Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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On paper, it sounds like a great plan -- especially to someone not quite out of his teens. Join the military, get money for college, gain independence, be a man.
But Pablo Paredes, Robert Zabala, Camilo Mejia and Agustin Aguayo -- four young men who became war resisters while serving in the military -- said when they enlisted, there was a lot they still had to learn.
The four men spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people at the First Presbyterian Church on Monday.
"It's seductive," said Zabala, a 23-year-old UC Santa Cruz graduate who won a court order for his release from the Marines in April. "You join because that's what it means to be a man, to pay back your debt to society. People don't join the military because they want to take people's lives"

The above is from Donna Jones' "Refusing to serve: More soldiers objecting to war" (Santa Cruz Sentinel). Mejia, Paredes, Zabala and Aguayo are on the speaking out tour whose upcoming dates include:

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Friday May 18 - Berkeley
7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia. 1640 Addison St, Berkeley.

Along with Jones' article, please check out this page for Raising Sand Radio.

On Saturday, an attack on US soldiers killed 1 Iraqi translator and 4 US soldiers. 3 more US soldiers are missing and assumed captured. A group has claimed to have them but the claim can't be justified as truth, hot air or something in between.

Today is Tuesday and if you've watched the New York Times coverage, it's been a shame-fest from top to bottom. Let's start on the higher end.

5 dead (counts translator) and 3 missing in one attack. The three were missing when people opened their Sunday papers, when people opened their Monday paper and still today when people open today's paper. They'll have to open their papers to find this story, they'll have to dig around to the middle of the paper. On Sunday, that meant the story ran on A6. On Monday, that meant the story ran on A8. Today it's A10 (Damien Cave's "Qaeda Group Calls Hunt for Soldiers Pointless"). At this rate, come Friday, it may run in Escapes section.

This is a news story and it should have been run on the front page. It never has. And that goes to higher than the correspondents.

Damien Cave's "5 Killed and 3 Missing in Attack on American Patrol South of Baghdad" (which ran Sunday) is the best they've offered on it. The article was heavy on what officers said but the Times can't really move around on the ground. And let's not the plural, Cave didn't just run with statement. Come Monday, we got Kirk Semple (and others) deciding that they wanted to play on air correspondent in print. You could just sense the pan and scan as the article intoned about what history has told us. It was pretty lousy. Guess what? Sometimes the writing doesn't matter. Sometimes the topic is so strong, you front page it.

They didn't. They still haven't. It's easy (as demonstrated today) for a (White) runner from South Africa to make the front page than it is for the story of 3 US soldiers missing after an attack that killed 4.

Everyone should remember that. They should remember it when the next Oh!My! pseudo story takes place, or when the next one day tragedy takes place and the paper tries to turn that into a month's worth of copy. Most of all, they should remember it in comparison to contractors in Iraq for big business. They tend to get a great deal more attention from the press.

US service members aren't just screwed over when they're forced to risk their lives protecting private contractors (and, if they're for the big companies, they do make a HUGE amount more than do the US troops), they're screwed over when they go missing. But, despite the mutually self-serving relationship between the government and the press, Big Business can always trump that.

You can be sure they will do so again. So just remember that. File the lousy, embarrassing coverage from the Times on the attack and the 3 still missing away and come back to it for compare and contrast in the near future.

We'll note this from CBS News before changing focus:

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassman reports all the soldiers involved in the ambush were from Fort Drum, in upstate New York, according to military sources. The families have been notified of the deaths and the "unknown" status of the missing troops.
For a fourth day, jets, helicopters and unmanned surveillance aircraft crisscrossed the skies over the sparsely populated farm area near Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.
U.S. and Iraqi troops -- backed by dog teams -- searched vehicles and pedestrians. Other teams peered into crawl spaces and probed for possible secret chambers in homes.
Military officials tell CBS News that it took U.S. reinforcements about an hour to reach the ambush site near Mahmoudiya, as they had to approach slowly -- probing for roadside bombs or other hidden explosives the whole way along the road.
On Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq -- an al Qaeda front group that has claimed to have captured the soldiers -- warned the U.S. to halt its search by about 4,000 troops, and the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that it believes the soldiers are in terrorist hands. Strassman notes that the insurgent group has offered no proof that they are, in fact, holding any U.S. soldiers captive.

Lloyd notes the following from Sudarsan Raghavan's "Search for Troops Is 'in Vain,' Insurgents Declare" (Washington Post):

Also Monday, six U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, the U.S. military reported. Four were killed in three attacks in Baghdad and southeast of the capital, and one in Anbar. The sixth soldier died of noncombat causes, the military said.

More on yesterday's violence can be found in Tina Susman's "Allies of Al Qaeda probably hold U.S. soldiers in Iraq, military says" (Los Angeles Times):

The United States acknowledged Monday that three missing American soldiers probably were being held by militants linked to Al Qaeda, and it announced the deaths of six more U.S. troops.
A Danish soldier also was mortally wounded in a battle in which insurgents trapped several troops, who were rescued by British soldiers.
Seven soldiers from Denmark have died in Iraq. The country is due to begin withdrawing its 430 troops, who operate under British command in southern Iraq, in August.
The clash began when a roadside bomb blew up next to a patrol as it passed through Hartha, north of Basra. Gunmen opened fire on the soldiers, sparking a battle that witnesses said killed two young men in the crossfire.
The soldiers sought shelter inside a nearby building, which gunmen then surrounded, according to the British military. British troops stormed the house and rescued the Danish soldiers, the military said.
Witnesses said they saw three Danish troops taken captive, but the British military denied that account. Six Danish soldiers were wounded in the attack, one of whom later died, the statement said.

As Danish troops prepare to leave, Japan's gearing up to increase their role. Meanwhile, British troops hold secret talks. Polly notes Damien McElroy's "British 'hold talks with Sunni rebel leaders" (Telegraph of London):

British military officers have held secret talks with leaders of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, according to the country's president.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, President Jalal Talabani said British officers played a key role in talks between his government and insurgent groups over reducing the sectarian violence that has torn the country apart.
The parties were now on the verge of an historic breakthrough after the negotiations showed "good signals" of success, he said.

Polly notes that the link contains both audio and text and reminds everyone to check inboxes for Hilda's Mix this morning.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.