Sign! Gaza - Cynthia McKinney, Aid Workers kidnapped by Israeli Occupation Forces

EMERGENCY: Israelis Attack Humanitarian Aid to Gaza
Take Action Now - Sign the Online Petition

Demand the Release of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, all aid workers and supplies NOW!

Last night, Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

The seizure of humanitarian supplies and abduction of human rights workers is an act of piracy, a crime under international law. When the boat was attacked, it was not in Israeli waters and was on a human rights mission to Gaza. Israel's deliberate and premeditated attack on an unarmed boat in international waters is a clear violation of international law.

The U.S. government and corporate media has largely ignored or buried this story due to racism against Cynthia McKinney and the people of Palestine. It is up to us to get the word out.

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are "trapped in despair." Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel's December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.

This act of terrorism by the Israeli Occupation Forces against an unarmed vessel is a clear attempt to scare people away from showing solidarity with the people of Gaza. We must take action now! Here's how you can help:

1) Sign the Online Petition - http://www.iacenter.org/palestine/gazashippetition

2) Get the word out - forward this message to your email lists, post in on Facebook & Myspace, etc.

3) Take to the streets! Organize local emergency protests in solidarity with the people of Gaza and demanding the release of all those who were kidnapped by the Israeli Occupation Forces.

In New York City, join us tomorrow, Wednesday July 1, from 4 - 6 pm at the Israeli Mission (43rd St. & 2nd Ave.)

3) Support Aid Caravans to Gaza! In addition to the current project of Free Gaza, another aid caravan, Viva Palestina, will be leaving the U.S. on July 4th headed by British MP George Galloway and Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic and including hundreds of people from the United States.

4) Call the media. The U.S. corporate media has largely ignored or buried this story due to racism against Cynthia McKinney and the people of Palestine. Please call the media - demand that they cover this criminal act by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Start with these numbers:

The New York Times 212-556-5272; Los Angeles Times 800-252-9141; Boston Herald 617-426-3000; Chicago Tribune 800-874-2863; and please call your local newspaper, radio station, or television news program.


Petition:

Sign it online at http://www.iacenter.org/palestine/gazashippetition

To: President President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. General Assembly President d'Escoto-Brockmann, U.N. Secretary General Ban, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, and the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel

cc: Major media representatives, International Red Cross

RELEASE THE SPIRIT OF HUMANITY AND ALL ITS PASSENGERS IMMEDIATELY AND ALLOW ITS HUMANITARIAN MISSION TO GAZA TO PROCEED! END THE SIEGE OF GAZA NOW!

I am outraged at the actions of the Israeli military in attacking and boarding the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congreswoman Cynthia McKinney, dragging passengers and crew forcibly toward Israel. I am further outraged that Israel has confiscated tons of medicine from the ship as well as toys and olive trees.

I demand that the boat, passengers and crew be released immediately and allowed to proceed with its mission of bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.

As former U.S. Congressperson and 2008 Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney said, "This is an outrageous violation of international law. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip. President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey."

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released on June 29, the Palestinians living in Gaza are "trapped in despair." Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel's December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.

"The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of "Cast Lead". Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone" said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: "No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children's toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters."

Arraf continued, "Israel's deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release."

I demand that the Obama Administration take immediate action to protest the violation of international law and obtain the release of the ship and those abducted, listed below, assure the access to Gaza of humanitarian aid and missions like that of the Spirit of Humanity and the upcoming humanitarian aid mission Viva Palestina headed by British MP George Galloway and Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic and including hundreds of people from the United States. The Viva Palestina mission is scheduled to leave New York City on July 4, bound for Gaza.

I further demand the Obama Adminsitration take action to end immediately the brutal siege, blockade and occupation of Gaza.

Release the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and all of the following human rights workers and crew NOW:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a=2 0former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Sincerely,

Sign the petition online at http://www.iacenter.org/palestine/gazashippetition

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Day 3 Update: Urgent News Flash: U.S. Signs Onto UN Declaration Condemning Coup, Calls For Zelaya's Immediate Unconditional Reinstatement

By Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution, June 30, 2009

The UN General Assembly in New York just voted on the resolution discussed yesterday that unequivocally condemns the coup d'etat in Honduras, executed on Sunday, June 28th. The resolution calls for the immediate, unconditional return of President Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras to complete his term which ends in January 2010. The resolution also calls for all member states to REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE the coup government in place now in Honduras, headed by Roberto Micheletti, former head of Congress. The resolution also condemns human rights violations committed by coup leaders and condemns the violations of diplomatic norms also committed by the coup forces when they kidnapped and beat the Venezuela, Cuban and Nicaraguan ambassadors in Honduras on Sunday afternoon.

Nevertheless, as this Reuters article explains, "The resolution, watered down from an earlier draft that said the assembly "decides to recognize no government other than that" of Zelaya was co-sponsored by a group of Latin American and Caribbean states joined by several others including the United States."

And more importantly, "General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.", meaning, it's symbolic, important, but still, symbolic. So we still need a firm statement from the US Government regarding the unconditional return of Zelaya to the Honduran presidency and the non-recognition of the coup government...

President Manuel Zelaya is right now speaking before the UN General Assembly.....

...will update as developments continue.

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Day 3: Honduran Coup Continues; Zelaya Says He Will Return Thursday

By Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution, June 30, 2009

The meetings held yesterday in Nicaragua by Latin American and Caribbean nations concluded late in the evening. The ALBA nations, Rio Group, Central American nations and CARICOM (Caribbean nations) unanimously condemned the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras, called for his immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency and for an investigation to be conducted into human rights violations that have been committed by the coup forces in place since Sunday.

The Central American nations and ALBA nations also recalled their ambassadors from Honduras and cut all diplomatic ties until President Zelaya is restored to power. The countries bordering Honduras, which are Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, suspended all commercial activity and border traffic for 48 hours. Brasil also recalled its ambassador from Honduras and cut relations, as did Peru, which by the way is governed by right-winger Alan Garcia.

At the conclusion of last night's meetings in Managua, President Zelaya announced he will return on Thursday to Honduras, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, and a delegation of regional heads of state. This morning, President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina announced she will be a part of that delegation on Thursday.

Zelaya is expected to speak today before the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. The UN has already issued a unanimous declaration condemning the coup and calling for Zelaya's immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency. Zelaya will also be present at the special meeting convened today in Washington by the Organization of American States (OAS). It is expected that at this meeting, the OAS will suspend Honduras' membership from the regional body, a move set to severely isolate the coup government and encourage it (if not force it) to step down and allow for democracy to be restored.

There is still a curfew and media blackout imposed in Honduras. Yesterday's protests left several dead and hundreds wounded and detained by military forces.

The coup government, led by dictator Roberto Micheletti, still refuses to acknowledge its actions as illegal and in clear violation of Honduran and international law. They have stated that they are trying to communicate with the OAS and UN to "explain" the "truth" about what has happened in the country, still standing by their initial position regarding the events that have taken place since Sunday. The coup government continues to insist a "coup d'etat" has not occurred and that their violent and illegal actions have been in the "name of democracy".

Major international media are still reporting the reason behind Sunday's coup as an alleged "reelection" attempt by President Zelaya. But in reality, Sunday's scheduled opinion poll was not a reelection bid by Zelaya, it was a non-binding consultation with the people of Honduras, backed by more than 800,000 signatures from Honduran citizens that would merely consider the possibility of adding a 4th issue to the election ballot this coming November, when presidential elections are to be held. The question posed for Sunday's poll was:

"Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constitutional Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?"

As you can see, this makes no mention whatsoever of reelection efforts nor does it even confirm that an actual constitutional assembly would be held. It merely poses the question to the people to determine whether a majority of Hondurans want to allow the possibility of constitutional review and reform next year. In any case, the poll would have been non-binding.

A very important fact here is that President Zelaya's term runs out at the end of this year and he is not allowed to run for reelection under the current constitution. If the fourth ballot were included in the November elections and a constitutional assembly was convened, it wouldn't be until 2010. President Zelaya would no longer be president of Honduras and so therefore, his "reelection" would be impossible.

It's amazing how dramatically the media have distorted this issue.

The main reason the elite powers in Honduras didn't want Sunday's poll to take place was because they don't want the people's voice to be heard. The current constitution of 1982 in Honduras doesn't even recognize women's or indigenous people's rights. Imagine, if the people spoke, real change could happen, change that could alter the balance of power. Those in power, unwilling to share it, will do anything to crush initiatives for change.

The Obama Administration is still refusing to demand President Zelaya's immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency and still is not considering suspending aid to Honduras until the coup government steps down. This is an unacceptable response to a clear violation of democracy and human rights. Even the Washington Post today is reporting on the US Government's role in the coup and its ambiguous position regarding the resolution to this crisis.

Excerpt here:

"Asked whether it was a U.S. priority to see Zelaya reinstalled, Clinton said: "We haven't laid out any demands that we're insisting on, because we're working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives."

John D. Negroponte, a former senior State Department official and ambassador to Honduras, said Clinton's remarks appeared to reflect U.S. reluctance to see Zelaya returned unconditionally to power.

"I think she wants to preserve some leverage to try and get Zelaya to back down from his insistence on a referendum," he said.

Clinton told reporters that the situation in Honduras had "evolved into a coup" but that the United States was "withholding any formal legal determination" characterizing it that way....

The Obama administration has pledged to work more closely with Latin America and not dictate policy in its traditional back yard. But the United States has several points of leverage: It is Honduras's biggest trading partner, and President Obama has requested $68 million in development and military aid for 2010. Portions of that aid, which are provided directly to the government, would be cut off in the event of a coup. Congressional officials said last night they were not sure exactly how much that amounted to. Honduras also is a recipient of a five-year, $215 million Millennium Challenge grant that is conditioned on the country remaining a democracy.

The United States also has a close military relationship with Honduras. Hundreds of Honduran officers participate in U.S. military training programs each year, more than most other Western Hemisphere countries."

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Israel Attacks Justice Boat; Kidnaps Human Rights Workers; Confiscates Medicine, Toys, & Olive Trees

Free Gaza Movement, June 30, 2009

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] - Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip," said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. "President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey."

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are "trapped in despair." Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel's December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.

"The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of "Cast Lead". Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone" said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: "No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children's toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters."

Arraf continued, "Israel's deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release."

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370
tel_aviv.tel@icrc.org

Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280

Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009

Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk
www.FreeGaza.org

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Photos from Protests in Honduras Against Military Coup



click here for more photos

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ALBA and Via Campesina Issue New Declarations Against the Honduran Coup

by Laura Carlsen, Americas MexicoBlog, June 29, 2009

The following are our translations of a message from Via Campesina Honduras and the official pronouncement of ALBA received today:

Message from Via Campesina Honduras:

Vía Campesina - Honduras

Confronted with the COUP D'ETAT perpetrated by the military and powerful groups against all of Honduras, we communicate the following:

1.- That the Front of Popular Resistance has been formed, that a civil and peaceful struggle has begun to re-establish constitutional order and bring about the return of the legitimate President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

2.- That there is full international solidarity--the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia--demanding that the coup leaders give up the government that they usurped.

3.- The information controlled by the coup that denies and tries to hide the widespread demonstrations of the people in defense of popular rights in Santa Bárbara, Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, El Progreso and other places is a lie.

4.- That the population should know that they shut down Channel 8, Channel 36, and pulled the international channels CNN en Español and Telesur off the air.

5.- National stations broadcast only what is in the interests of the groups in power and the coup government.

Tegucigalpa, June 29, 2009.

And the ALBA statement announced in Managua today:

On Sunday, June 28 in the early morning, when the Honduran people prepared to exercise its democratic rights in a non-binding referendum promoted by President Manuel Zelaya Rosales to strengthen participatory democracy, a group of hooded soldiers that claimed to be receiving orders from the High Command of the Armed Forces broke into the home of President Zelaya to kidnap him, hold him incommunicado for several hours, and then violently expel him from his country.

Immediately, the people of Honduras reacted as the dignified heirs of the legacy of Francisco Morazan, in the streets of various cities and villages of Honduras. In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of polls received thousands of women and men who went to exercise their right to vote. When they learned of the kidnapping of their president, they went out into the streets to protest the coup d'etat, setting an example of heroism by confronting rifles and tanks unarmed.

With one voice, the governments and peoples of the continent condemned the coup, stating clearly that in Honduras there is only one president and only one government: that of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales. We welcome the declarations of condemnation that, from early on, began to come from other governments of the world.

Faced with the urgency of the situation, the governments of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) immediately called an extraordinary meeting of the Presidential Council to agree on firm actions to defeat the coup in Honduras, to support the heroic people of Morazan, and to unconditionally re-establish President Manuel Zelaya Rosales in his legitimate functions.

After analyzing the circumstances in which this coup came to pass, and due to the gravity of the violations of international law, multilateral conventions and our nations' pacts with the government of Honduras, and in light of the absolute repudiation of the dictatorial government that seeks to impose itself manifested by the international community, the member nations of ALBA have decided to withdraw our ambassadors and leave the minimum diplomatic representation in Tegucigalpa until the legitimate government of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales is reinstated.

We also recognize the personnel designated by President Zelaya as the only diplomatic representatives of Honduras in our countries. Under no circumstances will we accredit anyone designated by the usurpers.

As full members of the various systems of integration in the continent, we urge our fellow nations in UNASUR, SICA, CARICOM, Rio Group, United Nations and the OAS to treat those who have carried out this act of aggression against the Honduran people in this same way.

We have also agreed to declare ourselves on permanent alert to stand by the brave people of Honduras in the acts of resistance they have undertaken. We invoke Art. 2 and 3 of the Political Constitution of Honduras:

“Art. 2: Sovereignty corresponds to the People, from which all the powers of the state emanate that are exercised through representation. The Sovereignty of the People can also be exercised in direct form, through the plebescite and referendum. The substitution of popular Sovereignty and the usurpation of the constituted powers are typified as crimes of Betrayal of the Country. The responsibility in these cases is imprescriptible and can be automatically deduced or at the request of any citizen."

“Art. 3: No-one owes obedience to a government that has usurped power or to those who assume functions or public posts by the force of arms or using means or procedures that rupture or deny what the Constitution and the laws establish. The verified acts by such authorities are null. The people have the right to recur to insurrection in defense of the constitutional order."

[We also invoke] the principles of International Law to support the acts of resistance and rebellion of the people faced with attempts of domination. To the teachers, workers, women, youth, farmers, indigenous people, honest businessmen and women, intellectuals and other actors in Honduran society, we assure them that together we will achieve victory over the coup leaders that seek to impose their rule on the brave people of Francisco Morazan...

Those who seek to direct the coup should know that it will be impossible to impose their will and mock international justice. Sooner or later they will be defeated. To the officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of Honduras, we call on you to rectify your actions and place your arms at the service of the people of Honduras and of their Commander in Chief, the President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

The countries of ALBA, in consultation with the governments of the continent and with diverse organizations that guarantee compliance with International Law, are setting forth measures so the serious violations and crimes that are being committed will not go unpunished.

The only path open to the coup leaders is to cease their present course and guarantee the immediate, safe and unconditional return of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales to his constitutional functions.

The Republic of Honduras is a full member of ALBA, as well as of other regional integration groups and multilateral organisms whose membership demands respect for the sovereignty of the people and the constitution. Although these fundamental conditions have been violated by the coup, the governments of ALBA have decided to continue all international cooperation programs agreed to under President Zelaya.

We also propose to apply exemplary sanctions in all multilateral organizations and integration groups, to contribute to bringing about the immediate restitution of the constituonal order in Honduras, and to make good on the principle of action that Jose Marti taught us when he said: "If each one does his duty, no-one can overome us."

The governments of ALBA declare ourselves in permanent consultation session, with all the governments of the continent, to evaluate other joint actions that enable us to stand by the Honduran people in the re-establishment of legality and the restitution of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

Two hundred years from the historic struggle of our people throughout our continent, and following the eternal examples of the General of free men Augusto Cesar Sandino, Francisco Morazan, and faithful to the word of The Liberator Simon Bolivar, we are confident of victory, along with the Honduran people and the peoples of the world. Because "all the people of the world that have fought for liberty have exterminated their tyrants in the end."

Managua June 29, 2009
Presidential Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America

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Honduran Coup Moves from Failed Arguments to Repression, International Sanctions Imposed

By Laura Carlsen, Americas MexicoBlog, June 29, 2009

Thousands of Hondurans are now in the streets to protest the coup d'etat in their country. They have been met with tear gas, anti-riot rubber bullets, tanks firing water mixed with chemicals, and clubs. Police have moved in to break down barricades and soldiers used violence to push back protesters at the presidential residence, leaving an unknown number wounded.

If the coup leaders were desperate when they decided to forcibly depose the elected president, they are even more desperate now. Stripped of its pretense of legality by universal repudiation and faced with a popular uprising, the coup has turned to more violent means.

The scoreboard in the battle for Honduras shows the coup losing badly. It has not gained a single point in the international diplomatic arena, it has no serious legal points, and the Honduran people are mobilizing against it. As the military and coup leaders resort to brute force, they rack up even more points against them in human rights and common decency.

Only one factor brought the coup to power and only one factor has enabled it to hold on for these few days--control of the armed forces. Now even that seems to be eroding.

Cracks in Army Loyalty to the Coup?

Reports are coming in that several batalions--specifically the Fourth and Tenth--have rebelled against coup leadership. Both Zelaya and his supporters have been very conscious that within the armed forces there are fractures. Instead of insulting the army, outside the heavily guarded presidential residence many protesters chant, "Soldiers, you are part of the people."

Pres. Zelaya has been remarkably respectful in calling on the army to "correct its actions" It is likely the coup will continue to lose its grip on the army as intensifying mobilizations force it to confront its own people.

International Community Imposes Sanctions

In the diplomatic arena, it's not that the coup is losing its grip--it never even got a foothold. The meeting of the Central American Integration System in Managua Monday became a forum for pronouncements from one after another of the major diplomatic groups in the region. Latin America is a region where diplomatic recombinations have proliferated in recent years, so the alphabet soup of solidarity statements just keeps on growing.

The Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) issued a resolution, announcing the withdrawal of its ambassadors while continuing the member countries' international cooperation programs in Honduras. The group urged other nations to do the same--a growing list including Brazil and Mexico has already followed suit.

The ALBA group cited the Honduran constitution, which states in Art. 3:
"No-one owes obedience to a government that has usurped power or to those who assume functions or public posts by the force of arms or using means or procedures that rupture or deny what the Constitution and the laws establish. The verified acts by such authorities are null. The people have the right to recur to insurrection in defense of the constitutional order."

Putting teeth behind the words has already begun. The Central American countries agreed to close off their land borders to all commerce with Honduras for the next 48 hours. The Central American Bank for Economic Integration has cut off all lending until the president is restored to power.

It also called for sanctions in multilateral organizations: "We propose that exemplary sanctions be applied in all multilateral organizations and integration groups, to contribute to bringing about the immediate restitution of the constitutional order in Honduras, and to make good on the principle of action that Jose Marti taught us when he said: "If each one does his duty, no-one can overome us."

The Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean nations also met in Managua and issued a statement condemning the coup and supporting Zelaya. Organization of American States Sec. General Jose Insulza was there too. President Zelaya received a standing ovation following his closing speech.

The U.S. government has been unambiguous in its condemnation of the coup and support of President Zelaya. President Obama stated today,

"We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there," He added,"It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections."

After years of the Bush administration, when the commitment to democracy abroad was decided more on the basis of ideological affinities than democratic practice, some sectors have trouble accepting that the U.S. government is condemning the overthrow of a president who espouses left-wing causes. Note the obstinacy of reporters at today's State Department press conference:

"QUESTION: So Ian, I’m sorry, just to confirm – so you’re not calling it a coup, is that correct? Legally, you’re not considering it a coup?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you all saw the OAS statement last night, which called it a coup d’état, and you heard what the Secretary just said..." (Clinton explicitly called it a coup).

This discussion and another drawn-out discussion in which reporters attempted to open up a window of doubt over support for reinstatement of Zelaya went on quite a while. Ian Kelly, the Dept. spokesperson, held fast as reporters tried to equate supposed violations of law by Zelaya with a military coup in an fantasy 'everyone's-at-fault' scenario. Kelly reiterated that the coup is indeed an illegal coup and the only solution is return of the elected president.

The "coup question" is more than semantics and has implications beyond conservative media's political agenda to justify the coup leaders. When a legal definition of coup is established, most U.S. aid to Honduras must be cut off.

Here's the relevant part of the foreign operations bill:

Sec. 7008. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.

So far, the Obama administration has focused on diplomatic efforts and is waiting to see how long the Honduran stand-off will last before looking to specific sanctions. The probability that the coup's days are numbered make that a reasonable strategy for the time being.

Attack on Freedom of Expression

The military coup has also launched an all-out attack on freedom of expression in the country. Venezuela's Telesur reports that its team was detained and military personnel threatened to confiscate its video equipment if it continued to broadcast.

The ALBA declaraton notes the use of censorship as a tool of the coup, "This silence was meant to impose the dictatorship by closing the government channel and cutting off electricity, seeking to hide and justify the coup before the people and the international community, and demonstrating an attitude that recalls the worst era of dictatorships that we've suffered in the twentieth century in our continent."

Grassroots organizations that support President Zelaya have faced an uphill battle against the media, which alternates between scaring people about the risk to keep them out of the streets and denying the existence of those who do go out. A message from Via Campesina warns people that information is controlled by the coup to hide opposition, cut off communications on many channels and only allowed information that favors them. They have now organized to open up contact with reporters throughout the world.

An increasingly organized opposition, and independent media on the scene and on the net are breaking through the information blockade. A third source is Twitter. A major player in the Iranian uprising, Twitter has become the pulse of, if not the body politic, at least some bodies of that politic.

All this means that the information black-out designed by the coup is riddled with points of light. It's still hard to get statistical information like crowd numbers or figures of killed and wounded, but Honduras is certainly not the isolated and insignificant "banana republic" it once was.

The Return of the President

Zelaya now leaves for New York City where he will speak before the General Assembly of the United Nations to further outpourings of support. In Managua, he announced that from there he will return, accompanied by Insulza, to Honduras.

In an interview with CNN a coup leader said that Zelaya "can return to Honduras--as long as he leaves his presidency behind."

The Honduran ambassador to the UN, Jorge Reina, said that although the coup leaders have asked to address the UN, "the UN does not recognize them... They have made a serious mistake, those who think that countries can be led through coups."

"That history has past."

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We Do Not Seek A Confrontation

Free Gaza Movement press release, June 30, 2009

(At Sea, 60km off the coast of the Gaza Strip) - Human Rights activists aboard the Free Gaza ship, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, today demanded that the Israeli Navy immediately stop threatening them.

“This aid is desperately needed by the people of Gaza,” said Mairead Maguire, winner of the Noble Peace Prize and Pacem in Terris Award for her work in Northern Ireland. “President Obama has called upon the Palestinians to abandon violence but Israel is denying them the right to non-violently resist the siege of Gaza.”

The unarmed justice ship departed Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7:30am Monday with its crew of 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and journalists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The boat, a converted ferry, hopes to arrive in Gaza Tuesday afternoon, following a grueling 30 hour sea voyage.

At 1:30am, Israeli warships surrounded the small civilian boat and threatened to open fire if they did not turn around. When the activists refused to be intimidated, Israeli Occupation Forces began jamming their instrumentation, blocking their GPS, radar, and navigation systems. This jamming was in direct violation of international maritime law, threatening the welfare and safety of the civilian ship.

Responding to this intimidation, Congresswoman McKinney declared, "I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God's name would Israel want to attack us?"

Huwaida Arraf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage, said, "All we want is to reach Gaza. We want to visit our friends and deliver our cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction materials. Our ship was searched and received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we departed."

Arraf continued, "We do not seek a confrontation. We have traveled from Cypriot waters to international waters and will enter Gazan waters. We've never gone anywhere near Israel. Israel’s closure of Gaza is an act of collective punishment and a blatant violation of international law. We call upon our governments to take action to uphold their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Conventions. If they won’t or until they do, we will act. We will come to Gaza again and again until this brutal siege is broken. We invite the good people of the world to join us."

Free Gaza boats are the first international ships in 41 years to sail to the Gaza Strip. Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has organized 8 sea missions, successfully arriving to Gaza on 5 separate occasions. One two earlier occasions, Israeli Occupation Forces used violence to stop the ships, physically ramming and almost sinking the DIGNITY boat in December 2008, and threatening to fire on and kill unarmed passengers in January 2008. The fate of this, the eighth mission to Gaza, is still uncertain.

**************
For more information, please contact:
Greta Berlin (English/French) or Caoimhe Butterly (English/Arabic/Spanish) at 00357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org
www.FreeGaza.org

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il
---

Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767
www.freegaza.org
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

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$2.775 billion in US aid supports Israeli nuclear weapons program

By Grant F. Smith, Online Journal, June 29, 2009

President Barak Obama’s fiscal year 2010 budget request for $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel is proceeding smoothly through the Congress.

On June 17, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs held a “mark-up” session on the budget. The subcommittee came under pressure from an antiwar group that sought to suspend or condition foreign aid over Israel’s use of US weapons which left 3000 Palestinians dead during the Bush administration. The subcommittee held its session in a tiny Capitol room denying activists and members of the press access. The budget quickly passed and is now before the full House Appropriations Committee.

Israel enjoys “unusually wide latitude in spending the [military assistance] funds,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Unlike other recipients that must go through the Pentagon, Israel deals directly with US military contractors for almost all of its purchases. This gives the US based Israel lobby, particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influence multiplier on Capitol Hill. Large contractors proactively segment military contracts across key congressional districts to make them harder to oppose. As contactors and local business interests fight for Israel’s favor, AIPAC can turn away from shepherding the massive aid package to dedicate considerable resources toward Iran sanctions.

Representative Mark Steven Kirk (R-Illinois) sponsored an amendment to the foreign operations bill that would prevent the Export-Import Bank of the United States from providing loan guarantees to companies selling refined petroleum to Iran. According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Kirk is the top 2008 recipient of Israel political action committee (PAC) contributions (PDF). Kirk received $91,200 in the 2008 election cycle and more than $221,000 over his career.

Kirk’s AIPAC sponsored sanctions legislation passed the House Appropriations Committee on June 23. While tactically positioned as a rebuke to the crackdown on Iranian election protesters, the measure is only the most recent of strategic long-term AIPAC sponsored sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel contends Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons under the auspices of a civilian program, though no hard evidence has emerged. However, an illicit nuclear arsenal in the region has been positively identified.

The US Army (PDF), former President Jimmy Carter, and Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller have all recently confirmed that the only country in the Middle East that has deployed nuclear weapons is Israel. The Symington and Glenn amendments to foreign aid law specifically prohibit US aid to nuclear states outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran has signed. Israel hasn’t.

Congress can’t have it both ways on taxpayer funded sanctions and rewards. If gasoline imports indirectly support Iran’s nuclear ambitions, then $2.775 billion in cash for conventional US weapons and military technology clearly allows Israel to spend other resources on the development and deployment of its illicit nuclear arsenal.

Recently released CIA files long ago forecast that such an arsenal would not only make Israel more “assertive” but also reluctant to engage in bona fide peace initiatives. Cutting the massive and indirect US subsidization of nukes and forcing Israel to sign the NPT would go further in averting a nuclear arms race and conflicts in the region than targeting Iranian consumers at the gas pump. It would also demonstrate to the American public that the president and Congress, even under the pressure of AIPAC, won’t blatantly violate US foreign aid laws by publicly pretending Iran -- rather than Israel -- is the region’s nuclear hegemon.

Copyright © 2009 IRmep

Grant F. Smith is director of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and author of the book “Foreign Agents: The American Israel Foreign Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal.”

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Obama Must Strongly and Unequivocally Condemn the Coup in Honduras

By Roberto Lovato, AlterNet, June 29, 2009

Viewed from a distance, the streets of Honduras look, smell and sound like those of Iran: Expressions of popular anger -- burning vehicles, large marches and calls for justice in a non-English language -- aimed at a constitutional violation of the people’s will (the coup took place on the eve of a poll of voters asking if the President's term should be extended); protests repressed by a small, but powerful elite backed by military force; those holding power trying to cut off communications in and out of the country.

These and other similarities between the political situation in Iran and the situation in Honduras, where military and economic and political elites ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya in a military coup condemned around the world, are obvious.

But when viewed from the closer physical (Miami is just 800 miles from Honduras) and historical proximity of the United States, the differences between Iran and Honduras are marked and clear in important ways: the M-16’s pointing at this very moment at the thousands of peaceful protesters are paid for with U.S. tax dollars and still carry a "Made in America" label; the military airplane in which they kidnapped and exiled President Zelaya was purchased with the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid the Honduran government has been the benefactor of since the Cold War military build-up that began in 1980’s; the leader of the coup, General Romeo Vasquez, and many other military leaders repressing the populace received "counterinsurgency" training at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the infamous "School of the Americas," responsible for training those who perpetrated the greatest atrocities in the Americas.

The big difference between Iran and Honduras? President Obama and the U.S. can actually do something about a military crackdown that our tax dollars are helping pay for. That Vasquez and other coup leaders were trained at the WHINSEC, which also trained Augusto Pinochet and other military dictators responsible for the deaths, disappearances and tortures of hundreds of thousands in Latin America, sends profound chills across a region still trying to overcome decades of U.S.-backed militarism.

Hemispheric concerns about the coup were expressed in the rapid, historic and almost universal condemnation of the plot by almost all Latin American governments. Such concerns in the region represent an opportunity for the United States. But, while the Honduran coup represents a major opportunity for Obama to make real his recent and repeated calls for a "new" relationship to the Americas, failure to take actions that send a rapid and unequivocal denunciation of the coup will be devastating to the Honduran people -- and to the still-fragile U.S. image in the region.

Recent declarations by the Administration -- expressions of "concern" by the President and statements by Secretary of State Clinton recognizing Zelaya as the only legitimate, elected leader of Honduras -- appear to indicate preliminary disapproval of the putsch. Yet, the even more unequivocal statements of condemnation from U.N. General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and the Presidents of Argentina, Costa Rica and many other governments raise greatly the bar of expectation before the Obama Administration.

As a leader of the global chorus condemning the Iranian government and as one of the primary backers of the Honduran military, the Obama Administration will feel increasing pressure to do much more.

Beyond immediate calls to continue demanding that Zelaya and democratic order be reinstated, protesters in Honduras, Latin America and across the United States will also pressure the Obama Administration to take a number of tougher measures including: cutting off of U.S. military aid, demanding that Hondurans and others kidnapped, jailed and detained be released and accounted for, bringing Vasquez and coup leaders to justice and investigating what U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, did or didn’t know about the coup.

With the bad taste left by the widely alleged U.S. involvement in recent coup attempts in Venezuela (2002) and Bolivia (2008), countries led by Zelaya allies Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, the Obama Administration faces a skeptical Latin American audience.

Latin American skepticism of U.S. intentions is not unfounded. Throughout his administration, Zelaya has increasingly moved left, critiquing certain U.S. actions and building stronger ties to countries like Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. COHA, a non-profit research organization, writes:
While Honduras signed onto the U.S.-led Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2004, and the U.S. currently is Honduras’ primary trading partner and the source of approximately two-thirds of the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI), Zelaya has, within the past year, joined Petrocaribe, Chavez’s oil-subsidy initiative, as well as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Venezuelan-led trade bloc. Honduras’ Congress ratified its membership in Petrocaribe on March 13, by 69 votes, and Zelaya signed ALBA membership documents on August 22.

The Honduran president has said that apathy on the part of the U.S. as well as by the international lending institutions toward rising food prices and deepening poverty in his country -- one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with per capita income around $1,600 -- compelled him to turn to Caracas."
Obama’s meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Monday, whose government has been condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other international organizations as one of the worst human rights violators in the hemisphere, both complicates and will be complicated by Sunday’s’ resurgence of militarism in Honduras.

Zelaya, who continues denouncing the coup from Costa Rica, outlined the long term threat to Honduran and U.S. interests in the region. "I think this is a vicious plot planned by elites. Elite who only want to keep the country isolated and in extreme poverty," he said, adding: "A usurper government cannot be recognized by absolutely anybody."

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Honduran army smothers media after coup

TEGUCIGALPA, June 29 (Reuters) - Honduras has shut down television and radio stations since an army coup over the weekend, in a media blackout than has drawn condemnation from an international press freedom group.

Shortly after the Honduran military seized President Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica on Sunday, soldiers stormed a popular radio station and cut off local broadcasts of international television networks CNN en Espanol and Venezuelan-based Telesur, which is sponsored by leftist governments in South America.

A pro-Zelaya channel also was shut down.

The few television and radio stations still operating on Monday played tropical music or aired soap operas and cooking shows.

They made little reference to the demonstrations or international condemnation of the coup even as hundreds of protesters rallied at the presidential palace in the capital to demand Zelaya's return and an end to the blackout.

"The spurious government is violating our right to information, blocking the signals of channels like CNN," Juan Varaona, a protest leader at a barricade, said as burning tires sent plumes of black smoke into the sky.

CNN en Espanol is the Spanish-language channel of the U.S.-based 24-hour news network CNN.

Others blasted the two main Honduran newspapers and said they were still online because they supported the coup.

"El Heraldo and El Tribuno are two papers that were part of the coup plot, them and some television channels controlled by the opposition," said 27-year-old Erin Matute, a government health worker.

"This morning, they were the only ones with signals, the others were shut down," Matute said at a barricade on a side street in the capital.

El Heraldo's website ran one headline saying "Semblance of normality across Honduras."

Some Hondurans used Internet social networking site Twitter to urge on demonstrators and spread news about the protests.

"Down with the coup! Brothers of Honduras break the information blackout and watch the repression on Telesur on the Internet," one message said.

Some protesters burned and smashed El Heraldo newspaper stands and others used them as barricades to block streets around the presidential palace.

PRESSURE ON OAS, WEST

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders criticized the media shutdown.

"The suspension or closure of local and international broadcast media indicates that the coup leaders want to hide what is happening," the group said in a statement.

"The Organization of American States and the international community must insist that this news blackout is lifted."

The coup -- triggered by a dispute over Zelaya's push to extend presidential terms -- is the biggest political crisis to hit Central America in years.

It followed a week of tension when Zelaya, an ally of Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez, angered the Honduran Congress, Supreme Court and army by pushing for a public vote to gauge support for changing the constitution to let presidents seek re-election beyond a single four-year term.

Before he could hold the poll on Sunday, the Honduran military seized Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica in Central America's first successful army coup since the Cold War era of dictatorships and war in the region.

The Supreme Court, which last week overruled Zelaya's attempt to fire the armed forces chief, said it had told the army to remove the president. (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Armando Tovar in Mexico City; Writing by Robin Emmott)

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Two Military Battalions Turn Against Honduras Coup Regime

By Al Giordano, the narcosphere, June 29, 2009

Community Radio “Es Lo de Menos” was the first to report that the Fourth Infantry Battalion has rebelled from the military coup regime in Honduras. The radio station adds that “it seems” (“al parecer,” in the original Spanish) that the Tenth Infantry Battalion has also broken from the coup.

Rafael Alegria, leader of Via Campesina, the country’s largest social organization, one that has successfully blockaded the nation’s highways before to force government concessions, tells Alba TV:
“The popular resistance is rising up throughout the country. All the highways in the country are blockaded…. The Fourth Infantry Battallion… is no longer following the orders of Roberto Micheletti.”
Angel Alvarado of Honduras’ Popular Union Bloc tells Radio Mundial:
"Two infantry battalions of the Honduran Army have risen up against the illegitimate government of Roberto Micheletti in Honduras. They are the Fourth Infantry Battalion in the city of Tela and the Tenth Infantry Battalion in La Ceiba (the second largest city in Honduras), both located in the state of Atlántida."
(You can see Tela and La Ceiba on the map, above, along the country's northern coast.)

Meanwhile, defenders of the violent coup d’Etat now have to eat the fact that their favored regime has extended its wave of terror to the press corps, censoring all independent media in the country, including CNN and Telesur. Reuters reports:
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras has shut down television and radio stations since an army coup over the weekend, in a media blackout than has drawn condemnation from an international press freedom group.

Shortly after the Honduran military seized President Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica on Sunday, soldiers stormed a popular radio station and cut off local broadcasts of international television networks CNN en Espanol and Venezuelan-based Telesur, which is sponsored by leftist governments in South America.

A pro-Zelaya channel also was shut down.

The few television and radio stations still operating on Monday played tropical music or aired soap operas and cooking shows.
At the White House this afternoon, US President Obama reiterated his government’s non-recognition of the coup regime. According to the White House pool report by David Jackson of USA Today (obtained by Narco News via email):
Obama criticized the Honduras coup as "not legal," and said it would set a "terrible precedent" for the region. "We do not want to go back to a dark past," he said. "We always want to stand with democracy."
If Rafael Alegría - a serious man who gets serious results - says that the highways of the country are successfully blockaded, I tend to believe him. He likewise is not one to spread rumors about the Fourth Infantry Battalion without having solid information.

It seemed inevitable that once the cat is got of the bag regarding the total international rejection of the coup d'etat that military divisions would revolt and point their tanks in the opposite direction: toward the coup plotters above them. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of a short-lived coup in Honduras.

Keep refreshing the front page of Narco News for more updates, sure to shortly come.

Update: TeleSur TV is reporting that its correspondents in Honduras, as well as those of Associated Press, have been arrested by the coup regime.

Update II: Here is a fuller text of US President Obama's statement at the aforementioned press conference:
President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there. In that, we have joined all the countries in the region, including Colombia and the Organization of American States.


I think it's -- it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition, rather than democratic elections.

The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America.

We don't want to go back to a dark past. The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies. But over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don't always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable toward the United States. And that is a tradition that we want to continue.

So we are very clear about the fact that President Zelaya is the democratically elected president. And we will work with the regional organizations, like OAS, and with other international institutions to see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way.


(Bold text for emphasis.)

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Tues 6/30: Emergency protest against military coup in Honduras

Demonstration to condemn the military coup and in solidarity with the peoples of Honduras

Immediately Reinstate Democratically Elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya
As Demanded By The People Of Honduras & The International Community

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

6:00 pm

South Blvd & Archdale Dr

Charlotte NC
(On the Lynx Blue Line train)

Bring signs, etc.

The Action Center For Justice (affiliated with The International Action Center, founded by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and based in the United States) and Students For A Democratic Society – UNCC, condemn in the strongest terms, the criminal coup d'etat at the hands of the Armed Forces of Honduras against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya and the country of Honduras that took place on Sunday, June 28.

The military coup was led by School of the Americas (SOA) graduate Romeo Vasquez. In the early hours of the day, members of the Honduran military surrounded the presidential palace and forced the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, into custody. He was immediately flown to Costa Rica.

The Honduran state television was taken off the air. The electricity supply to the capital Tegucigalpa, as well telephone and cellphone lines were cut. The people of Honduras are going into the streets. From Costa Rica, President Zelaya called for a non-violent response from the people of Honduras, and for international solidarity for the Honduran democracy.

The military coup took place at dawn on Sunday June 28, on the day there was a scheduled referendum, which is not a binding vote but merely an opinion poll, to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans desire to eventually enter into a process to modify their constitution.

The crisis in Honduras began when the military refused to distribute ballot boxes for the opinion poll in a new Constitution. President Zelaya fired the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Romeo Orlando Vasquez Velasquez, who refused to step down. The heads of all branches of the Honduran armed forces quit in solidarity with Vasquez. Vasquez, however, refused to step down, bolstered by support in Congress and a Supreme Court ruling that reinstated him. Vasquez remains in control of the armed forces.

Vasquez, along with other military leaders, graduated from the United States' infamous School of the Americas (SOA). According to a School of the Americas Watch database compiled from information obtained from the US government, Vasquez studied in the SOA at least twice: once in 1976 and again in 1984.

The head of the Air Force, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, studied in the School of the Americas in 1996. The Air Force has been a central protagonist in the Honduran crisis. When the military refused to distribute the ballot boxes for the opinion poll, the ballot boxes were stored on an Air Force base until citizens accompanied by Zelaya rescued them. Zelaya reports that after soldiers kidnapped him, they took him to an Air Force base, where he was put on a plane and sent to Costa Rica.

The Ambassadors of Cuba, Venezuela, & Nicaragua were also beaten and kidnapped and have since been released. Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas has been released by the coup military officers who beat and detained her. She was forced into exile in Mexico, where she is now and is expected to fly later today with Mexican president Felipe Calderon to Nicaragua.

The coup government in Honduras has issued arrest warrants for members of Zelaya's cabinet that are still in the country. There is widespread repression throughout the country. A curfew was imposed by the coup government last night from 9pm to 6am this morning and the military have thoroughly barricaded the presidential palace to prevent protesters from getting close.

Today there are several meetings in Nicaragua - the Rio Group is meeting (comprised of all Latin American and Caribbean nations), ALBA countries have been meeting since last night (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica, St. Vicent, Antigua and Barbados and Honduras) and the Central American nations are also all going to meet later today to discuss the situation in Honduras.

All multilateral organisms, like the OAS, UN, European Community, ALBA, UNASUR, etc, have all condemned the coup and convened emergency meetings to discuss solutions.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has made a statement unilaterally condemning the coup in Honduras and calling for President Zelaya's immediate reinstatement. All have said so far they will only recognize Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras.

The US Military Group and Embassy in Honduras have been directly involved with the coup leaders. USAID and the Pentagon have backed this coup, there is just really no question. The Honduran military would never have moved without consent from their commanding officers, the US Military Group in Honduras and those stationed on the Soto Cano base.

The United States maintains a military base in Soto Cano, Honduras, that houses approximately 500 soldiers and special forces. The U.S. military group in Honduras is one of the largest in U.S. Embassies in the region. The leaders of the coup today are graduates of the U.S. School of the Americas, a training camp for dictators and repressive forces in Latin America.

The US Military Group in Honduras trains around 300 Honduran soldiers every year, provides more than $500,000 annually to the Honduran Armed Forces and additionally provides $1.4 million for a military education and exchange program for around 300 more Honduran soldiers every year.

Please join us Tuesday, June 30 at 6pm at the busy intersection of South Blvd & Archdale Dr in Charlotte to call for the Immediate Reinstatement of Democratically Elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya & Stand In Solidarity with the People of Honduras.

Sponsored by Action Center For Justice & Students For A Democratic Society (SDS) – UNCC.

Info: 704-492-5226 or charlotteaction@gmail.com
http://charlotteaction.blogspot.com

Updates on the situation in Honduras will be posted on our website at http://charlotteaction.blogspot.com.

(Sources: School Of The Americas Watch; Postcards from the Revolution; the narcosphere; The Narco News; Venezuelanalysis.com; Americas MexicoBlog)

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URGENT ALERT - Israeli Navy surrounding SPIRIT and threatening to open fire

At 1:40 am, the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while in international waters off the coast of Israel as it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, "You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians" several times. At this writing, they are surrounded by several ships shining bright lights into the SPIRIT.

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il

*********************
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767
www.freegaza.org
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

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Video: FREE GAZA Spirit Of Humanity ship departing Cyprus for Gaza



Free Gaza Movement

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'Devastating' funding cuts impact local Red Cross

By MARK BOONE, WCNC, June 28, 2009

click here for news video

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Reeling from the loss of nearly $500,000 in funding from the United Way, the head of the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the American Red Cross said the agency will be forced to scale back its aid for victims of disaster as well as several education programs.

Pamela Jefsen, the chapter’s CEO, said the United Way has been providing more than a quarter of the Red Cross’ funding.

The funding cut, announced last Wednesday, amounts to about 12% of the annual budget for the local chapter, Jefsen told NewsChannel 36.

“The cut is just devastating,” she said. “It is going to affect the most vulnerable in our community as a result because we just can’t continue with the same level of service.

Some victims of fires and other emergencies have received hotel vouchers for up to 7 days, and assistance in paying the security deposit and first month’s rent for a new home from the Red Cross.

Jefsen said the agency will no longer provide a security deposit and can only afford to place victims in hotel rooms for up to 3 days.

“If they don’t get help, they’re homeless,” she said.

About 40% of the staff at the Red Cross, based at an office on Park Road, has been laid off in the last 14 months, Jepsen said.

Donations outside of the United Way campaign are also down, leading to a reduction of another $400,000 in the chapter’s budget.

Fewer CPR and first aid training courses will be offered as a result of the staff cuts, Jefsen said.

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Elite Iraqi troops in forefront after US pullback

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, AP, Google News, June 26, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) — As Iraqi security services prepare to take back their towns from the Americans on Tuesday, the sharpest arrow in their quiver is an elite, American-trained force with a reputation that leads many Iraqis to call it "the dirty brigade."

Its real name is the Counter Terrorism Bureau, and its commander insists it's professional, nonsectarian and not dirty at all.

Violence is already rising and will likely continue after the handover as different factions test the government's ability to manage without American backup. But Kalib Shegati al-Kenani, the Iraqi Army general who heads the bureau, is confident his force can cope and that his country will not slide into renewed sectarian warfare.

The elite units, armed with high-tech U.S.-made equipment, often pair up with American special forces to go after Iraq's most wanted foes — both al-Qaida extremists and Shiite militants.

They are thought to have been the main force that assisted the Americans during an offensive in Baghdad's Sadr City quarter last year to rout Shiite militias, and on operations targeting Sunni insurgents.

Formed soon after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the force became known as the "Dirty Brigade" because it was secretive and until recently operated outside the Iraqi chain of command, reporting directly to its U.S. handlers.

It was so little known that it even was rumored to be used against the Shiite-dominated government's opponents in the political mainstream_ a charge denied by the Iraqis and the Americans.

Originally numbering about 4,500 members, it is reported to have doubled in size and now reports directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"We are professional and not sectarian forces, and we bring together people from all sections of the population. Each member of the bureau signs a document vowing not to speak about sectarianism, partisan affairs and nationalities. Their commitment is only to Iraq," al-Kenani told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

Al-Kenani, a 59-year-old veteran of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War and the first Gulf War, is a Shiite, his deputy is a Sunni and one of his top generals is a Kurd.

The force has sought to reinforce its nonpartisan makeup by refusing to accept recruits who previously served in sectarian militias. Also, says Maj. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saedi, a senior commander, it "does not allow any minister or government official to enter its headquarters to prevent any interference in investigations and security operations."

Its ranks are made up of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, al-Saedi said, but it does not publish breakdowns.

A statement in Arabic posted on the U.S. military's Web site acknowledged the public's "misconceptions about this very viable and important unit."

It picks its targets on the basis of rigorous checks, the statement said. "In short," it added, "the CTB's mission is targeting terrorists, not the Iraqi public or political foes."

Al-Kenani said the bureau has a good intelligence-gathering machine and "cooperation with all ministries."

The Americans are already leaving the towns and cities, and once they are gone full responsibility will fall to the Iraqi police and military, which numbered 654,362 members at last count.

Although some troops will remain as trainers and advisers, the remaining 133,000 U.S. military personnel will be confined to base unless called in by the Iraqis. A full withdrawal is envisioned by the end of 2011.

The Iraqi government has declared Tuesday a public holiday.

"June 30 is considered an Iraqi victory day," al-Kenani said, "and we will all celebrate the withdrawal of American forces."

Explosions around the country have claimed more than 160 lives since June 20, when a truck bomb in the northern city of Kirkuk killed 82. A bombing in Baghdad's Shiite district of Sadr City killed at least 61 people on Wednesday.

But al-Kenani said the days of mass violence and near-civil war were over. "Whoever carries out explosions and security breaches after the withdrawal of forces will have no excuse," he said.

"They were repeatedly bragging about fighting the occupation; now the occupation is out."

Associated Press Writer Patrick Quinn contributed to this story from Baghdad.

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Arkansas State Health Department: Mandatory Vaccines Are Constitutional

Legal council tells concerned caller that American citizens must accept enforced shot in event of mass swine flu vaccination program
Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet.com, June 26, 2009

A member of the public who was concerned about a mandatory mass vaccination program in light of the swine flu pandemic called the Arkansas State Health Department for advice only to be told that mandatory vaccines were constitutional and could be enforced at gunpoint by the government if necessary.

The editor of the popular blog “Pissed Off Former Democrat” phoned the legal council at the Arkansas State Health Department to seek advice about obtaining waiver forms for a future mass swine flu vaccination program.

One of his main concerns centered around the fact that the company chosen to mass produce the swine flu vaccine, Baxter International, were recently caught in a scandal after it emerged they had sent out vaccines contaminated with the H5N1 avian flu virus to 18 countries from their Austrian branch. It was only by providence that the contamination was found after the batch was first tested on ferrets in the Czech Republic, before being shipped out for injection into humans. The ferrets all died and the shocking discovery was made.

Some Czech newspapers speculated at the time that Baxter was embroiled in a conspiracy to provoke a pandemic from which it would reap billions in profits from producing the vaccine to counter a bird flu outbreak.

As we have previously covered, the last time the government ordered a mass vaccination drive in response to a swine flu outbreak, the program had to be stopped short after the shots caused over 500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe paralyzing nerve disease. 30 people died as a direct result of the vaccinations.

During the phone conversation, the legal council discusses the potential of a future mandatory swine flu vaccination program and states, “That’s constitutional, there’s no doubt about it….mandatory vaccinations are legal under the Supreme Court….absolutely.”

The caller responds, “I’m an American and I have a legal right to make my own decision whether or not someone sticks a needle in me,” to which the legal council responds, “That’s not true….no.”

“As a lawyer you believe that I don’t have the right to deny a vaccination,” asks the caller,” to which the legal council responds, “Absolutely….I don’t know why you have a problem with that….mandatory vaccines are constitutional,” adding that it doesn’t matter about personal or religious objections.

The caller then asks how the mandatory vaccine would be enforced by law, “for example somebody sticking a gun in my face,” to which the legal council responds, “you could be held liable.”

The legal council at the Arkansas State Health Department cites the 1905 Supreme Court case of Jacobson v Massachusetts to argue that governments can force citizens to take vaccines.

Less than 50 years before, in Dred Scott v. Sandford, the Supreme Court also ruled that black people were slaves - property of their slaveowners with no inherent rights whatsoever.

22 years after Jacobson v Mass., in Buck v Bell, the Supreme Court also ruled that people designated “feeble-minded” by the government could be sterilized.

The fact that the Supreme Court made a ruling over 100 hundred years ago saying the government could inject people by force doesn’t make it morally or constitutionally justifiable.

To stick needles in people at gunpoint by government decree is blatantly unconstitutional under any reasonable definition of basic human rights or the freedoms enumerated by the founders in the constitution itself.

American Indians were rounded up and sent to death camps under legal orders, but that didn’t make it right or justifiable.

Hitler’s mistreatment of Jews, Gypsies, political dissidents, homosexuals and others who resisted government policies imposed during times of “emergency” in Nazi Germany was all perpetrated behind a thin veil of legality, but that didn’t make it right either.

As a member at the Prison Planet Forum points out, “Tyrannical evil loves to mask itself in the robes of righteousness, to justify itself with legal documents, to trample the very ideas of what Law and Right mean. Resisting that evil, rising against that tyranny, by saying No More. That is right.”

As we previously reported, Time Magazine has been preparing Americans to accept the idea of mandatory vaccinations, reporting on April 28th that a mass vaccination program is being readied to combat swine flu while also urging Americans to “trust that the government is working for the greater good” and to not resist draconian measures.

Listen to the phone call below.



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