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Signs of Life :: U.S. Military

Vicenza Italy by Giuliano Koren
In Vicenza, Italy, a protester wraps herself in the peace flag outside a historic theater, part of protests earlier last year demanding that the United States stop plans for the Dal Molin military base. PHOTO by Giuliano Koren, flickr.com/klab
:: Protesters Block U.S. Base Construction in Italy

In December, 80,000 people took to the streets of historic Vicenza, Italy—the latest demonstration in a year-long campaign against a planned U.S. military base in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Protesters have so far successfully blocked construction.

The base has been approved by the Italian government and the Vicenza City Council, which has refused requests to hold a public referendum. Polls show a majority of citizens oppose the project.

The Vicenza residents aren’t alone in their resistance to hosting U.S. military bases. In the last year, Ecuador refused to extend the lease agreement of an American air base; Polish and Czech citizens voiced major opposition to their governments’ plans to host missile defense bases; and protesters rallied against bases in Bahrain, Guam, and Okinawa.

In 2007, the Department of Defense reported 823 bases located outside U.S. borders.


:: Suicides Among U.S. Veterans

Suicides among U.S. veterans are far outpacing combat casualties. A recent CBS news study found that more than 6,256 veterans committed suicide in 2005 alone, compared to an estimated 846 soldiers killed in combat that same year. The study also found that veterans aged 20–24 are four times more likely to commit suicide than their non-military peers.

In a separate study, the Homeless Research Institute found that veterans make up more than a quarter of the nation’s homeless population.

 


Portrero protest by Peter Lucas
U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) joined Potrero residents in a protest against a planned Blackwater facility. Potrero is a small community 45 miles east of San Diego. Photo by Peter Lucas. beachblogger.net/pics

:: Residents Protest Blackwater Training Facility

Residents of Potrero, California in December voted to recall five planning officials who backed a plan by Blackwater Worldwide, a private military contractor, to build a training facility in their town. The planned facility includes an armory, firing ranges, and combat simulators. Many residents say they object to Blackwater’s role in the Iraq war. Despite the vote, company officials say they are still pursuing the project, whose approval rests with the County Board of Supervisors.

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