Donald Trump is the best president for the Muslim world

August 20th, 2018

by FAIZA IQBAL

Trump is merely extrapolating from Bush’s policies, and keeping his voter base happy.

Donald Trump wins no awards for decorum or propriety. He is undoubtedly odious, temperamental and has an incredibly fragile ego as evinced from his continued Twitter spats. In no way do I endorse Trump as a good president, because he has bullied, intimidated and lied his way towards winning the most coveted and powerful seat in the world. However, despite it all, I still think he is the best president for the Muslim world.

Why? Because he has singlehandedly jolted Muslims from a stupor that has plagued our countries for long. We have played the victim card to America’s ills for far too long, without even glancing at the self-made problems which exist closer to home. Consider George W Bush, who was a far more menacing threat to Muslims than Trump. He carried out not one but two wars against Muslim countries, with one of the wars being conducted entirely under false pretences.

When Trump declared his infamous Muslim ban as part of his election manifesto, Muslims throughout the world were in uproar about it, purely because it was seen as Islamophobic, xenophobic and quite pointless in the fight against terrorism. However, in December 2017, Christian worshippers were torn to shreds by a suicide bomber in Quetta simply for believing in a different religion. Where was the outrage then? This is not even the first incident to occur against Christians living in Muslim lands. There have been numerous bombings at churches where Christianity and Islam coincide, namely against Coptic Christians living in Egypt. Critics could argue that similar ‘bombings’ have happened in Muslim mosques in western countries, but those have been instigated by disgruntled individuals on a much smaller scale, and punishment is always meted out to the perpetrator.

Similarly, when Trump blamed mental health as the cause of gun crime in America, critics stated that his eerie silence against “white” terrorism was hypocritical. However, Ahmadis, Shias, Hindus and Christians are killed on a daily basis throughout the Muslim world and no one bats an eyelid or causes such uproar. What about Mashal Khan? A Muslim man who was killed by his fellow Muslims because of alleged and unproven ‘blasphemy’? Poverty or illiteracy cannot be blamed for his horrific death, because those who murdered Mashal were university students. Will his death, or Salman Taseer’s, make any difference in our psyche? Will we recognise Ahmadis as human beings worthy of kindness and acceptance?

Recently, Trump made the incredibly incendiary decision to declare Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, thereby undoing years of supposedly neutral American foreign policy with regards to the Middle Eastern conflict. This was, unsurprisingly, met with much resistance both from Palestinians and the United Nations General Assembly. However, the Muslim world has been shockingly quiet about the on-going war Saudi Arabia has been waging in Yemen. While Yemen is on the brink of collapse and emaciated children are being denied the basics of life, Mohammad bin Salman is adamant that Houthi rebels must be taught a lesson.

Trump has also signed an executive order to not shut down Guantanamo Bay, which is a detention camp for suspected terrorists that Bush opened during his tenure. It has been a highly contentious issue amongst human rights organisations, who argue that inhumane treatment is meted out to the individuals who reside therein. Obama promised to close down the detention centre, but wholly failed to do so. Trump is merely extrapolating from Bush’s policies, and keeping his voter base happy. If Bush hadn’t instigated the building of this camp, it would never need to be extended by Trump today.

The Express Tribune for more

Our mass delusion of American prosperity and national well-being is killing U.S.

August 20th, 2018

by BOB HENNELLY

What does a one-quarter bump in GDP really measure, and how does it impact a continually shrinking middle class?

The disconnect between the corporate news media’s reporting about the “great American economy” and the actual circumstances of the American people grows by the day. It just underscores what great lengths vulture capitalists will go to keep a status quo in place that further enriches themselves at the expense of the health of the nation and the planet itself.

It should tell you all you need to know about our surreal tipping point when an orange obese POTUS, who loves McDonald’s, proclaims our economy is the “envy of the world” because our Gross Domestic Product grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
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For the powers that be it is very important that the narrative remain that America is in the midst of a recovery that’s delivering for the majority of Americans. That’s the only way to head off something really radical born out of decades of income stagnation experienced by tens of millions of Americans who have been squeezed out of the middle class even as wealth concentration accelerated at the very top.

And so the boosters of the “dynamic American economy” narrative also point to the historically low unemployment rate as a sign that Trump’s “policies”, including a $1.5 trillion tax cut, that was skewed to corporations, is generating a broad-based prosperity.

“Because it was that particular tax cut that gave the boost to GDP growth, that boost is accompanied by a sharp worsening of income and wealth inequality,”Richard Wolff, an economics professor at New School University, said in an email. “And that effect is far more important to everyday people than the GDP growth number (largely an abstraction).
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He continued, “Here is the key mechanism: corporations have been shown to be using the funds saved from taxes by the Dec 2017 law largely to buy back their companies’ shares in the stock market. That boosts the market values which disproportionately benefits (1) the top 10 percent of shareholders, who own 84 percent of the shares, and (2) the top corporate executives, whose pay and benefits are often tied to stock prices. Nothing comparable has boosted average wages which indeed continue to stagnate as they have over the last 40 years. The rich get richer and the rest get nothing.”

Day in and day out the population is barraged by the tick-tock of the stock market indexes and commodity prices. No doubt, the lottery numbers are relevant to more Americans than the Wall Street close.

And so America remains a part-time nation where the average work week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 34.5 hours. Meanwhile, MarketWatch reported earlier this year that only 39 percent of Americans said they had sufficient resources to a pay for a $1,000 Emergency Room visit, with 44 percent admitting that they could not cover a similar $400 surprise expenditure.

It is important to keep in mind that close to 100 million Americans are not in the workforce, with 44.5 million retirees, 14.5 million in school, 12.8 million caring for a loved one, and 15.3 million not working because they are sick or disabled, and of course the 2.3 million incarcerated Americans.

So, where did this word “economy” come from and what does it describe? A quick reference check shows it derives from the Latin work oeconomia, translated to mean household management.

We can’t make the changes the nation needs desperately working in the same frameworks that got us here. The corporate news media keeps reporting on the American economy the same way it did before the Great Wall Street Bank Heist when $20 trillion of American household wealth was stolen to the advantage of the same Wall Street institutions that own our politics today.

Rather than fixate on the aggregate emptiness reflected in the GDP we need to zero in on what matters right now in terms of actual national well-being, household by household. As it turns out, there are real consequences of letting so many Americans fall behind while the nation’s wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. We have already seen it in back-to-back annual declines in Americans’ life expectancy.

As Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University, recently wrote, our country is in the throes of three “interrelated epidemic diseases, notably obesity, substance abuse (especially opioid addiction) and depression.”

Salon for more

Nonsense to say modern science existed in ancient Greece or India: Steven Weinberg

August 20th, 2018

by SUBODH VARMAL

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands meets Nobel laureates in 1983. Weinberg is on the queen’s right PHOTO/Wikipedia

Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg is often called one of the most influential living scientists in the world. Besides his seminal work on particle physics and several other books on science, the 82-year-old American has just come out with an account of the birth of modern science titled ‘To Explain the World’. He talks to Subodh Varma about the tension that exists between religious belief and science:

Many people believe that much of modern science already exists in ancient texts or teachings of their respective religions. In India, for example, the Hindu rightwing claims that many scientific and technological achievements of modern times like the aircraft, nuclear bombs, plastic surgery, etc were discovered 3,000 to 10,000 years ago. Is that possible?

It is nonsense to suppose that modern scientific and technological knowledge was already in the hands of people thousands of years ago. Though much has been lost, we have enough ancient texts from Greece, Babylon, India, etc to show not only that early philosophers did not know these things, but that they had no opportunity to learn them.

What is the difference in the ‘science’ of ancient times and modern times?

We have learned to keep questioning past ideas, formulate general principles on the basis of observation and experiment, and then to test these principles by further observation and experiment. In this way, modern physical science (and to an increasing extent, biological science as well) has been able to find mathematical laws of great generality and predictive power. Our predecessors in the ancient and medieval world often believed that scientific knowledge could be obtained by pure reason, and where they understood the importance of observation, it was passive, not the active manipulation of nature that is characteristic of modern experiment.

Further, their theories of the physical world were often muddled with human values or religious belief, which have been expunged from modern physical science.

Why did modern science arise in the 17th century? Why not earlier or later?

It is impossible to say why the scientific revolution occurred precisely when and where it did. Still, we can point to several developments in former centuries that prepared the ground for the scientific revolution.

One was the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries, which led to an increased concern with the real world and a turning away from scholastic theology. Another was the invention of printing with moveable type, which made it possible for the books of scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo to circulate rapidly throughout Europe.

Looking further back, we can point to the growth of universities from the 13th century onward. Although these grew out of schools associated with Christian cathedrals, they became havens for secular scientific research, for Buridan and Oresme at Paris, for Galileo at Padua and Pisa, and for Newton at Cambridge.

Despite stupendous advances in science, its acceptance still seems to be limited in society. In fact, you have publicly taken on antiscience lobbyists like climate change deniers or anti-evolutionists…

There are few people today who will deny the value of science, but there are many who are terribly confused about the content of scientific knowledge.

The Times of India for more

Weekend Edition

August 17th, 2018

Laura Ingraham misses unhindered racism

August 17th, 2018

by B. R. GOWANI

“Lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, on May 15, 1916. He was repeatedly lowered and raised onto a fire for about two hours. A professional photographer took pictures of the lynching as it unfolded.” PHOTO/Wikipedia

Laura Ingraham of Fox News PHOTO/Jezebel

“in some parts of the country, it does seem like
the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore”

so laments the racist Fox TV/radio talk show host

and she’s so very right recalling the old days
when the people were lynched for any excuse
a teenager could be hanged for allegedly whistling at a white woman

also the bloody good old days were when slavery was legal
and black slaves were available to work on plantations
sugar, rice, cotton, tobacco, etc. were plentiful
our hard working capitalists didn’t have to go to China and elsewhere
as they now do to sell or make things we over-consume and over-waste

the land was plentiful and belonged to the Native Americans/Indians
but the white men kept on stealing and stealing and stealing more of it …
then in 1830s the 7th US President Andrew Jackson declared:

“They [the Natives] have neither
the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits,
nor the desire of improvement
which are essential to any change in their condition.
Established in the midst of another and superior race,
they must necessarily yield
to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.”

those were the good old days
when you could steal land from the Natives
you could extract free labor from the slaves
also, the Natives/blacks were not everywhere
so you could spot them when you wanted free labor

Ingraham misses the all-white people she was used to seeing:
“Massive demographic changes have been foisted
upon … [us which] most of us don’t like. …”

although she has adopted a brown (Guatemalan) baby in 2008
she doesn’t want blacks/browns in the United States
but wouldn’t mind more white people in the US
such as the two Slovenes who became the US citizens
our Beloved Dear President Donald Trump’s mother/father-in-law

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Palestinian children, the true victims of the conflict

August 17th, 2018

by CARMEN ARROYO

Over 700 West Bank children were detained by Israeli military forces between 2012 and 2017, with 72 percent of them enduring physical violence after the arrest, according to Defense for Children International Palestine. PHOTO/UNICEF/El Baba

Over 700 West Bank children were detained by Israeli military forces between 2012 and 2017, with 72 percent of them enduring physical violence after the arrest, according to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

With the release of Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi in late July, the constant arrests of Palestinian children by Israeli forces have been in the spotlight once again, with DCIP saying that 727 children had been detained in the last five years.

“Ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees by Israeli forces is widespread, systematic and institutionalised throughout the Israeli military detention system,” Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney at DCIP, told IPS.

July was an eventful month for Palestine. On the one hand, the observer state of Palestine was chosen to lead the Group 77 at the United Nations, making it a big win for Palestine and increasing the tensions with Israel. G77 is the largest bloc of developing countries, currently with 135 countries, and Palestine spoke at the General Assembly. Palestine will assume leadership of the G77 by January 2019, replacing Egypt.

On the other hand, some days later the 17-year-old Palestinian activist, Tamimi, was released after an eight-month stay in an Israeli prison. She was arrested after she hit an armed Israeli soldier at the entrance of her village, Nabi Saleh. The scene was recorded and the video made her well known worldwide.

Commenting on Tamimi’s case, Parker said: “Ahed’s detention, prosecution, plea agreement, and sentencing in Israel’s military court system is not exceptional, but illustrates the widespread, systematic, and institutionalised ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees by Israeli forces and the fair trial denials inherent in Israel’s military detention system.”

“Now that she has been released, attention will likely wane but she has and continues to highlight the plight of the hundreds of other Palestinian child detainees that continue to be detained and prosecuted in Israel’s military court system,” he added.

Palestinian child arrests are becoming pervasive and the legitimacy of the methods used to process their arrests is quite questionable. According to DCIP, out of the 727 children processed by Israeli military courts, 700 had no parent or legal counsel present during the interrogation. Additionally, 117 spent more than 10 days in solitary confinement. For Parker, “the ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees by Israeli forces has been one of the more high profile Palestinian rights issues raised by the international community.”

Inter Press Service for more

Silicon Valley funds our helpless future

August 17th, 2018

by CHARLES PERRAGIN & GUILLAUME RENOUARD


My new best friend: a girl talks with a robot by Canbot at the China International Robot Show 2018 in Shanghai PHOTO/VCG

Stephen Hawking’s warning that ‘the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race’ resonated across the media and social networks when he died in March. In the last few years, the threat from artificial intelligence, long confined to science fiction, has been publicly debated, in association with automation and mass unemployment, or with the terrifying development of killer robots.

Major figures, from philosopher Nick Bostrom to Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, have warned of the existential threat that super-intelligent and potentially uncontrollable machines present to humanity. (Musk thinks them more dangerous than nuclear weapons.) Transhumanism is frightening, too. The movement emerged in Silicon Valley in 1980, promising that new technologies and AI would improve physical and mental health, with the prospect of eventual fusion between humans and machines. In 2002 Francis Fukuyama saw these ideas as the greatest peril in human history.

The moment when machines outstrip humans is called the ‘singularity’, a term coined by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in his essay The Coming Technological Singularity (San Diego State University, 1993). It refers to an unspecified date when artificial intelligence will exceed human intelligence, the beginning of a new era that our human brains cannot imagine. Vinge was inspired by mathematician Stanislaw Ulam’s discussion of the exponential acceleration of technological progress, the writings of Isaac Asimov (The Last Question, 1956) and Philip K Dick (Vulcan’s Hammer, 1960; The Electric Ant,1969), and statistician Irving John Good’s speculations on ultra-intelligent machines.

By the 2000s, the singularity was identified as a key issue by Silicon Valley and had its own school of thought. Techno-optimists such as Raymond Kurzweil, a firm believer in transhumanism and a researcher at Google, see it as a desirable event.

Le Monde Diplomatique for more

On taking on the mobilized capitalist class in elections: An interview with Noam Chomsky

August 16th, 2018

by DANIEL FALCONE

Israel cages Palestinian children in outdoor holding pens during freezing storm CARTOON/Latuff Cartoons

In this interview at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, I sat down with Laureate Professor Noam Chomsky to discuss electoral politics, the prospects for progressives in upcoming primaries, and the difficulties candidates face with their internal party apparatus, the media and big money challengers, as well as navigating complicated foreign policies and positions. Chomsky weighs in on the continued aftershocks of the Sanders campaign as well as the problematic issue of BDS and how progressives and third parties can reorganize and repurpose forward thinking stances to refocus on future elections.

Daniel Falcone: The “blue wave” looked like an opportunity to take the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and to coalesce around socialists and Greens.  Much to the corporate media’s delight, the progressives recently hit some setbacks and obstacles in primaries, although I wanted to ask you about social democratic or New Deal styled candidates popping up in forthcoming elections, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julia Salazar in New York City, as well as a host of other progressives like Jasmine Robinson and Zephyr Teachout who also come to mind for me personally.  Do you see a potential long term eclipse, of any sort, of donor class-oriented politics with these candidates especially if third parties join in endorsing the platforms or similar platforms and vice versa?

Noam Chomsky: That’s a real battle.  I mean, we’re not dealing with a small question.  This is practically all of American political history.  This goes way back as you may recall to Mark Hanna, who was the great campaign organizer for the late nineteenth century.  In 1895 he was asked, “What are the most important things for a political campaign?”  He said, “There are two things.  The first one is money, and I’ve forgotten what the second was.” That was 1895.  So, this is deeply entrenched.  You’ve seen Tom Ferguson’s work on it. It’s not just the White House; it’s also Congress.  In fact, I don’t know if you saw Tom’s study of the 2016 election, a very important study, which shows and details that in the last couple of weeks of the campaign the Republican establishment, who didn’t like Trump, realized that there could be a big Democratic wave — which they certainly didn’t want.

In the last couple weeks of the campaign, there was a huge flood of money both for President and Congress, and he said if you compared it with voting attitudes, as usual [they] changed along[side] the campaign funding of the negative ads. And, in fact, that’s what swung both the congressional and the White House election.  It wasn’t just Trump, it was also Congress.  So, it’s another triumph of campaign spending.  This is 2016, and [not far off from 1895].

The amazing thing about 2016 was the Sanders campaign.  It’s the first time in American history that a candidate probably could have won, if it hadn’t been for party managers who kept him out, with no funding from the corporate sector, and no funding from the wealthy, and no media support.  So, it’s a real breakthrough, but to carry out [a potential eclipse of the donor class] moving forward is going to be really hard because there’s also going to be a mobilized effort on the part of the entire capitalist class, Republican and Democrat, to prevent that from happening.  In fact, if Sanders had run I think he would have been slaughtered by the propaganda, and it would have been massive propaganda about this Jewish, atheist, communist that wants to bring immigrants in to kill everybody.

It’s kind of like what you see with Jeremy Corbyn.  I mean, both the Tories and the Labour Party — the Labour Parliamentarians, the Blair guys, the media, like The Guardian— they’re all trying to destroy him. These latest attacks on him for anti-Semitism are just insane, but they’ll do anything to try to destroy his chances because he’s trying to create a political party in which people actually participate; not just the rich and powerful guys who tell you what to do, and that’s intolerable.  So, I think maybe it’s going to be a real fight.

Daniel Falcone: I read your commentary regarding progressives and Israel and found it very interesting, where you point out the once absolute darling of progressive liberal America, Israel, is now shifting its support to right wing regimes, losing the Democratic Party.  Does this create a possibility for social democrats and their superficial support of something like BDS to move beyond a fashionable vanity project into a position of real advocacy for Palestinians in your view?  And from that starting point, is it possible that even mainstream Democrats can move closer to embracing actual policies that show authentic concerns for Palestinian rights, as all groups seem to move further on the left on the issue?

Noam Chomsky: It’s not just the left.  Take the Presbyterian Church; that’s not on the left.  They took a very strong stand on a boycott on the divestment – there are no sanctions. It’s really B.D., not BDS, but they did it the way it’s effective.  They concentrated on the occupied territories and on U.S. multinationals participating in the occupied territories.  The BDS movement just can’t think. They’re acting in a way which undermines their own goals. They’re insisting on focusing on Israel, you know — academic boycotts, cultural boycotts.  You can make an argument for it, but it’s not going to work.

That barely even happened in South Africa.  Every time [BDS does these things] it leads to a backlash, which is stronger than the effort.  And it just diverts attention away from the Palestinians to irrelevant issues, like academic freedom.  You have to start debating about that.  I mean, that’s not the problem.  But the Presbyterian Church had the right idea, and that’s not the left after all.  It’s one of the biggest churches in the country.  It is conservative.  But if the BDS movement had any sense, they’d be following that policy and they’d be doing things that they’re not doing.

Counterpunch for more

Mr Ford’s hacienda

August 16th, 2018

by TARIQ ALI

Sir V.S. Naipaul, Trinidadian-British writer PHOTO/Britannica/Duck Duck Go

V.S. Naipaul never saw himself as just another face in the mural of 20th-century literature. The mural was, in any case, not his favourite art form. He loved and possessed a very fine collection of Persian and Indian miniatures. But this wasn’t a frame in which he saw himself either. Long before the knighthood and the Nobel Prize, it was the mirror that excited him. Destiny stared him in the face every morning. He believed in himself. The Trinidadian was to become a very fine writer of English prose.

Naipaul and C.L.R. James were educated at the same colonial school. The high quality of teaching in classics and English literature left its mark on both men. Both of them came to England. There the similarity ends. James moved to Marxism and became a great historian in that tradition. Naipaul put politics on the back-burner, joined the lesser ranks of vassalage (the BBC) and cultivated a cultural conservatism that later became his hallmark both politically and socially. The classical heritage of the European bourgeoisie had completely bewitched him. He saw it as the dominant pillar of Western civilisation and this led him to underplay, ignore and sometimes to justify its barbaric sides both at home and abroad.

In later years, James (in private conversation) would refer to Naipaul as someone who is often needed in an imperialist country trying to create a post-colonial culture so as to say things about native peoples that are no longer acceptable in polite society. Naipaul was never, by any stretch of the imagination, a card-carrying Tory. He lived his life through a circle of friends that he had carefully selected. Most, if not all, were figures on the right.

Whatever his politics, the novels were very good, especially the earlier ones. The autobiographical A House for Mr Biswas remains a comic masterpiece. And it would have made an excellent TV series, or so I thought. Would he ever agree? It wasn’t a secret that Naipaul had long opposed his work being transferred to small or big screen. Twenty-odd years ago I rang him up and was invited to lunch. He confirmed that he had always hated the idea of his work being polluted by cinema or television and told me how his excited US agent had once forced him to fly out to ‘Mr Ford’s hacienda’ to discuss filming A Bend in the River. ‘Mr Ford’ was his name for Francis Ford Coppola.

Against his own instincts, Naipaul arrived on the West Coast. At the hacienda, Coppola informed him that the only other guest apart from family would be George Lucas. Naipaul was amazed. ‘Georg Lukács, the Hungarian philosopher? I thought he was dead?’ It got worse. During supper Coppola handed Naipaul a script that he had commissioned. He wanted Naipaul to have a quick read of the adaptation and see what he thought. While handing the script, ‘Mr Ford was also trying to swallow some spaghetti which he managed to spill on his shirt. It was a very vulgar occasion. I decided to leave.’ Which he did. Since then, he had turned down every proposal.

His second wife, Nadira, whom he married in 1996, persuaded him to calm down and let Ismail Merchant commission Caryl Phillips to write a script of The Mystic Masseur. Naipaul was filled with foreboding that it might turn out to be awful. ‘It did.’ This was not a promising start. He asked why I liked A House for Mr Biswas. ‘It’s pure,’ I replied, ‘and very funny.’ He agreed we should have a go. Farrukh Dhondy, he agreed, knew the book well and Channel Four commissioned the scripts. Peter Ansorge was a stern invigilator and made sure that most of the dialogue from the novel was retained. When we discussed the scripts and possible directors over dinner at my place several months later, Naipaul and Nadira and Gillon Aitken (his agent) were pleased with the final product.

London Review of Books for more

A tale of two dictatorships

August 16th, 2018

by LAURA BLUME

Demonstrators in Managua, Nicaragua mourn the deaths of victims killed during protests earlier this year PHOTO/Gessel Tobías

U.S. responses to Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández reveal Washington’s foreign policy in Central America is stuck in the Cold War era.

Following the news in Nicaragua since April 19 has been a constant source of inspiration, anxiety, and anguish. A few weeks ago, when a friend in Nicaragua forwarded me a news article, I opened it with trepidation and prepared myself for more heartbreak. But there was no way I could have prepared myself to see a friend’s face staring back at me under a headline declaring that he and eight other young protesters had been accused of terrorism.

As I started to worry about the fear and possibly even torture my friend was facing, I recalled another recent episode of protests. Last year, on December 17, I received a late night message from another friend, who I will call Javier to protect his identity: “Laura, if I don’t return tell [my girlfriend] that I love her. I’m going out to defend my pueblo.” But Javier wasn’t talking about Nicaragua, and he was not expressing fear of violence at the hands of President Daniel Ortega’s police or pro-government paramilitaries. Instead, he was referring to the streets of Honduras, and the Honduran military, which receives extensive funding and training from the United States.

As Amnesty International notes, Honduras and Nicaragua both exemplify a recent regional trend of suppressing the right to protest and using excessive force against demonstrators. What sets the two situations apart, however, is the U.S. hypocrisy of continuing to support Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández while decrying the human rights violations in neighboring Nicaragua.

In Honduras, the military cracked down on demonstrators who participated in widespread protests against the highly suspect victory of President Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) after the November 26, 2017 election. The night election authorities finally announced JOH as the winner three weeks after election day—my friend Javier had told me that those who violated the state-imposed curfew and continued to protest were doing so at their own risk and would not be afforded constitutional protections. Javier said that the state forces cracking down on the protesters saw them as worthless (“vales verga”) and were willing to beat or even kill peaceful protestors.

In Nicaragua, the government has instituted a range of new, repressive measures in response to the ongoing protests sparked initially by pension reform. As calls for the resignation of Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo have mounted, so has the violent backlash by both state forces and government-backed paramilitary groups. The duo’s latest attempt to quash dissent came in the form of a new anti-terrorism law. Passed on July 16, Ley 977 states that those found guilty of terrorism— or anyone who provides any kind of material or financial assistance to alleged “terrorist” groups—could face up to 20 years in prison.

The North American Congress on Latin America for more