off the mark in arguing that the steel tariffs did not help US steelworkers [“Steeling for 2004,” Dec. 29]. He compares the rate of job loss in the steel industry with the overall rate of job loss in the economy. While the whole picture surely cannot be captured in such a simple comparison, a more appropriate measure would be the rate of job loss for production workers in the steel industry with the rate of job loss for production workers in manufacturing as a whole.

This comparison shows a loss of 21.9 percent of the production jobs in steel in the nineteen months before the imposition of the tariffs, compared with 13.1 percent for manufacturing as a whole. In the nineteen post-tariff months for which data are available, the job loss is 9.9 percent in steel, compared with 6.7 percent for manufacturing as a whole. In other words, steel was losing production jobs at a rate that was 67 percent higher than manufacturing as a whole before the tariff, compared with a rate of job loss that was 48 percent higher while the tariff was in place. This is perhaps not a resounding success, but not quite the obvious failure that Henwood’s numbers imply.

It would be nice if progressives were as concerned about the protectionist barriers (in the form of licensing requirements and other restrictions) that insure high wages for professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants, as they are about steel tariffs, whose impact is trivial in comparison. But I suspect that far more Nation readers (and writers) benefit from professional barriers than steel tariffs, hence the lack of interest in the topic.

Center for Economic and Policy Research


New York City

We can play numbers games from now to the election, but the main point won’t change–the tariffs did nothing to reverse job losses in steel and almost certainly caused job losses in steel-using industries. But I agree with Dean Baker on professional licensing as a form of elite protectionism, and hope he’ll develop that topic at greater length for The Nation.




“No one here is against globalization,” I told the reporter in the NGO Center during the Cancún WTO talks. “We are against corporate globalization.” He didn’t get it, and apparently neither does Doug Henwood [“Beyond Globophobia,” Dec 1]. The movement is not motivated by defending borders but by countering corporate and government abuses of power and by promoting democracy. We in this movement are fully aware of just how global we are–strategizing across time zones by computer, spending hundreds of hours a year flying to distant countries for international and national politicking, meeting in cities around the world, jointly writing position papers in many languages, lobbying delegations at international negotiations.

“Globalization” today is about the privatization of drinking water and government services, not merely the internationalization of automobile production; biopiracy and the struggle to prevent converting the knowledge (and even the body elements) of indigenous peoples into commodities, not merely the ravages of international oil prospecting; demanding the application of the precautionary principle (“look before you leap”) embodied in the basic EU treaty and in more than forty US laws from the pre-Reagan era, when the government was interested in consumer protection, to new international documents; fighting for–and using–transparency in government in order to provide critical oversight; supporting brothers and sisters in other countries in their struggles against oppression.

The movement’s globalization is Jamie Love’s Naderite project, Doctors Without Borders, ACT/UP Philly and Oxfam getting AIDS drugs to Africans. Maybe Henwood needs to reread Vandana Shiva to understand what the struggle is really about.

49th Parallel Biotechnology Consortium


New York City

Most of the many letters I got on my article–an extract from a long book chapter, where the arguments are developed much more fully–seemed to be from readers more interested in rehearsing their own obsessions than reacting to what I wrote. I’m against privatization, commodification, tighter intellectual property restrictions and (believe it or not!) oppression. What these things have to do with “globalization” isn’t clear to me. They’ve been characteristics of capitalism and imperialism for centuries, and that point must be made sharply, not blurred with the the near-meaningless word “globalization.” And Bereano must be aware that there are many people in the “movement” who are powered by fantasies of reviving the nation-state or creating a world of self-sufficient localities, which strikes me as a suffocating and even xenophobic agenda.



Alamogordo, NM

Jay Parini’s review of the new collection of Pablo Neruda’s poetry [“A Poet of Multitudes,” Dec. 22] reminds me that translation is betrayal (an axiom that sounds better in the original), that reading Neruda in English translation is like making love with a condom, or eating your pastrami sandwich with the plastic bag still on it. It is like trying to understand that which must be felt. Please read the original as it should be, out loud, as I have, at the Alamogordo Public Library poetry night, reading at full length, in the original, what you would call his “Letter From the Road,” and not nearly reaching the end as my own exiled heart tore in two and the audience’s as well.



Ann Arbor, Mich.

Adam Haslett reviews Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (1948), calling it “the most explicit and uncompromising novel about homosexuality ever to be published in the English-speaking world” up to that time [“The Name of Love,” Dec. 8]. Has he forgotten Radclyffe Hall’s courageous and outspoken The Well of Loneliness (1928), banned in Britain and published here only after a successful defense by the nascent ACLU?



Smyrna, Del.

Rebecca Perl’s “The Last Disenfranchised Class” [Nov. 24] illustrates one of the problems we prisoners have been dealing with here in Delaware for the past fifteen years. We appreciate all the help we can get from “outside” (not incarcerated) groups, but too much of this “help” acts to disempower prisoners. We do not need people to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves! Woman suffrage was led by women. Black suffrage was led by blacks. Prisoner suffrage must be led by prisoners!

There are millions of prisoners across the nation. Although we cannot vote (for now), our families and friends can vote for us. In Delaware, we are organizing our families and friends to act as a voting bloc. We are letting Delaware politicians know what we are doing. If they try to dismiss us, we remind them that there are 6,500 Delaware prisoners, and that each of us has a couple of people on the outside who love us enough to vote for our interests. That means in the next election more than 13,000 votes will be controlled by prisoners in Delaware. While we may not be able to control an election, we will turn out enough votes in the primaries to sway the outcome to those who support us and away from those who want to hurt us. Delaware’s primaries are decided by a couple hundred votes, so we stand a real chance to show some results in 2004.

Delaware can be a model for the nation. If each prisoner in America can get two people to vote for them, that would represent a voting bloc of more than 4 million people! Those are the kinds of numbers no politician will be able to ignore.

The reactionary and abusive mentality that infests our prison administrations will be suppressed only when prisoners use their power to influence the political system.

Inmate Political Action Committee


Swarthmore, Pa.

The other Democratic candidates now face the daunting task of cutting the Goredean knot.