Friday, November 11, 2005


Third Anniversary of "Shock and Awe"
March 18 through 20, 2005

Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19
Locally coordinated demonstrations across the
U.S. and around the world.

Monday, March 20, 2005
Youth and Student Day of Resistance to Imperialism


59.7 percent Victory for Proposition i!

Congratulations for all who worked so hard on
Proposition I. This is a real mandate from the people
of San Francisco to get the military out of our schools!

In spite of the recommendations for a no vote for
Prop. I from the Chronicle and other main-stream media,
the resolve of the voters of San Francisco is clear.
We want the troops home Now and the military
out of our schools Now!

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein


Film Showing: Hablemos del Poder /Talking of Power
Produced by the Global Women's Strike, 2005.
62 minutes, in Spanish, or with English subtitles.
Sex, race and class in revolutionary Venezuela.
From the hills of Caracas to the banks of the
Orinoco, the grassroots tell how they are
changing our world.

When: 7:00 PM, Saturday, November 12, 2005

Where: 522 Valencia, Third Floor, Near 16th Street, SF
(not wheelchair accessible), close the 16th Street BART.

Cost: $5/$3 Students, Seniors, Unemployed

For more information: Email


It's here!
You can look up the # of recruits by state
and county, and a wealth of other demographic
data on military enlistments here:


(Powerful Flash Film)


Short Online Survey: Visualizing the Ideal Solar Power System

Why in this time when our use of fossil fuels is causing severe
environmental degradation and war are more people not interested
in solar power even if they could afford it? What do factors such
as maintenance, ease of use and aesthetic appeal of solar power
systems also play in decision-making?

"Visualizing the Ideal Solar Power System" is an online survey done
as part of a masters project through the University of Colorado's
Building Systems Program. The survey is completely anonymous.
It usually takes about 10 minutes and you can skip any question.


The Jkirks: Music

The Earnest Soldier

The Moment’s slow. Years move so fast.
I gotta run. I’ll miss my past.
Don’t wake me when its over.

The shortest story ever told.
Died so young. Born so old.
Don’t look its on my shoulder.

I won’t be back again.
Not punished for my sins.
I face eternity with at I chose to be.

I’m declaring peace today.
Better get out of my way.
Go home now the fighting’s over.

The Greatest story ever told.
A poor man’s peace beats rich man’s gold.
We’ll take it off his shoulders.

We won’t be back again.
Not punished for our sins.
We face eternity with what we chose to be.

I want to take you with me.
I’m holding you round your knees.
But I know when I go.
I go alone.

The heart beats slow. Blood flows so fast.
I could not run. I missed my past.
Woke up and now its over.

The earnest story never told.
I died so young for rich man’s gold.
Don’t look its on your shoulder.

I won’t be back again.
Not punished for my sins.
I face eternity with at I chose and what
we chose and what you chose for me.

I want to take you with me.
I’m holding you round your knees.
But I know when I go.
I go alone. I go alone. I go alone.


Subject: [CampusAntiwarNetwork]
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005 18:57:34 +0000
From: nicole robinson

I know this is the second time I am sending
out a request for help. But if
you have not yet called and/or
e-mailed KENT STATE administration PLEASE DO
SO! Today Dave Airhart (Iraq Veteran
and student at KSU) was told he will
be facing probation, suspension or expulsion!

We need to tell KENT STATE administration
that we will not allow them to
punish an Iraq Veteran for speaking
out for peace! Below are the
numbers/e-mails. Let's show them
that we are a strong antiwar movement all
around the U.S. and we will not
tolerate such actions! We have done a press
conference but need your support
as well. Attached to this e-mail is an
article that I wrote about the situation.
If you are not familiar with what
happened please read it and/or e-mail
me. Also if you
have more suggestion on what we can
be doing e-mail me. Thank-you everyone
for your solidarity.

Carol Cartwright- University President: 330.672.2210

Greg Jarvie- Dean of Undergraduate Students: 330.672.9494

William Ross- Executive Director of the
Undergraduate Student Senate:


Sisters and Brothers,
Please check out the new Mumia info and resource
guide created by ICFFMAJ.
We urge you to download it from our website at:


People's History of Science: Miners, Midwives, and "Low Mechanicks"
By Clifford D. Conner
Nation Books / November 2005
ISBN 1-56025-748-2 / 568 pp. / $17.95

"Revisionist history with a strong proletarian bent." -Kirkus Reviews,
October 2005

"Cliff Conner's A People's History of Science is a delightfully refreshing
new look at the history of science. I know of nothing like it, because it
approaches that history free of the usual elitist preconceptions, and
shows, in an inspiring way, the role that ordinary people, working people,
played in the development of science. He presents startling new historical
data which should create some commotion in the halls of orthodoxy."
Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

The history of science is more complex and collaborative than the
traditional heroic narratives of Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein
suggest. Expanding on Howard Zinn's concept of a people's history, author
Clifford D. Conner has written his own populist take on the history of
science. A People's History of Science offers a broad survey of the history
of science "from the bottom up," covering the entire globe and spanning the
Paleolithic to the postmodern eras. His thesis is to demonstrate that
science-the knowledge of nature-did not emerge from the brains of "Great
Geniuses" with "Great Ideas," but from the collective experience of working
people-artisans, miners, sailors, peasant farmers, and others-whose
struggle for survival forced them into close contact with nature on a daily

In A People's History of Science, Conner demystifies science by locating
its origins and development in the productive activities of working people.
He also persuasively argues that the increasing specialization of the
sciences in universities and medical faculties has more often retarded
rather than advanced the growth of knowledge.

Conner also establishes that:

Medical science began with knowledge of plants' therapeutic properties
discovered by preliterate ancient people.

Chemistry and metallurgy originated with ancient miners, smiths, and
potters; geology and archaeology were also born in the mines.

Mathematics owes its existence and a great deal of its development to
surveyors, merchants, clerk-accountants, and mechanics of many millennia.

The experimental method that characterized the Scientific Revolution, as
well as the mass of scientific data upon which it built, emerged from the
workshops of European artisans.

The emergence of computer science from the garages and attics of college
dropouts demonstrates that even in recent times the most important
scientific innovations have not always been produced by a professional
scientific elite.

The mystique of modern science proclaims it to be a superior form of
knowledge, but in fact its trustworthiness has been thoroughly undermined
by the self-interest of corporations that hire the scientists and
manipulate their research findings.

Clifford D. Conner grew up in Nashville, TN. He received his masters degree
in education from the University of Georgia and his Ph. D in the History of
Science from CUNY. He has published a number of articles on the history of
science in scholarly journals and has participated in international
colloquia on various subjects. Conner worked as a proofreader and taught
history in the CUNY system before becoming a full-time author of books on
historical subjects. He lives in New York City.


1) Op-Ed Columnist
The Deadly Doughnut
November 11, 2005

2) Op-Ed Columnist
And the War Goes On
November 7, 2005

3) Op-Ed Columnist
Pride, Prejudice, Insurance
November 7, 2005

4) Op-Ed Columnist
Gangsta, in French
November 10, 2005

5) Op-Ed Columnist
An Army Ready to Snap
November 10, 2005

6) Close-up
Military recruiters target isolated, depressed areas
By Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
Wednesday, November 9, 2005 - 12:00 AM


1) Op-Ed Columnist
The Deadly Doughnut
November 11, 2005

Registration for Medicare's new prescription drug benefit starts next
week. Soon millions of Americans will learn that doughnuts are bad
for your health. And if we're lucky, Americans will also learn a bigger
lesson: politicians who don't believe in a positive role for government
shouldn't be allowed to design new government programs.

Before we turn to the larger issue, let's look at how the Medicare
drug benefit will work over the course of next year.

At first, the benefit will look like a normal insurance plan, with
a deductible and co-payments.

But if your cumulative drug expenses reach $2,250, a very strange
thing will happen: you'll suddenly be on your own. The Medicare
benefit won't kick in again unless your costs reach $5,100. This
gap in coverage has come to be known as the "doughnut hole."
(Did you think I was talking about Krispy Kremes?)

One way to see the bizarre effect of this hole is to notice that if
you are a retiree and spend $2,000 on drugs next year, Medicare
will cover 66 percent of your expenses. But if you spend
$5,000 - which means that you're much more likely to need
help paying those expenses - Medicare will cover only
30 percent of your bills.

A study in the July/August issue of Health Affairs points out that
this will place many retirees on a financial "roller coaster."

People with high drug costs will have relatively low out-of-pocket
expenses for part of the year - say, until next summer. Then,
suddenly, they'll enter the doughnut hole, and their personal
expenses will soar. And because the same people tend to have
high drug costs year after year, the roller-coaster ride will
repeat in 2007.

How will people respond when their out-of-pocket costs surge?
The Health Affairs article argues, based on experience from H.M.O.
plans with caps on drug benefits, that it's likely "some beneficiaries
will cut back even essential medications while in the doughnut
hole." In other words, this doughnut will make some people sick,
and for some people it will be deadly.

The smart thing to do, for those who could afford it, would be
to buy supplemental insurance that would cover the doughnut
hole. But guess what: the bill that established the drug benefit
specifically prohibits you from buying insurance to cover the gap.
That's why many retirees who already have prescription drug
insurance are being advised not to sign up for the Medicare benefit.

If all of this makes the drug bill sound like a disaster, bear in
mind that I've touched on only one of the bill's awful features.
There are many others, like the clause that prohibits Medicare
from using its clout to negotiate lower drug prices.
Why is this bill so bad?

The probable answer is that the Republican Congressional
leaders who rammed the bill through in 2003 weren't actually
trying to protect retired Americans against the risk of high
drug expenses. In fact, they're fundamentally hostile to the
idea of social insurance, of public programs that reduce
private risk.

Their purpose was purely political: to be able to say that
President Bush had honored his 2000 campaign promise
to provide prescription drug coverage by passing a drug
bill, any drug bill.

Once you recognize that the drug benefit is a purely
political exercise that wasn't supposed to serve its
ostensible purpose, the absurdities in the program make
sense. For example, the bill offers generous coverage to
people with low drug costs, who have the least need for
help, so lots of people will get small checks in the mail
and think they're being treated well.

Meanwhile, the people who are actually likely to need
a lot of help paying their drug expenses were deliberately
offered a very poor benefit. According to a report issued
along with the final version of the bill, people are prohibited
from buying supplemental insurance to cover the doughnut
hole to keep beneficiaries from becoming "insensitive to
costs" - that is, buying too much medicine because they
don't pay the price.

A more likely motive is that Congressional leaders didn't
want a drug bill that really worked for middle-class retirees.

Can the drug bill be fixed? Yes, but not by current management.
It's hard to believe that either the current Congressional leadership
or the Mayberry Machiavellis in the White House would do any
better on a second pass. We won't have a drug benefit that
works until we have politicians who want it to work.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


2) Op-Ed Columnist
And the War Goes On
November 7, 2005

The coalition of the clueless that launched the tragically misguided
war in Iraq is in complete disarray.

Dick Cheney is simultaneously running from questions about his
role in the Valerie Wilson affair and fighting like mad to block any
measure that would outlaw torture by the C.I.A. His former top
aide, Scooter Libby, one of the original Iraq war zealots, is now
an accused felon who is seldom seen in public unaccompanied
by defense counsel.

Donald Rumsfeld, the high-strutting, high-profile defense
secretary who was supposed to win this war in a walk, is suddenly
on the down-low. There are people in the witness protection
program who are easier to find than Rummy.

As for the president, he went all the way to South America to
get away from the Washington heat. But even within the luxurious
confines of Air Force One, Mr. Bush found that he couldn't escape
the increasingly corrosive effect of the fiascos plaguing his

The ominous news of the president's plummeting approval
ratings followed him like a dark cloud. A Washington Post-ABC
News poll found that Mr. Bush has never been less popular with
the public. On nearly every important measure of character and
performance, he was given lower marks than ever before. For the
first time, according to the poll, a majority of Americans even
questioned the president's integrity. And fully 55 percent of
respondents to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll said they
believe the Bush administration has been a failure.

The fact that Mr. Bush is struggling in his own political
purgatory (for the sin of incompetence) is bad news for
the soldiers in Iraq, where the suffering and dying continues
unabated. The administration that was so anxious to throw
scores of thousands of healthy young Americans into the
flames of war now has no idea how to get them out.

Troops are being sent into Iraq for two, three, even four
combat tours by an administration in which clowns like
Scooter Libby and Karl Rove were playing games with the
identity of a C.I.A. agent, and the vice president has been
obsessed with his twisted protect-the-torturers campaign.

Now the Bush crew, which should be focused like a laser
on what to do about the war, is consumed with damage
control - pumping up the poll numbers, defending its handling
of prewar intelligence, fending off further indictments
and staying out of prison.

The war? There's no plan for the war. The architects of this
war had no idea what they were getting into, and they are
just as clueless now. The war just goes on and on, which
is not just tragic - it's criminal.

Opposition to the war may be mounting. But the reality of
the war, especially the toll of American dead and wounded,
fades in and out of the public's consciousness.

There was a rush of articles a couple of weeks ago when the
number of deaths of Americans serving in Iraq reached 2,000.
But those stories were quickly superseded by Harriet Miers's
withdrawal of her nomination to the Supreme Court; President
Bush's selection of Samuel Alito to take her place; the indictment
of Mr. Libby; the president's address to the nation on the
possibility of a bird flu pandemic and so on.

The killing of G.I.'s in Iraq once again took its place as a relatively
minor story, meriting in most cases just a brief mention on the
inside pages of the major newspapers, and the most cursory
coverage on television newscasts.

The death toll has now reached at least 2,035 and, of course,
it is climbing. More than 15,000 G.I.'s have been wounded in
action. Limbs have been lost. Men and women have been
permanently paralyzed, horribly burned, or blinded. Thousands
more have been injured in nonhostile incidents, such as accidents,
and many have fallen ill.

If the American public could see the carnage in Iraq the way
television viewers saw the agony of New Orleans in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina, this war would be over. A solution would
be found. Imagine watching a couple of soldiers in flames,
screaming, as they attempt to escape the burning wreckage
of a vehicle hit by a roadside bomb or a rocket-propelled

For all the talk, neither the administration nor the public has
taken the reality of this war seriously enough to do something
about it. If the sons and daughters of the privileged were fighting
it, we'd be out of Iraq soon enough. But they're not fighting it.

So the war goes on and on.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


3) Op-Ed Columnist
Pride, Prejudice, Insurance
November 7, 2005

General Motors is reducing retirees' medical benefits. Delphi has
declared bankruptcy, and will probably reduce workers' benefits
as well as their wages. An internal Wal-Mart memo describes plans
to cut health costs by hiring temporary workers, who aren't entitled
to health insurance, and screening out employees likely to have
high medical bills.

These aren't isolated anecdotes. Employment-based health insurance
is the only serious source of coverage for Americans too young
to receive Medicare and insufficiently destitute to receive Medicaid,
but it's an institution in decline. Between 2000 and 2004 the number
of Americans under 65 rose by 10 million. Yet the number of
nonelderly Americans covered by employment-based insurance
fell by 4.9 million.

The funny thing is that the solution - national health insurance,
available to everyone - is obvious. But to see the obvious we'll
have to overcome pride - the unwarranted belief that America
has nothing to learn from other countries - and prejudice - the
equally unwarranted belief, driven by ideology, that private
insurance is more efficient than public insurance.

Let's start with the fact that America's health care system spends
more, for worse results, than that of any other advanced country.

In 2002 the United States spent $5,267 per person on health care.
Canada spent $2,931; Germany spent $2,817; Britain spent only
$2,160. Yet the United States has lower life expectancy and higher
infant mortality than any of these countries.

But don't people in other countries sometimes find it hard to get
medical treatment? Yes, sometimes - but so do Americans.
No, Virginia, many Americans can't count on ready access
to high-quality medical care.

The journal Health Affairs recently published the results of
a survey of the medical experience of "sicker adults" in six
countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany and the United
States. The responses don't support claims about superior
service from the U.S. system. It's true that Americans generally
have shorter waits for elective surgery than Canadians or
Britons, although German waits are even shorter. But Americans
do worse by some important measures: we find it harder than
citizens of other advanced countries to see a doctor when
we need one, and our system is more, not less, rife with
medical errors.

Above all, Americans are far more likely than others to
forgo treatment because they can't afford it. Forty percent
of the Americans surveyed failed to fill a prescription because
of cost. A third were deterred by cost from seeing a doctor
when sick or from getting recommended tests or follow-up.

Why does American medicine cost so much yet achieve
so little? Unlike other advanced countries, we treat access
to health care as a privilege rather than a right. And this
attitude turns out to be inefficient as well as cruel.

The U.S. system is much more bureaucratic, with much
higher administrative costs, than those of other countries,
because private insurers and other players work hard at
trying not to pay for medical care. And our fragmented
system is unable to bargain with drug companies and
other suppliers for lower prices.

Taiwan, which moved 10 years ago from a U.S.-style
system to a Canadian-style single-payer system, offers
an object lesson in the economic advantages of universal
coverage. In 1995 less than 60 percent of Taiwan's
residents had health insurance; by 2001 the number
was 97 percent. Yet according to a careful study published
in Health Affairs two years ago, this huge expansion in
coverage came virtually free: it led to little if any increase
in overall health care spending beyond normal growth
due to rising population and incomes.

Before you dismiss Taiwan as a faraway place of which
we know nothing, remember Chile-mania: just a few
months ago, during the Bush administration's failed
attempt to privatize Social Security, commentators
across the country - independent thinkers all, I'm sure
- joined in a chorus of ill-informed praise for Chile's
private retirement accounts. (It turns out that Chile's
system has a lot of problems.) Taiwan has more
people and a much bigger economy than Chile, and
its experience is a lot more relevant to America's
real problems.

The economic and moral case for health care reform
in America, reform that would make us less different
from other advanced countries, is overwhelming. One
of these days we'll realize that our semiprivatized
system isn't just unfair, it's far less efficient than
a straightforward system of guaranteed health insurance.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


4) Op-Ed Columnist
Gangsta, in French
November 10, 2005

After 9/11, everyone knew there was going to be a debate about
the future of Islam. We just didn't know the debate would be
between Osama bin Laden and Tupac Shakur.

Yet those seem to be the lifestyle alternatives that are really on
offer for poor young Muslim men in places like France, Britain
and maybe even the world beyond. A few highly alienated and
fanatical young men commit themselves to the radical Islam of
bin Laden. But most find their self-respect by embracing the
poses and worldview of American hip-hop and gangsta rap.

One of the striking things about the scenes from France is how
thoroughly the rioters have assimilated hip-hop and rap culture.
It's not only that they use the same hand gestures as American
rappers, wear the same clothes and necklaces, play the same
video games, and sit with the same sorts of car stereos at full
blast. It's that they seem to have adopted the same poses of
exaggerated manhood, the same attitudes about women,
money and the police. They seem to have replicated the
same sort of gang culture, the same romantic visions
of gunslinging drug dealers.

In a globalized age it's perhaps inevitable that the culture
of resistance gets globalized, too. What we are seeing is
what Mark Lilla of the University of Chicago calls a universal
culture of the wretched of the earth. The images, modes
and attitudes of hip-hop and gangsta rap are so powerful
they are having a hegemonic effect across the globe.

American ghetto life, at least as portrayed in rap videos, now
defines for the young, poor and disaffected what it means
to be oppressed. Gangsta resistance is the most compelling
model for how to rebel against that oppression. If you want
to stand up and fight The Man, the Notorious B.I.G. shows
the way.

This is a reminder that for all the talk about American
cultural hegemony, American countercultural hegemony
has always been more powerful. America's rebellious
countercultural heroes exert more influence around the
world than the clean establishment images from Disney
and McDonald's. This is our final insult to the anti-Americans;
we define how to be anti-American, and the foreigners who
attack us are reduced to borrowing our own clichés.

When rap first came to France, American rappers dominated
the scene, but now the suburban immigrant neighborhoods
have produced their own stars in their own language. French
rap lyrics today are like the American gangsta lyrics of about
five or 10 years ago, when it was more common to fantasize
about cop killings and gang rape.

Most of the lyrics can't be reprinted in this newspaper, but
you can get a sense of them from, say, a snippet from
a song from Bitter Ministry: "Another woman takes her
beating./This time she's called Brigitte./She's the wife
of a cop. " Or this from Mr. R's celebrated album "PolitiKment
IncorreKt": "France is a bitch. ... Don't forget to [deleted] her
to exhaustion. You have to treat her like a whore, man! ...
My niggers and my Arabs, our playground is the street
with the most guns!"

The French gangsta pose is familiar. It is built around the
image of the strong, violent hypermacho male, who loudly
asserts his dominance and demands respect. The gangsta
is a brave, countercultural criminal. He has nothing but rage
for the institutions of society: the state and the schools.
He shows his own cruel strength by dominating women.
It is perhaps no accident that until the riots, the biggest
story coming out of these neighborhoods was the rise of
astonishing and horrific gang rapes.

In other words, what we are seeing in France will be familiar
to anyone who watched gangsta culture rise in this country.
You take a population of young men who are oppressed by
racism and who face limited opportunities, and you present
them with a culture that encourages them to become exactly
the sort of people the bigots think they are - and you call
this proud self-assertion and empowerment. You take men
who are already suspected by the police because of their
color, and you romanticize and encourage criminality so
they will be really despised and mistreated. You tell them
to defy oppression by embracing self-destruction.

In America, at least, gangsta rap is sort of a game.
The gangsta fan ends up in college or law school. But
in France, the barriers to ascent are higher. The prejudice
is more impermeable, and the labor markets are more rigid.
There really is no escape.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


5) Op-Ed Columnist
An Army Ready to Snap
November 10, 2005

Have you heard what's been happening to the military?

Most people have heard that more than 2,000 American G.I.'s have
been killed in the nonstop meat grinder of Iraq. There was a flurry
of stories about that grim milestone in the last week of October.
(Since then the official number of American deaths has jumped
to at least 2,055, and it continues to climb steadily.)

More than 15,000 have been wounded in action.

But the problems of the military go far beyond the casualty figures
coming out of the war zone. The Army, for example, has been
stretched so taut since the Sept. 11 attacks, especially by the
fiasco in Iraq, that it's become like a rubber band that may
snap at any moment.

President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld convinced themselves
that they could win the war in Iraq on the cheap. They never
sent enough troops to do the job. Now the burden of trying
to fight a long and bitter war with too few troops is taking
a terrible toll on the men and women in uniform.

Last December, the top general in the Army Reserve warned
that his organization was "rapidly degenerating into
a 'broken' force" because of the Pentagon's "dysfunctional"
policies and demands placed on the Reserve by the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars.

As one of my colleagues at The Times, David Unger of the
editorial board, wrote, "The Army's commitments have
dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment
has plunged."

Soldiers are being sent into the crucible of Iraq for three
and even four tours, a form of Russian roulette that
is unconscionable.

"They feel like they're the only ones sacrificing," said
Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army lieutenant who served in
Iraq and is now the executive director of Operation Truth,
an advocacy group for service members and veterans.

"They're starting to look around and say, 'You know, it's
me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody
else is living life uninterrupted.' "

When I asked Mr. Rieckhoff what he thought was
happening with the Army, he replied, "The wheels
are coming off."

The Washington Post, in a lengthy article last week, noted:

"As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever
to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released
Pentagon demographic data show that the military is
leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed,
rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh
the risks of going to war."

For those already in the Army, the price being paid - apart
from the physical toll of the killed and wounded - is high indeed.

Divorce rates have gone way up, nearly doubling over
the past four years. Long deployments - and, especially,
repeated deployments - can take a vicious toll
on personal relationships.

Chaplains, psychologists and others have long been
aware of the many dangerous factors that accompany
wartime deployment: loneliness, financial problems,
drug or alcohol abuse, depression, post-traumatic
stress disorder, the problems faced by the parent
left at home to care for children, the enormous problem
of adjusting to the devastation of wartime injuries, and so on.

The Army is not just fighting a ruthless insurgency in
Iraq. It's fighting a rear-guard action against these
noncombat, guerrilla-like conditions that threaten
its own viability.

There are reasons why parents all across America are
telling their children to run the other way when
military recruiters come to call. There are reasons
why so many lieutenants and captains, fine young
men and women, are heading toward the exit doors
at the first opportunity.

A captain who is on active duty, and therefore asked
not to be identified by name, told me yesterday:

"The only reason I stayed in the Army was because one
colonel convinced me to do it. Other than that, I would
have walked. Basically, these guys who are leaving have
their high-powered educations. Some are from West
Point. They've done their five years. Why should they
stay and go back to Iraq and die in a war that's just
going to keep on going?"

Beyond that, he said, "Guys are not going to stay in
the Army when their wives are leaving them."

From the perspective of the troops, he said, the
situation in Iraq is perverse.

He could find no upside. "You go to war," he said,
"and you could lose your heart, your mind, your arms,
your legs - but you cannot win. The soldiers don't win."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


6) Close-up
Military recruiters target isolated, depressed areas
By Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
Wednesday, November 9, 2005 - 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON — As combat in Iraq makes it harder than
ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly
released Pentagon demographic data show that the military
is leaning heavily for recruits on economically
depressed, rural areas.

More than 44 percent of U.S. military recruits come from
rural areas, Pentagon figures show. In contrast, 14 percent
come from major cities. Young people living in the most
sparsely populated ZIP codes are 22 percent more likely
to join the Army, with an opposite trend in cities. Regionally,
most enlistees come from the South (40 percent)
and West (24 percent).

Many of today's recruits are financially strapped, with
nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor
households, according to new Pentagon data based on
ZIP codes and census estimates of mean household income.
Nearly two-thirds of Army recruits in 2004 came from
counties in which median household income is below
the U.S. median.

Such patterns are pronounced in such communities as
Martinsville, Va., that supply the greatest number of
enlistees in proportion to their youth populations. All
of the Army's top 20 counties for recruiting had
lower-than-national median incomes, 12 had higher
poverty rates, and 16 were non-metropolitan, according
to the National Priorities Project, a nonpartisan research
group that analyzed 2004 recruiting data by ZIP code.

"A lot of the high recruitment rates are in areas where
there is not as much economic opportunity for young
people," said Anita Dancs, research director for the
NPP, based in Northampton, Mass.

The war's impact

Senior Pentagon officials say the war has had a clear
impact on recruiting, with a shrinking pool of candidates
forcing the military to accept enlistees of lesser quality.
In fiscal 2005, the Army took in its least-qualified group
of recruits in a decade, as measured by educational level
and test results.

The war is also attracting youths driven by patriotism,
including a growing fringe of the upper class and wealthy,
but military sociologists believe that greater numbers of
young people who would have joined for economic reasons
are being discouraged by the prolonged combat.

The Pentagon ZIP code data, applied for the first time to
2004 recruiting results, underscores patterns already
suggested by anecdotal evidence, such as analysis of
the hometowns of troops killed in Iraq. Although still
an approximation, the data offer a more detailed portrait
of the socioeconomic status of the Americans most likely
to serve today.

Tucked into the Piedmont foothills of southern Virginia,
Martinsville is typical of the lower-income rural communities
across the nation that today constitute the U.S. military's
richest recruiting grounds.

Albert Deal, 25, had struggled for years to hold onto
a job in this rural Virginia community of rolling hills and
shuttered textile mills. So when the high-school graduate
got his latest pink slip, from a modular-homes plant,
he took a hard look at his life. Then he picked up the
phone and dialed the steadiest employer he knew:
the U.S. Army.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 27, Deal sat in his parents' living
room and signed one enlistment document after another
as his fiancée, Kimbery Easter, somberly looked on.

"This is the police check," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher
Barber, a veteran Army recruiter, leading Deal through
the stack of paperwork. "This is the sex-offender check ...
" Barber spoke in a monotone, sounding like a tour guide
who had memorized every word.

Left adrift, young people such as Deal "are being pushed
out of their communities. They want to get away from
intolerable situations, and the military offers them
something different," said Morten Ender, a sociologist
at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

To be sure, some young people who need jobs or college
money also seek adventure and a chance to serve their
country. Others come from towns with large bases
or populations of veterans interwoven with a military
culture that helps keep enlistments high. And a rising
percentage of youth from wealthy areas is signing up,
presumably for patriotic reasons.

But nationwide, data point above all to places such as
Martinsville, where rural roads lined with pine and
poplar trees snake through lonely, desolate towns,
as the wellspring for the youth fighting America's wars.

"They are these untapped kids," Enders said "that
nobody found."

Working the territory

Barber's territory spans 862 square miles in one of
the country's most productive recruiting regions.
Roaming in and out of cellphone range through tiny
towns, Barber and his partner post Army brochures
at mom-and-pop groceries, work the crowd at NASCAR
races at the local track, and log more than 100 miles
a day meeting potential recruits.

On a recent day, he palmed the steering wheel of his
gray Dodge Stratus as he drove northwest into the
steeply undulating backcountry surrounding Martinsville,
where he commands a recruiting station.

In fiscal 2005, the Army's worst year for recruiting
since 1999, they signed up 94 percent of their target,
a relatively high number in one of the Army's top
recruiting regions.

"We were pretty much dead-on," said Barber of Miami,
attributing his success in part to the region's shrinking
job market and the inability of families to afford college.
Unemployment in Martinsville was 12.1 percent in 2004.
Median income is $27,000, with a poverty rate of 17.5
percent, 2000 census data show.

"The job market is dwindling, and it's hard for a young
man or woman to find something other than the
fast-food business," Barber said on the way to the
one-story home of Mike McNeely, Deal's stepfather.

Closed doors

Still, many young people such as Deal exhaust other
options before considering the Army, making today's
recruits older on average. "These kids have tested the
labor market and gone on to college but didn't perform
well," said Curtis Gilroy, director of accessions for the
Pentagon. From 2000 to 2004, the number of teenagers
joining the military dropped, while 20- to 25-year-olds
rose from 31 to 36 percent.

As his fiancée stares impassively at a TV soap opera,
Deal cradles Kadence, her fussy 6-month-old daughter,
and explains how he turned to the Army after doors kept
slamming in his face.

"I tried anything and everything" to land a job, Deal said,
ticking off glass and furniture companies and a local
telemarketing firm. "No one ever called back." Divorced
and the father of a 3-year-old son, Deal decided to call
the recruiter because "it's a job to do," he said.
"It's something to make a life of."

Sitting in a kitchen decorated with religious figurines,
McNeely, 50, agreed.

"You're not looking at a lot around here in terms of
a future," said McNeely, who is disabled. He added
that the textile and furniture factories where he once
worked have vanished or downsized.

But McNeely, Deal and Easter are uneasy over the
prospect that the job will lead to Iraq. "That bothers
me a lot," said McNeely, saying that his wife also
likes to have Deal "in hollerin' distance."

Easter now supports Deal, after being angry at first
over his plans to join the Army. Still, she hesitates
to marry him before he leaves for boot camp. Deal,
who wants a job as a tank driver, said he hopes
he won't deploy.

"Believe me, I don't want to go over there." But,
he said, "that's the risk I take."

It was just after lunch at Magna Vista High School
south of Martinsville. Sgt. Michael Ricciardi strode
through the door and was ushered inside by a smiling
woman signing in visitors. He was soon joking with kids
heading to class, including several future soldiers.

"This is pretty much my 'anchor' school," said Ricciardi,
Barber's partner, who spends hours each week handing
out Frisbees and footballs in the hallways. "They know
me pretty well."

In contrast to some schools around the country that
limit access to recruiters, Magna Vista, where half of
students receive financial aid or free lunch, welcomes
them. School officials give recruiters a list of seniors
to contact, and encourage upperclassmen to take
a vocational test required by the military.

"We expose them to the fact that the military is there,"
said guidance counselor Karen Cecil. "We're setting the
stage for (students) to know it's an option," especially
as a way to afford college, she said.

Indeed, like many heavy recruiting areas, Martinsville
has more people seeking Army jobs than are qualified
for them. Army recruiters here turn away scores of
interested youths because they fail vocational tests,
physicals or legal-background checks. To fill its ranks
nationwide, the Army in fiscal 2005 accepted its
least-qualified pool in a decade — falling below
quota in high-school graduates (87 percent) and
taking in more youths scoring in the lowest category
of aptitude test (3.9 percent).

Support for military service among parents has dwindled
nationwide, but many parents here view it as an opportunity,
often phoning recruiters to urge them to enlist their children.

A ticket elsewhere

Senior Miyana Gravely, 17, had long talks with her
mother before asking for approval to join the Army
and go to boot camp last summer. "You can do it.
I don't want you to grow up and say, 'Mama wouldn't
let me,' " Gravely recalls her mother telling her.

Gravely sees soldiering as a ticket to an active life
somewhere else. "I don't want to be one of the people
still sitting around Martinsville," she said, adding
she is contemplating airborne training and "wouldn't
mind" going to Iraq.

Being black and female, Gravely contradicts a national
decline over the past four years in the willingness of
both African Americans and women to consider military
service — a shift polls attribute to the U.S. anti-terrorism
effort and perceived discrimination. African Americans
fell from 22.3 percent of Army recruits in fiscal 2001 to
14.5 percent this year; Hispanics rose from 10.5 percent
to 13.2 percent, and whites, from 60.2 percent to
66.9 percent. Women dropped from 20 percent
to 18 percent.

Gravely is active in the school's large Junior Reserve
Officers' Training Corps (JROTC), which draws 300 of
the 1,200 students each year and works closely with
recruiters. JROTC programs are prolific in Virginia and
across the rural South.

"The parents heavily support it. We've kept a lot of kids
from getting kicked out of school," said JROTC
instructor John Truini.

The program gives students military ranks and strips
them away if they break discipline. "I don't want to
say [we] control the kids, but we have influence over
them," Truini said.

Davey Brooks, 17, grew up on a small farm; he said
JROTC "changed everything about my life." He joined
JROTC in hopes the military could fulfill his dream
of learning to fly — "like 'Top Gun,' " he says.

Now, Brooks is "battalion commander" and leader of
a nine-person Raider Team — modeled after Army
Rangers — which competes in military skills such as
evacuating casualties and orienteering. He plans
a 20-year Army career.

"I want to be in the Army and fly whatever I can get
my hands on," Brooks said. He is eager to go to Iraq
as a pilot, although he admits to one drawback:
He's scared of heights. "But when I'm up there," he
predicted, "I'll feel like I'm free and I'm in control of everything."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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Military Recruits Come From Poor Areas
United Press International  |  November 03, 2005
WASHINGTON - Most military recruits in the United States come
from areas in which household income is lower than the national
median, a non-profit group says.
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counties that have average incomes lower than the national median
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of Defense data for 2004.
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numbers of recruits had higher poverty rates than the national
average, and 18 of the top 20 had higher poverty rates than
the state average.
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On Halloween night, New Orleans was very, very dark. Well over half
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still do not have electricity. More do not have natural gas or running
water. Most stoplights still do not work. Most street lights remain out.
Fully armed National Guard troops refuse to allow over ten thousand
people to even physically visit their property in the Lower Ninth Ward
neighborhood. Despite the fact that people cannot come back, tens
of thousands of people face eviction from their homes. A local judge
told me that their court expects to process a thousand evictions
a day for weeks.
Renters still in shelters or temporary homes across the country
will never see the court notice taped to the door of their home.
Because they will not show up for the eviction hearing that they
do not know about, their possessions will be tossed out in the street.
In the street their possessions will sit alongside an estimated
3 million truck loads of downed trees, piles of mud, fiberglass
insulation, crushed sheetrock, abandoned cars, spoiled mattresses,
wet rugs, and horrifyingly smelly refrigerators full of food from August.
There are also New Orleans renters facing evictions from landlords
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workers who populate the city. Some renters have offered to pay
their rent and are still being evicted. Others question why they
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to return to New Orleans.