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94 Reps. urge Clinton to suspend aid to Honduras; 7 Senators ask State for info on Honduran compliance
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 13 March 2012 - 9:46am
On March 12, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 93 fellow House members sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise the alarm over human rights violations in Honduras where human rights defenders, journalists, community leaders and opposition activists are subject to death threats, attacks and extrajudicial executions.
The letter asks the State Department “to suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police given the credible allegations of widespread, serious violations of human rights attributed to the security forces.” The letter also asks the State Department to continue efforts to pressure the Honduran government to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, investigate and prosecute abuses in the Bajo Aguán region and throughout the country, give an accounting of the specific status of cases, and hold accountable private security companies that have acted with impunity.
The Schakowsky letter is here.
On March 5, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and six other Senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, raising concerns over human rights violations in Honduras and requesting information from the State Department concerning whether Honduran authorities are adequately complying with provisions of the FY2012 Appropriations Act.
The Mikulski letter is here.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 7 March 2012 - 10:10am
Kenya appears to be the first country to publicly declare itself for a candidate for President of the World Bank; it has declared for Jeffrey Sachs.
“On behalf of the Government of Kenya and that of myself, it is my esteemed pleasure, honour and privilege to nominate Professor Jeffrey David Sachs for appointment to the position of President of the World Bank. Professor Sachs is one of the world’s leading global economic development experts who has advanced innovative solutions on poverty alleviation, health, environmental sustainability and aid policy that are relevant and proven to have worked in a number of developing economies… I have known Professor Sachs for more than 2 decades, and I am certain that my views represent not only myself but also hundreds of African leaders, scientists, private sector executives, development practitioners and hundreds of communities in Africa.”
–Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya
John Conyers: Encourage President Obama to Nominate Professor Jeffrey Sachs as the Next President of the World Bank
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 7 March 2012 - 9:44am
This letter was sent on Friday, March 16.
Signers were: John Conyers, Hansen Clarke, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Jim McGovern, Lynn Woolsey, Raul Grijalva, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Keith Ellison, Robert Brady, Rubén Hinojosa, Peter DeFazio, Steve Cohen, Maxine Waters, Bob Filner, Anna Eshoo, Andre Carson, Chaka Fattah, Rush Holt, Charlie Rangel, Yvette Clarke, Donna Edwards, Jim McDermott, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Jerrold Nadler, Hank Johnson.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 6 March 2012 - 8:00am
AIPAC's 2012 congressional agenda sets a new precedent in boldness.
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Call your reps today to oppose AIPAC's push for war with Iran! Here's what you do:
1. Call the congressional switchboard using this toll-free number provided by the Friend's Committee on National Legislation: 1-855-686-6927.
2. Ask to be connected to one of your representatives' offices.
3. Urge your Senators to oppose and vote NO on S. Res. 380. Urge your Representative in the House to oppose and vote NO on H. Res. 568.
4. Tell your representative's office that you oppose this legislation because:
i. It supports going to war with Iran in order to prevent it from developing a “nuclear weapons capability,” a vague threshold many experts believe Iran has already reached. In other words, the legislation supports going to war at the earliest convenience, even if Iran has no intention of actually developing a weapon.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 1 March 2012 - 5:09pm
A funny thing happened on the way to the Showdown at the AIPAC Corral, where pro-war Republicans and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been planning to ambush President Obama with charges of being "soft on Iran" because U.S. military commanders have said that an Israeli military attack on Iran would be a very bad idea.
Someone asked the Israeli public what they thought.
And it turns out that the majority of Israelis have their shekels on the lanky guy from Chicago.
In a poll conducted this month by Professor Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and Israel's Dahaf Institute, only 19 percent of Israelis said they would support an Israeli military attack on Iran if it is not approved by the U.S.
But that's not even the most striking result of the poll.
The poll suggests that the reason that the majority of Israelis don't support an Israeli military strike on Iran without U.S. approval is not because they are afraid of making the U.S. angry. The poll suggests that the reason that the majority of Israelis do not support an Israeli military strike on Iran without U.S. approval is that they share the cautions of U.S. officials against an Israeli strike on Iran: they think that the costs would be high, and the benefits small or nonexistent.
That is, they see the assessments of U.S. officials of the dubious merits of an Israeli strike as good data - better data than they are getting from Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 24 February 2012 - 6:10pm
The media war fever for military confrontation with Iran has grown so great that even the media noticed. Writing in the New York Times, Scott Shane asked the reasonable question: how is it that we're having a war fever with Iran, when polls show that after ten years, the American public is weary of war?
A key part of the story is that we've had a one-sided political debate about Iran. Major media are often ambivalent about the degree to which it's really their responsibility to educate the public about basic facts - like the fact that the U.S. government is quite confident that Iran is not now trying to build a nuclear weapon. Instead, the media's default position often is to reflect what they perceive to be going on in the political debate. And what the media largely perceive is that one side - the non-Ron Paul Republican presidential candidates, the Lieberman-Graham-McCain axis, and the pro-Likud lobby groups and think tanks - is pushing aggressively toward military confrontation, and the other side - the Obama Administration - is saying, well, not so fast, without strongly and consistently challenging some of the core assumptions of the pro-war voices.
Largely missing from the recent political debate, until now, has been a full-throated defense of diplomatic engagement with Iran towards negotiated agreements that would resolve or mitigate international concerns about its disputed nuclear program, thereby pushing back the prospect of military confrontation.
But that could change. Representatives Keith Ellison [D-MN] and Walter Jones [R-NC] are currently circulating a Congressional letter to President Obama urging the President to redouble U.S. efforts towards a diplomatic agreement.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 17 February 2012 - 4:39pm
For all it has done to promote confrontation between the United States and Iran, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has worked to avoid the public perception that AIPAC is openly promoting war. In AIPAC's public documents, the emphasis has always been on tougher sanctions. (If you make sanctions "tough" enough - an effective embargo - that is an act of war, but it is still at one remove from saying that the U.S. should start bombing.)
But a new Senate effort to move the goalposts of U.S. policy to declare it "unacceptable" for Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability - not a nuclear weapon, but the technical capacity to create one - gives AIPAC the opportunity to make a choice which all can observe. If the Lieberman resolution becomes an ask for AIPAC lobbyists at the March AIPAC policy conference, then the world will know: AIPAC is lobbying Congress for war with Iran.
Sponsors of the Lieberman resolution deny that it is an "authorization for military force," and in a legal, technical sense, they are absolutely correct: it is not a legal authorization for military force. But it is an attempt to enact a political authorization for military force. It is an attempt to pressure the Administration politically to move forward the tripwire for war, to a place indistinguishable from the status quo that exists today. If successful, this political move would make it impossible for the Administration to pursue meaningful diplomatic engagement with Iran, shutting down the most plausible alternative to war.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 13 February 2012 - 12:16pm
Bahrain International Airport - When I came to Bahrain, it certainly wasn't with the intention of spending my whole time in the country in the airport. I wanted to see what was going on in the country, not to see what was going on in the airport.
But the Bahrain authorities would not let me enter the country. At this writing, it's 5 PM local time. My flight got in at 2:15 AM. I have been informed that the Director of Immigration has decided that I shall not have a visa to enter Bahrain - although in the past it was the practice of the Bahrain authorities to give visas to Americans in the airport pretty much automatically - so the authorities are saying that the only way I am leaving the airport is on a plane out of the country. At this writing, it looks like I could be in the airport for another 36 hours.
Other observers managed to get in, and you can see their reports at Witness Bahrain. [You can't see that website if you live in Bahrain though - it's blocked here by the Bahrain authorities.] But if you're in the U.S., you can read reports on Witness Bahrain on the protests marking the first anniversary of the uprising for democracy, and the Bahrain government's response to those protests. I won't be able to contribute to those reports, since, sitting in the airport, I won't be able to observe the protests and the government response.
However, I did learn something useful, sitting in the airport, waiting with a bunch of other foreigners for permission to enter the country.
I learned that the government of Bahrain is starting to pay a real price for its efforts to shield its actions towards peaceful protesters from international scrutiny.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 9 February 2012 - 3:55pm
Can Joe Lieberman Block Diplomacy with Iran that Would Prevent War? by Robert Naiman There's no question that some people in Washington would very much like for the U.S. to have a policy towards Iran whose endgame is war or externally-induced regime change. And they have a long-term strategy to bring this about, which is to block efforts at meaningful diplomacy, so that the only thing left on the table is war or externally-induced regime change.
Now, according to reports from DC, come Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham with a new bill. What does their bill seek to do? According to reports from people who have seen the draft bill, in its current form it seeks to block the President from having a policy to "contain" Iran if it develops nuclear weapons capability.
Jasmin Ramsey wrote Wednesday at LobeLog:
The key lines in the resolved [clauses] have been highlighted by a Washington policy expert:
"(6) Strongly rejects any policy that fails to prevent the Iranian government from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and that instead would settle for future efforts to "contain" a nuclear weapons capable Iran;
(7) Urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and to oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat." [my emphasis on variations of the word "capable" - RN]
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 30 January 2012 - 9:05pm
Since there is not much time before the letter closes for signatures, calling your representatives would help. Just follow these simple instructions:
- Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
- Ask for your representative's office.
- When your representative's office picks up, tell them that you urge your representative to sign the Wyden-McGovern letter to oppose any new arms sales to Bahrain. The deadline for signatures is Wednesday close of business.
- If you are speaking to your Representative in the House, tell them to contact Mike McVicker in Rep. McGovern's office to sign.
- If you are speaking to one of your Senator's offices, tell them to contact Isaiah Akin in Sen. Wyden's office to sign.
- When you're done, make sure you report your call below!