- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2004

Slavery’s slavic origins

I am surprised that an estimate of 1 million European slaves in North Africa would be considered newsworthy or that it is surprising to many that millions of Europeans were enslaved at one time or another (“A million Europeans enslaved,” Page 1, Thursday). The word “slave” itself is derived from “Slav,” referring to the family of linguistic groups that include Russian, Polish, and Serb.

In German, the same word does double duty. A “slav” in German means either a slave or a member of one of the Slavic-speaking nationalities. This is, of course, because at one time, virtually all slaves in Germany were Slavic. Descendants of Russian slaves can be found in Norway and Sicily, where many can be physically distinguishable to a trained eye by virtue of a high cephalic index. Many Russians have broad skulls, whereas the first inhabitants of both Sicily and Norway are dolichocephalic (long-skulled).

DOUGLAS M. FORBES

Greenfield, Ind.

A (brief) history of International Women’s Day

In commemoration of International Women’s Day, The Times featured two articles on Tuesday (“Indian ‘Monologues,’ ” Taking Names, Metropolitan; “Women called to secure rights,” World) a blurb about a U.N. session (“Women hit hardest by AIDS,” World Scene) and a photograph prominently featuring Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler, originator of the controversial “The Vagina Monologues” play.

Before we get too carried away, let us remember that International Women’s Day was created in 1910 at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women. In the past, it was observed mostly in Russia and in communist Eastern Europe .

In the United States, International Women’s Day was used by the Communist Party USA to promote Marxist ideals to American women. For example, the communist-led Congress of American Women held its founding convention in New York City on International Women’s Day in 1946.

Four years later, the Communist Party National Committee issued a speaker’s guide for International Women’s Day urging local leaders to use the event to raise the understanding of the Marxist-Leninist position on the “women question” of the Party.

CAREY ROBERTS

Derwood, Md.

One cheeseburger, hold the ethics

Can the obesity epidemic be cured by simply urging Americans to stop overeating, as suggested in your recent editorial (“The ‘cheeseburger bill,)? The answer is clear. Our society has tried that approach for years, only to learn that obesity will soon pass smoking as the leading cause of death.

Now the House of Representatives has approved a bill that would give unprecedented legal immunity to Big Food for harm caused by its products. Virtually ignored in the debate were the billions spent on advertising by fast-food companies to keep us gorging on a supersized diet of cheeseburgers, fried chicken and other nutritional nightmares.

Fewer teens smoke today because legal action helped uncover and curtail the marketing of tobacco to young people. What similar unethical marketing decisions are being made in the boardrooms of fast-food companies? Given the scientific research suggesting that some foods are literally addictive, what has the food industry done to take advantage of the unique properties of cheese, chocolate and other habit-forming ingredients?

The legal process could answer such questions — and thereby save countless lives. It now falls to the Senate to keep that hope alive.

AMY JOY LANOU

Nutrition director

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Washington

Donations aren’t fungible

The claim in Wednesday’s column by Frank Gaffney Jr. of the Center for Security Policy (“Active measures,” Commentary) that an organization called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows has received funding from foundations directed by Teresa Heinz Kerry is simply wrong.

The charge rests on the false assertion that the Heinz Endowments’ funding of the Tides Center for projects in western Pennsylvania is “fungible.” In fact, by contract, every penny of our support to Tides has been explicitly directed to specific projects in our region. It cannot legally be redirected and is the exact opposite of “fungible.”

The Tides Center provides management and administrative services for short-term and start-up nonprofit activities. Foundations from all across the country — many, such as Heinz, with strong centrist agendas — use this service to support a wide array of projects. It is no more accurate to suggest that Heinz supports every one of these projects than it is to suggest that a person who contributes to a specific organization through the United Way supports the agenda of every other United Way beneficiary.

Through Tides, we have supported programs to test the career readiness of area high school students, protect Pittsburgh’s environment and retain young people in our region — hardly an extremist agenda. Any reading of the grant material connected to these groups, easily accessible on our Web site, in our public filings and in our annual reports, shows that they are all nonprofit entities barred from partisan political activity.

MAXWELL KING

President

The Heinz Endowments

Pittsburgh

I am writing to correct the inaccuracies in the column “Active Measures.” I want the opportunity to correctly state the relationship of our group, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center, with both the Heinz Endowments and September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, and provide your readers with an accurate view of our organization.

Let me begin with the facts.

In all, The Heinz Endowments has granted Tides Foundation $230,000, dispensed between 1994 and 1998. These grants supported a pollution-prevention initiative and other environmentally friendly practices by industries in western Pennsylvania. Independently, the Tides Foundation made four grants to Peaceful Tomorrows in 2002 and 2003, for a combined total of $34,665.

Tides Center, an independent offshoot of Tides Foundation, received additional support from the Heinz Endowments specifically to support projects in Pennsylvania, none of which has gone to September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows.

Frank Gaffney Jr.’s assertion, attributed to the New York Post, that the monies the Tides Foundation distributes are “fungible,” is completely without merit. The rigors of fund accounting, restricted grants and annual audits preclude this from happening. For The Washington Times to suggest otherwise is not only misleading, but also irresponsible.

At Tides, we believe deeply in the notion of a civil society that engages all of its citizenry. In 2002 and 2003, Tides Foundation made more than 6,000 separate grants to nonprofit organizations for a total of more than $100 million. This funding supports a diverse, broad range of programs, as varied as disaster relief efforts, environmental protection and youth education, all working toward a healthier, free and just society.

Which leads to perhaps our most important belief — that every American, regardless of political affiliation, has an undeniable right to free speech. Peaceful Tomorrows, comprising individuals deeply affected by September 11, has the right to voice its opinions and concerns.

DRUMMOND PIKE

President

Tides Foundation and Tides Center

San Francisco

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