Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just to make things clear...I am in support of









In solidarity!!! We should have his back.


Some have said that burning a flag is an aggressive act of war, I agree, By supporting resistance to these wars and the conduct of the US government we are fighting a form of social war on them, not a war with arms, we are putting ourselves in an adversarial position to them and true we do not all agree one each others chosen methods of bringing change but are we going to require every member to police themselves and tame her or his passion just because some it might be seen as bad, there are plenty of active duty soldiers and veterans who are supportive of burning the flag and there are those very against it, We can only speak for ourselves when we are out in public.
I went to jail for refusing to deploy to Iraq after more than 7 years in the military because I finally realized that to separate thought and verbal support from acts, what you actually do is essentially hypocrisy...if you feel something is right, do it, dont talk about supporting the action (Im not talking about supporting ones right to do it Im talking about supporting the act) and to say that one of us can represent all of us is ridiculous. As long as someone's actions are for ending these wars and dont cause death are serious injury. I support those actions. But that is just me not everyone in this organization, Its not just Matthis, here are more vets out there who support the act of burning the flag, and have burnt flags before (I have myself). If a member is getting threats like Matthis (I dont know about Robyn or Elaine) we should have their back, because there were just expressing their views as free human beings. Personally I think flags are symbols of divisions and pain and yes, "flag burning is cool", Break that which breaks you! In solidarity with Matthis!
Carl Davison

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ok, so I'm gonna start putting more than just anti war stuff here on my blog...Who knows what I'll put up, stuff on San Francisco, music, art or whatever the hell I find interesting...I never intended this to be a fully political blog but it has gotten that way. Peace, Geese and Chicken grease!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some of us on March 21st 2009 in San Francisco

Im the second one to speak (the one in a Marine digital top)

Friday, March 20, 2009

ONE SECOND, ONE LIFE -We will NEVER forget them. March 19th 2009. San Francisco







(Above-L-R: Pete, Me, Muhammad, Matt and Jordan )













Saturday, March 14, 2009

Im ranting again but it's serious....because no one gets it and its hard to explain





Respect, Purpose and Positivity are core issues.
Why in the hell have the news agencies been referring to the epidemic of veteran suicides as "breaking news", its not like it was a hidden secret.
And when the Army stops training for a day or so and makes a point to have a whole day of "safety" classes they are called "check the box classes" by the troops because they know that they dont do shit but protect officers careers!..its the same way in almost every branch. The Pentagon sees suicide as a investment loss, a public relations problem, a possible problem to combat effectiveness or a fucking liability. They give these classes so they can say they care and feel for you even from all the way up there at the top, when really its the combat, it's the negativity, it's the alcohol, it's the lack of purpose, it's the fucking psycho-tropic narcotics they hand out like candy to service members, And no one comes to the obvious conclusion that Sgt so n so repeatedly took a fucking box cutter to his wrists (really happened to a soldier I knew) because He's a human fucking being! and can only take so much crap in a world where your importance in life is defined by your ability to accomplish a vague undefined mission that you don't believe in, and your life is largely unstructured other than by a suggested career plan and you really didn't have many options other than the military in the first place did you?, AND NO ONE GETS IT!
It doesnt matter what policies the VA or Army implements, we must take care of the root causes because for some people, in the military, over time all sorts of negative shit just starts building up sitting in your brain like grime in the pipes, but your brain isnt a freakin garbage disposal its a sensitive filter, and the drugs they give you is like pouring a bucket of sand in the sink, AND EVERY SOLDIER THAT GOES TO THE HEAD DOCTOR INHERENTLY KNOWS THAT WHEN THEY ARE SO GUNG-HO TO JUST THROW DRUGS AT YOU (as oppose to really fix what is wrong), IT IS A BIG 'FUCK YOU' FROM YOUR COUNTRY, And a reminder that it is national service, you are SERVING, literally, and your an expendable tool with a low market value (which is based on your training costs, no really!) And you know for a fact that in all actuality that your country values the lives of inanimate machines like Apache helicopters more than you because it only cost so much $$ to train and house and there a dumb ass 18 year old kid from somewhere in the U.S. to take your spot after you die, what would you do if you had to live like us!

And for every service who might read this, I attempted suicide while in the Army at Ft. Gordon Ga, and was about to again at Ft. Hood but my friends were there for me and Ive seen alot of people go threw the same thing, it's a temporary mindset and it will get better...remember that no matter how much you may hate the Army or Marine Corps, you'll be out one day and in the meantime there is always another Soldier or Marine who is there for you talk you should talk too who understands that your going threw hard times and may need help.

- End the culture of drinking in the military.
- End DOD ties to Pharmaceutical companies.
- Ensure mental health care facilities are adequately staffed with caring people.
- If you are a mental health worker or a chaplain remember its not your job to make sure a service member acts tough and stays disciplined, so dont try to act hard!!!
- If a service member shows signs of depression, keep him or her busy enough while on the job and around friends and away from drugs and alcohol so he or she wont be idle for long periods.
- Have a family environment within your military friends and co workers, based on human compassion not a moto mission related mentality, no one is alone, we are all going threw this.

- Everyone needs to start to take this seriously, and understand that policy changes and 'check the box' classes wont save Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors, Guardsmen and Veterans from this.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ok, I got alot of issues with libertarians and I don't support elected officials or the cult of personality of Ron Paul, but this speech he recently gave to congress is spot on, he makes many good points that most people arn't hearing or getting if they do hear them.

Anarchy is
Uploaded by khydraa

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A song about Staff Sergeant Cimilo Mejia.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You can't clean up the world when your faucet is a barrel !

What I Believe

I believe "people should not fear their governments, governments should fear their people".

I believe governments dont change thing for the better, people do.

I believe in "the right to keep and bear arms" and the right of self determination of the people.

I believe "all men (and women) were created equal", but we divide ourselves into tribes and classes. the rich, dominant and powerful upper class feeds off of the poor and vulnerable working class, and there are just enough people in between these two classes who are fat and happy enough to not notice or care, they are used as a blind buffer by the elite.

I believe the people who work at a place should say how it is ran, not the managers, executives and owners who gain money and power off of the labor of the workers, and out of the workers leaders should be chosen by consensus.

I believe people and communities can manage their own affairs, without paid professional elected officials who are separated from the community.

I believe the root cause for the majority of crimes are: A. economic hardship, B. consumer culture (affluenza) and C. a culture that teaches that everything is up for grabs. so take what you can get as long as you dont get caught.

I believe private property that controls the means of production of natural resources (such as oil companies) and private property which depends on the labor of other humans (a business) is theft.

I believe that problems with governments aren't due to this or that administration, ism, leader or country. It is hierarchy and the systematic exercise of control that the problem. All governments are inherently based on force and violence.

I believe that nations are made up of imaginary lines, and are divisions to a peaceful and unified world, and they should cease to exist.

I believe in my country (people in a certain geographical area), not my nation.

I believe religions are used as divisions and cause humans to undermine their own power,beauty and faith in themselves. But I do not believe in banning or persecuting the them.

I believe in one world with no nations, but not one world government.

I believe we are all citizens of one Earth.

I believe in redistribution of wealth not just locally but internationally; and that the current upper class of wealth is caused by an unnatural and unequal system.

I believe its much more complicated than that.

I believe those who fight in war on both sides have more in common with each other than they do with the leaders who sent them. "When the rich go to war it's the poor who die".

I believe a two party system (i.e. democrat and republican) is an oligarchy not a democracy.

I believe honor courage and commitment are values of all of mankind, not the military.

I believe that when you are given a small number of national leaders to choose from, it is not "government by the people", who said we wanted those options.

I believe corporations and corporate media are the 4th branch of the US government, and the 5th estate needs to create the 5th column and overthrow the 1st, 2nd and 4th estates. (confused? google 5th estate)

I believe in a day where "the last shall be first and the first shall be last"

I believe you cant clean up the world when your faucet is a barrel.


You can call me an anarchist, you can call me a socialist, just dont call me late for dinner

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

On Direct GI Resistance/ My Statement of Intent


The logic of direct GI resistance is simple; To withhold your labor from something you think is morally wrong, simply saying, I have chosen not participate in something that is at odds with my values and I will tell the military this face to face with pride and dignity so others can learn from my example.
It is different than indirect GI resistance such as desertion in that the servicemember takes a direct stand and does not avoid confrontation with the institution which opposes his moral code but welcomes this confrontation as a means to fight silence among the ranks. Some resisters such as Steve Yoczik and myself declared statements of our intentions to present to our chain of command.


My statement of intent
______________________________________________________________


To: McKean, D. Scott, LTC, 1-66 AR, 1 BDE, 4ID

Feb, 25, 2008

I, SPC. Carl John Davison, HHC, 1-66 AR, 1 BDE, 4ID, under the burden of conscience and with strong resolve must inform you that when facing a dilemma between my sense of what is right and decent and the demands of my chosen profession, I have, after years of fighting myself over this issue, chosen the former, and in doing so choose to disassociate myself with modern warfare and any institution in support of it.

I understand that in a disciplined military force conduct such as this can not and will not be tolerated, because it is important to maintain order and discipline. I also understand that we in the U.S. military are in no position to question the validity of the orders we are given by congress or the executive office, and that we all swore oaths to obey all orders of the President of the United States and the orders of all officers appointed over us.

Under the principle of civil disobedience (which states that if a law or rule conflicts with a higher moral law it is morally acceptable to break it as long as you face the consequences of your actions out of respect to that higher law and out of respect to the offended parties, in this case the U.S. Army and U.S. Government), I uncontestedly accept any and all punishments given to me under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for refusing to deploy to Iraq, I will soon submit a request for a consciences objection discharge 1-0, under Army Regulation 600-43, and Department of Defense Directive 1300.6 which is a chapter 5 discharge.

I am applying the principle of civil disobedience to hopefully contrast myself with those who are not acting on principles and those who prefer to run to Canada, unlike them I prefer to stand my ground and face any consequences.

In my actions I mean no disrespect to the soldiers and marines who sacrifice everyday on the orders of those in Washington D.C., who (most of which) have never served or fought and yet they send others to do so.

My beliefs on the evils of governments and war are not new, I've held these views since I subscribed to the Tolstoyian Christian-Anarchist ideologies before I joined the military in January, 2001, but I have purposely suppressed my views that governments are inherently based on violence and that warfare in general is brutal, against the natural laws of God and humanity and it undermines human dignity and divinity and any search for a more peaceful alternative. I mainly suppressed my views for some in my family who would find them intolerable, but this I can no longer do.

I am by no means trying to insult anyone else's beliefs, which come from their own knowledge, experiences and dictates of conscience, I am only trying to declare my libertarian-pacifistic views and what I must do.

(signed)
SPC. Carl John Davison
______________________________________________________

And just as I expected, not long after presenting this to my whole chain of command and refusing to go on not just one but several flights going to Iraq, I was fined, demoted, incarcerated and then discharged in September. I stood confident in the fact that I was not alone, many other GIs before me starting with Stephen Funk and then Camilo Mejia have taken the same stand and countless before us against the unjust war in Vietnam. We posed a simple question, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Adam Kokesh - Revolutionary Patriot: Hofstra Update - Police State Out of Control, Out of Touch With Reality, and Out of Excuses

 Click link here: Adam Kokesh - Revolutionary Patriot: Hofstra Update

Police still trying to justify outrageous conduct at the presidential debates where Sgt. Nick Morgan got his cheek bone crushed in after a police horse stepped on him.

The Ballad of Sgt. Marc Guzman - PT I


 Below is an article of the beginning of the story of Sgt. Marc Guzman , a soldier who has served over a decade in the United States Army, note the story below is dated 2004. Well, Sgt. Guzman is still in the army, now in 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, even though it is years past the date that he was supposed to get out of the army (ETS/EAS), the army continues to hold him; No, he's not stop lossed, they are just keeping him with no explanation and no notification of when they will allow him to leave, and if he just takes off they will count him as AWOL, but hell a few years back he went on a deployment to Iraq without complaints, so why in the hell are they still holding him?
   Sgt. Guzman is a good friend of mine and before you start making any judgement calls, he is by no means a "shit bird", as a matter of fact when I left Ft.Hood in September of 2008, he was the Brigades, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) representative and a key element in 1st brigades quartermaster operations and his staff NCO at the time can be quoted as saying "I wish I had a hundred more soldiers like him", Note: This article is just the beginning. You gotta give Gen. Taguba one thing he really knows how to screw thing up like only a General can. Can you say A-S-S-H-O-L-E-S, Sir.
________________________________
Taguba’s revenge?

Sacramento Sgt. Marc Guzman accuses the Iraq-prison-scandal hero of threatening soldiers
11/25/2004


By Michael Pulley

Just a month after 18 South Carolina reservists made national news by refusing to deliver fuel to U.S. bases in
 Iraq, allegations are surfacing from another group of soldiers who say their safety and training concerns were met with derision and threats from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. Ironically, the event in question happened shortly
 after Taguba became a hero for his investigation into Abu Ghraib, during which he told Congress that a key problem contributing to the scandal was the prison guards’ lack of training.
In this case, the accusers are nine members of a military performance group with the Army Entertainment Division. Among them is Marc A. Guzman, an enlisted sergeant and Sacramento native who was officially reprimanded by Taguba after he chose to serve as the unofficial spokesman for the group.
Two weeks after Taguba’s congressional testimony, the major general was back in Kuwait, where he encountered Guzman’s group, USA Express, which performs Top-40 hits for military soldiers at bases throughout the world. Taguba wanted them to play gigs for soldiers fighting in Iraq. After consulting with the rest of the group, Guzman presented Taguba with their concerns.

In statements filed in an Army inspector general’s investigation, the nine Army musicians claim Taguba overreacted with demoralizing comments and threatened them with combat duty after they raised legitimate concerns about a lack of proper training and safety during a May 24 meeting.

Taguba declined to comment on the allegations by the Army musicians, and military officials disputed at least some of the allegations made by the group.As punishment for speaking out on behalf of his group, Guzman was shipped by Taguba back to the states, where he was reassigned to a former position of intelligence analyst for the Joint Language Training Facility at Maryland’s Fort Meade. But the sergeant from Sacramento received orders in September to report for duty this week to a Louisiana-based National Guard infantry unit.

The infantry unit is currently training at Fort Hood, Texas, in preparation for Iraq deployment.


Sacramento’s Marc Guzman believes Taguba is ordering him to Iraq for speaking on behalf of his fellow soldiers.
Courtesy Of Marc Guzman

The 32-year-old sergeant claims that Taguba is behind the reassignment and is making good on threats he made against the musicians in Kuwait.

According to Guzman, Taguba “said he had our Social Security numbers and said he could bring us back to Iraq any time he felt like it.”

Dov Schwartz, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to address allegations against Taguba, saying the military does not comment on personnel issues or investigations. But another military official disputed the claim that the musicians were not given proper training. Jack Gillund, a spokesman for the Army Entertainment Division, noted that members of USA Express were given a printed itinerary before they left the states that showed them performing at several locations inside Iraq. He said one of the requirements for selection to an Army performance group is that soldiers have received training to tour “remote installations in isolated combat contingency areas.”

However, Gillund acknowledged that the incident involving Taguba and USA Express has prompted officials in the Army Entertainment Division to propose higher training levels for future soldiers sent to perform in combat zones. Army performers do have less training than soldiers sent to fight in combat situations, Gillund said. But he insisted that Army leaders took precautions by providing the performers with a security detail when it traveled within Iraq.

“They are not going in as typical soldiers,” said Gillund. The Army spokesman said the military performers’ demands for more training would be comparable to country singer Toby Keith saying he needed combat training before he could perform for troops in Iraq.

Members of USA Express claimed the security detail they were provided was not adequate. They also said they needed additional training because they became military targets when traveling throughout the war zone in combat fatigues.

“We needed to know how to react if we got attacked,” said Jennifer McMahon, a staff sergeant who was a singer in the group. McMahon said some members of the group had never served in any combat-related positions, had little experience with the M-16 rifles that were issued for protection and had not been taught basic essentials about “rules of engagement” and terrorist threats. One band member even was allowed to leave the states without proper vaccinations, according to McMahon. Other members of the band said the itinerary in question was frequently changed and that their commanders told them it was never certain whether the group would perform in Iraq.

Even Guzman’s current commander at Fort Meade spoke out in defense of the Army musicians, saying in a written response to a reporter’s questions that members of USA Express should have received the same higher-level combat training as other soldiers. “While I understand the soldiers are playing in a [band], they are soldiers first and playing in uniform,” wrote Capt. Michelle Griffith. “They are not non-combatants.” Griffith also heaped high praises on Guzman, calling him “an outstanding soldier.”


Six-string sergeant: Marc Guzman, who was disciplined for raising security concerns for his bandmates, is described by his current commander as “an outstanding soldier” who will “stand up for what is right.”

“I have no doubt that it is in his nature to look out [for the] best interest of his fellow soldiers and stand up for what is right,” she wrote. “SGT Guzman has conducted himself as a constant professional and true nco [non-commissioned officer].”

USA Express was formed at Fort Belvoir near Alexandria, Va., and left the states on a worldwide tour in early 2004. The band performed for troops in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Alaska; and Korea before landing at Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan in May, not long after insurgent attacks against U.S. soldiers escalated. The Army musicians initially were told by their commanders in the Army Entertainment Division that they would not perform in Iraq because such a mission was considered “high risk,” according to Griffith.

But after performing for troops in Kuwait, band members were asked if they would be interested in performing in Iraq, and the request apparently came down the chain of command from Taguba, Griffith said. Guzman and other members say the band talked over the request and reached a consensus that it did not want to perform because of the concerns over training and safety. On May 24, about three days after the group received the request and began raising safety and training concerns, Taguba showed up with a military entourage for a hastily called meeting in one of the tents where the group was housed. The major general, second in command at the time of the 3rd Army’s Coalition Forces Land Component Command, wanted to know about the group’s concerns.

Guzman said he stood up at parade rest and respectfully told the general, “Sir, we’re ill-prepared.” Taguba responded to that simple statement with a tirade of abusive comments, according to Guzman and others members of USA Express. Several of the soldiers characterized Taguba’s comments as demoralizing and threatening. All nine musicians wrote sworn statements supporting Guzman’s account of the incident and accused Taguba of overreacting and misconstruing the group’s concerns. McMahon said the written statements were given to the group’s commanders in the Army Entertainment Division, and Guzman said he filed all of the statements in protest with the Army’s inspector general’s office.

McMahon wrote that Taguba “made statements such as ‘you all are soldiers, not entertainers,’ and ‘if you don’t want to be soldiers and go to Iraq, you can play for the prisoners in the jail down the road.’ These statements were demoralizing to our group because we never said that we wouldn’t go to Iraq.”

Spc. Rechell Sears, another member of the group, wrote that Taguba made derisive statements such as “Do you think … you are going to be on American Idol or Star Search?” “We were disrespected, misinterpreted [and] threatened” by Taguba, wrote Sgt. Charles J. Lier, another band member, in his statement.

The group said Taguba offered to alleviate their safety concerns by showing them a brief training video and sending them to a firing range for a single target-practice session. When Guzman suggested such a move would not be enough to make up for the lack of necessary combat training, the major general ordered the sergeant to pack his bags and leave the tent. Three days later, Taguba issued an official reprimand of Guzman, saying he “lacked professionalism” and that his “conduct had a decidedly negative impact on the morale and attitude” of other USA Express band members. Guzman was yanked out of the group and reassigned to his former job at Fort Meade.

McMahon said the rest of the band went on to perform in Iraq after the incident, and even encountered some mortar and rocket attacks in the process, but made it back safely. Still, she insisted that Taguba’s treatment of Guzman and the members of USA Express was wrong.

After investigating the incident, the Army inspector general issued an opinion on September 8 that said Taguba had the right to reprimand Guzman. Guzman said the orders reassigning him to a combat unit headed for Iraq came down the following day. The orders came in the form of an e-mail that was sent down the Army’s chain of command, and no one, including his current commanders at Fort Meade, has been able to pinpoint who was behind the decision to reassign Guzman. The new orders require Guzman to report for duty this week with the Army’s 256th Mechanized, Heavy Separate Infantry Brigade, the Louisiana-based National Guard unit that is currently preparing for deployment to Iraq at Fort Hood, Texas.

Guzman suspects that these orders prove that Taguba is making good on his alleged threat to bring him back to Iraq. He said it is odd that an intelligence analyst and enlisted soldier would get reassigned to a National Guard infantry unit heading for combat. And he points out that Taguba now holds a new position, deputy assistant secretary for reserve affairs, in which he oversees deployment of National Guard units to Iraq. The sergeant said his commanders at Fort Meade have been sympathetic to his situation. They filed a deferment that blocked his reassignment for 20 days, but that deferment expired this week, leaving the Sacramento sergeant with no other options for now. But he refuses to back down from a fight to erase a black mark on his military record and career.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be my military duty to show up [in Texas],” said Guzman. “I’ll take up this whole problem when I get there. I’ve got to keep on arguing my side.”

 Source: www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=32474

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This just in....I was disgusted when I read this

  I was one of the many soldiers who gave a percentage of their paychecks to Army Emergency Relief because we feel that its important to take care of our own when they are in need, now it turns that some folks at AER didnt share our sentiment. They have been hoarding a reserve of money that can last for 12 years worth of loans at the current rate and not helping the soldiers with it
___________________________

Probe finds Army charity hoards millions
Military's biggest charity is stockpiling cash, rather than using it for aid

The Associated Press
updated 3:18 p.m. PT, Sun., Feb. 22, 2009

FORT BLISS, Texas
- As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

Tax-exempt and legally separate from the military, AER projects a facade of independence but really operates under close Army control. The massive nonprofit — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans — sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and too often violates its own rules by rewarding donors, such as giving free passes from physical training, the AP found.

Founded in 1942, AER eases cash emergencies of active-duty soldiers and retirees and provides college scholarships for their families. Its emergency aid covers mortgage payments and food, car repairs, medical bills, travel to family funerals, and the like.

Army charity lent out emergency aid
Instead of giving money away, though, the Army charity lent out 91 percent of its emergency aid during the period 2003-2007. For accounting purposes, the loans, dispensed interest-free, are counted as expenses only when they are not paid back.

During that same five-year period, the smaller Navy and Air Force charities both put far more of their own resources into aid than reserves. The Air Force charity kept $24 million in reserves while dispensing $56 million in total aid, which includes grants, scholarships and loans not repaid. The Navy charity put $32 million into reserves and gave out $49 million in total aid.

AER executives defend their operation, insisting they need to keep sizable reserves to be ready for future catastrophes.

"Look at the stock market," said retired Col. Dennis Spiegel, AER's deputy director for administration. Without the large reserve, he added, "We'd be in very serious trouble."

But smaller civilian charities for service members and veterans say they are swamped by the desperate needs of recent years, with requests far outstripping ability to respond.

While independent on paper, Army Emergency Relief is housed, staffed and controlled by the U.S. Army.

That's not illegal per se. Eric Smith, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said the agency can't offer an opinion on a particular charity's activities. But Marcus Owens, former head of IRS charity oversight, said charities like AER can legally partner closely with a government agency.

However, he said, problems sometimes arise when their missions diverge. "There's a bit of a tension when a government organization is operating closely with a charity," he said.

Some reserves are prudent
Most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid.

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, said that AER collects money "very efficiently. What the shame is, is they're not doing more with it."

National administrators say they've tried to loosen the purse strings. The most recent yearly figures do show a tilt by AER toward increased giving.

Still, Borochoff's organization, which grades charities, gives the Army charity an "F" because of the hoarding.

The AP findings include:

Superior officers come calling when AER loans aren't repaid on time. Soldiers can be fined or demoted for missing loan payments. They must clear their loans before transferring or leaving the service.
Promotions can be delayed or canceled if loans are not repaid.
Despite strict rules against coercion, the Army uses pushy tactics to extract supposedly voluntary contributions, with superiors using language like: "How much can we count on from you?"
The Army sometimes offers rewards for contributions, though incentives are banned by program rules. It sometimes excuses contributors from physical training — another clear violation.
AER screens every request for aid, peering into the personal finances of its troops, essentially making the Army a soldier's boss and loan officer.
"If I ask a private for something ... chances are everyone's going to do it. Why? Because I'm a lieutenant," says Iraq war veteran Tom Tarantino, otherwise an AER backer. "It can almost be construed as mandatory."

Neither the Army nor Sgt. Major of the Army Kenneth Preston, an AER board member, responded to repeated requests for comment on the military's relationship with AER.

AER pays just 21 staffers, all working at its headquarters at Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va. AER's other 300 or so employees at 90 Army sites worldwide are civilians paid by the Army. Also, the Army gives AER office space for free.

AER's treasurer, Ret. Col. Andrew Cohen, acknowledged in an interview that "the Army runs the program in the field." Army officers dominate its corporate board too.

Officers must recommend soldiers for aid
Charities linked to other services operate along more traditional nonprofit lines. The Air Force Aid Society sprinkles its board with members from outside the military to foster broad views. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society pays 225 employees and, instead of relying on Navy personnel for other chores, deploys a corps of about 3,400 volunteers, including some from outside the military.

Army regulations say AER "is, in effect, the U.S. Army's own emergency financial assistance organization." Under Army regulations, officers must recommend whether their soldiers deserve aid. Company commanders and first sergeants can approve up to $1,000 in loans on their own say-so. Officers also are charged with making sure their troops repay AER loans.

"If you have an outstanding bill, you're warned about paying that off just to finish your tour of duty ... because it will be brought to your leadership and it will be dealt with," says Jon Nakaishi, of Tracy, Calif., an Army National Guard veteran of the Iraq war who took out a $900 AER loan to help feed his wife and children between paychecks.

In his case, he was sent home with an injury and never fully repaid his loan.

The Army also exercises its leverage in raising contributions from soldiers. It reaches out only to troops and veterans in annual campaigns organized by Army personnel.

For those on active duty, AER organizes appeals along the chain of command. Low-ranking personnel are typically solicited by a superior who knows them personally.

Spiegel, the AER administrator, said he's unaware of specific violations but added: "I spent 29 years in the Army, I know how ... first sergeants operate. Some of them do strong-arm."

Many violations uncovered
Army regulations ban base passes, training holidays, relief from guard duty, award plaques and "all other incentives or rewards" for contributions to AER. But the AP uncovered evidence of many violations.

Before leaving active duty in 2006, Philip Aubart, who then went to Reserve Officer Training Corps at Dartmouth College, admits he gave to AER partly to be excused from push-ups, sit-ups and running the next day. For those who didn't contribute the minimum monthly allotment, the calisthenics became, in effect, a punishment.

"That enticed lots and lots of guys to give," he noted. He says he gave in two annual campaigns and was allowed to skip physical training the following days.

Others spoke of prizes like pizza parties and honorary flags given to top cooperating units.

Make no mistake: AER, a normally uncontroversial fixture of Army life, has helped millions of soldiers and families. Last year alone, AER handed out about $5.5 million in emergency grants, $65 million in loans, and $12 million in scholarships. Despite the extra demands for soldiers busy fighting two wars, AER's management says it hasn't felt a need to boost giving in recent years.

But the AP encountered considerable criticism about AER's hoarding of its treasure chest.

Jack Tilley, a retired sergeant major of the Army on AER's board from 2000 to 2004, said he was surprised by AP's findings, especially during wartime.

"I think they could give more. In fact, that's why that's there," said Tilley, who co-founded another charity that helps families of Mideast war veterans, the American Freedom Foundation.

Accumulates stocks and bonds with its wealth
What does AER do with its retained wealth? Mostly, it accumulates stocks and bonds.

AER ended 2007 with a $296 million portfolio; last year's tanking market cut that to $214 million, by the estimate of its treasurer.

Sylvia Kidd, an AER board member in the 1990s, says she feels that the charity does much good work but guards its relief funds too jealously. "You hear things, and you think, "`They got all this money, and they should certainly be able to take care of this,'" she said. She now works for a smaller independent charity, the Association of the United States Army, providing emergency aid to some military families that AER won't help.

Though AER keeps a $25 million line of bank credit to respond to a world economic crisis, its board has decided to lop off a third of its scholarship money this year. "We're not happy about it," Spiegel says.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29331853/

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On the surge and whats going down in Afghanistan


3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division started combat operations into the Logar and Wardak provinces of Afghanistan yesterday, the brigade only recently arrived in Afghanistan, this is the start of that surge of troops in Afghanistan we've all been hearing about. Ok no liberty loving person agrees or likes the Taliban or any other despot group, but what in the hell is the proposed surge of 30,000 troops going to achieve?
The more troops in Afghanistan the more militant Islam forces are going to gather in the region, and you might say, good we can fight them all off there, well it doesnt work that way, even though the Afghan people dont like the Taliban an increased presence of militant Islamic fighters will cause more fighting within Afghanistan, and from the inevitable "collateral damage" an insurgency against the US will be created. Why against the US and not the Taliban and the other militant Islamists? Because the US is the bigger, more powerful and more visible occupying force, and the Afghans will see more and more foreign troops as unwanted outsiders, because afterall even with all there hatred for the Taliban the Afghans still have more in common with them than they do with us. It will only be so long until we cease to be looked at by Afghans as the savior of Afghanistan, if we ever were.

Furthermore, Afghanistan is still loaded with thousands of unlocated land mines from the war with Russia, Afghan civilians and US troops are regularly getting hurt by them, throw 30,000 more troops in the mix and the conclusion isn't hard to figure out.

But lets not forget the Union Oil Company of California UNOCAL, the ones who got busted for giving the Taliban special treatment at gatherings in Texas because they wanted to be able to put some pipelines threw Afghanistan without the Taliban getting too much from it, and oh ya thats right, and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai used to be a top Unical advisor, Oh and so was Zalmay Khalilzad the guy President Bush nominated as his special envoy to Afghanistan 9 days after Karzai took power, yep, he too was a UNOCAL consultant. And recorded in the 1998 Congressional Record on U.S. INTERESTS IN THE CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, dated February 12th 1998, UNOCAL'S Vice President of International Relations, John J. Maresca said:

" The second option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. One obvious route south would cross Iran, but this is foreclosed for American companies because of U.S. sanctions legislation. The only other possible route is across Afghanistan, which has of course its own unique challenges. The country has been involved in bitter warfare for almost two decades, and is still divided by civil war. From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company."

"Last October, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline Consortium, called CentGas, in which Unocal holds an interest, was formed to develop a gas pipeline which will link Turkmenistan's vast Dauletabad gas field with markets in Pakistan and possibly India. The proposed 790-mile pipeline will open up new markets for this gas, traveling from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Multan in Pakistan. The proposed extension would move gas on to New Delhi, where it would connect with an existing pipeline. As with the proposed Central Asia oil pipeline, CentGas can not begin construction until an internationally recognized Afghanistan Government is in place."

In March 2005, CNOOC, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation  attempted to acquire Unocal with a bid of between $16 billion and $18 billion for UNOCAL. After a vote by the United States House of Representatives, the bid was referred to President George W. Bush, on the grounds that its "implications for national security needed to be reviewed". CNOOC withdrew its bid. Soon after, Unocal merged with Chevron, and is now a subsidiary of Chevron.

Come on, I couldnt even make this shit up, and there is so much more on why we are really in Afghanistan and why we should get out. Im not a pacifist but sending in thousands of troops is not the answer in Afghanistan or Iraq, it will only alienate us from the people there, if we really want to help these countries we should be realistically increasing humanitarian aid, helping to build infrastructure, build schools and ensure they get a good education enough food, and at most our only military presence should be to train and advise the local forces, that is if they ask for our assistance without being pressured to do so like they are now. You do not win the hearts and minds threw force you win them threw compassion.

 Photo Source:Unocal

Monday, February 16, 2009

U.S. resisters' solidarity with Israeli "shministim" refusers

- Below is a letter to the "shministim", Israeli high school seniors, signed by myself and other war resisters, including Steve Yoczik who I was stationed at Ft. Gordon with. Read more at www.december18th.com -

Statement signed by over two dozen U.S. military war resisters. Reprinted by AlterNet, Democracy Now, The Progressive, Common Dreams, Indymedia, and Daily Kos.
December 18, 2008

We are U.S. military servicemembers and veterans who have refused or are currently refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We stand in solidarity with the Israeli Shministim (Hebrew for "12th graders") who are also resisting military service. About 100 Israeli high school students have signed an open letter declaring their refusal to serve in the Israeli army and their opposition to "Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel." In Israel, military service is mandatory for all graduating high school seniors, and resisters face the possibility of years in prison.

We have also refused to participate in unjust acts of military aggression, and many of us have gone to prison or currently live with that possibility as a result. We believe that resistance to unjust war is a bold assertion of humanity in the face of overwhelming violence.

The Global War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is propped up by racism and dehumanization and sets the stage for never-ending war and occupation. We are inspired by the brave refusal of our brothers and sisters in Israel to take part in these destructive policies, and we want to let them know today, December 18th--the day of international solidarity with the Shministim--that they have our deepest respect and support.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Atkinson
Specialist, US Army Reserve. Went AWOL October 1990 to resist Gulf War deployment. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Daniel Blain
U.S. Army Reserves. Refused military service in June 2008.

Chris Capps-Schubert
Specialist, US Army, communications. Went AWOL March 2007 to resist Afghanistan deployment. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Eugene Cherry
Specialist, US Army, medic. Went AWOL June 2005 to resist Iraq redeployment, later won honorable discharge.

Matthis Chiroux
Sergeant, US Army, journalist. Currently refusing Inactive Ready Reserve recall.

James Circello
Sergeant, US Army, airborne infantry. Went AWOL April 2007 following Iraq deployment. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Carl Davison
US Army/USMC, infantry. Refused Iraq deployment in 2008. Served one month in the brig.

Matthew Edwards
US Marine Corps. Resisted Iraq deployment and was discharged March 2003.

Stephen Funk
Lance Corporal, US Marine Corps, logistical support. Went AWOL February 2003 to resist Iraq deployment. Served six months in the brig.

Andrew Gorby
Second Lieutenant, US Army, infantry. Discharged May 2007 as a conscientious objector.

Patrick Hart
Sergeant, US Army. Went AWOL in 2005 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Brandon Hughey
Private, US Army. Went AWOL March 2004 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Ryan Johnson
Private Second Class, US Army. Went AWOL January 2005 to resist Iraq deployment and currently lives in Canada.

Dale Landry
Senior Airman, US Air Force. Went AWOL in 2007 following Afghanistan deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Benjamin Lewis
US Marine Corps, mortar man. After two Iraq deployments, now refusing Inactive Ready Reserve recall.

Robin Long
Specialist, US Army. Went AWOL in June 2005 to resist Iraq deployment and lived in Canada until being deported July 2008. Currently serving a 14 month sentence at the Miramar Naval Brig near San Diego, California.

Christopher Magaoay
Lance Corporal, US Marine Corps. Went AWOL in 2006 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Camilo Mejia
Staff Sergeant, Army National Guard. Refused to redeploy to Iraq in 2004. Served nine months in the stockade.

Geoff Millard
Sergeant, Army National Guard. Went AWOL and later discharged following 2005 Iraq deployment.

Brandon Neely
US Army, military police. Refused recall from the Inactive Ready Reserve in 2007.

Perry O'Brien
US Army, medic. Discharged as a conscientious objector November 2004 following Afghanistan deployment.

Jeff Paterson
Corporal, US Marine Corps, artillery control. Refused Desert Storm deployment August 1990. Served two months pre-trial confinement. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Kimberly Rivera
Specialist, US Army. Went AWOL January 2007 while on leave from Iraq and has lived in Canada since.

Ryan Souza
Senior Airman, US Air Force, crew chief. Applied for conscientious objector discharge July 2008. Awaiting decision on his application by the military.

Chanan Suarezdiaz
Hospital Corpsman, Third Class, US Navy. Discharged following 2004 Iraq deployment.

Benjamin Viges
US Army, airborne infantry. Discharged as a conscientious objector following 2003 Iraq deployment.

Dean Walcott
US Marine Corps, military police. Went AWOL in 2007 following Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

David Wiggins MD
Captain, US Army, doctor. Resigned commission near the Iraq border during Desert Storm 1991.

Steve Yoczik
Private, US Army. Went AWOL November 2006 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Are you a U.S. military Iraq or Afghanistan war resister and would like your name included? Contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559 or us our online contact form.

Insanity is for those who stay sane in crazy times like these

So, over the years I have come to an ever growing awareness that there are many individuals who go on with life as usual, completely oblivious or apathetic to all the unneeded suffering that plagues this world. But it still puzzles me of how to break the spell that the average US citizen is in. (1)
   
When 123,833 (2) chronic homeless (and thats a conservative estimate) line the streets of the richest country in the world and sleep out in the cold, rain and snow, about 30% of them being veterans who sacrificed for this country.

When on average about 126 US veterans kill themselves every week and 1,000 under VA care try too(3)
  
When 47 million people in the US are without health insurance, And 8.7 million of them are children (4)

When at least 1,311,000 Iraqis and 4,243 US service members have died, and the downey street memos proved that it was never about WMDs because they didn't exist.

And when more people were killed in the 20th century then in any other, and majority of that was by the governments of the world. And look at how much we still submit to DCs "manufactured consent", You have to stop and ask yourself, what am I doing to change this? 
  
Well the protesters and peace activist are just nuts, right? well we may be nuts, but insanity belongs to the oblivious and apathetic, those people who are too distracted by Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, Reality TV, Brittany Spears or Brad Pitt to pay attention to what's really going down, and they think they can get good full news coverage from corporate news stations such as CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. When they were never intended to do so. There are many US citizens living in a haze, a surreal dream world where everything is ok, well at least here it is, or so they think, and we all know people like this, the insane, dumb downed, appears to be smart, can be smart, is smart, but just doesn't quite know what is happening in the world type of person. And in a time  of wars, corporate corruption and economic crisis, when knowing what is going wrong is so critical, those who choose to ignore it are insane.

Well Ok, Im done with this little rant, Maybe I'll have something with more substance next time.

  "Only the truth is revolutionary" - Antonio Gramsci -
____________________________________________________________________________

(1) - Note: I do not say americans because I am specifically talking about the United States, and
                       we are not the only americans, its a whole damn continent.
(2) - The New York Times, "US Reports Drop in Homeless Population",  7/30/2008
(3) - San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate, "On Memorial Day/Broken promises to our veterans", 5/26/2008
(4) - www.aflcio.org/issues/healthcare/whatswrong/