Monday, June 29, 2009

Links for a Monday

**Dan Hartland writes about Vandana Singh's and Ian McDonald's work for Strange Horizons.

**On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the Fort Worth Texas police raided a gay bar, resulting in the arrests of seven people (for "public intoxication") and the hospitalization of one man with a brain injury inflicted by the police. 200 people turned out to demonstrate against this egregious police violence within 18 hours of the attack. Joel Burns, the city's first and only openly gay City Council member, noting the attack's occurrence on the anniversary of Stonewall, declared that “Unlike 40 years ago, though, the people of this community have elective representation that will make sure our government is accountable and that the rights of all its citizens are protected.” Read about it here.

**In Honduras, the police and military cut off electricity and the Internet (no Twitter there!) and imposed a curfew in the capital city, as citizens took to the streets to protest the overthrow of their constitutionally elected government by a military coup d'etat:

There is virtually no power or Internet in the Honduran capital in the wake of the coup d’etat. Electricity was gradually cut throughout the city, which is being overflown by war planes and helicopters. The few media outlets that continue to broadcast are only airing music.

The police have reportedly fired tear gas to disperse the growing crowds that have taken to the streets to protest.

There is also a blackout in some neighbourhoods in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in this Central American nation.

Reuters reports that

On Sunday shots were fired, apparently into the air, near barricades of chain link fences and downed billboards erected by the protesters to block off the presidential palace. Some demonstrators were masked and wielding sticks.

Troops in full fatigues with automatic weapons lined the inside of the fenced-off presidential palace. Some covered their faces with riot gear shields as protesters taunted them, and a tank sat nearby, its cannon facing the crowd.

Honduras, an impoverished coffee, textile and banana exporter with a population of 7 million, had been politically stable since the end of military rule in the early 1980s.

Apparently the overthrown president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, had attempted to fire the chief of the armed forces, and the Supreme Court had as a result authorized(???) the overthrow of the president. More details here and here.

Jeremy Scahill reflects on the coup, taking note of US associations and connections of its conspirators, particularly with the infamous School of the Americas and the certainty that the US Government knew it was coming. At the Nation, John Nichols notes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "reasonably muscular condemnation" of the coup and the Wall Street Journal's suggestion that the Obama Administration worked (unsuccessfully) behind the scenes to avert it. But Nichols then quotes Roberto Lovato, an expert on US relations with Latin America, who considers "expressions of concern" insufficient:

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, tortures of hundreds of thousands in Latin America, sends profound chills throughout a region still trying to overcome decades 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.

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