St. Louis-based Veterans for Peace is circulating a letter it plans to send to President Barack Obama, demanding that the White House release photos of abusive treatment of detainees at the hands of U.S. troops.
Obama had supported the release of the pictures to the public, but changed his mind in May, saying that he would try to block the court-ordered release of the photos. Obama's reversal came after U.S. commanders feared that the pictures depicting abusive treatment of detainees would cause rioting and backlashes in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim nations.
Michael McPhearson, executive director of Veterans for Peace, says he doesn't know what the pictures may reveal, but argues that the public — especially Americans — deserves to see them. "The people of the United States have a right to know what troops representing our government are doing in our name," McPhearson tells RFT. "We say that we, as Americans, believe in human rights, and if there's a contradiction between those ideals and how we are acting, that needs to be addressed." Contrary to the fears of the Department of Defense, McPhearson says he believes the biggest reaction to the photos will be seen in the United States — and not abroad.
"Yes, these photos are likely to stir up emotions overseas," adds McPhearson, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. "But not as much as bombs dropping on the heads of people who have nothing to do with the conflict. I don't see how these photos could possibly make innocent people living in these war zones more upset."
Unlike a political cartoon that caused outrage in the Islamic world in 2005, McPhearson believe the photos would not cause mass riots. "People were upset about the Abu Ghraib photos, but they didn't get the rioting caused by the cartoons of Muhammad."
Veterans for Peace joined the ACLU and other interest groups in 2003 in filing a Freedom of Information Act request that eventually freed some of the Abu Ghraib images. McPhearson says his organization (with 153 chapters in 45 states) is seeking the release of additional photos of abuse as part of its mission to "seek justice for all victims of war, including those who wear the uniform as well as those people captured, tortured and raped."
Two other veterans groups, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Common Sense, are joining Veterans for Peace on the letter. They expect to deliver the letter to the White House by no later than mid-August.
Says McPhearson: "As former combatants, we've all taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and we take that oath seriously. We expect the government to as well."
Homegrown Hooter Hits Pay Dirt
Her parents must be so proud.
Raechel (yes, that's Raechel as in Rachel plus Raquel) Holtgrave just graduated from the University of Missouri with majors in math and actuarial science. But instead of landing a job with an insurance firm or another corporate gig, Holtgrave will spend the next year serving as Hooters' official spokeswoman. In June, the 22-year-old employee at a Hooters in Columbia bested 132 other candidates to be named Miss Hooters International 2009.
The title earned Holtgrave a $50,000 check and a year's worth of work representing the 450 Hooters restaurants around the world. Holtgrave, a native of Highland, Illinois, says she'll use the money to pay off some loans and perhaps buy a new TV or bed.
According to a Hooters press release, Holtgrave fits the restaurant's "concept as the quintessential Hooters Girl: the cheerleader, girl next door."
Cheerleader, girl next door? Hmm. Am I the only one who grew up in the wrong neighborhood?
Colt 45 may have the single greatest slogan in the history of marketing. Like other stellar ad campaigns ( "Just Do It," "Got Milk?"), the malt liquor's catchphrase, "Works Every Time," can be applied to virtually any product.
That toothpaste you're using? Works every time. Condoms? Works every time. (OK, 98 percent of the time, according to the box — but you get the drift.)
But what really sets Colt 45's slogan apart is that they're peddling booze. Think about it — it's not as if the average alcoholic walks into the liquor store, strolls down the aisle in search of a forty and thinks, "Hmmm, this Olde English only gets me hammered every once in awhile; I'd better go with Colt instead. I hear that works every time."
No sir, Colt 45 doesn't beat around the bush. It will get you fall-down drunk. Every single time. And maybe that's what all the fuss is about.
By now you're probably heard about the minor controversy brewing over Metro's policy about putting warning labels for alcohol ads on St. Louis bus stops. Last November the transit agency enacted a new policy requiring all beer or liquor promotions to caution about the dangers of drinking while driving or pregnant and state that consumption by minors is prohibited.
Problem was, when a contractor by the name of Wall JCDecaux inked a deal with Colt 45 in early June on behalf of Metro, 60 local bus stops were plastered with the malt liquor's retro ad campaign (featuring the immortal slogan and a colorful illustration of Billy Dee Williams (a.k.a. Lando Calrissian) toting a Colt can). The disclaimers were nowhere to be found.
The oversight prompted teetotaling groups like the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition and anti-booze aldermen like Charles Quincy Troupe to raise a stink.
As of June 26, confirms Metro spokeswoman Angela Fletcher-Mabry, all the ads for the malt liquor now include the disclaimers. Fletcher-Mabry said "reorganization in the marketing department" caused the mix-up.
(As an afterthought, Budweiser's bus-stop ads for the MLB All-Star Game will also be forced to carry the warning. Those ads are currently being reprinted, Fletcher-Mabry said.)
Colt 45, owned by Pabst Brewing Company, has lately been targeting their product at a new crowd by buying full-page ads in the hipster rag Vice magazine. But historically, the beer is stereotyped as the beverage of choice among poor African Americans. (Don't tell Billy Dee though — he's "roguishly handsome and infinitely suave.")
This aspect alone causes some suspicion when it comes to asking why Colt was the company that caused the controversy.
"St. Louis is such a pro-alcohol, pro-beer town," says local artist Jim Mahfood, who illustrated Colt 45's previous graffiti-inspired ad campaign. "Who cares about a beer ad? It's just Colt 45, and malt liquor in general has this immediate un-PC connotation of 'that's for people in the ghetto.'"
All racial implications aside, one does have to wonder: Why does a liquor ad on a bus stop have to warn about the dangers of drunk driving?