October 12, 2009

October Surprise: Peace Prize to a War Criminal

By Stephen Lendman
October12, 2009

The Nobel Committee's tradition is long and inglorious, but for the well-informed no surprise. Consider its past honorees:
-- Henry Kissinger;

-- Shimon Peres;

-- Yitzhak Rabin;

-- Menachem Begin;

-- FW de Klerk;

-- Al Gore;

-- The Dalai Lama, a covert CIA asset;

-- Kofi Annan, a reliable imperial war supporter;

-- UN Peacekeeping (Paramilitary) Forces that foster more conflicts than they resolve;

-- Elie Wiesel, a hawkish Islamophobe;

-- Norman Borlaug, whose "green revolution" wheat strains killed millions;

-- Medecins Sans Frontieres, co-founded by rabid war hawk Bernard Kouchner, now France's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs;

-- Woodrow Wilson who broke his pledge to keep "us out of war,"

-- Jimmy Carter who backed an array of tyrants and drew the Soviets into its Afghan quagmire that took a million or more lives;

-- George C. Marshall, instrumental in creating NATO and waging war against North Korea;

-- Theodore Roosevelt who once said "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one;" and

-- other undeserving winners...."War is peace," what Orwell understood and why the award legitimizes wars and the leaders who wage them.

After the October 9 announcement, The New York Times quoted 2007 winner Al Gore saying it was "thrilling" without explaining it was as undeserved as his own. Writers Steven Erlanger and Sheryl Gay Stolberg called it a "surprise." For others it shocked and betrayed.

Palestinian Muhammad al-Sharif asked: "Has Israel stopped building settlements? Has Obama achieved a Palestinian state yet?"

Iyad Burnat, one of the West Bank's non-violent protest leaders, "started to go crazy" after hearing about the award. "I asked myself why. The Americans are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Palestine is still occupied....Why didn't (they) give the prize to (George Bush. He) worked very hard (for) eight years killing children, starting wars and supporting the occupation, and they gave the prize to (other choices). I think (the) prize makes the people more violent. Do you think that Obama can make peace....why didn't (they) wait until he actually made" it.

Straddling both sides, The Times said that the "unexpected honor....elicited praise and puzzlement around the globe."

It called it a rebuke of Bush's foreign policies instead of explaining it legitimizes wars and conflicts, the same ones Obama's pursuing more aggressively in Afghanistan and Pakistan under a general (Stanley McChrystal) James Petras calls a "notorious psychopath" - responsible for committing war crime atrocities when he headed the Pentagon's infamous Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). No matter, according to Erlanger and Stolberg's Times-speak:
"Mr. Obama has generated considerable goodwill overseas (and) has made a series of speeches with arching ambition. He has vowed to pursue a world without nuclear weapons; reached out to the Muslim world (and) sought to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, at the expense of offending some of his Jewish supporters."

In fact, his speeches are disingenuous and lie-filled. He disdains peace. The renamed "Global War on Terror" is now the "Overseas Contingency Operation." Torture remains official US policy. His administration reeks of Islamophobes. The Israeli Lobby remains comfortably dominant. Muslims are still target one. His ambition is global dominance. His method - imperial wars with a first-strike nuclear option.

The Nobel Committee's Twisted Logic in Announcing the Award

It reflects Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
Fact Check:

In less than nine months in office, Obama has been confrontational through destabilizing belligerence towards numerous countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, China, Occupied Palestine, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Somalia, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Honduras by deposing a democratically elected president and obstructing efforts to reinstate him.

"Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."
Fact Check:

America has the world's largest, most threatening arsenal and global delivery systems. Besides Israel, it's the only major power with a first-strike nuclear policy against any country called a threat. Its drawdown plans will replace old weapons with better new ones, and so-called "missile defense" is solely for offense.

"Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multinational diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions play."
Fact Check:

Obama is pursuing the same policies as George Bush:

-- permanent wars and occupations;

-- record amounts of military spending at a time America has no enemies;

-- supplying arms and munitions to rogue state allies;

-- confronting independent ones with sanctions, belligerent threats, and more war;

-- subverting the rule of law;

-- pursuing a global jihad against human rights and civil liberties;

-- using Security Council pressure and intimidation to enforce policy and block constructive measures through vetoes; and

-- overall continuing America's hegemonic pursuit of "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary, including with nuclear weapons preemptively.

Under Obama, "the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climate challenges the world is confronting."
Fact Check:

Obama's House-passed "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" is environmentally destructive, lets corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by charging consumers more for energy and fuel, and creates new Wall Street bubble potential through carbon trading derivatives speculation.

According to Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the "US stance retards progress at Bangkok climate talks" the way it's obstructed earlier efforts.

"Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened."
Fact Check:
Obama's polices have weakened them at home and abroad. Torture remains official US policy. Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists are repeated victims. So are peaceful protestors. Police state measures are still law and tough new ones are planned. Civil and human rights issues are nonstarters. Warrantless illegal spying continues. Health care reform schemes will ration a human right, and the new Swine Flu vaccines are covert bioweapons.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."
Fact Check:

Under Obama, growing millions in America face poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, despair, ill health, and early deaths at a time of permanent wars.

"For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely the international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman."
Fact Check:

Skirting the truth, the Committee's twisted logic picks honorees who should face prosecutions for their crimes.

A 110-Year Tradition

Alfred Nobel (1833 - 1896) began it in 1901. Swedish- born, he was a wealthy 19th century chemist, engineer, dynamite inventor, armaments manufacturer, and war profiteer, later reinventing himself as a peacemaker.

Past nominees included Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Tony Blair, Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush. Mahatma Gandhi got four nominations but never won. Nor did three-time nominee Kathy Kelly and other deserving choices, passed over for war hawks like Henry Kissenger whose credentials include:
-- three - four million Southeast Asian deaths;

-- many tens of thousands more worldwide;

-- backing coups and despots;

-- stoking global conflict and violence; and

-- compiling an overall breathtaking criminal record.

Others like:
-- Israeli leaders Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin matched him against Palestinian civilians;

-- Kofi Annan backed Western imperialism, years of genocidal Iraqi sanctions, the 2003 invasion and occupation, and the same lawlessness against Afghanistan; and

-- Al Gore, the 2007 choice, was infamous for putting politics above principles and made a career out of being pro-war, pro-business, anti-union, and no friend of the earth - credentials descriptive of Obama and his national security team, ideologically stacked with hawks.

As a result, American war making continues, sanctified and legitimized under Obama's peacemaker mantle. Or as CounterPunch's Alexander Cockburn put it in his October 10 "War and Peace" article:
The award is "a twist on the Alger myth, inspiring to youth (and future Nobel hopefuls): you too can get to murder Filipinos, or Palestinians, or Vietnamese or Afghans and still win a Peace Prize. That's the audacity of hope at full stretch." Nobel hypocrisy also by scorning peace in favor of war. The tradition continues.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Ethiopian Troops Pour Into Central Somalia

Ethiopian Forces Cross Border, Begin Rounding Up Somali Villagers

by Jason Ditz, October 11, 2009

Ethiopia appears to have launched yet another incursion into Somalia, with hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers pouring across the border into Central Somalia and rounding up villagers suspected of having ties to the insurgency.

Locals say the Ethiopian forces were accompanied by soldiers affiliated with the self-proclaimed Somali government and the forces cut off the communication lines in the villages.

Ethiopia previously launched an invasion of Somalia in 2006 with the blessing of the US government. The invasion was an attempt to prop up the Somali government, which at the time was struggling in the face of growing support for the Islamic Courts Union.

Ethiopia declared victory and left in December of 2008, though by then the Islamic Courts Union (which has since become part of the Ethiopia-backed “government”) had been supplanted by a more violent group, al-Shahaab, which rose to chase foreign forces out of the nation.

At this point, the government controls little more than a handful of city blocks in Mogadishu, though its forces often will briefly occupy central Somali villages before being driven off by militants.

It is unclear what Ethiopia hopes to accomplish with the latest incursions, as, rhetoric aside, their much larger 2006 invasion force failed to impose rule on any significant portion of the nation and the situation has only gotten worse since then.



Israeli officials warn against support for UN report

By Ben Lynfield in Jerusalem
October 11, 2009

A jittery Israeli government reacted furiously yesterday after a top British diplomat voiced support for aspects of a UN report that could lead to prosecution of Israeli army officers for alleged war crimes.

The UK ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, told Israel Army radio that the report on last winter’s Gaza war contains “some very serious details which need to be investigated by both the Palestinian authorities and the Israeli authorities.”

He added that “serious information” in the document gives rise to the suspicion that violations of the laws of war were committed.

The remarks, three days before the report is expected to be raised in the security council at Libya’s behest, highlighted a British position that is rhetorically distinct from that of Washington, which has been strongly backing an Israeli campaign to scuttle the report on the grounds it is biased.

Mr. Sawers took issue with the prevalent Israeli idea that the commission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone had reached its conclusions in advance of its research. “This investigation was led by a serious figure, Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew with long experience in justice. It’s not as if he was in any way biased,” he said.

Israeli officials warned in response that any British support for the report would boomerang. If a precedent is set of Israelis being prosecuted for acts during the Gaza war, Britons could also be placed in the dock for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they said. “London, which is also in the midst of a war against terror, could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document,” they said.

The report issued last month said that both Israel and Hamas were guilty of war crimes during the conflict in which nearly 1400 Palestinians and thirteen Israelis died. It said the Israeli military had proven unable to investigate itself and recommended the war crimes allegations be referred to the International Criminal Court if “good faith investigations” were not underway within six months.

Israel’s concerns about a renewal of diplomatic momentum for the report have intensified in recents days after the Palestinian Authority began working to revive debate over it at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Palestinian moves aim to reverse a highly unpopular decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas ten days ago under US and Israeli pressure to postpone a discussion for six months.


October 11, 2009

Sarkozy accused of nepotism after handing top post to 23-year-old son

From The Times
By Charles Bremner
October 9, 2009

Jean Sarkozy

President Sarkozy caused embarrassment among his political allies yesterday with news that his 23-year-old student son is to be handed the powerful post of boss of Europe’s biggest business district.

As the Opposition cried nepotism, stalwarts of Mr Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement said that the President was going too far in lining up Jean, a third-year student, to head the public agency that runs La Défense, the island of corporate towers in the west of Paris.

Patrick Devedjian, a Cabinet minister and the current Défense boss, is being moved aside for the President’s second son. He reacted bitterly yesterday with a quotation from Corneille, the 17th-century dramatist: “For souls nobly born, valour does not await the passing of years.” Privately, other UMP officials said that Mr Sarkozy was exposing himself to accusations of dynasty building.

Patrick Jarry, the Communist Mayor of Nanterre, which borders La Défense, said that the President’s younger son had no legitimacy and no qualifications for such a post. “This is nothing less than an attempt to ensure the permanence of the clan and lock down the executive power in the area,” he said.

If the job is confirmed in December, the ascent of the fledgeling politician will be even more meteoric than that of his father, who won the mayor’s post in Neuilly, the rich suburb that adjoins La Défense, at the age of 28.

Unlike the President, who forged his own way in local politics, the elevation of “Prince Jean” has been greatly assisted by his father’s power in the area. Sarko Jr, who has blond golden-boy looks and is much taller than le père, won a Neuilly seat in the Hauts-de-Seine county council, Mr Sarkozy’s old fiefdom, last year and then was handed the job of heading the UMP group there.

Chairmanship of the Epad, the agency that manages the business district, is a political post in the gift of the council, so there is little doubt that Jean will receive the appointment. As head of the public agency, which was run by his father until 2007, he will oversee the multibillion-euro expansion of the district, where numerous big companies have their headquarters.

Le Dauphin, as Jean is also known, will be able to celebrate his new part-time post at the same time as the extension of the Sarkozy dynasty. Jessica Sebaoun, his heiress wife, is to give birth to the President’s first grandchild in December.

Jean’s promotion was seen by the opposition Socialist party as part of Mr Sarkozy’s scheme to create a new Greater Paris region, controlled by the UMP. The Cabinet endorsed the 30-year plan yesterday in the face of opposition from the Socialists, who control both Paris and the surrounding Île-de-France region.

Pharmaceutical giant Baxter accused of overcharging Medicaid

Swine flu vaccine supplier has to pay back millions

Rajeev Syal and Sakshi Ojha
The Observer, October 11, 2009

A company producing swine flu vaccine for Britain has paid millions of pounds in out-of-court settlements after being accused of fraudulently overcharging for medicines.

Baxter, the US pharmaceutical giant, reached at least seven huge settlements over the past 12 months, some of them for millions of dollars. The company had been accused of fraud amid allegations that it had overpriced medicines by as much as 1,300%.

The disclosure comes days after Baxter's vaccine, Celvapan H1N1, was given approval by the European Medicines Agency and will raise fears about the growing costs of the swine flu pandemic. Vaccines are expected to cost the government £155m over the next four years.

Baxter became involved in prolonged litigation after being accused of fraudulently overcharging Medicaid, the US health programme that provides a safety net for the poorest families. Executives from the company paid out $2m to the Kentucky state government this year. Jack Conway, the Kentucky attorney general, said: "All of this could have been easily avoided if Baxter… had done what the law requires: report truthful prices.

"Taxpayers are footing the bill for these inflated drug prices, and my office is seeking to recover the money the Medicaid programme lost as a result of this deception and overpayment."

Medicaid relies on published average wholesale prices (AWPs) to calculate the cost of medicines which pharmaceutical companies then provide at a reduced rate. But several US states have accused a series of pharmaceutical companies of grossly overinflating the AWPs. Seven other states have reached settlements with Baxter: Texas, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Illinois and Wisconsin.

In May, Baxter was one of six pharmaceutical manufacturers that agreed to pay $89m to the state of Alabama. In February this year Baxter paid out $1.1m to Wisconsin. Three years ago the company agreed to pay out $8.5m to Texas.

Baxter was one of five companies that paid California state authorities $22.5m following accusations of Medicaid fraud, and the company also paid out $400,000 to Hawaii. In Alaska, Baxter agreed to pay compensation to settle a court claim. The company is also facing court action in Mississippi. Illinois has recovered $6.8m from Baxter, according to reports.

Despite the scandal, Baxter was one of two companies awarded the contract to produce 132 million doses of vaccine for Britain. The other company, GlaxoSmithKline, received a "positive opinion" for its drug, Pandemrix, last month. Britain is reported to have ordered enough swine flu vaccine to give each person two doses. The growing cost of the vaccines has prompted concerns from politicians, but the Department of Health and the drug companies have declined to say exactly how much each vaccine costs.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, wrote to the National Audit Office in July asking whether the contract with GSK represented value for money. The National Audit Office has replied and is broadly happy with the deal, according to reports.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, said that while swine flu could still cause potentially fatal complications Britain may have had a "lucky break" with a second wave of illness being lower than expected.

A spokeswoman for Baxter said that similar settlements with US states have been paid out by many other US drug companies and arose because of the unusual purchasing system employed by the Medicare system. "Baxter was in no way trying to defraud the system and has acted in a responsible, lawful and transparent manner. We will continue to work closely with the British authorities," she said.

Obama Awarded the Nobel Prize for Making War With Muslims

{Nobel peace prize with Obama and peace with Netanyahu} by Jalal Al Rifai-Al Dustour newspaper-Jordan

(Nobel peace prize with Obama and peace with Netanyahu) by Jalal Al Rifa'i-Al Dustour newspaper-Jordan

By Abid Mustafa,

On October 9 2009, US President Barack Obama was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for astounding services in the name of world peace. In its statement, the Nobel Committee said he had “created a new climate in international politics. …

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.” It continued, “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.” Usually awards are conferred upon people when they have accomplished something tangible and not for mere pledges to achieve meaningful results. In Obama’s case he has neither achieved peace nor has he undertaken efforts to establish the foundations for world peace. On the contrary, he is a warmonger and a crusader who is spearheading America’s war against Islam and the Muslim world.

No sooner had Obama received the prize for peace he convened his war council to discuss how best to wage war in Afghanistan. “The president had a robust conversation about the security and political challenges in Afghanistan and the options for building a strategic approach going forward,” an administration official told AFP. One of the measures Obama will endorse is to increase the number of US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. This will be on top of the huge number of private security contractors that already work for the Pentagon and are responsible for much of the mayhem and the slaughter of innocent Afghan civilians.

Obama’s war council is also deliberating options to expand America’s war in Pakistan. American officials are openly debating whether to launch missile attacks on Quetta– Baluchistan’s largest city. If the nod is given this will mark a new phase in America’s war against Pakistan and means that fortification of the US embassy in Islamabad–one of the largest in the Muslim world– will be used as the nerve centre to plan and orchestrate the killing of Muslims.

Additionally, America has mandated two private US security firms Blackwater and InterRisk to hound and terrorize Pakistanis.

In Iraq, Obama’s so called draw down policy masks a similar sinister plan that relies heavily on private security contractors to strengthen America’s military presence in the country and to compensate for the withdrawal of US troops. The private security contractors operate with complete impunity, spilling Muslim blood and humiliating ordinary Iraqis.

According to new statistics released by the Pentagon this year, there has been a 23% increase in the number of private security contractors working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009. The figure for the same period in Afghanistan is a 29% increase. Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars under the leadership of commander in chief Barack Obama. This exceeds the present number of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan which amounts to 132,610 and 68,197 respectively.

Under Obama’s watch the civil war in Somalia is mushrooming at an alarming rate. The war is fuelled by Washington through the supply of US arms and weapons to the beleaguered US puppet government of Sharif Ahmed. Last month, Obama gave the signal to his military to directly intervene in Somalia and conduct air strikes against militants–very much reminiscent of America’s invasion of Somalia in 1993.

Against Iran, Obama is not advocating peace, but urging crippling sanctions that will surely hurt ordinary Iranians and incubate resentment against America for decades to come. Likewise Obama’s continued support for autocratic rulers of the Muslim world has convinced many Muslims that Obama is no different to his predecessor George Bush.

However, nowhere is Obama’s failure to deliver peace more pronounced than Palestine. As a prelude to his inauguration, Obama displayed resolute determination not to condemn Israeli savagery in Gaza. In fact, Obama’s refusal to censure Israel over war crimes has ushered in a new standard that pays pittance to the value of Muslim life, blood and honour. In office, Obama’s indifference to the Jewish state’s intransigence to halt settlements has shot down all efforts to commence pseudo peace talks.

Clearly then, Obama’s peace endeavors equate to making pieces of Muslim countries through war and bloodshed. The political climate Obama has presided over is one of intimidation and tyranny. The values Obama espouses are based on deceit and injustice. By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, the Nobel committee has avowed that waging war against Muslims and Islam under the guise of peace is a noble action. Obama may have captured the hearts of the Nobel committee, but amongst Muslims and much of the world, Obama epitomizes an imperialistic empire that is an enemy of humanity and world peace.

- Abid Mustafa is a political commentator who specializes in Muslim affairs.


Mercenaries and paramilitaries arrive in Honduras

By Honduras Delegation
Press Release
Saturday, Oct 10, 2009

The situation is grave in Tegucigalpa. According to a message from the organization, Pastors for Peace, Radio Globo from Honduras is reporting that snipers are shooting into the Brazilian Embassy where President Zelaya and hundreds of supporters have taken refuge. There is no word yet on injuries.
More snipers outside of Brazilian Embassy in Honduras

The following is a report from the delegation of U.S. activists in Honduras, who will be holding a news conference today, October 9, at 5pm EST at the offices of the Bottlers’ Union, a center in Tegucigalpa of the National Front for Resistance Against the Coup:

In the last 24 hours, the situation in Honduras has reached a profound level of urgency. The illegal, de facto Micheletti regime is clearly reaching a point of desperation—and there is a serious danger in this, as the rightwing can and will do anything when they are desperate.

Last night, we received word that at the Brazilian embassy, where President Manuel Zelaya has been seeking refuge, two scaffolds had been erected and two snipers placed on them—one from the Honduran police and one from the Honduran army. Heavy military activity was also occurring on the ground around the embassy, with military convoys placed at strategic places all around the windows and doors of the embassy. The fear is that an assassination attempt on Zelaya’s life may be carried out soon.

Another alarming report relayed to us today from Honduran human rights leaders is of the presence of 120 paramilitaries—experts in killing—from other Latin American countries in Honduras. Many of these paramilitaries have been trained at the School of the Americas based in Georgia.

Today while we were in a meeting, the human rights leader we were meeting with received a phone call that police at the pedagogical university had given protesters there 10 minutes to disperse or face dire consequences. Military convoys had been brought in to surround the protesters.

As this email is being written, members of the U.S. Delegation in Solidarity with the Honduras Resistance are at the U.S. embassy, attempting to meet with representatives there to alert them of the situation and demand the discontinuation of U.S. aid to the de facto regime, a freeze on the assets of the golpista government members, and the abandonment of any electoral process that doesn’t first involve the restitution of President Zelaya, as is the will of the Honduran people.

Platforms with highly armed sharpshooters installed outside the embassy, using telescopic and infrared targeting systems, just meters away from the windows of the building where the president, his family, and many others are held hostage by the regime.
The delegation also reports that despite the coup government’s announcement that it had lifted the ban on civil liberties, the country still remains under martial law. The coup government is telling the world that it has lifted martial law, but they haven’t told anyone in the police or military, from the top commanders to the troops in the streets. There is still a massive armed presence, and protesters and dissidents are still being brutally attacked and arrested.

That’s why it is so important for us to support the Delegation in Solidarity with the Honduran Resistance. The corporate media is echoing the coup government’s press releases claiming that martial law has been lifted and civil liberties restored, and ignoring the fact that repression is intensifying. We need you to help get the word out.

What you can do now:

Call – Honduras Desk, U.S. State Department 202-647-3482
State Department Main Switchboard 202-647-4000
White House 202-456-1111
OAS Washington Office 202-458-3000

Demand an end to the attacks on Zelaya and Honduran activists. Demand a restoration of civil liberties in Honduras.

Sign the Petition – Demand safe passage for the U.S. delegation.

Honduras Delegation

Hezbollah Welcomes Saudi-Syrian Summit's Positive Outcome


Hezbollah hailed on Saturday the "positive" outcome of the Saudi-Syrian summit that joined Syrian President Bachar al-Assad with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz at the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday and Thursday.

In a statement it released, Hezbollah welcomed the convening of the summit as well as its positive results, urging everyone to enhance the Arab-Arab path and push inter-Arab convergence towards new horizons of joint action to serve Arab and Muslim issues, positively impacting Lebanon and the Lebanese.

The Resistance party emphasized the "exceptional importance" of the summit's timing as a reconsideration of Arab issues in this critical phase, particularly in light of the major challenges facing our Arab and Muslim worlds, with the continued Israeli aggressions against Palestine and Lebanon as well as its escalation against the sanctity of Aqsa Mosque.

While calling for further efforts to serve the nation's issues, Hezbollah concluded its statement by reiterating that the only available option to face the enemy's threats and dangers is to nurture Arab unity and solidarity, and support the nation's right to resist occupation and defend land and its sanctity.

NYCCAN Ballot Access Blocked

NYCCAN communique:

October 9, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, Justice Edward Lehner of the State Supreme Court rubberstamped Referee Louis Crespo’s recommendation that the decision to establish a local commission to investigate the events of September 11th not be put before the voters on November 3rd.

After showing interest in weighing both sides’ arguments in the hearing, the Judge’s short decision gives no indication of having considered the arguments put forth in the Petitioners’ memorandum of law, nor any acknowledgement of the need for a new investigation, which the City of New York callously dismissed as “irrelevant”.

On a dark day for democracy, the patriotic call for answers by hundreds of 9/11 families, first responders and survivors has been stifled, and the will of the people of New York City once again denied.

Judge Lehner ruled that modifying the petition to make it “legally permissible” would result in it being “inconsistent with the law sought by the signatories of the Petition” despite the fact that all 80,000 signatories agreed by signing the Petition that “If any provision of this law is held to be unconstitutional or invalid for any reason, the remaining provisions shall be in no manner affected thereby but shall remain in full force and effect.”

The deadline for inclusion on the ballot falls just before the election, making it possible to appeal Judge Lehner’s decision. NYC CAN is weighing all options and will make an announcement early next week on this issue, as well as on how it will be moving forward on other fronts. Regardless of the outcome in court, the quest for answers continues full throttle. This fight is only the beginning.

Turkey bans Israel from international air force drill

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz - October 11, 2009

Turkey announced on Sunday the cancellation of an international air force drill at one of the country's air force bases, which was to include Israeli jets.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been under pressure recently to exclude Israel from the drill, on the grounds that Israel should not be allowed to participate while its planes are bombing the Gaza Strip

Turkey, a secular country ruled by an Islamic-oriented party, had long been Israel's best friend in the Muslim world. But ties have cooled sharply over Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's sharp criticism of Israel's winter war in the Gaza Strip, especially in light of a televised fracas between President Shimon Peres and Erdogan at the Davos Conference this past January.

Foreign Ministry sources said that Turkish military officials had approached the Israel Defense Forces recently with a surprising demand that Israel refrain from participating in the drill, due to the IDF's activity in Gaza. Israeli inquiries on the matter with the Turkish foreign ministry were met with evasive responses.

In light of the Turkish demands, Israel approached U.S. officials stressing that this is an unusual move, which violates the understandings regarding Israel's participation in NATO drills, like the drill in question. Consequently, the U.S. and Italy withdrew their participation from the drill in protest, which led to the cancellation of the entire drill.

Turkey adopted a critical stance on Israel and Erdogan maintained that Israel was carrying out genocide in the Gaza Strip. Since then, the two states have maintained diplomatic and military contacts but have not had any meetings between high-level officials.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's cancelled his visits to Israel recently after Israel denied his request to visit the Gaza Strip from Israeli territory.

Davutoglu had been invited to take part in the Presidents' Conference, which is scheduled to take place in a few weeks in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials' feared in regard to the visit is that if Davutoglu goes to Gaza, it will become a festive event for Hamas and it will become a media circus with the Turkish FM staying amidst the rubble of buildings destroyed by the IDF during Cast Lead. Officials suspected Davutoglu would also be encouraged to make anti-Israel statements.

Davutoglu was appointed foreign minister only recently, and has sought a role in future peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

A top Israel official said "Turkish leadership during Operation Cast Lead did not encourage us to agree to this request."