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Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em: Activist Kathy Bisbee will show her photos from Cuba May 2 at Cayuga Vault.


Bush League

Two weekends ago, Nüz witnessed John Kerry supporters plying the crowd outside O'Neill's with baked goods and the hope of regime change as the war on Iraq turns into the second Vietnam, no matter how many times Rummy says it ain't so. Last weekend, it was the turn of a distinctly smaller gaggle of Bush supporters to occupy the space opposite Cinema 9, though admittedly they did have more "kling-ons" than the lone guy tabling outside the Santa Cruz Roasting House in support of Lyndon Larouche.

As for the local Bushistas, their message was summed up with a whole lot of hollering and the waving of fancy Bush-Cheney 2004 signs, plus a couple of homemade Support Our Troops signs.

"Support our Troops? !*@!***?! Then let's bring them home!" retorted an impassioned passerby. His words came on the heels of unadulterated fury on the part of the Pentagon and the Bush administration over last week's release of photos showing the sobering return of hundreds of Stars and Stripes-wrapped coffins--the kind of potentially (or rather, presidentially) damaging footage that the Pentagon has expressly forbidden the media to show.

Which prompts the question of how Russ Kick, who is perhaps better known as editor of Abuse Your Illusions and 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know, managed to post photos of 361 flag-draped coffins at www.thememoryhole.org. Apparently, by repeatedly filing a Freedom of Information Act request for "all photographs showing caskets containing the remains of U.S. military personnel at Dover Air Force Base," according to a statement posted at Kick's provocative website. The site also notes that "one-fifth of the Dover casket photos show the Columbia astronauts, who were military personnel. The other 288 pictures show war fatalities."

Do You Feel a Draft?

Even before the above-mentioned photo release, Nüz was fielding calls from grandmas, mothers and young people of all stripes worried that the draft is on the verge of being reinstated. Their fears were realized when Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam War vet and influential member of the Foreign Relations Committee, announced he wants the United States to consider reviving the draft to ensure that all Americans "bear some responsibility ... pay some price" in defending the nation's interests."

Claiming that his main interest is to ensure that some kind of mandatory national service is considered so "the privileged, the rich" as well as the less affluent bear the burden of fighting wars of the future, Hagel admitted he didn't expect to see action on such a bill in an election year, but wanted to spark debate that would "bring some reality to our policy making" about future military needs.

Meanwhile, here in the Cruz, Bob Fitch of the Resource Center for Nonviolence says the reason talk of the draft is emerging at this point in time is "because we're seeing the reality of an extended war as it hits middle-class families. People see the war protracting and begin to wonder about the draft, their job and their citizenship."

That said, Fitch notes that to date what he calls "the poverty draft" has been working fine, and that in the immediate future "we're going to see a severe amplification of attempts to recruit vulnerable young people and a massive rallying of the reserve."

At present, young men 18-25 must register with and place their names on a list maintained by the U.S. Department of Selective Service, and a formal draft can only be enacted by Congress, with military recruits then being selected by lottery from the USSS list.

Fitch warns those choosing to voluntarily enlist in the ROTC, the Delayed Enlistment Program or the military to read the entire military contract before signing it. "The contract allows the military to change assignment, pay and benefits any time they want, and enlists people for eight years, with a good chance of extending combat-type duty," he explains, advising those who wish to be conscientious objectors, or expect to obtain an exemption or deferment, to "start preparing now."

Visit www.rcnv.org/rcnv/co.htm, or call 831.423.1626, ext. 102, or 831.359.0202 for details and 24/7 counseling.

Gimme Some Protection

It's not every day you get to file suit against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, let alone win, just in time for the planting season. But that's what's happened, temporarily at least, for the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, 18 months after the DEA raided their collective. After reconsidering an earlier decision in the County of Santa Cruz et al. v. Ashcroft, Judge Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California made an April 21 ruling that protects WAMM until a pending lawsuit is resolved.

Hey Who?

Haiti may no longer be on the mainstream's radar, but a whole lot of questions remain, beginning with the fact that President Jean Bertrand Aristide claims he was "kidnapped" from the country on Feb. 29 in a U.S.-orchestrated coup. To help shed light on what's going on as the turmoil, killing and violence continue, the Santa Cruz-based Cuba Study Group has invited Haitian-American Pierre Labossiere to explain Haiti's history, the role of the United States and the political reality, both then and now. The evening will also feature the documentary Seeing Haiti Through Lafanmi Selavi, with co-producer and videographer Caitlin Manning, who spent 20 days in 2002 interviewing Aristide and others involved in founding Lafanmi Selavi, a group home in Port au Prince that provides shelter for homeless and abandoned children. Friday, April 30, 7-9pm, Room 3, Louden Nelson Community Center. $5. Email [email protected] or call 831.465.8272.

Travel Itch

Now may not be the best time for Americans to visit Iraq, but how about challenging the Bush administration's restrictions on travel to Cuba, instead? Political activists Kathy Bisbee and Jonathan Kaplan present a multimedia travelogue of their experiences in Havana, Santiago and Trinidad, plus an explanation of the current restrictions on travel to Cuba (who can and can't travel there) and suggestions for the few existing avenues still available to U.S. citizens. Proceeds benefit the Pastors for Peace 15th Friendshipment to Cuba, which travels this summer carrying humanitarian aid and challenging the blockade. The caravan, which travels without the requisite U.S. Treasury license, is, according to Caravan founder, Reverend Lucius Walker, "not so much in defiance of the U.S. government, but as an action in obedience to our conscience." Sunday, May 2, 5-7 pm, Cayuga Vault, 1100 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. Sliding scale, $5-$10. Or call 831.465.8272 to join the Travel Ban challenge in July.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the April 28-May 5, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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