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JFP News 8/7: the Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
August 7, 2009


The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras
The coup in Honduras - and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya - has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region: What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day's labor?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/287

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) A new national poll indicates that support among Americans for the war in Afghanistan has hit a new low, CNN reports. Fifty-four percent say they oppose the war in Afghanistan, up 6 points from May. Three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war; nearly two-thirds of Republicans support it.

2) The Obama administration has backed away from its call to restore ousted Honduran President Zelaya, McClatchy reports, based on the letter the Administration sent to Senator Lugar. Some 1,000 pro-Zelaya demonstrators protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa after the State Department letter was made public in the Honduran media.

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The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras

The coup in Honduras - and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya - has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region.

What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day's labor?

Supporters of the coup have tried to trick Americans into believing that President Zelaya was ousted by the Honduran military because he broke the law. But this is nonsense. A Honduran bishop told Catholic News Service,

 

"Some say Manuel Zelaya threatened democracy by proposing a constitutional assembly. But the poor of Honduras know that Zelaya raised the minimum salary. That's what they understand. They know he defended the poor by sharing money with mayors and small towns. That's why they are out in the streets closing highways and protesting (to demand Zelaya's return)"

This is why the greedy, self-absorbed Honduran elite turned against President Zelaya: because he was pursuing policies in the interests of the majority. The Washington Post noted in mid-July,

 

To many poor Hondurans, deposed president Manuel "Mel" Zelaya was a trailblazing ally who scrapped school tuitions, raised the minimum wage and took on big business.

In a statement condemning support for the coup by U.S. business groups, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation expressed its concern that under the coup regime, there are

 

JFP News 8/6 - Juan Cole: The Folly of a Gas Embargo on Iran

Just Foreign Policy News
August 6, 2009


Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran?
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea for many reasons, not least of which is that it would be an albatross around the neck of opposition politicians in Iran.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/284

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Writing for Informed Comment, Juan Cole adds to yesterday's list of reasons why trying to impose a gas embargo on Iran is a really dumb idea: Iran could play spoiler for the US withdrawal from Iraq and can make trouble for the US in Afghanistan; Iraqis would line up to smuggle gas into Iran; the Iranian opposition inside Iran opposes forceful Western intervention.

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JFP News 8/5 - Softening U.S. Support for President Zelaya?

Just Foreign Policy News
August 5, 2009


Mr. Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran?
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea for many reasons, not least of which is that it would be an albatross around the necks of opposition politicians in Iran.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/284

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The State Department responded to Republican criticism it has been too supportive of President Zelaya, Reuters reports. Reuters and Senator DeMint interpreted the State Department's letter as softening or "walking back" U.S. support for Zelaya.

2) President Barack Obama and top U.S. military commanders are under pressure from influential senators and civilian advisers to double the size of Afghan security forces, Bloomberg reports.

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Mr. Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran?

In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea. Let us count the ways.

One: there is no indication that Russia and China will go along with it. Even Europe is split, Reuters reports. Turkey is also likely to be unenthusiastic - a country that has good relations with Iran, has a long border with Iran, and is currently on the UN Security Council. A U.S.-sponsored gas embargo on Iran isn't likely to have much impact if Russia, China, Turkey and half of Europe aren't cooperating - after all, it's not the U.S. that's exporting gas to Iran - unless it is imposed by force.

Two: Iran has threatened to retaliate against a U.S.-sponsored gas embargo by stopping its oil exports to the West. There is a historical precedent that ought to give Americans and Britons some pause: when Britain wanted to punish the democratically elected Mossadegh government for nationalizing Iran's oil, Britain imposed an embargo on Iranian oil exports, enforced by the British Navy. Fine, Mossadegh said, we don't care. Let it stay in the ground. When the embargo failed, the British tried to overthrow Mossadegh in a coup. When that failed, the British asked the U.S. to intervene, and the CIA and British intelligence overthrew Mossadegh. How does returning to the British colonialism script for Iran fit in with the whole outreach to the Muslim world thing?

JFP News 8/4 - OAS Mission to Pressure Coup Leaders

Just Foreign Policy News
August 4, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Costa Rican President Arias said an OAS mission will travel to Honduras in a new effort to pressure coup-installed leaders to restore ousted President Zelaya, AP reports. OAS secretary-general Insulza said the OAS would meet Wednesday to organize the diplomatic mission, which he said he hoped would include foreign ministers. Honduras' Congress pledged to consider granting Zelaya amnesty if the two sides agree to it. the near-unanimous vote suggested Congress would not stand in the way of a compromise, AP says.

2) The US and Israel are discussing the feasibility of curbing Iran's imports of gasoline, Reuters reports. An Israeli official said US policymakers were concerned Iran's response could have implications for global oil markets. Iran has threatened to retaliate against a cutoff of its gasoline imports by stopping its crude oil exports to Western countries. Iran could also disrupt oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. Diplomats said Obama could have a hard time convincing Russia and China to go along with any fuel sanctions on Iran. Other diplomats noted that the EU is split on the idea of targeting Iran's energy industry. Diplomats say Turkey would also have difficulty supporting such measures.

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JFP News 8/3: Pentagon Wants Weapons Aimed at Iran

Just Foreign Policy News
August 3, 2009


Rep. Grijalva Urges Greater U.S. Pressure on the Coup Regime in Honduras
Rep. Raul Grijalva is circulating a letter to President Obama, calling on him to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders. [The Administration has taken a good first step by canceling the visas of four coup leaders.] Signers of the letter include Reps. McGovern, Conyers, Serrano, Fattah, Honda, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson, Oberstar, and Kucinich. Urge your Representative to sign the Grijalva letter calling for more U.S. pressure on the coup regime.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/grijalva-letter

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The U.S. Defense Department wants to accelerate by three years the deployment of a 30,000-pound bunker-buster bomb, Bloomberg reports. Accelerating the program "is intended to, at the very least, give the president the option of conducting a strike to knock out Iran's main uranium enrichment capabilities," said Ken Katzman, Middle East military expert for the Congressional Research Service.

2) The Obama Administration has classified its answer to Senator Kerry's question of whether it is still U.S. policy that the Secretary of Defense must personally approve airstrikes that are expected to cause 50 or more civilian deaths, writes Tom Hayden in the Boston Globe. Kerry's committee should release the answer.

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JFP News 7/31: Honduran Coup Leaders Send "Mixed Signals"

Just Foreign Policy News
July 31, 2009


Rep. Grijalva Urges Greater U.S. Pressure on the Coup Regime in Honduras
Rep. Raul Grijalva is circulating a letter to President Obama, calling on him to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders. Signers of the letter include Reps. McGovern, Conyers, Serrano, Fattah, Honda, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson, Oberstar, and Kucinich. Urge your Representative to sign the Grijalva letter calling for more U.S. pressure on the coup regime.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/grijalva-letter

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Honduran police cracked down on protesters and the Honduran Congress delayed consideration of an amnesty bill needed to end the standoff, even as the de facto leader appeared to back away from his opposition to reinstating President Zelaya, AP reports. President Zelaya urged the US to apply pressure on the coup government "with more energy, more strength and greater decisiveness." He will also ask for "immediate action" from the U.N. and OAS. A Zelaya adviser said a proposal would be floated in the OAS for other countries to extend visa cancellations - like those by the US against four coup officials - to a broader range of those involved in the coup, as well as freezing their bank accounts.

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In Honduras, Simon Says: "End Your Coup"

The relationship between the actions of the Obama Administration and the actions of the coup government in Honduras is starting to look like those children's games where you follow the order of the leader, but only if he says the special phrase. The Obama Administration says it wants to see President Zelaya restored. When the Administration appears to mean business, the coup regime appears to move towards compromise. When the Administration signals that its words are not to be heeded, the coup regime reasserts its intransigence.

Wednesday afternoon, it was reported that the leader installed by the coup had told Costa Rican mediators he personally accepted a compromise that would allow President Zelaya to return, but needed help in convincing the Honduran business elite to go along. This followed by one day the U.S. announcement that it had suspended the U.S. diplomatic visas of four leaders of the coup government. Initial press reports of the U.S. action indicated it was an escalation of U.S. pressure.

But subsequent statements by U.S. officials downplayed the idea that it was an escalation of U.S. pressure, asserting that it was just a continuation of the existing policy of not recognizing the coup government.

Predictably, then, the reports of movement in the coup government's position were followed by reassertions by the coup government that there was no change: President Zelaya could not return.

The State Department said it wants to restore democracy. But apparently the State Department didn't say "Simon Says."

When the mediation by Costa Rican President Arias was announced, there was much fanfare about what a clever diplomatic stroke it was by the State Department, taking the issue out of the hands of the South Americans.

JFP News 7/30: Honduran Coup Leader Signals Acceptance of Zelaya's Return

Just Foreign Policy News
July 30, 2009


Rep. Grijalva Urges Greater U.S. Pressure on the Coup Regime in Honduras
Rep. Raul Grijalva is circulating a letter to President Obama, calling on him to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders. [The Administration has taken a good first step by canceling the visas of four coup leaders.] Signers of the letter include Reps. McGovern, Conyers, Serrano, Fattah, Honda, and Barbara Lee. Urge your Representative to sign the Grijalva letter calling for more U.S. pressure on the coup regime.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/grijalva-letter

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The head of Honduras' coup government, Roberto Micheletti, has expressed support for a compromise that would allow the ousted president of his country to return to power, the New York Times reports. Officials said Micheletti warned President Arias he had not been able to persuade other parts of the Honduran government, or leaders of the Honduran business community, to go along with the proposal. So he asked Arias to consider sending a prominent international political figure to help him stem the fierce opposition. The call from Micheletti to Arias came one day after the US increased pressure on the de facto Honduran government by withdrawing diplomatic visas from four high-level officials, the Times notes. [See #6 below for continued opposition by the coup government to Zelaya's return - JFP.]

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