Friday, June 30, 2006

Sarah Stephens on "Vamos a Cuba"

www.cubacentral.com

Sarah Stephens, director of the Freedom to Travel Campaign, said this about the court decision in a statement released this week:

“Banning books in Miami hurts America, not President Castro, because it harms our ability to fight for the values we champion in our country and around the world. In Miami, where the loudest voices condemn Cuba for censorship, they think censorship in America is a justified tactic in the fight against Cuba’s political system. The court decision today shows they’re wrong legally; the rest of us understand, they are wrong substantively."

Albright speaks out against the Cuba embargo

www.cubacentral.com

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a long-standing opponent of the Cuban government, nonetheless took a public stand against the embargo in a speech at the American Library Association convention in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reported. While continuing to advocate an anti-Castro position, she also called for a new approach to relations with Cuba saying, “After 45 years of the embargo, it’s time we try something new. We need to look beyond the embargo to a new era of travel and commerce.”

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JG: Wow! It sure took a long time to go from Madeleine Not-So-Bright to Madeleine Improved-Bright.

More Taxpayer Millions for the Miami Ultra-Right Zealots

Posted on Fri, Jun. 30, 2006

Report urges funding Castro foes

A new U.S. government report recommended creating an $80 million fund to boost opposition in Cuba and zeroes in on Cuba's close ties with Venezuela.

BY PABLO BACHELET
pbachelet@MiamiHerald.com

WASHINGTON - The commission that steers Bush administration policy on Cuba is recommending creating an $80 million fund to boost opposition to Cuban leader Fidel Castro and tightening economic sanctions on the island, The Miami Herald has learned.

A draft of the commission's report also recommends a major diplomatic effort to offset the ''Venezuela-Cuba axis'' and identifies President Hugo Chávez as a key player whose oil wealth could help extend the communist system after Castro's death.

The report summarizes the work of more than 100 officials from 17 government departments and agencies on behalf of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, co-chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, a Cuban American.

The recommendations must be approved by President Bush, although he approved virtually all the items on the commission's first report in May 2004. That led to tighter restrictions on travel to Cuba, especially by Cuban exiles.

Unlike the 2004 report, the current set of recommendations include an annex that will remain classified ''for reasons of national security and effective implementation,'' according to the text. There was no immediate indication of what the annex might contain.

No major changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba are recommended, and the text repeatedly underscores that it is the Cubans, and not the U.S. government, who will decide the future course of their transition.

Government officials confirmed that the copy of the draft obtained by The Miami Herald is legitimate, but cautioned that some of its figures could change before the final text is presented to Bush. A formal unveiling is planned for next week.

The new report focuses on U.S. actions in the months that will follow the death or incapacitation of Castro, and calls for the creation of a two-year $80 million ``Cuba Fund for a Democratic Future.''

The money is to ``increase support for Cuban civil society, expand international awareness, break the regime's information blockade, and continue developing assistance initiatives to help Cuban civil society realize a democratic transition.''

After the initial two years, the commission recommends adding at least $20 million annually to the fund ``until the dictatorship ceases to exist.''

The draft recommends using $31 million of the fund to support ''civil society on the island''; $10 million to finance academic exchanges and a new scholarship program for Cubans to study abroad; $24 million to break the Castro government's ''information blockade'' by financing the transmission of anti-Castro broadcasts via satellite and distributing equipment on the island to receive international broadcasts; and $15 million to support international efforts to aid the opposition and plan for a post-Castro transition to democracy.

The report does not specify if the money is on top of the aid the U.S. government already provides for anti-Castro programs. Radio and TV Martí already get $35 million for their broadcasts to the island in 2006.

The draft also takes a conciliatory approach on hot-button issues such as the return of Castro-confiscated properties to their previous owners, many of whom live in the United States. The Cuban government criticized the 2004 report as a blatant disregard for Cuba's sovereignty.

''It is a change in tone more than a change in substance,'' said Phil Peters, a Cuba analyst with the Lexington Institute who has read the draft copy. Saying that the previous report suggested people would be evicted, Peters added, ``This report tries to reverse the political damage by placing property decisions in the hands of the Cuban government and urging Cubans to consider property claims in the context of national reconciliation.''

However, the text recommends ''vigorously'' enforcing Title IV of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which gives U.S. officials the power to recall or deny U.S. visas to company managers whose firms invest in confiscated properties -- a sanction that has been used only cautiously so far.

Companies investing in industries that provide the Cuban government with hard currencies like oil, tourism, nickel, tobacco and rum and will be especially targeted for sanctions, the report said.

The report also says there is growing evidence that ''senior elements of the regime'' are hiding their financial assets overseas, including properties and bank accounts. It recommends tracking down these assets and returning them ``for the benefit of a Free Cuba Government.''

According to the text, Castro and his inner circle ''have begun a gradual but intrinsically unstable process of succession'' working with ``like-minded governments, particularly Venezuela, to build a network of political and financial support designed to forestall any external pressure to change.''

Venezuela provides more than $1 billion a year in energy subsidies to the island, it said, and there are indications that Cuba is using money from Venezuelan President Chávez to ``reactivate its networks in the hemisphere to subvert democratic governments.''

What Palestinians children do when faced with the acts of American Empire stooge, Israel.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

U.S. groups challenge blockade of Cuba

People's Weekly World

Author: W. T. Whitney Jr.

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 06/29/06 15:05

The Pastors for Peace/U.S.-Cuba Friendshipment Caravan and the Venceremos Brigade are off once more to Cuba, the 17th time for the faith-based group led by the Rev. Lucius Walker and the 37th trip for the VB, which will undertake agricultural and construction work there.

The spirited and diverse groups are purposefully violating U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba. In addition, Friendshipment organizers refuse to obtain the license required by the Treasury Department to bring humanitarian aid to the island. To comply with embargo regulations of any kind, they say, is to lend a hand to cruelty and illegalities.

A Pastors for Peace statement declares, “We reject the unconstitutional and immoral efforts to require a license for acts of common humanity. … We will challenge the unjust law and eventually change it.”

The groups are going ahead with their plans, undeterred by recent U.S. Treasury Department warning letters to 200 previous Cuba travel challengers that they may face stiff fines.

The Venceremos Brigade departs for Cuba on July 2, returning on July 17 to Buffalo, N.Y., just as the Friendshipment crosses back into the U.S. at McAllen, Texas.

The VB, a longstanding U.S.-based educational and Cuba solidarity group, will divide its time this year between the helping out at the Camilo Cienfuegos School near Bayamo in Eastern Cuba and the Julio Antonio Mella International Work Camp in Havana Province.

Pastors for Peace first brought donated supplies to Cuba in 1992, when the Cuban people were suffering after the fall of the Soviet bloc and tightening of the U.S. blockade. Since then, annual caravans have brought hundreds of thousands of tons of medical and education materials to Cuba in defiance of the U.S.-imposed blockade.

This year, on June 17-18 at four sites along the U.S.-Canada border, Canadian activists transferred aid material to Friendshipment vehicles about to set off for the South. In all, 13 separate caravans left from various points in the northern U.S. to converge in McAllen, Texas. Along the way, drivers and helpers met with supporters in 120 cities to share information and accept humanitarian donations.

Over 100 caravan participants will cross into Mexico on July 7, head for Tampico on the coast, transfer the supplies to a Cuban ship and then fly to Cuba.

Last year the U.S. government confiscated 45 boxes of computers and electronic materials destined for Cuban schools. In May, after a year of demonstrations in Washington, the U.S. government, faced with having to defend its case in court, relinquished the seized materials.

Direct action, as practiced by Friendshipment and the VB, acquires special relevance in view of legislative failures to end the U.S. blockade.

By a vote of 236-176 on June 14, the House of Representatives turned down an amendment to a Treasury funding bill that would have allowed U.S. students to study in Cuba. At the last minute, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), sensing almost certain defeat, withdrew an amendment that would have eased U.S. restrictions on religious travel to Cuba. As in years past, Rep. Charles Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) perennial bill to legislate the whole embargo out of existence was defeated.

On the positive side, the House passed a measure reversing a cumbersome requirement imposed last year that U.S. food exporters have Cuba’s payments in hand before food shipments could be released to Havana. Congress was responding from pressure from U.S. agribusiness companies, who argue such trade is mutually beneficial.

In general, however, the U.S. blockade of the island remains in full force.

Sam Raina, the Canadian head of an association of 52 companies operating in Cuba, said that the U.S. Treasury Department recently ordered his Canadian bank to cancel his credit cards and other accounts because of his Cuba connections.

Raina told the Toronto Star, “There’s no bank in the world that would defy the U.S. Treasury. … This has all of a sudden become an issue because U.S. trade with Cuba is getting higher.” He pointed out that U.S. restrictions imposed on Canadian businesses are waived for U.S. competitors profiting from food sales to Cuba.

atwhit@megalink.net

U.S. Supreme Court quashes 'illegal' Guantanamo trials

CBC News

Last Updated Thu, 29 Jun 2006 12:30:20 EDT

Military trials arranged by the Bush administration for detainees at Guantanamo Bay are illegal, the United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court found that the trials — known as military commissions — for people detained on suspicion of terrorist activity abroad do not conform to any act of Congress.

The justices also rejected the government's argument that the Geneva Conventions regarding prisoners of war do not apply to those held at Guantanamo Bay.

Writing for the 5-3 majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said the White House had overstepped its powers under the U.S. Constitution. "Congress has not issued the executive a blank cheque," Breyer wrote.

President George W. Bush said he takes the ruling very seriously and would find a way to both respect the court's findings and protect the American people.

"I haven't had a chance to fully consider this but we will work with Congress to find a way forward," Bush said during a news conference in Washington with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The Supreme Court case was brought by lawyers representing one of 10 detainees scheduled for trial. Salim Ahmed Hamdan has acknowledged having been Osama bin Laden's driver and bodyguard, but denies taking part in attacks against the United States. Hamdan is charged with a single count of conspiring to harm U.S. citizens.

Ruling reverses decision

The ruling reverses a decision by a lower court that said the trials could go ahead. Military commissions were last used by the U.S. to try Japanese suspects after the Second World War.

The Bush administration had argued that neither military courts martial nor U.S. civilian courts were appropriate for trying the Guantanamo detainees because much of the evidence would involve sensitive issues of national security.

The commissions comprised five senior military officers, and most sessions were scheduled to be held in private. A limited amount of media coverage was allowed. Defendants were represented by both military and civilian lawyers.

Hamdan's military lawyer, Lt.-Cmdr. Charles Swift, hailed the ruling as "a return to our fundamental American values and a high-water mark in legal history."

Human-rights groups have said the military commissions were overly secretive and little better than kangaroo courts.

Canadian affected

Among the 10 affected by the ruling is 19-year-old Omar Khadr, a Canadian who is scheduled to face a military commission in the fall.

Speaking in recent weeks, Bush has said he would like to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, sending some detainees for trial in their home countries and releasing those found innocent.

Many U.S. allies, including Britain, have called for the prison to be closed. However, speaking before the decision was handed down, the prison's commander said he doubted that would happen.

"The impact [of a court decision against the tribunals] would be negligible," Rear Admiral Harry Harris told Reuters.

There are an estimated 450 foreign detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay facility.

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JG: It is very ironic that most of the illegal and immoral stuff being done in Cuba, is in an area occupied and controlled by the U.S. government.

Stop the tortures and return Guantanamo to Cuba!

Seis años del regreso de Elián a la Patria


Elian y su padre Juan Miguel. Foto: Juvenal Balán

Granma International

En el sexto aniversario de su regreso al seno de su familia y a su Patria tenemos la certeza de que Elián es un niño que crece. No porque sea ahora más grande o fornido, sino porque nos mostró a todos la talla que va alcanzando su noble e impetuoso corazón.

Hace un año, en el quinto aniversario de su regreso al seno de su familia y de su Patria, Elián dio las gracias a todos los cubanos. «Querido Fidel. Querido pueblo: Hoy es un día muy importante para mí, todavía me acuerdo de aquel día hace cinco años, cuando me regresaron a mi padre. Primero pasé por un auto y me explicaron qué era lo que sucedía, y desde un aeropuerto me trasladaron hacia donde estaba mi papá. Cuando lo vi me puse muy contento, pude abrazarlo y hablar con él, pude ver a mi hermanito y jugar. Ese fue el día más feliz de mi vida».

En aquella oportunidad el pequeño tampoco olvidó a quienes en todo el mundo y en Estados Unidos hicieron posible el disfrute de su dicha.

«También quiero agradecer el apoyo que brindó a nuestra causa el pueblo norteamericano, que contribuyó grandemente con mi regreso. Por eso, quiero darles las gracias a todos los que hicieron realidad mis sueños de ser un niño libre, de poder estudiar en mi escuela y ser un buen pionero».

Pero si algo lindo descubrimos aquel día en la Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí, fue a un pequeño tierno y sensible, cariñoso y solidario, que comienza a sentir como suya la tristeza de otros niños.

«Algo parecido a lo que me ocurrió a mí, le sucede hoy a Ivette, una niña de seis años, que no ha podido estar junto a su padre, solo porque él fue a evitar muertes, lo encarcelaron junto a cuatro compañeros suyos. Ellos cinco son héroes de nuestra historia. Y yo, en nombre de todo el pueblo cubano, quisiera pedirle al pueblo norteamericano que al igual que hizo para que yo pudiera regresar con mi familia, luche para que regresen nuestros Cinco Héroes, e Ivette pueda disfrutar del cariño de su padre».

Ese día acariciamos la certeza de que Elián es un niño que crece. No porque sea ahora más grande o fornido, sino porque nos mostró a todos la talla que va alcanzando su noble e impetuoso corazón.

Scams and scandals among Miami terrorists

Granma Internatinal

Havana. June 28, 2006

• José Antonio Llama, former director of the Cuban American National Foundation, has shaken political circles in Miami by suing several of his colleagues for fraud, accusing them of grabbing close to $1.5 million in funds allocated for a terrorist plot against Cuba

BY JEAN GUY ALLARD and GABRIEL MOLINA

THE Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) has thrown down an early challenge to the McClatchy Company, which recently bought the well-known Knight Ridder publishers, owner of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald newspapers.

The CANF came on to El Nuevo Herald aggressively on June 23, saying that "the false allegations by Mr. José A. Llama, which originally appeared in the Granma newspaper, official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, and picked up by El Nuevo Herald today, respond to a longstanding defamation campaign orchestrated by the Castro regime that serves as a pretext for the work of infiltration, subversion and division of the exile community that has been taking place over more than 40 years... We consider that it is extremely irresponsible for a press organization to echo what clearly represents an extortion and defamation attempt..."

The Foundation was referring to charges brought by José Antonio Llama, former director of the CANF itself, who has sued several of his colleagues for fraud, accusing them of having grabbed almost $1.5 million in funds allocated for a terrorist plot against Cuba.

Complete Article

Cuban Biotechnology Turns 20

Havana, Jun 28 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Center for Genetics Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) will be 20 years old on July 1, with seven great achievements.

Over 500 scientists work there, and many of them are promising youths that lose track of the time, immerse in research, without regret. They enjoy it instead.

It is not surprising that Cuban biotechnology had become a milestone that not only favors the national population, but also that of all over the world.

The scientists of the Island have developed efficient biomedical, agricultural, aquatic, and environment-protecting products, and they are working on others devoted to social benefit.

The country counts on 18 products obtained in the CIGB, which are currently used in the Cuban health system, as four vaccines, and important pharmaceutical products as interferon and recombinant streptoquinase, against hemorrhagic dengue and cardiac arrests, respectively.

The CIGB has already patented and registered many of its achievements, and transferred technology to several countries.

This "is an institution with dynamic development, which has allowed it to reach a high level in research, development, production, and trade of biological products," General Director, Luis Herrera Martinez said.

ICGB Vice director Carlos Borroto called it recently a milestone in international science, because the technology used to obtain that result was mastered in all stages.

The list of impacts of Cuban biotechnology is long in just 20 years, and will be longer due to the joint work of the scientific institutions, which are at the service of society.

hr/iom/mor

What the U.S. Supreme Court says about banning books

"Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books."

Israel is conducting a racist extermination war. Political agression is led by USA.

ZIYAD ABD-AL-FATTAH IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM

Palestinians: do not look around you, for no-one will help you apart from you... What the Israelis are waging against us is not only a war crime but also a crazed racist extermination war signed off by hands thirsty for blood and killing.

JORDAN'S AL-DUSTUR

If the Israeli military aggression looks fierce and savage against the Palestinian people, the political aggression led by the international community, foremost the USA, seems more frustrating. There were very loud reactions because of the abduction of an Israeli soldier in a daring military operation, while international silence continues regarding the detention of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and the continued daily killing and assassination of civilians by the Israeli occupation.

EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH

The USA should realize that it bears responsibility for the war crimes committed by the Israeli military machine under the claim of searching for an Israeli soldier who was captured in a battle, while Washington resorts to silence regarding the abduction of an entire people and the threats against them of destruction and annihilation.

AZMI BISHARAH IN PAN-ARAB AL-HAYAT

Israel has begun bombing power stations, the main water supply networks and roads linking the various parts of Gaza... The Israeli occupation and Israeli policies are the infrastructure of terrorism.

Source: BBC News

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Federal Judge Says 'Vamos A Cuba' Can Stay In Schools, for now

www.local10.com

POSTED: 7:19 am EDT June 28, 2006

MIAMI -- A series of children's books banned from Miami-Dade County public schools will remain in schools for now. That's the ruling of a federal judge.

Schools must keep the 24-book collection at least until arguments stemming from a legal challenge to the ban can be heard next month.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last week to stop the school board from removing the Spanish-language travel book "Vamos A Cuba," translated in English as "A Visit to Cuba," from its shelves.

The board voted June 14 to take not only "Vamos A Cuba" off the shelves, but to also remove all the other books in the children's travel series.

U.S. District Judge Alan Gold told the school board to keep the books, saying he wanted to "hold the status quo" until a July 21 hearing.

"Vamos A Cuba" was pulled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary School when a parent who emigrated from Cuba said the book doesn't accurately represent life in the country.

"He finds it very offensive, given his experiences living in Cuba, and so he's asked us to reconsider having it on the shelves in one of our elementary schools," said Joe Garcia, spokesman for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

The book is geared toward second- and third-grade readers, and details the events and institutions in Cuba born under Fidel Castro's regime.

The book contains images of smiling children wearing uniforms of Cuba's communist youth group and a carnival celebrating the Cuban revolution of 1959.

The ACLU argues that the removal of the books violates students' rights to a free press and that they were removed without due process.

Either the English- or Spanish-language book has been available at more than 20 schools in the district.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Guantánamo must be closed and returned

Cuba says that not only Guantánamo has to be closed, but that the Cuban territory has to be returned

Havana, June 26, 2006

The president of Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power (Parliament), Ricardo Alarcon, affirmed today that no only we have to ask for the closure of the jail in the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo, but the return of that territory illegally occupied by the United States.

"What we have to ask, of course, is the closure of the center of torture, who even George W. Bush, president of the United States is in favor of closing, but the most important thing is that it must be returned," indicated Alarcon to journalists when he was asked about the resolutions of the European Parliament that favor the closure of the jail, EFE has reported.

The European Chamber has emitted two resolutions that ask for the closure of the detention center at the base, the last one passed on June 13, because it considers that it constitutes a violation of states rights, of international law and norms of human rights.

The president of the Cuban Parliament indicated that "if tortures have taken place, and it has unfortunately been converted into what it is, is because that piece of our national territory has been usurped for more than a century."

"So, close the installation and return what it does not belong to them, not to the United States nor to the European Union," he added, after participating in the inaugural session of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino), which takes place in Havana on Monday and Tuesday.

The Cuba Embargo: ECONOMIC TERRORISM

You can stay up to date with Santa Cruz Pastors for Peace Caravanistas by visiting their blog on myspace.com

http://myspace.com/santacruzcaravanistas

From the Santa Cruz Caravanistas:

The Caravan has been challenging the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba for 17 years. This year the caravan needs you more than ever! Despite international opinion, the U.S. has continued to enforce this inhumane, immoral show of power. In an era where the U.S. increasingly ignores world opinion and basic human rights, U.S. citizens need to speak out and stand in solidarity with all peoples who are suffering the oppression of our government.

Who I'd like to meet:

Those who see that our government's actions toward Cuba are syptoms of a diseased system. An idealized system founded not with the people of the world but rather based on money that is controlled by few. In 1961 American Forces (the CIA) were defeated at the Bay of Pigs by the people of Cuba. As a result the US has imposed a trade embargo against Cuba and has threatened foreign firms with grave penalties for doing business with Cuba - this is economic terrorism. The U.S. government has invested millions of dollars in organizations responsible for terrorizing the people of Cuba, as well as harboring known terrorists. For 14 years the United Nations has overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning the embargo. In 2005 the vote was 182-4 with 1 country abstaining. The 4 countries who voted against the resolution: US, Israel and the Martial Islands and Palau. Micronesia abstained. The US has clearly been waging a dirty war against Cuba for over forty years - it must stop! Join this effort- We would love to meet you!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cuba to sign economic treaty in Mercosur summit

Mercosur

Monday, 26 June

Cuba will sign a multilateral economic complementation agreement with Mercosur at the end of July when the group’s presidential summit scheduled to be held in Cordoba, Argentina. However the participation of Fidel Castro has not been confirmed.

The Cuban embassy in Buenos Aires confirmed the coming of the delegation from Havana July 20/21, when Argentina officially hands the rotating six months Mercosur chair to Brazil.

“Cuba is participating with a delegation but it must not be interpreted as a step towards the integration of Cuba to Mercosur, but rather for the specific purpose of signing this very significant multilateral agreement”, indicated the Cuban embassy in a release.

Argentina’s Deputy Secretary for American Economic Integration and Mercosur Affairs Eduardo Sigal said that the “agreement with Cuba will basically unify all bilateral treaties with each of Mercosur country member”.

“It’s a multilateral effort which is not easy since it’s not a simple addition of treaties but rather making all agreements compatible to the benefit of all”, added Mr. Sigal who underlined that it includes a system of “tariff preferences” on which “we have been working since 2004”.

Meantime in Montevideo, Uruguay a local newspaper La Republica, which acts as government spokesman, announced Cuba’s Fidel Castro would be visiting Montevideo next November for the XVI Ibero-American Summit.

Apparently Cuban agents are already in Montevideo working in security matters with the help of local intelligence and security forces. La Republica alleges that Mr. Castro in his 47 years as Cuban leader has suffered an estimated 600 attacks or attempted attacks on his life.

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JG: The capitalists always hate a goverment that is headed by a person that seeks to help his people rather than the big corporations. They will use assasinations, since they have no morals or ethics.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cuba Obtains Breakthrough in Vaccine Production

Periodico 26

By Orfilio Pelaez - palaez@granma.cip.cu -

The Havana based Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) has registered with health authorities the world’s first monoclonal antibody obtained from plants to be used in the production of the hepatitis B vaccine.

Carlos Borroto, the center’s deputy director, told the press that the achievement represents a scientific milestone. He noted that similar research has been going on for several years by dozens of companies in highly developed nations.

Borroto added that the antibody known as CB-Hep.1, will allow for greatly increased production of the hepatitis B vaccine. He said it will also lower costs and opens the doors to further research into plant-derived treatments for other diseases such as cancer.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

U.S. Senate votes to allow broader agricultural travel to Cuba

www.cubacentral.com

Senator Dorgan won a limited but solid victory in the Senate this week; his amendment to create a general license for agricultural salesmen to travel to Cuba passed by a voice vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Formerly, U.S. businessmen traveling to Cuba to market or sell agricultural products had to apply for a specific license ahead of time. Dorgan’s amendment would clear some red tape for agricultural travel, easing the process by which businessmen can sell their goods in Cuba. As with all other legislation intended to loosen the embargo, the amendment faces the uphill battle of remaining in the final bill that goes to the President.

Nevertheless, any Member of the U.S. Congress who strikes a successful blow for legal travel to Cuba is a hero in our book – congratulations, Senator Dorgan.

Cuba blasts EU as 'lackey' of US

Monsters and Critics

Jun 23, 2006, 17:10 GMT

Havana - The Cuban government Friday dismissed the European Union as a'lackey' of Washington, citing the final statement released at the EU-US meeting in Vienna.

The condemnation came in an article published in Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party that rules Cuba.

The article said it was a scandal that Wednesday's declaration criticized Cuba for its human rights violations without mentioning the US military prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba.

'The alliance of the EU with (US President George W) Bush is pathetic,' the article said. 'It lacks the morals and authority to dictate conditions to Cuba.

Not even the imperial (US) can do that. So a lackey like the EU has even less authority.'

The article challenged the EU to take a position on whether it supports Bush's plans against Cuba.

'Never has the EU been more debilitated and dependent on the US than today, and some of its members like the Czech Republic are even in the service of the worst bastards of North America's ultra right and its mafia from Miami,' the article said.

The Miami reference was to Cuban refugees who have settled in Florida and continue to oppose Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Mexican Opinion Poll: Lopez Obrador ahead in presidential race

With just over a week to Mexico’s presidential election on July 2, populist candidate Andres Lopez Obrador is emerging with an edge over Felipe Calderon from the ruling National Action Party, PAN, according to the latest public opinion surveys.

One poll published Thursday by the daily newspaper Milenio shows former Mexico City mayor Lopez Obrador from the Democratic Revolution Party, PRD, with a 35.4% support compared to 30.5% for Calderon. Roberto Madrazo from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, which dominated Mexican politics during seven decades until 2000 when Vicente Fox was elected, figures with 29.6%.

The poll was based on interviews with 2,000 registered voters June 16-20 and had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

The survey was conducted by Maria de las Heras, one of the few pollsters to predict a win by President Vicente Fox in 2000. De las Heras noted that the latest numbers were similar to those that emerged when the candidates formally launched their campaigns in January.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Exile: We plotted attacks on Cuba

The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Jun. 22, 2006

A former board member for a prominent anti-Castro group went public with accusations that leaders of the Cuban American National Foundation plotted attacks in Cuba.

BY WILFREDO CANCIO ISLA
wcancio@ElNuevoHerald.com

A former board member of the Cuban American National Foundation says he and other CANF leaders created a paramilitary group to carry out destabilizing acts in Cuba and do away with Cuban ruler Fidel Castro.

Jose Antonio Llama, known as Toñin, told El Nuevo Herald that the arsenal to carry out these plans included a cargo helicopter, 10 ultralight radio-controlled planes, seven vessels and abundant explosive materials.

''We were impatient with the survival of Castro's regime after the fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp,'' said Llama, a key financial backer of the plot in the early 1990s. ``We wanted to accelerate the democratization of Cuba using any possible means to achieve it.''

The plans failed after Llama and four other exiles were arrested in Puerto Rico in 1997 on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Castro during the Ibero-American Summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela. A jury acquitted them after a federal judge threw out one of the defendants' self-incriminating statements.

Llama, a close associate of the late CANF leader Jorge Mas Canosa, left the group's board in 1999. He said he quit CANF because it refused to pay his codefendants' legal defense costs after the trial. Llama also went bankrupt.

[JG Note: CANF's policies have always been bankrupt, because they do not represent the desires of the Cuban people. They are faithful lap dogs of the CIA and Yankee imperialism.]

CANF spokesman Alfredo Mesa -- speaking for members and leaders -- told El Nuevo Herald: ``In this case, we consider that it is extremely irresponsible for a press organization to echo what clearly represents an extortion and defamation attempt.''

CUBA'S CLAIMS

The Cuban government has long claimed CANF planned armed attacks on the island, but up until now, none of its claims have been documented. Llama has been handing out pamphlets in Miami detailing the purported plot. On Wednesday, Granma -- Cuba's government newspaper -- published a story on the pamphlets.

Llama -- who says he made his fortune building air conditioners for Soviet vehicles -- said he's going public because he contributed $1.4 million of his own money to the cause and several CANF members bilked him.

He is currently writing his memoirs, titled De la Fundacion a la fundicion: historia de una gran estafa (From the Foundation to Meltdown: Story of a Big Swindle).

''This is the truth -- The only thing I have left at this point in life is the truth,'' said Llama, 75. ``I am asking for what's due to me, nothing more and nothing less, to take it to bankruptcy court. Where are the vessels and planes I financed with my money? Where did they end up? Who has the original titles?''

Llama said he is also going public because his statements don't affect old friends who are implicated in the plot, such as exiles Arnaldo Monzon Plasencia, Raul Lopez and Manuel ''Nolo'' Garcia, who have died.

PERSONAL FUNDS

According to Llama, between 1994 and 1997 he personally spent more than $1.4 million to finance the purchase of radio-controlled planes and other supplies, under the cover of Florida-registered Nautical Sports Inc. and Dominican Republic-based Refri Auto.

Llama showed El Nuevo Herald financial records used to buy the equipment.

Llamas paid Nautical Sports $869,811. The purchase of the seven vessels equipped with satellite radio and phones, including the Midnight Express fast boat, was guaranteed through this front corporation, created in 1993, he said. That 40-foot motorboat was meant to take Mas Canosa to Cuba if Castro died or there was a sudden change of power, he added.

Another vessel, La Esperanza, was confiscated by the Treasury Department in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, after the 1997 federal indictments against its crew.

Llama remembers that the project started to take shape during CANF's annual meeting in Naples in June 1992. He said businessman Miguel Angel Martinez of Puerto Rico proposed the idea of ''doing more than lobbying in Washington'' to overthrow Castro. About 20 of the foundation's most trusted leaders agreed and designated Jose ''Pepe'' Hernandez, the current CANF president, and Mas Canosa to choose the armed group.

''It was agreed that since this was a delicate matter, details about the paramilitary group would be discussed in petit comite [a small committee],'' Llama said. ``At the meeting that board members and trustees held the following year [1993] in Puerto Rico, the chosen ones started to meet and consider everything that needed to be bought.''

The foundation's general board of directors didn't know the details of the paramilitary group, which acted autonomously, Llama said. He added that current CANF board chairman Jorge Mas Santos was never told of the plan.

''It was debated whether the group should be led by Miguel A. Martinez or Pepe Hernandez,'' the activist said. ``We chose Pepe for his known record as a fighter in the 2506 Brigade and the Marines.''

Among the group members, Llama said: Elpidio Nuñez, Horacio Garcia and Luis Zuñiga, who left the Foundation in 2001 to establish the Consejo por la Libertad de Cuba (Council for the Liberation of Cuba, or CLC); Erelio Peña and Raul Martinez, all of Miami; Fernando Ojeda, Fernando Canto and Domingo Sadurni of Puerto Rico; and Arnaldo Monzon Plasencia and Angel Alfonso Aleman of New Jersey.

Former CANF members Garcia, Zuñiga and Nuñez declined to comment. Ninoska Pérez Castellón, a CLC spokeswoman, said the three men have referred the matter to attorneys.

Llama also gave this account of the operation:

The 10 small remote-control planes were financed by Llama for $210,000 through the International Finance Bank of Miami, which paid Flight Rescue Systems, a company owned by Luis Prieto and Rafael Montalvo. The equipment was stored in a Miami-Dade warehouse to be used against Cuban economic targets or against Castro. Llama said Pepe Hernandez sold them after 1997.

Sadurni donated the cargo helicopter, but Llama said he financed $85,360 for it through Republic National Bank, per instructions from Hernandez. The helicopter would be used as an operation base for the small planes and was parked at the International Flight Center in southwestern Miami-Dade.

EXPLOSIVES

To buy explosives, the group used businessman Raul Lopez, an anti-Castro exile involved in infiltration operations in Cuba in the 1960s, Llama said. Lopez owned a company authorized to purchase explosives to open up sewage canals for South Florida's sugar industry.

Eulogio Amado Reyes, alias ''Papo,'' a retired car mechanic, said he assembled the ultralights in a Miami-Dade warehouse with the help of a Texas instructor whose last name was Graham.

''All that was said was that it was a foundation project,'' said Reyes, 73.

Jose Pujol, a veteran sailor, said that in 1993 the foundation started using him as an advisor to purchase vessels.

''El Pelican [a vessel] was put in my name,'' said Pujol, 76. ``The procedure was that I would look for vessels, Toñin made the down payment and Elpidio Nuñez was the backer.''

According to Llama, most of the explosives were kept in Miami, but late in 1996 they were dropped to the ocean bottom from a vessel at a reef near the Bahamas. The shipment was being transported by ''Nolo'' Garcia in Nuñez's yacht when a Bahamian patrol boat approached them so they feared a search.

''For logical reasons, they threw the shipment into the ocean,'' Llama said. ``Soon after we went there to recover it but didn't find it.''

European Poll: The U.S. is a greater threat to world peace

A June 13 survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press showed that people in Great Britain, France and Spain say the U.S.-led war in Iraq is a greater threat to world peace than Iran's government and its nuclear program.

Spanish Congress asks for closure of Guantanamo prison and condemns torture

Granma International

• EU to discuss issue of the prison with W. Bush

MADRID, June 21. — The Spanish Congress today unanimously approved a resolution condemning the torture committed on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo and asking the United States to shut down that prison, EFE reported.

The resolution was passed by the Congressional Commission on Foreign Affairs (Lower House), after being proposed by the United Left (IU, the third-largest Spanish political force).

The resolution expresses condemnation of the torture carried out in that prison, located on illegally-occupied Cuban territory.

Calls to shut down the detention center, issued by various European forces, have intensified in recent days after the suicides of three prisoners there.

Roberto Soravilla, of the opposition Popular Party (PP, conservative and leading the opposition), emphasized the gravity of the acts committed in Guantanamo.

IU leader Gaspar Llamazares emphasized the urgent necessity of shutting down the prison, which he qualified as an "international shame," and a "legal limbo" that has become a "Dante’s inferno," with prisoners who have not been charged or tried.

PL also reported from Vienna that U.S. President George W. Bush is to have talks today with the European Union on the uncomfortable issue of the prison.

Bush was received yesterday by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country holds the EU presidency until June 30, but had to hear alarming news from security services that detected four explosive devices, which turned out to be false.

A demonstration of some 10,000 people is planned to protest Bush’s presence in this capital.

While lagging behind other nations and civil rights organizations, the EU expressed a common position in favor of the Guantanamo prison’s closure.

Another thorny issue for the head of the White House is the secret CIA flights through Europe to transport terrorism suspects as part of the so-called Operation Rendition.

ACLU Sues Miami-Dade Schools Over Cuba Book Ban

The Washington Post

By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 21, 2006; 3:36 PM

MIAMI -- The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to stop the Miami-Dade County school district from removing a series of children's books from its libraries, including a volume about Cuba which depicts smiling kids in communist uniforms.

The ACLU and the Miami-Dade County Student Government Association argued in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on Wednesday that the school board should add materials with alternate viewpoints rather than remove books that could be offensive.

Last week, the board voted 6-3 to remove "Vamos a Cuba" and its English-language version, "A Visit to Cuba" from 33 schools, stating the books were inappropriate for young readers because of inaccuracies and omissions about life in the communist nation.

The book, by Alta Schreier, targets students ages 5 to 7 and contains images of smiling children wearing uniforms of Cuba's communist youth group and a carnival celebrating the 1959 Cuban revolution. The district owns 49 copies of the book in Spanish and English.

The school board also decided to remove 24 other books in the series, including ones on Greece, Mexico and Vietnam, "despite not having received a complaint about those books and without having reviewed the books in its administrative process," the suit said.

The ACLU noted the books have received favorable reviews in nationally recognized publications including Publishers Weekly and the School Library Journal. The suit also cites staff recommendations to keep the books.

"The Miami-Dade School Board's decision to defy U.S. law prohibiting censorship and ignore the recommendation of their own superintendent and two committees is a slap in the face to our tradition of free speech and the school board's own standards of due process," said JoNel Newman, an attorney working with the ACLU.

School district spokesman Joseph Garcia said the district will go to court to defend the board's decision.

The controversy began in April when a parent who said he had been a political prisoner in Cuba complained about the books' depiction of life under communist rule.

The lawsuit alleges the books' removal violates students' rights to a free press and that the volumes were removed without due process.

Woman accused of spying for Cuba released

United Press International

MIAMI, June 21 (UPI) -- Elsa Alvarez, who was arrested in January for allegedly spying for Cuba, has been released on $400,000 bond from a Miami Federal Detention Center.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore said the government hasn't presented enough evidence that Alvarez was passing intelligence to Cuban officials, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

She and her husband, Carlos -- a professor at Florida International University -- were arrested Jan. 6 and ordered held without bond.

Carlos Alvarez is still being held.

Jane Moscowitz, Elsa Alvarez' attorney, said she is at home resting from a chronic pain disorder and spending time with family.

Elsa Alvarez has five children and stepchildren in the United States and takes care of her elderly parents in Miami -- which Moore said proves she isn't a flight risk.

Cuba jails top Communist member

BBC News

Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK

Cuba has sentenced a once high-flying government member to 12 years in prison for corruption, the Cuban Communist Party has announced.

Juan Carlos Robinson, expelled from the ruling Politburo in April, pleaded guilty, official media reported.

Robinson, 49, had been seen as an example of Cuba's future leadership.

President Fidel Castro, who turns 80 in August, last year vowed to stamp out corruption which he said threatened the survival of Cuba's socialist system.

Robinson was tried and convicted last week, the official Granma newspaper said.

"It was demonstrated that Robinson, in the open process of his ideological weakening and with abuse of his position, forgot his high responsibilities and the integrity demanded of a revolutionary cadre and used his influence to obtain benefits," said Granma.

Robinson was one of the few Afro-Cuban political figures on the island and had been presented by the government as an example of Cuba's young black leadership.

But in April he was sacked from the ruling Politburo, accused of arrogance, dishonesty and abuse of power.

Fidel Castro at a literacy conference on 9 June
Castro has made tackling corruption a priority

On Wednesday, the party leadership indicated that Robinson's fate should be an example, saying "in our country, no-one despite their responsibilities and merits can violate the law. He who does so will inexorably receive the weight of revolutionary justice."

Robinson's conviction comes amid a series of changes in the Communist Party across the island, with several top officials being replaced.

The government has said increased vigilance against corruption is required as the country emerges from what was labelled its "special period" - more than 15 years of serious economic hardship following the demise of its former benefactor, the Soviet Union.

Late last year, President Castro announced an anti-corruption campaign.

Thousands of students were deployed to work at petrol stations to deter pilfering while others have been sent into state companies to audit accounts.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An Open Letter to OFAC

June 20, 2006

Good morning Miami gusanitos at OFAC:

So, according to the office of my Congressman, you never received the OFAC form that I sent you to “apply” for your so-called license to visit my brother in Cuba.

The first thing that I am going to say is that you can take your so-called license and shove it up your ass. The second is that you and your fellow gusanos can go to Hell!

How convenient it is for you to claim that you never received my application. The real reason you never received my application is that you have an intense dislike or hatred toward my opinion: Cuban Socialism is much better than the corrupt US-style capitalism that you forced on the Cuban people when you invaded our country in 1898 and established a neo-colony on my beautiful native island.

But on January First 1959 the Cuban people kicked you out of the island, and you and your mafia had to run with your tail between your legs to decadent Miami, where you now reside. Your Cuba policy is a FAILURE, and 182 countries of the world have condemned you at the United Nations.

I will visit my brother in Cuba, and I will do exactly the same thing that more than 100,000 Americans do every year: visit Cuba without obtaining one of your licenses, which can not even be used for toilet paper.

In case you did not hear me the first time: put your license where the sun doesn’t shine.

And by the way, next time be a little more professional and do some real work, instead of answering letters with a 1” X 1” sticky note.

Cuba Si! Yankees No!
Patria o Muerte!
Venceremos!




JG
Address
Phone
email



cc: Congressman for the District

Cuba hails U.S. absence from U.N. rights panel

CNN

Tuesday, June 20, 2006; Posted: 9:24 a.m. EDT (13:24 GMT)

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- Cuba on Tuesday hailed the opening of the new U.N. Human Rights Council, praising its own election as a founding member of the 47-nation body and the exclusion of the United States, which declined to stand as a candidate.

Cuba -- which has been criticized by the United States and rights groups for its record -- said its victory in the May election was a reward for its humanitarian work, including the contributions of its doctors in 70 other countries and cost-free surgery by Cuban eye specialists for patients from elsewhere in the Caribbean and Latin America.

U.S. officials in Geneva said they were not immediately able to comment.

"Today is a particularly symbolic day. Cuba is a founding member of the Human Rights Council, and the United States is not," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said. "The absence of the United States is the defeat of lies; it is the moral punishment for the haughtiness of an empire.

"The election entailed a demanding assessment. Each one got what they deserved," Perez Roque added.

The first meeting of the council, which replaces the discredited Human Rights Commission, runs through June 30.

The United States opposed the creation of the council, saying it didn't do enough to improve upon the commission, and it declined to run for a seat. However, Washington has promised to work for the council's success.

The election of council members came at a time when the United States was conducting "an unjust and illegal" war in Iraq, which was "concocted to steal a country's oil and give away sumptuous contracts to a group of cronies of the president," the Cuban foreign minister said.

Human rights groups say they are still concerned about the makeup of the new council. Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia won seats despite their poor human rights records, although others -- notably Iran -- were defeated.

Many countries accused of rights violations who had been members of the old commission did not even seek seats on the council, including Sudan, Zimbabwe, Libya, Congo, Syria, Vietnam, Nepal, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Turki al-Sudairy, Saudi Arabia's minister for human rights, said his country was eager to become a member of the council because of its "sincere and emphatic desire to promote and protect human rights."

Saudi Arabia bases its laws and traditions on Islamic Sharia law, which "treats all persons equally and advocates tolerance and harmony among all mankind," Al-Sudairy told the council.

"My country has made considerable progress in its endeavors to promote and protect human rights through the adoption of measures and procedures consistent with the particularities and requirements of society rather than with theories and concepts imposed on it from abroad," he said.

We must find a better way to relate to Cuba

The Ithaca Journal

Kathy Russell / Guest Columnist

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once said, “Freedom of movement is the very essence of our free society. ... Once the right to travel is curtailed, all other rights suffer. ... The right to know, to converse with others, to consult with them, to observe social, physical, political and other phenomena abroad as well as at home gives meaning and substance to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

He expressed these sentiments regarding a 1964 case brought by African-American journalist William Worthy, the first to challenge the U.S. government's ban on travel to Cuba. His ideas resonate today and can be recognized in the frustrations of scientists, academicians, farmers, students, business people and others who wish to go to Cuba to conduct research or commerce there or who just want to see the island for themselves through people-to-people exchange. Cuban Americans are most severely impacted since they can only visit their immediate family — with no exceptions for emergencies — once every three years.

The travel ban is part of the 45-yearlong U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Though these policies are an attempt to force the island's government to change its socialist principles, it's people — both here and there — who are directly harmed.

Over 500 people have traveled to Cuba with Pastors for Peace or the Venceremos Brigade since 2003 in defiance of the U.S. government's restrictions. The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department has fined seven of them $6,750 each; another 200 have received letters called “requirements to furnish information” asking about their trip, about other U.S. citizens they saw in Cuba, and threatening huge fines. OFAC claims that in 2005 it collected $1.5 million in fines for what it deems illegal travel to Cuba.

Since 1992 Pastors for Peace, a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization has sent caravans with more than 2,450 tons of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people in defiance of the trade embargo and without seeking a U.S. Treasury license to travel.

“As people of faith and conscience, it is our duty to resist and condemn this cruel U.S. policy,” declares Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director and founder of IFCO, a 39-year-old ecumenical agency. Walker sees U.S. policy as both immoral and illegal. “It is immoral because it endangers the lives of millions of Cubans and inflicts suffering on innocent children, as well as adults. It is illegal under international law because it uses medicine and food as weapons of war to force another nation to change its government. Licensing is also unconstitutional because it requires people of faith to submit their acts of conscience and friendship to government licensing, in violation of our right to freedom of religious expression, political thought, association and travel.”

The 17th Pastors for Peace Caravan will stop in Ithaca on Friday, June 23. Trumansburg resident and local artist Dan Burgevin, who is bringing arts supplies to Cuban children, will join the Caravan.

That night the Cuba Friendship Group of Greater Ithaca will host a dinner and celebration at the Ithaca Unitarian Church Parlor (306 N. Aurora St.) in honor of the Caravan. Dinner will run from 6-7:30 p.m. Cuban cuisine will be available, and participants are encouraged to bring a dish to pass. From 7:30-8:30 p.m. there will be Cuban music featuring Karl North and the students in his AfroCuban percussion class. Also appearing will be caravanista Lisa Valanti, president of the U.S./Cuba Sister Cities Association.

In describing her participation with the Caravan, Lisa explained, “It's what I do to put my deepest prayers for peace into action.”

At 8:30 p.m., the movie “Oggun: An Eternal Presence” by noted Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando and featuring singer Lázaro Ros, “one of the most important personalities in AfroCuban culture,” according to AfroCuban Web, will be shown.

The U.S. government is not only violating our constitutional rights, it is also out of step with reality. Polls show 85 percent of our country's people support trade with and travel to Cuba. Bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate have voted to ease terms of the embargo and to bar the use of government funds to restrict travel. Unfortunately, a small group of anti-Castro hardliners centered in Miami seems to be able to dictate foreign and domestic policy.

We can do better. Let's have a U.S.-Cuba policy based on respect and non-aggression.

Kathy Russell lives in Ithaca.

Originally published June 20, 2006

Turn attention to true human rights abusers

www.chinaview.cn

2006-06-20 09:19:41

BEIJING, June 20 -- Several recent cases of human rights abuses that took place prior to yesterday's opening session of the United Nations Human Rights Council raise questions about how the agenda will be set for this new UN body.

First and foremost are the simultaneous suicides of three detainees at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay on June 10. UN human rights experts have joined mounting protests against the prison camp, calling for the immediate closure of this US military base on Cuban territory.

The three victims, two from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen, were not the only prisoners at the camp to have endured years of harsh treatment without ever standing trial.

The irony is that the violator of these prisoners' human rights is none other than the country that always points the finger at other "abusers of human rights."

The root cause of human rights violations at the Guantanamo prison camp is not the existence of the prison itself, but the regime behind it. If the world fails to condemn such violations of human rights, I doubt if we will ever be able to prevent other violations elsewhere in the world.

But unless such violations surface by chance, some so-called "human rights watchers" in the West will say nothing about that superpower. They prefer to point the finger at "abuses" of human right in some developing countries, despite these nations' efforts to improve and develop their human rights.

These "human rights champions" used to be very influential when it came to setting the agenda of the UN's former Human Rights Commission. They managed to turn the commission into an arena for "witch-hunting." The only problem was that they always seemed to miss the point, and never targeted those posing the greatest threat to human rights globally those who resort to wars against sovereign states and do not give a damn about the cost in innocent lives.

However lofty the excuses are for such invasive wars, such violent acts have never solved human rights problems. On the contrary, human rights conditions have worsened in the invaded countries, as the people lost their basic right to personal security.

And those who have resorted to such wars have also managed to launch their own assault on human rights. Meanwhile, the "witch-hunters" inside and outside the Human Rights Commission were always quick to single out so-called abusers of human rights. But it must always be remembered that those countries damned as "abusers" never had their troops insult, attack or murder civilians, nor did they establish secret detention camps or torture inmates.

I hope these "witch-hunters" will not be able to mislead the new UN Human Rights Council. Developing countries should have a much greater say in setting the council's agenda.

These "witch-hunters" twisted the function of the old commission from promoting human rights worldwide to naming and shaming governments not to their liking.

This, in fact, prevented the promotion of human rights, as it detracted public attention and diverted victimized governments from their efforts to improve human rights.

True, human rights conditions in some developing countries are far from perfect.

But "witch-hunting" is not the way forward. These countries can only be helped by constructive criticism.

To some extent, every country falls short of the standards set by UN human rights conventions.

But some "witch-hunters" are particularly eager to censure certain countries for their so-called poor human rights records, while failing to understand what socio-economic assistance these countries require in their pursuit of improved human rights.

In doing so, they turn the UN into a stick which they use to beat whoever they dislike. Such an approach is useless and a complete waste of resources.

That is why I hope the UN Human Rights Council does not fall in the trap of those biased "witch-hunters."

It should function like a clearing house rather than a courtroom, showing respect of the sovereignty of every member.

After all, no nation can guarantee its people's human rights when its sovereignty is undermined.

The UN Human Rights Council should identify the real threat to global human rights. Apart from terrorists, true abusers of human rights such as warmongers must also be checked.

(Source: China Daily)

Editor: Yao Runping

Free Trade in Nothing But

The Uncapital Journal

Free trade is nothing but. The alternative to free trade is simple: give the people the ability to self determine their economic relations by allowing local, state and national governments to regulate trade and capital. These decisions must be based on the democratic will of the people, not closed door deals between the unelected bagmen of capital. Another world is possible, and socialism gives us the tools to put the necessary constraints of capital, freeing the wealth of the world to benefit all people instead of only the few.

Read Complete Article

Monday, June 19, 2006

Threat Du Jour: Madwoman Rice issues another one

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leveled a warning Monday that "it would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act" if North Korea tested a long-range ballistic missile.

------------------------------------------

The Madwoman of Foggy Bottom has issued another threat. Is "W" and his Minister of Propaganda ready to start their #3 war?

Pentagon's Green Light to Torture

Znet

by Larry Everest

June 15, 2004

More secret documents have come to light proving that the systematic torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan--including the murder of dozens--was not the fault of a few "bad apples" breaking the rules. The torture happened because U.S. forces were following rules set at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

One such memo which recently came to light is dated March 6, 2003 and titled "Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism." This is the latest in a whole series of post-9/11 Bush administration legal/policy memos giving a green light to torture. The memo was leaked to the Wall Street Journal , which reported on this in its June 7 issue.

The newly revealed memo was drafted by a Pentagon team working under the direction of Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes II. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld immediately classified it secret. While focused on the U.S. military jail in Guantánamo, the memo laid out legal arguments and interrogation methods that were soon used in Iraq.

This and other memos not only redefine what constitutes torture in order to "legalize" a raft of brutal, degrading, even murderous punishments. They also articulate a sweeping logic that places the executive branch of government, the president in particular, above past law and practice as well as other branches of government. They have implications far beyond today's torture scandal--bringing to light a police state in the making. They are part of moves to consolidate even greater power in the executive and the repressive apparatus of the state.

Casting Aside Laws and Treaties

The March 6, 2003 memo was drafted after commanders at Guantánamo complained in late 2002 that their interrogators weren't able to extract enough information using "conventional" methods. According to the Journal , "A military official who helped prepare the report said it came after frustrated Guantánamo interrogators had begun trying unorthodox methods on recalcitrant prisoners. `We'd been at this for a year-plus and got nothing out of them' so officials concluded `we need to have a less-cramped view of what torture is and is not.... People were trying like hell how to ratchet up the pressure.' "

One problem facing the U.S. military was the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is a signatory. The Third Geneva Convention states that prisoners of war and captured insurgents may not be "threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind" in order to force them to talk. The Fourth Geneva Convention states that "no physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against" people living under occupation, especially "to obtain information from them or from third parties."

The U.S. government also ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994, which states that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture," that orders from superiors "may not be invoked as a justification of torture," and that violations of these Conventions could constitute crimes, including war crimes. The related U.S. federal Torture Statute makes torture, which is defined as any act intended to "inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering," a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, or a death sentence or life imprisonment if the torture victim dies.

The March 6, 2003 memo demonstrates that the leading forces of the U.S. imperialist ruling class--hell-bent on asserting U.S. global power more forcefully around the world and crushing anything standing in their way--saw these laws and treaties, including U.S. laws, as impediments to be ruthlessly cast aside.

The memo did just that by redefining what constitutes torture, by putting forward a series of legal arguments for limiting or disregarding anti-torture laws that essentially give the executive branch unlimited power, and by proposing various legal defenses for those involved--from high officials to the tortures on the ground.

The Wall Street Journal headlined that the memo "Set Framework for Use of Torture." A month after the memo, Rumsfeld officially designated 24 new--and secret--interrogation methods. This was at a time when the U.S. occupation troops were beginning massive round-ups of Iraqis.

The U.S. government is attempting to cover up these horrors by publicly claiming that the methods are "humane" and that it abhors torture, while refusing to disclose its interrogation methods or any of its torture memos--including the 40-plus page appendix to the March 6, 2003 document that spells out newly authorized interrogation practices.

Putting the Presidency Beyond Law and Congress

The March 6, 2003 memo attempts to break through the constraints of past law and treaties on torture in a number of ways.

First and foremost, it argues, according to the Journal , that "the president has virtually unlimited power to wage war as he sees fit, and neither Congress, the courts nor international law can interfere" and therefore "neither the president nor anyone following his instructions was bound by the federal Torture Statute." This is justified in the name of "obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens" and by arguing that a president as commander-in-chief has unlimited power during times of war.

One military lawyer involved in drafting the memo said that the Pentagon leadership was attempting to assert "presidential power at its absolute apex."

The memo also argued that there was nothing Congress could do about this assertion of presidential power. "Any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of unlawful combatants would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president," the memo states. The president has a "constitutionally superior position" to Congress and an "inherent authority" to prosecute war, while "Congress lacks authority--to set the terms and conditions under which the president may exercise his authority as commander-in-chief to control the conduct of operations during a war."

Protecting Torturers

The document also anticipates legal defenses for any accused of torture--yet more proof that the U.S. government was consciously planning on torturing detainees. The memo argued that U.S. leaders ordering torture and war crimes as well as those carrying them out have several "defenses."

One is the "necessity" of torture to extract information to prevent an attack. Another is "superior orders"--that the torturers were just following orders. This is the same argument tried by the Nazis at Nuremberg, where this defense was rejected--it is now being revived by Bush and company.

The lawyers who crafted the memo claim that "constitutional principles" prevent punishing officials "for aiding the president in exercising his exclusive constitutional authorities" and that neither Congress nor the courts could "require or implement the prosecution of such an individual."

The memo also advised that Bush should sign a presidential directive authorizing torture in order to protect his subordinates and minions from prosecution. This would work, the memo argued, because authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president." It is not yet known whether Bush has issued such a directive.

Redefining Torture

The March 6 memo also attempts to legalize torture by redefining it. Current law defines the infliction of pain and suffering as torture. But the Pentagon memo argues, "The infliction of pain or suffering per se, whether it is physical or mental, is insufficient to amount to torture." Instead, the suffering must be "severe" and "of such a high level of intensity that the pain is difficult for the subject to endure." Such a definition opens the floodgates to any and all manner of abuse, giving the torturers themselves the power to determine what a subject could or could not "endure."

Current law says that torture can be caused by administering or threatening to administer "mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the sense of personality." The Bush lawyers argue that the law "does not preclude any and all use of drugs" and that "disruption of the senses or personality alone is insufficient" to constitute torture. Instead, the bar is raised much higher: to be illegal, forced drugging or psychological stress "must penetrate to the core of an individual's ability to perceive the world around him." Again, the range of brutalities is greatly expanded, and the power to decide what is torture left to the judgment of U.S. interrogators.

Widespread Shock,Official Coverup

Both progressive and mainstream lawyers and legal observers have expressed shock at the unprecedented sweep of the arguments put forward in the March 6 memo and its sharp break from legal tradition and practice.

Consider the following mainstream authorities cited by the Los Angeles Times (6/10): One war law expert at Tufts University called the memo "a claim of unlimited executive power." A University of Texas law professor declared, "It can't be right. It is just wrong to say the president can do whatever he wants, even if it is against the law." A former judge advocate for the Marines stated, "It's an argument I have never seen made before--that the commander-in-chief's war-fighting powers trump the restrictions in the Geneva Convention." A retired Judge Advocate General for the Navy said, "If the president's inherent authority as commander-in-chief trumps domestic and international law, where is the limit? If every sovereign can ignore the law, then no one is bound by it."

Even the imperialist and pro-war Washington Post editorialized (June 9) that the memo followed "the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of `national security.' "

The Bush leadership continues to deny and double-talk, while attempting to cover up the extent of U.S. torture and the trail leading right to the top levels of the White House and Pentagon, including Bush himself. They steadfastly refuse to disclose either the interrogation methods being used or the documents that spell out their rationales.

Attorney General John Ashcroft's June 8 appearance before a Senate panel exemplified the Orwellian lies at work.

Ashcroft declared, "This administration rejects torture" and stated, "The president of the United States has not ordered any conduct that would violate the Constitution of the United States, that would violate not one of the laws enacted by the Congress, or that would violate any of the various treaties." But he refused to discuss either the various torture memos that have leaked into the press or the legal reasoning contained in those various memos. He refused to turn any of the memos over to Congress--and refused to cite any legal reason (such as executive privilege) for doing so. In other words, Ashcroft was putting into practice the very executive-branch-above- all viewpoint articulated in the March 6, 2003 memo.

Larry Everest is a correspondent for the Revolutionary Worker newspaper and author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda. His website is: www.larryeverest.com

Alarming Poverty in the State of Florida

Periodico 26

WASHINGTON- Deciding between paying the rent and buying food is something that is hitting more than a million poor people in the US state of Florida, and this has now become more worrisome, after the start of this year's hurricane season.

The El Nuevo Herald newspaper, published in Miami in Spanish, highlighted in a recent edition the alarm that exists among the poor people of Florida, facing the fact that this years hurricane season is forecast to be very active .

The Daily Bread Food Bank has started to request help from the community to fight against hunger among the some 800,000 poor people of South Florida. They are distributed with 454,000 in the Miami-Dade area, 200,000 in Broward County and 133,000 in Palm Beach County, according the above mentioned newspaper.

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Below is the original article published in Spanish at El Nuevo Herald:

Preocupa la pobreza ante los huracanes

VIVIANA MUÑOZ

El Nuevo Herald

Fri, Jun. 16, 2006

Alarmado por las estadísticas de pobreza en el sur de la Florida y un pronóstico de una temporada de huracanes muy activa, el Banco de Alimentos Daily Bread ha comenzado a pedir la ayuda de la comunidad para paliar el hambre en la región donde, aseguró, viven unos 800,000 desposeídos: 454,000 en Miami-Dade, 200,000 en Broward y 133,000 en Palm Beach.

''Muchos de ellos deben decidir si compran comida, o pagan el alquiler u otros gastos'', afirmó la directora ejecutiva de la entidad, Judith Gatti, quien agregó que tan sólo en este condado más de 295,000 niños viven en la pobreza.

Desde que el huracán Wilma devastó el año pasado zonas del sur de la Florida, el Daily Bread tomó como misión acudir hasta los lugares más recónditos para llevar alimentos a quienes tenían gran necesidad.

''Pudimos ver su desolación'', argumentó. ''Y los rostros que la comunidad observó el año pasado por la televisión son los mismos rostros que los voluntarios del banco de alimentos vemos cada día; rostros de hombres y mujeres que realmente necesitan ayuda porque para ellos es imposible prepararse para la temporada de huracanes, comprar comida enlatada, baterías, contraventanas, gasolina, linternas'', dijo Gatti.

''Queremos que las comunidad tome conciencia de este gran problema, que se sumen voluntarios, que aporten con comida y dinero, y que apoyen al banco de alimentos'', enfatizó.

Acompañada de los representantes estatales Ken Gottlieb y Eleanor Sobel, Gatti dijo que es el momento de que las personas comprendan la fuerza que pueden tener y los cambios que pueden lograr si se unen por esta causa.

''Vivimos en un país y un estado de gran abundancia con el más alto estándar de vida en el mundo. ¿Por qué residentes de la Florida tienen que escoger entre poner comida en la mesa, pagar alquiler y comprar medicina? ¿Por qué hay todavía hambre en la Florida?'', se preguntó Sobel. ''Bueno, si uno se fija en los ingresos de mucha gente en el sur de la Florida, que gana el mínimo de $6.15 la hora o algo más, ve que no puede satisfacer todas sus necesidades. La supervivencia diaria se convierte en una lucha de opciones'', recalcó.

Gatti dijo que cada persona debe preguntarse cómo puede ayudar, si puede hacerlo dando dinero, tiempo o comida. A la vez, afirmó que la comunidad debe comenzar a buscar una solución para terminar con el hambre.

El banco de Alimentos distribuye 18 millones de libras de alimentos al año entre 800 organizaciones sin fines de lucro del sur de la Florida y de esa cantidad, el 43 por ciento es destinado a los niños.

Algunas de las agencias, instituciones e iglesias que apoyan su labor son The Cosac Foundation, Redeemer Lutheran Church, PEER Center, International Faith Christian Fellowship.

Para colaborar, se puede enviar comida y donaciones al Daily Bread Food Bank, 5850 NW 32 Avenue, Miami FL 33142, o llamar al 1-888-633-9861.

vmunoz@elnuevoherald.com

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Batistiano Diaz-Balart and La Loba Feroz defend the indefensible: they lost.

TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE JUDICIARY, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 200

(House of Representatives - June 14, 2006)

[Page: H3948] gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kansas.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, it is a bit of history that brings me back to the House floor, an issue related to agriculture, food and medicine trade with Cuba. In July of 2000, this House of Representatives adopted an amendment that I offered to allow the sale of food, medicine, and agriculture commodities to the country of Cuba.

That amendment was adopted in July of 2000 by a vote of 301-116. A majority of Republicans, a majority of Democrats supported that amendment. As a result of that amendment being adopted, in the conference committee significant discussion occurred, and ultimately the new legislation, TSREEA, the Trade Sanction Export Enhancement Act, of 2000 was adopted.

And that law was working reasonably well for a period of time. And then in February of 2005 the Department of Treasury adopted a regulation changing some of the rules related to trade with Cuba. Mr. Chairman, we have had the opportunity now of taking advantage of the opportunity to sell for cash, cash up front, to Cuba agriculture commodities, food and medicine, to the tune of about $400 million in the previous year.

But the regulation that the Department of Treasury adopted in February of 2005, began to seriously limit the opportunity for American farmers to export their agriculture commodities to Cuba. The rule that the Department of Treasury promulgated changes the time frame in which the cash must be paid. Again, let me reiterate what we are talking about here is not whether Cuba must pay cash in advance, but the timing of that payment.

And the rule that was adopted by the Department of Treasury changed that time by a few days. It turns out to be 10 days to 2 weeks. And the issue becomes that the cash must be paid prior to the shipment from the United States as compared to prior to delivery in the port in Havana.

As a result of that, it has increased the cost of doing business with Cuba in a significant way, and, in fact, we have had a significant reduction, 22 percent reduction, in the sale of agriculture products since the adoption of that rule.

This amendment that I offer today, Mr. Chairman, simply is a prohibition against the spending of any money to enforce that regulation and therefore return us to where we were prior to February of 2005.

It is identical language to what was included in the appropriation bill last year in both the House and the Senate. The language was removed in conference. But this House of Representatives and our companion body across the way adopted identical language in the Treasury/ Transportation appropriation bill a year ago.

And the gentlewoman from Missouri (Mrs. Emerson) has made that effort in 2005, which we all agreed to when this bill was adopted a year ago. So the sole purpose here today is to return us to preFebruary 2005.

We will probably have the opportunity to debate the value of trade with Cuba and what it means to the Castro government. And I welcome that opportunity. It seems to me that unilateral sanctions, we clearly can reach the conclusion that unilateral sanctions by the United States are only harmful to our own agriculture sector, to our own farmers, at a time in which drought affects much of the country. High energy and input costs are dramatically increasing.

It seems to me that there is no reason for us to make these sales more difficult. And, in fact, the reduction of those sales is almost 21 percent of corn, 17 percent of wheat, and 27 percent, 26 percent of meat products from the United States, reduction in those sales since the adoption of this rule.

This amendment is obviously supported by a wide array of farm organizations.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I negotiated the agreement that Mr. Moran made reference to, along with my dear colleagues, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Mrs. Emerson. At that time Mr. Nethercutt was here. And the agreement stands.

The agreement authorized sales to the Cuban regime as long as payments were made, cash in advance. Now, the Cuban regime, and let us be clear when we talk about trade with Cuba that we are dealing, there are no Cubans, there are no Cubans who can buy, because it is a totalitarian state, the regime.

Now the dictator started to make purchases after the law was passed in October of 2000. And as is to be expected, then he started engaging in delaying tactics, precisely to create leverage and pressure so that we would see something like we see today. Sure enough, the delaying tactics began by the dictator.

And U.S. financial institutions asked for clarification of what ``cash in advance'' is. Now, it should not surprise us that the dictator started his delaying tactics, when we see the billions and billions of dollars that he owes to anyone who has given him credit.

It should not surprise anyone that he started, he began delaying tactics. The reality of the matter is, cash sales are allowed. The reality of the matter is that U.S. financial institutions asked for this clarification.

And also I want to make a separate point. President Bush is right, and I thank him once again for, today, having issued another very clear statement of administration policy, when he has stated from the first day of his administration that he has promised to veto any legislation that enriches the Cuban dictatorship or benefits the Cuban dictator's regime.

The President is right. I stand with him. I thank him once again. And I urge all of my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Florida (Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart) has 3 minutes remaining, and the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran) has 1 minute remaining.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as she may consume to another negotiator of the deal, of the agreement that still stands and has not been changed by this regulation by President Bush, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the Moran amendment. Let us be clear: This amendment is not about agricultural sales to Cuba. This amendment seeks to prevent the implementation of safeguards that have been put in place to ensure that American farmers do indeed get paid.

Under current U.S. law, the sale of agricultural products to Cuba is authorized. There are no sanctions in place for such sales. The law only stipulates that these sales meet four simple conditions: payment of cash in advance, of payment prior to transfer of title, shipping and a licensing provision.

Again, these requirements were put in place to protect American producers, to protect American taxpayers, so that they will in fact get paid by the Cuban regime, and that these sales are in keeping with the U.S. foreign policy and commercial interests.

Given the Castro regime history, and you can see right there in Mr. Diaz-Balart's currency debt, and its history of insolvency, its poor credit rating, its debt levels, it is incumbent upon us in Congress to undertake necessary steps to protect Americans from getting cheated, from getting swindled, like so many others have by the Castro dictatorship.

Mr. Chairman, we have ample reasons to be concerned about the worthiness of the Castro regime. At $14 billion, Cuba's foreign debt reached an all-time high last year.

Cuba simply refuses to pay its debts. Now, we all know that the Cuban tyrant can afford it. Forbes Magazine recently listed him as among the top ten wealthiest rulers in the world. The U.S. must not allow its citizens to shoulder the burden of a corrupt foreign government, a deadbeat dictator.

Simply put, this amendment promotes lawlessness and the protection

[Page: H3949] GPO's PDF

of Americans against the Cuban regime's antics. I join Mr. Diaz-Balart and so many others in hoping that we vote ``no'' on the Moran amendment.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield 15 seconds to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart).

Mr. MARIO DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, the bottom line is again, what part of payment, ``cash in advance'' is hard to understand?

Cash in advance means cash in advance. That is what the rules are right now. There is nothing changing that. That is what we need to keep. That is why we need to defeat this amendment.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield the remainder of our time to the distinguished gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Cantor).

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment and insist, again, that in order to deny economic resources to the Castro regime, it is imperative that we maintain the sanction and travel restrictions that are in place, and encourage the ordinary citizens of Cuba, and enable them the benefit of our sanctions that are aimed at trying to free the people of Cuba and end their oppression, end the oppression that they suffer under.

Again, I quote from the administration, ``Lifting the sanctions now or limiting our ability to enforce them, would provide assistance to a repressive regime at the expense of the ordinary Cuban people.''

The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Florida has expired.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kansas to close debate.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, again, let me reiterate that this has nothing to do with changing the sanctions that are in place. The law remains. The administration created a new rule a year ago for which there is no commercial basis.

And the argument that farmers will not be paid, it is farm organizations and farmers who are supporting my amendment today. And, finally, the suggestion that we must save taxpayers expense, there are no taxpayer dollars involved in trade with Cuba. There is no subsidy. There is no agricultural credit provided.

This is really about a noncommercial reason, just trying to make the trade more onerous, more expensive, so that our farmers have less of an opportunity to export their goods to Cuba.

Again, Mr. Chairman, I would ask support. Return us to the compromise that was created prior to February of 2005.

The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran).

The amendment was agreed to.

The party of capitalism's greed opposes raising the minimum wage

JG: No surprise here. The Republican Party is the party of the Enron's and Worldcom's of this planet. It is the party of Tom DeLay, Abramoff and other corrupt capitalists. If they are not running some kind of financial scam, they are not happy.

Ah! and let us not forget, they are the party of the Batistianos, the gusanos and assorted Mafia capos in Miami, the twin Diaz-Balart's, and "La Loba Feroz" Ros-Lehtinen.

With their hatred of Cuba in one hand and their Maloox's bottle in the other.

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MINIMUM WAGE AMENDMENT -- (House of Representatives - June 14, 2006)

[Page: H3913] GPO's PDF

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(Mr. MORAN of Virginia asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Ladies and gentlemen, the American people want a new direction. And Mr. Speaker, yesterday the House Appropriations Committee finally acted on something that the House Republican leadership has refused to address for over a decade.

Finally, yesterday, the full Appropriations Committee passed the amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill that will very gradually increase the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. Do you know that those who were working at the minimum wage in 1968, if today they were getting a comparable compensation, it would be over $9 an hour.

I commend the Appropriations Committee for passing this in a bipartisan fashion, because expanding economic opportunity for over 7 million hard-working wage earners, plus another approximately 9 million members of their family should not be a partisan issue.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership has said they do not intend to allow us to vote on the House floor on this critical issue. Today's minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years. Let's change that for America's hardest working families.

1984: U.S. 'Big Brother' Continues to Watch You.

Technology Violates US Privacy

Los Angeles, Jun 18 (Prensa Latina) Military technology is invading the privacy of US citizens, who can be filmed in the most varied circumstances.

Regarding this, Sid Heal, head commissioner of the local police, said "you cannot go anywhere today without being filmed by a security camera."

This could lead to a debate on the violation of US citizens´ private affairs, and was disclosed after reports that the local police are testing small spy planes equipped with surveillance cameras.

Already tested in Iraq to detect ambushes and presence of the enemy, the planes are likely to be the leading-edge technology in the US police arsenal.

The artefact could replace the police helicopters used to watch over the city, with the camera using infrared rays for operations at night.

sus/dig/lb

100 PARLATINO Deputies in Session in Cuba



Havana, Jun 18 (Prensa Latina) A hundred deputies to the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) will be in session next week in Havana, and will know about experiences in the protection to the population against natural disasters.

A source from the Cuban Parliament told Prensa Latina the meeting will be held on June 26 and 27 and legislators are coming from Caribbean and Latin American nations.

Legislators will initially take part in a conference about natural disasters and then will go to the Commissions of Public Health, Agriculture, Cattle Breeding, Environment and Tourism.

Cuban Parliament president Ricardo Alarcon and Brazilian deputy Ney Lopes will head the list of personalities.

Other legislators from the World Health Organization, the UN Program for Environment and the UN Program for Development and many international experts will also participate in the event.

Delegates will arrive in Cuba on June 25, said the parlamentary source.

sus/tac/jrr