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Hose streets? Our streets! Belgian firefighters soak police in protest

Firefighters hose down the prime minister's office Link to this video

Several hundred Belgian firefighters have broken through police lines in Brussels and hosed down the prime minister's office in protest at the government's tougher retirement plans.

The firefighters want to keep their early retirement age at 58, arguing their arduous job does not allow them to work into their 60s.

Belgian firefighters Belgian police get wet as they guard the entrance to the cabinet office from protesting firefighters. Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features

Such demands run counter to government plans to have the overwhelming majority of people work two years beyond 65 so it can afford an ever-increasing pension bill as Belgium's population ages.

Belgian riot police Firefighters aim a hose at the feet of Belgian riot police. Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features

The deputy prime minister, Didier Reynders, said caving in to the firefighters' demands would "send the wrong signal" to everyone. Belgium has 17,000 firefighters.

Garzon Speaks at His Trial

From the New York Times:

Baltasar Garzón, a high-profile Spanish judge, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that his decision to investigate killings committed during the Spanish Civil War had been motivated by “the helplessness of the victims.” With arguments finished, the Supreme Court would normally be expected to rule within about 20 days, although no deadline has been set. If found guilty, Mr. Garzón, 56, could be suspended as a judge for as long as 20 years, a sanction that would effectively end his career. His 2008 attempt to investigate killings from the Spanish Civil War was brought to a swift end because of the political controversy that it set off. But right-wing groups started legal action against him, charging that he had overreached his authority and knowingly contravened a 1977 general amnesty that covers crimes perpetrated during the war.

Garzon has also tried to investigate US crimes and been blocked, though not as swiftly or entirely, by Obama-Pressure. Perhaps the United States should return the favor and look into the crimes of the Spanish Civil War.  Sadly, the U.S. reputation is such that the favor would be laughed at.

Rights Group Submits Declaration Detailing Torture to Spanish Court after Judge Issues Order to Proceed with Guantánamo Torture Investigation

Document Highlights Treatment of Acknowledged Torture Victim

Mohammed al Qahtani, Helps Set Stage for Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials

February 8, 2012, New York and Madrid – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a declaration to a Spanish court detailing the torture of Mohammed al Qahtani, who has been detained without charge or trial at Guantánamo since 2002. The submission follows Spanish Investigating Judge Pablo Ruz Gutierrez’s recent order to proceed with the probe into the U.S. torture program.

Mr. al Qahtani was the victim of the “First Special Interrogation Plan,” a regime of aggressive interrogation techniques amounting to torture personally authorized by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Mr. al Qahtani is the only prisoner held at Guantánamo Bay the U.S. has officially admitted to torturing. Mr. al Qahtani’s treatment, much of which is described in detail in the declaration through his own words, includes 48 days of sleep deprivation, 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions, and prolonged sensory overstimulation. In addition, the document details the effects of the interrogation, which included Mr. al Qahtani’s severe emotional distress, inability to control his bladder, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Time Magazine obtained and published a detailed log of his interrogations in 2005.

Katherine Gallagher, a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitution Rights, said, “This declaration details the severe psychological and physical trauma suffered by Mr. al Qahtani as a result of the brutal treatment he was subjected to at Guantánamo through techniques that are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture. That the high-level U.S. officials alleged to be responsible for this criminal conduct, including Donald Rumsfeld and Geoffrey Miller, continue to enjoy impunity domestically is a stain on the U.S. system of justice.  We hope that this declaration will provide valuable evidence for use in holding these officials accountable in Spain, a venue that is willing to investigate torture.”

The declaration, compiled from Mr. al Qahtani’s own accounts by his attorney at CCR, provides a thorough description of his treatment in response to Judge Ruz’s request for more information about the program. Former CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez conducted client interviews with Mr. al Qahtani during 27 trips to Guantánamo between December 2005 and November 2009.  The declaration identifies Major General Geoffrey Miller as responsible for both authorizing and implementing the interrogation techniques used on Mr. al Qahtani that led to his torture.  Miller was the commander of Guantánamo and was later implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal after being appointed Deputy Commanding General of Detention Operations in Iraq.

Wolfgang Kaleck, Secretary General of the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which joined CCR in providing a dossier outlining Geoffrey Miller’s liability for torture to Judge Ruz last year, said  “The way the United States has dealt with established torture claims has been appalling. Those claims are now in the hands of the Spanish judiciary. Today’s submission before Judge Ruz greatly adds to the evidence previously presented against Geoffrey Miller and we hope the judge will act on it.”  

The case, which Judge Ruz inherited from Judge Baltasar Garzón, has been ongoing since April 2009, when Garzón opened a preliminary investigation into what he termed “an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee…” The investigation stemmed from a previous court case in which four former Guantánamo detainees at the center of the case were found to have been tortured. That investigation concluded that facts of the case related to violations under the Spanish Penal Code, the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Organic Law of the Judicial Power (article 23.4.) Judge Ruz’s recent order was precipitated, in part, by a decision to proceed with the investigation after the U.S. and U.K. governments failed to respond to letters rogatory issued by the Spanish court that requested information about any domestic investigations in those countries.

Details about the ongoing case in Spain and the full declaration are available here and here, respectively. Information about on-going litigation in U.S. courts related to Mr. al Qahtani is available here: http://www.ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/al-qahtani-v.-bush%2C-al-qahtani-v.-gates.

CCR filed cases against Donald Rumsfeld in Germany and France, and released a Bush Torture Indictment, under the Convention Against Torture, ready to be tailored to the specific laws of any of the 147 signatory countries to the Convention Against Torture where he may travel.  CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo in the U.S. for the last 10 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.

The Betrayal of the Nobel Peace Prize

Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  

CLEARING THE GROUND FOR WAR AGAINST IRAN

STOP THE WAR COALITION	 
Newsletter No.1233   
01 February 2012   
Email office@stopwar.org.uk   
Tel: 020 7801 2768   
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk   
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk   
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:   
1) CLEARING THE GROUND FOR WAR AGAINST IRAN   
2) STOP THE WAR IS MOVING OFFICE   
3) STOP THE WAR ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE   
4) STOP THE WAR 2012 NO MORE WAR APPEAL: MANY THANKS   
5) ROOTS & RISE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IN EUROPE   
6) THE GIRL KILLED BY BARACK OBAMA - SHE NEVER SAW IT COMING

************************************   

Nobel peace prize jury under investigation

From AP:

Stockholm's County Administrative Board — the authority that supervises foundations and trusts in the city — has formally asked the Nobel Foundation to respond to allegations that the peace prize no longer reflects the will of Nobel, a Swedish industrialist who died in 1896.

The move comes after persistent complaints by Norwegian peace researcher Fredrik Heffermehl, who claims the original purpose of the prize was to diminish the role of military power in international relations.

"Nobel called it a prize for the champions of peace," Heffermehl told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "And it's indisputable that he had in mind the peace movement, the movement which is actively pursuing a new global order ... where nations safely can drop national armaments."

Since World War II, especially, the prize committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, has widened the scope of the prize to include environmental, humanitarian and other efforts.

For example, in 2007 the prize went to climate campaigner Al Gore and the U.N.'s panel on climate change, and in 2009 the committee cited President Barack Obama for "extraordinary efforts" to boost international diplomacy.

"Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?" Heffermehl asked rhetorically.

UK: Stop the War protests against Iran and Syria intervention: 28 January 2012

From Stop the War

Videos HERE.

On 28 January 2012 at the United States Embassy in London, Stop the War held a rally to launch the Don't Attack Iran campaign. Among the speakers (videos below) were Tony Benn, Kate Hudson, John Rees, Roger Lloyd Pack, Andrew Murray, John McDonnell MP, Sarah Colborne, Kevin Ovenden.

STOP THE WAR BEFORE IT STARTS - EMERGENCY PROTEST THIS SAT JAN 28

STOP THE WAR COALITION
Newsletter No.1232
25 January 2012
Email office@stopwar.org.uk
Tel: 020 7801 2768
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition


1) STOP THE WAR BEFORE IT STARTS - EMERGENCY PROTEST THIS SAT JAN 28
2) TWEET-OUT TO SPREAD THE WORD, TODAY 12 ONWARDS  

*****************

1) STOP THE WAR BEFORE IT STARTS - EMERGENCY PROTEST THIS SAT JAN 28

Hands off Iran and Syria
2 - 4pm, US Embassy
Grosvenor Square
London W1K 2

Called by Stop the War Coalition.
Supported by UNITE the Union, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign,

Renowned Spanish Judge Goes on Trial, Accused of Abusing Power

From NYTimes:

MADRID — Baltasar Garzón, a high-profile Spanish judge who garnered international renown by pursuing political leaders, including Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile, was himself on trial on Tuesday over accusations that he had abused his powers to investigate atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War.

The case is one of three trials focusing on Judge Garzón, who had spearheaded Spain’s fight against political corruption and against terrorism by ETA, the Basque separatist group.

Last week, a separate trial began over whether Judge Garzón had ordered illegal eavesdropping as part of a corruption investigation. The case that opened on Tuesday follows Judge Garzón’s indictment by a fellow judge in early 2010 on charges that he overreached his authority in pursuit of civil war abuses.

The case, which on Tuesday focused on procedural issues, has drawn international resonance and criticism. Amnesty International has called the proceeding against the judge “a threat to human rights and judicial independence.”

March 30 - April 2, 2012, Brussels, Belgium: NATO Game Over: Non-violent Humanitarian Intervention into NATO Headquarters

From 20 till 21 May 2012, the next NATO Summit will be held in Chicago. High on the agenda will be NATO's role as an instrument for military interventions all over the world, and the outcome of the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review (DDPR) currently being conducted within the alliance, defining the role of NATO's nuclear weapons.

A unified European action is needed well in advance, with a clear message to all European governments:

  • NATO's tactical nuclear weapons in Europe are anachronistic, useless, illegal according to International Humanitarian Law, and counterproductive to the non-proliferation process.
  • Military threats and interventions aggravate conflicts rather than resolve them.

Therefore, the Belgian peace organisations Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix will organise a European non-violent direct action day on 1 April at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

More info and registration: http://warstartshere.eu/action/natogameover2012

Complaint Filed with U.N. Special Rapporteur Alleges Interference with Spanish Judicial Process

CCR

U.S. and Spanish Authorities Attempted to Stop Cases Seeking Accountability of U.S. Officials for Torture and Unlawful Killing

press@ccrjustice.org

January 19, 2012, Madrid, New York, Berlin – Today, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), filed a formal complaint to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mrs. Gabriela Knaul. The groups submitted evidence from U.S.-Madrid embassy cables obtained through WikiLeaks that show that senior U.S. and Spanish officials sought to interfere with the Spanish judicial process in order to shield Americans from criminal prosecution for torture and unlawful killing.

France May Pull Its Troops Out of Our Ongoing Crime in Afghanistan

From the Christian Science Monitor:

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy attends a ceremony to present New Year wishes to the foreign diplomatic corps at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday. France is suspending its training operations in Afghanistan and threatening to withdraw its entire force from the country early, after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops Friday and wounded several others.

Charles Platiau/AP

 

At least four French troops are dead and more injured after someone wearing an Afghan military uniform turned his weapon against NATO forces. It’s the latest in an increasing number of such incidents and could further strain relations between NATO and Afghan officials.

Following Friday’s shooting, one of the most deadly for French forces over the past decade in Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy suspended his country’s combat operations and threatened to pull out early.

“The French army stands side by side with its allies but we can't accept that a single one of our soldiers be killed by our allies,” said Mr. Sarkozy according to Radio France Internationale.  “If the conditions for security are not clearly established, the question of an early withdrawal of the French army will arise.”

On the Trial of Judge Garzon

Today Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, along with eight other human rights organizations, released a joint statement regarding the upcoming trial against Judge Baltasar Garzón in Spain for criminal malfeasance.

In May 2010, Judge Garzón was suspended by the Supreme Court as a result of an investigation into the charge of criminal malfeasance.  Malfeasance concerns misconduct in the administration of justice and sanctions judges for making unjust judicial decisions.  Judge Garzón is the only judge to have challenged the lack of accountability relating to the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil war and the subsequent Franco Regime.  In October 2008, he applied the principle that crimes against humanity cannot be subject to statutes of limitation or amnesty and authorized the investigation into the alleged disappearance, torture and execution of 114,266 persons, identified as victims, between 17 July 1936 and December 1951.  The joint statement, which is available in English and Spanish, comes as the court prepares to hear what has been termed the ‘historic memory’ case against Judge Garzón next week.  The signatory organizations stress the need for any criminal offence, such as that against malfeasance by judicial officers, to be applied cautiously so as not to undermine the independence of the judiciary and or to sanction a judge for following an accepted interpretation of international law.  The statement calls on the Spanish Supreme Court to act in accordance with the duty to guarantee the constitutional and international laws that defines its jurisdictional function with regard to the international obligations taken on by Spain.

Spanish judge resumes probe into Guantanamo abuse, says US not answered information requests

By Associated Press

MADRID - A Spanish judge says he is proceeding with a probe into human rights abuses at the U.S. prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, after Washington failed to respond to requests for information.

The probe stems from torture complaints filed by four Muslims who are either citizens or residents of Spain and were once held at the prison.

The probe had been on hold while Judge Pablo Ruz awaited a response from the United States. Ruz said Friday he had received no answer from the U.S. and had thus decided to continue the case.

The judge asked prosecutors to report back to him with the names of U.S. officials who should be targeted in the probe.

Solidarity With Greece Now

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Less than 24 hours from now 15 Greek trade unionists will be in court facing up to 5 years in prison for organizing a sit-in/occupation of the main public power offices in Athens to ensure that working-class families continue to have power in their homes after management, following directives from the government and the European Union, cut off their power because of (1) a mass refusal to pay a fee hike, considered an unjust tax, and/or (2) the people's inability to pay their bills due to the crisis.

HANDS OFF IRAN AND SYRIA - NO NEW WARS

STOP THE WAR COALITION	 
Newsletter No.1230   
4 January 2012	 
Email office@stopwar.org.uk   
Tel: 020 7801 2768   
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk   
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk   
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:   
1) HANDS OFF IRAN AND SYRIA - NO NEW WARS   
2) TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN - PROTEST AT 400th UK DEATH   
3) GUANTANAMO PROTEST SATURDAY 7 JANUARY   
4) STOP THE WAR NATIONAL CONFERENCE   
5) VIDEO OF THE WEEK: IF ARMED CHINESE TROOPS WERE IN TEXAS

************   
1) HANDS OFF IRAN AND SYRIA - NO NEW WARS

PROTEST RALLY: SATURDAY 28 JANUARY, 2-4PM   

A New Year's Wish From an Old Year

It's hard to hear messages from the past.  They may pre-date any notion of environmentalism, of equal rights for women, or of morality without religion.  Their goals may seem small precisely because those goals have already been achieved.  But sometimes it can be useful to us to look back at long-gone hopes and plans that were later fulfilled, so that we can move on to the next step. 

In 1849, peace activists gathered in Paris, and Victor Hugo welcomed them as follows.  Years later he would prematurely lose patience with his long-term vision and stray from the cause.  But in this moment he said something very valuable about city states making peace and the possibility of Europe making peace.  With Europe now at peace internally, we can take our turn to dream of a world at peace. 

But first, enjoy the ringing in of the new year and listen to this:

"Gentlemen: Many of you have come from the most distant points of the globe, your hearts full of holy and religious feelings. You count in your ranks men of letters, philosophers, ministers of the Christian religion, writers of eminence, and public men justly popular for their talents. You, gentlemen, have wished to adopt Paris as the centre of this meeting, whose sympathies, full of gravity and conviction, do not merely apply to one nation, but to the whole world. You come to add another principle of a still superior—of a more august kind—to those that now direct statesmen, rulers, and legislators. You turn over, as it were, the last page of the Gospel—that page which imposes peace on the children of the same God; and in this capital, which has as yet only decreed fraternity amongst citizens, you are about to proclaim the brotherhood of mankind.

"Gentlemen, we bid you a hearty welcome! In the presence of such a thought and such an act, there can be no room for the expression of personal thanks. Permit me, then, in the first words which I pronounce in your hearing, to raise my thoughts higher than myself, and, as it were, to omit all mention of the great honour which you have just conferred upon me, in order that I may think of nothing else than the great thing which we have met to do.

"Gentlemen, this sacred idea, universal peace, all nations bound together in a common bond, the Gospel for their supreme law, mediation substituted for war—this holy sentiment, I ask you, is it practicable? Can it be realized? Many practical men, many public men grown old in the management of affairs, answer in the negative. But I answer with you, and I answer without hesitation, Yes! and I shall shortly try to prove it to you. I go still further. I do not merely say it is capable of being put into practice, but I add that it is inevitable, and that its execution is only a question of time, and may be hastened or retarded. The law which rules the world is not, cannot be different from the law of God. But the divine law is not one of war—it is peace. Men commenced by conflict, as the creation did by chaos. Whence are they coming? From wars—that is evident. But whither are they going? To peace—that is equally evident.

"When you enunciate those sublime truths, it is not to be wondered at that your assertion should be met by a negative; it is easy to understand that your faith will be encountered by incredulity; it is evident that in this period of trouble and of dissension the idea of universal peace must surprise and shock, almost like the apparition of something impossible and ideal; it is quite clear that all will call it utopian; but for me, who am but an obscure labourer in this great work of the nineteenth century, I accept this opposition without being astonished or discouraged by it. Is it possible that you can do otherwise than turn aside your head and shut your eyes, as if in bewilderment, when in the midst of the darkness which still envelopes you, you suddenly open the door that lets in the light of the future?

"Gentlemen, if four centuries ago, at the period when war was made by one district against the other, between cities, and between provinces—if, I say, some one had dared to predict to Lorraine, to Picardy, to Normandy, to Brittany, to Auvergne, to Provence, to Dauphiny, to Burgundy,— 'A day shall come when you will no longer make wars—a day shall come when you will no longer arm men one against the other—a day shall come when it will no longer be said that the Normans are attacking the Picards, or that the people of Lorraine are repulsing the Burgundians —you will still have many disputes to settle, interests to contend for, difficulties to resolve; but do you know what you will substitute instead of armed men, instead of cavalry and infantry, of cannon, of falconets, lances, pikes and swords— you will select, instead of all this destructive array, a small box of wood, which you will term a ballot-box, and from which shall issue—what?—an assembly—an assembly in which you shall all live—an assembly which shall be, as it were, the soul of all—a supreme and popular council, which shall decide, judge, resolve everything—which shall make the sword fall from every hand, and excite the love of justice in every heart—which shall say to each, 'Here terminates your right, there commences your duty: lay down your arms! Live in peace!' And in that day you will all have one common thought, common interests, a common destiny; you will embrace each other, and recognise each other as children of the same blood, and of the same race; that day you will no longer be hostile tribes,—you will be a people; you will no longer be Burgundy, Normandy, Brittany, or Provence,—you will be France! You will no longer make appeals to war—you will do so to civilization.' If, at the period I speak of, some one had uttered these words, all men of a serious and positive character, all prudent and cautious men, all the great politicians of the period, would have cried out, 'What a dreamer! what a fantastic dream! How little this pretended prophet is acquainted with the human heart! What ridiculous folly! what an absurd chimera!'

"Yet, gentlemen, time has gone on and on, and we find that this dream, this folly, this absurdity, has been realized! And I insist upon this, that the man who would have dared to utter so sublime a prophecy, would have been pronounced a madman for having dared to pry into the designs of the Deity. Well, then, you at this moment say—and I say it with you—we who are assembled here, say to France, to England, to Prussia, to Austria, to Spain, to Italy, to Russia—we say to them, "A day will come when from your hands also the arms you have grasped will fall. A day will come when war will appear as absurd, and be as impossible, between Paris and London, between St. Petersburg and Berlin, between Vienna and Turin, as it would be now between Rouen and Amiens, between Boston and Philadelphia. A day will come when you, France—you, Russia—you, Italy—you, England—you, Germany—all of you, nations of the Continent, will, without losing your distinctive qualities and your glorious individuality, be blended into a superior unity, and constitute an European fraternity, just as Normandy, Britanny, Burgundy, Lorraine, Alsace, have been blended into France. A day will come when the only battle-field will be the market open to commerce and the mind opening to new ideas. A day will come when bullets and bomb-shells will be replaced by votes, by the universal suffrage of nations, by the venerable arbitration of a great Sovereign Senate, which will be to Europe what the Parliament is to England, what the Diet is to Germany, what the Legislative Assembly is to France. A day will come when a cannon will be exhibited in public museums, just as an instrument of torture is now, and people will be astonished how such a thing could have been."

 

The full speech is here.

Truces and Fragging in World War II

Sandy Davies tells me, regarding the WWI Christmas truce on Christmas Day:

"When I was growing up, my godmother had a German helmet that was given to her father by a German officer after a soccer match in no-man's land that day. I also knew a South African former soldier who was on the front line in the desert near Cairo in 1942. He and his buddies became good friends with the Germans in the line across from them and used to pick up booze, hashish and other goodies for them whenever they went into Cairo. There was a sort of truce for a few months at that point, so they weren't shooting at each other. When a British Spitfire flew over and did start shooting at the Germans, Tony claimed it was the South Africans who shot it down!"

Does anybody know about this or have similar stories?

European Fail: Extraordinary Rendition Flights

Europeans accused over CIA rendition data

19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.

Legal action charity Reprieve and open government pressure group Access Info Europe made a total of 67 requests for flight data relating to the years 2002 through to 2006.

George Galloway Credits Exposure of Iraq Lies for Birth of Current Movement

Galloway:

I wrote at the time that the invasion of Iraq would be worse than a crime: it would be the Mother of All Blunders. I told Tony Blair – outside the men's lavatory in the library corridor of the House of Commons, to be precise – that the fall of Baghdad would be not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. And that the Iraqis would fight them, with their teeth if necessary, until they had driven them from their land. I told Blair that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq, but that if he and Bush were to invade there would be thousands of them.

But two things, as George Bush would put it, I "mis-underestimated". First, that when the tower of lies on which the case for the Iraq war had been constructed was exposed, the credibility of the political systems of the two main liars would collapse under the weight. And second, that the example of the Iraqi resistance would trigger seismic changes in the Arabian landscape from Marrakesh to Bahrain.

Almost nobody in Britain or America any longer believes a word their politicians say. This profound change is not wholly the result of the Iraq war, but it moved into top gear following the war and the militarised mendacity that paved the way to it. In America this malaise has fuelled both the Tea Party phenomenon and the Occupy movement alike, even if the word Iraq seldom crosses their lips. And from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf the plates are moving still ...

AP Exclusive: Inside Romania's secret CIA prison

  

WASHINGTON (AP) — In northern Bucharest, in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the heart of the capital city, is a secret the Romanian government has long tried to protect.

For years, the CIA used a government building — codenamed "Bright Light" — as a makeshift prison for its most valuable detainees. There it held al-Qaida operatives Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and others in a basement prison before they were ultimately transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006, according to former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the location and inner workings of the prison.

The existence of a CIA prison in Romania has been widely reported, but its location has never been made public. The Associated Press and German public television ARD located the former prison and learned details of the facility where harsh interrogation tactics were used. ARD's program on the CIA prison is set to air Thursday.

READ THE REST.

Occupy Berlin Publishes Declaration Against War

»Occupy« Declaration against War – Demand to stop preparations for war against Iran and Syria!

 - by Occupy Berlin

Starting from Tunisia and Egypt, spreading to Spain, Greece and other European countries and finally to the USA in 2011 protest movements developed that work towards a profound political, social and economic change in the system.

We are globally networked people who feel inspired by these international events and who are motivated to join together in order to be politically active.

Our main demands are »real democracy« – that is real participation – and thus social justice and peace on Earth!

This includes the disbandment of international operating private banks, the disempowerment of the multinational corporations and the military industrial complex, because these three factors largely influence and determine all political decisions in the existing system.

Protesters at Afghanistan conference demand faster troop withdrawal

On Monday, world leaders will meet in Bonn to discuss the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan by 2014. For German peace activists, however, this is not fast enough.

SOURCE

Once again the future of Afghanistan is on the agenda. Ten years ago in Bonn, the issue was the deployment of NATO troops and the toppling of the Taliban. This time around, the summit on Monday is set to discuss the withdrawal of international forces by the end of 2014.

For German peace activists this is not fast enough. They are calling for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. To underscore their demand protesters took to the streets of the former West German capital on Saturday under the motto, "They talk peace, but wage war."

The gathering attracted peace groups, anti-globalization organizations, like Attac, the German Green Party and Left Party, and the German trade union, Verdi.

Doubts about the will to withdraw

Malalai JoyaMalalai Joya said she doubts the willingness to withdraw Demonstrators expressed their doubts whether the goal of the Afghanistan conference was really the end of the foreign troop deployment.

But even Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked that some troops remain, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as recently as last Friday that German troops may stay beyond the planned exit date to help train local Afghan forces.

At the demonstration rally in downtown Bonn, Afghan politician Malalai Joya, however, described as a "lie" the announcement that NATO troops would leave the country by the end of 2014.

Joya called for the immediate withdrawal of international forces, saying the foreign armies were, among other things, working with warlords. Joya said the presence of foreign troops was actually making the democratization process more difficult.

In Joya's view, the international community should, instead, support the democratic forces in Afghanistan. "Please, strengthen my people by promoting education," she said in her speech. "Education is the key to strengthening emancipation," she added. Joya and other activists are hoping for a kind of "Arab Spring" in Afghanistan.

Protest Bonn Conference: They Talk Peace But Wage War

United for Peace & Justice

On December 5th more than 1000 delegates from 90 countries, including 65 foreign ministers, are expected in Bonn, Germany for the "Bonn II" or Petersberg II Conference to plan the future of Afghanistan after troop withdrawal in 2014.  Yet parallel to Bonn II, the US is negotiating a US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement that will allow US troops, special forces units, and air power to remain in Afghanistan until 2024 and joint military bases beyond 2024 -- even though all of Afghanistan's neighboring countries are opposed to a long-term US military presence in the region.  NATO members such as Germany have announced that they will also keep troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

United for Peace and Justice’s Afghanistan Working Group salutes the many German citizens -- peace activists, trade unionists, parliamentary representatives, members of religious organizations, students, retirees, and many more -- who will gather in Bonn this weekend to protest Bonn II under the banner: "They talk of peace but wage war." They rightly criticize Bonn II as a "farce" and a public relations ploy designed to placate international outrage at the continuing war and occupation in Afghanistan.
 
Bonn II will take place exactly ten years after the first Bonn Conference was held on December 5, 2001, convened by the United Nations after the fall of the Taliban regime. The first Bonn Conference named Hamid Karzai as President of Afghanistan, empowered the warlords in the Afghan Parliament, and led to the UN mandate for ISAF- NATO troops in Afghanistan.  It did not lead to peace.
 
Bonn II will fail to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region, because peace cannot be attained as long as foreign troops remain there. Indeed, Pakistan recently withdrew its participation from the Bonn conference following the recent NATO cross-border attack into Pakistan that killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers. While talking of peace, the US and NATO continue drone attacks and targeted assassinations. They continue the killings of civilians, including many children. Under the plan for a partial withdrawal of US and NATO troops, many will in fact stay in Afghanistan, reclassified as "trainers" of Afghan soldiers, police, and mercenaries.  This attempted "Afghanization" of the war under US and NATO command is doomed to failure, just as the US  "Vietnamization" in the 1970s failed: the Afghan people and the people of the region seek self-determination.

We, the 99% on both sides of the Atlantic, also suffer from this seemingly endless war and occupation.  63% of the US people and more than 70% in Germany oppose the war in Afghanistan.  In a time of economic hardship, the military costs of NATO’s Afghanistan intervention have already passed $1 trillion, with the US spending $525 billion, the EU $400 billion, and other ISAF partners $100 billion.  Meanwhile, 14 million are unemployed in the US, yet the government has no adequarte jobs plan; instead, teachers are laid off, schools and libraries are closed, our infrastructure is crumbling, and nothing is done about looming environmental disaster,

The U.S. Senate bowed to popular sentiment and called for accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on November 30, passing the Merkely amendment to the 2012 Defense Authorization bill which requires the President to present a new withdrawal plan to Congress within 90 days.

Here in the US, UFPJ will join with the Network for a NATO-Free World: Global Peace and Justice in sponsoring a counter-summit conference in Chicago, May 18-19, 2012, when both NATO and the G8 will be meeting in Chicago. The counter-summit will call for complete withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan among other demands: http://www.inesglobal.com/NATO-call.phtml

The Bonn demonstrations are called by more than 170 German organizations and numerous individuals: http://www.afghanistanprotest.de/aufruf/liste-der-unterzeichnungen.html. They will be joined by  Malalai Joya of Afghanistan, author Tariq Ali and MP Jeremy Corbyn of the UK, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire of Ireland, and Alyn Ware of New Zealand.   Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, a founding member of UFPJ, will also address the Bonn rally. 

We stand in solidarity with those protesting in Bonn this weekend and join with them to demand an immediate ceasefire, an end to the war in Afghanistan, withdrawal of all US-NATO troops and military facilities, and devotion of significant resources to help rebuild Afghanistan for the benefit of the Afghan people. 

-          UFPJ Afghanistan Working Group, December 2, 2011


United for Peace & Justice

STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN

STOP THE WAR COALITION
Newsletter No.1227
2 December 2011
Email office@stopwar.org.uk
Tel: 020 7801 2768
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition


1) STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN
2) NEARLY 400 DEAD... BRING THE TROOPS HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN
3) A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF STOP THE WAR TEN YEARS ON
4) NO TO INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

***********

1) STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN

The western powers seem to be doing everything possible to increase tension
with Iran. Yesterday EU ministers imposed new sanctions on top of those agreed

Germany OKs subsidized submarine sale to Israel

By Juergen Baetz Associated Press

BERLIN—Germany has approved the sale of another Dolphin-type military submarine to Israel and will pay for about a third of its cost, a senior German official said Wednesday.

Dolphin-class submarines are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped missiles, even though there is no evidence that Israel has armed them with such weapons.

Germany's parliament has set aside a maximum euro135 million ($180 million) in next year's budget to pay for its share of the submarine's cost, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Israel already has three Dolphin submarines from Germany -- one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin, and two more are currently under construction.

The official said the latest submarine, which brings the total to six, results from a 2005 agreement between the two nations that included an option for another subsidized sub. That option was now activated at Israel's request.

The contract for the submarine will be between the German and Israeli Defense Ministry and the manufacturer, with Germany starting to pay out its share of the cost next year, he said.

Israel is widely believed to possess a nuclear arsenal. It neither confirms nor denies foreign reports that it has nuclear arms.

READ THE REST.

General Strike Rocks Nation: Workers Across Britain Confront Conservative Austerity Demands

 

By Linn Washington Jr.


London -- Standing on a picket line in front of her work place at a world renowned heart-lung hospital in London wasn’t Jeanette Anderson’s first choice for how to spend her day.  


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