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By Kent Harris, Stars and Stripes
VICENZA, Italy — Tens of thousands of Italians traditionally gather in Vicenza to celebrate the United States’ Independence Day with members of the American military community. But the only large gathering planned for this Saturday at Caserma Ederle is a protest against the American military presence in the country.
Base officials have moved this year’s festivities to Thursday and will not be opening the gates to the Italian community as has been the practice in years past.
However, the annual celebration wasn’t altered because of the protest, according to Jon Fleshman, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Garrison-Vicenza. A number of factors — including construction, a four-day weekend and a lack of parking on base — contributed to the base shifting the festival two days forward.
By David Swanson
Do they have a fourth of July in Italy? That's not a trick question. This July 4th, Italians plan to gather in Vicenza to take nonviolent action aimed at freeing Italy from U.S. occupation and opposing the proposed construction of an enormous new U.S. military base in a town already swarming with U.S. troops stationed at existing bases. For years now, a major campaign organized by local residents has resisted the construction of the new base. The history of this campaign is chronicled in English here and here. A local referendum voted 95 percent against the base. A leader of the opposition to the base has been elected to the local government. An Italian prime minister has been temporarily thrown out of power. Local activists and members of parliament have visited Washington to oppose the base, and testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on April 23, 2009. The European media has been unable to avoid the story.
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) IRAQ INQUIRY: PROTEST: CONTACT YOUR MP
2) LAUNCH MEETING: DEFEND THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY
3) THE IRAN CRISIS: STATEMENT FROM STOP THE WAR
4) FOLLOW STOP THE WAR ON TWITTER
1) IRAQ INQUIRY: PROTEST PARLIAMENT WED 24 JUNE
The scandal over Gordon Brown's decision to hold the Iraq war
inquiry in private has united in condemnation the most
unlikely people, including MPs, peers in the House of Lords,
military leaders, former civil servants, bereaved families and
even Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's US ambassador at the
time the decision was taken to go to war.
The anger over this appalling decision has intensified with
the revelation that Tony Blair was behind Brown's decision to
By Desiree Fairooz, CODEPINK DC
Vicenza, located just 4 hours north of Rome, between Venice and Milan, is a classically Italian city with two important footnotes. First, Vicenza is a UNESCO world heritage site, home to numerous architectural works by the Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio, widely considered the most influential architect in the history of Western architecture.
Secondly, on the outskirts of town, it is home to the U.S. Army base called Caserma Ederle, headquarters of the Southern European Task Force, as well as of the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the United States Army from where troops take off on missions to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brown forced to open Iraq inquiry to public scrutiny
Senior military officers and peers welcome decision to hear evidence in public
By By Andrew Grice and Kim Sengupta | Independent.co.UK
Gordon Brown climbed down yesterday in the face of a growing revolt over his announcement that the inquiry into the Iraq war would be held in private.
Only three days after saying the investigation would be held behind closed doors, the Prime Minister disclosed that some hearings could take place in public after all. His retreat was revealed exclusively in The Independent yesterday.
In a letter to the inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot, Mr Brown asked him to consider holding some sessions in public. He urged Sir John to hold an open session to "explain in greater depth the significant scope and breadth of the inquiry" and to meet relatives of the servicemen killed in Iraq – either in public or in private – to explain how it would operate. He also asked him to take evidence on oath. Read more.
Enzo Ciscato writes from Vicenza:
By now every fraction of our days is touched by the growing military presence in town. We've even grown used to several situations, almost without realizing it.
Since childhood, many of us have seen Camp Ederle as a common part of Vicenza, like Monte Berico, the Station, Corso Palladio … We've gotten so used to it that, year after year, the base has enlarged, eating up land right in front of us, without our even noticing it.
In the area, almost doubled, occupied by Camp Ederle, the buildings are becoming taller now. There is a new season of growing militarization.
Exactly the same is happening at “Villaggio della Pace”, trying to forget the heavy irony of this name.
For many of us, American cars with “AFI” plates were normal, just as now, when seeing a car with “ZA ...” plate we know that most likely it has an American driver.
For a certain period of time we tolerated (with some protests) the noisy sound of the helicopters’ rotors, a noise that soon could come back with frequency, if we don’t prevent it.
At a certain point, after months and months of drunkenness on “Dal Molin”, not forgetting Pluto – Fontega - San Rocco – COESPU – AFRICOM … it feels like we may have reached the limit of tolerance.
When you start to feel that the U.S. military presence is bothering even the fresh early morning walk, you start to say:
"Hold on a minute, what’s going on ? We must say STOP IT."
This is probably why the spontaneous early morning presence of citizens around Monte Berico, as already experienced a few months ago, has come back.
The need to give them a clear message comes from deep inside:
“U.S. soldiers, this is for you: GO HOME”.
They, the U.S. citizens, did something similar with the British 233 years ago. Don’t we have similar rights too?
BACKGROUND ON BASE PROPOSAL IN VICENZA ITALY:
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) IRAQ INQUIRY BUCKET OF WHITEWASH
2) NEW CAMPAIGN TO DEFEND MUSLIM COMMUNITY
3) SELLING WAR: ARMED FORCES DAY
4) LIFE FOR WOMEN IN "LIBERATED" AFGHANISTAN
5) FREEDOM FOR TAMILS DEMONSTRATION
6) STOP THE WAR STUDENT CONFERENCE
7) THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TWITTERED
1) IRAQ INQUIRY BUCKET OF WHITEWASH
Stop the War organised a protest outside parliament on 15 June
as Gordon Brown was announcing his inquiry into the Iraq war.
It is to be held in secret by a committee of house-trained
toadies (four Sirs and a Baroness) and have no power to make
recommendations or hold to account the warmongers who took us
into an illegal and immoral war.
EMERGENCY PROTEST FOR A FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO IRAQ WAR: MONDAY 15 JUNE, 3.00PM: PARLIAMENT SQUARE
Only a full public inquiry can satisfy all those who have lost loved ones in this war, both British and Iraqi. We cannot allow the main political parties, which voted for the war, to keep this inquiry behind closed doors. Only a full public inquiry can establish why parliament and government ignored the biggest protest movement ever seen in Britain. Most importantly, only a full public inquiry can begin to have the transparency necessary so that the full truth comes out. That means disclosure of evidence and minutes of meetings, the public questioning of ministers and their aides, and full accounting of Tony Blair's relationship with George Bush.
JOIN THE EMERGENCY PROTEST ON 15 JUNE IF YOU CAN. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE.
Liberal Democrats threaten to boycott new probe
By Toby Helm and Mark Townsend, The Observer
Gordon Brown was under intense pressure last night to throw open a new inquiry into the Iraq war to the public as families of soldiers who died, and anti-war MPs, reacted with horror to suggestions it would be held largely in secret.
Cabinet sources said the prime minister would announce an inquiry early this week, probably on Tuesday. Its structure would be "similar but not identical" to the Franks inquiry into the 1982 Falklands war, which was held behind closed doors.
Last night, as families of the dead said they would march on Downing Street if any of its deliberations were kept secret, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg stoked the controversy saying he would boycott the entire investigation if it was not open, wide in its remit and did not report speedily.
Four years late, the Law Lords finally put the British government’s anti-terror policies under the spotlight on Wednesday by delivering a resounding repudiation of the government’s use of secret evidence to impose control orders on alleged terror suspects (the full judgment is here).
An unjustified stranglehold on liberty: the control orders
Introduced in March 2005 after the Law Lords ruled in December 2004 that the government’s previous policy of imprisoning suspects without charge or trial in Belmarsh prison (which had begun three years before) was in contravention of the Human Rights Act, the control order regime is effectively a form of house arrest. As I explained in an article for the Guardian in April...Read more from Andy Worthington.
By Linda Milazzo
This evening at a Washington DC fundraiser, in a statement that can best be described as regressive American exceptionalism, former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich said of himself:
"I am not a citizen of the world. I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous!"
Witness the video below of Mr. Gingrich's pronouncement that defines in two simple sentences the elitism, racism and egotism that have destroyed his Republican Party:
By David Brunnstrom, Reuters
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - European Union states agreed on Thursday to share information on former detainees they plan to accept from Guantanamo Bay, a move that should help Washington close the center.
President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison, reviled by critics in Europe and elsewhere for suspected abuses of human rights in the Bush administration's "war on terror," by January and is looking for countries to take in freed detainees.
Interior ministers from the 27-nation European Union agreed in Luxembourg that EU states considering taking in former detainees would inform all others and share information received from the United States before taking a final decision.
As Obama Visits the Wounded at U.S. Military Hospital in Germany, Some U.S. Soldiers Press for an End to the Wars
By Elsa Rassbach
Berlin, June 4, 2009, Tomorrow President Obama will be in Germany. First he will stop in Dresden and at the concentration camp at Buchenwald, near Weimar. Then he will visit wounded U.S. soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American hospital outside the U.S., located on a site of built in 1938 as the campus of the Adolf Hitler School for Youth.
Dear Supporters of Brian Haw and the right to protest near Parliament,
It has been some time since the Parliament Square Peace Campaign last sent out
a message to Brian’s supporters. Brian is still in Parliament Square, the
Campaign is still here, but we very stretched in our resources.
Eight years ago yesterday on 2 June 2001, Brian came to Parliament Square to
protest against the injustice and suffering caused to the people of Iraq by
the UN economic sanctions and the bombing of the country by the US and UK.
Eight years later, after invasion and occupation, Iraqis have lived through
another terrible period and western troops have pulled out to continue their
war in Afghanistan with the US and NATO bombing claiming many civilian
Despite hassle from the police and others, Brian and supporters remain
lawfully opposite Parliament reminding those in power of the costs of their
wars. Do come down to show support if you can.
Last month, 60 Members of the House of Representatives, including 51 Democrats, voted against the war supplemental for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. But this week, when the House is expected to consider the agreement of a House-Senate conference on the war funding, the supplemental could well be defeated on the floor of the House - if most of the 51 anti-war Democrats stick to their no vote - which they might, if they hear from their constituents.
The key thing that's changed is the Treasury Department's insistence that the war supplemental include a $100 billion bailout for the International Monetary Fund - a bailout for European banks facing big losses in Eastern Europe, the international version of the Wall Street bailout.
By Andy Worthington on Binyam Mohamed
I only ask because two weeks ago, as part of a long-running court case in which Binyam Mohamed, former Guantánamo prisoner and victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture, is trying to persuade the British government to disclose evidence in its possession relating to his illegal imprisonment and torture, the government’s policy of resisting disclosure by whining that it would cause irreparable damage to the intelligence-sharing relationship between the US and the UK entered a critical new phase when a letter was delivered to the British government. Later revealed to Mohamed’s lawyers, it was marked as being the “Obama administration’s communication”, but had the names of the agency involved and the letter’s author blacked out.
I am worried and need your help.
With elections in a few weeks, there is little talk about Germany's troops in Afghanistan nor of the current leadership's support for the terrible U.S. war, which threatens only to expand under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
We in the Peace Movement in the United States once again find ourselves unable to influence the policies of our own government. But you, dear Germany, are in a key position to do so.
Even if it is true that Germany's soldiers are not engaged in combat in Afghanistan (and I strongly doubt that official story), their presence there bolsters the Bush regime's belligerent policies, many of which are being expanded, not reduced, by President Obama. The recent accidental killing of 150 civilians by the U.S. military is just the tip of the iceberg that Germany, by being part of Bush's and now Obama's "Coalition of the Willing," offers for our future.
Bushies claimed missile "defense" in Europe was to protect against Iran. I didn't realize anyone intended to take that seriously until this:
US-Russian Team Deems Missile Shield in Europe Ineffective
By Joby Warrick and R. Jeffrey Smith, The Washington Post
A planned U.S. missile shield to protect Europe from a possible Iranian attack would be ineffective against the kinds of missiles Iran is likely to deploy, according to a joint analysis by top U.S. and Russian scientists.
The U.S.-Russian team also judged that it would be more than five years before Iran is capable of building both a nuclear warhead and a missile capable of carrying it over long distances. And if Iran attempted such an attack, the experts say, it would ensure its own destruction.
"The missile threat from Iran to Europe is thus not imminent," the 12-member technical panel concludes in a report produced by the EastWest Institute, an independent think tank based in Moscow, New York and Belgium.
How and why a Spanish judge might put Bush administration lawyers on trial for actions at Guantanamo Bay.
By Phillipe Sands
It is an interesting legal question: Can a Spanish criminal court prosecute U.S. officials for laying the groundwork for the torture of Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo Bay? A Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, has ordered an inquiry into whether six senior Bush administration officials -- including former Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales -- were responsible for "an authorized and systematic plan for torture," according to a court document. Times editorial writer Marjorie MillerMarjorie Miller asked British barrister and law professor Philippe Sands, author of the book "Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values," to explain the legal underpinnings of such a procedure.
By DANIEL WOOLLS, AP
MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge said Tuesday he will ask the United States if it plans a probe of six senior Bush administration officials accused of creating a legal framework for torture of terror suspects, before deciding whether to open his own investigation.
Judge Eloy Velasco said Spain can act only if the United States has not conducted a torture investigation of its own and does not plan one.
Velasco is handling a complaint filed by human rights lawyers under Spain's principle of universal justice, which holds that grave crimes like terrorism, genocide or torture can be prosecuted here even if alleged to have been committed abroad.
"As we are in a preliminary phase, it seems more in line with our complex system of universal prosecution" to ask the Obama administration what its plans are for the six Bush administration officials named in the complaint, including former US attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Velasco wrote in a five-page ruling.
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have announced that they intend to keep the promise of former president George W. Bush to send $242 million in military aid to Georgia in the 2010 budget.
This comes at the very time that NATO war games are being prepared in Georgia, right on Russia's southern border. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev sounded the alarm about the NATO military operations saying, "“Military exercises can’t be conducted where the war has been recently unleashed. Those who took a decision to conduct them will bear responsibility for their negative consequences."
Russia vows to help South Ossetia and Abkhazia protect their borders against a new Georgian attack that could well come following the NATO war games and efforts by the US to rearm Georgia after their failed attack on Russia last summer. NATO is accusing Russia of destabilizing the Southern Caucasus region by building up its military stronghold on the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The absurdity of NATO blaming Russia for securing their southern border, at the very time the US and NATO are surrounding them, indicates the real agenda underway.
MADRID (AFP) — A Spanish judge on Wednesday opened an investigation into an alleged "systematic programme" of torture at the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp, following accusations by four former prisoners.
Poland's Krystian Zimerman, widely regarded as one of the finest pianists in the world, created a furor Sunday night in his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he announced this would be his last performance in America because of the nation's military policies overseas.
Sometimes an opportunity for reform comes along that is "strategic" in that it changes the playing field for efforts to win other reforms in the future. The passage of the National Labor Relations Act - establishing the right of American workers to organize unions and bargain collectively - was a strategic reform. It increased the power of people previously excluded from power, and thereby reduced the power of corporate interests. But the right of workers in America to organize has been steadily eroded by unpunished abuses by anti-union employers. Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is easy to justify on the basis of guaranteeing the basic human rights of working Americans. When the Employee Free Choice Act is signed into law, millions of private sector workers will have greater protection from having their rights violated. What difference would that make? Ask Steve Arney.
European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers.
Many European officials and civil liberties groups said they were disappointed by President Obama's opposition to trials of CIA interrogators who subjected terrorism suspects to waterboarding and other harsh tactics. They said the release last week of secret U.S. Justice Department memos authorizing the techniques will make it easier for foreign prosecutors to open probes if U.S. officials do not.
WHAT: Vicenza City Councilwoman testifies before Congress on behalf of Italian citizens opposed to a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy
WHEN: 10 am, April 23, 2009
WHERE: U.S. Capitol Building, H-143
WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, April 23 a delegation of Italian citizens opposed to a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy, will testify before the House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.
Vicenza is a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcase of renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The new base will be located in a residential area completely surrounded by houses and just one mile from the historic city center. Vicenza is already home to several U.S. military installations, including Camp Ederle, which dates back to 1955, and was just recently designated as Army Command for Africom.
Judge wants to keep Gitmo case alive
By Al Goodman, CNN Madrid Bureau Chief
MADRID, Spain (CNN) — A Spanish judge moved Friday to keep alive an investigation into six former Bush administration officials for alleged torture of prisoners at the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba.
He acted just hours after prosecutors urged the case to be dropped, according to a court document.
Spanish judge keeps Guantanamo probe alive
MADRID, April 17 (Reuters) - A Spanish judge considering possible criminal action against six former Bush administration officials for torture at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay defied pressure to drop the case on Friday.