Thursday, December 01, 2005

Indymedia: "Raid on student aid" = draft

A proposed $14.3 billion reduction in federal student aid is actually a "new recruiting tool for the military," blasts Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. Making college financially unavailable to low-income young adults leaves enlistment as their only choice for jobs and job training, Woolsey charges. In 2004, nearly two-thirds of the Army's recruits came from counties where the median household income is below the national average. "This 'raid on student aid' is a draft through lack of opportunity," Woolsey says. She adds that while military service is an "honorable profession," it should be by choice and not as the only option. Over the next five years, the budget approved in a 217-215 vote by the House of Representatives takes $53 billion from services for college students, senior citizens, single mothers, children and the working poor. Woolsey dubbed this a "money grab by the GOP" to offset the cost of an estimated $106 billion in tax cuts.

The above is from Patricia Lynn Henley's "Briefs" North Bay Bohemian. It's Thursday, we're highlighting Indymedia. Let's focus on some protests. From Eugene Weekly's "News Briefs:"

Eleven local residents were arrested and charged with criminal trespass Friday, Nov. 18 as they peacefully protested against the war in Iraq. Seven protesters were arrested for blocking the entrance to the UO ROTC building, and later in the morning four individuals were arrested for refusing to leave the Army recruiting center on Bailey Hill Road across from Churchill High School.
Nov. 18 was "National Stand Down Day," a day of direct actions at recruitment centers and government facilities supporting the war. The coordinated protests were sponsored by the Iraq Pledge Of Resistance, which organized the civil disobedience at the White House Sept. 26 in which Cindy Sheehan and 374 others were arrested.
"Supporters gathered in solidarity while holding photos which graphically displayed the human cost of the war," said Michael Carrigan of Progressive Responses. "Both actions were carried out without incident."
All were cited and released on their own recognizance and will appear at 1 pm Dec. 2 at in Eugene Municipal Court. Supporters are encouraged to attend.
Carrigan said with the death and suffering continuing unabated in Iraq, local activists decided it was "time to put their bodies on the line and take decisive action against the faltering Bush administration's Iraq war."
Mental health social worker Jacque Travis was arrested and said, "Increasingly, the best I can do is admit in shame and rage that resources are not available no matter how many 800 numbers we call and wait and call again. This war is a betrayal of our responsibility to our children and our neighbors," said social worker Jacque Travis who was arrested at the recruitment office.
Organizer Peter Chabarak added, "We forced the government to show their hand and repress peaceful dissent by force of arrest, we gained much public sympathy for the cause and we ignited excitement in the movement."

In other protest news, Sarah notes Daniel Boniface's "Nonviolent war proesters arrested" (Boulder Weekly):

As the local TV news crews packed up their cameras and left, 12 protesters out of about 50 remained standing in front of an Armed Forces Career Center on Sheridan Blvd., refusing to leave and willing to be arrested. The Lakewood police were watching intently, but as of 12:30 p.m., refused to arrest anyone.
"They've told us they are a peaceful group, and we'll take them at their word," said Steve Davis, Lakewood police public information officer. "We're here as peacekeepers, making sure they can exercise their constitutional rights."
The protesters were showing their disapproval of the war in Iraq on National Stand Down Day—a day activists dedicated to demonstrating outside Army recruitment centers across the country. This comes in the wake of the most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. of Nov. 11-13, showing oppostition to the war is at 63 percent, with a measley 35 percent support.
"We're hoping to stop them from recruiting anyone today," said Claire Ryder, the event's organizer. "We also want to make a statement symbolically."

Ben notes Sofia Jarrin-Thomas' "Out of School and Into the Military" (Boston IMC):

In its 2005 fiscal report, the Department of the Army stated that about 42% of the JROTC graduates choose either to enter a ROTC program in college, one of the service academies, or serve in the active or reserve force. "With numbers like that it's obvious to us that JROTC is doing a great job collaborating with recruiting efforts," said Oskar Castro, Program Associate at the American Friends Service Committee's (AFSC) National Youth & Militarism Program. It's illegal to recruit minors into the military, yet students as young as 14 are regularly approached and advised into pursuing a military career through their high school’s JROTC.
As the Department of Defense introduced two new recruiting initiatives in 2000, College First and GED Plus, Colin Powell expressed the importance of attracting students to the military at a young age. "We know why we want high school graduates. They have a tendency to be more adaptable to military life," said Powell.
The relationship developed with school administrators is critical for recruiters to have access to students. According to the 2004 School Recruiting Program Handout (SRPH) published by the US Army Recruiting Command, "Establishing rapport with school officials is a key step in maintaining access to schools. To effectively work the school market, recruiters must maintain rapport through SY and develop a good working relationship with influencers."
"Influencers" are not limited to guidance counselors. The SRPH encourages recruiters to cultivate relationships with coaches, librarians, administrative staff and teachers; anyone who might be helpful in providing information on how to effectively communicate with specific students.
Ms. Rodriguez, bilingual counselor at East Boston High, explains that recruiters are required to schedule appointments to talk to students. "But I know that once [recruiters] already have a kid that they've talked to who says is interested, they'll come back and check in to see how they're doing," she said, "They come to their graduation."
On February 2000, the Senate Armed Services Committee's subcommittee, chaired by then Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), held hearings on armed forces recruiting and retention of personnel. At the hearings, Master Sergeant Jamie Cranada, a Califonia Air Force recruiter with five years of experience, mentioned how it was easier to approach schools with JROTC programs. "
We concentrate on those schools with JROTC. The others do not let us in and we do not focus there," he said.
"I do my best in high schools with JROTC," said Staff Sergeant Reginald Hamilton, also Air Force recruiter, in response to Senator Jack Reed's (D-RI) question on the value of JROTC units to recruiting.
"There are four in my area. They look at us to train. It helps reverse the trend. A definite plus," said Staff Sergeant Sean McElroy, from the US Marine Corps and recruiter in Georgia.
Military recruiters’ expressed a general frustration with having access to high school and college students' contact information where such programs do not exist. "The schools in Gwinnet County, Georgia, will not give out their list of students," said Staff Sergeant Sean McElroy, "Cannot get a school roster."
But when asked about imposing sanctions on high schools that were not supportive of recruiters' efforts, most recruiter chiefs agreed that such change in policy would be detrimental to the image of the armed forces. "DOD believes it would be a lose-lose to leverage high schools. We feel it would be better to reconnect on a public relations front," said Mr. Alphonso Maldon, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Force Management Policy, "We do not want a situation where we are let into the schools and become a target of criticism."
Nevertheless, Senator Hutchinson introduced a bill called the Military Recruiter Access Enhancement Act of 2000, which denies Federal educational assistance funds to local educational agencies that do not allow the DOD access to secondary school students. Sen. Hutchinson was instrumental in including this provision in the No Child Left Behind Act. In effect since 2001, all secondary schools must provide directory information about their students for military recruiting purposes. BeNow, a database marketing company based in Wakefield, MA, was hired to process the 12 million names collected so far.
Written into law is the requirement that schools must notify parents and students of their right to "opt-out" and keep their contact information private. In effect, the law coerces schools to release private student contact information to the military while relegating the responsibility of informing parents of the law to already under-staffed schools.

Kyle e-mails to note "Interview with Iraq Veteran Against the War Tomas Young" (Kansas Indymedia) (this is a transcription from the 90.1 FM KKFL program Tell Somebody airing Saturdays at 5:30 pm):

Q: So you went to Iraq when?
A: March of 2004. Well, went over there in March, 2004- we spent two weeks in Kuwait waiting for the vehicles to come in and to set up, and then we went into Iraq, and I only actually ended up spending four or five days in Iraq because I was shot on April 4th of last year.
Q: And this was on the same day and in the same area where Casey Sheehan was killed?
A: Same day. Casey Sheehan and I were in the same division, the First Cavalry Division, although he was an engineer and I was, as I've said before, a grunt. We didn't have the same job, we didn't know each other. We were mostly sent on the same mission, just we were different cogs in that machine, and so we didn't have anything to do with each other, we were just shot on the same day.
Q: So tell me about that day. You were on a mission in support of rescuing some downed soldiers or something?
A: Well, a few months before we deployed, I had decided that I didn't want to be one of the front line soldiers, and there was an opening in the company for a company clerk position, and in my previous job in the Army when I had enlisted before, that was what I was trained to do. And since that was what I had trained on before, I decided, and I'm not ashamed to say it, that I wanted to try and get the safest job possible, so that I could come home. So I hadn't trained with the company for a couple of months prior to deploying, and one day I was just sitting in the back of a vehicle and I was pulled to go on a rescue mission. We were to provide security while the medics did the rescuing. So we went to the place where the soldiers were down, the rescue mission went fine, and it was to my knowledge that we were just going to get back in the truck, and go back to base, and call it a day. But instead, we loaded back into the truck, and instead of going the safe route back to the base, we drove through to the heart of the city. And it's also important to note that truck that I was in didn't have a canvas top like it was supposed to have- it was completely open air- nor did it have any armor on the side. Now, granted, I realize the canvas top may not have stopped any bullets from happening, but it would have provide some sort of cover and concealment so that the soldiers didn't have such an open aim into a basically just a barrel, like shooting fish in a barrel.
Q: So you were driving through like a town with buildings where people could look down into the truck..
A: We drove through the heart of the city where people could just look down into the bed of the truck. The bed of the truck also was a space large enough to hold eighteen soldiers with gear, however we had twenty-five soldiers with gear, so the quarters were a bit cramped, and I myself was lying on my back with my legs crossed Indian style to provide more room for people. There was so little room that not many of us could get a clear shot out the side of the vehicle to provide the 360 degrees of vision and security that we were supposed to have, so I couldn’t get a clear shot off even if I had seen anybody other than women and children.
Q: You were just crammed in there like sardines, basically.
A: Basically like sardines, yes.
Q: But you said you saw a lot of women and children?
A: Well while we were driving we were supposed to be looking out to see if there was any hostile enemy wanting to do us harm, but instead all I could see were women and children running away from all the gunfire that was going off, so I didn’t fire a single shot while I was in Iraq. Now, there were shots being fired from the truck, and that’s not to say that, you know, those people didn’t see anything, but I imagine a lot of it was reacting out of fear, because I can certainly attest that I was quite scared.
Q: So, somewhere driving through town you were shot.
A: We were just driving through town and all of a sudden my body went completely numb, and there was a tingle all the way throughout my body and I didn't really know what had happened, and it took me a few second to realize that I had been shot and paralyzed because of the numbness and everything, and once that had happened I started to scream for anyone in the truck that was within earshot to make it so that I wouldn’t have to deal with living with a life of paralysis, but as it is, I couldn't yell, all that could come out was kind of a hoarse whisper, because I couldn't catch my breath..
Q: … make it so you wouldn't have to deal with a life of paralysis?
A: Put me out of my misery so to speak, you know…So we’re driving and somewhere along the way the truck overheats, and completely stops, which it had been doing for the entire length of time we had been in Iraq, which was why it had been staying inside the base basically going on food and water runs and not going out on any missions, and in fact, that day that we had gone out, it was supposed to be with the mechanics being worked on. So here we were, the truck had just stalled in the middle of Sadr City, and there were about three or four other guys who had been shot also. But none had been as seriously injured as I was, however, they were spitting up blood, and blood was more visible on them, so it was assumed that they were more seriously impacted by the gunfire. So, finally one of the other soldiers who had not been hit jumped out and took an Iraqi bus hostage I guess, and we loaded up us wounded soldiers onto this bus, and I'm fairly confident we didn’t just take the bus from the Iraqi gentleman, we just had him drive us to the base so that we could download the injured soldiers. Once we all got back to the base, it was there that us wounded were loaded onto Blackhawk helicopters and taken to Kuwait to be worked on. It was in Kuwait where they did surgery to remove bone and metal shrapnel from my back, and my knee where I had been shot after I had been paralyzed, thankfully, so I didn't have to feel that pain. And it was from Kuwait- I spent a few days in Kuwait kind of doing some initial recovering and it was from there that I was airlifted to a hospital in Germany, Landestuhle. I spent a few days there, and then after that I went to Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C. where I did a lot of my initial rehab before going on, back here to Missouri to do a lot more rehab and finally be released back to the general public. I made it back home on July 16th of last year.
Q: And for our listeners who haven't heard you on Democracy NOW! or read about you online, your condition now is..
A: I'm paralyzed from the chest down. And that condition will either be permanent or corrected through stem cell research which is the big thing I’m working on now. I'm trying to figure out why it is I can go voluntarily fight, and possibly die for a president, but then when I come home that president is not interested in giving, not only me, but the thousands of other soldiers and regular people who have been affected by spinal chord injuries and any number of other disabilities and diseases that embryonic stem cell research could fix. That is the big fight, and the reason I went to Crawford, Texas. When Cindy Sheehan was down there at the ranch, I was watching and I began to think, well if he's (George Bush) going to use as his reasoning for not meeting with her that he had already met her, my life has been severely impacted as well. I wanted to go down there and see what reason he would give for not meeting me. Or if he would meet me, I wanted to get an explanation as to why my life or any other person in my condition’s life, isn’t as important as than of an unfertilized embryo.

AK Gupta was on Democracy Now! today ("Is the U.S. Training Iraqi Death Squads to Fight the Insurgency?") and NYC Indymedia has "A Trip Through the Iraq Archive." (PDF format.)

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