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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.
By David Swanson
In 2008 Joe Allen published "Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. Lost," which provides a terrific and concise history of the United States' involvement in Vietnam, from beginning to end. Doing this in 200 pages results in a limited history, but the basic points all seem right.
Allen concludes that Vietnam was ended by three forces: the resistance of the Vietnamese, the peace movement in the United States, and the resistance of soldiers in the U.S. military. Because he was writing in 2008 or earlier, Allen compares the Vietnam War only to the Iraq War, not Afghanistan. But many points he makes are, or may prove to be, relevant to both of those current quagmires. He finds the Iraqis, the Americans, and the American soldiers all coming up short in comparison with the three groups that ended the Vietnam War. The same can almost certainly be said with regard to Afghanistan.
Earlier in the book, Allen discusses a moment that has some similarities to our own:
His approval rating took further hits over his failed promise to move a major U.S. Marine base off Okinawa to ease the burden of the island, which hosts the majority of the United States military presence in Japan. Earlier this month, calling his decision "heartbreaking," he announced that the base would remain on Okinawa, although relocated to a different part of the island...."Local government, local communities should be the main actors," said Hatoyama.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced Wednesday he will resign after eight months in power.
"I'm going to step down," Hatoyama declared in a live broadcast on Japanese television NHK, while addressing party members of both the upper and lower houses of the Diet, Japan's parliament....Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in July.
The DPJ will now elect a new leader of the party -- most likely on Friday -- who will be in line to be the next prime minister of Japan. Read more.
- Barak: Flotilla organizers to blame for 15 dead activists
- Reporters' log: Gaza flotilla | BBC
- Watch Press TV Report: Israel Orders Blackout
- Watch alJazeera Video Report
- More Than 10 Dead After Israel Intercepts Gaza Aid Convoy | WSJ
- Report: At least 10 activists killed as Israel Navy opens fire on Gaza aid flotilla | Haaretz
Over 60 pro-Palestinian campaigners wounded after six-ship convoy sailing for Gaza Strip ignored Israel's order to turn back, Turkish news reports. Read more.
- 10 Deaths Reported as Israel Attacks Aid Flotilla | NY Times
- Protesters on ship bound for Gaza killed in rioting | JTA
- Israel boards Gaza-bound ships, 15 dead: reports | Reuters
- Initial reports:
- "Two dead, at least 30 wounded" as Israel opens fire at Gaza activists | World Bulletin
- Report: Israel Navy takes control of Gaza aid flotilla; 2 activists killed | Haaretz
- Flotilla Civilians Under Attack by Israel | Gaza Freedom March
- Israeli military boards ship in Gaza flotilla | CNN
- Reports: Israeli Ships Attack Aid Flotilla, 2 Dead | ABC News
- TV: Israel attacks Gaza flotilla, 2 die | MSNBC
- Click "Read more" to watch Ann Wright explain "suspicious circumstances" involving 2 boats disabled with steering difficulties.
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.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ordered the country’s military to get ready for combat in a message televised nationwide last week following South Korea’s announcement that North Korea torpedoed the South’s warship.
The message was broadcast on May 20 by O Kuk Ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, according to the website of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a Seoul-based group run by defectors from the communist country. Yonhap News agency reported on the group’s posting earlier today.
While Kim doesn’t want war, North Korea is ready to counter any attacks from South Korea, O said in the message, according to the group, which cited an unidentified person in the country. North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity is one of the Seoul-based agencies to first report on North Korea’s currency revaluation late last year. Read more.
South Korea Prepares Military For Future Aggressions
President Obama Orders U.S. Military to Work With South Korea
By Joohee Cho | ABC News
Days after North Korea threatened an all-out-war against South Korea, President Obama ordered the U.S. military to work with South Korea to "ensure readiness" and prepare for future aggressions.
"We endorse President Lee's demand that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior," the White House said.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said today that North Korea would have to "pay a price" for the torpedo attack on a South Korean navy ship in March that killed 46 young sailors.
But even as the two Koreas exchanged fierce rhetoric, analysts in Seoul said a military response is unlikely. Read more.
By John Grant
Mister Obama’s War has hit a speed bump in Times Square. The question is will the President and members of Congress pay any attention to it and slow down, or will they floor the accelerator and race into Pakistan?
The speed bump is a nobody named Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old, westernized Pakistani, highly educated, and a naturalized American citizen with a wife and two kids. A casualty of the US financial meltdown, a career in the finance industry fizzled and his $285,000 home went underwater and was foreclosed.
Shahzad then trekked to North Waziristan in Pakistan along the Afghan border, where someone allegedly taught him how to make a car bomb. Fortunately, that training was either inadequate or he was a lousy student.
Following on the bloody Fort Hood shooting and the failed underpants bomber, Shahzad’s action has become leverage for greater US military intervention into the rugged Pashtun areas of northwest Pakistan.
So, what do I suggest probably will happen? I think we will stagger along under a façade of constitutional government, as we are now, until we’re overcome by bankruptcy. We are not paying our way. We’re financing it off of huge loans coming daily from our two leading creditors, Japan and China.
It’s a rigged system that reminds you of Herb Stein, [who], when he was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in a Republican administration, rather famously said, “Things that can’t go on forever don’t.” That’s what we’re talking about today. We’re massively indebted, we’re not manufacturing as much as we used to, we maintain our lifestyle off huge capital imports from countries that don’t mind taking a short, small beating on the exchange rates so long as they can continue to develop their own economies and supply Americans: above all, China within twenty to twenty-five years will be both the world’s largest social system and the world’s most productive social system, barring truly unforeseen developments.
Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire. He appeared in the 2005 prizewinning documentary film Why We Fight. He lives near San Diego.
Kreisler: Once upon a time you called yourself a “spear-carrier for the empire.”
Johnson: “—for the empire,” yes, yes.
That’s the prologue to Blowback; I was a consultant to the Office of National Estimates of the CIA during the time of the Vietnam War. But what caused me to change my mind and to rethink these issues? Two things: one analytical, one concrete. The first was the demise of the Soviet Union. I expected much more from the United States in the way of a peace dividend. I believe that Russia today is not the former Soviet Union by any means. It’s a much smaller place. I would have expected that as a tradition in the United States, we would have demobilized much more radically. We would have rethought more seriously our role in the world, brought home troops in places like Okinawa. Instead, we did every thing in our power to shore up the Cold War structures in East Asia, in Latin America. The search for new enemies began. That’s the neoconservatives. I was shocked, actually, by this. Did this mean that the Cold War was a cover for something deeper, for an American imperial project that had been in the works since World War II? I began to believe that this is the case. Read more.
Fortress Guam: Resistance to US Military Mega-Buildup
LisaLinda Natividad and Gwyn Kirk | Japan Today
Barely mentioned in the shadows of these fine words with their emphasis on sustainability, are the real reasons for Obama’s visit: to rally community and official support for the Department of Defense plan to relocate 8,600 Marines from Okinawa (Japan) to Guam, provide additional live-fire training sites, expand Andersen Air Force Base, create berthing for a nuclear aircraft carrier, and erect a missile defense system on the island.
United States presidents rarely visit the U.S. territory of Guam (or Guåhan in the Chamorro language), but President Obama may visit in June 2010. This will be a significant stop for residents of this small island, 30 miles long and eight miles wide, dubbed, “Where America’s day begins.” Guam is the southern-most island in the Northern Mariana chain that also includes Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. It is the homeland of indigenous Chamorro people whose ancestors first came to the islands nearly 4,000 years ago. Formed from two volcanoes, Guam’s rocky core now constitutes an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” for the United States military in the words of Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Owens, a former commanding officer of Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base.1
The reason given for Obama’s unprecedented visit to the island in a White House Conference call by Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, is this:
While there he’ll not only visit with commanders but also with local Guam authorities. And he’s going to make sure that we have a very realistic and sustainable and well thought out approach to Guam. He has a vision which we refer to here as “one Guam, green Guam,” which is apropos of many of the questions heretofore, designed to make sure that we’re investing in capabilities on Guam that are sustainable over the course of time, that are clean energy focused, that do take very concrete steps to reduce the high price of energy on the island, and obviously will lead to an end state that’s politically, operationally, and environmentally sustainable.
So the President, while there, will also take a hard look at the project and infrastructure needs on Guam. We’ll obviously be looking at base-related construction that must take into accounts(sic) the needs of not only of an increased troop presence or Marine presence, but also the needs of the people of Guam, the impact on the environment, and the important role that the United States plays within the region... I’d rather just make clear that we have a commitment to the people of Guam, and that as part of our ongoing plan for our presence in the region, are going to make very common-sense and important investments in the infrastructure there.2 Read more.
The Chinese military is seeking to project naval power well beyond the Chinese coast, from the oil ports of the Middle East to the shipping lanes of the Pacific, where the United States Navy has long reigned as the dominant force, military officials and analysts say.
China calls the new strategy “far sea defense,” and the speed with which it is building long-range capabilities has surprised foreign military officials.
The strategy is a sharp break from the traditional, narrower doctrine of preparing for war over the self-governing island of Taiwan or defending the Chinese coast. Now, Chinese admirals say they want warships to escort commercial vessels that are crucial to the country’s economy, from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca, in Southeast Asia, and to help secure Chinese interests in the resource-rich South and East China Seas.
In late March, two Chinese warships docked in Abu Dhabi, the first time the modern Chinese Navy made a port visit in the Middle East. Read more.
Japanese Leader Backtracks on Revising Base Agreement
By Martin Fackler and Hiroko Tabuchi | NY Times | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Backtracking on a prominent campaign pledge, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told angry residents of Okinawa on Tuesday that it was unrealistic to expect the United States to move its entire Marine Corps air base off the island.
Mr. Hatoyama’s government could hang in the balance. He has pledged to come up with a plan by the end of this month to relocate the Marine air base and resolve a stubborn problem that has created months of discord with Washington. His delays and apparent flip-flopping on the issue have fed a growing feeling of disappointment in the prime minister’s leadership, driving his approval ratings below 30 percent.
Visiting Okinawa for the first time since becoming prime minister, Mr. Hatoyama asked residents to entertain a compromise that would keep some of the functions of the base on the island while the government explored moving some facilities elsewhere.
“Realistically speaking, it is impossible” to move the entire base, called Futenma, off the island, he said. “We’re facing a situation that is realistically difficult to move everything out of the prefecture. We must ask the people of Okinawa to share the burden.” Read more.
On the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Ray Suarez talks to retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. James Zumwalt about his new book on the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong veterans.
RAY SUAREZ: So, give us some examples of the kind of techniques and tactics the North Vietnamese used successfully against a much-better-armed, much-better-equipped enemy.
LT. COL. JAMES ZUMWALT: Well, one that stands out in my mind is the -- what they did along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail, as you know, was a logistical supply line that brought men and materiel from the north down to the south. Obviously, they had to cross rivers at certain points. And the only way you cross a river is with a bridge. They would build bridges for the specific purpose of having as a target -- having a target that we would go after.
They -- what they would do then is, upstream or downstream of that bridge, they would come up with very clever ways of hiding bridges. Well, how do you hide a bridge? One is a concept known as a submarine bridge, where they actually built a bridge platform underneath the low watermark.
And, for those who served in Vietnam, they know that the -- the water is basically brown, so you cannot see from the air if there was anything under the water. But these submarine bridges were very effectively used.
As convoys would cross them, they would have guides standing on either side of the bridge platform guiding them as to where the edges of the platform were. These existed for the duration of the war, and we never knew about them...
LT. COL. JAMES ZUMWALT: This was a people who, again, going back to their DNA, would not tolerate being invaded.
Could we have won the war? We had the military power, and we never lost a battle in Vietnam. We -- if we committed ground forces in the North, we could have driven them out of the cities, but all that would have done was delayed the inevitable, which was that they would keep eating away and eating away, and drawing the war out for as long as it took for us to get out. Rest of Transcript.
Michael Munk shared a telling observation:
A report on a journalists' reunion in Ho Chi Minh City on the 35th anniversary of the US defeat in Vietnam says it all:
"This was the first foreign war the U.S. ever fought where the press challenged government thinking, challenged the decisions of generals, challenged the political decisions the war was based on," said former CNN correspondent Peter Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his Vietnam coverage in 1966 while working for The Associated Press. Arnett, like many of the globe-trotting journalists, came to Vietnam as a young reporter and grew up covering battles from the trenches where correspondents were permitted to go without restrictions. Many carried their war experience into other conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan, but said they were never again given such freedom to tell their stories from the front lines.
"No longer will you ever be able to do wars like Vietnam," said Bob Carroll, a former United Press International photographer. "What did the military learn about press access from Vietnam? Don't give it to them."
Read the entire article: Vietnam War Journalists Reunite For Anniversary.
"When I saw those tanks, I felt so happy," said Thuy, who on Friday carried a hammer and a sickle flag. "The South had been liberated, the country was united, and the war was over."
Vietnam marked the 35th anniversary of the Communist victory in the Vietnam War with a grand military parade Friday through the former Saigon, with the government basking more in its economic achievements than its historic military defeat of the United States.
The city is now named for Ho Chi Minh, the father of the revolution, but signs of the burgeoning market economy are everywhere, with Communist banners competing for space with corporate ads and logos.
Some 50,000 invitees, many waving red and gold ruling party flags, crowded the parade route. They marked the day that North Vietnamese tanks smashed through the gates of the former Presidential Palace in Saigon and ousted the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government — the culmination of one of the most seismic military achievements since World War II. Read more.
U.S. Consolidates Military Network In Asia-Pacific Region
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | April 28, 2010
The United States has six naval fleets and eleven aircraft carrier strike groups patrolling the world's oceans and seas. The U.S. Navy is as large as the world's next thirteen biggest navies combined .
Washington has as many aircraft carriers as all other nations together. Russia has one; China has none. The U.S. and its NATO allies - Britain (2), Italy (2), France (1) and Spain (1) - account for 17 of 22 in service in the world. Ten of the eleven American carriers are Nimitz class nuclear-powered supercarriers, substantially larger than most all non-U.S. ones. The U.S. Navy has all ten supercarriers in the world at the moment. 
U.S. aircraft carriers contain 70-80 planes and are available for deployment in all the world's oceans and most of its seas. They are escorted in their carrier groups by anti-air and anti-submarine warfare guided missile destroyers, anti-submarine warfare frigates, missile cruisers with long-range Tomahawks, and nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines. The U.S. also maintains between ten and twelve naval expeditionary strike groups which include amphibious assault ships and AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopters in addition to destroyers, cruisers, frigates, attack submarines and P-3C Orion long-range anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
With the reestablishing of the Navy's Fourth Fleet - its area of responsibility includes Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea - two years ago after a 58-year hiatus, the U.S. has six fleets that can be dispatched to all five oceans.
The Seventh Fleet (there is no First Fleet), based in Japan, is the largest of U.S. forward-deployed fleets and consists of as many as 40–60 ships, 200-350 aircraft and 20,000-60,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Its area of responsibility takes in more than 50 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from Russia's Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south, from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea, South Africa to the Korean Peninsula, the Strait of Malacca to the Taiwan Strait.
When on the occasion of accepting the Nobel Peace Prize last December President Barack Obama referred to himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the world's sole military superpower he was not guilty of hyperbole if he was of hubris. His defense budget for next year is almost half as large as world military spending for 2008, the last year for which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has compiled figures.
Geoff Millard, Chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Board Of Directors wrote:
From the 26th of March until the 9th of April I was lucky to be a part of a veterans delegation to Vietnam in order to do research in preparation for an upcoming push for legislation to alleviate the suffering of the people of Vietnam that has plagued them since we first started using agent orange in 1961.
Vietnam may seem an odd place for an Iraq vet whose parents had not even met when the last US forces retreated in defeat hanging from helicopters, but somehow I was the perfect piece to complete a very complicated puzzle. You see there are many connections to be made between the two wars but I was there because both were toxic battlefields that left veteran and civilian alike scared for many generations.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was not conservative veterans groups who were talking about the effects of agent orange (more specifically dioxin but for common understanding I will simply use AO as my reference), it was VVAW and CCI. As much as revisionists would love to write antiwar veterans from history or minimize them as a small force (as they are trying today with IVAW) the reality is that while the VFW would not allow Vietnam veterans to join their ranks antiwar vets were creating a new generation of leaders. These brave souls were the ones to first paint the words agent orange kills our soldiers on banners.
One of these young leaders would leave to form VVA but his roots are undeniably with VVAW. It is from the work of antiwar veterans that any compensation for AO has been granted. Thus it must again be antiwar vets that take up their banners and fight for compensation for the now three generations of survivors who have lived 35 years in a toxic battlefield that Americans have long since forgotten.
Japanese Military Joins U.S. And NATO In Horn Of Africa
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | April 25, 2010
Japanese navy commander Keizo Kitagawa recently spoke with Agence France-Presse and disclosed that his nation was opening its first overseas military base - at any rate since the Second World War - in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
Kitagawa is assigned to the Plans and Policy Section of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as his nation's navy is called, and is in charge of the deployment.
AFP quoted the Japanese officer as stressing the unprecedented nature of the development: "This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa." 
The military installation is to cost $40 million and is expected to accommodate Japanese troops early next year.
Djibouti rests at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, across from strife-torn Yemen, and borders the northwest corner of equally conflict-ridden Somalia. The narrow span of water separating it from Yemen is the gateway for all maritime traffic passing between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
Kyle Kajihiro sent the following report from Honolulu:
Yesterday, in solidarity with the 90,000+ Okinawans who rallied against U.S. military bases in Okinawa, the Hawai'i-Okinawa Alliance (HOA), the American Friends Service Committee - Hawai'i and DMZ-Hawai'i / Aloha 'Aina organized a vigil in front of the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu.
Approximately 40 people held signs and candles in front of the Japanese Consulate. Ukwanshin Kabudan, Nakem Youth, Fight for Guahan, Veterans for Peace and Urban Babaylan were some of the groups represented.
People spoke about the impacts of U.S. military bases in Hawai'i, Guam, Korea, and the Philippines and the need for our peoples to be in solidarity for the removal of these bases of war. Wearing a "Deji-wajiwaji!" HOA tee-shirt, World War II Veteran Don Matsuda called for the bases to get out of Okinawa. Kisha Borja-Kicho'cho' with a contingent from Fight for Guahan expressed solidarity from the Chamoru community in their struggle to resist the U.S. military base expansion on her home island. Many speakers expressed a desire to remove the oppressive military bases and make the Pacific a zone of peace. Several people came after seeing coverage of the event on the television. For some it was their first demonstration.
Norman Kaneshiro sensei and several young Okinawan musicians sang traditional Okinawan songs. We closed the circle with singing "Hana" (Kina Shoukichi's famous peace anthem).
Then we tied yellow ribbons with messages of peace written on them on the consulate fence.
The event was covered on KITV and KHNL television stations, and there reporters for the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo covered the event.
Attached are some photos by Jamie Oshiro. More detailed report and photos to come.
Click "Read more" to see more event pictures.
I was in Hyderabad, India, from May through December, 2009. I returned to the US for January through March, and by April 2nd was again back here in Hyderabad.
I spent the last ten years studying - getting a degree in journalism and following that up with an MA in Integrative Studies. I wrote many articles and essays, wrote two books, and organized a national conference. I came to Hyderabad to organize the second conference.
The U.S. military on Okinawa is advising Department of Defense personnel and their families to stay away from the village of Yomitan on Sunday, where a large anti-base rally is scheduled.
Organizers said Wednesday they expect 100,000 people to gather at the village sports complex for the 3 p.m. event. Among featured speakers will be elected officials and union leaders.
If the size of the crowd turns out to be as big as predicted, it will be the largest anti-base event on Okinawa since 58,000 people gathered in Ginowan in October 1995 to protest the abduction and gang rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by two Marines and a sailor.
The crime sparked an anti-base movement that resulted in the U.S. and Japan agreeing the next year to return about 20 percent of the land used by the U.S. military on Okinawa. That agreement included closing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma if an alternate location on the island could be found. Several relocation plans followed and were scrapped because of opposition by anti-base and environmental-protection groups.
Japan’s new left-center government is reviewing a 2006 agreement to close Futenma and move the Marines to a new air facility to be built at Camp Schwab on Okinawa. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he will settle on a proposed new location for Futenma operations by the end of May. Read more.
The United States Air Force has announced that it will launch a secret space plane that has sparked speculation about the militarization of space.
The Pentagon has set April 21 as the date for the launch of the robotic space plane known as the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), which is a reusable unmanned plane capable of long outer space missions at low orbits.
Since the nature of the project is shrouded in mystery, defense analysts allege that the US military is building the first generation of US 'space Predator drones' that will build up the United States' space armada, the Christian Science Monitor wrote in a recent article.
Military experts argue that the US Department of Defense would not have saved NASA's costly X-37B project, which had been scrapped, if it did not have a military application.
They say the US wants to maintain a leading role in space via the development of the new 'space weapon' at a time when other countries like China are expanding their space programs. Read more.
Kucinich Voices Concern Over Futenma Base Relocation
By Robert Naiman | Just Foreign Policy
Representative Dennis Kucinich sent a letter to Norman Dicks, chair of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, expressing concerns about U.S. plans to relocate the U.S. base at Futenma in Okinawa to Nago, and urging that the concerns of Okinawa residents be taken into account. The letter is here.
Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | April 14, 2010
On April 11, the day before the two-day Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington, DC, U.S. President Barack Obama met with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and their deliberations resulted in the U.S. obtaining the right to fly troops and military equipment over (and later directly into) the territory of Kazakhstan for the escalating war in Afghanistan.
Michael McFaul, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and senior director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the United States National Security Council, "told reporters in a conference call that the agreement will allow troops to fly directly from the United States over the North Pole to the region."
McFaul directly stated, "This will save money; it will save time in terms of moving our troops and supplies needed into the theater." The Washington Post cited other White House officials claiming "Sunday's meeting between Obama and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was the turning point,"  an allusion to the advance it signified over the last agreement on military transport for the Afghan war signed between the two countries in January, which permitted the transport of only non-lethal American military supplies and equipment across the country by rail.
The government of Kazakhstan has also allowed limited flights containing non-lethal military cargo over its territory, but that entailed a lengthy and circuitous route from the eastern United States to Europe and over the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, ultimately headed to the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, which is currently in jeopardy after the overthrow of the government in that nation on April 7.
However, now "Kazakhstan has agreed to let the United States fly troops and weapons over its territory, a deal that opens a direct and faster route over the North Pole for American forces and lethal equipment headed to Afghanistan." 
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed five years after and in the same manner as he came to power, in a bloody uprising.
Elected president two months after the so-called Tulip Revolution of 2005 he helped engineer, he was since then head of state of the main transit nation for the U.S. and NATO war in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon secured the Manas Air Base (as of last year known as the Transit Center at Manas) in Kyrgyzstan shortly after its invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001 and in the interim, according to a U.S. armed forces publication last June, “More than 170,000 coalition personnel passed through the base on their way in or out of Afghanistan, and Manas was the transit point for 5,000 tons of cargo, including spare parts and equipment, uniforms and various items to support personnel and mission needs.
“Currently, around 1,000 U.S. troops, along with a few hundred from Spain and France, are assigned to the base.” 
The White House’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke paid his first visit in his current position to Kyrgyzstan – and the three other former Soviet Central Asian republics which border it, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – in February and said “35,000 US troops were transiting each month on their way in and out of Afghanistan.”  At the rate he mentioned, 420,000 troops annually.
Hmm. Who should be occupying whom?
Pakistan parliament agrees to curb presidential powers
The parliament of Pakistan has voted unanimously in favour of measures which limit key presidential powers.
The measures transfer certain powers from the office of the president to the prime minister and take away his power to dismiss elected governments.
Supporters say the legislation will strengthen parliamentary democracy, weakened by periods of military rule.
The bill was approved unanimously by Pakistan's National Assembly. It now needs approval from the upper house.
From Veterans for Peace
Hanoi--At a meeting with American veterans here yesterday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged "the United States government to take responsibility for solving the aftermath of its war with Vietnam."
During the war, Mr. Dung emphasized, more than two million Vietnamese were killed, millions more were injured, and more than 300,000 are still missing. Moreover, three million people were exposed to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange sprayed by the U.S. military during the war.
Mr. Dung further urged the U.S. government to "listen to its conscience," and to cooperate with Vietnam's government by giving assistance to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange to help them overcome the difficulties they face, and to aid in the clean-up of the dioxin contaminated environment.
The Futenma base relocation issue has been dominating the headlines in Japan ever since the formation of the Hatoyama administration in September 2009. Understandably the focus has been on Okinawa, long the center of anti-base activism. But we should see the Futenma base relocation issue as part of a much broader problem. In this article I want to consider the Futenma issue in the context of other activities within the international anti-bases movement.
I have been involved in the anti-bases movement for many years and serve on the Hokkaido Asia Africa Latin America Solidarity Committee (HAALA). HAALA is an organization that opposes neo-colonialism, respects the rights of people to self-determination and aims for the equality of all peoples. Revocation of the US-Japan Security Treaty and the removal of all American bases from Japan are among its aims. We have links with Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba and South Africa among others and are involved in various humanitarian projects there. A representative of the Japan Africa Asia South America Solidarity Committee went to Ecuador to attend the anti-base activities described in Fuse Yūjin’s article [add link], and have also visited Venezuela and Bolivia.
The International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases (INAFMB) took off at the World Social Forum held in Mumbai in January 2004 and was launched officially as a result of its first international conference in Quito and Manta, Ecuador, in March 2007. I attended the Mumbai meeting as the representative of HAALA. It was an unforgettable experience. To have 130,000 people gathering from across the globe under the slogan ‘Another world is possible’ in a meeting of such diversity and vibrancy was enough to really make one believe it could happen. In particular, the demonstrations by members of India’s so-called ‘untouchables’ caste left a particularly strong impression. Their cries of ‘If another world is possible then it must include us’ brought it home that only by raising one’s voice is there any hope to change things. Read more.
On March 11, the US State Department issued its "2009 Human Rights Report: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)," calling the People's Republic of China (PRC) "an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount source of power," practicing:
- "cultural and religious repression;"
- harassment of human rights activists;
- harassment and disbarment of lawyers who defend them;
- control of free expression, the Internet, and access to it;
- extrajudicial killings;
- torture and coerced confessions of prisoners;
- use of forced labor, including prison labor;
- monitoring, harassing, detaining, arresting, and imprisoning "journalists, writers, dissidents, activists, petitioners, and defense lawyers and their families;"
- denial of due process;
Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said the result of a weekend mayoral poll could fuel a major rethink about US military bases in Japan.
Residents of the Japanese city of Nago, on Okinawa, chose a candidate opposed to the hosting of an American air base.
The Futenma base was originally scheduled to move to Nago from a more crowded part of Okinawa.
Talk of moving the base out of Japan altogether has threatened the long-standing US-Japan security alliance.
Mr Hatoyama said the results of Sunday's election reflected the will of the people, and that Japan will continue to re-examine its commitment to relocate the air base.
"The country will start from scratch on this issue and take responsibility to reach a conclusion by the end of May," he told reporters. Read more.