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JFP News 7/8: Pope Slams IMF for Cuts in Social Spending

Just Foreign Policy News
July 8, 2009


Reuters, AP Legitimize Honduran Coup Regime as "Interim Government"
The New York Times and the Washington Post - like the State Department - refer in their news reporting to the "de facto" government in Honduras. But Reuters and AP refer to the "interim government" - suggesting the image that the coup leaders want to project.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/249

Honduran Military: "We Won't Take Orders from a Leftist"
Last week the Honduran military's top legal adviser admitted to the Miami Herald that the coup was illegal. He also claimed that because of their "training" - much of it supplied by the United States - it would be "difficult" and "impossible" to "have a relationship with a leftist government."
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/247

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Writing in the Guardian, Mark Weisbrot debunks the claim that the coup in Honduras was provoked by efforts by President Zelaya to extend his term. The June 28 referendum was a non-binding poll on reforming the constitution; at most it might have resulted in a binding referendum on the November ballot to approve a redrafting of the country's constitution; the same November ballot would have elected a new president and Zelaya would have stepped down in January.

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Reuters, AP Legitimize Honduran Coup Regime as "Interim Government"

Words matter - particularly the words used by major media to describe contested political events, words that can bias perceptions towards the interests of the powerful. Are those wielding power in Honduras today a "de facto" government, or are they an "interim" or "caretaker" government?

On Sunday, the following instructive exchange took place between senior U.S. officials and reporters in a State Department briefing on the Organization of American States' response to the coup in Honduras:

 

QUESTION: Sir, just a follow-up. Can you confirm that the caretaker government has reached out to the OAS and asked to open new negotiations? Does this mean that they're going to consider letting President Zelaya finish out his term? And what of the reports that Venezuelan troops are moving towards Honduras?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I have seen no reports indicating that Venezuelan troops are moving towards Honduras. In regard to the second, we understand that the caretaker government has - I wouldn't call it a caretaker government, I would refer to it as the de facto regime -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: De facto authorities.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: -- or authorities - has indicated to the OAS that it would like to begin a process of dialogue.

In today's press, I checked to see what characterization of the coup regime different outlets were using in their reporting.

JFP News 7/7: Clinton Meets with President Zelaya

Just Foreign Policy News
July 7, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Secretary of State Clinton met today with deposed Honduran president Zelaya, the Washington Post reports. Clinton announced that Costa Rican President Arias will serve as an international mediator in the political standoff in Honduras; she said both President Zelaya and the leader of the coup government had agreed to the mediation. President Obama said the US supports the restoration of President Zelaya, even though Zelaya has opposed U.S. policies.

2) Critics have accused the US of speaking ambiguously about what it is prepared to do to restore democratic order in Honduras, the New York Times reports. Critics point to the US deliberations over whether Zelaya's ouster meets the legal definition of a coup.

3) Obama strongly denied the US had given Israel approval to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, the Jerusalem Post reports. Asked by CNN whether Washington had given Israel a green light for such an attack, Obama answered: "Absolutely not."

4) Administration officials insisted Biden's comments that Israel could "determine for itself" how to deal with threats from Iran were not a signal of any change in policy, Foreign Policy reports. Some analysts suggested the remarks were not good news for the Israeli government, which wants to shape what the U.S. does, not have permission to act alone, which many doubt it has the technical capacity to do.

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Honduran Military: "We Won't Take Orders from a Leftist"

Predictably, the Washington Post and New York Times the have given op-ed space in recent days to people seeking to justify the military coup in Honduras, and blaming the coup on President Zelaya (the same writer in the latter case. )

Meanwhile, the Honduran military's top legal adviser was talking to the Miami Herald. Army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza was, shall we say, a little off-message.

In the interview, Col. Inestroza made two admissions that were remarkable in light of the efforts by pundits and Republicans in the United States to justify the coup.

First: he admitted that the coup was initiated by the military, and that it broke the law:

 

"We know there was a crime there," said Inestroza, the top legal advisor for the Honduran armed forces. "In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime."

This much, of course, was obvious. But much more remarkable was Inestroza's admission of what the core issue for the Honduran military was: taking orders from a leftist.

 

"We fought the subversive movements here and we were the only country that did not have a fratricidal war like the others," he said. "It would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That's impossible."

So, this is democracy, according to the Honduran military: we won't take orders from a leftist, because of our "training."

JFP News, 7/6: US says aid to Honduras has been "put on pause"

Just Foreign Policy News
July 6, 2009


Urge Secretary of State Clinton to Take Action to Restore President Zelaya
Call Secretary of State Clinton and urge her to take action to "immediately and unconditionally" restore President Zelaya, as called for by the unanimous UN General Assembly resolution condeming the coup in Honduras. You can call Secretary Clinton's Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills at 202-647-5548, or leave your comment through the State Department's switchboard: 202-647-4000. You can report your call here: info@justforeignpolicy.org.

Habib Ahmadzadeh: Mousavi Must Say Which Ballot Boxes He Disputes
Iranian writer and filmmaker Habib Ahmadzadeh urges former Prime Minister Mousavi to be specific in his complaints about the Iranian election, and to say which ballot boxes he disputes.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/240

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) U.S. officials say military and development aid to Honduras has been "put on pause," the Washington Post reports. On Saturday, the OAS voted to suspend Honduras. On Sunday, coup leaders blocked President Zelaya from returning to Honduras. Security forces fired tear gas and bullets to keep demonstrators away from the airport; an AP photographer reported that one man was shot in the head.

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JFP News, 7/2: AFL-CIO Demands "Every Effort" to Restore President Zelaya

Just Foreign Policy News
July 2, 2009


Urge Hillary to Take Action to Restore President Zelaya
Call Hillary and urge her to take immediate action to restore President Zelaya. You can call Secretary Clinton's Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills at 202-647-5548, or leave your comment through the State Department's switchboard: 202-647-4000. You can report your call here: info@justforeignpolicy.org.

Habib Ahmadzadeh: Mousavi Must Say Which Ballot Boxes He Disputes
Iranian writer and filmmaker Habib Ahmadzadeh urges former Prime Minister Mousavi to be specific in his complaints about the Iranian election, and to say which ballot boxes he disputes.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/240

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Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The AFL-CIO called on the U.S. government to "make every effort" to reinstate democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, the AFL-CIO reports. Three major public-sector unions in Honduras announced plans to strike in support of Zelaya's return.

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JFP News, 7/1: UNGA Unanimously Calls for President Zelaya's Immediate Return

Just Foreign Policy News
July 1, 2009

Urge Hillary to Work for President Zelaya's Immediate Return
Secretary of State Clinton has condemned the military coup in Honduras, but Republicans are pressuring the Administration not to support international efforts to reinstate President Zelaya. A unanimous UN General Assembly resolution, co-sponsored by the U.S., calls for the "the immediate and unconditional restoration" of Zelaya as President. U.S. law requires that aid be suspended, but so far Secretary of State Clinton has not yet indicated her willingness to use U.S. aid as leverage. [See 1) 2) and 3) below.] Call Hillary and urge her to take immediate action to restore President Zelaya. You can call Secretary Clinton’s Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills at 202-647-5548, or leave your comment through the State Department's switchboard: 202-647-4000. You can report your call here: info@justforeignpolicy.org.

Habib Ahmadzadeh: Mousavi Must Say Which Ballot Boxes He Disputes
In an interview with Just Foreign Policy, Iranian writer and filmmaker Habib Ahmadzadeh urges former Prime Minister Mousavi to be specific in his complaints about the Iranian election, and to say which ballot boxes he disputes.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/240

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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Habib Ahmadzadeh: Mousavi Must Say Which Ballot Boxes He Disputes

Last night, with the translation assistance of Leila Zand, director of the Iran program at the Fellowship of Reconcilation, I interviewed Habib Ahmadzadeh on the dispute over the Iranian election results from June 12. Perhaps you've heard of Habib Ahmadzadeh. He wrote the original short script for the Iranian movie "Night Bus," and wrote the short story "Eagle Feather," both drawing on his experiences as a soldier in the Iran-Iraq war.

Like many Iranians, including many Iranians who didn't vote for Ahmadinejad and don't support Ahmadinejad, but whose voices have been largely absent from Western media, even progressive media, Habib is deeply skeptical of opposition claims that the Presidential election on June 12 was "stolen," and has demanded that the opposition provide specific evidence of its claims.

I have been reaching out to Iranians who have or can get specific information about what happened on June 12-13. That path led me to Habib.

Although Habib lives in Tehran, his hometown is in Abadan, and he has many connections there. He thought it would be easier to get a picture of a smaller province like Abadan, as an example, than a larger province. So ahead of our interview, he reached out to people in Abadan.

Habib talked to Mousavi's campaign manager in Abadan, Seyed Reza Tabatabaie. There were 142 ballot boxes in Abadan; Mousavi had 127 observers.

Mousavi's campaign manager in Abadan said: yeah there was a big fraud. Habib asked, was your number the same as the Interior Ministry? Yeah, he said, it was almost the same. But there was a big fraud.

Habib pressed him: what was the fraud? Be specific. No, Mousavi's guy said, before the election, they gave this guy money, they gave that guy money...

I asked Habib: do we know which were the 15 ballot boxes in Abadan that Mousavi's people didn't observe?

$10,000 Reward: Show How the Iranian Election Was "Stolen"

I will pay $10,000 to the first person or organization that presents a coherent story for how the Iranian election was stolen that is consistent with knowable facts about the Iranian election process as it took place on June 12-13 and the information that has been published since, including the ballot box tallies that have been published on the web by the Iranian government.

In order to collect the reward, you don't have to prove your case beyond a shadow of a doubt. But your numbers have to add up. To collect your reward, it's not sufficient to cite press reports or anecdotal evidence of election irregularities, or to claim as authority Western commentators or NGOs who have not themselves put together a coherent story. To collect your reward, your story has to tell how on June 12, a majority of Iranian voters voted for other candidates besides Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yet this was transformed by the Iranian election authorities into a majority for Ahmadinejad.

Here are the numbers you have to explain. According to the official tally, Ahmadinejad got about 24.5 million votes. Mir Hossein Mousavi got 13.2 million votes. That's a difference of more than 11 million votes.

So, when I say your numbers have to add up, I mean your story of stolen votes has to overcome that 11 million vote gap. [The number would differ somewhat if you only want to say that Ahmadinejad didn't get a first round majority, as opposed to merely beating Mousavi, but it would not differ by much, since the third and fourth place candidates took such a small share of the vote.]

To illustrate: much has been made of the Guardian Council's "admission" that in about 50 cities or towns, the number of votes exceeded the number of people eligible to vote in that area. Note, first of all, that unlike in the United States, where in general you can only vote where you are registered, in Iran you can vote wherever you happen to be that day.

House to Vote on Afghanistan "Exit Strategy"

Last night the House Rules Committee decided that Rep. Jim McGovern's amendment requiring an exit strategy from Afghanistan would be in order when the House considers the FY2010 Defense Authorization [H.R. 2647]. That means that today or possibly tomorrow there should be a vote on the House floor on McGovern's amendment, which would require the Pentagon to submit to Congress by the end of the year an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

If you don't know where your Representative stands, now would be a good time to call and ask. The Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office, and ask your Representative to co-sponsor McGovern's bill [H.R. 2404] and support McGovern's amendment (which is essentially the same text as the bill) when it comes to the floor.

This will mark the first time in the Obama Administration that there has been a debate and vote in the House specifically on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan. The amendment is quite worthy in its own right: do not the Congress and the American people - not to mention the people of Afghanistan - have the right to be told what the exit strategy for the U.S. military is? But it is also a wedge to open up debate in the United States about what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan and plans to do in the future.

Military commanders have made statements indicating plans to remain in Afghanistan until 2020. If ten more years of war is the Pentagon's "exit strategy," we - and the people of Afghanistan - have a right to know that and debate it.

Since you're calling your Congressional office anyway, let me call three other worthy amendments to your attention.