Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Other Items

Solidarity with the US conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo: the national assembly of peace movements and movements against war that met in Florence in the recent days expressed its 'full and convinced solidarity to the US soldier Agustin Aguayo, the US objector that is currently kept in the military prison of the US military base in Mannhein, Germany, and is waiting for the decision of the martial court that could condemn him to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment for his courageous rejection to continue to participate in the immoral war of the United States of America in Iraq.' 'The soldier Aguayo' - continues the statement - 'has been the first soldier based in Germany to publicly refuse to go back to his brigade in Iraq and represents a growing phenomenon of resistance against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by US soldiers.

The above is from AGI's "PEACE MOVEMENTS ASSEMBLY: SOLIDARITY WITH US OBJECTOR" on Agustin Aguayo who is a war resister and part of a movement within the military of war resistance. Kyle Snyder is another and he intends to return to the US, from Canada, next month ("Editorial: Kyle Snyder's return to the US is part of a movement of resistance"). More information on war resisters who have gone public can be found at Courage to Resist.

Needing a laugh this morning? Mia notes Norman Solomon's "Channeling Thomas Friedman" (CounterPunch) which offers a parody of Friedman:

Get ready for a special tour of a renowned outlook, conjured from the writings of syndicated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. As the leading media advocate of "free trade" and "globalization," he is expertly proficient at explaining the world to the world. If we could synthesize Friedman's brain waves, the essential messages would go something like this:
Silicon chips are the holy wafers of opportunity. From Bangalore to Bob's Big Boy Burgers, those who understand the Internet will leave behind those who do not.
I want to tell you about Rajiv/Mohammed/George, now doing awesome business in Madras/Amman/Durham. Only a few years ago, this visionary man started from scratch with just a vision -- a vision that he, like me, has been wise enough to comprehend.
So, Rajiv/Mohammed/George built a business on the digital backbone of the new global economy. Now, the employees fill orders on a varying shift schedule, and time zones are always covered. Don't ask what they're selling -- that hardly matters. They're working in a high-tech industry, and the profits are auspicious. This is the Future. And it is good. Fabulous, actually.
Traveling the world as I do, I understand that the world is best understood by people who travel the world as I do.

For those needing more humor this morning (who doesn't) check out Betty's "It's Back" and Michael Luo's "A TV Comedy Turns an Unconventional Weapon on Iraq's High and Mighty: Fake News" in the New York Times. Also in the Times, Jim Rutenberg and David S. Cloud's "Bush Abandons Phrase 'Stay the Course' on Iraq" reports on the latest royal edict from the White House:

The White House said Monday that President Bush was no longer using the phrase “stay the course” when speaking about the Iraq war, in a new effort to emphasize flexibility in the face of some of the bloodiest violence there since the 2003 invasion.
"He stopped using it," said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary. "It left the wrong impression about what was going on and it allowed critics to say, 'Well, here's an administration that’s just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is,' when, in fact, it is the opposite."

That's not actually intended to be a humor piece. But the writers had help from Tony Snow Job and the Bully Boy. On the topic of reality not catch phrases, Billie notes William Greider's "Endgame in Iraq" (The Notion, The Nation):

The facts are so stark, even American military commanders are now speaking openly about an approaching climax for our bloody misadventure in Iraq. "To Stand or Fall in Baghdad," the New York Times headline declared this morning. A show-down is here, the generals acknowledge. There are no more back-up strategies.
Learned policy experts from all sides are now debating the various alternatives for an exit plan. Preferably with honor, they hope, but getting out is becoming unavoidable, regardless. They would like to dream up a some sort of fig leaf that gives cover to our failed warrior president. Not that he deserves one, but they want a plan will encourage Bush--finally--to accept reality.

On a different note, Kayla notes Jim Straub's "Who's Your Daddy? Dov Charney serves up paternalism with a creepy smile at American Apparel HQ" which is actually one in a series of articles Clamor is offering looking at the reality of the apparel industry:

Even by the standards of today’s sex-as-marketing culture, American Apparel's ads stand out. "Meet Melissa. She won an unofficial wet T-shirt contest held at the American Apparel apartment in Montreal." The words are draped over a soaked sexpot showering in a white shirt. Another, a billboard, features a woman apparently preparing to fellate some lucky T-shirt wearer (with a caption hurrying her to open up wide). Intentionally resembling 1970s porn, with women appearing either incredibly young or perhaps caught in the sweaty throes of sex work, the ads seem to offer a subversive alternative to the usual plastic, airbrushed hot-babe ad -- while still selling sex, sex, sex! . . . and clothes. But the strangest visual disorientation comes in the advertisement's upper left-hand corner, where normally a brand-name tag line would exhort buyers to live extreme or buy hard. But here, the sober type says simply, "American Apparel: Vertically Integrated Manufacturing."
"Vertical integration" is an economic term referring to a business that encompasses all aspects of producing and selling a product; and in today’s globalized and sub-contracted economy, companies that both manufacture and retail are increasingly rare. Presumably, to most hip consumers who are not economists or commodities exporters, these words on American Apparel’s billboard are just another anachronism in an already edgy ad. But American Apparel is persistent about peppering their ads with blurbs about their economic structure ("Made in Downtown LA") that the stodgy competitors at Hanes or Fruit of the Loom aren't moved to share. Indeed, some of the company’s billboards in downtown Los Angeles do away with the soft-core hard bodies altogether and consist simply of large type reading "American Apparel supports the legalization of LA's workforce." A rare public statement by a company that benefits from the downward pressure on wages exerted by undocumented workers in the United States -- that those workers deserve human rights -- but what’s the sales angle?
What other clothing company mixes trashy sex and manufacturing information in its ads? Like everything else about its business, American Apparel's marketing showcases the bizarre contradictions of postmodern consumer capitalism. The company possesses a downtown textile factory straight out of the '40s, a sexploitation ad campaign from the '70s, and a marketing strategy so sophisticated it almost seems to come from the future. Old-world manufacturing paternalism meets sexy transnational marketing: has American Apparel vertically integrated different eras of capitalism?

In addition to that, Kayla also notes Socket's "The New Wartime Body: Amputee Vets Return from Iraq" (Clamor):

Sources from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., estimate that since the onset of the Iraq invasion and occupation upwards of 400 U.S. soldiers have come back needing amputations and prosthetics (30 percent have multiple amputations). According to icasualties.org, since April 2003, between 18,000 and 20,000 U.S. soldiers' injuries include second- and third- degree burns, bone breaks, shrapnel wounds, brain injuries, paralysis, and eye damage. In addition, 9,744 U.S soldiers wounded in action returned to duty between 2003 and 2004, while
8,239 soldiers did not return to war.
"The rocket went through my leg like a knife through butter. It was a terrible scene ... there was just blood and muscle everywhere," Tristan Wyatt, 21, reported in a November 9, 2003, LA Times article entitled "Hospital Front." A rocket had cut off his leg and those of the two other soldiers with him four months earlier in Fallujah, a type of injury treated frequently at Walter Reed. Doctors Dennis Clarke and Jim Kaiser both reported (upper extremity) amputations from the elbow down, (lower extremity) above the knee or through the hip resulting from roadside bombs, bullets, and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Kaiser concluded that "explosion injuries are vicious; they affect multiple body parts; for example, if one gets hit on the right side, part of the right leg, arm, and oftentimes their face gets exploded and pocked-up."
"We were always working with a base of 100 patients at any point in time," began Dennis Clarke, a visiting orthotist-Prosthetist who specializes with lower extremity amputees. "On any given day, Walter Reed's orthopedic wing has about 50 inpatients and another 180 outpatients," says Jim Kaiser, who spent one week as a guest prosthetist at Walter Reed's Occupational Therapy Department in 2004. Working consistently, with hardly a break for lunch, they made fittings for new prosthetics and adjustments on old ones, and cleanings of amputation sites were constant. "There was always something to do and someone to see to. We were very, very busy," Kaiser continued. "Some prosthetics we made were arms; most were leg/lower extremity from explosions and many of the same people had multiple amputations." Two factors -- the war's urban setting and quick response time -- have vastly increased the survival rate for the wounded compared to Vietnam. However, since Vietnam, the number of those wounded in action has risen from 3 percent to 6 percent, according to Wendy Y. Lawton in the George Street Journal, December 10, 2004. Dennis Clarke continues, "When one third of your patients have more than one limb missing, the work and stress and attention is different and accelerated."

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