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The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a plan to set up a new "volunteer corps" and consider whether "a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people" should be developed.
The legislation also refers to "uniforms" that would be worn by the "volunteers" and the "need" for a "public service academy, a 4-year institution" to "focus on training" future "public sector leaders." The training, apparently, would occur at "campuses."
The vote yesterday came on H.R. 1388, which reauthorizes through 2014 the National and Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, acts that originally, among other programs, funded the AmeriCorps and the National Senior Service Corps.
It not only reauthorizes the programs, but also includes "new programs and studies" and is expected to be funded with an allocation of $6 billion over the next five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Many, however, are raising concerns that the program, which is intended to include 250,000 "volunteers," is the beginning of what President Obama called his "National Civilian Security Force" in a a speech last year in which he urged creating an organization as big and well-funded as the U.S. military. He has declined since then to elaborate.
WND reported when a copy of the speech provided online apparently was edited to exclude Obama's specific references to the new force.
The new bill specifically references the possibilities "if all individuals in the United States were expected to perform national service or were required to perform a certain amount of national service."
Such new requirements perhaps, the legislation notes, "would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds."
No one, apparently with the exception of infants, would be excluded:
"The means to develop awareness of national service and volunteer opportunities at a young age by creating, expanding, and promoting service options for elementary and secondary school students, through service learning or other means, and by raising awareness of existing incentives."
According to a report by Canada Free Press, "'volunteerism' that kept America running since the days of its founding" would be "wiped out with the stroke of a pen."
"It becomes forced labor and like the practice of another era, presses American citizens of all ages and creeds, unknowingly into military service," the commentary said.
"On paper, H.R. 1388 is the 'Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act'; the more innocuous sounding 'The Give Act,' for short.
"The Give Act puts the finishing touches to Public Allies New Leadership for New Times, modeled after Saul Alinsky's 'Peoples Organizations' and operating under Michelle Obama," the commentary said.
"Michelle was also a pioneer in the social entrepreneur movement – leaders who create new approaches and organize to provide new solutions to social problems. Like most things Saul Alinsky, H.R. 1388 sounds noble in stating why wide-sweeping change is necessary," the commentary said.
"H.R. 1388 goes straight to the heart of volunteerism in America, impacting everything from the lemonade stands of neighborhood children, to the residents of senior citizens homes. … The Give Act puts tow-headed school children and silver-haired seniors in the official uniform of the new State, and encompasses every walk of life in main-street America," the commentary said. "Whether you are young or old, or firmly believe that volunteering means you are offering your time to the good of community work, you will be pressed into Obama's National Civilian Community Corps."
Groups of such "volunteers," would, under the legislation, be "grouped together as appropriate in campuses for operational, support, and boarding purposes. The Corps campus for a unit shall be in a facility or central location established as the operational headquarters and boarding place for the unit. … There shall be a superintendent for each camp."
The plan generated this concern from Resistnet.com: "This is the equivalent of brown shirts."
Another portion of the bill talks about a "service learning" plan that will be "a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency."
A forum participant noted, "I wonder what's going to happen to those who refused to 'volunteer.' Maybe they will be put into a different 'campus.' I guess we will soon find out."
Formal announcements about the plan suggested something far different, picking a provision far down in the 200 pages of legislation to highlight.
According to a Business Wire statement released by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the bill "would formally authorize federal support for establishing the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America as a National Day of Service and Remembrance."
That provision is tucked into the far reaches of the legislation, but Schumer discussed it as if it were the primary point.
"I could not be more proud to work to pass this important provision," said Schumer. "September 11 should not only be a day for mourning – it should be a day to think about our neighbors, our community, and our country. We can take a tragic day in our nation's history and turn it into a force for good."
On the Albany Insanity blog, this concern was raised: "What gives the government the right to require individuals to give three years service under the guise of 'volunteer' service? It is not explicit exactly who is required but I think they get the bill passed and then iron out the details. It talks about uniforms and 'camps.' They revise the word 'camps' and call it 'campus.' There is language about Seniors and Community organizations."
The blog noted, such work forces would be used for "pressing national and local challenges" that apparently could range from weather disasters to economic uncertainty.
At a Republican website, officials noted it authorizes funding for an Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps, Clean Energy Corps, Veterans' Corps and Opportunity Corps.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York. It was approved in the House 321-105, with mostly GOP opposition. It now goes to the Senate.
WND reported earlier on Obama's Colorado Springs campaign speech when he sought a civilian security force as big and well-funded as the military – with a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars.
WND later reported when the official website for Obama, Change.gov, announced he would "require" all middle school through college students to participate in community service programs.
However, after a flurry of blogs protested children being drafted into Obama's proposed youth corps, officials softened the website's wording.
Originally, under the tab "America Serves," Change.gov read, "President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in under served schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.
"Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year," the site announced.
WND previously reported on a video of a marching squad of Obama youth.
Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND, used his daily column first to raise the issue and then to elevate it with a call to all reporters to start asking questions.
"If we're going to create some kind of national police force as big, powerful and well-funded as our combined U.S. military forces, isn't this rather a big deal?" Farah wrote. "I thought Democrats generally believed the U.S. spent too much on the military. How is it possible their candidate is seeking to create some kind of massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together?
"Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that? If not, why did he say it? What did he mean?" Farah wrote.