You are hereEurope
03 April 2009
|Czech honor guard change shifts in front of Prague castle gate, where President Obama will meet with counterpart, Sunday|
Czechs opposed to U.S. plans to install part of a missile defense system in their country say they will go ahead with a protest march during President Barack Obama's visit to Prague this weekend, despite a ban on the demonstration. The protests come as opinion polls suggest many Czechs fear the missile shield could lead to tensions with Russia and more insecurity in Europe.
The Czech capital Prague saw a variety of protests in recent months against a planned U.S. missile defense system. Many oppose the plan - originally pushed by the Bush administration - to install radar dishes near Prague as part of the project. Interceptor rockets would be based in neighboring Poland.
By Ian Cobain, The Guardian
MPs are to undertake the most far-reaching inquiry into Britain's role in human rights abuses in decades as allegations mount to suggest that officials repeatedly breached international law.
The Commons foreign affairs select committee will examine Britain's involvement in the detention, transfer and interrogation of prisoners held during the so-called war on terror. Among the matters to be examined later in the year are allegations, reported in the Guardian over the past two years, that British intelligence officers colluded in the torture of Britons held in Pakistan and Egypt.
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - France is ready to take a detainee from Guantanamo Bay when the prison camp is shut down, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
He said he had long been a critic of Guantanamo but that if Obama needed allies to take detainees from the facility in order to close it, then France would agree.
"We can't condemn the United States because they have that camp and then wash our hands of it once they close it. That's not what being allies is about," Sarkozy said during a joint news conference with Obama.
"Yes, we talked about it, and yes, we reached an agreement," he said, adding there was one Guantanamo detainee connected to France.
Obama expressed his appreciation to Sarkozy for "being good to his word."
"I made the decision to close Guantanamo because I do not think it makes America safer," he said.
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation
With President Obama announcing his new strategy for US/NATO escalation in Afghanistan, the April 3-4 NATO Summit in Baden-Baden and Kehl, Germany, and in Strasbourg, France, takes on added urgency -- as will the demonstrations by thousands of protestors from over 20 European countries and the US.
Member states will attempt to use the summit as an occasion to celebrate the alliance's 60th anniversary, France's return to NATO, and perhaps offer a new "Strategic Concept" as an interventionist force around the world. Activists will articulate an alternative vision focused on securing global peace and confronting domestic challenges at home, including a call for the dissolution of NATO.
THE WEB OF PRECARIOUSNESS
By Gaither Stewart
Precariousness looms like a black cloud over the continent of Europe. The fragility of human life and of the life style generations of westerners are accustomed to today rages like a modern plague. Precariousness is a contagious disease. It leaps from worker to worker, from class to class. No wonder that life in our times has never seemed more temporary. Permanence belongs to another age.
By David Swanson
Spain has begun a criminal investigation into six of Bush and Cheney's torture lawyers, and our own Justice Department has got some 'splaining to do.
LONDON (AP) — Thousands of people marched through European cities Saturday to demand jobs, economic justice and environmental accountability, kicking off six days of protest and action planned in the run-up to the G20 summit next week in London.
In London, more than 150 groups threw their backing behind the "Put People First" march. Police said around 35,000 attended the demonstration, snaking their way across the city toward Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. Protest organizers said they wanted leaders from the world's top 20 economies to adopt a more transparent and democratic economic recovery plan.
Protesters' anger fuelled by £19m spent to host G20 summit of world leaders
by Staff and agencies, The Guardian/UK
Thousands of demonstrators are preparing to take part in a march for "jobs, justice and climate" amid anger at the £19m cost of staging the G20 summit, ahead of a week of protests to mark the conference.
Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown disclosed the figure, adding that a lot of the money would be spent on security because of the number of high-profile leaders travelling to the capital for the event on 2 April.
Organisers of some of the dozens of protests being held to coincide with the summit criticised the cost.
Leave for police in the capital has been cancelled for the summit amid warnings from Scotland Yard that some campaigners were planning disruption around the city's Square Mile.
A professor, thought to be masterminding "mayhem" for next week, was suspended by his university after he warned bankers could be "hanging from lampposts".
Massive Security Preparations for Demonstrations in Germany and France during Visit of Barack Obama
By Elsa Rassbach
Berlin, March 27, 2009. On the morning of April 4th, some twenty heads of state (including U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel) will shake hands for a photo-op on the bridge across the Rhine River that connects the German town of Kehl with Strasbourg in France, seat of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. At this, the 60th anniversary of the NATO Alliance, which France has recently rejoined, the heads of NATO states will consider ratifying a new Strategic Concept for NATO as a military force intervening in countries around the world. The preceding night the NATO heads of state will attend a gala dinner in the German spa resort city of Baden-Baden.
In this newsletter:
1) GET READY FOR A WEEK OF PROTEST
2) SAT 28 MARCH: PUT PEOPLE FIRST DEMONSTRATION
3) MON 30 MARCH: PUBLIC MEETING: MEET THE RESISTANCE
4) TUE 31 MARCH: STOP THE WAR PRESENTS LOWKEY
5) WED 1 APRIL: YES WE CAN DEMONSTRATION
6) THURS 2 APRIL, 11AM PROTEST AT THE EXCEL CENTRE
7) APR 3-5 NO TO NATO INTERNATIONAL DEMONSTRATION
1) GET READY FOR A WEEK OF PROTEST
Stop the War's main event at the G20 is the YES WE CAN
demonstration which starts at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square
at 2.00pm on Wednesday 1 April.
But we have a week of protest coming up at the G20 and NATO
(details below). It is crucial we make sure the world's
leaders can't escape the massive opposition to the wars they
• Hearing may come sooner than had been expected
• Falklands investigation could provide model
By Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian
David Miliband gave a strong hint yesterday that the long-awaited inquiry into the Iraq war will hear evidence in private when it is set up later this year.
Though the government had been expected to announce an inquiry for later this year, yesterday was the first time the foreign secretary had said it would not wait for all British troops to come home.
Speaking in a debate in the Commons, Miliband said that the inquiry would be set up after the majority of British combat troops depart from Iraq at the end of July, leaving fewer than 400 to take part in training.
Without giving details of the nature of the inquiry, he spoke of the "advantage" of having one conducted along the lines of the Franks inquiry set up after the Falklands war.
By George Galloway in the Guardian via SocialistWorker.org
is a British antiwar activist and Respect Party member of parliament for the London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow.
A long-time champion of left-wing causes, in 2004, Galloway memorably came to the U.S. to appear before a Senate subcommittee to answer accusations of corruption relating to the United Nations oil-for-food program. But then-Sen. Norm Coleman, who was leading the attack on Galloway, got more than he bargained for when Galloway turned the tables, putting the U.S. actions in Iraq on trial and delivering "a blistering attack," in the words of CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
Recently, Galloway participated in the Viva Palestina aid convoy, which traveled from Britain, through Europe and North Africa, to bring humanitarian aid to residents of Gaza, suffering in the wake of Israel's recent brutal assault.
By Jan Tamas, Prague, Czech Republic
I am very happy to announce that the Czech government has fallen. The Parliament voted the no-confidence. For us it is a great victory: we knew that the only way to stop the installation of the US radar base was the fall of the government and we worked for more than 2 years in this direction with permanence and coherence.
A government that represented the interests of the US military industry has fallen.
Our work has been fundamental in encouraging the members of the Parliament who already were against the radar and to spread doubts in the ones who were in favor. And it was just the change of mind of some deputies that made the fall of the government possible.
From all over Belgium, by bus, bike, taxi, public transport and even by walking, hundreds of activists came to NATO's headquarters in Evere, Brussels. They tried non-violently to enter the NATO terrain and seal gates, windows and doors. At the same time, the NATO has been symbolically buried during a farewell ceremony. Today, this burial is still a symbolic act, but the will to turn this symbol into reality is very high.
Despite the massive presence of police forces equipped with water canons, helicopters, horses, kilometres of barb wire, ... several activists managed to enter the military base to seal gates, windows and doors. 450 peace activists have been arrested and showed clearly that Vredesactie and the Bombspotters do not let the NATO keep going with its business as usual.
• Government left 'paper trail' in build-up to war
• More facts still to come to light, says former envoy
By David Hencke, The Guardian
A former diplomat at the centre of events in the run-up to the Iraq war revealed yesterday that the government has a "paper trail" that could reveal new information about the legality of the invasion.
Carne Ross, who was a first secretary at the United Nations in New York for the Foreign Office until 2004, told MPs: "A lot of facts about the run-up to this war have yet to come to light which should come to light and which the public deserves to know." There were also assessments by the joint intelligence committee which had not been disclosed, Ross told the Commons public administration select committee.
by: Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t | Report
US veterans march from Philadelphia to Valley Forge before the Winter Solider hearings last March. (Photo: Susie Husted)
Last March, a group of soldiers and veterans gathered in Washington, DC, to recount their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. They spent three days testifying, confessing and mourning. They revealed atrocities never before spoken of - the brutal murders of civilians, the destruction of homes and villages, the rape and sexual assault of both civilians and US military women - and displayed photos and video footage to back up their claims. The event was titled "Winter Soldier," harkening back to the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation, in which veterans gathered in Detroit to give testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed in Vietnam. Both Winter Soldiers zeroed in on the US military policy's devastating effects, straight from the mouths of those charged with carrying out that policy.
On Saturday, March 14, a third Winter Soldier conference unfolded - this time, overseas. In the leadup to NATO's 60th summit next month in Strasbourg, Germany, Winter Soldier Europe took place in nearby Freiburg. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from Germany, the UK and the US testified, revealing the impact of the occupations on civilians and service members alike. The event was organized by the nonprofit Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), in an effort to amplify the voices of soldiers - voices that are often drowned out by military leadership and political commentators, according to Zack Baddorf, one of Winter Soldier Europe's organizers.
By Paul Waugh, Evening Standard
Intelligence experts explicitly warned Tony Blair's aides that Britain was not in "imminent danger of attack" from Saddam Hussein, a confidential memo revealed today.
The row over claims that the Government "spun" its way into war with Iraq is likely to be reignited after the release of the document by the Cabinet Office.
The memo, released after a long-running Freedom of Information battle, shows Mr Blair's officials knew seven years ago that the threat from Saddam was not immediate.
Despite the warning, the Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction included a claim that Baghdad was ready to launch an attack within "45 minutes".
Lord Hutton cleared the Government in 2004 of the charge that it tried to manipulate intelligence to pave the way for war.
YES WE CAN NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION
WEDNESDAY 1 APRIL: ASSEMBLE 2.0 PM
US EMBASSY, GROSVENOR SQUARE, W1A 1AE
The anti war movement will be marching from the US embassy on
Wednesday 1 April, the day Barack Obama and the other world
leaders arrive in London for the G20 Summit.
The march will be in support of Gaza and against the
occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and for the abolition of
nuclear weapons. It will assemble at 2 pm at the US Embassy,
Grosvenor Square, London.
Our message will be: YES WE CAN end the siege of Gaza and free
Palestine, get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, abolish
all nukes, create jobs not bombs and stop arming Israel.
We are calling for the biggest possible mobilisation for this
national demonstration. We are asking all local Stop the War
“TOTTERING STEPS ALONG THE RIM OF FASCISM AND REVOLUTION”
By Gaither Stewart
(Rome) ISTAT, Italy’s Statistical Office, has announced that for the first time the nation’s population has passed 60,000,000. The disconcerting reality behind the statistic is that while Italy ages and Italians produce less children, immigration is providing the growth of the nation that until a few decades ago was an emigration country and Italian workers spread over north Europe. Today, as usual, immigrants do what Italians don’t. Over 1,000,000 Romanians are in Italy today, followed closely by Albanians and Moroccans. Immigrants make front page news. Usually negative news. Not a day passes that foreigners (until the crisis immigrants were the manpower necessary for Italian industry), are not accused of nefarious crimes.
Release of Iraq war minutes vetoed
By Michael Savage, The Independent
Details of cabinet discussions held in the run-up to the Iraq war are to be kept secret after the Government decided to take the unprecedented step of vetoing their publication.
Campaigners had demanded to see the minutes of two meetings, on 13 and 17 March 2003, amid allegations that the Cabinet failed to discuss properly or challenge the decision to invade Iraq. The legality of the war was also discussed at the meetings.
The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, had ordered the release of the minutes, arguing that their publication was in the public interest. His decision was supported by an independent tribunal last month.
wikileaks Classified doc on CIA El-Masri kidnapping: Secrecy promise to US more important than German law
The ZIP Archive presents 4 documents from the questioning of the former German minister of the interior Otto Schily by the Munich prosecutor on the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen that was mistaken as an al-Qaida member, kidnapped by the CIA and brought to Afghanistan. When the mistake became clear, El-Masri was abandoned in an Albanian forrest.
The questioning of the prosectur had been initiated to clarify how much Schily knew about this kidnapping as minister of the interior at that time. The protocol was subsequently classified as "secret".
While Schily denies to answer most questions due to a restriction in his testimony permission, which was issued by Wolfgang Schaeuble, some of the answers raise questions. Never denying to have known about the El-Masri case, Schily's explanation for why he did not inform German officials is especially noteworthy: he felt bound by his promise of confidentiality to the US ambassador Coats.
By Stephanie Westbrook, U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice – Rome
At a press conference on Friday, February 20, Italian Special Commissioner Paola Costa and U.S. Consul General from Milan, Daniel Weygandt, announced final approval for a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy. The project, approved by a joint Italian-US Military Construction Committee working under the still-classified 1954 Bilateral Infrastructure Agreement, includes 25 new buildings with lodging for 1200 soldiers and multi-story car parks for over 800 vehicles.
Weygandt noted his satisfaction “that the entire process had been developed in full compliance and that we were able to arrive at this final result.” Costa said that while no environmental impact assessment would be carried out, he assured everyone that “this project is the best possible and based on the most stringent regulations in effect in Italy and the United States.”
Up to 120,000 protesters brought Dublin city centre to a standstill on Saturday over government austerity measures aimed at stabilising the once high-flying economy now wracked by recession.
The demonstration came a day after the global economic crisis led to another political casualty elsewhere in Europe, with Latvia's prime minister quitting as his country grapples with deepening recession.
Organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and featuring teachers, police, civil servants and others, the Irish protest was the "first step in a rolling campaign of action," ICTU general secretary David Begg said.
Police put the number of protesters at up to 120,000.
Marchers are particularly opposed to a pension levy on some 350,000 public servants which is designed to save about 1.4 billion euros (1.8 billion dollars) this year.
According to IMPACT, Ireland's biggest public sector trade union, the levy will cost low to middle-income earners between 1,500 euros and 2,800 euros a year.
Solidarity message from Japanese citizens
To friends in Europe who are against the Missile Defense system and the Space Shield
We are several citizen groups which are respectively committed in peaceful ways to movements of anti-MD system and anti-US Bases in Japan. We would like to convey, by this message, our solidarity with all who are against the deployment of the US MD system into the eastern Europe. We, who live with the various problems arising from many US bases occupying our homeland, always look enviously at the unified efforts in the anti-radar movement by citizens and the League of Mayors in Czech Republic. Your movement has encouraged us a lot and we thank you for that.
Japanese government introduced the MD system in Dec. 2003, and ever since, its deployment has been accelerated here along with the US’ deployment of its own MD system in Japan.
2009 is the 60th anniversary of NATO and the US-led alliance is planning big celebrations in Europe to promote their expanded global role as an extension of US foreign and military policy. In 1999, seeking to justify its existence after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, NATO acknowledged that it was seeking to orient itself according to a new fundamental strategic concept. From a narrow military defense alliance it was to become a broad-based alliance for the protection of the vital resource needs (oil/natural gas/etc) of its member states. Besides being mired in Afghanistan today, NATO is now expanding eastward as a tool in the aggressive US program to surround resource rich Russia. There are even discussions now within NATO to take the alliance into the Asian-Pacific to help the US militarily surround China.
Cageprisoners is deeply concerned by today’s House of Lords’ decision in the case of Abu Qatadah that deportation of foreign nationals to countries which practice torture was not a bar to their removal.
In reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords has effectively sanctioned the deportation of Abu Qatadah and other foreign nationals to countries where the only evidence of wrongdoing against them has been obtained through torture. Both the Special Immigrations Appeal Commission ! (SIAC) and the Court of Appeal have accepted that the only evidence against Abu Qatadah has been extracted from the torture of his co-defendants in Jordan and that there is no other genuine evidence against him.
Cageprisoners view the decision as a major setback for human rights and the rule of law.
Cageprisoners spokesman, Moazzam Begg, stated:
The Czech Republic and Poland: US Trojan Horses to divide Europe?
Contact: Gerardo Femina (Prague, Czech Republic) email@example.com
Three buses filled with Czech Mayors from the League of Mayors against the Radar and activists from the Nonviolence Movement will travel to Brussels to meet Members of the European Parliament on Wednesday and to protest against the “Star wars” plan. They have been invited to attend a public hearing about the controversial US Missile Defense enlargement into the Czech Republic and Poland. While in Brussels they will meet with several MEPs, Belgian Senators and the Vice-president of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini. They will also attend a public rally against the radar held outside the European Parliament building.