Recruiter uses gay slur at high school during testing

Recruiter uses slur at high school
DHS students offended by comment

Herald Staff Writer
November 04, 2009

An Army recruiter used a gay slur and an expletive during military-supervised testing at Durango High School last week, an incident that has raised parents' ire.

DHS students who overheard the comment confronted the man, whose identity was not released, and notified school personnel.

Juniors and seniors were required to attend a testing session Thursday that was overseen by recruiters from the U.S. Army Denver Recruiting Battalion, or to do an alternative project as part of a career day. More than 500 students took the test.

During the military aptitude test, several students overheard the soldier use the expletive and gay slur.

Lt. Col. William Medina, a spokesman for the Army's Denver Recruiting Battalion, said Tuesday he was conducting an internal investigation into the comment.

"The information I have at this point was the soldier who made it was talking to one of his fellow soldiers in the back of the room," Medina said. "The comment was overheard by several of the students.

The comment, although inappropriate, was not directed to the students or staff there." Medina said the remark "is absolutely inappropriate and not in keeping with Army values." Medina has apologized to DHS Principal Diane Lashinsky.

"I would like to apologize for that lack of professionalism," Medina said. "It really did not reflect well on the organization, nor does it reflect the support we get from the Durango community." Medina would not identify the soldier, but said he is a noncommissioned officer in the Denver Recruiting Battalion.

The comment happened in the school's cafeteria while students were taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, known as ASVAB. The multiple-choice test gauges students' aptitude for various careers. The test was overseen by about 10 military personnel, students said.

Lashinsky said at least 30 DHS teachers also were present.

Seniors Madeleine Meigs and Anna Rousseau were among the students who heard the comment. They confronted the soldier and reported the comment to school counselor Sarah St. John, who notified Lashinsky.

"I just thought that it was wrong, and I feel people in that position can kind of get away with stuff sometimes, and that's not OK," said Meigs, who is the daughter of Durango Mayor Leigh Meigs.

Rousseau said she wanted only to make the soldier know he was being distasteful. "When my friend and I went and talked to this guy, I just wanted to let him be aware that he was offending someone," Rousseau said. "I really didn't mean to start all this publicity, and I didn't mean to get him in trouble." Rousseau said school counselors and administrators were "furious" about the comment.

"I was really proud of the way our school handled it," she said.

Lashinsky said the students who reported the remark "did exactly what they were supposed to do." "The comment is completely inappropriate," Lashinsky said. "It's inappropriate to speak that way in a public forum, whether you're in a school or anywhere else. It's especially egregious to be speaking that way within hearing distance of young people." Parents complained they were not adequately notified of the ASVAB test or their ability to exclude their children. Rather, they said, it was up to the students to bring it to their parents' attention.

A notification of the test was posted on DHS' Web site several days before, Lashinsky said. Students also were notified during their advisory periods. But parents were not sent a mailing.

Leigh Meigs said she was upset military personnel were given access to her daughter.

"We as a family always opt out of having our children's identifying information given to recruiters," she said. "And yet, military personnel were allowed to have my child's mandatory attention." Lashinsky said the military would not have access to the testing information for students who opted out. She defended the school's decision to offer the ASVAB test, saying it gives students valuable insight into their aptitudes for various careers.

"It really helps students to know what they have the aptitude for relative to what their interests are," she said. "That's a unique test." Students get a comprehensive profile back that can help guide them in career choices, Lashinsky said.

For DHS students, who routinely take standardized multiple-choice tests, the exam itself was not unusual.

"It felt like a normal test that we would take at school, but it was weird to have the military running it," Madeleine Meigs said. "It all seemed kind of strange, and to me, kind of wrong." Kelly Fuge, an 18-year-old senior, said the military personnel were careful not to make recruiting pitches during the test.

Jim Fuge, Kelly's father, said it was not appropriate for students to be put under the supervision of military personnel.

"It's just not the way to operate," he said, adding that he had no problem with students being able to go talk with recruiters at their offices.

Leigh Meigs said the situation should never have happened.

"I am very proud of my daughter that she handled this the way she did, and I do not think it was fair that she was put in this position."

chuck at durangoherald dot com



Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado was the spearhead group who used their influence to push Amendment two (which took away any rights of GLBT people to not be fired from their jobs or denied housing) through the state elections during the 1992 Colorado elections. I was on the Board of Directors of EPOC, later Equality Colorado, who fought that campaign. The amendment was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

Not only was there a marked increase in hate crimes during and after that campaign and election, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community Center began a Hate Crimes Phone line and crisis center which was staffed 24/7. As an active victim advocate, I trained many of the people who worked on that phone crisis line.

My partner and I were victims of hate crime violence during this time. Matthew Shepard was living in Denver at the time of this election. He frequented the GLBT Community Center during this time. Later he returned to his hometown of Laramie Wyoming.

He was beaten mercilessly and later died of his injuries and it was proven in a court of law that the murder was a result of his sexual orientation. If you have any question about that, the entire court transcript and information about the case is available online at and at the Matthew Shepard foundation at .

The press release is available here

If you would like to read a statement of true Christian values and compassion, please read the letter that his father, Dennis Shepard, read to the court when asked to provide a witness statement. He asked that the court spare the lives of the men who killed his son. The court had the option to sentence the perpetrators to life or the death penalty for the two men convicted of the crime.

Do not tell me that Matthew's sexual orientation was a lifestyle choice. I am a bisexual woman who knows very well that we cannot pick and choose who we fall in love with or what gender we are attracted to sexually -- my partner and I remain dear friends and I love her no less than I love my husband.

If you would like to revisit the case, please go to the website. if you would like revisionist history, by all means listen to the people who were responsible for the legislation and spent hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to screen propoganda films in the churches and youth groups around the state of Colorado in 1991-1992. I don't know where you were at the time. But I do know where I was.

In the thick of it.


The Hippocratic oath and law

The Hippocratic oath and law

The Oath

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation - to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.

I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.

I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.

Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!

The Law

Medicine is of all the Arts the most noble; but, not withstanding, owing to the ignorance of those who practice it, and of those who, inconsiderately, form a judgment of them, it is at present far behind all the other arts. Their mistake appears to me to arise principally from this, that in the cities there is no punishment connected with the practice of medicine (and with it alone) except disgrace, and that does not hurt those who are familiar with it. Such persons are like the figures which are introduced in tragedies, for as they have the shape, and dress, and personal appearance of an actor, but are not actors, so also physicians are many in title but very few in reality.

2. Whoever is to acquire a competent knowledge of medicine, ought to be possessed of the following advantages: a natural disposition; instruction; a favorable position for the study; early tuition; love of labor; leisure. First of all, a natural talent is required; for, when Nature opposes, everything else is in vain; but when Nature leads the way to what is most excellent, instruction in the art takes place, which the student must try to appropriate to himself by reflection, becoming an early pupil in a place well adapted for instruction. He must also bring to the task a love of labor and perseverance, so that the instruction taking root may bring forth proper and abundant fruits.

3. Instruction in medicine is like the culture of the productions of the earth. For our natural disposition is, as it were, the soil; the tenets of our teacher are, as it were, the seed; instruction in youth is like the planting of the seed in the ground at the proper season; the place where the instruction is communicated is like the food imparted to vegetables by the atmosphere; diligent study is like the cultivation of the fields; and it is time which imparts strength to all things and brings them to maturity.

4. Having brought all these requisites to the study of medicine, and having acquired a true knowledge of it, we shall thus, in traveling through the cities, be esteemed physicians not only in name but in reality. But inexperience is a bad treasure, and a bad fund to those who possess it, whether in opinion or reality, being devoid of self-reliance and contentedness, and the nurse both of timidity and audacity. For timidity betrays a want of powers, and audacity a want of skill. There are, indeed, two things, knowledge and opinion, of which the one makes its possessor really to know, the other to be ignorant.

5. Those things which are sacred, are to be imparted only to sacred persons; and it is not lawful to import them to the profane until they have been initiated in the mysteries of the science.


This is Francis Adams' translation of the oath that erroneously has been attributed to Hippocrates. It was probably written some time between the sixth century BCE and the fourth century CE, while Hippocrates lived around 460-380 BCE. It is much debated whether all or even any of the texts in the corpus hippocraticum were written by Hippocrates. Some things in the oath are not consistent with other works associated with Hippocrates, such as the ban on suicide and abortion. The oath was radical not just for this but also since it stressed the loyalty towards the patient more than the esprit de corps among fellow physicians, although the devotion between pupil and teacher is strongly emphasized.

Welfare Mothers, the poor, and the children that they bring into this world.

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. It is true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.

There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.

I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, laborers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have eight shillings net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.

Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.

As to our city of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.

A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased in discoursing on this matter to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service; and these to be disposed of by their parents, if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me, from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable; and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission be a loss to the public, because they soon would become breeders themselves; and besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice (although indeed very unjustly), as a little bordering upon cruelty; which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, however so well intended.

But in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality as a prime dainty; and that in his time the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty's prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court, in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at playhouse and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for, the kingdom would not be the worse.

Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young laborers, they are now in as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labor, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies; and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.

Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.

Thirdly, Whereas the maintenance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old and upward, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a-piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds per annum, beside the profit of a new dish introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.

Fourthly, The constant breeders, beside the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.

Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating: and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.

Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards or enforced by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public, to their annual profit instead of expense. We should see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.

Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barreled beef, the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well-grown, fat, yearling child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a lord mayor's feast or any other public entertainment. But this and many others I omit, being studious of brevity.

Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be constant customers for infants flesh, besides others who might have it at merry meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.

I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged, that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and 'twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual Kingdom of Ireland, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon Earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor houshold furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.

Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.

But, as to my self, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expence and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.

After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion as to reject any offer proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, as things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for an hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock would leave them in debt two millions of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession to the bulk of farmers, cottagers, and laborers, with their wives and children who are beggars in effect: I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold as to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food, at a year old in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like or greater miseries upon their breed for ever.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.

The End

Note: Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), author and satirist, famous for Gulliver's Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729). This proposal, where he suggests that the Irish eat their own children, is one of his most drastic pieces. He devoted much of his writing to the struggle for Ireland against the English hegemony.

What if the USA really was a Christian nation?

What if the USA really was a Christian nation? What would that mean? What would this country become if it was?
Well first of all if The USA was a Christian nation things would REALLY HAVE TO change.

The first thing we would have to do is change the Constitution! To remove the separation of church and state clause. If the USA were a Christian nation then why would there be a NEED FOR a separation of the church and the state?

Then I can see few more changes. To be a Citizen of the USA you would have to be a Christian because if the USA is a Christian nation every American would and should have to be a Christian.

The motto would obviously have to change then to because “in God we trust” is not correct -- it would have to be “in Jesus Christ we trust.” this is obvious because Christians believe in Jesus Christ not just God.

No one could or should be allowed immigrate to the USA unless they are a Christian.

This is plain to see too, a Christian nation, only Christian immigrants duh.

Only Christians can work for the US Government. The US is a Christian nation and only Christian are Americans so only Americans/Christians should be allowed to work for the US Government.

Same for the military and get them women out of the military they should not be in there.

English would be the official language of the USA and all Christians.

Because the King James Holy bible is written in English so that must be right.

We should expel all non -Christians.

We might make allowances for Jews because they were God's Chosen ones before, but not any more - LOL!

  • Muslims
  • Hindus
  • Bahais
  • jains
  • Hari Krisnas
  • Buddhists
  • Sufis
  • daoists
  • confusuionist
  • pagans ... all the rest, you know em.

they are not a real believer in the real god, so out they go.

Lets talk about Catholics now.

Everyone knows that the Catholic Church is referred to in Revelations as the Great Whore.

So they should go to.

Lets talk about Jehovah Witnesses everyone knows they are not real Christians either.

Lets talk about Mormons they are not really Christians either.

What about Episcopalians? They are really just British Catholics.

I think that maybe the southern Baptists are OK and but what about the Northern Baptists?

the Charismatic Christians and Pentecostals Christian churches are ALL OK.

Well maybe the snake charming Pentecostals are iffy.

Think of the great things Christianity can do if the USA were really a Christians nation.

Make all public schools truly Christian church schools after all, all Americans are Christians.

Remove all non Christian literature from all libraries.

Heck only the Bible and Christian books about the bible should be allowed in a real Christian nation's libraries.

Remove all non-Christians TV programing.

Why, we could make the 700 club the new public TV stations.

Make Hollywood into the new JesusChristwood.

Burn all those old movies and TV copies they are all unchristian anyway. If it ain't Christian it ain't any good for us Americans.

Make it illegal for all women to work outside the home, barefoot and pregnant is what God intended for them after all.

Make it illegal for all women to go to school what do they need a education for. They need to cook and sew and maybe milk the cows and work the farms but not much else.

Make it illegal for all women to vote, the men know whats best and are the head of the households anyway.

If the woman can't drive then they cant go out and get into trouble and it would be easier to keep them home anyway, since that is where they belong.

Make women cover up modesty is what god wanted from woman anyway.

Maybe even birkas.. maybe them Muslim men do know a something about how to make women modest and docile.

Lets talk about the gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, trans-sexual hell lets get rid of them too they ain't real Americans/Christians anyway. Make us wanna puke

You know all those Mexicans are Catholics so kick them out too

all them native Americans are pagans also so out they go

The Chinese and Japanese are too

the viet namies too

the Koreans

hell all the Asians out they go.

They are not the real American Christians anyway.

Now we are getting somewhere!

How about the Negros.

They are not the real white Americans Christians either.

Mexican, blacks (colored?), Asians.... now we are really getting this place cleaned up and made into a real Christian USA.

those Irish are either Catholics or Episcopalians so lets get them out too

what about the Italians they are Catholics too damm them.

The Turks are eastern Catholics lets get them out to

the Russians are too and if they are not they are commies.

And all their eastern block neighbors too damm them

Yeah no commies either so get the Cubans out.

Heck the Argentinians too.

Those Brazilians are godless people too.

They are either Catholics or pagans damm it.

Kick them out too.

Hell all them damm foreigners are dangerous to the USA so lets kick em all out

and the damm UN too.

The hell with NATO, screw them Europeans.

Hell all them democrats ain't Christians either, they are pinko commies and anti Christians so lets kick them out too

the dammed abortion (abortionists) lovers, kickem out.

the divorced people too they ain't real Christians.

You know shipping them overseas would be expensive and so very wasteful and a wrong use of god's money so just kill em all they are all going to hell anyway just speed em along their way.

git'er dun.

Now we are really getting somewhere.

Praise the Lord.

Hell lets just Nuke em all and let God sort em out.

Maybe them KKK, and the nazies were right all along.

We need to Make this a real white American Christian nation.

Yes praise the lord.
And may Jesus come back soon.

Hell he might just land here instead of Israel if we CAN GET ALL OF THIS DONE IN HIS NAME.

Halleluiah, thank you JESUS.

I can feel the holy spirit moving in my veins right now!

Think of what we could do!

This of course was written in sarcasm and jest, to be honest I believe satire is what it is called. The author carried the subject to an extreme -- but that what happpens when extremist gain controlof a government.

Thank God we don't have a Christian nation. I can see it now a Christian/American/kkk/nazies Taliban. This could happen here If we let the fundies/teabaggers/912s get ahold of our government. They were trying to make a christain coup happen under King George and company.

Dear God please protect me and the rest of the good old USA from all your believers Christian and otherwise. Amen.

Fundamentalist Christian and otherwise they are all dangerous if they gain control of a government. That is what is wrong in Iran. Might makes right, and the Might of God makes anything mighty right if you believe in it enough.


Immigrants SHOULD be covered under National Health Reform

You'd think that — considering they plant and harvest your food, cook your meals, clean up after you, take care of your children, work on your homes, construct new homes, and do the work that NO one wants to do for next-to-nothing wages — you might WANT to provide minimal care.
Hell in Texas (correction, AZ)2, some counties gave the choice to return to their homeland or fight in Iraq with "guaranteed citizenship" if they came home alive!

And while were on the subject of Good Christian folk, aren't many "illegal aliens" avid Church goers with some of the Strongest FAMILY VALUES systems in the country?

Call it like it is. Everyone is afraid to speak up for the immigrant. I say let's provide better paths to citizenship and allow taxpayers in this workforce to help pay for, well, PEOPLE WHO IMMIGRATED FROM OTHER COUNTRIES who were carrying those hate banners.

No more radical than the sorry ass fear of calling truth to the podium and letting it speak.

1. comment BY Lisbeth West on 09/13/2009 at 06:14

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, citing war and terrorism concerns, said Monday that he is ordering all undocumented immigrants currently in jail to register for the draft.

When Philosophy Meets Politics

We’ll wager that, unless you happen to be a practicing bioethicist, you’d never heard of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel six weeks ago. But now Emanuel, the director of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, finds himself labeled a "deadly doctor" by Betsy McCaughey in an opinion piece in the New York Post. And controversial conservative pundit Ann Coulter recently proclaimed that "Zeke Emanuel is on my death list."

We debunked McCaughey’s charges in an Ask FactCheck item we posted today. The short version is that McCaughey has quoted a number of passages badly out of context and twisted their meaning.

We’re not here to rule on the merits of Emanuel’s philosophical arguments, nor are we looking to get into the business of interpreting ethics papers. We’ll leave both those tasks to you and to (other) philosophers. But the Emanuel incident raises a more general point: When you interpret ethics texts, you have to be really cautious.

Indeed, Emanuel is hardly the first philosopher to find himself in hot water for views that are taken out of context. Princeton philosopher Peter Singer (whose views about doctor-assisted suicide are controversial even in their proper context) is a frequent victim of the phenomenon. Rumors about 18th century philosopher David Hume kept him from ever obtaining an academic post. And, of course, no one can really top Socrates, who was actually executed (a fate that Coulter says she’d welcome for Emanuel) for views that he arguably didn’t really hold.

As practiced as an academic discipline, ethics is devoted to talking about really difficult cases. A lot of times, those cases involve death, in some form or another. Entire courses, both undergraduate and graduate, revolve around questions of life and death. That’s not because academic ethicists are all terribly morbid, a charge I heard from more than one of my students when I taught introductory courses in philosophy and ethics. It’s because that’s where the hard questions are.

There is actually widespread agreement about what’s ethical and what’s not. Everyone pretty much agrees, for example, that murder is wrong. But we don’t always agree about whether a particular act of killing counts as a murder. What if it’s self defense? What if it’s an enemy soldier during war? Or a late-term abortion? Or if the victim is a farm animal? People have different views about these questions. And so that is where academic ethics focuses — on the areas of disagreement.

Part of the way that ethicists attempt to resolve those problems is by engaging in thought experiments. These are just what they sound like: We make up some scenario (often a pretty unlikely one) and then use that scenario as a way of getting clear on abstract ideas. In my own introductory courses, for example, I would ask students to suppose that they lost a limb to a drunk driver and then ask them how much money they would want as compensation. I would then ask students whether they would take the same sum to let me cut off that same limb.

Now the point here isn’t that I have a particular desire to cut off people’s limbs, nor is it that I think students ought to take my deal. I don’t, and they probably don’t either. Rather, the point was to help students think seriously about whether there can be trade-offs between pain and money. Your answer to that question should heavily influence your views about things like tort reform (should there be compensation for pain and suffering?) and punishment (should criminals pay monetary compensation to their victims in lieu of going to prison?).

Of course, if you were to take my offer out of context, it would look pretty alarming. In fact, I’m waiting to see how long it takes before we get a chain e-mail alleging that the Jigsaw Killer is alive and working at If you read all the way through, though, you see that that’s not at all what was going on. Pointing out what a certain view might entail is an important part of what ethicists do. Which means that you have to read ethics papers carefully in order to determine when you’re seeing someone’s actual position and when you’re seeing that person articulate some possible conclusions.

And if this is true for ethics in general, it’s especially true for bioethics, where the subject matter inevitably involves extremely sensitive issues that are, literally, about life and death.

The Bogie Horror Show

My first thought was: Good God, this man was responsible for the lives of our soldiers!

The second thought was: What’s the big surprise? You always knew what kind of person he was! After all, during his years as the army’s Chief of Staff he quietly supported the setting up of “illegal” settlement outposts all over the West Bank!

The third thought: And this person is now Vice Prime Minister and a member of the “Sextet” – the six ministers who constitute the real government of Israel.

The occasion for these frightening thoughts was the participation of Moshe (“Bogie”) Ya’alon in a gathering of the Jewish Leadership Faction. “Peace Now is a virus,” he said there. And not only they. “All the media” are also a virus. They influence the public discourse “in a distorted manner, a lying manner”. The virus also includes “the elite” in general.

In addition, the “politicians” are to blame. “Every time the politicians bring in the dove of peace, we, the army, have to clean up after it.”

His summing up: “The Jews have a right to settle in any place throughout Eretz Israel.” And if this upsets the Americans, Ya’alon has a ready answer: “I am not afraid of the Americans!”

All this was said a few days after Ya’alon paid a well publicized visit to the occupied territories, accompanied by Shas leader Eli Yishai and several other ministers of the extreme Right. This band visited the settlement outposts, which the Israeli government long ago promised the Americans to dismantle, and expressed total opposition to their evacuation. They concluded their visit in Homesh, the West Bank settlement evacuated by Ariel Sharon in the course of the “disengagement”. Ya’alon demanded the resettlement of the place.

These tones come together in a frightening melody, a tune we know all too well. It is anthem of fascism.

First: the term “elite”. In the jargon of the Israeli extreme Right, this includes everybody they hate: the intellectuals, the universities, the liberal politicians, the Supreme Court, the media.

The term is rooted in the Latin verb “eligere”, to pick out, meaning the best, the select. Since this is an undefined body, the term can be applied to different targets. When the demagogues address the Oriental Jewish masses, “the elite” clearly consists of the Ashkenazis who rule the country. When addressing the religious community, “the elite” consist of the secular, the atheist, who are strangers to Jewish Tradition. When addressing the Russian immigrants, “the elite” consists of the old established Israelis, the native born, who obstruct the path of the new immigrants.

When one bundles all these together, there emerges a picture of “them” and “us”. “Them” – the handful of arrogant old-timers, who occupy all the key positions in the state, and “us” – the simple, honest people, the patriots, the keepers of tradition, the discriminated against, the oppressed.

Every fascist group in the world entertains such a view of “the elite”.

(Never mind that Ya’alon, like most of the other demagogues, himself belongs to the elite. He was born in the country, an Ashkenazi of Ukrainian descent. His original name was Smilansky. He is still officially a member of an “elitist” kibbutz and belongs to the super-privileged senior officers’ corps.)

Second: The traitors. There is an enemy within. This is no less dangerous than the foreign enemy, indeed, much more dangerous. When Ya’alon speaks about Peace Now, he means all the peace camp, the liberal and secular section of society. That is the Fifth Column, the Trojan horse within the walls. They have to be eliminated, before one can turn to fight the foreign foe.

Third: The “politicians”. The demagogues are, of course, themselves politicians, but they exclude themselves here. Ya’alon paints a picture of “the politicians” who bring in a disgusting peace dove, whose excrement the army has to clean up.

The knavish, scheming, cowardly politicians on the one side, the clean-cut, heroic, loyal army on the other – that is a very familiar picture. The best known example was current in Germany after World War I. The “knife in the back” legend was a stepping stone to power for Adolf Hitler: the German army stood up to the enemy and had victory in its sights, when “the politicians”, the Jews, the socialists and the other “November criminals” stuck a knife in the back of the heroic fighters.

The peace dove leaves its droppings and the soldiers are compelled to clean up the filth of peace.

And also: “All the media”. That is one of the marks of fascism in Israel and throughout the world. The media are always “leftist”, “anti-national”, they are the “hostile media”. The journalists and broadcasters are a secret league of Israel-bashers, who spread lies and distort reality in order to undermine national morale, defame the army, besmirch our national values and give comfort to the enemy.

Reality is, of course, very, very different. The Israeli media slavishly repeat the official propaganda in all national and security matters. They are conformist to a high degree and mobilized from wall to wall. There is not a single leftist newspaper in the country. Most political correspondents repeat like parrots the statements of “official sources”; almost all the correspondents for Arab affairs are former army intelligence officers; and almost all military correspondents serve as unofficial army spokesmen. In the news pages and news programs, right-wing terminology reigns supreme. But because in less important matters the media criticize the government, as they are duty-bound to do in a democratic society, it is easy to portray them as “leftist” and subversive. The same is true for academia.

And finally: The “virus”. The description of political opponents as infectious agents or disgusting vermin is one of the most distinguishing features of the extreme Right. It is sufficient to remember Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ film “The Eternal Jew”, in which the Jews were shown as rats spreading disease.

If one puts all these features together - the hatred of “the elite”, the glorification of the army, the contempt for “the politicians”, the demonization of the peace camp, the incitement against the media – it’s the ugly face of fascism that emerges. Here in Israel and all over the world.

No less important are the location and the company.

Ya’alon spoke at a gathering of the “Jewish Leadership Faction”. This is a group of ultra-ultra rightists, who entered the Likud with the declared objective of conquering it from within. It is headed by one Moshe Feiglin, hence its followers are usually called “the Feiglins”.

On the eve of the last elections, Binyamin Netanyahu made an all-out effort, using kosher and not-so-kosher means, to remove Feiglin from the Likud’s list of candidates. He was determined to avoid the Likud being presented as an extreme-Right party. The Likud’s main competitor, Kadima, defined itself as a center or moderate-rightist party and tried very hard to push Netanyahu to the right. Netanyahu thought that by driving the Feiglins out he could blunt this attack.

The question is whether this was his only aim. If so, why did he raise Benny Begin, a person who personifies the far-right, into a conspicuous place on the list? And why did he enlist and embrace Moshe Ya’alon, who was already known as a person of extreme rightist views? That embrace was very costly, since in the end Kadima, against all expectations, won one seat more than the Likud.

But Netanyahu, a born politician, had more than one objective in mind. He was afraid that Feiglin would one day threaten his hold on the Likud leadership. To forestall this possibility, he denied Feiglin a seat in the Knesset.

And here comes Ya’alon, Netanyahu’s pampered protégé, and joins Feiglin of all people. As the Hebrew saying goes, the swallow went to visit the crow. But it is not quite clear who is the swallow and who the crow. Is Feiglin using Ya’alon – or is Ya’alon intending to use Feiglin in order to position himself as the leader of a big extreme-Right camp?

One should also pay attention to Ya’alon’s declaration that “I am not afraid of the Americans”. The Americans demand the freezing of the settlements? To hell with them! Who do they think they are? What, these Goyim are ordering us around? Barack Obama wants to tell us where we can settle and where we can’t?

That is another feature of the emerging Israeli fascism: the readiness to engage in an open confrontation with the United States, and especially with President Obama. Already an Israeli campaign against “Barack Saddam Hussein”, the New Hitler, is in full swing. The American Right and the Israeli Right easily find a common language. An Israeli woman in the US is heading the well publicized effort to prove that Obama was not born in the US, that his father never was a US citizen, and that he should therefore be driven out of the White House.

The whole thing borders on madness. Israel is dependent on the US for practically everything: economic assistance, arms, intelligence cooperation, diplomatic support like the veto in the Security Council. Netanyahu is trying to avoid a confrontation by using every trick of deceit and diversion. And here come Ya’alon & Co. and call for an open revolt against the USA!

There is method in this madness. The Israeli education system glorifies the Zealots, who some 1940 years ago declared war on the Roman Empire. The Zealots became the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine and launched a revolt that had no chance at all of succeeding. The rebels were defeated, Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple was burned to the ground.

The bogie horror show has wider ramifications.

It presents a picture of a mad group of extremists challenging the moderate, responsible Netanyahu. Netanyahu signals to Obama and his people: Help! If you pressure me on the freezing of the settlements and the dismantling of the outposts, it will be the end of me! My government will fall, and you will have to deal with the crazies!

That would be more convincing, if Netanyahu had used his legal prerogative and dismissed Ya’alon from the government, even though that represents a political risk. Instead, “Bibi” summoned “Bogie”, like a headmaster who summons a boy and orders him to write a hundred times “I shall be a good boy”. So Ya’alon remains Vice Prime Minister, Minister in Charge of Strategic Affairs and a member of the governing Sextet of Ministers (the others being Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Begin, Eli Yishai, Dan Meridor and Binyamin Netanyahu himself.)
This being so, Netanyahu cannot evade responsibility for everything Ya’alon does and says.

By Uri Avnery
12:18 08/23/2009

- Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to

Restored Border Mires bog brings floods of joy for wildlife

Rare mosses, dragonflies and wading birds will benefit
as they recolonise the wilderness north of Hadrian's Wall
Martin Wainwright, Wednesday 12 August 2009 14.15 BST

Rehabilitation of the Border Mires, an ancient peat bog, Kielder Forest, Northumberland. Photograph: Forestry Commission

The most sinister sounding of all Britain's scientifically treasured landscapes has been rescued two years ahead of schedule and restored to its natural state as a deep bog.

Famous as the retreat of the Mosstrooper outlaws who harried villages in Northumberland and the south of Scotland, the Border Mires have been reflooded in a £700,000 project after years as part of the country's strategic timber reserve.

Rare mosses, dragonflies and wading birds have started to recolonise the revived wilderness just north of Hadrian's Wall where soggy peat hags – waterlogged blocks of peat underground – go as deep as 15 metres. Special machinery, including a tractor with tyres 2.5 metres wide to prevent it sinking, have removed the last traces of Forestry Commission conifers.

The mires, formed in the great melt after the Ice Age, stretch between Kielder Water reservoir and Butterburn in Northumberland. With the trees gone, the lonely wasteland close to the former Blue Streak rocket-testing site at Spadeadam, looks much as it would have done to Roman legionaries serving their time on the Wall.

The restoration by the Forestry Commission, Northumberland national park, the county's wildlife trust and RAF Spadeadam, includes access along boardwalks to previously unreachable parts of the mires. The wildlife is spectacular and internationally important; Britain has 13% of the world's remaining blanket bog and the mires are among the deepest.

Neville Geddes, from the Forestry Commission in Northumberland, said at an opening ceremony yesterday: "We get dazzled by the wonders of the rain forest and marvellous ancient woodlands. Bogs may lack the same immediate visual impact, but in many ways they are an even more endangered and fragile habitat."

The restoration has taken nearly four decades of "reverse landscaping", including the blocking of more than 15 miles of drains to allow water to seep back. The area was dried out after the first world war as part of a drive to renew timber supplies, a policy only reversed in 1970.

Mike Sutcliffe of Natural England's Northumberland staff, said that bog mosses had recolonised unexpectedly quickly, and the restored mires were already one of the North of England's richest dragonfly habitats. The 67 separate bogs which form the mires store more carbon that all the trees in the 155,000 acres of Kielder forest, and hold more liquid than Kielder Water, which is Europe's largest man-made lake.

* © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009


Media Must Police Media

hen The Washington Post started drawing heat for its latest “Mouthpiece Theater” video, in which Post staffers Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza suggested it would be appropriate for Hillary Clinton to drink “Mad Bitch” beer, the paper made the problem go away—literally. There doesn’t appear to be any official record of the decision to remove the video anywhere on the site—not in the corrections column, not on the page that collects Milbank’s work, not on Cillizza’s blog “The Fix,” where the post promoting the video is still in place, but the player itself is unresponsive. And no mention of the decision has been appended to the transcript of Cillizza’s live chat from 11 a.m. Friday, and etc. etc.

But the Post’s decision to publish, and then quietly “unpublish,” the video raises questions, which CJR's (Columbia Journalism Review) Greg Marx asks today.

Meanwhile, two takes on the recent complaints about fair linking practices from Ian Shapira of The Washington Post.:

Megan Garber parses the lack conflicting impulses in the debate, and notes that it calls out for linking standards.

And Bill Grueskin points to another example, in which Gawker credited the St. Petersburg Times for a courageous and time-consuming investigation, but buried the links to the Times under a number of links to Gawker's own content.

Finally, CJR's Trudy Lieberman finds several bright spots in press coverage of the debate over health care reform. Coverage lately has centered on the legislative horse race, as we knew it would, and the press has went wild covering nearly every twist and turn in the chase to get bills passed by the full House and Senate before the August recess. This sort of coverage has two downsides: it misses what the special interests are up to, and it shortchanges the public—which most of all needs to know how health reform would affect them.

But here, Lieberman commends a trio of exceptional pieces that do try to address those questions.

We hope you enjoy these stories,

the editors


Singing for peace in Israel


Singing for peace in Israel

A campaign to stop a Leonard Cohen concert fails to understand the impact of such artists as Joan Baez and Roger Waters
"This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender," reads the famous slogan on Pete Seeger's banjo. The legendary folksinger, who is celebrating his 90th birthday this year, popularised one of the most powerful peace songs ever written: "Last night I had the strangest dream, I'd ever dreamed before. I dreamed the world had all agreed, to put an end to war" – a song that was played for many years every day on Abie Nathan's pirate Voice of Peace radio station based "somewhere in the Mediterranean".
Music has frequently accompanied struggles for freedom, equality and peace, like the songs of the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish civil war, the civil rights movement in the United States, and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

For us in the peace movement, many of these songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives and struggles.

And now a group of academics in the UK – among them Professor Haim Bresheeth, who spent many years in Israel – is urging Leonard Cohen to cancel his concert in Israel, scheduled for 24 September, because "your songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives". It is not "the right action" according to the Buddhist precepts he identifies with, because it sends a message of support for Israeli military actions against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Well, Leonard Cohen's music is part of the soundtrack of my life as well, and I think he is doing the right thing performing in Israel this September, and I will add that I have no idea where he stands on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since he usually doesn't voice his political positions either in his music or otherwise.

But there are others who have made their positions very clear.

Back in 1978, Joan Baez was invited to appear at an Israeli Woodstock-type festival in the Sinai desert oasis town of Nuweiba. When Israeli peace activists told her that it was in occupied (ie Egyptian) territory, she cancelled her participation. However, she insisted on coming to perform in Israel and Lebanon, to demonstrate her identification with both Israelis and Palestinians. Her visit coincided with one of the first major Israeli-Palestinian dialogues, organised by the Tel Aviv-based peace monthly New Outlook. It later appeared in book form under the title When Enemies Dare to Talk.

She used the opportunity to meet the Israeli participants in the dialogue at the Jerusalem home of Yaacov Arnon, the former director general of the finance ministry, and one of the first people to enter into ongoing dialogue with the PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. She also met Palestinians at the home of Professor Nafez Nazzal in Ramallah, and academics at Birzeit University.

In 2006 there were calls for Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd leader, not to perform in Israel out of identification with the Palestinians. Waters – who performed The Wall when the Berlin Wall came down, and will hopefully have an opportunity to perform when the separation wall snaking along and through the West Bank comes down (and it will come down) – did not listen to those calls. Instead he chose to make a statement against the occupation and for Israeli-Palestinian peace by performing in Israel at the joint Jewish-Arab community Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.

And just about a month ago, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) also chose to come to Israel, after the Gaza war, to perform Blowing in the Wind, and to sing with the audience about having a hammer "of justice, of freedom, a song between my brothers and my sisters, all over this world". Yarrow came, together with the educator Charlotte Frank, to promote a programme called Operation Respect which advocates using music to overcome violence in the schools and developing respect for the other. They wanted to introduce it in both Israel and Palestine, since children are the key to a non-violent, peaceful future.

Yarrow told me that he became involved in the quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace after appearing at a Passover peace rally on the streets of New York back in 1989. When he decided to come to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, he consulted with his family, including his daughter, who had gone to struggle against apartheid in South Africa. They all supported his decision. "People here are desperate," he said. "They need new sources of hope. We must engage young people, and one of the key ways of doing this is via music and art."

And at all of his public appearances during his latest visit, mainly before educators and activists, he made his positions on war and peace, the need to end the occupation, and the need for freedom and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians very clear. When he was unable to perform in the West Bank because of "the situation", Yarrow insisted on meeting Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem so that he could communicate his message to the Palestinian people.

Professor Bresheeth, one of the organisers of the call to Leonard Cohen, was the founder of the cinema studies department at Sapir College, in the Negev near Sderot and Gaza. Last week I went to the Tel Aviv Cinemateque to see a showing of an impressive feature film called 18 Kilometers, directed by student Avi Levi. It tells a very human story – in both Hebrew and Arabic, with Jewish and Palestinian actors – about the lives of ordinary people in Gaza and Sderot who live 18km from each other. After the film ended, the current department head, Avner Feingelrant closed the evening by declaring: "May the flame of creativity defeat the fire of war."

Hillel Schenker, Thursday 14 May 2009 10.30 BST

letter to Leonard Cohen regarding tour in Israel

Robert Kory

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Dear Leonard Cohen,

I realize that via your manager, Robert Kory, you have received numerous requests not to appear in Israel. This is not such a letter, even though I do agree with the requests and the principles of the boycott. Still, you are an adult and must come to your own conclusions.

However, your decision should be grounded on facts, as, for instance the cost of Israel’s occupation and colonization to Jewish Israelis.

Personal Background: (author)
Just so that you know who is writing, let me briefly describe myself.
I am a 77 year old Jewish Israeli female who has both US and Israeli citizenship, and a PhD from Tel Aviv University. I have lived in Israel for 51 years, having come here with the desire to raise my 3 children in a Jewish state. Having been of the Holocaust generation, I was sure that Jews needed a state of their own. I convinced my Israeli husband, who had come to the US to study (and who at the age of 10 had escaped from Austria with his parents and brother to Palestine in 1939), to return to Israel, although he would have been quite content to stay in the US (he has an MA in engineering from UC Berkeley).

I was utterly ignorant at the time of Palestinian suffering. I believed the mantra that the Jews were a people without a country coming to a land without people. It took years before I discovered that this and other such claims were lies, and that the Zionist founding fathers themselves were aware of this.

But I do not want to write about the injustice and tragedy that Palestinians have suffered. I am sure that you have had more than enough of that in other letters. Again, I by no means imply symmetry between Palestinian suffering and Israeli when I claim that Israeli Jews pay a high price for occupation.

Still, that price exists, and you should be aware of it. It can be stated in a single phrase: the devaluation of human life, Jewish as well as Palestinian. This devaluation is due to the policies of expansion and ethnic cleansing common to all Israel’s governments.

Devaluation, in turn, can be divided into at least 4 areas: loss of life and limb in violence, socio-economic conditions, the incidence of PTDS among Israeli combat soldiers fighting a civilian population, and the total absence of security.

Since I realize that to detail these would take more time and space than you would have to read, I attach 2 compilations that I have made, and which I hand out at my presentations abroad (mostly in the US). One of these, Living in a continuous state of war shows that over 22,000 Israeli ‘security’ forces have been killed in violence since Israel came into being, and over 1000 civilians since the year 2000. These numbers may seem small to an American. But remember that Israeli Jews number but 5 million—about as many Jews as presently live in the US.

These figures alone tell you that the Zionist dream of a safe haven for Jews is a myth. It has never occurred. In fact, since WWII there is no place in the world (excepting war zones as Afghanistan, et al) less safe for Jews than is Israel.

In Israel the Jewish womb is a mechanism for producing soldiers, with no end to this in sight. According to Jewish lore God refused to allow Abraham to sacrifice his only son. But in Israel mothers who love their children no less than mothers elsewhere (but who are thoroughly brain washed) lead their sons and daughters (Israel is one of very few countries that conscripts females) to sacrifice their lives if need be. That so-called need has come up in 12 (yes TWELVE) wars and military campaigns in less than 61 years! Can you imagine at your age having lived through these? And for what? For the sake of expansion and ethnic cleansing. Israel’s forces are not defense forces (as they claim to be) but occupation forces carrying out their governments’ theft of Palestinian land and the harassment and killing of Palestinians.

Furthermore, while Israeli governments expand huge sums of money on expansion and ethnic cleansing, they continue to call on the Holocaust to justify their acts while at the same time leaving aging Holocaust survivors to live under the poverty line in misery (the second compilation has statistics and reports on this and other such matters).

With the hope that you will at the least thumb through the 2 compilations, I end with only one further comment: Israel not only is not a haven for Jews, it is one of the worst things that has happened to them. Israel is not a democracy. It is an ethnography. And just as any country grounded on race, religion, ethnos will always have an eye to demographic concerns rather than to democratic ones, so Israel is racist, undemocratic, and is always preparing for the next war.

Only when there will be justice for the Palestinians and an end to Israel’s colonization of Palestine will there be peace for all who live here and a future to look forward to. Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived here in peace for centuries until Zionism began to raise its head in Palestine. It can happen again. If there is a will, it need be no dream.

Please keep these data in mind, Leonard Cohen, and rethink your decision to sing in Israel. Since your intention to come to Israel has become public, Israeli radio has been singing your praises.

Thus by coming, you are putting a feather in Israel’s political and cultural cap, but are not doing a favor to either Jews or Arabs or others who live here. Your place should be on the side of right and justice, not on the side of the strong who use force and brain washing to attain political aims.

Finally, if you nevertheless decide to come, I should be happy to accompany you to Sderot and other such Israeli communities as well as to a tour of a portion of the West Bank. Seeing is not necessarily believing, but it can help to inform those who wish to be informed.


Dorothy Naor

Herzliah, Israel

Casualties of War, Part II: Warning signs

Casualties of War, Part II: Warning signs
2009-07-24 17:27:36

After coming home from Iraq, 21-year-old medic Bruce Bastien was driving with his Army buddy Louis Bressler, 24, when they spotted a woman walking to work on a Colorado Springs street.

Bressler swerved and hit the woman with the car, according to police, then Bastien jumped out and stabbed her over and over.

It was October 2007. A fellow soldier, Kenneth Eastridge, 24, watched it all from the passenger seat.

At that moment, he said, it was clear that however messed up some of the soldiers in the unit had been after their first Iraq deployment, it was about to get much worse.

“I have no problem with killing,” said Eastridge, a two-tour infantryman with almost 80 confirmed kills. “But I won’t just murder someone for no reason. He had gone crazy.”
Hear the prison interviews with Kenneth Eastridge.

All three soldiers belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, part of Fort Carson’s 4th Brigade Combat Team. The 500-soldier infantry battalion nicknamed itself the “Lethal Warriors.”

They fought in the deadliest places in the war twice — first in the Sunni Triangle, then in downtown Baghdad. Since their return late in 2007, eight infantry soldiers have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter. Another two soldiers from the brigade were arrested and accused of murder and attempted murder after the first tour. Others have committed other violent crimes. Others have committed suicide.

Many of the soldiers behind bars and their family members say the violence at home is a consequence of the violence in Iraq. They came home angry, confused, paranoid and depressed. They had trouble getting effective mental heath care. Most buried their symptoms in drugs and alcohol until they exploded.

The Army is seeking new ways to care for returning soldiers and keep the violence from returning — crucial now, because the unit shipped out in May to Afghanistan, where the monthly coalition casualty rate has doubled since the beginning of the year. Soldiers are scheduled to return to Colorado Springs in spring 2010.

The first step toward solving the problem, the post’s most recent commander said, is to understand it.

Maj. Gen. Mark Graham took command of Fort Carson in September 2007, just before the worst of the violence. He said that after studying the murders, he saw that soldiers rarely snap without warning. Guys who get in big trouble often get in little trouble first, and the problem grows until it explodes.
Graham calls this pattern “the crescendo.”

It may start with a soldier showing up to work reeking of booze, getting arrested for domestic violence, or mouthing off to an officer.

“When a guy who had it together starts showing little problems, it could be a sign of something much bigger,” he said.

Most of the soldiers now behind bars back up Graham’s theory of the crescendo.

Before Bastien stabbed a woman in 2007, he was arrested three times on suspicion of beating his wife and burning her with cigarettes.

Before Bressler shot two soldiers in Colorado Springs in 2007, Eastridge said, he assaulted his commanding officer and tried to kill himself.

Before Jomar Falu-Vives, 23, allegedly gunned down three people in Colorado Springs in two drive-by shootings in 2008, his wife said she called his sergeants to warn he was liable to “take someone’s life.”

Before John Needham, 25, allegedly beat a woman to death in 2008, his father said, he tried repeatedly to get treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The pattern of trouble is clear in hindsight, Graham said, but hard to spot when it is developing.

“Our challenge is to catch it early, so we can help these soldiers,” he said. “We are educating young commanders on taking care of their soldiers. But it’s a very tough problem.”

Graham, who had one son killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq a year after his other son committed suicide while training to be an officer, made mental health a focus after taking command of Fort Carson.

He said suicide and homicide are “different reactions to the same or similar problem. You treat both in the same way.”

Under his watch, Fort Carson more than doubled the number of mental health counselors. A new Army program will soon give each brigade a “master resiliency trainer” to strengthen troops’ psychological fitness the way drill sergeants strengthen their muscles. A special unit has been created to track soldiers who are too physically or psychologically wounded to stay with their battalions. Soldiers visiting a doctor at Fort Carson for even a sprained ankle are now screened for symptoms of PTSD and depression. And perhaps most important, Graham said, in the Army, where mental illness has long been taboo, commanders at Fort Carson are being trained to tell soldiers it is OK to seek treatment.

“There is a culture and a stigma that need to change,” Graham said.

It is unclear if the new measures can counter the entrenched Army culture or the effects of repeated deployments. Though some of the new programs have been in place for two years, the violence has not stopped.

Colorado Springs police arrested a Fort Carson soldier from the Lethal Warriors in May in the killing of a 19-year-old woman. Another soldier shot himself in the head this year. Another was arrested on suspicion of breaking a civilian’s jaw in March. Another is awaiting trial in the shooting of a pregnant woman.

Graham, who handed over command of the post last week, said Fort Carson is doing everything it can to help its soldiers. “I wish I could predict how all this is going to go,” he said. “I can’t say it is not going to happen again.”

“All I know how to do is kill people”

For Bastien, the Army medic, the crescendo started to peak just after midnight on Aug. 4, 2007, when he was driving his silver Audi to get cigarettes after a night of drinking at Bressler’s apartment.

The rest of their battalion was still fighting in Iraq.

Bastien was in Colorado Springs because he had been arrested and accused of beating his wife while on leave in May 2007.

Bressler was in town because the Army had sent him back from Iraq early, in July, with PTSD, according to his wife. He was awaiting a medical discharge because, Eastridge said, he attacked an officer in Iraq.

Bastien and Bressler declined requests for interviews.

According to court documents, that night the pair spotted a drunk 23-year-old Fort Carson private they didn’t know named Robert James, who was walking home from a bar, and pulled the Audi over to give him a ride.

Bastien later told police that he and Bressler decided to rob James. They drove to a dark parking lot.

Bressler pointed a .38 revolver at James and demanded his money. James pulled a few rumpled bills from his pockets — about $25. Bressler shot him twice and gathered the scattered bills.

The random crime left cops with no leads.

A little over a month later, in late September, Eastridge landed under Army escort at the Colorado Springs Airport.

The once-decorated soldier had been court-martialed in August 2007 on suspicion of possession of drugs, disobeying orders and threatening an officer. Medical records show that, after two bloody deployments, the Army diagnosed him with paranoia, depression, insomnia, antisocial personality disorder, PTSD, homicidal thoughts and hearing loss caused by constant shooting and explosions.

His Army escorts were taking him to Fort Carson — not for treatment, he said, but to get kicked out of the Army.

From there, he was going to jail. In Colorado Springs, there was a warrant waiting from a year before, when he skipped a court date on charges of putting a gun to his girlfriend’s head.

At the baggage claim, Eastridge said, while his escorts waded into the crowd to grab their bags, he ran. He said he hopped in a cab, took it to a cheap hotel and called the only people in town he knew: Bastien and Bressler.

“When I met up with those guys, they were weird,” he said. They were paranoid and aggressive, he said.

“They kept saying, ‘Do you want to go rob someone? Do you want to go kill someone? I just thought they were kidding, but they had gone a little crazy.”

Eastridge did have plans to rob someone. Compared with Iraq, it would be easy.

He wanted to do it alone, but he had no car and no gun. Bressler and Bastien had both, Eastridge said, and they insisted on coming along.

On Oct. 29, 2007, wearing all black, they attempted to rob a nightclub manager as she emerged from a club.

When they botched that, they drove off and spotted a young woman named Erica Ham walking down the street. Bressler hit her with the car and she crashed onto the hood. Then Bastien jumped out to grab her bag and started stabbing her. When she tried to fight back, Eastridge pulled out a pistol and yelled for her to get on the ground.

Ham was unable to identify her attackers, and police had no leads.

The stabbing sobered Eastridge up, he said. He turned himself in for his year-old domestic violence charge and spent most of November in the El Paso County jail. He bonded out on Nov. 27. A few days later, he returned to Fort Carson, where he received an “other than honorable” discharge for possession of drugs in Iraq.

After two tours in Iraq, Eastridge was depressed, paranoid, violent, abusing drugs and haunted by nightmares.

But because he was other-than-honorably discharged, he said, he was ineligible for benefits or health care. He was no longer Uncle Sam’s problem. He was on his own.

“I had no job training,” he said. “All I know how to do is kill people.”

A few days later, on Nov. 30, 2007, Eastridge went drinking with Bastien and Bressler. According to court documents the three ran into a fellow soldier, Kevin Shields, who was celebrating his 24th birthday.

They downed shots at the downtown bars until closing, then drove around, smoking a joint, until they were lost on the west side.

In the first, dark hours of Dec. 1, 2007, Bressler and Shields got in a fight when Shields teased the tough gunner for throwing up in the car. Bressler told Bastien to pull over because he needed to puke again. Bressler leaned against a pole like he was sick, then turned around and shot Shields in the head. The soldier fell to the ground, and Bressler shot him four more times.

Bressler fished a few things out of Shields’ pockets to make the shooting look like a robbery, and they sped away.

Soldiers who saw the trio drinking with Shields at Rum Bay helped police tie them to the crime, court documents said.

Bressler was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 60 years.

Bastien pleaded guilty to the same charge and also got 60 years.

Eastridge pleaded guilty to accessory to murder and got 10 years.

None used their experiences in Iraq as a defense.

“When I was sentenced, the judge told me ‘Look at how many people go to Iraq, and how few come back and commit crimes,” Eastridge said, “But that’s not fair. A lot of the soldiers who go to Iraq just drive trucks or check IDs or sit in the Green Zone. Look at combat troops. And look at what kind of combat they did. My unit was in the worst neighborhood in the bloodiest part of the war. Even in my platoon, there were guys that stayed in the truck and guys that did most of the fighting. Look at that tiny number. It’s not the hundreds of thousands that go, it’s the few hundred that see heavy, heavy combat. It changes lives.”

“Give me the gun”

The rest of the Lethal Warriors returned home from Iraq in December 2007.

Some went wild in the bars, overflowing with the same pent-up jubilation troops experienced after the first tour. Then the crescendo started.

Jose Barco, who was burned so badly in the first tour that, soldiers said, he had to beg commanders to allow him back for the second tour, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Then drunken driving. Then burglary with a deadly weapon. Then he got divorced. Finally, he was arrested and accused of taking a pistol to a house party.

On April 25, 2008, he was with a crowd in the basement of a friend of a friend’s house, police say, when he got in an argument, pulled out the gun and shot a round through the ceiling. There was a fight. He was thrown out. A few minutes later, when the party crowd was still standing on the front lawn, he drove by, spraying bullets. Police say one hit 19-year-old Ginny Stefanic, who was six months pregnant, in the thigh. Stefanic suffered minor injuries.

Barco, who declined to be interviewed, was arrested Jan. 7. He posted $25,000 bail and is awaiting trial for attempted murder.

It was a classic case of the pattern that Graham said most soldiers follow when they spiral out of control.

Before the big stuff, there is little stuff. Catching it in time can save lives.

Fort Carson has trained key leaders to spot the warning signs.

When a soldier is drinking too much or acting out, instead of punishment, they are supposed to get help.

“But it’s a very tough problem,” said Graham, who ordered the new programs. “If a soldier is showing all the risk factors, what can you do? You can’t lock them up. They haven’t done anything. But what we can do is provide them every opportunity to get the care they need and try to break down the stigma against seeking help.”

Like Barco, Jomar Falu-Vives started hitting his wife.

Soldiers say the lifelong Army brat seemed to handle Baghdad OK. Back home, Falu-Vives would go out to sing karaoke with other soldiers and go shooting at the firing range off Rampart Range Road, according to fellow soldiers.

But his ex-wife, Jolhea Vives, said he had turned mean.

He always liked to party and had a short temper, she said. But when he got back from Iraq, it was worse. Soon after, they filed for divorce.

Falu-Vives’ lawyer did not respond to a request for an interview.

His ex-wife said he had episodes where he “went into combat mode.” At one point, she said, he stuck a loaded .45 in her mouth.

She said she called his sergeant, saying that he was violent and was going to kill somebody, but the Army did nothing.

An Army spokesman said, “There is no specific Army policy that provides guidance on these types of situations. It is up to the soldier’s chain of command.”

The soldier’s commanders declined to be interviewed.

On May 26, 2007, Falu-Vives was riding in the back seat of his friend and fellow soldier Rodolfo Torres-Gandarilla’ Chrysler sedan on the way back from a bar, according to his arrest affidavit. Near South Circle Drive, he allegedly saw two men standing in front of a house on the corner of Flintshire Street and Monterey Road, lifted an AK-47 and started shooting. One of the men in front of the house, Army Capt. Zachary Szody, collapsed with a bullet in his knee and another in his hip.

Ten days later, Falu-Vives was cruising in his black Chevy Tahoe with Torres-Gandarilla and two other Army buddies, according to the affidavit.

Near midnight, he pulled up to an intersection five blocks from the first shooting. Amairany Cervantes, 18, and her boyfriend, Cesar Ramirez-Ibanez, 21, were setting up signs for a yard sale the next morning, the affidavit said.

“Give me the gun,” police said he told a friend sitting in the back seat. He shot the woman in the back five times, police said, her boyfriend, four times. Both died almost instantly. Falu-Vives sped back to his apartment, where he stood on the balcony watching the red and blue lights converge on the spot.

He listened to sirens wailing in the night and, according to what witnesses told police, held up his hands and said, “I love that sound.”

Falu-Vives’ mother, Lt. Col. Marta Vives, is an Army nurse in a Combat Stress Team. She helps soldiers in war zones who are starting to lose it. It is one of a number of programs the Army has created since the war began.
When her son was patrolling Baghdad, she was stationed just a few miles away.

Reached at Fort Hood, Texas, she said the Army has many programs to help troops, but soldiers often avoid the counseling and medication offered, and leaders sometimes don’t give GIs time or permission to visit.

“There is still a stigma behind getting help,” she said. “That is the hardest part. It is still seen as a sign of weakness.”

She said she has talked to the battalion commander of the Lethal Warriors and the commander of Fort Carson to tell them that many efforts to treat troops’ mental problems are not trickling down to privates like her son.
Falu-Vives was arrested July 30, 2008.

Torres-Gandarilla pleaded guilty to accessory to murder in April and is expected to testify against Falu-Vives in August.

Falu-Vives’ mother said she never saw evidence of her son having problems.

“He isn’t a criminal,” she said. “He never killed a fly — except when it was his job.”

Before Falu-Vives could be charged with first-degree murder, another Lethal Warrior was arrested for the same thing.

“Pushed them until they broke”

John Needham struggled to find normalcy after trying to kill himself in Iraq in September 2007.

The tall California surfer had been hit by six roadside bombs before getting drunk one night in Baghdad and putting a gun to his head, his father, Michael Needham, said.

The soldier was diagnosed with PTSD, flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and put on antipsychotics, an antidepressant, an antiseizure drug used to calm PTSD soldiers and a potent blood-pressure drug used to silence nightmares. Side effects of the cocktail can include hangover-like symptoms, short-term memory loss, irritability, aggression, hallucinations, sleepwalking, paranoia and panic attacks. So many of the side effects were like the symptoms of his PTSD that his father said it was hard to know if they were making him better or worse.

For a month, Needham stayed at the hospital. On Nov. 9, 2007, according to orders provided by his father, Needham’s battalion commander had him transferred to Fort Carson so he could be sent back to Iraq.

“It’s just bizarre, we couldn’t figure out why they were doing this to him,” his father said.

Needham’s father and Andrew Pogany , a veterans’ advocate and former Fort Carson sergeant, persuaded commanders to keep Needham from going back to Iraq so he could continue psychiatric treatment.

But, his father said, his son didn’t get it.

Laws prevent the Army from discussing medical treatment of soldiers. Needham’s father said his son was kept on the drugs but never received counseling.

Instead, he said, his son was berated by sergeants.

“They would write things on the chalkboard in his barracks like ‘John Needham is a shit bag cry baby PTSD boohoo,’” his father said.

It was so bad that when Needham went home for Thanksgiving in 2007, his father refused to let him return to the Army.

“We basically kidnapped him,” his father said. He took his son to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, and argued with Fort Carson until the soldier was reassigned to Balboa.

Needham was honorably discharged from the Army on July 18, 2008, with chronic PTSD and moved back to his father’s house in San Clemente, Calif. But, his father said, he was not better.

“He was severely different,” his father said.

John Needham was groggy and vacant from the pills. He had lost much of his hearing from bomb blasts. He often drank himself to oblivion. He was paranoid and afraid of crowds.

He begged his father to buy him an assault rifle like the one he carried in Iraq. Eventually, they compromised on a toy pistol that shot rubber BBs. Needham carried it almost everywhere, his father said.

The former soldier was going to regular counseling at a local Veterans Affairs hospital, but, his father said, it wasn’t enough.

His son had frightening flashbacks. Late one night, he rummaged through the bathroom naked, smearing his face and body with cosmetics as if they were camouflage paint. He sharpened one end of a broom handle to make a weapon. His father said he found him crouching silently behind the couch. His father said his son always took off his clothes when he had a flashback.

“He needed to be committed,” his father said. “He needed serious psychiatric help. I tried to put him in the hospital, but the VA said they could only treat him as an outpatient . . . I could see the train wreck coming.”

On the night of Sept. 1, 2008, Needham was at home hanging out with a girlfriend in his bedroom on the ground floor. His father was two floors above, taking a shower.

A 19-year-old woman named Jacqwelyn Villagomez, whom the soldier had recently broken up with, came in.

The women fought,his father said. Needham’s girlfriend called the police. They arrived a few minutes later, and Needham answered the door naked and bleeding, his father said.

Villagomez’s body lay in his bedroom, he said.

His father said he heard a ruckus, went downstairs and watched the police tackle his son. The soldier fought back as they put him in cuffs. Michael Needham said he stared, weeping, as his naked son lay bleeding and struggling, incoherent on the driveway as the police tasered him again and again.

John Needham is awaiting trial on suspicion of murder. In May, family members mortgaged their houses to bail him out. He is now getting inpatient treatment at a VA hospital, Michael Needham said.

“I know the Army would like to say it is not responsible for this, that it didn’t train them to do this. But that is bullshit,” Michael Needham said. “They trained them to kill, then when they didn’t have enough men for the surge, they pushed these guys until they broke, then threw them away.”


This spring, Lethal Warriors sprawled on the floor of a Fort Carson conference room, learning to take deep breaths.

They lazed on their backs in full camouflage. In. Out. And relax.

“The media says war will (expletive) you up, but that stress can also make you stronger. You just have to learn to mentally metabolize the experience,” Dan Taslitz, a former Marine, told a group of sprawling soldiers.

Taslitz was there as part of a new “resiliency training” called “Warrior Optimization Systems,” or WAROPS, that the 4th Brigade was testing to try to counter mental illness, violence and suicide in the ranks.

If the Army likes the results, it may take the program Army-wide, commanders said.

In the four-hour class, soldiers learn how the brain and body react to combat stress, and talk about healthy ways to respond, such as relaxation breathing, exercise and visualizing a positive outcome to a mission.

Sometimes, instructors said, controlling emotions is as simple as stepping back, identifying the feeling and saying it out loud. They call the process “name it and tame it.”

The brigade plans to hold refresher courses in Afghanistan and again when soldiers return home.

Fort Carson also created a task force late in 2008 to hunt for “common threads” in the killings committed by
Fort Carson soldiers.

The investigation, conducted by a team of 27 behavioral health and Army professionals, concluded with a report released July 15. The findings echo what guys in the ranks said: Their tour was bloodier than most; violence in Iraq messed them up; they started abusing drugs and alcohol; treatment for substance abuse and mental health at Fort Carson was inadequate; stigma kept soldiers from getting help; and when those so-called “risk factors” came together, guys got in serious trouble.

The report did not address other issues, such as soldiers carrying guns once they return from deployments, alleged war crimes by the unit, or the Army’s deployment of soldiers with pending civilian felonies.

The study recommended better mental health care and training, programs to “ensure there is no humiliation or belittling” of soldiers seeking mental health care, and more studies to “assess a possible link between deployment, combat intensity, and aggressive behavior.”

But Graham said the report does not offer a simple cure.

“We didn’t see any one thing that we could identify and say, yes, this is the reason these soldiers do this,” he said.

Instead, he said, Fort Carson and the Army have instituted a wide array of changes.

Evans Army Community Hospital has increased the number of behavioral health care workers from 37 to 71.

Many are assigned to mobile teams within brigades, so soldiers don’t have to go to the hospital to seek help.
Fort Carson also has added 16 “military family life consultants,” whom soldiers and their families can visit anonymously for help with everything from relationship problems to financial concerns.

Fort Carson started referring soldiers to private counselors in Colorado Springs in 2006. The number seeking private counseling surged from 11 in 2006 to 2,171 in 2008, according to Evans Army Community Hospital.

“We see that as a sign of strength, not weakness,” said Roger Meyer, Evans spokesman. “It shows we are having success in our efforts to educate soldiers on the signs of stress.”

In Colorado Springs, lawyers and law enforcement agencies have created an experimental veteran’s court to catch returning soldiers who get in trouble with the law and steer them toward help instead of jail. Soldiers charged with felonies will be sentenced to counseling and substance abuse treatment. The court is expected to take its first cases in August.

The Army has created Warrior Transition Units to manage the care of soldiers, like Needham, who are too mentally or physically disabled to stay with their units.

Colorado’s senators urged the Army last week to include Fort Carson in a pilot alcohol abuse program.
Graham said the Army is also trying to change the culture.

All low-level leaders, he said, are now taught to treat mental illness like any battlefield injury.

“If a soldier is shot or injured, other soldiers know how to give him care,” Graham said. “We need to get soldiers to understand the signs of combat stress so they can do the same thing — get their buddy the care he needs.”

Staff Sgt. James Combs, with the Lethal Warriors, said in June that the combat stress education is more comprehensive than when he was a private in the late 1990s.

Now, he said, sergeants teach soldiers that “You may be able to pull the trigger on our M4 or M16, but you have to understand what it is doing to you mentally, and you need to be prepared for that.”

“We don’t just throw them to the wolves like we used to,” he said.

It is not clear how effective the changes will be.

The current commanders of the Lethal Warriors, who would implement many of the changes, declined repeated requests for interviews.

And Fort Carson’s new programs have not prevented more occurrences of destructive behavior.

On May 10, Thomas Woolly, the soldier Needham replaced in a blown-out Humvee turret in Baghdad in 2007, was drinking with friends after midnight at an apartment just a few blocks from Fort Carson.

Woolly had done two tours with the Lethal Warriors and was in the new Warrior Transition Unit, about to be medically discharged because, his grandmother, Gladys Woolly said, “He was blowed up so many times until it damaged his brain.”

Woolly, 24, had a drink in one hand and a loaded .45 Long Colt revolver in the other, according to his arrest affidavit, when a friend’s husband, who had been arguing with the group, banged on the door.

Police say Woolly cocked the gun’s hammer. After the husband left and Woolly went to uncock the gun, the hammer slipped. The bullet killed 19-year-old Lisa Baumann, who was standing on the other side of the room.

Woolly was charged with manslaughter. He is out on bail and is scheduled for arraignment in August. He did not respond to interview requests.

Two weeks later, Roy Mason, 28, another Lethal Warrior who had served two tours and landed in the Warrior Transition Unit, went AWOL, drove to California, parked at the beach, called 911 from his car, asked them to clean up the mess quickly “before kids see,” then shot himself in the head, media reports said.

Civilian mental health professionals caution that the Army programs treat the symptoms but do not address the underlying cause.

“There are some good things going on,” said Davida Hoffman, the director of First Choice Counseling, a private clinic that treats about 250 Carson soldiers.

But counseling can do only so much, she said. The quality of treatment is not the cause of the problem. Combat is.

The more combat soldiers see, she said, the more problems they will have. The more problems soldiers have, the more problems Colorado Springs has.

“Soldiers simply cannot handle repeated deployments,” she said. “If these guys keep seeing deployments like the stuff they saw in Iraq, we could have a very dangerous situation.”

Graham agreed that repeated deployments are tough on soldiers. But the Army has a job to do, he said, and the rate of deployment is not expected to slow for at least 12 to 18 months.

On the same day Mason put a gun to his head at the beach, his old brigade was deploying to Afghanistan.
Most of the guys from the first deployment had left the Army, transferred to a different unit, been kicked out, wounded or killed. But for every one gone there is a new recruit. And while some attitudes in the Army are changing, the day-to-day reality of the foot soldier is not. Since June, insurgent attacks have killed three in the brigade.

No one may have a better view of the Army’s challenges than Sgt. Michael Cardenaz. In many ways, he is the battle-worn face of today’s soldier.

The solid, bald-headed Lethal Warriors staff sergeant and father of two was the platoon commander for Eastridge, Barco and Bastien in Baghdad. He often played Texas Hold ’em with Bressler at the base. He went bowling with Falu-Vives just days before Falu-Vives was arrested in the yard sale sign shootings. He has done three tours in Iraq and two in Kosovo. He said he has had close scrapes with 35 IEDs, scores of rocket-propelled grenades and one 500-pound bomb. He has taken shrapnel twice. He describes himself as an “old-school career soldier.” He is 29.

With every arrest of a fellow soldier, he was shocked, he said, but he does not think it is just coincidence that so many guys in the unit are now in jail.

“These are all younger guys. They are just kids, straight out of high school, from mom’s house to basic training to Iraq. You throw them in a tour like this, and there is going to be an aftermath,” he said. “Time was, before I really understood it, my reaction would have been ‘fry ’em.’ But now I can empathize. . . If they did what they did, fine, they have to answer to the justice system, but these guys like Eastridge who tried so hard and loved the Army . . . they are a casualty of war. Their psyches are casualties of war.”

He agreed that the deployment to Afghanistan will be different from the ones that he said screwed up his friends.

“There is much more attention to the mental side,” he said. “I’ve been trained to do stress debriefings and suicide prevention. I remember a time in the Army when mental health was taboo. It was career over. That’s not the case anymore.”

But, he said, the stigma is alive and well, especially among infantrymen.

“There’s still a feeling that if you got to go see the doc, you’re a punk. There are a lot of people who still feel that way. I’m not going to lie to you, I do,” he said.

Real soldiers, he said, “just suck it up.”

“That’s what I do. I think I was given a God-given talent to suck it up. Horrible things happen, I suck it up. I don’t let it bother me.”

In March Cardenaz was arrested in a felony assault.

He was walking with his wife past The Thirsty Parrot on Tejon Street, in full dress uniform after the Lethal Warriors’ annual ball, when some civilians hanging out in front of the bar said something. Or maybe Cardenaz said something to them. Witnesses say the sergeant dropped one with a single punch. When another guy came after him to ask why he did it, police say, Cardenaz broke his jaw.

The soldier posted bail and did not show up for his court hearing July 15.

His lawyer told the judge that Cardenaz had deployed to Afghanistan.

Call the writer at 636-0223.

excellent video interview at the above url

Some of the news coverage of Fort Carson soldiers involved in violent crimes
• Aug. 3, 2005, Pfc. Stephen Sherwood shot his wife then killed himself.
• Oct. 22, 2006, Anthony Marquez, murdered man during botched drug deal.
• August 2007, Bruce Bastien, Louis Bressler mug and kill Robert James.
• October 2007, Bastien Bressler and Eastridge mug, stab Erica Ham.
• November 2007, Bastien Bressler and Eastridge kill Kevin Shields.
• May 26, 2008, Pfc. Jomar Dionisio Falu-Vives, and Spc. Rodolfo Torres-Gandarilla drive by shooting of Capt. Zachary Zsody.
• June 6, 2008, Jomar Dionisio Falu-Vives, and Spc. Rodolfo Torres-Gandarilla gunned down two on the street while putting up signs for a garage sale.
• Aug. 13, 2008, Robert Marko slit throat of Judilianna Lawrence.