Notice how I didn’t spoil it by titling the post ‘weekend humor.’
Archive for September, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale Law School will end its policy of not working with military recruiters after a court ruling this week jeopardized about $300 million in federal funding, officials said Wednesday.
Yale and other universities have objected to the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allows gay men and women to serve in the military only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Yale on Monday, rejecting its argument that its right to academic freedom was infringed by a federal law that says universities must give the military the same access as other job recruiters or forfeit federal money.
“The fact is we have been forced under enormous pressure to acquiescence in a policy that we believe is deeply offensive and harmful to our students,” said Robert Burt, a Yale law professor who was lead plaintiff in the case.
Most Manatee County School Board members, under the advocacy of Superintendent Roger Dearing, are unwilling to distribute “Opt Out From the Military Recruiters” forms to students when high schools open on Monday.
Coalition of Concerned Patriots members have appeared monthly for three years at meetings, pointing out the need for making opt-out forms available to students.
Why? The No Child Left Behind Act requires that the names, addresses and phone numbers of all high school students be turned over to military recruiters, unless their parents/guardians tell schools, in writing, that they’re opting out. Collier, Lee and Pinellas counties distribute opt-out forms. Manatee and Sarasota counties continue to drag their feet.
Our coalition invites people to become involved so students’ personal information is not automatically given to the military. This will happen unless an opt-out form is submitted in writing to the appropriate high school principal by Sept. 15.
A sample letter is at www.manatee.k12.fl.us under “Hot topics” but it is not a form that can be downloaded and completed. Dearing and a School Board majority made it clear at the board’s meeting Thursday that no form will be distributed when schools open.
For many students badgered by recruiters, this could be a life and death issue if they’re deployed for war. Without the opt-out form, consequences may be dire. It’s time for the Manatee County School Board to distribute the forms. Let Dearing and the School Board know. Call 708-8770!
The writer is co-chairman of the Coalition of Concerned Patriots. He resides in Bradenton.
With military recruitment a constant struggle, the U.S. Army is coming up with a new way to come up with bodies: it is going to build them. This week, the Army begins a “drive-off” to see what contractor is going to provide up to 1,000 bomb-clearing robots by year’s end, with a possible follow-up order for 2,000 more. The requirement is for a remote-controlled, wireless robot that weighs 50 pounds or less “to be used for Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection and identification,” according to the Pentagon’s solicitation.
IEDs have killed 48.5% of the 3,270 U.S. troops killed in action in Iraq. Finding — and disarming — such roadside bombs before they detonate is one way to curb such bloodshed. “You send out a robot to interrogate these things to see if it is, in fact, a roadside bomb or if it’s just trash,” Army Colonel John Castles of the 82nd Airborne’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team said from Iraq last week. “They’re a huge benefit to what we’re trying to do.”
This is an “urgent” requirement, the military notes, and so there won’t be any of those lengthy development phases common to military hardware. In fact, the Army wants the first pair of robots delivered within 10 days of the contract award, expected to happen Sept. 14. This week, several contenders are putting their machines through the paces, running them over and around rocks, through rough terrain and water, and ensuring that the robots can peer into, and under, vehicles — and then let its human operator know what it has found.
The need is so pressing that the Pentagon is eliminating many of the hoops suppliers usually have to jump through. This time around, instead of filling in forms and submitting paperwork to qualify as a bidder, those interested in participating merely have to register at this week’s competition to qualify. Among the front-runners is iRobot, the same Massachusetts-based company that makes the Roomba vacuum cleaner.
The city should channel teenagers into jobs but not at U.S. Army recruiting stations.
Yet that’s what happened this summer. Fourteen youths were assigned to work at an Army recruiting station through a Queens nonprofit organization participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) administers the program.
Fourteen is a drop out of the thousands of jobs that tax-payer dollars support. But the assignment is troublesome. These are impressionable youths working in centers geared precisely at convincing and enlisting young people. It is doubly troubling in light of the social context driving the latest aggressive push in military recruiting, namely the bloody and deeply unpopular war in Iraq.
In minority neighborhoods, Army recruiters have opened storefront “career centers.” They draw kids to recruitment booths at street festivals by giving away trinkets and blaring Hip Hop. The intrusive recruitment activities at high schools, especially where kids are lagging academically, have been documented by El Diario/la prensa and others. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the Army has access to student information.
Intensified recruiting to meet enlistment quotas has included misleading information. Last fall, CNN showed how New York recruiters were downplaying the possibility of being sent to a battlefront.
With more than 150 New Yorkers dying in Iraq, our city and state have already carried a heavy burden. We’re still reeling from losing baby-faced soldiers like Juan Alcantara, the 22-year-old Washington Heights resident killed in Iraq earlier this month.
DYCD and contracted organizations should refrain from bringing kids a step closer to military service as a condition of their city-funded and assigned summer job.
Since around 4 p.m. on Sept. 4, I haven’t eaten anything in protest of the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment in Pittsburgh. Here on day nine, I’m not feeling super up to writing anything. But Richard Brown’s column “Forbes Ave. demonstrators apathetic” has inspired me.
First, I think it’s really important to make sure we’re all on the same page as far as what is happening on Forbes Avenue. Brown seems to have read our website, seen if not read our flyer and even been down to the site itself, and yet he doesn’t make any indication at all that he knows that our event is a fast. That is, we’re sitting outside the recruiting station for the month of September, and during that month some of us are not eating. Regardless of what you think of it, let’s just make sure that this fact is clear.
That said, I’m not even sure if the bizarre apathy charge being leveled at us really needs to be addressed. Indeed, many times we don’t bother holding signs and just sit on the sidewalk. That’s because many of us have to work, go to school or have other obligations and can’t be there very often. And those of us who are focusing on the fast this month are tired.
Indeed, the point of a fast isn’t to be enthusiastic. We’re not fasting to get people pumped up for social change. We’re fasting and maintaining a camp because we want to draw attention to the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment. We’re not fasting because we think that if we don’t eat any food the war will suddenly end. We believe that by fasting and drawing attention to the war we can help put pressure on Congress to end it.
Congress has not tried to end the war. Rather than passing the war funding bills that Bush wants, the Democrats could just refuse to pass any funding bill. It’s also important to remember that the Republicans are trying to decide right now how the war will affect them in the coming election; showing them dissent puts pressure on them, too. After a while in his column, Brown gets to criticize our goals. He disagrees with immediate withdrawal because he believes that if you keep throwing bullets, bombs and money at a civil war, it will somehow abate.
I believe that if there were fewer holes being put in Iraqi homes and bodies, and less interference in its political affairs, Iraqis might be able to solve their own problems without dealing with ours. Some of Brown’s problems with our anti-military recruitment stance are old, and some are exclusive to him.
Never do we say that joining the military is a violation of our rights as Americans. We do say that when you sign that contract, you have no rights. It also sounds like Richard thinks that if new recruits don’t sign up, old ones don’t get out. That’s only half right; a lot of the old ones don’t get out easily (unless they are injured, then they are gone pretty quick).
As for the other problems with counter-recruitment: What other “job” can you spend years in prison for playing hooky, disobeying your boss or even disagreeing with your boss too strongly? And do you understand that many people who sign up for the army do so because they don’t feel they have any other options (this almost happened with me). And even for those who do join solely because they want to serve their country, how is Iraq serving us?
How is this multi-trillion dollar war going to help the people of this country? The only people this war is serving are power hungry politicians and huge corporations making a killing on “defense” contracts and the newly opened market of Iraq. As far as “honks for peace” goes, people in Oakland can hear them, and they sure as hell can stop this war. They just need to realize it and make it happen.
Power to the people.
Pittsburgh Organizing Group
A company contracted by the US Government has been recruiting ex-military men and former police officers to serve in war-torn Iraq.
The Standard has established that Sentry Security of East Africa Limited, a liaison company for Sentry Security of East Africa, USA, is targeting to take some 800 Kenyans to serve in Iraq.
The first batch of ex-army soldiers and former police officers with clean service records is expected to leave the country sometime this month, according to sources privy to the exercise.
The recruitment of the former security personnel, aged between 30 and 50, has been going on across the country for the past two months.