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July 2006   

Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
When the mobs took over the streets of Dili it was the people of East Timor that bore the brunt. Elisabeth Lino de Araujo from Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was there to witness what happened.

Unions: Staying Mum
Penrith mums, Linda Everingham and Jo Jacobson, are at the heart of a grassroots campaign to boot Jackie Kelly, out of federal parliament. Jim Marr caught up with one half of the sister act.

Economics: Precious Metals
There's a lot of spin around AWAs in the mining industry, but Tony Maher argues all that glitters is not gold.

Industrial: The Cold 100
The Iemma Government has come up with 100 reasons why WorkChoices is a dud, with 100 examples of ripped off workers

History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
This month's Blacktown Rally was not the first time workers had stood up for their rights in the region, writes Andrew Moore.

Legal: Free Agents
Is an independent contractor a small businessperson or a worker? The answer depends upon whether the contractor is genuinely �independent� or not, writes Even Jones.

Politics: Under The Influence
Bob Gould thinks Sonny Bill Williams is a hunk; he reveals all in a left wing view of The Bulletin�s 100 most influential Australians, questioning the relevance of some, and adding a few of his own.

International: How Swede It Was
Geoff Dow pays tribute to the passing of Rudolf Meidner, one of the architects of the Swedish model of capitalism.

Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
These punk rockers are out to KO WorkChoices. Nathan Brown joins the fray.


The Soapbox
Work Choice: US Military Style
John Howard has learnt a few lessons on workers rights from his Texan buddy, writes Rowan Cahill.

Westie Wing
As Pru Goward slams into the glass ceiling of the NSW Liberal Party, Ian West considers how women are faring under the Howard-Costello Government.

The Locker Room
A World Away
Phil Doyle is pleased that a display of subtle beauty and athletic grace has been overtaken by some good old-fashioned mindless violence


The Power of Ones
Lorissa Sevens is no shrinking violet; she had mown down attackers for her nation playing defence for the Matildas. But even this sort of toughness means nothing in the face of WorkChoices.


 Jihad Johnny Targets Perth

 Rio Sets Up Own Goal

 Telstra Fails to Snag Protest

 AWAs Bucket Queenslanders

 Kev Gives Aussies the Finger

 Movie Blue: Win-Win for Critics

 Wage Cut Scam Legal

 Hardie Boss Takes 60 Percent Rise

 The Stack Goes On

 Boss Opens Door For Thieves

 Hendy Banks on Mass Amnesia

 Eisteddfod Win: Your Rock At Work

 Airline Crashes Into Paypackets

 Canucks Can BHP

 Activist's What's On!

 Oz Hails Sun King
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The Soapbox

Work Choice: US Military Style

John Howard has learnt a few lessons on workers rights from his Texan buddy, writes Rowan Cahill.


As Australians massed and rallied in June against Howard's WorkChoice legislation, in the US an American Army officer at Fort Lewis, Washington, had already made his own work choice.

On Thursday June 22, US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada refused an order to deploy with his unit to the war in Iraq, while stating that he would serve in Afghanistan. A precedent was set.

Lesser ranks have variously refused assignment to the war in Iraq; for example, currently serving a fifteen-month stretch in the Fort Lewis hoosegow is Sergeant Kevin Benderman, mechanic, a veteran of one tour of Iraq war duty, who refused an order to go on a second tour of duty in January 2005.

The first military dissident to be imprisoned for his stand against the Iraq war was Stephen Funk, a young Marine Corps reservist who spent six-months in military prison in 2004 for refusing to participate in the war in Iraq.

Lieutenant Watada is the first US commissioned officer to take a public stand against the war in Iraq by refusing to deploy.

In a media statement Watada explained "the war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances."

"It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes".

Aged 28, Watada is the clean-cut American officer type that recruiting posters love. A native of Hawaii, a university graduate with a finance degree, and a former Eagle Scout, he joined the US Army in 2003, undertook officer training, and initially supported the war under the impression the Weapons of Mass Destruction story was true.

His pro-Iraq war enthusiasm was dampened by the eventual realization that intelligence had been manipulated and falsified by the Bush Administration and others. After a lot of reading and thinking, by January 2006 Watada concluded he could not be part of the war, informed his military superiors of his concerns, and tried to resign his commission. This was refused, so he refused deployment, and he is now restricted to Fort Lewis. Watada now possibly faces court-martial and prison.

Lt. Watada and Sgt. Benderman are not isolated examples of dissidence within the US armed forces. Since the US and its motley gaggle of allies invaded Iraq in the quest for non-existent WMD, over 8000 serving US military personnel have variously deserted. Listed as AWOL, Absent Without Leave, they have gone into hiding, to the extent the military term AWOL is now being widely reinterpreted as 'Against The War of Lies'.

An unknown number of serving military personnel, estimated to be hundreds, have applied for conscientious objector status; to qualify, an applicant has to be opposed to all wars, not a specific war. As the processing of applications can take anything from six-months to two years, the real statistic is unknown. According to US Army sources, 87 conscientious objector applications have been approved, and 101 denied since January 2003. At least ten serving military personnel who applied for conscientious objector status with regard to the war in Iraq, and were denied the status, have been court-martialed and imprisoned for publicly refusing orders to deploy to Iraq.

The US military likes to hide dissent within the ranks. According to retired US Army Colonel Ann Wright, it works like this. Individual non-public "resistance in the military generally results in an administrative discharge without publicity. Thousands have turned themselves in to military authorities and have been administratively discharged from the military. US military bases discharge dozens of war resisters each week". Wright is also a former senior and highly decorated US diplomat who resigned from her US Embassy posting in 2003 in protest against the Iraq War.

In October 2004, 18 Army reservists on duty in Iraq, refused to participate in convoy duty, citing inadequate equipment, poor leadership, and contaminated fuel as their reasons. No court-martials ensued, but some of the soldiers faced lesser and non-judicial punishment, such as reduction of rank. The Army did not release specific details, claiming considerations of privacy, and did some quick quality control patch-up behind the scenes to fix problems at the work face.

During the Vietnam War, tens of thousands of American military resisters and deserters sought refuge in Canada. Today, Canada is again the chosen destination for about 400 of the AWOL deserters; they are being assisted by a network of people who were active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. Twenty-four US military dissidents have gone public in Canada, and are seeking status as political refugees, a test for the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

American military dissidents do not stand alone in their homeland. An array of professional websites, hotlines, and organizations have mushroomed to support and defend them. Legal advice is only a phone call away. Considerable effort is being made to encourage resistance and conscientious objection within the armed forces to what is regarded as 'the illegal war in Iraq' and the 'policies of empire'.

Much of the support network involves military families, and veterans of the war in Iraq, the Gulf war, and the Vietnam war. The First United Methodist Church of Tacoma, Washington, near Fort Lewis, recently became the first US church to offer sanctuary to Iraq war military resisters.


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