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January 17-24, 2007

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Letters to the Editor


SELECTIVE SLAVERY

PETER LAUFER ("Just Say No: Soldiers who refuse to continue fighting in Iraq get their say," Cover Story, Jan. 3) considers that part of the present lack of antiwar action is because there is no draft. The flaw in this is that it took from 1965 to 1973 and 50,000 American lives, all of them registered with the Selective Service, before public opinion ended the war. Also, there was little opposition to the Korean War, which was fed by the draft.

The draft regulations and the military had a multitude of loopholes for those who could find out about them and use them to keep out of harm's way. The process was well described in a Selective Service booklet called "Channeling." It is called "Selective Service" because that is what it is meant to be, and during Vietnam the loopholes protected those who had influence and money and could get the information they needed to cope with the draft. For "warm bodies" to use as "cannon fodder," the focus was on drafting working class youth and those who were not likely to find out how to avoid ending up in combat. This included men in their late 20s who had children. This included men who were immigrants and had little education and barely spoke English.

Adding compulsory national civilian service would provide another loophole for those who knew about it and got themselves qualified to avoid the military. But they would still be slaves.

During Vietnam the use of Article XIII of the Constitution as a plea failed to acquit those who refused to register for the draft or submit to induction. "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, and except as a procurement of persons to be used in military or civilian servitude by the administrators of United States Government, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

The italicized section (which does not appear in the actual amendment) could be inserted to make conscription constitutional, It would enable people such as the present administrators of the U.S. government to have channeling powers over all of this nation's youth. It would make slavery and involuntary servitude legal.

I uphold reproductive rights. This is another issue, which poses the possibility that the administrators of the U.S. government, or of state governments, could force a woman to submit her body to unwanted pregnancies, or to abortions, or to sterilization. It has been done in the past. Our bodies are not government property. We each have only this one life in this one body, and it belongs to us. We make our choices as to what we do, and we make many mistakes and many happy choices, but it is basic to life that each of us have the right to choose what we do with our bodies.

I agree that there has been public apathy about Iraq. But recall that immediately after 9/11 our president urged us to go out and shop, don't let the terrorists change our way of life. So that's what we do, especially in the Christmas spending season of gluttonous excess upon which our economy depends. Perhaps our consumerist attitude supports the hiring of youth who are enticed to enlist in the military. Perhaps that is why there is not sufficient opposition to the maiming and deaths of the service persons in Iraq. They are commodities that we have paid for to do what the government tells us is the right thing to do. Would it be any better to have slaves sent to their deaths in Iraq? The draft is slavery.

Patricia Rayne, Aptos

P.S. I am 78 years old. I know about Selective Service and the draft regulations because I was a draft counselor during the Vietnam War and learned what I could of how conscription has been used in the world throughout history. No matter what it is called it is slavery.

SEEDS OF AFFLICTION

YES, pomegranate juice is healthful and tastes great ("Seeds of Addiction," Cover Story, Jan. 10). But if you're going to drink it, please avoid the POM Wonderful brand. POM pays for cruel experiments on animals in an attempt to prove that pomegranate-flavored juice is good for us. The Food and Drug Administration has told us these tests aren't required by any law. They aren't even applicable to people. In one study, experimenters lowered the brain oxygen levels in newborn mice to cause them brain injuries--even though human and rodent brains differ significantly in structure and function. In another experiment, erectile dysfunction was supposedly studied in rabbits. But as these animals, unlike human males, don't experience erectile problems, experimenters artificially created symptoms with sudden and painful balloon injuries of the rabbits' arteries. If you buy POM, you're helping to support these atrocities. Try Naked Juice and Frutzzo brands instead. These companies provide delicious pomegranate juice without harming any animals. See www.POMHorrible.com for more.

Melissa Karpel, Studio City

THE FUNKY MURMUR

IN YOUR Jan. 3 issue, I appreciated seeing a tribute to James Brown, "I Ain't Talkin' Just to Tease" (Arts) by Steve Palopoli. Unfortunately there was a misquote at the end of the piece: "You don't have to do no SONG brotha ..." Please listen to "The Funky Drummer" again. It's not "song: ... it's "soloin."

Ron Lauder, Santa Cruz


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