War School: Military Training for Child Soldiers

War School: Military Training for Child Soldiers

War School is an acclaimed, chilling short film directed by English filmmaker Ben Newman. War School was a film competition winner at Ctrl.Alt.Shift, a movement for a new generation fighting social and global injustice. The film re-creates a military training camp for child soldiers in a British school, transplanting the horror and injustice of the indoctrination of child soldiers to a British classroom setting. This short film performs one of the key roles of visual media in social activism, bridging the gap between the audience and a distant reality. By changing the context of the violation, the film recasts child soldiers; no longer are they simply “distant others” worthy of our pity and damned to a place of violence, but rather precious children in need of our attention and support.

War School: Military Training for Child Soldiers

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President Obama Signs Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “Out of Many, We Are One”

President Obama Signs Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “Out of Many, We Are One”

With his signature today, President Obama put in motion the end of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which has hurt our military as a whole, has forced thousands of those who serve to do so under a cloud of anxiety and isolation, and has stood as a symbol of the barriers to unity and equality in our country.  As the President put it, “For we are not a nation that says, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’  We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.'”

During the signing ceremony in a packed auditorium at the Interior Department, President Obama said, “No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie or look over their shoulder.”  Quoting the Chairman of his Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Pres. Obama went on to declare, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives.  None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”

President Obama Signs Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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Senate Strikes Down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

Photography by: Jeff Sheng, Los Angeles

Senate Strikes Down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

In a major victory for gay rights advocates as well as President Obama, the Senate on Saturday repealed the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.  The repeal of DADT closed a 17-year struggle over a policy that forced thousands of Americans to leave the ranks of the military and caused others to keep secret their sexual orientation.

By a vote of 65 to 31, the Senate approved and sent to President Obama a repeal of the Clinton-era law, known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a policy that critics said amounted to government-sanctioned discrimination, which treated gay and lesbian troops as second-class citizens.  The President is expected to sign the measure into law next week, delivering Pres. Obama a victory on one of his chief campaign promises.

Breaking News: Senate Repeals Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

Democrats and Activists Speak After “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

Slide Show: DADT/We Have To Give Them Hope

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DADT: We Have To Give Them Hope

DADT: We Have To Give Them Hope

Photography by:  Jeff Sheng, Los Angeles

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a deeply touching series of portraits by Jeff Sheng, photographs of gay men and lesbians serving in the military, all of them in uniform and with their faces obscured in some way, by a hand, a door frame or by darkness.  The portraits are pervaded by a sense of lonely sadness and isolation.

Mr. Sheng has described his subjects, identified only by first names that are pseudonyms, as people who “didn’t want to risk their careers, but who wanted to take some kind of stand.”  Earnest and passionate about his work, Mr. Sheng said he struggles to avoid being heavy-handed as an artist.  “I merge a fight for social equality with photography, but I’m always trying to figure out how to do it intelligently,” he said.

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

Slide Show: DADT/We Have To Give Them Hope

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Photo of the Day: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009

Photography by:  Jeff Sheng, Los Angeles

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009 is a photograph by the award-winning Los Angeles photographer Jeff Sheng.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is his new photography project, which consists of a series of photographs of closeted men and women in the United States military. The photographs represent Sheng’s interest in the intersections between public and private spaces, and the government’s ever-intrusive policing of our most private spaces.

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