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Editor's Notebook: Britain's Emotional Reception for War Dead
Haunting Scene as British Casualties Pass Through Wootton Bassett
By Tom Nagorski, Managing Editor | ABC News
In Britain last Wednesday, the papers carried mostly unremarkable fare: the latest on the Russian spy story, a shakeup in British sentencing policies, the Queen's visit to Canada , Scotsman Andy Murray's run at Wimbledon. It was a beautiful summer morning in London, unseasonably warm, hardly a cloud in the sky. I was finishing my breakfast, and finishing the papers, when my eye found an image as arresting as any I'd seen in a while.
The photograph showed a procession of black cars making its way down a narrow street, police officers and soldiers saluting the cars, people on either side lined six deep or so, nearly every one of them standing at attention. The Union Jack was visible in the backs of the cars – the last clue, if you needed one, of what you were looking at. The picture struck me as a particularly compelling portrait of war, and loss.
Seven men had come home in coffins that morning, flown on a Royal Air Force plane from Afghanistan to the RAF base at Lyneham. Then, as has been the custom in Great Britain, a cortege had carried the men past throngs of mourners, a slow and profoundly moving procession that would bring the servicemen to their final resting place. The photograph had been taken in Wootton Bassett, a small market town in northern England where thousands of people had come to pay tribute. Read more.
Torture claims: David Cameron announces inquiry | BBC
David Cameron has said a "judge-led" inquiry will look at claims that UK security services were complicit in the torture of terror suspects.
Excerpts: The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have long called for an investigation into the claims by Ethiopian-born UK resident Binyam Mohamed that UK security services were aware of his torture by foreign interrogators, who were allegedly fed questions via the CIA....
Mr Cameron told MPs: "For the past few years the reputation of our security services has been overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries.
"Some of those detainees allege they were mistreated by those countries. Other allegations have also been made about the UK's involvement in the rendition of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11.
"These allegations are not proven but today we do face a totally unacceptable situation. Our services are paralysed by paperwork as they try to defend themselves in lengthy court cases with uncertain rules.
"Our reputation as a country that believes in human rights, fairness and the rule of law - indeed for much of what the services exist to protect - risks being tarnished."
The panel conducting the inquiry would have access to all relevant papers, the prime minister promised, with some proceedings held in public. Read more.
Turkey has clamped down on Israel's use of its airspace, according to a statement from the Turkish prime minister and information from a Turkish government official.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that his country's airspace had been closed to Israeli aircraft in the wake of the Israel's May raid on a Turkish ship that was part of a Gaza aid flotilla. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the raid, which has caused an epic rift between the two countries.
But the government official, who declined to be identified, told CNN that "this is not exactly the (complete) closing down of Turkish airspace."
All civilian flights are continuing, the official said. "With regard to military flights, the normal procedure is that for each ... flight countries, must ask for permission to use Turkish airspace. It is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It is true that one Israeli flight was not allowed into Turkish airspace. ... Any future military flights will also be evaluated on a case-by-case basis." Read more.
STOP THE WAR COALITION
The Stop the War/CND public meeting in parliament on Monday 28 June has added
significance following a trumatic week for the political and military leaders
waging war in Afghanistan.
Many MPs will attend the meeting, including a number who were previously
supporters of the war. Among the MPs speaking are Caroline Lucas, Jeremy
Corbyn, Paul Flynn, John Trickett, Eric Joyce and Yasmin Qureshi.
June has been the worst month for Nato casualties since the war began in 2001.
Ten British soldiers have been killed in the last nine days and 66 have died so
far in 2010, which is more than double the 32 in the same period last year.
General McChrystal's sacking, for making indiscreet remarks about President
Obama and others, disguises the real reason for his removal -- his latest
report which told the truth about the war: Nato is losing and the Afghan
resistance is "resilient and growing".
Mary Nazzal Batayneh, president of the Palestine Legal Aid Fund (PLAF), will be joined by six internationally renowned lawyers.
Dubai: A UK-registered charity on Tuesday said it was planning legal action in Britain on behalf of activists who were detained by Israel after a deadly raid on their Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month.
Mary Nazzal Batayneh, president of the Palestine Legal Aid Fund (PLAF), will be joined by six internationally renowned lawyers.
The team "will launch a court case in the name of the hundreds of activists illegally abducted and imprisoned, many of whom were beaten and wounded and nearly all their belongings confiscated," as well as for the families of the Turkish activists killed, she said.
"A trial should be held in Britain based on the British legal system," Batayneh added. Read more.
Europe condemns Israel killings, calls for end to Gaza siege | World Bulletin
Israeli commandos shot dead eight Turk activists and an American of Turkish origin on board Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on May 31.
The European Parliament on Thursday debated and voted a resolution which condemns Israel over its raid on the flotilla heading for Gaza and calls for an immediate end to blockade on that territory.
The resolution condemns Israel for its military operation on Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid. Israeli commandos shot dead eight Turk activists and an American of Turkish origin on board Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on May 31.
The resolution, drafted jointly by political groups in the parliament, says Israeli attack was a breach of international law.
It calls for a prompt international and impartial inquiry into the raid and calls on European countries to raise this demand. Read more.
The European Parliament on Thursday called for an international and impartial inquiry into Israel's attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla and the end to the Gaza Strip blockade, in a resolution adopted by 470 votes in favour, 56 against and 56 abstentions.
Israel should "immediately" end the Gaza blockade, “which has resulted in a humanitarian disaster, paralyzed the Gaza Strip's reconstruction and economy and aggravated political radicalization,” the resolution said.
They called on EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to submit an EU plan to the Mideast Quartet to help end the blockade.
The MEP’s also proposed an international monitoring of the crossings into Gaza, including the re-activation of the EU Border Assistance Mission (EU-BAM), in order to address Israel's security concerns. Read more.
Sit down. Get ready. Your life has begun to change. It will never be the same again. This gulf disaster is changing everything. Call your legislators. Tell them that they are now on notice. There are the constituents and there are planet killing corporations, ready to wipe out life on the planet for a profit. Those legislators have to choose whose side they are on. No more bullshit. No more lobbyists getting favors. This is not life or death.
Here's the latest report I just received from my contact inside BP:
Ok, here's the deal.
Size of reservoir - estimated by BP and its partner, Andarko to be between 2.5B and 10B bbl. (that's 100,000,000,000 gallons and 400,000,000,000 gallons.
Yes - all of those numbers are BILLIONS.
BP has admitted in at least 3 interviews that the well casing is compromised (broken). So, when they tried the Top Kill - and then the Junk Shot - the stuff shot out the sides and didn't go much down the hole. A REAL top kill should just take a few hours - or it's not going to ever work.
The casing was undoubtedly broken apart by the natural gas 'explosion' at the bottom of the well, which was the result of methane coming out of solution (ie. the methane hydrates melting and expanding dramatically). Much like when your washer's water line has air in it and you shut off the valve and the line 'hammers', the well 'hammered' when the BOP shut (the guess is 80%), and the dramatic upshot in pressure, as well as the acoustic shockwave, broke the casing.
The Question of the Day is: Did the explosion rupture the casing for its entire length?
If that is so, then a relief well will be unable to plug the hole. TEN relief wells would be unable to plug the hole. Read more.
15 Jun 2010 David Cameron has apologised for the actions of British soldiers after the Saville Inquiry found that 14 civil rights demonstrators and bystanders were killed without justification.
Polish authorities have arrested a suspected Mossad agent wanted by Germany over the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, German prosecuters say.
Germany is now seeking the extradition of the Israeli intelligence agent, who was said to have been arrested in Warsaw in early June.
"He was arrested in Warsaw and is suspected of being involved in illegally obtaining a [German] passport," a spokesman for German federal prosecution said on Saturday, confirming a report by German magazine Der Spiegel.
"It's now up to the Poles to decide if they are going to hand him over to Germany."
Israel's foreign ministry confirmed that "an Israeli national was arrested in Poland," adding that "the consulate of Israel is dealing with the case."
According to an article to be published on Monday in Der Spiegel, the suspect, identified as Uri Brodsky, was arrested on arrival at Warsaw's airport on suspicions that he helped a member of the hit squad get a German passport in June 2009. Read more.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on June 6, meeting with President Ilham Aliyev on that day and on the following with Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiyev.
Gates was the first cabinet-level American official to visit the strategically positioned nation - located in the South Caucasus with Russia to its north, Iran to its south and the Caspian Sea to its east - in five years and the first U.S. defense chief to visit since Donald Rumsfeld did in 2005.
When Gates' predecessor was last in Azerbaijan his mission centered on "the transportation of Caspian oil and the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline" as the chief element of U.S. trans-Eurasian oil and natural gas plans "which [are] directly connected with Mr Rumsfeld's department"  to bring Caspian Sea hydrocarbons into Europe while bypassing Russia and Iran, both of which adjoin Azerbaijan.
Rumsfeld's visit of five years ago also focused on a related initiative, the Caspian Guard project the Pentagon launched in 2003. "Guaranteeing security to the pipeline...will be the prime goal of the Caspian Guard. The Caspian Guard will represent a network of police detachments and special military units in the Caspian region." 
At the time Rumsfeld's Defense Department planned to allot over $100 million for the Caspian Guard to operate at both ends of the inland sea - Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan - and to be based in Stuttgart, Germany where the Pentagon's new Africa Command is now based. In fact U.S. European Command was simultaneously elaborating plans for the Caspian Guard and a complementary Gulf of Guinea Guard in oil-rich western Africa to secure control over the 21st century's main new sources of energy supplies. 
Gates arrived in Azerbaijan the day after the ninth annual Asian security summit organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore and before his attendance at the NATO defense chiefs meeting in Brussels on the 9th.
He had intended to visit Beijing following the conference in Singapore, but his overtures in that direction were rebuffed by the Chinese government, presumably because of Washington's confirmation this January of plans to complete a $6.5 billion arms transaction with Taiwan, one whose latest installment includes 200 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missiles.
That Baku replaced Beijing on the Pentagon chief's way to the NATO meeting indicates the importance that the comparatively small nation - with a population of under nine million while China's is over 1.3 billion - has in American global geostrategic plans.
International fallout from Israel's bloody boarding of a flotilla offshore Gaza intensified, moving beyond angry denunciation from Israel's foes to protest measures in some Western countries.
In Sweden, dockworkers are set to launch a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods, a union spokesman said Saturday according to Associated Press.
Peter Annerback, a spokesman for the Swedish Port Workers Union which has around 1,500 members, said workers are urged to refuse handling of Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 boycott.
Norway's military says it has canceled a special operations seminar because the Defense Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program, AP reported. Read more.
German president Horst Koehler resigns over military row
By Sarah Garrod | In The News UK
Germany's president Horst Koehler has resigned following remarks he made about the country's military deployment.
The 67-year-old faced increasing pressure to step down when comments he made about the link between the country's economic interests and its military deployments were met with criticism.
The president's role in Germany is largely ceremonial, with Mr Koehler being re-elected for a second term last year.
His remarks were made during a radio interview after visiting Afghanistan, in which he said military missions helped to "protect our interests, for example, free trade routes, or to prevent regional instability, which might certainly have a negative effect on our trade, jobs and income".
He said yesterday that "it was an honour for me to serve Germany as president", adding that he regretted the comments he had made if they were misunderstood, while his office said his they had been misinterpreted.
Mr Köhler's decision marked the first time in post-war German history that a president has resigned with immediate effect. His replacement will be voted in by an election next month. Read more.
By David Swanson
I'd guess roughly 3% of the Americans who watch the new Disney movie Prince of Persia have any idea that Persia and Iran are the same place. A similar number are probably aware of Iranians' demonstrations of sympathy following 9-11 and of Iran's assistance to the United States in Afghanistan in 2001. But surely an even smaller percentage of Americans know that Iran, Turkey, and our own country all fought revolutions against British colonialism, and developed democracies, our own serving as an inspiration for the others, our nation serving as a friend and ally to them. And you could probably fit into one football stadium every American who knows that Turkey's democratic advance succeeded where Iran's failed, principally because Teddy Roosevelt's grandson, working for the CIA, overthrew Iran's elected leader and installed a dictator, whom the United States proceeded to support and arm for decades.
Poland: U.S. Moves First Missiles, Troops Near Russian Border
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | May 29, 2010
On May 26 Polish news media announced that the first American Patriot interceptor missile battery and 100 U.S. troops were officially welcomed by Defense Minister Bogdan Klich, U.S. Ambassador Lee Feinstein and Brigadier General Mark Bellini of U.S. Army Europe at a ceremony in Poland.
American troops, it was further reported, had arrived over the previous weekend from a base in Germany to unload over 37 railway cars and assemble the Patriots in the Polish town of Morag, only 60 kilometers from Russia's northwestern border in the Kaliningrad district. Details concerning the Patriot deployment and the stationing of as many as 150 U.S. servicemen were finalized in a supplemental Status of Forces Agreement between Washington and Warsaw in February.
One of Britain's major daily newspapers characterized the development as follows: "The mission amounts to the most significant deployment ever of US forces to Poland, which once was behind the Iron Curtain but is now an enthusiastic member of Nato." 
At the unveiling of the missile battery the Polish defense chief stated that "Placing the Patriot batteries in Poland makes the country more secure and contributes to Poland's cooperation with the U.S," and, allowing for an imperfect translation, "The more America and Europe in Poland, the more Poland in American and European politics." 
The Associated Press reminded its readers on the occasion that "The U.S military has previously carried out training exercises in Poland, and
has also trained the Polish air force to operate F-16 military fighter planes, which Poland bought to modernize its military."
In fact between November of 2006 and December of 2008 Poland received 48 F-16 Fighting Falcon American warplanes and the Pentagon and NATO conduct regular military exercises - infantry, naval and air - at Polish bases.
What is qualitatively different about this week's events, though, was spelled out by Andrew Paul, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, who acknowledged "that the Patriot garrison involves a longer time commitment than anything before, and marks 'the first continuing presence' of American soldiers and equipment in Poland."  The U.S. troops who arrived earlier this week are the first foreign ones based on Polish soil since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact twenty years ago.
The Spanish Government is trying to stop the activities in Gijón and Madrid
Memo from the Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq
By CEOSI Organizing Committee | IraqSolidaridad | May 28, 2010
“CEOSI deplores the change of attitude of the Spanish government, which will complicate or delay what would have been an invaluable contribution to the success of a negotiated, democratic and binding solution in Iraq. The meetings organized in Spain encompass the participation of the highest representatives of the currents in the anti-occupation camp, along with Iraqi intellectuals and activists, international personalities and representatives of European and U.S. organizations. The rough draft of the final communiqué, which would be signed and presented in Gijón, would have been a remarkable contribution to this objective, as it would display for the first time a united and public commitment to a democratic reconstruction of Iraq and condemnation of terrorism.”
Today, on May 28, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has informed the Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI) of “the impossibility of its giving support of any type” to the activities planned in Gijón and Madrid between June 18 and 21 within the framework of the International Conference of the Iraqi Political Resistance: Iraq, sovereignty and democratic reconstruction . CEOSI believes that with this unexpected decision, the Spanish Government is preventing (in fact, prohibiting) the two activities from being carried out as initially programmed , and is unexpectedly failing to fulfill commitments agreed upon with the activities’ organizers.
In relation to this, CEOSI makes the following statement:
1. CEOSI denounces the breach in the agreement reached between CEOSI and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in relation to this initiative, which included the commitment of the Spanish authorities to facilitate the presentation of visas to the Iraqis participating in the planned activities.
“I need a little space.”
When lovers utter these words, it’s usually a bad sign for the relationship. They feel suffocated. They're reexamining their commitment. They're checking out other options. But they don’t have the courage to make a clean break.
Britain is the latest country to question its “special relationship” with the United States. The recent elections have brought in the new team of David Cameron (Conservative Party) and Nicholas Clegg (Liberal Democrats). Both leaders have complained of how unquestioningly close Britain became to the United States during the Bush-Blair and then Brown-Obama years. The new British Foreign Minister Walter Hogue has called for trans-Atlantic relations to be “solid but not slavish.”
Meanwhile, a couple months ago, a British parliamentary committee recommended that the very phrase “special relationship” be retired altogether. “The UK needs to be less deferential and more willing to say no to the United States on those issues where the two countries’ interests and values diverge,” the committee’s report said.
Sounds to me like the Brits are very clearly saying: This whole shacking up thing isn’t working out. Let’s just be friends. Do you mind spending the night on the sofa? Read more.
British troops in Afghanistan are coming under the fiercest and most sustained assault since the start of the conflict nine years ago, with coalition forces subjected to more than 40 attacks each day in March: double the rate of a year ago. Attacks by the Taliban between September 2009 and March 2010 leapt by 83 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to a new report released this month by the US Government Accountability Office.
This in turn is greater than the 75 per cent increase between 2008 and 2009, when the Taliban launched 21,000 attacks. Worse, the violence is expected to grow even more ferocious in the coming months as US and British forces fight to retake Taliban-held territory in the south of the country.
Ineffective governance and money from the opium trade are cited as factors behind the continuing resilience of the insurgency. Read more.
European optimists hope the way to save the eurozone will be to complete the project by agreeing much closer fiscal and political union between the single currency members. In future, the hope is Germany would no more allow Greece to get into this mess than it would Bavaria.
Yet recognising how interconnected our economies have become does not in itself lessen the risks. In many respects, the credit crunch which began in 2007 has just jumped another firebreak: what began as a private sector banking problem has mutated into a sovereign debt disaster as nation states try to help, and is now becoming a supranational headache instead as the few remaining stable authorities, such as the EU and International Monetary Fund, get dragged in too.
Understandably, many are now again questioning the role that banks and traders have played in this saga – not least as a government-spurred recovery in bank profits once again drives personal bonuses to record levels.
In Europe, anger at the financial system is directed particularly towards London and New York, where most of the world's currency traders and debt investors hang out. The EU is already working on plans to form its own credit rating agencies as an answer to what many see as an American hegemony....
Satisfying, and just, as it may be to turn fire back on the financiers, the complicating factor is that indebted countries have never needed them more. Perhaps only a root-and-branch reassessment of our financial system itself can save us now. Read more.
Eastern Europe: From Socialist Bloc And Non-Alignment To U.S. Military Colonies
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | May 11, 2010
Eleven years ago today the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was in the seventh week of a bombing war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, one which saw over 1,000 Western military planes fly over 38,000 combat missions, bombs dropped from the sky and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean Sea.
Having quickly exhausted military targets, NATO warplanes resorted to bombing so-called targets of opportunity, including bridges on the Danube River, factories, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters in the capital (where sixteen employees were killed), a refugee column in Kosovo, the offices of political parties and the residences of government officials and foreign ambassadors, a passenger train, a religious procession, hospitals, apartment courtyards, hotels, the Swedish and Swiss embassies and the nation's entire power grid.
U.S. Apache gunships and British Harrier jet aircraft were deployed for attacks on the ground and Yugoslavia was strewn with unexploded cluster bomb fragments and depleted uranium contamination.
The 78-day bombing campaign, NATO code name Operation Allied Force and U.S. Operation Noble Anvil, was promoted in Washington and other Western capitals as history's first "humanitarian war."
The U.S. and NATO dramatically escalated the reckless assault with an overnight attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7 in which five American bombs simultaneously struck the building, killing three and wounding 20 Chinese citizens. The government of China denounced the action for what it was, a "war crime," a "barbaric attack and a gross violation of Chinese sovereignty" and "NATO's barbarian act."
During the long Cold War it was assumed that military action by the North Atlantic military bloc would result in the death and injury of soldiers and civilians in member states of the Warsaw Pact. But NATO's first victims were Serbs and Chinese.
When the war ended on June 11, the West had achieved what it set out to accomplish:
50,000 troops under NATO's command entered Serbia's Kosovo province, where over 12,000 remain eleven years later.
As the Economic Elite continue their plunder, the people in Greece riot and the big banks score yet another big blow against the people of the United States.
- I: Democracy Vs. Oligarchy: Lessons from History
- II: The Second Civil War: Financial Reform 2010
- III: Financial Terrorism Operations: 9/29/08 & 5/6/10
- IV: Economic Imperialism and Blowback
- V: Propagandized in America
- VI: Save Yourself and Take Action
Democracy throughout the world is under attack. Many people can make the argument that our democracy here in America is only an illusion, but even the illusion of democracy is crashing down. Tragedies are currently playing out across the world on an epic scale. Unprecedented economic and environmental catastrophes have become the norm. Billions of people, the overwhelming majority of humanity, have been sentenced to a slow death due to a concentration of wealth and resources within the humanity’s economic top 0.5%. Ultimately, short-sighted greed has proven to be humanity’s most severe disease.
I: Democracy Vs. Oligarchy: Lessons from History
The experiment known as democracy is devolving into fascism before our eyes, the “iron law of oligarchy” is once again asserting itself. From the Founding Fathers on, we have known that you cannot have a concentration of vast wealth and Democracy at the same time, and we currently have the greatest concentration of wealth in the history of the United States. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
The power struggle between democracy and the concentration of power represented within private banking interests has been a war raging throughout American history. Our Founders and early Presidents were very explicit in their opposition and our need to vigilantly guard against any private interests who sought control over our economy. In fact, our current crisis and power structure was summed up with stunning accuracy by the Founding Fathers themselves. As James Madison called it, “the daring depravity of the times.” As he described, “The stock-jobbers will become the praetorian band of the government, at once its tools and its tyrants; bribed by its largesse, and overawing it by clamors and combinations. Substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty, leading to a real domination of the few under an apparent domination of the many.”
Leave it to Madison, the Father of the Constitution, to give us one of the most prescient quotes on modern day America you can find. For those of you who have never heard the term “stock-jobbers,” here’s the definition from a dictionary written in 1811:
Persons who gamble in Exchange Alley, by pretending to buy and sell the public funds, but in reality only betting that they will be at a certain price, at a particular time; possessing neither the stock pretended to be sold, nor money sufficient to make good the payments for which they contract: these gentlemen are known under the different appellations of bulls, bears, and lame ducks.”
Yes, even the Founders, long before High Frequency Trading algorithms and derivatives, had a clear understanding and great fear of the casino rigging tyrants in “Exchange Alley.” Madison also famously said: “History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance.” Read more.
Atlantic Council: Securing The 21st Century For NATO
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | April 30, 2010
On April 28 the Atlantic Council held its annual awards dinner at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. where the U.S. State Department is also situated.
The honorees were headed by former President Bill Clinton, who was given the Distinguished International Leadership Award for his intervention in the Balkans in the 1990s, expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and launching the North American Free Trade Agreement. Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee of Deutsche Bank AG, was presented with the Distinguished Business Leadership Award.
Distinguished Military Leadership Awards were presented jointly to U.S. Marine General James Mattis, currently chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation from 2007-2009, and French General Stephane Abrial, who took over the NATO command in Norfolk, Virginia from Mattis last year.
The Atlantic Council of the United States also conferred its first Humanitarian Leadership Award on the Irish pop singer Bono.
NBC plugged the event beforehand with this background blurb:
"The Atlantic Council, which counts current National Security Advisor James L. Jones and UN Ambassador Susan Rice as former employees, is a non-partisan group with a mission of promoting international cooperation, particularly between the U.S. and Europe. Jones will be joined at the black-tie gathering by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, Sen. John McCain and a host of other Washington socialites and politicians." 
During a recent visit, a 50-person European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) assessed conditions on the ground firsthand, one year after Operation Cast Lead:
"to collect and document the facts, and then return to our respective countries and the European Parliament to push for actions that will bring immediate humanitarian relief and an end to the siege, as well as peace and justice to the Palestinian people," what they've long been denied under a repressive occupation.
ECESG calls itself:
"an umbrella body of non-governmental organizations across Europe that advocates (for) the fundamental right of the Palestinian people in Gaza to live in peace and dignity without being subjected to any form of collective punishment....ECESG supports the restoration of (Gazans') inalienable rights....and lobbies for pressure to be exerted on (Israel) to lift its siege and end the human tragedy there."
Meetings were held with Palestinian Legislative Council members, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, and UNRWA Director of Operations, John Ging.
Areas toured were most affected, including Izbet Abet Rabu, the Al-Fakhoura School, and the Al-Salam neighborhood. Delegates also met with Al-Samouni family survivors who lost 23 members during the war.
They saw firsthand what human rights and various international organizations documented, including the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Goldstone Commission's damning indictment of Israeli crimes of war and against humanity after its extensive 2009 fact finding mission.
The combination of destructive war, siege, and humanitarian crisis has been well reported. Nonetheless, ECESG's report is important because it's current and by 50 European parliamentarians and ministers, able to reach other high level officials at home, perhaps with enough clout for action - if not now, toward it happening sooner.
Kucinich: UK Elections Inspiration for Democracy | Press Release
Washington D.C. (April 26, 2010) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement concerning the televised election debates in the United Kingdom:
“Just a few months ago the people of the UK seemed to have little enthusiasm for politics. Suddenly that’s changed.
“The UK has already had two serious and exciting debates that have engaged the public. Brits are now more aware of a real range of options as evidenced by reports of a last minute rush of voters registering.
“I will be watching the third debate with great interest, and take this opportunity to thank the UK for showing us how democracy is about real choice. It excites me that when people are given true alternatives more voters will participate,” said Kucinich.
Leading U.S. Rights Group Seeks to Intervene in Spanish Court’s Investigations into Bush Administration’s Torture Program
Madrid, April 27, 2010 – Today, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a motion with Spain’s national court (Audencia Nacional) seeking to intervene as a party (Acusación Popular) in the criminal investigation currently pending in Spain into the torture program conducted by the United States during the Bush Administration. Initiated in April of 2009 by Judge Baltasar Garzón, the investigation focuses on the torture and abuse of four former Guantánamo detainees, Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Ikassrien Lahcen, Jamiel Abdul Latif Al Banna and Omar Deghaye, each with strong ties to Spain. The investigation will examine what Judge Garzón described as “an approved systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment” and thus can encompass the torture that took place in Iraq, Afghanistan and U.S. run black sites around the world. Mr. Ahmed is a Spanish citizen and Mr. Ikassrien had been a Spanish resident for more than 13 years.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo and has represented plaintiffs who have been subjected to every facet of the United States’ torture program, from Guantánamo detainees to Abu Ghraib torture survivors, and victims of extraordinary rendition and CIA ghost detention. CCR has represented former detainees in U.S. federal courts in habeas corpus proceedings and civil actions, seeking habeas relief, injunctions or damages. It bases its motion to intervene on vast experience working on these issues on behalf of its clients
“For eight long years we have fought to redress the brutal, inhumane and illegal acts perpetrated against our clients but have been blocked at every turn by both the Bush and Obama administrations,” said CCR President Michael Ratner, who filed the first habeas corpus petition brought on behalf of a Guantanamo detainee in 2002. “We come to Spain in pursuit of nothing less than justice, which, sadly, is not available in the United States.”
CCR staff attorney and lead counsel in the action, Katherine Gallagher, added: “The purpose of the intervention is multi-fold: to pursue justice and accountability for egregious international law violations in a forum that is willing to exercise jurisdiction over the case, and to press the message that no one is above the law and that impunity cannot stand, even if the U.S. is unwilling to prosecute the crimes.”
Launched in October 2003, Cageprisoners is a human rights organization dedicated to raising the "awareness of the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay" and other War on Terror victims. As a "comprehensive resource," six words explain its mission: "education, campaign, support, motivation, co-operation (and) prevention" for its efforts to educate the public, campaign for Guantanamo and other detainee repatriations or their asylum, and have prisoner rights guaranteed under international law, including humane treatment not to be:
- indefinitely detained;
- disappeared; or
- denied proper legal representation, due process, judicial fairness, and access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), medical personnel and families.
In April 2009, its report titled, "Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in renditions and torture" followed its same-titled 2006 report. Part I covered 13 cases with evidence based on detainee testimonies, interviews with security service officials, and other research.
Part II updated it (including 16 other cases - 29 in all), focusing on Britain's claim to be a human rights leader. Stating it ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2003, its practices belie its commitment.
Prior to 9/11, Britain became complicit in America's War on Terror, and the worst of its crimes, including renouncing the rule of law, due process, and judicial fairness in persecuting innocent people, subjecting them to barbaric torture, other abuses, and long internments.
Muslims were targets of choice for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and at times charity. They've been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and bogus charges, convicted in sham proceedings, then incarcerated as political prisoners for practicing Islam at the wrong time in America and Britain.
Targets were kidnapped, illegally detained, then extrajudicially disappeared to black sites, called extraordinary or irregular rendition, or the practice of forcibly transferring someone from one nation to another. The term is undefined in law.
Nuclear Weapons And Interceptor Missiles: Twin Pillars Of U.S.-NATO Military Strategy In Europe
Rick Rozoff Stop NATO | Blog site | April 23, 2010
The two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting in the Estonian capital of Tallinn on April 22-23 focused on the completion of the military alliance's first 21st century Strategic Concept and on the war in Afghanistan, the near-complete absorption of the Balkans into the bloc, and the expansion of operations at the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence established by NATO two years ago in the same city.
The most important deliberations, however, were on the integrally related questions of U.S. nuclear weapons stored on air bases in five NATO member states and the expansion of the Pentagon's interceptor missile program to all of Europe west of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Discussions on the role of nuclear arms in Europe a generation after the end of the Cold War are in line with the Nuclear Posture Review released last month by the U.S. Department of Defense. NATO has never been known to deviate from American precedents and expectations. Its role is to accommodate and complement Pentagon initiatives. A nation like the Netherlands or Poland proposes, Washington disposes.
While speaking at a press conference in the ministerial meeting's host city, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen directly tied together the retention of U.S. nuclear arms in Europe and NATO's cooperation with its dominant member on a continent-wide interceptor missile system:
"NATO’s core business, its raison-d’etre, is to protect our territory and our populations....And in a world where nuclear weapons actually exist, NATO needs a credible, effective, and safely managed deterrent.
With national elections approaching on May 6, the United Kingdom hosted its first-ever prime ministerial TV debate last week, featuring Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, David Cameron of the Conservative Party, and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats. Heading into the debate, the election was "considered too close to call" and "likely to be a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives." But Clegg, who offered himself "up as the fresh and honest alternative to two tired old parties," was the clear winner in the post-debate polls, instantly altering the dynamics of the race. Clegg's debate performance and the subsequent surge in the polls for the Liberal Democrats has led some observers to compare him to President Obama and his rise in the 2008 campaign. The three leaders engaged in a second debate yesterday, in which Cameron and Brown both engaged Clegg more aggressively in an effort to stop what some have dubbed "Cleggmania." Though the Liberal Democrats are often labeled the "centrist party" in Britain, much of Clegg's surge has been attributed to his steadfast advocacy for progressive policy positions.
By Steven Hill
The recent battle over health care reform in the United States, in which the Obama administration was barely able to pass weak reform, is just further proof of how far the U.S. has fallen behind Europe. Yet all the media has been able to obsess over for the last couple of months is -- THE GREEK DEBT CRISIS!
By now of course everyone knows that Greece is in really tough shape, right? Practically at the cliff's edge, ready to collapse? All the gloom and doomers like Simon Johnson and others have been telling us this for two months, not only in the mainstream media but on Huffington Post and other progressive media outlets. So it must be true. But before we pronounce it so, let's take a quick pop quiz:
* Which country has less inequality, Greece or the United States?
* Which country has lower rates of infant mortality, Greece or the United States?