Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hanan Ashrawi keynotes Chicago fundraiser for PCRF

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF)
Chicago Fundraiser Dinner
Date: March 22nd, 2009
Time: 5pm
Place: Alhambra Palace Restaurant
(1240 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL)
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi

PCRF’s Chicago Chapter is hosting a fundraiser dinner at Alhambra Palace Restaurant on March 22nd with keynote speaker Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. The fundraiser event will be informative and entertaining with traditional debka and oud performances, a great dinner, a silent auction, and presentations by medical specialists who have been on medical missions to Palestine.

The PCRF is one of the foremost on-the-ground organizations in Palestine and the Middle East providing free medical and humanitarian relief for children in need since 1991. The PCRF sends medical missions to treat children who cannot receive the type of specialized care in their country and also transfer children out who need more extensive surgery or care.

For ticket purchases and more information, please visit us online at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

President Obama names new communications team no Arabs included

CONTACT: White House Media Affairs Office, 202- 456-6238

Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama Announces More Key White House Staff

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced the following White House Staff: Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, White House Research Director; Daniella Gibbs Leger, Director of Message Events; Macon Phillips, Director of New Media; Christina Reynolds, Director of Media Affairs; Dag Vega, Director of Broadcast Media; Dana E. Singiser, White House Office of Legislative Affairs, Amy Brundage, Regional Communications Director; Cammie Croft, Deputy New Media Director; Jason Djang, Deputy Director for Video; Corey Ealons, Director of African American Media and Coordinator of Special Projects; Shin Inouye, Director of Specialty Media; Jesse Lee, Online Programs Director; Katherine Lyons, Deputy Director of Message Events; Luis Miranda, Director of Hispanic Media; Moira Mack Muntz, Regional Communications Director; Katie Stanton, Director of Citizen Participation; Joelle Terry, Deputy Director of Message Events; Gannet Tseggai, Regional Communications Director; and Samantha Tubman, Assistant Social Secretary.

President Obama said, “Each of these individuals brings deep expertise in their fields, and a strong commitment to public service. I am confident in their abilities to fill these roles with distinction, and I welcome them to our team as we begin the work of bringing the change that the American people need in these troubled times.”

The following announcements were made today:

Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, White House Research Director
Jarvis-Shean was the Head of Research for the Presidential Transition Team. Prior to that, she was Deputy Director of Content for the Obama campaign. She previously worked as a research and communications strategist at CNBC and as Vice President at IMS, Inc., a research consulting firm. A native of Sacramento, California, Jarvis-Shean studied at the University of Cape Town and was the fifth generation of her family to attend the University of California, Berkeley, from which she graduated with high honors in political science.

Daniella Gibbs Leger, Director of Message Events
Daniella Gibbs Leger was most recently the Vice President for Communications at American Progress. At the Center she specialized in domestic and economic policy, as well as the Center's overall communications strategy. Prior to joining the Center, Daniella was Deputy Director of Communications at the Democratic National Committee. She began working at the DNC in June of 2002 in the political department as Communications Director for the Women’s Vote Center. During her tenure at the DNC, Daniella also handled African American and specialty media and was a regional media director during the 2004 presidential cycle. Daniella spent two years at the National Newspaper Publishers Association as their marketing associate and political liaison before joining the DNC. Before moving to Washington, D.C., Daniella worked at Sony Music in New York City for three years. Daniella has been a guest on numerous TV and radio shows and has been quoted in various print publications. Daniella holds a degree in Government and a minor in Sociology from the University of Virginia.

Macon Phillips, Director of New MediaSince the election, Phillips has served as Director of New Media for the Presidential Transition Team, developing and overseeing the transition's overall online communications. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Director of New Media for Obama for America, managing the day to day operations of the campaign's online program. Before the campaign, Macon led Blue State Digital's strategy practice, working with clients like the Democratic National Committee and Senator Ted Kennedy. A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Phillips is a graduate of Duke University and lives with his fiancée in Washington, DC.

Christina Reynolds, Director of Media AffairsReynolds was most recently the Director of Rapid Response for the Obama-Biden campaign. Prior to that, she was research director and senior communications adviser for John Edwards' 2008 presidential primary campaign, and research director in 2004. She has also served as research director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Tim Johnson's 2002 reelection campaign and as communications director for Tom Daschle's 2004 campaign. Reynolds graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dag Vega, Director of Broadcast Media
Most recently, Vega served as Director of Surrogate Press for the Obama campaign where he supervised the TV booking operation and managed the media outreach for elected officials and policy experts speaking on behalf of the campaign. Previously, he was Deputy Communications Director at the Democratic National Committee where he helped implement Chairman Howard Dean’s media strategy. A veteran of presidential races, he served as Deputy Communications Director for TV News during John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004 and a spokesperson for constituency media for Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000. He also held communication positions in The White House Press Office during President Clinton's administration.

Dana E. Singiser, White House Office of Legislative Affairs
Singiser brings over 15 years of political, campaign, and legal experience to her position as Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. At the White House, she serves on the team charged with promoting President Obama’s legislative priorities with the U.S. Senate. During the 2008 election cycle, she focused on the women’s vote, first as Director of Women’s Outreach for then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign and then as Senior Advisor for the Women’s Vote to Barack Obama. Her other campaign experience includes serving as Deputy Political Director for Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, and as staff on President Bill Clinton’s campaigns in 1992 and 1996. On Capitol Hill, Dana was Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee under the leadership of former Senator Clinton and Majority Leader Harry Reid. At the Committee, she led the effort to strengthen core constituency support for Democratic party positions. She practice law at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld for five years, and served in President Clinton’s Administration, both in the White House and the Department of Commerce. She grew up in Vermont and received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Amy Brundage, Regional Communications Director
Brundage most recently served as a spokesperson for the Obama-Biden Transition Team and as the Midwest Communications Director in the Chicago headquarters for Obama’s presidential campaign. Prior to the campaign, she served as then-Senator Obama’s Press Secretary in his Washington, DC office. Before joining the Obama team, Brundage was Senator John Kerry’s National Press Secretary. She also served as the Communications Director for Kerry’s political action committee in 2006. Brundage worked in the scheduling department in the national headquarters during Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and joined Kerry’s Senate staff in early 2005. A native of Rockport, Massachusetts, Brundage graduated with a B.A. in both English and Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross.

Cammie Croft, Deputy New Media DirectorCroft comes to the White House from the Obama-Biden Transition Project, where she served as the Deputy New Media Director, specializing in online communications. Prior to that, as the New Media Rapid Response Manager for the Obama for America campaign, she oversaw efforts to integrate new media and communications, including managing websites such as and Before joining the campaign, Croft built the tracking and media monitoring program at Progressive Accountability, a rapid-response communications advocacy campaign that provided video of Republican Presidential candidates for the mass public. Croft also worked as the Rapid Response Mobilization Director for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, where she led their new media efforts, working with’s online tools to mobilize Americans opposed to the war. Croft holds a B.A. in Political Science and Communication from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she graduated with distinction. She is also an alumnus of the New Organizing Institute (NOI), a unique online organizing forum for technologically-savvy, progressive campaigners.

Jason Djang, Deputy Director for Video
Djang served on the New Media video teams for both Obama for America and the Obama-Biden Transition Project as an editor and producer. Prior to joining the campaign, he worked in documentary film and television in New York City and Los Angeles. Versed in all aspects of the production world, his experience includes commercials, broadcast series, and short films. Djang also has a background in church leadership and holds a Masters degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA. He earned his bachelors degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Corey Ealons, Director of African American Media and Coordinator of Special Projects
Ealons served as director of African American Media during the General Election for the Obama-Biden campaign. Prior to joining that operation he was deputy chief of staff and communications director for U.S. Representative Artur Davis of Alabama for six years. A communications professional for nearly 15 years, Ealons’ experiences include three presidential campaigns and active duty service as the public affairs director and photojournalist for the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard), the Presidential Honor Guard in Washington, D.C. Ealons graduated from the University Of Alabama School Of Communications with a concentration in public relations and political communications.

Shin Inouye, Director of Specialty Media
Shin Inouye was most recently a spokesperson for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Prior to that, he was the Constituency Communications Coordinator at the Obama for America campaign. In that capacity, he served as the communications officer for a variety of campaign constituency groups, including: LGBT, AAPI, First Americans, Veterans and Military Families, Youth, Seniors, Faith, Jewish, Rural & Sportsmen, Americans with Disabilities, and Ethnic. Before the campaign, Inouye was the Communications Director for Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-8), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. A member of the Congressman's Senior Staff, Inouye served as an official spokesperson. Prior to that, Inouye was the Senior Legislative Communications Associate at the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union. During his tenure at the ACLU, Inouye played a key role in their "Keep America Safe and Free" campaign. He graduated with departmental honors from the Johns Hopkins University, with a degree in political science.

Jesse Lee, Online Programs DirectorLee worked in the New Media department for the Transition team doing online outreach, having done online communications for the Democratic National Committee during election season. Prior to that he was Senior New Media Advisor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the 110th Congress, having worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee online from 2004-2006. Lee graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 2002.

Katherine Lyons, Deputy Director of Message Events
Lyons most recently served as the Southwest regional spokesperson for the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Prior to that, she served as the Obama campaign’s Director of Message Events for the general election. During the presidential primaries, Lyons was New Hampshire Deputy Communications Director and spokesperson in a number of other states. Before joining the Obama campaign, Lyons coordinated communications and grassroots strategies for Dewey Square Group in California. A native of Sacramento, California, Lyons graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Luis Miranda, Director of Hispanic Media
Miranda was most recently Deputy Communications Director at the Democratic National Committee, overseeing regional and specialty press. In that capacity Miranda was the Democratic Party's lead spokesperson for Hispanic and Spanish-language media. Prior to joining the DNC, Miranda worked for John Kerry’s presidential campaign, first starting the campaign’s internet communications program, and later working as a liaison to Hispanic media. Miranda has also worked with organized labor at the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Florida State Council, among other things reaching out to the union's Hispanic members. Miranda has also worked on campaigns at the local and state level, served as a Research Analyst at the DCCC, and worked as the Miami-Dade Field Director for the 2000 coordinated campaign in Florida, where he also worked on operations for the Florida recount.

Moira Mack Muntz, Regional Communications Director
Mack has advised and managed earned media strategy for numerous political, ballot initiative and issue campaigns. Most recently Mack served as deputy national press secretary for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, managing the candidate’s national interview requests. Mack spent three years at Hildebrand Tewes Consulting where she advised non-profit organizations, labor groups and U.S. Senate campaigns on communications and served as spokesperson and communications director for the multimillion dollar Iraq campaign advocating a timeline to end the war. As researcher and program coordinator at Campaign for America's Future, Mack drafted policy materials on a variety of issues and coordinated the simultaneous release of television ads and state reports in nearly 50 states. A native of Albany, NY, Mack is a graduate of the George Washington University.

Katie Stanton, Director of Citizen Participation
Katie Jacobs Stanton joins the New Media team as Director of Citizen Participation. Prior to this role, Stanton was at Google where she was a Principal in the New Business Development team responsible for OpenSocial, Google Moderator, and various election-related initiatives. Also at Google, Stanton managed several real-time vertical products including Google Finance, Google News, and Blog Search. Stanton joined Google from Yahoo! where she helped build the investing program on Yahoo! Finance as well as lead Yahoo Finance's growth internationally. Prior to Yahoo!, Stanton worked for Chase as an Associate in the Corporate Emerging Markets group. Her professional experience also includes a Fellowship at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a volunteer position in Kenya, and a teaching role in Japan. Stanton has an MA in International Affairs at Columbia University and a BA in Political Science from Rhodes College.

Joelle Terry, Deputy Director of Message Events
Terry most recently served as the Director of Communications Planning for the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee and as the Deputy Director of Surrogate Press during the General in the Chicago headquarters for Obama’s presidential campaign. In the Primary Terry served as the Surrogate Press Secretary. Prior to the campaign, she served as an Associate in the Dewey Square Group’s Sacramento office. In 2004, Terry worked in the regional press office in the national headquarters during Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and later as a member of the national advance team. A native of Sacramento, California, Terry graduated with a B.A. in International Relations from the University of California, San Diego.

Gannet Tseggai, Regional Communications Director
Tseggai started on Obama’s presidential campaign as the Iowa Deputy Press Secretary in 2007 and worked in five states during the primary. During the general election, she served as the Northeast Communications Director in the Chicago headquarters. Before joining the Obama campaign, Tseggai served as Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Deputy Press Secretary from 2005 to 2007. Prior to her work for Senator Kennedy, Tseggai spent the 2004 election cycle working for Missouri Governor Bob Holden’s re-election campaign and John Kerry’s Presidential Campaign in Missouri and Ohio. Tseggai is a Rolla, Missouri native and graduated with a B.A. in both Political Science and Communications from the University of Missouri.

Samantha Tubman, Assistant Social Secretary
Tubman served as a Press Wrangler for President-Elect Barack Obama’s presidential campaign beginning in January 2008. She first joined the campaign as a member of the Scheduling and Advance Team in February 2007. Tubman previously served as Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Edward G. Rendell’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006. Prior to this, she worked as a legal assistant at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, DC from 2001-2004. Samantha received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Haverford College in 2001 and received her Master’s degree in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Banned book on Egypt becomes best seller


New York City/Newswires/2/20/09/ -AWARD WINNING AUTHOR ALADDIN ELAASAR CELEBRATEd THE INSTANT SUCCESS of HIS LATEST BOOK. “THE LAST PHARAOH: MUBARAK AND THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF EGYPT IN THE VOL ATILE MID EAST” was banned in Egypt and Arab countries after its initial release is now available through Beacon Press, Amazon and Mobipocket.

“The Last Pharaoh” dissects the political life in Egypt and Arab countries. The book raised the ire of the Mubarak’s government as it exposes the deep corruption, grave human rights abuses, and the authoritarianism of the Mubarak’s regime and its use of anti-Semiticism and anti-Americanism to gain popularity in the region. It also reveals one of Egypt’s worst kept secrets: the story of the expulsion and mass exodus of more than 100,000 Egyptian Jews since the military coup of 1952, and the influence of Nazism on Egyptian and Arab politics.

Packed with facts and telling the story of both modern and ancient Egypt, how the modern Arab and Islamic Worlds evolved, and interviewing experts, politicians, journalists and Western diplomats, Elaasar reveals the secrets of the personality cults behind Mubarak and other Middle Eastern leaders, and how religion has been exploited to give legitimacy to these oppressive regimes-- resulting into exporting extremism globally and undermining America’s efforts in the War on Terror.

President Obama is likely to find himself facing an unbelievably bad choice in the largest Arab country, says Elaasar-- discussing several scenarios that can take place in Egypt. “Would America intervene militarily to preserve Mubarak’s faltering rule? Would Egypt witness another Khomeini-style revolution? Considering the alarming rising poverty figures in Egypt and the disparities between the classes, could Egypt be overrun by an angry and hungry mob, French Revolu tion style?

For media inquiries, Please Contact: Beacon Press Tel 224 388 1353 Email:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Middle East sensation Kazem el-Saher to perform at Horseshoe Casino March 20

The Venue at Horseshoe Casino Presents Kazem El Saher
Superstar Singer Visits Chicagoland

Chicago, IL (February 18, 2009) – The new 500 million-dollar Horseshoe Casino, just 20 minutes from downtown Chicago, announces the upcoming concert performance of Kazem El Saher on March 20, 2009 at The Venue.

Kazem El-Saher is one of the most successful singers in the Arab World, having sold more than 30 million albums since the start of his career. Ranging from big romantic ballads to more political work, from pop to Arab classical, he has covered the spectrum of music with the kind of success not seen since the heyday of Umm Kalthum. Kazem El-Saher has been dubbed by many to be the “Elvis of the Middle East”.

Part of Horseshoe Casino’s $500 million expansion project, The Venue, a 2,500 seat state-of-the-art entertainment center features A-list talent in an intimate setting and Kazem El Saher is yet another worthy addition to the line-up that has previously included acts such as: Seal, Three Doors Down, Sarah Silverman, Bette Midler, Jay Leno, Smashing Pumpkins, Gladys Knight and more.

Doors open at 7:00 p.m. show starts at 8:00 p.m., must be 21 or older to attend. Free shuttles to and from the casino are available at various downtown locations. Ticket prices start at $65 and are on sale now at all Ticketmaster™ locations, and the box office at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino. For more information on free shuttle transportation options, please visit:

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, nearly 70 years ago, Harrah's has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages casinos on four continents. The company's properties operate primarily under the Harrah's, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names; Harrah's also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos. Harrah's Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. For more information, please visit:

Know When to Stop Before you Start.® Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-9-WITHIT. ©2009, Harrah's License Company, LLC.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Producer Simon Shaheen brings some of the great songs of the Arab world to the stage in “Aswat: Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music” at 8 p.m. Friday, March 13, at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn.
“Aswat” highlights the best of Arab music in the 1920s to 1950s, which is considered by many the golden age, as many singers and composers in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria reached the peak of stardom.
While singers bring life to the songs, a projection screen flashes preserved images and film footage from the original performers, including Um Kulthoum, Mohammad Abdel Wahhab, Farid, Asmahan Al-Atrash, Fairuz and Wadi’ Al-Safi. The multi-media experience is further enhanced by a live orchestra, featuring several virtuoso instrumentalists under the direction of Shaheen.
“Aswat,” which is touring throughout North America in February and March, features top Arab singers, including Ibrahim Azzam of Palestine, Sonia M’barek of Tunisia, Khalil Abonula of Palestine and Rima Khcheich of Lebanon.
Azzam has established himself as one of the leading Arab vocalists in Europe and the Middle East and has performed with many well-known Egyptian composers. The product of a musical family, he studied with Hikmat Shaheen, a leading Palestinian composer and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Opera House in Cairo.
M’barek first performed in public at age 9 before making her television debut three years later. She has a degree in Arabic music from the national conservatory of music in Tunis and has sung for musical theater productions and on film soundtracks. With Tunisian lute players Ali Sriti and Anouar Brahem, she presented more than 30 concerts of classic Arabian music and participates in conferences, workshops and master classes in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon.
Abonula grew up listening to the masters of Arab classical music and began performing at age 12 with his father, a singer. He formed his first band after graduating high school and has spent the last two decades performing at venues and festivals through the Arab world, Greece, Bulgaria and France.
Khcheich teaches classical Arabic singing at the Lebanese National Superior Conservatory of Music in Beirut. She began singing at age 7 and at age 11 became a soloist with an Arab orchestra and chorale under the direction of Salim Sahhab. Khcheich is a graduate of the Lebanese National Conservatory and the Lebanese American University and has been a faculty member of the Annual Arabic Music Retreat at Mount Holyoke College since 1999.
Tickets to “Aswat” are $50 for adults, $48 for seniors and $40 for College of DuPage students and children age 17 and younger.
For more information, call the MAC Box Office at (630) 942-4000, or visit:
About the MAC:
Located 25 miles west of Chicago near I-88 and I-355, the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at College of DuPage is a state-of-the-art facility, housing three performance spaces, an art gallery and classrooms for the college’s academic programming. This unique facility has presented theater, music, dance and visual art to more than 1.5 million people since its opening in 1986 and last year welcomed more than 75,000 patrons from the greater Chicago area to more than 230 performances.
The center offers free parking and group discounts and is home to five resident companies, including Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, the New Philharmonic Orchestra, DuPage Opera Theatre, the Arts Center Jazz Ensemble and the New Classic Singers. The result is a collection of touring and resident and student groups that foster enlightened education and performance opportunities to encourage artistic expression, promote a lasting relationship between people and art, and enrich the cultural vitality of the community.
The MAC’s extensive community outreach program includes pre-performance lectures, classes with visiting artists and the SchoolStage program, which provides students with an interactive, educational arts experience. Those and other efforts to increase community access to arts earned the MAC the Illinois Arts Council’s Partners in Excellence designation, which recognizes 40 of the most significant cultural institutions in the state.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

General Meeting set for Arab Engineers and Architects at UIUC

UIUC Student Chapter of Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects

Cordially invites you

Spring General Meeting

Sunday February 15th 2009, 2:00 - 3:30 pm
407 Illini Union

AAAEA ... from Chicago to Nationwide
Mr. Bilal AlMasri (Trustee and past president), Mr. Abed Ghouleh (Trustee and past president), and Mr. Hussam Alkhatib (The current Secretary of the AAAEA) will present the history of AAAEA in Chicago and the current efforts to grow it as a national professional/engineering organization.

AAAEA-UIUC Spring Program
Come and know about AAAEA-UIUC Spring 2009 program and how to join and participate. Spring 2009 program is planned to include an exhibit in Engineering Open House and an outdoor grill and social event.

History of Arabs Inventions and Engineering.
We are participating in the EOH this semester which will be held on March 13 and 14. In this exhibit, we are planning to present Arabs contributions to science and engineering throughout the history using illustrative models and posters. EOH is a perfect opportunity for such an exhibit because of its diverse audience that includes high school students, college students, and faculty members. We are in a great need for your participation and support.

Come network with AAAEA members and have FREE AAAEA mugs

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coalition urges Obama review of cluster bomba nd land mines policies

ADC Press Release Contact: Laila Al-Qatami 202-244-2990

Broad National Coalition Urges Obama to Review US Position on Landmines and Cluster Bombs

Washington, DC February 11, 2009 Today, leaders from 67 national organizations, representing a wide cross-section of American values and constituencies, issued a strong call for President Obama to reconsider U.S. opposition to global treaties prohibiting the use, transfer, and production of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. According to the letter, "Reconsidering these two treaties-and eliminating the threat that U.S. forces might use weapons that most of the world has condemned-would greatly aid efforts to reassert our nation's moral leadership." Read the text of the letter at:

While Obama was supportive of efforts to restrict landmines and cluster munitions in the Senate, the new president and his administration have yet to take a position on either treaty. In December, when nearly 100 nations were gathered in Olso, Norway to sign a treaty banning cluster munitions, a spokeswoman for the Obama Transition Team said that the new administration would "carefully review the new treaty and work closely [with] our friends and allies to ensure that the United States is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians."

The national organizations are now calling on President Obama to launch a balanced review within the next six months of the past administration's decision to stand outside of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The signers ask the president to undertake a review that equally weighs the humanitarian and diplomatic interests of the United States, as well as U.S. military interests, recognizing that Pentagon opposition has kept the U.S. outside of both treaties. The groups point out that the U.S. military has not deployed antipersonnel landmines since 1992, and it has not used cluster munitions since 2003.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was completed and signed by 95 countries in December 2008, follows in the model of the decade-old Mine Ban Treaty, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in March. The United States is one of only 39 nations in the world that is not party to the latter treaty. Both treaties were negotiated by government leaders, with the support of civil society groups and the International Committee on the Red Cross, aiming to end the use of weapons that disproportionately kill and maim civilians, to promote assistance to victims and victimized communities, and to aid in mine and cluster submunition clearance efforts. The letter notes that, "The closest allies of United States negotiated the Convention on Cluster Munitions based on their conclusion that these indiscriminate and unreliable weapons pose an unacceptable threat to civilian populations during and long after combat operations have ceased-in much the same way as do landmines."

The day after the letter is released ( February 11), Senators Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein and Representative James McGovern will reintroduce the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, legislation that would prohibit the use by U.S. troops of highly unreliable cluster munitions that leave behind large numbers of landmine-like cluster submunitions on the ground, as well as any use of cluster munitions in civilian-populated areas. Leahy and McGovern have also been leaders in Congressional efforts over the past 15 years to restrict U.S. use and export of antipersonnel landmines.

The letter was organized by the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL), a coalition of religious, veterans, medical, peace, humanitarian, and human rights organizations and thousands of individual members who support U.S. participation in the Mine Ban Treaty. The campaign also encourages the government to increase U.S. funding for mine clearance and landmine victim assistance programs. The USCBL, a member of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines, is coordinated by and based at the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Arab Academy in Cairo announces Short Story Competition

The Arab Academy announces an "International Arabic Short Story Competition" open to all those currently studying Arabic as a foreign language. The stories should take place in the Middle East (past or present), and the aim of the stories should be to enable the readers to better understand the history, culture, societies and/or geopolitics of the region.

Who may participate?
Students of Arabic in the West or those residing in an Arab country.

When is the entry deadline?
30th June 2009

What is the objective of this competition?
To encourage non-Arabs to write about the riches of the region from their own personal vantage point so that they help their readers to better understand the diverse cultures of the Middle East.

What are the requirements?
Two versions of the story: One version of the story in English and the other in Arabic. The English version should have a minimum of 5000 words. The Arabic version of the story should be an excerpt and should have a maximum of 1,000 words. Stories should be submitted via email to ( with current email address, physical address and telephone numbers.

Who are the jury?
** The jury are renowned novelists, historians and literary critics from the Middle East.

Dr. MBaye Bashir (Duke Unviersity, United States)
Dr. Zeinab Ibrahim (Amideast, Cairo, Egypt)
Dr. Salih Abdel Rahman (Howard Community College, United States)

When will the results be announced?
31st July 2009. Winners will be notified by email.
The winners of our prizes will have their stories published on the Arab Academy website.

What are the prizes?
** First Prize: 1 month of free tuition at Arab Academy in Cairo, Egypt + accommodation.
** Second Prize: 1 month of free tuition at Arab Academy in Cairo, Egypt.
** Third Prize: 6 months of free online Arabic language tuition

Sanaa Ghanem
President, Arab Academy,
3 Kamil El-Shinnawi Street (Formerly: Al-Nabataat Street),
Garden City 14511, Cairo, Egypt

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Relief effort in Chicago launched for women and children of Gaza Strip

For Immediate Release Contact: Khawla Abdul-Raziq February 6, 2009 (708) 715-5556
Local Mothers Turn the Light On for Gaza

Suburban Chicago mothers volunteered their time and efforts in support of Gaza families and collected a 40 foot long container of humanitarian aid such as candles, coats, medical supplies, dry food items and one thousand blankets, in less than ten days. The container will be shipped to the Gaza Strip.

The group of Arab American mothers had carried on the job collecting donations and packing boxes. Mrs. Gada Dauod, a volunteer, stated “this is the least we can offer to our brothers and sisters who are suffering the atrocity in Gaza and were left without home, shelter or food.”
Ms. Khawla Abdul-Raziq, President of PEACE - Palestinian Children Care organization, said “We are overwhelmed with the response for this project; we have received more than one thousand donations from local families, merchants and health care providers”. As a result to this response, PEACE will be organizing a national relief campaign in 35 US cities in the future.

The container will be shipped to Alexandria then to Gaza in coordination with the United Nations and The Palestinian Red Cross.

After the latest Israeli strike on Gaza, a densely populated 360 square kilometer Strip, a total of 20,000 buildings were completely or partially burnt and damaged. The UN has reported that more than 50,000 Palestinians were left homeless and are now crowded into 50 emergency shelters. An estimated of 50,000 more are living with relatives and in tents they erected on the ruins of their homes.

Ms. Khawla Abdul-Raziq and volunteers will speak about this Humanitarian Campaign at the truck loading site:
Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 1:00 PM
10608 S. Robert RD
Palos Hills, IL, 60645

PEACE is exempt under section 501© (3) # (61-1419480)
P.O. Box 671, Worth, IL 60482 Tel: (708) 974-4950 (708)715-5556 Fax: (708) 974-4920
Toll Free at 1.866.72.PEACE (73223)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Amnesty International spotlights Human Rights

Amnesty International Media Briefing
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Amnesty International Spotlights Human Rights on Eve of 30th Anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution
In Brief Report, Organization Documents Iran's Human Rights Trends During the Last 30 Years

Contact: AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,

(Washington) -- February 10, 2009 marks the 30 year anniversary of the change in government in Iran that led to the creation of the Islamic Republic. Amnesty International is marking the date by raising its concerns over a range of human rights violations that have persisted over the past 30 years.

Previous governments appointed by the former Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were widely regarded as corrupt and responsible for egregious human rights violations. The Islamic Republic of Iran was created following a nationwide referendum on April 1, 1979. Another referendum in December 1979 approved the constitution and confirmed Ayatollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader.

Despite promises made by Ayatollah Khomeini that all Iranians would be free, the past 30 years has been characterized by persistent human rights violations. The vast scope and scale of those violations of the early years of the Islamic Republic did decline somewhat with time. Limited relaxation of restrictions on freedom of expression during the period of reform under former President Khatami raised hopes of a sustained improvement in the human rights situation, although the situation remained poor. However, these hopes have been firmly crushed since the accession to power of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Impunity, arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the use of the death penalty remain prevalent. Some sectors of society – including ethnic minorities – continue to face widespread discrimination, while the situation for other groups, notably some religious minorities, has significantly worsened. Those seen as dissenting from stated or unstated official policies face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly. Women continue to face discrimination both in law and practice. Impunity for human rights abuses is widespread.

Amnesty International has been documenting human rights violations in Iran since the mid-1960s. On the occasion of this anniversary, Amnesty International urges the Iranian authorities to:

*Release all prisoners of conscience: those imprisoned in Iran because of their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs, ethnic origin, language, national or social origin, sexual orientation or other status who have not used or advocated violence or hatred;

*Direct government, judicial and security officials to review the cases of all prisoners held for political reasons. This includes the release all political prisoners who were unfairly tried in previous years who should be retried under procedures which meet international standards for fair trial. Release those who have not yet been tried unless they are to be tried promptly and fairly on recognizably criminal charges;

*End impunity for past human rights violations, by fully investigating past abuses such as the 1988 mass killings of political prisoners, commonly known as the “prison massacres”;

*Make it clear to state officials that torture and other ill-treatment will not be tolerated and bring to justice anyone found responsible for such abuses;

*Reform key areas of the administration of justice to ensure that no one is arbitrarily arrested or subjected to unfair trial and that evidence obtained under torture and other ill-treatment is not admissible in courts.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Banned book predicts end of Mubarak regime

Banned book predicts the end of the Mubarak’s regime and
A coming political earthquake

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Chicago, IL - Banned book by award-winning author Aladdin Elaasar is released in the USA. “THE LAST PHARAOH: MUBARAK AND THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF EGYPT IN THE VOLATILE MID EAST” was banned in Egypt and Arab countries after its initial release as an eBook on Amazon and Mobipocket. The hard copy is now available through Beacon Press.

“The Last Pharaoh” dissects the political life in Egypt and Arab countries. The book raised the ire of the Mubara k’s government as it exposes the deep corruption, grave human rights abuses, and the authoritarianism of the Mubarak’s regime.

Packed with facts and telling the story of both modern and ancient Egypt, how the modern Arab and Islamic Worlds evolved, and interviewing experts, politicians, journalists and Western diplomats, Elaasar reveals the secrets of the personality cults behind Mubarak and other Middle Eastern leaders, and how religion has been exploited to give legitimacy to these oppressive regimes-- resulting into exporting extremism globally and undermining America’s efforts in the War on Terror.

“Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves Egypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveals a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, the reader’s admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the West is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address”, says Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

"Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egypt’s politics, culture, and intrigues, Elaasar de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. This book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Elaasar teases the reader from chapter to chapter, as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt," adds Professor Miller.

“Egypt is the next domino to fall and, as they say, so goes Egypt so goes the Middle East...explaining why a pillar of American dominance in that part of the world is about to crumble,” says Robert Baer, former Middle East-based CIA operative and author of See No Evil, and Sleeping with the Devil.

The 83 years old President Mubarak of Egypt has been in po wer since 1981 and was elected for six more years in 2005. Concerns about Mubarak’s health draw much greater attention to the question of who will next rule the nation of Egypt? Succession plan for Mubarak’s son Gamal is already in place.

Visible signs of discord between the United States and Egypt over a wide array of issues have appeared in recent years. Equally alarming is the rise of anti-American conspiracy theories in Egypt’s state media.

Haunted by the memories of the overnight fall of the Shah of Iran to the Ayatollahs, U.S. policymakers fear a similar event in Egypt. Once thought to be a strong U.S. ally, the Shah of Iran, lost his grip over power to the zealous clergy sabotaging every effort for peace and stability in the region. Marcos and Suharto, two old dictators considered strong U.S. allies, as well, fell to the angry mobs in the Philippines and Indonesia.

President Obama is likely to find himself facing an unbelievably bad choice in the largest Arab country, says Elaasar-- discussing several scenarios that can take place in Egypt. “Would America intervene militarily to preserve Gamal’s faltering rule? Would an ambitious general stage another coup, turning Egypt into a God -knows-what regime? Would that general ally himself with Muslim radical groups like the Muslim Brothers, Hamas, or Hezbollah? Would Egypt witness another Khomeini-style revolution? Considering the alarming rising poverty figures in Egypt and the disparities between the classes, could Egypt be overrun by an angry and hungry mob, French Revolution style? Egypt would then erupt into lawlessness, chaos, or perhaps civil war with the dissolving of the central government, its head figures and its upper class already preparing for such a turn of events.

Whatever the scenario would be, spill over from what could occur in Egypt in the near future would impact many nations, Elaasar warns in his book “The Last Pharaoh”.

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