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Program aims to mold former soldiers into teachers


BARSTOW • When Sidney Tharpe exited the military after 20 years, he had to find something else to do.
So Tharpe headed for the classroom.

“I just like working with kids,” said the Apple Valley resident, who was stationed at Fort Irwin from 1996 to 2004, and is now in his third year of teaching elementary special education students.

Tharpe made the transition from the military to the classroom with the help of Troops to Teachers, a federal program run by the U.S. Department of Education, which is holding an informational sessions at Fort Irwin and the Marine Corps Logistics base on Wednesday.

Robert Bartron, military transition recruitment specialist with Troops to Teachers who will be at Wednesday’s session, said that education and the military share some similar qualities.

You will be successful in teaching if “you’re effective in a large bureaucratic association,” said Bartron.

“Not everybody in the military makes a good teacher. Those [who do] are who we’re seeking,” said Bartron.

The program also offers compensation of up to $10,000 for teachers who work in economically disadvantaged districts.

While about 85 percent people who express interest are retirees, Bartron said the program also aims to recruit active duty soldiers three or four years before they leave the military since the process to become a credentialed teacher can a few years.

Jim Ybarra, a teacher at Peary Middle School in Gardena, flew Apache and Black Hawk helicopters for 24 years before becoming a history and English teacher.

While his habit of early mornings and personnel management skills have translated directly to the classroom, Ybarra said he has to be more conventional with aspects like discipline.

“You can’t put everybody in a push-up position,” he said.

The program focuses on helping teachers get jobs in high demand subjects, such as math, science and special education, according to Bartron.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com

Troops to Teachers Information Session
Where: Education building at Fort Irwin, and McTureous Hall (Bldg. 218) at the Marine Corps Logistics Base.
When: Wednesday. One hour sessions start at 8 a.m. at Fort Irwin, and 2:30 p.m. at the MCLB.
Questions: Call Fort Irwin’s education office at (760) 380-4218, or the MCLB Education Services Office at (760) 577-6118.
Website: www.caltroops.org


cwatch wrote:
BTW, thank to the Dispatch for the heads up. Your article has already been mirrored at Counter Recruitment http://counter-recruitment.blogspot.com/2009/04/program-aims-to-mold-former-soldiers.html (I passed it on).

Hey, authoritarians, here's what YOUR kids will be facing...

Kindergarten Handcuffs: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/kindergarten-handcuffs/

Supremes to Hear Case of 13 Year-Old Girl Strip-Searched on Suspicion of Carrying Ibuprofen: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/supremes-to-hear-case-of-13-year-old-girl-strip-searched-on-suspicion-of-carrying-ibuprofen/

Hey Kids, Wanna Play Security Checkpoint: The Terrifying Marketing Of Police State Normalacy To Children: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/hey-kids-wanna-play-security-checkpoint-the-terrifying-marketing-of-police-state-normalacy-to-children/

Lawsuit: Girl Forced To Take Pregnancy Test: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/2154/

Children forced into cell-like school seclusion rooms: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/children-forced-into-cell-like-school-seclusion-rooms/

Admiral-turned-school boss gets boot in L.A.: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/admiral-turned-school-boss-gets-boot-in-la/

America the Illiterate: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/america-the-illiterate/

Murfreesboro, Metro teacher arrested on charges of secretly filming teenagers having sex: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/04/12/murfreesboro-metro-teacher-arrested-on-charges-of-secretly-filming-teenagers-having-sex/

200 ‘potential terrorist’ kids in UK: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/200-potential-terrorist-kids-in-uk/

Mom: School forced son to squat 30 minutes until he soiled himself: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/mom-school-forced-son-to-squat-30-minutes-until-he-soiled-himself/

Hawthorne police review use of Taser on middle school student: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/hawthorne-police-review-use-of-taser-on-middle-school-student/

Teachers Could Be Charged for Staging Pot Sting: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/teachers-could-be-charged-for-staging-pot-sting/

‘Painful Lessons’: Abuse At Chicago Schools: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/painful-lessons-abuse-at-chicago-schools/

Student Claims Teacher Attacked Him, School Covered Up Incident: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/student-claims-teacher-attacked-him-school-covered-up-incident/

Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/judges-plead-guilty-in-scheme-to-jail-youths-for-profit/

4/15/2009 5:23:15 PM

cwatch wrote:
4/15/2009 1:59:57 PM

amcr17 wrote:
Wow. WORDPRESS. Free blog for anyone who wants to rant about whatever they want. Brilliant. I'm very impressed. Check mine out...wordpress/imagination of rainbows and aliens.com.

P.S. Who RAISES their kids to be DISOBIDIENT?
4/15/2009 1:21:12 PM

cwatch wrote:
Military seeks “the Right Stuff” via “Moral Waivers”: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/military-seeks-the-right-stuff-via-moral-waivers/

Camp Lejeune Marine, Sgt. Darryl L. Bennett, Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Crimes: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/camp-lejeune-marine-sgt-darryl-l-bennett-pleads-guilty-to-child-sex-crimes/

Filipino court orders Marine rapist into custody: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/filipino-court-orders-marine-rapist-into-custody/

The US military and its cult of cruelty: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/the-us-military-and-its-cult-of-cruelty/

Marine sentenced to 6 years in prison for rape: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/marine-sentenced-to-6-years-in-prison-for-rape/

Death penalty sought against 4 Marines: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/death-penalty-sought-against-4-marines/

Marine Cpl. Jonathan M. Gould charged with attacking pregnant wife with hammer: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/marine-cpl-jonathan-m-gould-charged-with-attacking-pregnant-wife-with-hammer/

Army to court martial soldier for rape in Japan: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/army-to-court-martial-soldier-for-rape-in-japan/

Former Marine recruiter pleads guilty to rape: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/former-marine-recruiter-pleads-guilty-to-rape/

Recruiter charged in child prostitution sting: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/recruiter-charged-in-child-prostitution-sting/

Former Marine Recruiter, Sgt. Victor Sanchez-Millan, Sentenced for Sex with Minor: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/former-marine-recruiter-sgt-victor-sanchez-millan-sentenced-for-sex-with-minor/

Marine Recruiter Sgt. Arthur Pledger Arraigned in Rape Case: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/marine-recruiter-sgt-arthur-pledger-arraigned-in-rape-case/

“No Child Left Behind “: “Trojan Horse” for Pentagon Recruiters: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/%e2%80%9cno-child-left-behind-%e2%80%9ctrojan-horse-for-pentagon-recruiters/

America’s Child Soldiers: US Military Recruiting Children: http://bbvm.wordpress.com/2008/11/28/americas-child-soldiers-us-military-recruiting-children-to-serve-in-the-armed-forces/

Here's a lot more:

Army - http://bbvm.wordpress.com/tag/army/
USMC - http://bbvm.wordpress.com/tag/usmc/
Navy - http://bbvm.wordpress.com/tag/havy/
USAF - http://bbvm.wordpress.com/tag/usaf/

4/15/2009 12:54:41 PM

cwatch- I live in fear of people like you. I'm sure that your kids are the ones in wal-mart running and yelling and makeing everyone wish they had stayed home. "My kids do NOT obey orders; they act upon their own ethics and instincts." This is a direct quote from you. It speaks volumes about your values.
Also, you're remarks about soldiers being the dirt of the earth was so over the top I can't even respond to it.
Let's just say that I would like it very much if you kept your kids home and out of the public school. Just out of public all together. People like you make the day too hard to get through and we all have enough problems.
4/15/2009 8:43:47 AM

joevh04 wrote:
You should thank a soldier for your exercising of free speech cwatch, however crazy it is
4/14/2009 4:43:41 PM

cwatch wrote:
Man, I'm glad I kept my children out of the "education" system.

It is bad enough that the state tries to take your children, at gunpoint if necessary, and subject them to social and intellectual deprivation and programming during the most sensitive years of their lives, showing them a "reality" of authoritarianism... But to put "soldiers," the dirt of the earth, in charge... That's too much. My kids do NOT obey orders; they act upon their own ethics and instincts.

The "Big 3" which I taught them were:

1. ALWAYS have a questioning mind. NEVER believe. You may know something or you may not. You may suspect something or you may doubt. You may wonder or you may not care. But NEVER believe.

2. Be true to yourself. NEVER take orders or obey. Act from your own personal decisions.

3. ALWAYS treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Now, think about a "soldier," and what the world would be like without him. He prostitutes himself. He disarms his people, then claims to "protect" them - from the wrath of his victims...

4/14/2009 4:39:12 PM

Great my High School Biology teacher was a PHD, a helicopter pilot in the NG and was featured in National Geographic magazine for his Doctoral work. We need good veterans back into our classrooms. Nice article.
4/14/2009 7:19:28 AM


At least our Mexican neighbors are still standing up for their freedom (and ours)

February 16, 2009: The government has 45,000 troops and 5,000 police battling several thousand cartel gunmen in 18 states. But most of the action is in a few states along the U.S. border. Two years of violence have left over 8,000 dead. The drug cartels are not strong enough to defeat the government, but they are determined to keep fighting to preserve their lucrative drug business. It’s all about ambition, greed and no inhibitions when it comes to killing. You can’t make this stuff up. The government is apparently going to keep at it until the cartels are destroyed, or adopt a much more low profile way of operating.

February 14, 2009: For the past three months Mexican and U.S. security officials have openly discussed increased U.S. support for Mexico in its war against drug gangs. This is being called, “the Cartel War”. The U.S. is concerned about “spill-over” violence. Politicians in El Paso, Texas, are worried about it, and they are concerned for their Mexican neighbors in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state). Both Mexico and the U.S. are pushing “intelligence sharing” (intel on smuggling, drug gangs, weapons, finances, etc). One criticism from some sectors in Mexico is that intel sharing will likely lead to “American contractors” (meaning military or intelligence service companies). This is “contractors” used in a very negative sense, suggesting American mercenaries. Apparently the Mexican government thinks hiring expertise to support Mexican operations is a good option. Are joint operations by the U.S. and Mexico possible? Sure – but as both the U.S. government and Mexican government have stressed, such operations have to be very carefully planned and approved by both governments. At the moment Mexican-U.S. joint military operations are very unlikely, but it is a good bet that planning officers in Mexico and the U.S. are looking at “what can we do for each other” if cartels launch attacks in the U.S., or tried to create a situation where Mexican military units cross the border in the midst of a combat operation. Some joint operations well short of combat and “increased security presence” operations make a lot of sense. Joint communications operations are one example, and “joint liaison teams” manned by experienced military personnel from both countries another. You can bet any joint team will operate on both sides of the border. Political cover is one reason – Mexicans are sensitive to “affronts to sovereignty.” However, a “both sides” joint operation is also common sense since the violence and drug smuggling has transnational effects. Ad hoc arrangements and relationships already exist, but it appears both governments are interested in more formal and permanent cooperation.

February 10, 2009: At least 21 people died in a firefight in Chihuahua state (130 kilometers south of Ciudad Juarez) between Mexican soldiers and cartel gunmen. The confrontation began as a “stand-off” between soldiers and gang members who had kidnapped nine people. The gangsters executed six of the kidnap victims during the battle. Soldiers lost one of their own, and killed 14 gang members.

February 9, 2009: Troops took control of police headquarters in Cancun and arrested the local police commander and 36 policemen. The military announced that it believes the policemen are “connected” to the murder of retired Mexican Army Brigadier General Mauro Enrique Tello in Cancun.

February 5, 2009: Mexican soldiers and federal police participating in Joint Operation Chihuahua raided a drug warehouse in Ciudad Juarez. The police seized around two tons of marijuana.

February 4, 2009: A retired senior Mexican military officer, Brigadier General Mauro Enrique Tello, was murdered in Cancun in what authorities said was likely an assassination by a drug cartel hit team. Two bodyguards were killed along with the general. The murders were “execution-style”?the men were tortured then shot in the head. Tello had retired recently and after his retirement had take charge of a special counter-cartel security force authorized by the mayor of Cancun. Tello had also been in charge of operations in western Mexico in 1997 (Michoacan state) that amounted to a crackdown on drug traffickers and local gangsters – something of a “preview” of the Cartel War. The government is paying close attention to the murders, for several reasons. The Mexican Army plays a central role in the Cartel War – it is the government’s chief counter-cartel organization. Cancun is also an international tourist resort and a source of good jobs. Tourist revenues have declined since violence began increasing. So far the worst violence has been in northern Mexico, though the Acapulco region, which is also a tourist resort, has been plagued by inter-gang “turf wars” and shootouts between the police and drug gangs.

January 30, 2009: Demonstrators gathered in Mexico City to protest a government decision to “freeze” gasoline prices but not freeze prices for diesel. Most of the protestors were farmers who were complaining that the cost of farm machinery (most of the farm machines run on diesel) had increased prohibitively.

January 27, 2009: The government said 22 people were killed in northern Mexico over a 48 hour period. Four of the victims were killed at a PEMEX oil facility. They had “tape over their eyes” and they were shot in the head (more “execution-style” murders). Three more people were murdered in Chihuahua City.

January 24, 2009: The government reported thirteen people were slain in drug violence in the state of Chihuahua. Nine of the 13 were killed in the city of Ciudad Juarez (across the border from El Paso, Texas). A “semi-official” figure for murders in Chihuahua state during 2008 is now making the rounds: 2400. That means about 40 percent of the Cartel War deaths in 2008 occurred in Chihuahua state..

January 20, 2009: The U.S. Marine Corps is implementing new travel policies to Mexico for Marine Corps personnel. Marines stationed in Yuma, Arizona must get command permission before they cross the border (either on leave or off-duty pleasure travel). This is similar to the policies implemented by Ft Bliss, Texas, a U.S. Army post..The State Department has raised its “caution-level” for visiting Matamoros, Monterrey, Nogales, Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Juarez.

January 16, 2009: Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? The Zetas have roots in the Mexican military and have operated as a para-military force. Now Mexican Army troopers have arrested three drug cartel gang members in Tijuana. The military report said that the gang members had “uniforms” with a patch featuring a skull and crossed crutches. A “gang faction” in the area is run by a gang leader who has the nickname “Muletas” (crutches). The men arrested were identified as being part of the faction’s “special forces.” Uniforms for cartel gunmen isn’t new – police and soldiers have found real military uniforms and modified uniforms in arms caches. “Paramilitary gear” also crops up in news and government reports, and that can refer to clothing as well as tactical gear. But it looks like at least one gang really wants to “play soldier.”

January 15, 2009: The U.S. Homeland Security Department said that it would send Border Patrol SWAT teams and even military units if “drug gangs” (term used in the report) crossed the U.S.-Mexican border and confronted U.S. police. Homeland Security stressed that this is “a contingency plan” only – implying local authorities (police, sheriff, state police) are the first responders to such an incident. The head of Homeland Security repeated this – that this is a plan, not a prediction. A senior official said the contingency plan can be “scaled” to meet the emergency, meaning that if local authorities only needed “back-up” (support) that would be made available, but if the situation escalated a larger rapid reaction force could be organized and sent.

January 14, 2009: The military said it was sending 2000 more army soldiers to Ciudad Juarez.

Girl, 16, found dead in Fort Lewis barracks

A 16-year-old girl has died and another was in stable condition after they were found unresponsive Sunday in a barracks on Fort Lewis, Wash., according to a press release.

Emergency response personnel responded to a 911 call about 3:30 a.m. Sunday to a barracks on post. They found the girls, and one of them was pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor from Madigan Army Medical Center. The other girl was taken to Madigan for treatment and she was in stable condition as of Monday evening.

The circumstances and cause of the death are under investigation by Criminal Investigation Command special agents.

The names of the girls, who are civilians, were not released. Officials cited their age, their civilian status and the ongoing investigation as reasons for not identifying them.

Leaders at Fort Lewis are monitoring the investigation and a review of installation policies and procedures is already underway, according to the press release.

US soldiers investigated over ‘fraud’ bigger than Madoff

In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.

“I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad,” said one US businessman active in Iraq since 2003.

In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in “pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills” to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money. He is among the few US officials who were in Iraq to be convicted of fraud and money-laundering.

Despite the vast sums expended on rebuilding by the US since 2003, there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy and others rusting beside a half-built giant mosque that Saddam was constructing when he was overthrown. One of the few visible signs of government work on Baghdad’s infrastructure is a tireless attention to planting palm trees and flowers in the centre strip between main roads. Those are then dug up and replanted a few months later.

Iraqi leaders are convinced that the theft or waste of huge sums of US and Iraqi government money could have happened only if senior US officials were themselves involved in the corruption. In 2004-05, the entire Iraq military procurement budget of $1.3bn was siphoned off from the Iraqi Defense Ministry in return for 28-year-old Soviet helicopters too obsolete to fly and armored cars easily penetrated by rifle bullets. Iraqi officials were blamed for the theft, but US military officials were largely in control of the Defense Ministry at the time and must have been either highly negligent or participants in the fraud.

American federal investigators are now starting an inquiry into the actions of senior US officers involved in the programmed to rebuild Iraq, according to The New York Times, which cites interviews with senior government officials and court documents. Court records reveal that, in January, investigators subpoenaed the bank records of Colonel Anthony B Bell, now retired from the US Army, but who was previously responsible for contracting for the reconstruction effort in 2003 and 2004. Two federal officials are cited by the paper as saying that investigators are also looking at the activities of Lieutenant-Colonel Ronald W Hirtle of the US Air Force, who was senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004. It is not clear what specific evidence exists against the two men, who have both said they have nothing to hide.

The end of the Bush administration which launched the war may give fresh impetus to investigations into frauds in which tens of billions of dollars were spent on reconstruction with little being built that could be used. In the early days of the occupation, well-connected Republicans were awarded jobs in Iraq, regardless of experience. A 24-year-old from a Republican family was put in charge of the Baghdad stock exchange which had to close down because he allegedly forgot to renew the lease on its building.

In the expanded inquiry by federal agencies, the evidence of a small-time US businessman called Dale C Stoffel who was murdered after leaving the US base at Taiji north of Baghdad in 2004 is being re-examined. Before he was killed, Mr Stoffel, an arms dealer and contractor, was granted limited immunity from prosecution after he had provided information that a network of bribery – linking companies and US officials awarding contracts – existed within the US-run Green Zone in Baghdad. He said bribes of tens of thousands of dollars were regularly delivered in pizza boxes sent to US contracting officers.

So far, US officers who have been successfully prosecuted or unmasked have mostly been involved in small-scale corruption. Often sums paid out in cash were never recorded. In one case, an American soldier put in charge of reviving Iraqi boxing gambled away all the money but he could not be prosecuted because, although the money was certainly gone, nobody had recorded if it was $20,000 or $60,000.

Iraqi ministers admit the wholesale corruption of their government. Ali Allawi, the former finance minister, said Iraq was “becoming like Nigeria in the past when all the oil revenues were stolen”. But there has also been a strong suspicion among senior Iraqis that US officials must have been complicit or using Iraqi appointees as front-men in corrupt deals. Several Iraqi officials given important jobs at the urging of the US administration in Baghdad were inexperienced. For instance, the arms procurement chief at the centre of the Defense Ministry scandal, was a Polish-Iraqi, 27 years out of Iraq, who had run a pizza restaurant on the outskirts of Bonn in the 1990s.

In many cases, contractors never started or finished facilities they were supposedly building. As security deteriorated in Iraq from the summer of 2003 it was difficult to check if a contract had been completed. But the failure to provide electricity, water and sewage disposal during the US occupation was crucial in alienating Iraqis from the post-Saddam regime.

Source: Independent

Coast Guard chief charged with rape, cruelty

A Coast Guard chief will be arraigned Friday in Alameda, Calif., on charges of rape and assault of a female subordinate while on liberty in Golfito, Costa Rica.

Chief Yeoman Royce G. Clifton is being charged with five counts of rape and carnal knowledge, one count each of assault, cruelty and maltreatment, and failure to obey an order, said Lt. Dave Oney, Pacific Area spokesman.

Clifton was stationed on aboard the cutter Chase at the time of the alleged incident in January 2008. Coast Guard Investigative Service began investigating the incident in September, and Clifton was reassigned to Sector San Diego at that time, Oney said.

It is not clear whether alcohol was involved in the alleged attack. Also unclear is where the alleged attack is supposed to have occurred.

A general court-martial is scheduled for March 30 in Alameda, Oney said.

Army recruiting stand-down ordered after suicides

Army Secretary Pete Geren has ordered a stand-down of the Army’s entire recruiting force and a review of almost every aspect of the job is underway in the wake of a wide-ranging investigation of four suicides in the Houston Recruiting Battalion.

Poor command climate, failing personal relationships and long, stressful work days were factors in the suicides, the investigation found. The investigating officer noted a “threatening” environment in the battalion and that leaders may have tried to influence statements from witnesses.

See also:

4 Recruiter Suicides Lead to Army Probe

Army Manual Promotes Christianity to Combat Epidemic of Suicides

America’s Child Soldiers: US Military Recruiting Children

“No Child Left Behind “: “Trojan Horse” for Pentagon Recruiters

New Army Recruiting Tactic: Obama will “Get Us Out of Iraq”

Pentagon Targets Afro and Hispanic Youth to Fight Its Wars

Army’s New Recruiting Tool - Video Arcade for Mallrats

Feds Act Against Eureka, Arcata Over Voted Measures to Restrict Military Recruiter Access to Minors

“There were some things found that are disturbing,” said Brig. Gen. Del Turner, deputy commanding general for Accessions Command and the officer who conducted the investigation.

While he declined to discuss what action might be taken, Turner has recommended disciplinary action against battalion- and brigade-level commanders. He declined to discuss what action might be taken.

The report was not made public, with officials citing extensive personal information contained in the report.

The four recruiters who killed themselves were all combat veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army did not identify them.

The Army Inspector General’s office has been asked to conduct a command-wide assessment of Recruiting Command to determine if conditions uncovered in Houston exist elsewhere.

The one-day stand-down of all 7,000 active Army and 1,400 Army Reserve recruiters will be Feb. 13.

The soldiers will receive training on leadership, a review of the expectations of Recruiting Command’s leaders, suicide prevention and resiliency training, coping skills and recruiter wellness, Turner said.

“It’s significant,” Turner said about the stand-down. “It is not routinely scheduled. It normally occurs after some sort of major event like this.”

Turner was appointed to conduct the investigation on Oct. 14 by Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general of Accessions Command. The investigation was sought by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who heard from soldiers and family members after the Houston Chronicle in 2008 reported the suicides.

“I think that when you have something like this happen that’s this serious and has such a huge impact on families and loved ones, of course people will ask what’s going on,” Freakley said.

Recruiters and soldiers who are going to be recruiters, their families and the public are going to want to know what’s happening and what’s being done, he said.

“We’re very aware of our soldiers’ concerns and we want to make it better,” Freakley said.

USAREC is a strong command with good leaders and exceptional soldiers, Freakley said.

“I do not believe for a minute that this is endemic of the entire command whatsoever, but I do believe that one [suicide] is too many, and we had four,” he said. “So let’s fix this and move forward and grow from this in a positive way. It’s hard work, but the whole Army has hard work right now.”

Turner’s investigation was completed Dec. 23, and Turner said his work revolved around the four suicides that occurred between January 2005 and September. Findings from the investigation were released Jan. 21.

“It’s a very tough and very tragic thing,” he said. “But I’m focused on what good can come out of this and that’s where our focus is right now.”

There were 17 suicides within Recruiting Command between fiscal years 2001 and 2008, said Col. Michael Negard, a Training and Doctrine Command spokesman.

There were more than 500 suicides by active-duty soldiers across the Army from Jan. 1, 2003, through Aug. 31, according to data from the Army G-1. Another 31 cases were pending final determination, as of Aug. 31.

The Army’s suicide rate increased from 12.4 for every 100,000 soldiers in 2003 to 18.1 in 2007, an all-time high for the service. Nationwide, the suicide rate for every 100,000 people was 19.5 in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gen. Pete Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, voiced his concern in a Jan. 23 interview with Army Times.

“We need to move out as quickly as we can to do those things that are going to lower the numbers,” Chiarelli said. “That’s the best we can do. We can’t eliminate suicide.”

“I believe there are certain things leaders can do in the short run to reverse the trend and I’m going to talk about those next week,” Chiarelli said.

Turner said he examined the four soldiers’ personal lives, from their financial and medical histories to their performance at work. He also studied organizational factors such as command climate, leadership within the battalion, brigade and Recruiting Command. He looked at screening soldiers for recruiting duty, the impact of assigning soldiers directly to that duty after they return from combat tours, the adequacy of the Army’s suicide prevention training, and soldiers’ access to mental health care.

Here is what Turner said he found:

• There was poor command climate in the recruiting battalion, one of 38 in the Army.

Morale was low among the unit’s 200-plus recruiters, who routinely worked 12- to 14-hour days. They had unpredictable work schedules, frequently working on weekends. There was a “threatening type of environment” established by certain leaders throughout the battalion’s chain of command.

Monthly missions assigned by USAREC were bumped up, violating Army regulations and adding stress. For example, in July 2008, the battalion’s 205 recruiters each had to recruit two new soldiers a month, even though the battalion’s mission was 360 contracts, which is roughly the equivalent of 1.5 or 1.6 new contracts each.

“I don’t think it was malicious necessarily,” Turner said, “but what that does is it artificially ups their work load.”

• All four soldiers who killed themselves suffered from “troubled” or “failing” personal relationships.

Turner said he did not find any common thread of significant financial stress among the four men and none had been diagnosed with PTSD.

At least seven months had passed between the time each man returned from combat to the U.S. and when they were assigned to USAREC.

• Regarding witness statements, Turner noted “inappropriate comments by leaders before investigations were done and before mine started.” He added: “It may have been construed by recruiters as attempts to influence their statements.”

Recruiters who felt their commanders may have been trying to influence their statements were given the opportunity to change their statements during Turner’s investigation.

• There were no inherent problems with assigning soldiers to recruiting duty after they returned from combat, but the assignment process must be improved.

Soldiers now can get approval from the first lieutenant colonel in their chain of command to waive the 90-day stabilization period required of them after returning from a deployment. Sometimes, problems stemming from a soldier’s experience in the war zone may not present themselves immediately, so the Army G-1 is reworking the waiver policy so that soldiers must now get approval from a general officer.

• Almost 50 percent of prospective recruiters were not fully vetted by their chain of command, as required by USAREC.

Soldiers who are nominated for recruiting duty must complete financial disclosure forms and statements declaring that they understand that recruiting is sensitive duty, they may be assigned to remote locations and they must be able to work independently.

They also must complete a mental health evaluation and be interviewed by their current battalion commander, command sergeant major and company commander, who must determine whether the soldier would be a successful recruiter. Input from this command team must include comments on the prospective recruiter’s leadership ability and potential, physical fitness, character, integrity, ability to perform in stressful situations and any incidents of abuse. All negative evaluations must include a full explanation.

Turner said he found that almost half the soldiers who went on to be recruiters did not have a complete nomination packet, and that soldiers were not taking a standardized mental health evaluation.

To correct that, HRC on Jan. 13 sent a message reinforcing the need for a complete nomination packet and instituted a policy that prohibits soldiers from being assigned to recruiting battalions until their completed packet has been reviewed, Turner said.

Also, the Army surgeon general, G-1 and USAREC are creating a mental health evaluation form specific to recruiters, Turner said, and officials are working on a catalog to track the adequacy of medical and mental health care and the access soldiers have, regardless of where they are stationed, to that care.

Turner said “the Army is moving in a very quick way in taking concrete action” and to “improve the climate and leadership inside that battalion and other organizational, institutional factors that will improve recruiting operations.”

Freakley said the Army is listening to Turner’s advice and taking immediate and long-term steps to correct any problems.

“I want to ensure we have a climate where our recruiters know how important they are, are well led in a positive command climate, are well supported by the systems that we put in place to help them in their very important mission of recruiting an all-volunteer force … and that we learn and really grow from this experience,” he said.

Recruiting is a very stressful job, said Bret Moore, a former captain and clinical psychologist who served twice in Iraq.

“I know that recruiting duty is one of the most stressful jobs, alongside drill sergeants,” he said. “They have quotas to meet and there’s a lot of pressure.”

Turner, who briefed the four soldiers’ families and Cornyn before releasing the findings of his investigation, said “all these [deaths] are tragic, but the one thing the Army does extremely well is learn from itself,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, commanding general of USAREC, will send a team to Houston this summer to conduct a follow-on assessment of the command, Turner said.

There also is a move to balance suicide prevention training with resiliency training and coping skills, he said.

“[Instead] of trying to recognize that [a soldier] is exhibiting risk factors, this is more toward helping [a soldier] cope with the stresses in his life,” he said.

Bostick is calling for a review of the current USAREC policies on duty hours for each of the five recruiting brigades and their 38 battalions.

For example, the Houston battalion’s policy called for a maximum work day of 13 hours, and recruiters had to seek approval from their chain of command if they worked beyond that, Turner said. However, the 13-hour maximum was interpreted as the expected norm, and the policy could have been written more clearly, Turner said.

Bostick also is directing a review of how missions are assigned to recruiters, so what happened in Houston, where commanders were assigning a higher mission to recruiters, would not be repeated, Turner said.

What is critical in all of this is leadership, Turner said.

“It requires compassionate leaders caring for their soldiers, hitting that sweet spot between accomplishing the mission and caring for soldiers.”

Let My Students Drink

John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College, says his time on campus taught him that trying to stop college students from drinking was a fool’s errand. The 1984 federal law raising the minimum drinking age to 21 not only wasn’t working; it was encouraging more reckless consumption.

Two years ago, McCardell started an organization called Choose Responsibility, which waged a national campaign to lower the drinking age to 18. The soft-spoken scholar soon found that many other campus executives felt the same way. In early 2008 he started the Amethyst Initiative, a collective of college presidents urging a public discussion about the drinking age. At press time, the Amethyst Initiative had 130 signatories, including the presidents of Duke, Tufts, Dartmouth, and Johns Hopkins.

See related:

Old enough to fight, old enough to drink

College presidents want lower drinking age

Students ’should be given smart drugs to get better exam results’

Scientists Back Brain Drugs For Healthy People

Senior Editor Radley Balko spoke with McCardell in October.

Q: Why lower the drinking age?

A: We’ve had a law on the books for 24 years now. You don’t need an advanced degree to see that the law has utterly failed. Seventy-five percent of high school seniors have consumed alcohol. Sixty-six percent of high school sophomores have.

The law abridges the age of majority. It hasn’t reduced consumption but has only made it riskier. Finally, it has disenfranchised parents and removed any opportunity for adults to educate or to model responsible behavior about alcohol.

Q: Do you favor setting the federal drinking age at 18 or removing federal involvement altogether?

A: I would defer to the Constitution, which gives the federal government no authority to set a national federal drinking age at all. It’s clearly supposed to be left to the states. So the first thing we need to do is cut out the 10 percent penalty [in federal highway funds to states that refuse to adopt the minimum age of 21], then let the states make their own policies.

Q: Supporters of the law say it has led to a reduction in highway fatalities.

A: If you look at the graphs for about 30 seconds, you might draw that conclusion. There has been a decline in traffic fatalities. But it began in 1982, two years before the law changed. It has basically been flat or inching upward for the last decade.

More interestingly, the decline has come in every age group, not just people between 18 and 21. And if you look at Canada, where the minimum drinking age is 18 or 19 [depending on the province], the trend in highway fatalities has almost exactly paralleled ours. It’s far more likely that the reduction in deaths is due to seat belt use, airbags, and safer cars.

Q: How has Mothers Against Drunk Driving responded to the Amethyst Initiative?

A: MADD’s response has been disappointing and is unbecoming for an organization as revered as they are. They spammed the email boxes of college presidents, called them “shirkers,” and encouraged parents not to send their kids to those colleges. All this for nothing more than a call for discussion. If this question is as settled as they say it is, why such an exaggerated response?

I think their tactics backfired. MADD tried to bully these presidents into removing their names. We lost three presidents as a result, but we gained 20 more. And I think it actually strengthened the resolve of the presidents who stayed on.

Q: MADD and other opponents of your objectives say the college presidents are just trying to pass on their own responsibility to enforce the minimum drinking age. But is it really a college president’s responsibility to enforce criminal law?

A: That’s a great point. It’s about as logical as asking a couple of state troopers to come onto campus to teach calculus.


Military to bribe foreigners with citizenship for service

Those who are in the US on temporary visas will have a chance to acquire citizenship, if they enter military service as little as six months.

According to a Sunday New York Times report, for the first time since the war in Vietnam the US army has expressed willingness to recruit the immigrants who long for US citizenship.

Skillful immigrants who have lived at least for two years in the US can enroll in military to help the already exhausted army worn out by two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and pave the way for their own permanent citizenship.

“The Army will gain in its strength in human capital,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. General Freakley, the top recruitment officer for the US army, “and the immigrants will gain their citizenship and get on a ramp to the American dream.”

“The American Army finds itself in a lot of different countries where cultural awareness is critical,” said Gen. Freakley, which is in charge of the pilot program. “There will be some very talented folks in this group.”

The Times said the program could help the military fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis. It will be limited to 1,000 enlistees in its first year, most for the Army and some for other services.

The self-proclaimed US-led “war on terror” has worn out the strength of the military, prompting demoralization and suicides among the US soldiers, while leaving the army in dire need of new recruitments. Critics, however, say the program could provide for the terrorist to penetrate the army.

The Pentagon, though silent on the issue of recruiting foreigners, is striving to rehabilitate the army and find new solutions as it mulls opening new fronts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


Filipino court orders Marine rapist into custody

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a U.S. Marine convicted of rape to be moved from the American Embassy into Philippine custody, reopening an emotional case that has become a rallying point for anti-American protests.

The court ruled that a deal allowing Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith to stay at the embassy while appealing his 40-year jail term was contrary to the Visiting Forces Agreement, which governs the conduct of U.S. forces in the country.

The justices instructed Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo to negotiate Smith’s transfer to an appropriate detention facility. Pending such an agreement, Smith can remain at the embassy, the court said.

It also directed the Court of Appeals to quickly resolve Smith’s appeal.

The U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying it would consult with legal experts in Washington.

The rape case has stirred emotions in the former U.S. colony and became a rallying point for activists demanding an end to U.S. military counterterrorism exercises.

Smith, 23, from St. Louis, Missouri, was detained and put on trial in 2006 after a woman accused him of rape. After sentencing, he was transferred from a local jail to U.S. custody while his case was on appeal.

When a Filipino judge initially ordered Smith be detained in a suburban Manila jail, the U.S. government temporarily suspended joint, large-scale military exercises in protest. Washington agreed to proceed with the annual Balikatan war exercises with the Philippines only after Smith had been transferred to the embassy.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo backed the U.S. position and said Smith’s embassy detention was necessary to avoid complications in relations with its key ally.

A provision in the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement states that any accused U.S. service member shall remain in American custody until all judicial proceedings are exhausted.

But there are differing interpretations of when that is. The Filipino woman’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, and the left-wing alliance Bayan claim Smith should be serving his sentence in a Philippine jail, regardless of his appeal.

Smith’s lawyer, Jose Justiniano, said he explained the implications of the decision to his client. He said Smith has no choice but to comply.

Rucker soldier charged with death of son, 5 months old

FORT RUCKER, Ala. — A Fort Rucker soldier charged with manslaughter in the death of his 5-month-old son has admitted to shaking the infant in the past.

Dedrick Fisher Sr. attended a hearing on post Wednesday to determine if there was enough evidence to continue through court proceedings against him.

Federal authorities charged Fisher with involuntary manslaughter the day after Dedrick Jr. died Feb. 2.

According to testimony, Dedrick Fisher Jr. suffered injuries as severe as those an older child would have suffered from a television falling on his head.

A Fort Rucker special agent said Fisher admitted he was irritated when he shook Dedrick Jr. at least once in November.

Rucker soldier charged with death of son, 5 months old

FORT RUCKER, Ala. — A Fort Rucker soldier charged with manslaughter in the death of his 5-month-old son has admitted to shaking the infant in the past.

Dedrick Fisher Sr. attended a hearing on post Wednesday to determine if there was enough evidence to continue through court proceedings against him.

Federal authorities charged Fisher with involuntary manslaughter the day after Dedrick Jr. died Feb. 2.

According to testimony, Dedrick Fisher Jr. suffered injuries as severe as those an older child would have suffered from a television falling on his head.

A Fort Rucker special agent said Fisher admitted he was irritated when he shook Dedrick Jr. at least once in November.


Sheriff’s deputy must stand trial for alleged death threat, judge rules

Following more than two hours of testimony, a judge ruled Tuesday that a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy must stand trial on criminal charges for allegedly holding a gun to another man’s head while off duty.

Richard Heverly, 42, who works at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, must stand trial on four felony counts, ruled Judge Arjuna T. Saraydarian: assault with a semi-automatic firearm, assault by a public officer, criminal threats and false imprisonment.

All four charges carry sentencing enhancements because Heverly used a gun.

See also:

Preliminary Hearing for San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Heverly is Postponed

Sheriff’s deputy accused of death threats, gun charges returns to work

Back in court: Sheriff’s depupty accused of assault, threats while off duty

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy Richard Heverly

The man Heverly allegedly threatened testified for about an hour and a half Tuesday in Palm Springs Superior Court about his encounter last year with Heverly, a La Verne resident.

Roger Ross Gilstrap Jr., 33, testified that Heverly handcuffed him, drove a pistol into his head, and flashed his sheriff’s deputy badge, telling Gilstrap the badge “entitles me to do whatever the (expletive) I want to do.”

On Aug. 10, 2008, Gilstrap said he was working as a tow-truck driver for Blythe Freeway Towing, Inc.

While responding to a call for service, Gilstrap said he saw a smoking big-rig at about 6:15 p.m. on the shoulder of the westbound 10 Freeway about 50 miles east of Indio.

Gilstrap, of Blythe, testified that he maneuvered his truck to block the shoulder and right lane of the two-lane freeway. He testified that he was talking to a California Highway Patrol dispatcher on his cell phone about the burning big-rig.

Heverly’s pickup truck was parked 10 to 15 feet to the left of Gilstrap’s truck, Gilstrap testified.

As Gilstrap remained on the line with CHP and monitored the now-flaming big-rig, he said he noticed Heverly walking towards him, flashing something he couldn’t see clearly and saying something he couldn’t hear.

Gilstrap said Heverly, wearing a white tank-top and shorts, approached and told him to get off the phone. Gilstrap told Heverly he was on the phone with the highway patrol, Gilstrap testified.

Heverly repeated his command, sometimes using profanity, and Gilstrap repeated his response, keeping his cell phone to his ear, Gilstrap testified.

Heverly grabbed Gilstrap’s shirt and tried to pull him out of the truck, but was unsuccessful, Gilstrap testified. He said Heverly went back to his truck and retrieved handcuffs and again demanded that Gilstrap leave his truck.

Either before or after Heverly retrieved the handcuffs - Gilstrap said he couldn’t remember the exact sequence of events - Heverly grabbed Gilstrap’s cell phone and disconnected the call.

Heverly, now holding handcuffs, again demanded that Gilstrap get off his truck. Gilstrap said he again refused, and Heverly returned to his truck and retrieved a handgun from a black bag on his dashboard.

Heverly pointed the gun at Gilstrap and again demanded that he leave the truck. This time Gilstrap complied, he testified.

Heverly grabbed Gilstrap’s right arm and handcuffed his wrist, cutting Gilstrap’s wrist, Gilstrap testified.

“My hand immediately went numb,” he said.

He said Heverly then walked him to the back of his tow truck and brandished his handgun.

“He put his pistol in my ear and started pushing me down over my (truck) bed,” Gilstrap testified.

Heverly forced Gilstrap’s head onto the bed of his truck, Gilstrap testified, and twisted the barrel of the gun into Gilstrap’s head.

“Do you feel that?” Heverly asked, according to Gilstrap’s testimony. “I have a (expletive) gun to your head and I will kill you.”

Shortly after, fire trucks approached the scene of the burning big rig, and when Heverly noticed them coming his demeanor changed, Gilstrap testified.

He walked Gilstrap back to the driver’s side of the tow truck and told Gilstrap he would take the handcuffs off. He asked Gilstrap if he was going to do anything after the handcuffs were removed, Gilstrap testified.

“Not until CHP gets here,” Gilstrap said he responded.

Heverly repeated his question - this time with an angrier, more aggravated tone - and Gilstrap repeated his response, Gilstrap testified.

They repeated the exchange a third time before Heverly took off the handcuffs, Gilstrap testified.

After Gilstrap left the witness stand, three California Highway Patrol officers involved in the investigation of Heverly’s alleged crimes testified.

Officer Brandon Reynolds testified that he arrived at the burning-big-rig scene at about 6:30 p.m., and noticed that Gilstrap’s right wrist - which Heverly handcuffed - was bleeding and swollen.

The officer said that when he recovered Heverly’s gun, it had a full magazine but did not have a bullet in the chamber.

Reynolds testified that he asked Heverly why he handcuffed Gilstrap and held and gun to Gilstrap’s head.

Heverly responded that he felt threatened by Gilstrap when Gilstrap turned toward him. Gilstrap was as big, if not bigger, than Heverly, Heverly said, according to Reynolds’ testimony.

The other two CHP officers who testified Tuesday repeated witnesses’ accounts of the events, and testified about details contained in audio recordings of Gilstrap’s phone calls to CHP dispatchers.

After the hearing, Heverly and his attorney, Michael Schwartz, declined to comment. When asked to elaborate on Heverly’s feelings of being threatened by Gilstrap, Schwartz responded: “You’ll find out at trial.”

He prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Joanna Daniels, said she didn’t believe Heverly’s statement about Gilstrap being a threat is credible.

Heverly is set to next appear in court on March 3.

Attorney: shooting of victim in Chino “intentional”

An attorney for the family of a Rubidoux man shot to death by a Chino police officer on Sunday night said the shooting was intentional. Mark Algorri, a Pasadena attorney speaking on behalf of the family of Daniel Balandran, anticipates filing a wrongful death claim with the city after his firm’s investigation is complete.

Balandran was a bystander when he was shot and killed by the police officer who apparently thought he was involved in a robbery at the Papa John’s shop at 12615 Central Ave.

“I have been in discussion with the attorney representing the city of Chino and I expect, in this case, that we will expect reasonable cooperation from the city of Chino,” Algorri said.

He said it was too early to respond to questions regarding a settlement with the city.

On Friday, Balandran’s family, still grieving over the loss, stood silently with Algorri at a news conference.

“To them, it will always remain a completely senseless shooting and death and it is something, needless to say, they will never get over,” Algorri said.

As Algorri spoke about the shooting death, an emotional Ariceli Millan, Balandran’s fiancee, held their four-month-old infant Manuel Balandran in her arms while Balandran’s 5-year-old daughter listened.

“This was not a young man caught in a crossfire,” Algorri said. “Daniel was shot intentionally, it turns out, by the Chino Police Department, quite a distance from where the actual robbery was taking place and what we know, and our investigation has just begun, is that he was shot in a face-to-face confrontation.

“He was not given a warning, not told to put his hands up, and not told to lie on the ground. And that is really what we have at this point in time.”

On Sunday night, Balandran went to Chino to visit a local skate park with a friend and later ordered from a McDonald’s drive-through.

Balandran and his friend parked their vehicle to eat, but left after hearing commotion from the robbery, Algorri said.

Balandran was shot just south of the pizza shop, Algorri said.

Chino Valley spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden confirmed that the city’s attorney has been in discussions with Algorri’s office, but she could not comment on the accuracy of his descriptions of the incident.

A Chino police officer wounded in the shootout is in stable condition at a hospital, Van Der Linden said.

On Friday, the robbery suspects — Edward Cisneros, 28, of La Mirada, and Joel Anthony Jaquez, 28, of Hacienda Heights — remained hospitalized at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.


(Riverside) Justice for Annette García: Community responds to police murder of activist mother

RIVERSIDE, California - January 29, 2009 The Brown Berets of Aztlán led a march from the César Chávez Community Center at the Bobby Bonds Park to the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, where they held a candlelight vigil and demonstration.

They convoked the assembly to build momentum for the movement for justice for Annette García, a Perris resident, Brown Beret member, and mother of six, who was shot in the back on January 23 by a Riverside sheriff’s deputy.

The Brown Berets were joined by mourners, anti-police brutality activists, community members, and immigrant rights activists, many of also protested today’s simultaneous immigration raids in many communities across the Inland Empire.

See also:

cbs2.com - Brown Berets De Aztlan Hold Protest Over Shooting

Brown Berets de Aztlan are recruiting and forming new chapters

Brown Berets de Aztlan protest the police murder of one of their own

ALIPAC - Brown Berets De Aztlan Hold Protest Over Shooting

(Border Patrol agents were reported to have done sweeps in the cities on Rialto and Fontana, as well as paying visits to the Riverside Home Depot and the San Bernardino Greyhound station. See the calendar for information about tomorrow’s emergency press conference.)

But the focus of the evening fell mainly on Annette García, and the need for organization, unity, and action to prevent such acts of state-perpetuated cruelty.

Organizers asked the nearly fifty people present to return on Saturday at 10:00 am for another, larger march and press conference. “Go back, tell people about it. If you’ve got some websites, jump on the websites. On MySpace, send out your bulletins. Tell ‘em how it was today, tell them what you expect to happen Saturday. We wanna raise hell over there at Bobby Bonds Park before we get here. Then we’re gonna close this place down for several hours.”

The impact of the police presence on the local community was underscored by the nearly constant procession of sad-faced family members, some of whom seemed surprised to see protesters upon arriving at the detention center to attempt to free their loved ones.

After several moving speeches and raucous chants, we were all provided rides back to the Chávez center.

“This is not the first time we’ve marched on Riverside,” said one veterano at the initiation of the march.

Nor will it be the last.

CHP kills three boys, ages 15, 11 and 9, in high speed chase

FONTANA - Three boys fleeing a California Highway Patrol officer were killed late Wednesday when they crashed a car into a brick wall and the vehicle landed in a yard.Two of the boys - the 15-year-old driver and an 11-year-old passenger - died at the scene when they were thrown from the vehicle. A 9-year-old passenger, who was wearing a seatbelt, died at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

San Bernardino coroner’s officials identified the driver as Devon R. Keeten and the 9-year-old as Devon’s brother Dylan R. Green, both of Fontana. The 11-year-old remained unidentified.

A California Highway Patrol officer pulled over the 15-year-old boy behind the wheel of a silver Nissan Altima after he ran a red light at 8:55 p.m., said Officer Steven Cuevas. When the officer walked up to the vehicle, the driver sped away.

He led the officer on a short chase, running several red lights and speeding at 90 mph, until he lost control of the car at the corner of Alder and Shamrock avenues and crashed into the wall. The vehicle flipped over the wall and ended up in the front yard of a home.

See also:

Police “High-Speed Chases:” Another Innocent Life Taken

Several people were in the house at the time of the accident but they were not injured, authorities said.

Dolores Pimentel, who was at home with her husband Edward and two young grandchildren, said they were watching television when the vehicle crashed. At first, they thought it was an earthquake.

“It was a horrible accident,” Pimentel said. “We thought the house was falling apart.” She and her husband ran outside and saw a body on their porch. They ran back inside to keep their grandchildren, ages 3 and 1, from seeing it.

Dust filled the house as it continued to crumble. The couple moved their grandchildren to a back room to keep them safe.

It wasn’t until later they discovered that all occupants of the vehicle were also children. Despite their deaths, she was grateful no one was harmed in her house.

“Thank God they were all O.K. inside,” she said.

Since then, the family has not been able to sleep due to emergency and television crews surrounding their home.

Code enforcement personnel arrived at the scene this morning and red-tagged the home, meaning the home has been deemed unsafe.

Devon attended Wayne Ruble Middle School and Dylan attended Juniper Elementary School, both within the Fontana Unified School District, according to Robert Ratcliffe, district police chief.

Ratcliffe said counselors have been sent to both schools to offer grievance counseling to students and staff.

Staff writer Debbie Pfeiffer-Trunnell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

The US military and its cult of cruelty

In the week that George Bush took to fantasizing that his blood-soaked “war on terror” would lead the 21st century into a “shining age of human liberty” I went through my mail bag to find a frightening letter addressed to me by an American veteran whose son is serving as a lieutenant colonel and medical doctor with US forces in Baghdad. Put simply, my American friend believes the change of military creed under the Bush administration - from that of “soldier” to that of “warrior” - is encouraging American troops to commit atrocities.

From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to Bagram, to the battlefields of Iraq and to the “black” prisons of the CIA, humiliation and beatings, rape, anal rape and murder have now become so commonplace that each new outrage is creeping into the inside pages of our newspapers. My reporting notebooks are full of Afghan and Iraqi complaints of torture and beatings from August 2002, and then from 2003 to the present point. How, I keep asking myself, did this happen? Obviously, the trail leads to the top. But where did this cult of cruelty begin?

See also: Iraq to re-open Abu Ghraib prison

So first, here’s the official US ArmySoldier’s Creed“, originally drawn up to prevent anymore Vietnam atrocities:

“I am an American soldier. I am a member of the United States Army - a protector of the greatest nation on earth. Because I am proud of the uniform I wear, I will always act in ways creditable to the military service and the nation that it is sworn to guard … No matter what situation I am in, I will never do anything for pleasure, profit or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform, my unit or my country. I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions, disgraceful to themselves and the uniform. I am proud of my country and it’s flag. I will try to make the people of this nation proud of the service I represent for I am an American soldier.”

Now here’s the new version of what is called the “Warrior Ethos“:

“I am an American soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the Unites States and live the Army values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American soldier.”

Like most Europeans - and an awful lot of Americans - I was quite unaware of this ferocious “code” for US armed forces, although it’s not hard to see how it fits in with Bush’s rantings. I’m tempted to point this out in detail, but my American veteran did so with such eloquence in his letter to me that the response should come in his words: “The Warrior Creed,” he wrote, “allows no end to any conflict accept total destruction of the ‘enemy’. It allows no defeat … and does not allow one ever to stop fighting (lending itself to the idea of the ‘long war’). It says nothing about following orders, it says nothing about obeying laws or showing restraint. It says nothing about dishonorable actions …”.

Each day now, I come across new examples of American military cruelty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, for example, is Army Specialist Tony Lagouranis, part of an American mobile interrogation team working with US marines, interviewed by Amy Goodman on the American Democracy Now! program describing a 2004 operation in Babel, outside Baghdad: “Every time Force Recon went on a raid, they would bring back prisoners who were bruised, with broken bones, sometimes with burns. They were pretty brutal to these guys. And I would ask the prisoners what happened, how they received these wounds. And they would tell me that it was after their capture, while they were subdued, while they were handcuffed and they were being questioned by the Force Recon Marines … One guy was forced to sit on an exhaust pipe of a Humvee … he had a giant blister, third-degree burns on the back of his leg.”

Lagouranis, whose story is powerfully recalled in Goodman’s new book, Static, reported this brutality to a Marine major and a colonel-lawyer from the US Judge Advocate General’s Office. “But they just wouldn’t listen, you know? They wanted numbers. They wanted numbers of terrorists apprehended … so they could brief that to the general.”

The stories of barbarity grow by the week, sometimes by the day. In Canada, an American military deserter appealed for refugee status and a serving comrade gave evidence that when US forces saw babies lying in the road in Fallujah - outrageously, it appears, insurgents sometimes placed them there to force the Americans to halt and face ambush - they were under orders to drive over the children without stopping.

Which is what happens when you always “place the mission first” when you are going to “destroy” - rather than defeat - your enemies. As my American vet put it: “the activities in American military prisons and the hundreds of reported incidents against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are not aberrations - they are part of what the US military, according to the ethos, is intended to be. Many other armies behave in a worse fashion than the US Army. But those armies don’t claim to be the “good guys” … I think we need… a military composed of soldiers, not warriors.”

Winston Churchill understood military honor. “In defeat, defiance,” he advised Britons in the Second World War. “In victory, magnanimity.” Not any more. According to George W. Bush this week “the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad” because we are only in the “early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom”.

I suppose, in the end, we are supposed to lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty in the dungeons of “black” prisons, under the fists of US Marines, on the exhaust pipes of Humvees. We are warriors, we are Samurai. We draw the sword. We will destroy. Which is exactly what Osama bin Laden said.


Recruiters banned at RIT

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–Members of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are celebrating a significant victory after the director for Campus Life issued the order to stop allowing military recruiters in the Student Alumni Union.

On January 15, CAN members were promoting an upcoming meeting calling for the U.S. to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan when an ally who works at the information desk told us that military recruiters were arriving in half an hour. An emergency message was immediately sent out to CAN members for a counter-recruitment action.

When two members of the National Guard arrived, one of them laid out their tablecloth and the other went to reserve a table. CAN members went over to one of the recruiters and asked him questions about Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. The recruiter portrayed the National Guard as “the good guys,” who “help out with Hurricane Katrina and stuff.” He also claimed that the National Guard is not deployed overseas, which is false.

When the other Guardsman returned, he said that they couldn’t have a table because of “something that happened before with the Marines or whatever.”

The recruiters may have been clueless about why they couldn’t have a table, but CAN members were very much aware. On October 24, CAN at RIT held a counter-recruitment action with over two dozen protesters, including members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Antiwar protesters chanting prevented recruiters from recruiting, and even talking. We forced them to pack up.

See also:

Army recruiting stand-down ordered after suicides

ACLU files suit to allow counter-recruiting

Feds Act Against Eureka, Arcata Over Voted Measures to Restrict Military Recruiter Access to Minors

“No Child Left Behind “: “Trojan Horse” for Pentagon Recruiters

Pentagon Targets Afro and Hispanic Youth to Fight Its Wars

America’s Child Soldiers: US Military Recruiting Children

New Army Recruiting Tactic: Obama will “Get Us Out of Iraq”

When the National Guard took off this time, our ally from the information desk told us that her supervisor told the National Guard recruiters that they and other branches of the military were not allowed to recruit in the building because the administration didn’t want “another riot.”

They may have been banned from the busiest place on campus, but they will find an alternative location to recruit. CAN has no problem with changing accommodations. We’ll keep fighting.

This victory for the CAN chapter is also one for the student antiwar movement because this is what it means when we say activism matters. Organizing matters. Educating ourselves matters. Protest certainly does matter because it’s the best weapon we have in combating budget cuts, recruiters, war profiteers, discrimination and any struggle that lies ahead.


Marine sentenced to 6 years in prison for rape

SAN DIEGO — A lance corporal at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar has been sentenced to six years in prison for rape.

Leland Kee pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of breaking and entering and one count of attempting to destroy evidence. He pleaded on Jan. 5 and the Marines announced the sentence Friday.

Court documents show Kee was playing video games with the victim on Nov. 2 in his barracks room. She then returned to her room and fell asleep. Kee admitted sneaking into her room and raping her. The woman called military police to report the attack.

The San Diego Union-Tribune says Kee’s prison term was limited to 40 months because of a pretrial agreement with prosecutors. He will received a dishonorable discharge at the end of his sentence.