Archive for July, 2007

Weekend humor: Faux Fox News Report

July 28, 2007

San Diego: Students and parents opposed to new JROTC program

July 27, 2007

From the Union Tribune (quotes from students, activists and parents are at the end of the piece):

SAN DIEGO – Critics of war and the military yesterday denounced a proposed Marine Corps Junior ROTC program for Mission Bay High School as a recruitment tool aimed at low-income minority students. Some parents and school officials touted it as a leadership development program.

The Marine Corps Junior ROTC would be the only one in the San Diego Unified School District, the state’s second largest. The district has 11 other Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps affiliated with the Navy, the Air Force and Army.

A school board majority indicated yesterday that it would support the program, which requires $65,500 in district funding. Marine Corps Junior ROTC headquarters in Quantico, Va., has committed $125,000 to defray start-up costs, such as uniforms and supplies.

A final vote on district funding for the program won’t take place until next month. Trustee John De Beck said he wouldn’t support the program, saying the 2007-08 budget, which tentatively included funding for Junior ROTC, was developed without sufficient community input.


Mixed Signals: excellent graphic booklet for counter-recruiters

July 26, 2007

Next Left Notes, a project of the new SDS, published a beautiful 16-page counter-recruiting comic by Sabrina Jones entitled “Mixed Signals” earlier this year, and I just found it online here. It raises important points about discrimination, disempowerment, sexism, and racism in the military and aims to dissuade prospective recruits from signing their lives away.

I put together a PDF version that you can print out and distribute – in schools, malls, wherever. Maybe leave a little stack hidden in your local military recruiter’s office?

Download Mixed Signals PDF (14 MB). Preview the pamphlet below.


Here are some notes on the comic book:

Mixed Signals – a counter-recruitment tool in comic book form -is now available for use in activism, outreach, counseling, education, starting conversations and saving lives.
16 pages, black & white. Suggested donation: $2 per copy.
To Order Copies: Contact with your address and how you’ll use them.
If you are a no-budget group – we can send you some free copies, otherwise, please contribute what you can to keep this thing rolling. We’re hoping to raise funds to print it with color covers (any leads?) but for now, let’s get the message out!
If you have access to a good quality copier, you can order one copy, remove the staples, and make your own multiples.
Mixed Signals is ©Sabrina Jones 2006.
Permission to reproduce is granted for non-commercial use.

Florida: Army and Air Force vehicles egged, slashed

July 26, 2007

From Northwest Florida Daily News:

A vandal egged and slashed the tires of the U.S. Army and Air Force recruitment vehicles that were parked at the recruitment station.

There are no suspects. The case is now inactive.

The government vehicles were fine on July 20. But on July 23, it was noticed that both vehicles had a flat tire and both were covered with eggs.

A combined damage of $300 was done to both vehicles.

“Debunking the Military Debunkers” – most recruits poor and underprivileged

July 26, 2007

By Ted Rall, from Yahoo:

SAN DIEGO–“The typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is,” claimed the authors of an oft-cited 2005 “comprehensive study” of the U.S. military commissioned by the Heritage Foundation.

Two years later, right-wingers trot out the Heritage troop survey as evidence that America is sending its best and brightest, rather than its down and out, to win Afghan and Iraqi hearts and minds. The GOP blog Newsbusters used it to rebut Rosie O’Donnell‘s statement that most recruits enlist in the army to get an education: “Of course, facts don’t matter to Rosie O’Donnell.” But are these “facts” true?

The key word here is “volunteers,” which here means “new recruits.” A new CBO study released this July states: “Because black personnel have been a larger share of recruits in the past and because they have relatively high retention rates, however, they account for a larger share of the active enlisted force as a whole: 19 percent, compared with 14 percent of the civilian population of 17- to 49- year-olds. Black service members make up a smaller percentage of the active officer corps: 9 percent.”

You’re more than 35 percent more likely to be in the military if you’re black than if you’re white. But you’re 35 percent less likely to become an officer. Ignore the propaganda–the military is a reflection of, rather than a cure for, racism.

With Afghanistan joining Iraq as a war considered an unwinnable mistake in the minds of the public, military recruiters are being forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel.


Surveillance cameras proposed to hold recruiters accountable

July 26, 2007

Go to their page for the video report, and see Osman’s original expose on recruiter lies here.

From CBS 3 in Philadelphia:

A CBS 3 I-Team investigation prompted action by the U.S. Senate. The I-Team’s hidden camera report earlier this year showed military recruiters misleading young recruits.

Investigative Reporter Jim Osman has a follow up on the story.

Surveillance video has long been used to spot criminal activity or to document police conduct.

But now the government may use surveillance cameras to hold military recruiters accountable.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey supports a congressional committee proposal to put surveillance cameras inside military recruiting stations to monitor activities of recruiters.

Senator Casey told Jim Osman during an interview in Washington, D.C., “If it takes cameras or tough tactics to investigate these people then we should do that.”

Casey said the pressure put on recruiters to enlist new soldiers to send off to places like Iraq shouldn’t be a scapegoat for deception or abuse.

The Senator said, “There’s no excuse for this, a lot of people have pressure in their lives people in the military deal with pressure all the time and the overwhelming majority handle that pressure appropriately.”

What caught the attention of the U.S. Senate was our CBS 3 I-Team undercover investigation which exposed recruiters who were stretching the rules and the truth to get our undercover producer to sign up for military service.

Half of the military recruiters our producer spoke to misled him or tried to bend the rules.

And a common refrain: being a soldier in Iraq was as dangerous as everyday life. Statistics show that is false.


Letters in response to Seattle Times editorial attacking YAWR

July 24, 2007

From the Seattle Times, in response to this editorial:

Editor, The Times:

The Times (intentionally?) misses the point entirely regarding protests of Seattle School Board inaction on military recruiting in the Seattle Public Schools [“Level recruiting field for all,” editorial, July 15].

What the “activists” are proposing is precisely what The Times recommends: that military recruiters be restricted so they receive no special treatment, but instead are treated like any other career option or recruiting — instead of receiving virtually unrestricted access to students at any time of day or school day, as they currently do.

While there is no question that students, activists, YAWR (Youth Against War and Racism) would like the recruiters out entirely, what they have proposed is eminently reasonable: recruiting fairs two times a year, just like all the corporate recruiters.

In your haste to push your apparent agenda (“This page would like to see an end to the war. But this is a separate issue and should not be confused with allowing student access to a full array of career options, including the armed forces”), you are apparently (intentionally?) missing the whole point of the protests, and that is not to eliminate armed forces recruiting, but to put them on a level basis with everyone else instead of enjoying special access.

— Don Schlosser, Seattle

Signs of poor potential

The Times calls for “a level playing field” permitting military recruiters access to high schools. Are you serious? Well-off children go to college and graduate school. Some work for Microsoft, or hang out in South America for a while, finding themselves. How much time do recruiters spend at Mercer Island High School?

No, they recruit the poor kids. Is that a level playing field?

— Richard Rapport, Seattle

Your mother wears Army down

“The Mommy Factor,” it is called by the army recruiters who are not making their quotas. They are blaming the parents of recent high-school grads for talking them out of enlisting. Good for the parents. And even better for the high-school grads.

Remember that poster from the ’60s? “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.”

— Eric Kowalczyk, Seattle

Gold star for effort

Congratulations for editorially supporting the moral and legal right of military recruiters to have access to high-school students equal to other recruiters.

The military services perform a vital function for this nation. They are on all oceans, continents and more than 60 countries besides Iraq. They will still be required when the war in Iraq has faded into history.

As a somewhat aimless but patriotic high-school graduate, I enlisted in the U.S. Army to begin a 22-year career, including two wars in the infantry that I challenge any protester to match for service to humanity and this country.

Now comfortably retired, I consider my military career the most rewarding and fulfilling in my 78 years. The odds of achieving the same education, great responsibility while still young and a chance to directly influence history in any other career was incredibly unlikely.

Activists opposing military recruiting in high school as a way of protesting the war in Iraq are beneath contempt. It is a disservice to the country, the school and most of all to the student with the necessary qualifications and interest in military service.

— Ed Davis, Issaquah

Lufkin, Texas: Military recruiters’ vehicles dented, scratched, and damaged

July 24, 2007

This is funny – multiple military recruiters’ cars have been shot at with pellet guns, dented, hit with rocks and scratched over a period of weeks, but recruiters say it’s got nothing to do with what they do for a living. They say the latest act of destruction is an “isolated incident.” Who do they think they’re kidding?

Property destruction and other forms of direct action against military recruiters can be a critical factor in effective counter-recruiting – remember the recruiter commander literally begging anarchists in Kansas to set aside their militant tactics? Though there’s considerable risk involved, this is another area where youth have been leading the resistance against recruiters in their communities.

From the Lufkin Daily News:

Houston-based military spokesmen say a recent rash of vandalism of Lufkin recruiters’ vehicles is an isolated incident.

On Monday, a fourth report of vandalism was made to Lufkin police. The windshield of a U.S. Army recruiter’s vehicle was broken and the hood dented with some type of blunt object in the Lufkin Mall parking lot, a report stated.

“It was probably done by some kids. We don’t view it as an outlash toward the military at all,” said Lt. Kris Brazil, a public spokesman for the U.S. Navy recruiting district in Houston.

A spokesman for the Army recruiting battalion in Houston echoed Brazil’s reasoning.

“It’s probably someone with too much time on their hands, and thought (the car) was a target of opportunity,” said Jay Thompson, a public officer specialist for the Houston Army recruiting battalion.

The reports of vandalism first appeared June 27 after a U.S. Army recruiter’s vehicle was keyed in the Lufkin Mall parking lot, off South Medford Drive, a police report stated.

The following week, on July 3, two recruiters’ cars, one for the U.S. Army and and the other belonging to the Navy, were vandalized. Someone shot a Navy recruiter’s car several times with what appeared to be a high-powered pellet gun, the report stated. It was also scratched several times from thrown rocks, and two hubcaps were missing. A window on the Army recruiter’s car was broken, the report stated.

The vandalism has mostly occurred at night, said Lt. David Young, a Lufkin police spokesman.

“We sure would like to catch them,” he said.


Army specialist speaks out on sexual abuse by recruiters

July 24, 2007

mil_recruit07-17-2007b1.jpgFrom Alternet, by Aimee Allison:

A typical poster in the new Army Strong campaign shows three soldiers in full battle gear, faces grim and determined. The middle soldier is a woman.

More money than ever is being spent to convince girls to join the military. I was one of them. The promise of school tuition and job training was attractive to me at the time, but it was just a small part of what it meant to enlist in “this man’s army.”

To girls seeking a future, recruiters present themselves as a father/friend/guide. But as I, and many other girls discover, these confidants cannot be trusted. Girls become victims of sexual assault at the hands of recruiters even before they take their military oath of allegiance.

But this isn’t a story about a few unlucky recruits and a couple of sickos in an otherwise healthy recruitment process. There is a deeper problem of widespread abuse and a system that protects the criminals.


Oregon: AWOL GIs face difficulties fleeing to Canada

July 23, 2007

Great article by Mark Larabee in the Oregonian:

James Burmeister worked at Wal-Mart and in pizza joints in Eugene until he joined the U.S. Army 18 months ago because he wanted to make a difference.

His recruiter told him a tour in Iraq would give him the opportunity to build schools and support war-weary Iraqis, so against the advice of his parents, he signed up.

But once in Iraq, he was assigned to a “small kill” team that set traps for insurgents. They’d place a fake camera on a pole with a sign labeling it as U.S. property, giving the team the right to shoot anyone who messed with it. Burmeister, who provided perimeter security for the team, said he could never get over his distaste for the tactic.

After being wounded by a roadside bomb, he was sent to Germany to recover. In May, on the eve of being sent back to Iraq, Pfc. Burmeister went AWOL — absent without leave — taking his family to Ottawa.

The 22-year-old Oregon native is one of about three dozen U.S. soldiers who’ve applied to Canada for refugee status under the Geneva Conventions. Thousands have deserted since the war began, and many are believed to be living illegally in Canada, officials there said.