NYMHM for 9 Sep 2018

#newsyoumayhavemissed for September 9, 2018, is of course interested in who said what and why, and whether the butler did it in the library. We doubt that we have anything to add, except to say that we need to think like rhetoricians. What were the real audiences for the op-ed? What were its purposes? Is the message what it seems to be? Etc. Meanwhile: Venezuela. Yemen. Syria. South Texas.



1. Gay sex decriminalized in India

For 150 years, gay sex has been illegal in India, a vestige of colonialism. Though in recent years the law was rarely enforced, violations were punishable with a life sentence and it was used to justify harassment of and violence against LGBTQ people. After years of political organizing by activists from a variety of political and religious backgrounds, India’s Supreme Court struck down the law. [CNN]

2. Latin American history redux; Venezuela refugees

In an episode reminiscent of the US intrusions into Latin America in the ‘70s and ‘80s, American officials met several times last year with members of the Venezuelan military planning a coup against Venezuelan president Maduro but decided not to support it, according to CNN.

Among those officials was one already identified as a security risk by the United States, accused of “a wide range of serious crimes, including torturing critics, jailing hundreds of political prisoners, wounding thousands of civilians, trafficking drugs and collaborating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States,” according to the NY Times. Maduro survived a drone attack last month; last August (2017), Trump said he had not ruled out “a military option.” [CNN, NY Times]

About 200 Venezuelans a day leave the country on foot, fleeing lack of food and medical care, a government crackdown and crime. They walk as many as sixteen hours a day for two weeks to reach Medellín, Colombia, through mountainous, freezing country, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Red Cross and other organizations have set up way stations with food and shelter but these are insufficient. And they are by no means guaranteed support in the countries that take them in. Venezuelans are the largest population of asylum seekers coming to the U.S. [FPIF]

3. Asia realigning

The erratic behavior of the Trump administration has led to a complex web of shifting alliances among China, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Iran, and other key countries. The Taliban went for peace talks in Moscow September 4, while Turkey and Russian are discussing trade. Foreign Policy in Focus has a detailed description of these possible realignments; however they land, alliances in the rest of the world will not be the same, even once the carousel in Washington stops spinning. [FPIF, NY Times]

4. Funding for Palestinian hospitals frozen by Trump

In addition to cutting funding for several humanitarian organizations serving Palestinians, Trump has now cut funding for the east Jerusalem Hospital Network, apparently in retaliation for the Palestinians’ refusing to communicate with the White House after Trump moved the American embassy to Jerusalem. [Jerusalem Post, Reuters]

5. Russian and Syrian air campaign against rebel bastion

Idlib, the last area of Syria held by rebels, is being intensely targeted with air strikes, hitting rebel fighters and civilians indiscriminately. 68 air raids have been launched since August, according to the CBC. Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey could not take in any more refugees from Syria; Turkey has absorbed at least 3.5 million. Towns under siege have pleaded with Erdogan to broker a cease fire. [CBC]

6. Civilians dead in Yemen

A month after a US-made bomb dropped by the Saudi-led coalition hit a school bus in Yemen, killing 29 students and at least three teachers, the families of those injured and killed are in despair over the silence from the international community, according to the BBC.

A United Nations reports proposes that the US-supported coalition is guilty of war crimes, noting that the air strikes “have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities,” according to the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Thus far, 6,660 civilians have died and 10,563 have been injured in the conflict between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, according to the U.N. See the link to the High Commissioner’s report and an explainer from Al Jazeera in the comments.

Meanwhile, one Saudi prince says he may go into exile after comments he made critical of the war became public. [BBC, OHCHR, Al Jazeera (1, 2)]

7. Mexican students demonstrate for safety in/from their university

Thousands of students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), demonstrated last week against the “porros”—paramilitary shock troops who for years have assaulted student protesters. They are hired by interest groups, politicians, and the university itself to suppress dissent. The immediate protest was sparked by the beating of high school students and the kidnapping of two young women, one of whom was killed, the other still missing. [TelesurTV, AnimalPolitico]


8. Florida Red Tide

Hundreds of thousands of fish in the Tampa Bay region have died from the “red tide,” a toxic algae that has plagued Florida for the last ten months. While the red tide is often described as a natural phenomenon, in fact it is intensified by pesticide runoff and other pollutants. In addition, it is more intense in warmer, oxygen-rich waters. [Washington Post]

9. An app gives notice of air strikes in Syria

Sentry, an app developed by John Jaeger, CEO and co-founder of Hala Systems, gives civilians in Syria eight minutes of warning of impending bombs. In areas where it has been used successfully, it has reduced fatalities by 27 per cent, says Jaeger. Data is either manually entered from internet sources or produced by audio sensors and then predictions are forwarded to social media. [CBC]