Archive | December, 2009

Tracking the Sound of Revolution

(Photo: Junkyard Empire)

(Photo: Junkyard Empire)

The band Junkyard Empire does not differentiate among music, message and life.

Political Affairs magazine said, “A jazz version of Rage Against the Machine, Minnesota-based Junkyard Empire blends jazz instrumentals, hip hop, and socially conscious lyrics to create a fresh sound … this new Midwestern band has something to say.”

The title track of their new CD Rebellion Politik, declares:

They lure us in stores to keep us all poor
Ignoring the cure for what’s at the core
Explore the floor of the third world poor
Creating the wars for mineral ore

Lead vocalist/rapper Brian Lozenski, whose stage name is MC Brihanu says, “Music and art should represent life. My life revolves around social justice and trying to make a better world for my children. Therefore my music reflects that. I don’t think every piece of art and music needs to be explicitly political, but there needs to be an accurate reflection of people’s lives. Most of the mainstream music we hear today is purposefully not political. That is a political act in itself because corporate media does not want its consumers to think critically and challenge the status quo.” They are a band endorsed by Noam Chomsky.

Christopher Cox, founder of the band, tells Truthout the name evolved in this way:

“I originally proposed the name ‘Refuse Empire’ which was clearly anti-imperialist, but also an ecological statement. The US is an empire of refuse, since the American Empire is based on everything being expendable, quick, throwaway … including capitalism itself, which never leads to long-term good, it only leads to short-term ‘good,’ and that’s a short-term good only for a small group of people. So building an empire on junk is not good for anyone for the long term.” The name then morphed into Junkyard Empire from there. Continue Reading →

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Veterans Group Calls on Soldiers to Refuse Deployment Orders

Image: Jared Rodriguez / truthout; Adapted: US Army Africa, The U.S. Army

Image: Jared Rodriguez / truthout; Adapted: US Army Africa, The U.S. Army

In response to President Barack Obama’s announcement on December 1 to deploy 30,000 additional troops to the occupation of Afghanistan, the organization March Forward!, comprising both veterans and active-duty members of the US military, has called on all soldiers to refuse their orders to deploy.

“March Forward! calls on all service members to refuse orders to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq,” reads a press release from the group from December 3. “We offer our unconditional support and solidarity. Join us in the fight to ensure that no more soldiers or civilians lose their lives in these criminal wars.”

Michael Prysner, a former corporal in the Army who served from 2001-2005 and a veteran of the occupation of Iraq, co-founded the group with another Iraq war veteran, James Circello.

Truthout asked Prysner how he responds to those who believe a soldier should always follow orders, no matter what.

“In my experience the majority of people joining the military today join out of necessity, like money, jobs, help for their family, etc., so most don’t join for ideological or patriotic reasons. Most are driven into the military by economic conditions. We see this playing out now, as people are joining in droves because of the economy.”

Prysner added, “Yes, people do sign a contract to follow orders, but those orders are wrong and unlawful. We want to educate people to the fact that these are immoral orders, and they [soldiers] are being used as muscle for corporations, to colonize the developing world, and it’s not legitimate. People who join and take this oath seriously who think they are in [the military] to defend the US, this is not what we are being used for in the military today.”

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Soldiers Forced to Go AWOL for PTSD Care

With a military health care system over-stretched by two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more soldiers are deciding to go absent without leave (AWOL) in order to find treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Eric Jasinski enlisted in the military in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in October 2006 as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army. He collected intelligence in order to put together strike packets – where air strikes would take place.

Upon his return to the U.S. after his tour, Jasinski was suffering from severe PTSD from what he did and saw in Iraq, remorse and guilt for the work he did that he knows contributed to the loss of life in Iraq.

“What I saw and what I did in Iraq caused my PTSD,” Jasinski, 23-years-old, told IPS during a phone interview, “Also, I went through a divorce – she left right before I deployed – and my grandmother passed away when I was over there, so it was all super rough on me.”

In addition, he lost a friend in Iraq, and another of his friends lost his leg due to a roadside bomb attack.

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Whistleblower Psychiatrist Warns of Soldier on Soldier Violence

Kernan Manion, a psychiatrist who was hired last January to treat Marines returning from war who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other acute mental health problems borne from their deployments, fears more soldier-on-soldier violence without radical changes in the current soldier health care system.

Working for a personnel-recruiting company which was contracted by the Defence Department at Camp Lejeune, Manion became alarmed at the military’s inability to give sufficient treatment to returning soldiers. He was also concerned by their reports of outright abuse meted out by some commanders against lower-ranking soldiers who sought help.

Manion told IPS that last April two Marines urgently sought his help soon after the clinic opened at 7am. They told him, “One of these guys is liable to come back [from Iraq or Afghanistan] with a loaded weapon and open fire.”

This episode is just one that is indicative of pervasive and worsening systemic problems afflicting a military mental health care system that is overburdened, overstressed, under-staffed, and ill equipped, but one that, according to Manion. Care is also administered by career military officers who are “ill- trained to provide the complex psychiatric expertise necessary to effectively treat psychologically impaired soldiers.”

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