Saturday, June 30, 2007

Clinton Slams GOP Rival's Cuba Remark

Forbes

Associated Press

By BETH FOUHY 06.30.07, 6:05 PM ET

Taking a swipe at a potential GOP presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday criticized Fred Thompson for suggesting illegal Cuban immigrants pose a terrorist threat.

"I was appalled when one of the people running for or about to run for the Republican nomination talked about Cuban refugees as potential terrorists," Clinton told Hispanic elected officials. "Apparently he doesn't have a lot of experience in Florida or anywhere else, and doesn't know a lot of Cuban-Americans."

Thompson, who is polling strongly among GOP primary voters and is expected to join the race soon, made the comment at a campaign stop Wednesday in South Carolina.

The actor and former Tennessee senator was criticizing an immigration bill in the Senate, contending it would make the country more vulnerable to terrorism.

Noting that the United States had apprehended 1,000 people from Cuba in 2005, Thompson said, "I don't imagine they're coming here to bring greetings from Castro. We're living in the era of the suitcase bomb." Fidel Castro is Cuba's leader.

A video clip of Thompson's remark immediately circulated on YouTube and has drawn considerable attention in Florida, a key early primary state home to many Republican-leaning Cuban Americans.

Thompson spokeswoman Burson Snyder declined to comment Saturday, pointing to a note Thompson posted Thursday on his campaign blog saying he had been referring to Cuban spies, not immigrants. "Our national security is too important an issue to let folks twist words around for a one-day headline," Thompson said in his post. "Cuban-Americans are among the staunchest opponents of illegal immigration, and especially so when it's sponsored by the Castro regime."

All the major Democratic presidential candidates were at Walt Disney World for a forum sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Of the GOP candidates, only California Rep. Duncan Hunter accepted the group's invitation to speak.

With the failure of an immigration reform bill in the Senate still fresh, all the candidates vowed to pursue comprehensive immigration reform in the future. All said they support a path to citizenship for the 12 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama defended his vote last year to build a 700-mile fence across the U.S.-Mexican border, saying it was just one component of a robust immigration bill he had worked hard to negotiate.

"Nobody has been a more consistent supporter of comprehensive immigration reform than I have been," Obama said. "Do I believe fences make good neighbors and are the right approach? No, I don't believe that."

Obama also promised a greater foreign policy focus on Latin America if elected president.

"It's not enough for us to have a Latin American policy based on not liking (Venezuelan president) Hugo Chavez and not liking Fidel Castro," Obama said.

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden drew applause when he noted that as many as 40 percent of illegal immigrants were not Hispanic.

"It's a race to the bottom - who out there can be the most anti-Hispanic," Biden said of the immigration debate. "Why is it we only view it through the prism of Spanish speaking people?"

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards told the crowd his rural hometown of Robbins, N.C. was now half Hispanic.

"They came for the same reason my parents came - they wanted their children to have a better life," Edwards said.

Several of the candidates laced their remarks with Spanish, with varying degrees of success.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, fully bilingual from his days as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, cracked up the crowd when he told them, in Spanish, "I'm the only Gringo in the Senate" to speak the language.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, saying he believed all American children should learn to speak Spanish, gave his closing statement in Spanish while apologizing in advance for his accent.

Audience members at first seemed unsure how to respond, but in the end appeared somewhat charmed at his efforts to soldier through.

"It worked, but barely," Democratic Texas State Rep. Rafael Anchia said of Kucinich's effort.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson won cheers from the audience as the first Hispanic candidate to run for president. He, too, spoke Spanish to the crowd, calling them "Mi gente, mi familia" - my people, my family.

"I'm not running as a Latino candidate. I'm running as an American governor who is enormously proud to be Latino," he told supporters.

A fluent Spanish speaker, Richardson called his supporters at the association "Mi gente, mi familia," - my people, my family.

Florida, which intends to hold its important primary Jan. 29, is more than 20 percent Hispanic.

Associated Press Writer Laura Wides-Munoz contributed to this report.

Flag Handed Over to Cuban Delegation

El Habanero

Havana, June 30 (Prensa Latina) First Cuban Vice President Raul Castro handed over the nation"s flag to the Cuban delegation to the 15th Pan American Games of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July.

The Cuban leader exchanged views with the athletes, conveyed greetings from President Fidel Castro and urged them to return victorious.

For his part, Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo ratified that the objective of the team is to keep the second place in the medal table by countries and increase the number of medals obtained so far in continental events (711).

He criticised the commercialization currently prevailing in sports, characterized by talent brain drain, and noted that Cuba does all the contrary, by sharing trainers with Third World nations.

The flag was presented to Olympic multimedalist Driulis Gonzalez (judo), who was escorted by Yuliesky Gourriel (baseball) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (boxing).

Gesler Viera (taekwondo) read the delegation" oath under the slogan: Ideas, Honor and Dignity.

The Cuban delegation groups 483 athletes with an average age of 23 years. They will compete in 27 of the 33 disciplines of the Games.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cuban parliament says Bush wants Castro eliminated

Reuters

Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:34PM EDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's National Assembly accused U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday of wanting to eliminate Fidel Castro, a day after Bush mused on the eventual death of the convalescing Cuban leader.

"The Bush administration's conduct clearly shows its intention to continue employing execrable methods against Cuba," the assembly said in a resolution approved unanimously by the 527 deputies present at a meeting of the one-party state's parliament.

The resolution was passed one day after Bush openly anticipated the death of the 80-year-old Castro, who has not been seen in public since health problems forced him to cede power temporarily to his younger brother Raul 11 months ago.

"One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away," Bush said on Thursday during a question-and-answer session at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Then he went on to imagine what Cuba would be like after Castro, saying: "You'll see an interesting debate. Some will say all that matters is stability ... I think we ought to be pressing hard for democracy."

Castro, whose seat was left vacant at the assembly meeting, fired back with irony in an editorial published on Friday in the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma.

"Now I understand why I survived Bush's plans and the plans of other presidents who ordered my assassination: the good Lord protected me," he wrote.

Castro has long been a thorn in the side of the United States, which has enforced an economic embargo against the island for 45 years. Since coming to power in a 1959 revolution, the Cuban leader has seen 10 U.S. presidents occupy the White House.

Documents released by the CIA this week showed that the spy agency worked with three American mobsters in a botched attempt on Castro's life in the early 1960s.

The Cuban National Assembly said assassination attempts on Castro are "not things of the past and continue to be the policy of the current U.S. government."

It added: "The CIA documents only reveal some of the plots to kill comrade Fidel Castro and to bring death and suffering to our people."

The Moran Amendment Debate

The Congresional Record, June 28,2007

IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill (H.R. 2829) making appropriations for financial services and general government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes, with Mr. Hastings of Florida in the chair.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The CHAIRMAN. When the Committee of the Whole rose on the legislative day of Wednesday, June 27, 2007, a request for a recorded vote on the amendment by the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) had been postponed and the bill had been read through page 146, line 22.

AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. MORAN OF KANSAS

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment offered by Mr. Moran of Kansas:

Page 146, insert the following after line 22:

TITLE IX--ADDITIONAL GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 901. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to administer, implement, or enforce the amendment made to section 515.533 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations, that was published in the Federal Register on February 25, 2005.

The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of Wednesday, June 27, 2007, the 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 have an amendment today that I would like the Committee to consider, which is a prohibition against the expenditure of funds.

In the year 2000, this Congress passed legislation that altered our trading relationship with Cuba . That legislation, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000, was put in place that would allow for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, and medicine to Cuba for cash in advance. That legislation was signed into law and was operational; and from that period of time, we have sold nearly $1.5 billion of agriculture commodities, food, and medicine to Cuba for cash in advance.

In the year 2005, the administration published a final rule clarifying the definition of cash payments in advance; and by that rule, it disrupted the sale of agriculture commodities, food, and medicine to Cuba . The change being that rather than payments in advance at the time the goods were delivered, the commodities were delivered in Cuba , the administration's rule requires that the payment be made before the commodities leave a United States port, a matter of days or weeks by advancing the payment.

This is contrary to our normal trading relationships, the norms within the international community, and has been disruptive and is an indication of our unwillingness to be a reliable provider of agriculture commodities to Cuba .

This amendment that I offer today prohibits the funding of the implementation or the enforcement of that rule promulgated by the administration in the year 2005, and so it would return us to the days following the passage of the original legislation, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000, that would once again say that cash in advance is payment when the commodity arrives in port in Cuba . And this change in rules has had an effect upon our ability of American farmers and agriculture producers to supply, to sell, for cash the things we produce in this country, a detrimental effect upon the farm economy. It is estimated that exports fell approximately 10 percent in value from 2004 to 2005. Wheat, which is important in my home State of Kansas, was decreased by 18 percent; rice by 38 percent; cotton by 87 percent; lumber by 100 percent; dairy products by 55 percent; seafood by 100 percent; course grains by 74 percent; and poultry decreased by 27 percent. And the goal is to try to restore those markets, once again be a more reliable supplier of food to the Cuban people, and to make certain that American agriculture is not harmed by our policy or is harmed less by our policy.

These are unilateral sanctions, Mr. Chairman, as you know. And unilateral sanctions are probably not effective in and of themselves when it is only the United States that fails to trade with Cuba . So, again, a rather modest modification in our policy, changing it to the days of the policies enacted by Congress before the administration changed the rules.

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

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

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman and colleagues, this OFAC, Office of Foreign Assets Control, regulation clarifying the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, this regulation that the amendment before us seeks to prohibit enforcement of, stemmed from requests by U.S. financial institutions that were becoming concerned by the increasingly slow rate of payment for agricultural sales by the Cuban regime. The financial institutions requested OFAC to clarify the legislative intent of cash in advance, which is in the law, in order to protect the interests of those financial institutions on their claims.

The Cuban regime's entity in charge of agricultural purchases has an abysmal record of not paying its creditors and has been known to extort or seek to extort agricultural associations in order to increase the regime's lobbying pressure in favor of the unconditional lifting of sanctions, which is sought by the regime. The regime promises more agriculture purchases if agriculture interests lobby Congress for what the regime seeks, an end to sanctions. In effect, the opening of mass U.S. tourism and trade finance.

Currently, Mr. Chairman, the Cuban regime's foreign debt represents close to 800 percent of its GDP, and it is ranked by international credit agencies as the second worst, if not the worst, credit risk in the world. Countries throughout the world are taking extreme measures to obtain restitution for billions of dollars they are owed, which the Cuban regime refuses to pay.

In one example, a 15,000-ton Cuban regime-owned ship was held in the port of Conakry in Guinea, while a Canadian company armed with legal judgments pursued partial payment for the Cuban Government's defaulted debt.

And those are the types of actions, Mr. Chairman, that U.S. companies and ultimately U.S. taxpayers would inevitably have to resort to if Congress were to authorize credit for sales to the Cuban regime. The Congress, Mr. Chairman, must not allow the American taxpayer to become another victim of the Cuban regime's nonpayment to its creditors.

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

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, again I would point out that this amendment today does not change the law and that all sales to Cuba must be for cash in advance. There is no agricultural credit through the United States Government that can be offered to Cuba to assist in the sale of purchases by Cuba nor can any U.S. financial institution be engaged in the activity leading up to the sale of these commodities to Cuba .

So we do not change the law. It is simply a matter of definition. And at least in my estimation, the definition was changed for purposes of making those sales less likely to Cuba , thereby harming farmers, ranchers, and producers across the United States.

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

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I would ask my friend from Kansas if he has any further speakers.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. I have no further speakers.

Mr. SERRANO. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

I rise in strong support of the gentleman's amendment. And under different circumstances, I would simply say I accept it and that would be the end of it, but that is not going to be the end of it.

I rise in support because I think there are a couple of things we have to know and we have to remember. First of all, there is a law in place since 2000, the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which allowed agricultural products to be sold to Cuba .

Now, here is where the irony comes in. In 2005 the Treasury Department issued regulations requiring that the payments for exports to Cuba must be either received by the U.S. exporter or by a third-country bank prior to the goods leaving the port in the United States rather than upon arrival in Cuba . Now, that is the only country we do that with.

Now, what is the irony here? The part of the argument that has always been made is that we should work in this Congress to help or to force Cuba into a political change, a political change which would mirror our democratic system, our electoral process, and also, I am sure, our capitalist system. Well, the irony of this is that it is capitalism at its best to allow credit to take place between two nations. It is anti-capitalism to suggest that the only way that we can sell products to you is if you pay ahead of time prior to looking at the product. I mean, we wouldn't do that. Picture going into a store and their saying you can't look at the product, you can't test the product, you can't do anything: you have to pay ahead of time.

So there is a contradiction here that doesn't make sense. What the gentleman wants to do is simply put Cuba on par with every other country.

Now, if we were here for the first time, as we were in 2000, creating a new way to trade with Cuba , then all these arguments, I think, would be in place, whether we want to do that or not, what kind of government they have. But we already have that in place. We already have that in place. And we should note that the reason we have this in place is not because anti-embargo people like me ruled the day in 2000, it's because farmers in this country and business people in this country, but especially the farming community, felt that it was important for American business to be able to sell some products to Cuba . That has not changed our political stance on Cuba . Cuba still has an embargo imposed by the U.S. We still do not have relations with Cuba . Nothing has really changed since 2000 except the ability to sell products.

Now the gentleman wants to put Cuba on an even keel with the rest of the world. I think it's a proper way to go. I think it's good for our business community. I think it's good for trade with Cuba . And I support the gentleman's amendment.

I will be asking Members on this side and on both sides to vote for his amendment if it comes to a vote.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. I would ask the gentleman from Florida if he has additional speakers or wishes to allow me to close.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. I would inquire of the chairman as to how much time I have remaining.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Florida has 2 minutes remaining. The gentleman from Kansas has 45 seconds.

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I would simply reiterate that this clarifying regulation by OFAC stems from concerns and requests of U.S. financial institutions that were concerned because of a pattern they were noticing of delays in payment. So this regulation is precisely to carry out the legislation and implement the legislation of the year 2000 as, again, is a consequence and pursuant to the request of U.S. financial institutions that sought protection, and through clarification.

So with that in mind, I oppose the amendment by the gentleman from Kansas.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Kansas is recognized for 45 seconds.

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your courtesies.

Again, I would ask for adoption of this amendment. I offered the amendment on the House floor in July of 2000 that ultimately resulted in the passage of the Trade Sanctions Reform Act.

I admit that I came here in support of farmers in Kansas who thought it was useful to them and beneficial to them economically to be able to sell to Cuba . And over time, I have tried to examine this issue, and it has become something broader. I think there is a greater benefit in the efforts to change the nature of Cuba and to enhance the opportunities that Cubans have for greater personal freedom by an economic relationship between our two countries.

And so, although it was initially an economic issue with me and it remains important to the agriculture community, I think it also benefits the opportunity that we can enhance Cubans for greater freedom and personal liberty within their own country.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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

The amendment was agreed to.

George Bush wants to promote "democracy" in Cuba

Yes folks, you heard it right. Here is part of the report by the New York Times:

By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: June 29, 2007

NEWPORT, R.I., June 28 — President Bush on Thursday raised the anticipated death of the dictator Fidel Castro as an opportunity to push for democracy in Cuba, which he called the “one nondemocracy in our neighborhood.”

“One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away,” Mr. Bush said during remarks here at the Naval War College.

The audience reacted by laughing and clapping at what seemed to be a wink from Mr. Bush. But, in an apparent effort to dispel the notion that he was making light of Mr. Castro’s health, he hushed them, saying, “No, no, no,” and continued, “Then, the question is, ‘What will be the approach of the U.S. government?’

“My attitude is,” he said, “that we need to use the opportunity to call the world together to promote democracy as the alternative to the form of government they have been living with.”

Mr. Bush’s comments came in response to a question about his assessment of the situation in South America.


The Cuban people are extremely skeptical about the type of democracy that Bush -- and his buddies of the Cuban Mafia in Miami -- want to export to the Caribbean island. The last democracy in Cuba before the revolution was that of Fulgencio Batista, number one ass kisser of Uncle Sam. Is that the type of "democracy" Bush would want to return to Cuba? The Cuba people are going to say: "NO THANKS!"

House defies Bush on Cuba policy

GovernmentExecutive.com

By Peter Cohn CongressDaily June 29, 2007

The House Thursday defied the Bush administration by voting to ease restrictions on agricultural sales to Cuba, provoking yet another veto fight, this time on a $21.4 billion bill funding agencies including the Treasury Department, which promulgated the rule.

In a Statement of Administration Policy this week, the White House said "if the final version of the bill contained a provision that weakens current restrictions against Cuba, the president would veto the bill."

The underlying bill passed on a 240-179 vote, with more than enough opposition to sustain a veto.

The Cuba amendment by Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., passed on a voice vote and is similar to language approved in recent years that has always been stripped out during final negotiations on spending bills overseen by GOP leaders, so as not to provoke a fight with the White House.

Read more

The Good Lord Protected Me From Bush

Granma

La Habana, viernes 29 de junio de 2007. Año 11 / Número 180

REFLECTIONS BY THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF

An unusual news item appeared a few minutes ago, coming from EFE and REUTERS. I am going by the Spanish version: "One day, the Good Lord will take Fidel Castro away."

This wasn’t said in a pious church. Our man spoke at the Naval Academy in Newport, just as he had done at West Point, where he uttered the famous phrase about what dozens of dark corners of the world could expect. He was answering a question, clearly well thought out, about the situation in Latin America, made by a Colombian graduate of the Academy. What a coincidence!

Immediately, as if he were anxious to say something about Cuba and at the same time complaining with the Good Lord, he added: "There is only one non democratic country in our neighborhood and that's Cuba. I strongly believe that the people of Cuba ought to live in a free society. It’s in our interest that Cuba become free and it’s in the interest of the Cuban people that they don’t live under an antiquated form of government that has just been repressive.

Earlier he had promised: "We shall continue pressing hard for freedom in Cuba."

Then, as bold as you like, the spokesman of the White House National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, when asked whether Bush was hoping for Castro’s death, replied: "The President was speaking about an inevitable event." It would appear that the brilliant official and his boss are going to live for thousands of years.

Now I understand why I’ve survived the plans laid by Bush and the presidents who ordered my assassination: the Good Lord has protected me.

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 28, 2007

6:32 p.m.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

House Amends Spending Bill to Ease Cuba Trade Restrictions

Congressional Quarterly

CQ TODAY MIDDAY UPDATE
June 28, 2007 – 2:04 p.m.

Defying a White House veto threat, the House today agreed to relax restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba as it moved toward passage of a spending bill funding federal fiscal entities.

By voice vote, the House adopted an amendment by Jerry Moran, R-Kan., that would block the Treasury Department from enforcing a rule that has effectively limited agricultural sales to Cuba. The rule requires payments for U.S. goods to be made before a ship leaves port. It replaced an earlier regulation that allowed U.S. firms to accept payment after the goods were received in Cuba.

Moran said the current restriction is “disruptive” to the U.S. economy and hurts the country’s reputation as an exporter because it slows the flow of agricultural goods.

The administration has threatened to veto the fiscal 2008 Financial Services and General Government spending measure (HR 2829) if the language blocking enforcement of the Cuba trade restriction remains in it. President Bush has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to normalize relations with Cuba.

The $43.9 billion fiscal 2008 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill includes $21.4 billion in discretionary spending. It would provide funding for the Treasury Department, a variety of independent and executive branch agencies, and the District of Columbia.

More than 50 amendments were submitted. A series of votes on the most contentious ones, including attempts by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to strip certain earmarks from the bill, were expected this afternoon.

Con Cuba en el corazón


...A VECES UN VIAJE TE PUEDE CAMBIAR LA VIDA.... "¡No hay nada mejor que una semana de vacaciones en el Caribe para olvidarse de un año de trabajo!" Esto es lo que ha pensado Stefano en el Septiembre de 1997 antes de salir para su primer viaje a Cuba. Parece una vacación normal hasta que un día....

VISITA EL SITIO: www.concubanelcuore.it

Castro says Cuba right to rebuff EU dialogue offer

Reuters

Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:15PM EDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba was right to reject calls from the European Union for negotiations to improve relations until the EU scraps sanctions against the island, Cuban leader Fidel Castro said in an editorial published on Thursday.

In his latest commentary in the ruling Communist Party newspaper, Granma, Castro also criticized the EU as a political project in disarray and suggested that Brussels had been duped by the United States into taking a hard line with the Caribbean country.

"The European Union has been led by Washington into a dead-end with no honorable exit," Castro wrote.

The 27-member EU reached out to Cuba last week, inviting a Cuban delegation to Brussels to explore a thaw in ties on the condition that it agree to discuss human rights on the island.

But Cuba's Foreign Ministry rebuffed the offer on Friday, saying talks can only happen when the EU lifts sanctions imposed on the island in 2003.

Relations between Cuba and the EU soured that year after Brussels froze diplomatic contacts with Havana following the arrest of 75 Cuban dissidents in a crackdown. The EU eased restrictions on some lower-level contacts in 2005.

Castro's article was the latest of several in recent weeks in which the 80-year-old revolutionary has urged Cubans to remain defiant in the face of criticism from foreign countries, especially from the United States, which has imposed an economic embargo on the island for 45 years.

Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July last year, when he handed over power temporarily to his younger brother, Raul.

But the elder Castro has returned to public life since March by writing occasional articles, called "Reflections of the Commander in Chief." He has been writing more frequently in recent weeks, fueling speculation that his health is improving.

RAG = Re-elect Al Gore

Read an excellent article titled "For Progresives, Gore's the One in 2008" published today in Alter.Net.

It is a lengthy non-Cuba article that I recommend everyone read.

George W. Bush owes his job to five jurists in the Supreme Court and electoral fraud in Florida.

Watch SiCKO and Call Your Congressman in the Morning

Posted on Jun 28, 2007

By Marie Cocco

WASHINGTON—The rudimentary equation of the health insurance industry is that to make a profit, it must take in more money than it pays out in claims. This is why the public, as distinct from the political class, will intuitively understand and likely appreciate Michael Moore’s new film, “Sicko.”

There is nothing particularly startling about any of the stories Moore presents of average Americans who are bankrupted, or who grow sicker, or who desperately seek treatment abroad, or who die because health insurance bureaucrats denied or restricted the care they could receive. When Moore put out an invitation on the Internet for people to come forward with their “health care horror stories,” he got more than 3,700 responses in the first 24 hours—within a week, he had amassed more than 25,000 stories.

These affronts to common sense and human decency have a monotonous familiarity. There is the middle-aged couple who lose their home and are forced to move into a daughter’s basement because of financial catastrophe brought on by the co-payments and deductibles related to the husband’s treatment for three heart attacks—which were followed by the wife’s cancer diagnosis. There is the slender, 79-year-old man who works as a supermarket janitor to finance the out-of-pocket costs of his prescriptions.

We meet a 22-year-old single mother whose treatment for cervical cancer is denied because her insurer said she was “too young” to have been given such a diagnosis. And a couple told that their daughter, who at 9 months was becoming deaf, would get coverage for only one cochlear implant—not two—because the insurer considered the surgery experimental. But, the perplexed father asks, if the company had confidence that the implant would work to improve hearing in one ear, why would it be “experimental” in the other?

“I was told repeatedly that I was not denying care, I was simply denying payment,” Linda Peeno, a doctor and former managed-care medical claims officer, testifies in a video clip from a 1996 congressional hearing. Even this absurdity does not shock, because we have heard it so often, for so many years.

That is the real point of Moore’s film. We are guilty of national malpractice for allowing the profit motive to drive decisions about who gets health care, and of what sort. “Any payment for a claim is referred to as a medical loss,” Peeno says in the movie.

After Moore’s film opens nationally on Friday, loud and contentious political talk about it is sure to grow louder. Much of it, no doubt, will be aimed at discrediting the national medical systems of Canada, Britain, France—and yes, Cuba—that Moore holds up as models of compassionate efficiency. Much of it will consist of screeching broadsides aimed at Moore, who unnerves conservatives because he is not some pointy-headed liberal professor from Cambridge but a funny guy from Flint, Mich., who wears a baseball cap and did precisely what the right always preaches: He found something he was good at, and made a fortune doing it.

Much discussion also will be premised on the assumption that what Moore advocates—government-funded health care that would be available to everyone—is politically impossible in the United States because the American public recoils from it. Balderdash.

The public embraces Medicare, which is government-funded health care that is available to all elderly people. It has an enduring affection for Social Security, another government-funded, universal benefit.

As for government-funded health insurance, it would be enlightening if those who so reflexively assert that the public has already rejected it would just ask—well, the public. In a May CNN poll, 64 percent said they thought the government should “provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes.” In February, the New York Times/CBS poll found that 60 percent were willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone had insurance. In January, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked a similar question about paying more taxes for universal insurance and again a majority said yes.

So on health care, Moore is no left-wing extremist, as so many Republicans claim. Nor is he much of a provocative nuisance, as some Democrats gripe. He is far closer to people’s thinking than are politicians of either party. The reason they fear Moore isn’t so much his movie, but its potential to upset their complacent caution.

Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at symbol)washpost.com.

Cuba Defeats US Isolation Policy

Periodico 26

By DEISY FRANCIS MEXIDOR

Cuban Ministers Report to Parliament

“In this year’s battle in the diplomatic arena the US government’s policy to isolate Cuba has failed,” said Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque before the International Relations Committee of the Cuban Parliament on Tuesday.

Today, Cuba has diplomatic relations with 181 of the 192 nations that comprise the UN General Assembly. During the past 16 years, “the most difficult period”, Perez Roque underscored that the number of diplomatic missions in Havana actually increased. In 1991 there were 76 foreign missions in Havana, with the figure increasing to 102 in 2007.

The foreign minister commented that today Cuba has a diplomatic presence in 116 nations and four international organizations. He further announced the opening of Cuban diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.

Perez Roque also recalled that rejection to the US blockade is practically unanimous, "a success of the resistance of our people." If in 1992, 59 UN members voted together with Cuba against the blockade, in 2006 there were a total of 183 countries rejecting that hostile policy of Washington, he noted. The overwhelming support is something the top diplomat described as "of a high political, moral and ethical value."

Perez Roque also commented on Cuba's victory at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and appraised as very positive the role of Cuba as the chair over the 118-member Non Aligned Movement.

In his dialog with the members of parliament, Perez Roque detailed aspects about Cuban cooperation abroad, especially in the Third World.

"We don't hand out what is surplus to us, what we do is share what we have," he assured when explaining that more than 42,000 civilian Cuban collaborators are providing their services in 101 nations. He also announced that 47,000 young people from 130 nations have graduated in Cuba during the years of the Revolution.

Perez Roque noted that despite the evident failure of the US policy against Cuba, the US Interests Section in Havana continues to try and create internal subversion. To do so, it supplies equipment and money for that purpose. He also insisted in that the list of aggressions against Cuba is growing.

Finally, the foreign minister recognized the strengthening of relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, and made reference to the need to continue the battle for the freedom of the Cuban Five, unjustly held in US Federal prisons.

The legislators rejected the meddling in Cuban internal affairs by the Senate of Chile, and appealed to them to spend their time on the severe violations of human rights in their own country, like the reduction of the legal age to be tried as an adult from 18 to 14 as well as discrimination and violence against the Mapuche indigenous communities.

Cuban Ministers Report to Parliament

Cuban legislators will discuss a report Wednesday on the payments by the State purchasers to farmers and cooperatives for their production, a topic of major interest as the island seeks to increase local production and decrease imports.

Also on the agenda at the Havana Convention Center is the advance of the different programs of the Energy Revolution. That report will cover the status of the efforts to gradually substitute the population’s old high energy consuming electrical devices for more efficient ones and their payment plan.
On Thursday the parliament plenary will hear reports from the Ministers of Transportation and Sugar, covering the current situation of their sectors and future projections.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cuba’s Baseball Roster Set for Rio Games

Granma

27 June, 2007

SIGFREDO BARROS

The 20-player roster of Cuba’s baseball team for the Rio de Janeiro Pan American Games in July was announced Tuesday on the evening TV and radio Round Table program. Twelve have played on Olympic championship squads.

Benito Camacho, technical director of the Cuban national team, gave a detailed run down on the preparation of the players in the training and recent tune-up games against Venezuela in which they won six of seven games. He said the average age on the team headed to Rio is 27, and noted that four players made the team for the first time: Luis Miguel Navas, Yoennis Cespedes, Elier Sanchez and Aroldis Chapman.

Right-hand pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo and shortstop Eduardo Paret will both be seeking their third gold medal at the Pan American Games, which began 56 years ago in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The team managed by Rey Vicente Anglada includes:

Catchers: Ariel Pestano and Eriel Sanchez; Infielders: Alexander Mayeta, Alexei Ramirez, Eduardo Paret, Yulieski Gourriel and Luis Miguel Navas; Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Giorvis Duvergel, Yoandry Urgelles, Osmani Urrutia y Yoennis Cespedes; Righthanded Pitchers: Pedro Luis Lazo, Yunieski Maya, Jonder Martínez, Norge Luis Vera and Lefthanders: Adiel Palma, Norberto Gonzalez, Elier Sanchez and Aroldis Chapman.

Carlos Rodriguez Acosta, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, also announced that 15 pre-selected players that didn’t make the team for the Rio Games will be the core of squads to play in the 11th World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Holland; in the Italian Baseball Week, and at an event in Guayaquil, Ecuador, all this summer. Those teams will be managed by Lourdes Gourriel, Victor Mesa and Jorge Milian respectively.

Also on the upcoming baseball calendar is the 15-16 year old world championships, the Pan American Youth tournament and the 37th World Cup to be played in Chinese Taipei, said Rodriguez.

Cuba Guarantees Food Despite Price Increases on International Market

Ahora, Cuba

Por Redacción AHORA / Miércoles, 27 de Junio del 2007 / 12:18:10 / redaccion@ahora.cu

Cuba has already allocated more than a hundred million dollars over the 2006 level to guarantee food for the Cuban families’ basic grocery basket.

Included on the agenda of Cuba’s parliament is the issue of food, which is provided for all residents on the island in an equitable manner at subsidized prices. Members of the Commission on Attention to Services — as one of the ten bodies of the Cuban Parliament whose functioning is ongoing — met to tackle the complexities of the current international food market in which the price increases are constant.

This situation is exacerbated by the disastrous practice of transforming foods into bio-fuels, which puts upward pressure on the prices of products traditionally dedicated to human consumption. Moreover, the greatest negative impact of this is on the poorest countries of the planet.

Nonetheless, Cuba has been able to maintain its basic nutrition levels, even when it has been necessary to earmark additional funding for this.

The island has put in place a program of modernization of food warehouses, as well as improving energy-efficient transportation services dedicated to the distribution of these goods.

A regular function of the Cuban deputies, as members of the permanent working commissions, consists of conducting inspections of the economic and social activities of the country. Through these tours delegates have the opportunity to exchange opinions with workers and managers at state enterprises such as the CIMEX Corporation, which is involved in the domestic market of foreign currency goods. During a tour of that enterprise, delegates evaluated the quality of services provided to the public and improvements in labor discipline.

'Family Jevwels' reveal the immorality of US government

The so-called 'Family Jewels' of the CIA have been declassified and published. They reveal a total lack of morality by the U.S. government.

A government that pays $150,000 dollars to have a head of state assassinated by the Mafia can only be compared favorably to the hordes of Attila the Hun and the Third Reich.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CIA tried to get mafia to kill Castro

ABC News

Posted 1 hour 9 minutes ago

Target: Cuban President Fidel Castro (Reuters: Claudia Daut)

The CIA worked with two of America's most-wanted criminals in a botched attempt to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro in a "gangster-type action" in the early 1960s, according to documents released by the CIA.

The CIA declassified hundreds of pages of long-secret records that detail some of the agency's worst illegal abuses during about 25 years of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping.

The documents are known in the CIA as the "Family Jewels," and some describe the agency's efforts to persuade Johnny Roselli, believed to be a mobster, to help plot the assassination of Castro.

A CIA official at the time, Richard Bissell, in August 1960 approached Col. Sheffield Edwards of the agency's Office of Security to determine if Edwards "had assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action," according to the documents.

"The mission target was Fidel Castro," one memo said.

Roselli was believed by the CIA to have been a high-ranking member of the crime syndicate and who controlled all the ice-making machines on the Las Vegas Strip.

He was approached by a go-between, Robert Maheu, who reckoned Roselli had connections leading into Cuban gambling interests.

The story Roselli was to be told was that several international business firms were suffering heavy financial losses in Cuba as a result of Castro's action and they were willing to pay $US150,000 for his removal.

"It was to be made clear to Roselli that the United States government was not, and should not, become aware of this operation," a document said.

In documents that often read like a cheap detective novel, the story is outlined: The pitch was made to Roselli at the Hilton Plaza Hotel in New York and Roselli was initially cool to the idea. But the contact led the agency to two top mobsters, Momo Salvatore Giancana and Santos Trafficant, who were both on the US list of most-wanted men.

Giancana, who was known as Sam Gold, suggested firearms might be a problem and said using a potent pill that could be slipped into Castro's food or drink might work.

Eventually, six pills of "high lethal content" were provided to Juan Orta, identified as a Cuban official who had been receiving kickback payments from gambling interests and who still had access to Castro and was in a financial bind.

"After several weeks of reported attempts, Orta apparently got cold feet and asked out of the assignment. He suggested another candidate who made several attempts without success," the document said.

Cuba examines food production problems

The Houston Chronicle

June 26, 2007, 2:05PM

By ANITA SNOW Associated Press Writer

HAVANA — Hundreds of trucks overflowing with plantains, sweet potatoes and onions converge on the Plaza of the Revolution each month as farmers sell produce to tens of thousands of people.

Here's where Cubans come seeking affordable food. While they may not be able to find everything they want, they are increasingly getting what they need, even as the island's communist leaders grow more worried about drops in food production and prices that remain frustratingly high for many Cubans.

One man in his 60s trundled through the plaza with a rusty wheelbarrow loaded with two huge branches of plantains he said he bought to feed his five grandchildren. A middle-aged woman pushed by with more plantains, braided strings of garlic and a huge slab of pink-and-white frosted cake balanced on top of her banged-up supermarket cart.

"Onions! Strings of onions!" a young man cried out, holding six strands of red and white bulbs on each arm as consumers carted away other fresh produce in baby strollers, luggage carts and plastic milk cartons fastened behind bicycle seats.

The quantity of goods sold at the monthly government-organized produce fairs demonstrates how Cuba's food situation has eased 15 years after widespread shortages were sparked by the Soviet Union's collapse and an end to economic subsidies from the Kremlin.

But communist leaders and producers aren't satisfied. They want changes to get more affordable goods to market, and they're disturbed by a 7 percent drop in the nation's food production last year.

Lawmakers under acting president Raul Castro's leadership are examining the issue this week before the full National Assembly debates it Friday.

Cuba's food production "is insufficient and commercialization is deficient," Vice President Carlos Lage told municipal leaders this month.

Cuba spends about $1.6 billion annually for food imports, about a third of it from the U.S. It even imports about 82 percent of the $1 billion worth of food it sells at subsidized prices to all Cubans on the ration system, including rice, potatoes, beans, meat and other goods.

Raul Castro, the 76-year-old defense minister leading the government while his 80-year-old brother Fidel recovers from intestinal surgery, has long considered food a national security issue. "Beans are more important than cannon," he told the 5th Communist Party Congress in 1997.

He argued for the farmers markets in 1994, and earlier created the Youth Work Army, a military branch that produces food for the nation. At the last parliament session in December, he demanded that agriculture officials increase production and make overdue payments to small farmers and cooperatives.

Lage later said the payment problem was resolved, but farmers complain they need more government help.

Orlando Lugo, president of the National Association of Small Farmers, told the state-run magazine Bohemia this year that farmers need tractors, farm equipment and fuel. "There are cooperatives around Havana with the potential to double and even triple their production," he said.

Much potentially productive government land is not being used, including former sugar cane fields now infested with a fast-growing, thorny bush called marabu, Lugo added.

Many perishable crops, meanwhile, spoil because of scarce transportation or faulty coordination by state agencies contracted to pick them up, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Monday.

State economist Ariel Terrero says Cuba should produce more of its own food to save on import costs. Between 2002 and 2005, Cuba increased rice imports by 36 percent but paid 105 percent more for them because of rising international prices.

"The perpetual bleeding conspires against the possibilities of the nation's economic development," Terrero wrote in Bohemia earlier this year.

The cooperatives and small farming enterprises were created in 1993 when the government restructured its centralized food system, breaking up big state farms into smaller worker-owned and managed units. Smaller parcels went to individual farmers.

Less than 15 years later, more than 150,000 individual farmers and agriculture cooperatives now produce two-thirds of the country's food using just a third of the island's workable land. State farms work the rest.

The cooperatives and small farms produce most of the nation's beans, corn and root crops — all once produced by state farms. They also produce a third of Cuba's rice, 42 percent of its milk and more than half of all meat, including pork, beef, goat and sheep.

After meeting state quotas, the farmers can sell the rest of their goods at the farmers markets. More than 300 such markets now operate nationwide, including about 50 in Havana, according to a study by Cuba specialist Phil Peters at the Lexington Institute, a Washington-area policy group that supports free enterprise.

The state and Youth Work Army also sell vegetables at much lower prices at small neighborhood stands.

An urban agriculture program, another pet project of Raul Castro, created an additional important food source in the early 1990s. Today, more than 350,000 gardeners in a nation of 11.2 million people grow fruit and vegetables in and around cities, selling produce directly to the public.

___

On the Net:

Study of Cuban farmers markets: http://lexingtoninstitute.org/docs/787.pdf

S. 1673 Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2007

Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2007 (Introduced in Senate)

S 1673 IS

110th CONGRESS


1st Session


S. 1673


To facilitate the export of United States agricultural products to Cuba as authorized by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, to remove impediments to the export to Cuba of medical devices and medicines, to allow travel to Cuba by United States citizens, to establish an agricultural export promotion program with respect to Cuba, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES


June 21, 2007


Mr. BAUCUS (for himself, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. BINGAMAN, Ms. CANTWELL, Mrs. LINCOLN, Ms. STABENOW, Mr. WYDEN, Mr. HARKIN, Ms. LANDRIEU, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. ENZI, and Mr. PRYOR) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

A BILL


To facilitate the export of United States agricultural products to Cuba as authorized by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, to remove impediments to the export to Cuba of medical devices and medicines, to allow travel to Cuba by United States citizens, to establish an agricultural export promotion program with respect to Cuba, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2007'.

SEC. 2. CLARIFICATION OF PAYMENT TERMS UNDER TRADE SANCTIONS REFORM AND EXPORT ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2000.

Section 908(b)(1) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7207(b)(1)) is amended by inserting after subparagraph (B) the following:

`(C) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the term `payment of cash in advance' means the payment by the purchaser of an agricultural commodity or product and the receipt of such payment by the seller prior to--

`(i) the transfer of title of such commodity or product to the purchaser; and

`(ii) the release of control of such commodity or product to the purchaser.'.

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION OF DIRECT TRANSFERS BETWEEN CUBAN AND UNITED STATES DEPOSITORY INSTITUTIONS.

(a) In General- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President may not restrict direct transfers from a Cuban depository institution to a United States depository institution executed in payment for a product authorized for sale under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.).

(b) Depository Institution Defined- For purposes of subsection (a), the term `depository institution' means any entity that is engaged primarily in the business of banking (including a bank, savings bank, savings association, credit union, trust company, or bank holding company).

SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF AGRICULTURAL EXPORT PROMOTION PROGRAM WITH RESPECT TO CUBA.

(a) In General- The Secretary of Agriculture shall establish a program to provide information and technical assistance to United States agricultural producers, cooperative organizations, or state agencies that promote the sale of agricultural commodities, in order to promote and facilitate United States exports of agricultural products to Cuba as authorized by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.

(b) Technical Assistance To Facilitate Exports- The Secretary shall maintain on a website on the Internet information to assist exporters and potential exporters of United States agricultural commodities with respect to Cuba.

(c) Authorization of Funds- The Secretary is authorized to expend such sums as may be available in the Agricultural Export Promotion Trust Fund established under section 10 to carry out the provisions of this section.

SEC. 5. SENSE OF CONGRESS THAT VISAS SHOULD BE ISSUED.

(a) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State should issue visas for temporary entry into the United States to nationals of Cuba whose itinerary documents an intent to conduct activities, including phytosanitary inspections, relating to the purchase of United States agricultural goods pursuant to the provisions of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.).

(b) Periodic Reports-

(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 45 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committee on Finance, the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, and the Committee on Agriculture, the Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the issuance of visas described in subsection (a).

(2) CONTENT OF REPORTS- Each report under paragraph (1) shall contain a full description of each application received from a national of Cuba for a visa to travel to the United States to engage in purchasing activities pursuant to the provisions of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.) and shall describe the disposition of each such application.

SEC. 6. ADHERENCE TO INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS FOR THE MUTUAL PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, INCLUDING REPEAL OF SECTION 211.

(a) Repeal of Prohibition on Enforcement of Rights to Certain United States Intellectual Properties and Transfer of Such Properties-

(1) REPEAL- Section 211 of the Department of Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999 (section 101(b) of division A of Public Law 105-277; 112 Stat. 2681-88) is repealed.

(2) REGULATIONS- The Secretary of the Treasury shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary to carry out the repeal made by paragraph (1), including removing any prohibition on transactions or payments to which subsection (a)(1) of section 211 of the Department of Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999, applied.

(3) FURTHER REGULATIONS- The Secretary of the Treasury shall amend the Cuban Assets Control regulations (part 515 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations) to authorize under general license the transfer or receipt of any trademark or trade name subject to United States law in which a national of a designated foreign country has an interest. The filing and prosecution of opposition and infringement proceedings related to any trademark or trade name in which a national of a designated foreign country has an interest and the prosecution of any defense to such proceedings shall also be authorized by general license.

SEC. 7. TRAVEL TO CUBA.

(a) Freedom of Travel for United States Citizens and Legal Residents- On and after the date of the enactment of this Act, and subject to subsection (c)--

(1) the President may not regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel that are set forth in subsection (b); and

(2) any regulation in effect on such date of enactment that regulates or prohibits travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents or transactions incident to such travel shall cease to have any force or effect.

(b) Transactions Incident to Travel-

(1) IN GENERAL- The transactions incident to travel referred to in subsection (a) are--

(A) any transactions ordinarily incident to travel to or from Cuba, including the importation into Cuba or the United States of accompanied baggage for personal use only;

(B) any transactions ordinarily incident to travel or maintenance within Cuba, including the payment of living expenses and the acquisition of goods or services for personal use;

(C) any transactions ordinarily incident to the arrangement, promotion, or facilitation of travel to, from, or within Cuba;

(D) any transactions incident to nonscheduled air, sea, or land voyages, except that this paragraph does not authorize the carriage of articles into Cuba or the United States other than accompanied baggage described in subparagraph (A); and

(E) normal banking transactions incident to the activities described in subparagraphs (A) through (D) of this paragraph, including the issuance, clearing, processing, or payment of checks, drafts, travelers checks, credit or debit card instruments, or similar instruments.

(2) EXCEPTION- Nothing in this section shall be deemed to authorize the importation into the United States of any goods acquired in Cuba for personal consumption.

(c) Limitations- The provisions of this section shall not apply in a case in which the United States is at war with Cuba, armed hostilities between the 2 countries are in progress, or there is imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States who travel to Cuba.

(d) Effective Date-

(1) IN GENERAL- The provisions of this section apply to actions taken by the President before the date of the enactment of this Act and that are in effect on such date of enactment, and to actions taken on or after such date of enactment.

(2) INAPPLICABILITY OF OTHER PROVISIONS- This section applies notwithstanding section 102(h) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6032(h)) and section 910(b) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7209(b)).

SEC. 8. EXPORT OF MEDICINES AND MEDICAL DEVICES TO CUBA.

(a) Repeal of Requirement for Onsite Verifications- Section 1705 of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (22 U.S.C. 6004) is amended by striking subsection (d).

(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in the amendment made by subsection (a) shall be construed to restrict the authority of the President to--

(1) impose export controls with respect to the export of medicines or medical devices under sections 5 or 6 of the Export Administration Act of 1979; or

(2) exercise the authorities the President has under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act with respect to Cuba pursuant to a declaration of national emergency required by that Act that is made on account of an unusual and extraordinary threat, that did not exist before the enactment of this Act, to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

SEC. 9. INCREASE IN AIRPORT TICKET TAX FOR TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN UNITED STATES AND CUBA; ESTABLISHMENT OF AGRICULTURAL EXPORT PROMOTION TRUST FUND.

(a) Increase in Ticket Tax- Subsection (c) of section 4261 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to use of international travel facilities) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`(4) SPECIAL RULE FOR CUBA- In any case in which the tax imposed by paragraph (1) applies to transportation beginning or ending in Cuba before January 1, 2013, such tax shall be increased by $1.00.'.

(b) Agricultural Export Promotion Trust Fund-

(1) IN GENERAL- Subchapter A of chapter 98 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to establishment of trust funds) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`SEC. 9511. AGRICULTURAL EXPORT PROMOTION TRUST FUND.

`(a) Creation of Trust Fund- There is established in the Treasury of the United States a trust fund to be known as the `Agricultural Export Promotion Trust Fund', consisting of such amounts as may be appropriated or credited to such fund as provided in this section or section 9602(b).

`(b) Transfers to Trust Fund- There are hereby appropriated to the Agricultural Export Promotion Trust Fund amounts equivalent to the taxes received in the Treasury by reason of section 4261(c)(4).

`(c) Expenditures- Amounts in the Agricultural Export Promotion Trust Fund shall be available, as provided by appropriation Acts, for making expenditures to the Secretary of Agriculture for the purposes set out in section 4.'.

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Subparagraph (B) of section 9502(b)(1) of such Code is amended by inserting `(other than by reason of subsection (c)(4) thereof)' after `sections 4261'.

(3) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections for subchapter A of chapter 98 of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

`Sec. 9511. Agricultural Export Promotion Trust Fund.'.

(c) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply to transportation beginning after the 90-day period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, except that such amendment shall not apply to amounts paid before the end of such period.

___

JG: Write to your two U.S. Senators and ask them to support S. 1673.

Enjoy a taste of Cuba as Vida! held over


The Toronto Star, Canada

The Cuban dance musical Vida! has proved so popular with Toronto theatregoers that it's being held over at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until June 30.

The announcement will be made at a street fiesta at 1 p.m. today outside the theatre at 260 King St. W.

As part of the celebration of all things Cuban, a series of special events will be attached to the performances of Vida! during these holdover weeks. They'll start at 7 p.m. and are open to anyone holding a ticket for the 8 p.m. performance that evening.

Wednesday nights will be Cuban dance lessons, taught by Diana Fernández and Yadira Hernández, principal dancers in Danza Cuba.

Thursday nights will be demonstrations and tasting of authentic Cuban cooking. And Fridays, the Royal Alex bartending staff will teach you how to make mojitos, Cuba Libres and other rum-based drinks. An hour before the 2 p.m. Saturday matinées, join in a question-and-answer session with members of the company about Cuban art and culture.

Vida! can be seen Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8, and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

For ticket information, go to mirvish.com or call 416-872-1212.

Richard Ouzounian

Bring the troops home! Stop the funding!

The Democratic Party has weak knees and little courage. Independents gave them the Congress and they have failed to put a end to the Iraq quagmire.

The military industrial complex is making millions of dollars while American youth perish.

The patriots are the ones who want to bring the troops home.

Last but not least: IMPEACH BUSH-CHENEY!

Time to close Gitmo

Coshocton Tribune

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The White House acknowledged Friday that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay has now become "a priority."

Given that the facility has long been an international embarrassment for the United States, this is welcome news.

We have no complaint with imprisoning terrorists in maximum-security facilities. But most of the 375 prisoners still held at Guantanamo Bay have the amorphous designation as "detainees" - presumed dangerous, captured in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not convicted criminals or formal prisoners of war. Guantanamo Bay has been used since 2002 to keep such prisoners detained in a state of limbo.
Holding prisoners indefinitely in such a state is contrary to this country's most basic principles. They should either be classified as prisoners of war and treated as such, or charged as criminals and handled through military or civilian judicial processes depending on the circumstances of each particular case.

The facility and the indeterminate status of its inmates has been a source of increasing criticism for the administration at home and abroad. Various governments, including allies of the United States such as Britain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, which are home countries to some of the detainees, have urged that it be shut down. Human rights advocates have complained about conditions and duration of some incarcerations, and critics in Congress have threatened to withhold funding for the operation.

But one of the biggest problems with Guantanamo is that it has come to symbolize the worst complaints about the war - ill-defined, poorly managed and open-ended. That, and recent court decisions requiring that legal action be taken in regard to some of the prisoners, may be what has prompted the administration to now be willing to shut it down. Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters Friday that the president has ordered action to be taken as soon as possible.

The administration is building a new high-security wing on a prison in Afghanistan that is expected to take some of those remaining, and others may be shifted to military prisons in the United States.

Some in the administration, notably Vice President Dick Cheney, oppose bringing such prisoners to U.S. soil because they are too dangerous.

But dangers need to be dealt with. They cannot simply be locked up and forgotten.

Cincinnati Enquirer

Monday, June 25, 2007

CARICOM tell US they will remain friends with CUBA and Venezuela

Caribbean Broadcasing Corporation, Barbados

Monday, 25 June 2007

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, last week stood firm on their relationship with Cuba and Venezuela, telling US president George W. Bush that both countries had helped to advance the development of the region.

Guyana’s president Bharrat Jagdeo, who is CARICOM’s lead prime minister on the issue, said it was Bush who first raised the matter during the talks between the US president and Caribbean leaders last week.

"I said to him, the United States of America has national interest considerations, [and that] often, these relate to security matters," he said.

"For us in the region, we, too, have national interest considerations," he added. "But our national interest considerations are a little bit different from those of the United States of America that they relate more to educating our people, getting them out of poverty and providing decent health care for them."

Jagdeo was addressing journalists at a post-summit press conference on Wednesday, at the headquarters of the Organisation of American States (OAS) here.

He said Cuba is helping the region to meet its national interest considerations, pointing out that the Spanish-speaking Communist country has been providing a number of doctors to the region.

"In Guyana’s case, I said to him that the students that we have studying in Cuba, if we were to send those students to the United States of America, it would cost us US$70 million," he said.

"That is important to me, educating the doctors," he added.

In addition, Jagdeo said he told Bush that Guyana uses 36 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product to import fuel, and that he will save US $45 million annually by entering the PetroCaribe oil agreement with Venezuela. Under the agreement, CARICOM countries get oil from the Spanish-speaking country on concessionary terms.

That surplus, he said, will help his administration in addressing its balance of payment problems.

The Guyanese president said he also told Bush that some countries in the region have "a worse situation" than his country regarding the cost of fuel on their domestic finances, especially their balance of payment situation.

"So we said that these are real initiatives they offer us help," he said.

"Often in US policy-making circles the region is seen as stooges, or could be induced by bribes, based on various initiatives to support Venezuela or Cuba on one or another matter," he added. "And that is far from the truth."

Jagdeo said there has never been any link between the PetroCaribe agreement and the training of Caribbean nationals in Cuba and support for any foreign policy initiatives of these two countries.

But he said he told Bush that CARICOM has to maintain good relations with Venezuela and Cuba because "combined they provide huge assistance to the region."

"If Cuba were to withdraw their doctors from Haiti, their health system would collapse," he said.

Jagdeo said, since the US was not providing similar offers to the region, it should, therefore, "see these considerations as vital to us, similarly as their relationship with Saudi Arabia and some other places, because Saudi Arabia is not a democracy."

"But the US maintains excellent relations with Saudi Arabia because it is one of the chief sources of oil coming into the US," he said.

"I said to him [Bush], we all believe in democracy in the region, and we all practice market economies. And, in my case, I don’t subscribe to the same economic policy like Cuba or Venezuela," he added. "But we will maintain good relations with these countries, because there are practical initiatives to help our region, and we appreciate that."

There has been a historical conflict between Washington and Communist Cuba under the leadership of Fidel Castro. More recently, Venezuela, under the socialist regime of Hugo Chavez, has also been in conflict with the US.

CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who addressed an earlier press conference, on the heels of the summit, said Bush raised the Cuba-Venezuela issue "not in a contentious manner and not in a manner indicating any dictation within the region."

He said he was not troubled by the raising of the issue since Cuba and Venezuela have "not asked anybody to do anything for them.

"We’re a free and independent people," Gonsalves said, flanked by his Barbadian counterpart, Owen Arthur. "We articulate our own voice.

"Modern globalisation enables us to face the world with more confidence," the Vincentian leader added, stating that he emphasised to Bush that the "engagement was between two civilizations, in which the states’ systems are important.

"And we want to build up a mature partnership, and that we saw this engagement not as an end in itself but as a process, a fresh start, a commencement of a more mature partnership and relationship," he continued.

Castro Says U.S. Must Change Its Cuba Policy `Unilaterally'

Bloomberg

By Theresa Bradley

June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro said U.S. lawmakers must change their nation's policy toward the island ``unilaterally,'' without concessions from his government.

``Changes in U.S. government policy with relation to Cuba have to be unilateral, because the blockade and economic war against Cuba by that country's leaders are unilateral,'' Castro wrote in an editorial published today by the Havana daily Granma.

Castro rejected past terms set by the U.S. for lifting its 45-year economic embargo, including the right to peaceful protest, political opposition and democratic elections on the island.

``It's clear they don't have the slightest clue about the type of people that have formed in these 40 years of Revolution,'' Castro wrote, citing a speech he made in 2000.

The editorial is the latest in a series of 21 essays Castro has published in Granma, his main avenue of communication since undergoing intestinal surgery last July. He turned temporary governing authority over to his brother Raul Castro at the time, and has not appeared in public since.

Today's essay follows a June 21 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to increase funding for a State Department ``Cuba Democracy'' fund fivefold to $45.7 million next year. House and Senate Democrats introduced a proposal to lift travel and some farm trade restrictions against the island that same day.

`Attempts on My Life'

Castro reiterated allegations that U.S. President George W. Bush plotted his assassination while still a candidate for the presidency in 2000, in a bid to win favor with Cuban-Americans in the swing-state of Florida who oppose his regime.

Castro praised Bush predecessors Gerald Ford, for banning government-backed assassinations; Jimmy Carter, for opening a Cuban Interests Office in Washington; and Bill Clinton for returning 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in 2000.

``It's really a mystery to say who's responsible for the hundreds of attempts on my life,'' Castro wrote. ``For every one of the chiefs of revolution that you might eliminate through that road, there are in Cuba millions of men and women capable of taking his post.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Theresa Bradley in Caracas at tbradley7@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: June 25, 2007 14:37 EDT

XII Encuentro Nacional de Septetos: Para que no pare el son


Cubarte - El Portal de la Cultura Cubana


Por: Omar Vázquez

25 de Junio, 2007

La Habana.- Lo que comenzó como una fiesta para nuestra música tradicional el Encuentro Nacional de Septetos, al llegar a su duodécima edición en el 2007, prevista para celebrarse del 28 de junio al 1ro. de julio próximo, reunirá a más de veinte agrupaciones de la mayor calidad técnica, de diez provincias del país.

Ángel Gómez Álvarez, director de la Promotora Musical Ignacio Piñeiro, anunció que entre las agrupaciones exponentes de la validez de este tipo de formato que tan importante papel ha desempeñado en la proyección internacional de nuestros ritmos, estarán Moneda Nacional, Perlas del Son, el Santiaguero, Son Diamante y Ecos del Siboney (Santiago de Cuba), Mongo Rives y su Tumbita Criolla y el Septeto Santa Fe (Isla de la Juventud), Raíces Cubanas (Holguín), Son del Barrio (Las Tunas) y Unión (Cienfuegos).

Además, el Septeto Ayer y Hoy y Son del Yayabo (Guantánamo), Caney (Granma), Horizontes (Pinar del Río), Habanero, Okay Cuba, Son Atrevido, Típico de Sones, Matamoros, Carisma, Pancho Amat y su Cabildo del Son (Ciudad de La Habana), entre otros.

Los escenarios del encuentro serán la Asociación Caribeña (41 y 88, Marianao), la Casa de Cultura de 10 de Octubre, los jardines del Instituto Cubano de la Música (15 y E, El Vedado), La Casa de la Amistad (Paseo entre 17 y 19, El Vedado) y el Salón Rosado Benny Moré de La Tropical (41 y 46, Playa).

Ignacio Piñeiro avizoró que el futuro del son estaba en su cosmopolitización y para ello se sirvió de su querido Septeto Nacional, al que está dedicado el Encuentro, en su aniversario 80 que se cumple el venidero 13 de diciembre. El VIII Simposio programado para estas jornadas sesionará los días 28 y 29 de junio, a partir de las 10:00 a.m., en el Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Música, en G entre 21 y 23, El Vedado, bajo el tema Diversidad e identidad en el contexto músico nacional. Objetivo de defender.

Al respecto, el musicólogo José (Pepe) Reyes Fortún, su moderador, adelantó que se analizarán once ponencias, como la titulada Ignacio Piñeiro, el abuelo de la salsa, de Raúl Fernández, investigador cubano radicado en Estados Unidos y El Son en la radio cubana, de Manuel Villar.

La musicóloga Ana Casanova ofrecerá la conferencia magistral El tres en la música popular y tradicional cubana y sesionará un panel de reflexión sobre la obra del Poeta del Son, en la que intervendrán reconocidos especialistas.
Fuente: Granma Digital

A dissident speaks

Miriam Leiva, one of the founders of the Ladies in White, a dissident group in Cuba. Here is what she says about receiving funds from the U.S. government:

``There must be no funds from any government allocated to the dissidents ..... the opposition gets practically nothing and the main thing is that it gives the Cuban Government a pretext to say that we are mercenaries and put us in jail. I'm against any funds from the American Government, and I think that if it wants to help the Cuban people, it should lift the embargo and allow trade, tourism, and academic exchanges, and Cubans should be allowed to travel without restriction to the United States and send money to their families'' in Cuba.

Source: Congressional Record, 110th Congress, page H6834.

Castro: Bush tried to have me killedd

Mail and Guardian

Havana, Cuba

25 June 2007 04:28

Cuba's communist leader Fidel Castro accused United States President George Bush of ordering him killed, even before moving into the White House, in an article published in the Granma newspaper on Monday.

"The issue of the accusation related to his plan to kill me comes from before he used fraud to steal the victory from another candidate," the convalescing Castro (80) said of Bush.

Castro, who claims to hold a sort of world record in evading assassination plots, at about 650 in his count, recalled in an opinion piece in the Cuban Communist Party newspaper that he reported the alleged plot publicly on August 5 2000 in a speech in Pinar del Rio.

Of all the US presidents since 1959, Castro said Jimmy Carter (1977 to 1981) ordered no hit, and that he had no knowledge of former president Bill Clinton (1993 to 2001) ever having given a green light for a Castro assassination bid.

Castro's recollections come a week after he insisted in an essay entitled They will never have Cuba that Cuba would keep making and importing weaponry to stave off a US invasion.

Fidel Castro, who took power in Cuba in January 1959, is still on the mend from major intestinal surgery last year and handed over power to his brother Raul 11 months ago.

Since March 29, he has written more than 20 policy articles in Granma and other official government publications, including articles on global warming, ethanol and US imperialism. -- Sapa-AFP

Cuba's health care system helps people

In a Reuters article dated June 25, 2007, under the byline of Anthony Boadle, Cuba's health care systems is compared to the for-profit system that we have here in the U.S.

Cuba's excellent health care system is a top accomplishment of the Cuban revolutionary process which triumphed on Janaury 1st, 1959, which sent the top officials of an extremely corrupt government to Miami.

Here are four key paragraphs:

On key statistics measured by the World Health Organization, Cuba is in line with the United States.

The average life expectancy of a child born in Cuba is 77.2 years, compared with 77.9 years in the United States, according to the WHO.

The number of children dying before their fifth birthday is seven per 1,000 live births in Cuba and eight per 1,000 in the United States.

Yet the United States spends more than 26 times as much on health, $6,096 per person a year, compared with only $229 in Cuba, the WHO figures show.


When you receive that exorbitant bill from your hospital or your doctor, remember that your money is feeding the voracious appetite for huge never-ending profits for large capitalist corporations. They could care less about your health; they only care about money.

Civilized capitalist countries like Canada, Great Britain and France have single payer socialized medicine. We need to move toward that goal here in the U.S.

A better world is possible in the health care field. Cuba is proof of that.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Small earthquake in Cuba - no casualties reported

21st Century Socialism

EDITORIAL

September 25th 2006

What will happen when Fidel Castro dies? As the absolute normality pervading Cuba during the past few weeks of Fidel’s hospitalisation demonstrates, nothing will happen. Devastating news indeed, at least for Washington and its army of compliant media soothsayers, ten of whom were exposed this month as being on the US Government payroll.

Conservative Latin American commentarist, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, neatly encapsulated the wishful thinking of Cuba’s enemies in a piece in The Wall Street Journal: "We know, to judge by the experience of the last two decades around the world, that one of the last five communist tyrannies left in the world is in its death throes” [1] – (Llosa is, perhaps, unfamiliar with a book entitled “Castro’s Final Hour” - published in 1992).

This conventional wisdom rests on the profound misunderstanding that what has enabled revolutionary Cuba to see off nine US presidents and survive the collapse of the Soviet Union and its other socialist trading partners, was internal repression and the rule of one man. It therefore follows that post-Fidel, Cuba will enter a period of transition which will lead, sooner rather than later, to the end of socialism and the restoration of capitalism. To this end the US government has earmarked an additional 80 million dollars for anti-Cuban activities, ranging from radio and TV broadcasts to be beamed into the island, to the direct financing of political opponents, both in Havana and Miami. This attempt to manufacture dissent and destabilise Cuba has proved spectacularly ineffective, although it does serve as a warning to other countries of what to expect should they seek to escape US hegemony.

Whilst Fidel is, and will always remain, a towering figure that links the past with the present, the 1959 revolution was not the work of a single man; rather it was the culmination of centuries of national independence struggles to rid Cuba of ruthless Spanish colonial domination and then the equally brutal US neo-colonialism which followed it. It was only in 1961, after the US Air Force bombed Cuban airports in the prelude to the Bay of Pigs invasion, that Cuba declared itself to be a socialist republic. Henceforth, Cuban patriotism and the benefits of socialism (in particular, universal health and education) were inextricably intertwined, both as a matter of practical reality and, equally importantly, in the eyes of the people.

Participatory democracy

The political model that Cuba adopted in the face of the US economic blockade and military threat – participatory democracy within the framework of a one-party system – has proved remarkably durable. Direct elections are held for the regional and national assemblies. Anyone can stand, and 30% of those elected are not Communist Party members. Real power and influence was also devolved to mass organisations of workers, students and women, and also to local bodies called the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. For example, during the economic crisis that followed the collapse Cuba’s main trading partner, the Soviet Union, the whole nation was consulted over the course of several thousand public meetings, and workers and students successfully opposed several planks of the proposed austerity measures.

Faced with the obvious absence of counter-revolution, a more sophisticated, but equally flawed, analysis of Cuba has recently emerged in the leader columns and opinion pieces in the US and European press. The Reuters news agency reported, in a clearly editorialised piece, that “some foresee an ideological tug of war between 'tropical Taliban' [classical socialists] and proponents of Chinese-style economic reforms” [2]. The acting president and head of the armed forces, Raul Castro, it is alleged, is a proponent of the Chinese way, and it is implied that this that will lead to a rapprochement with the United States and ultimately bring down socialism. Curiously, in the 1990’s the opposite was being said. Raul, it was then argued, was an advocate of North Korean-style economic reforms and pressed Fidel to opt for isolation rather than develop tourism and encourage inward investment. The evidence offered in support of either proposition is scant or non existent. In the case of 'Chinification', the speculation appears to be based solely on Raul’s efficient management of large parts of the tourism industry and joint ventures with foreign firms, all of which is in line with, and not a departure from, existing Government policy.

The rationale offered for Raul’s alleged conversion to market reforms is the need to avoid an impending social explosion which would bring down socialism. This ignores two things. Firstly, if there was to be a social explosion in Cuba, it would have already occurred in the early '90s when the USSR collapsed and precipitated an economic crash which wiped 35% off the nation’s GDP in a single day and left the population barely able to feed itself. Secondly, it was the limited market reforms introduced as a result of that crisis – small scale private enterprise, the legalisation of the US dollar within Cuba and so forth – that reopened, albeit in a relatively minor way, the sort of social divisions and inequality that the 1959 revolution had abolished. These market reforms are now in the process of being reversed as the Cuban economy has rebounded.

Paradoxically, Cuba's steady economic growth is predicated not only on the ever deepening relationship with Venezuela and its Bolivarian revolution, but also, and perhaps more importantly, on Chinese expertise and investment. Providing that both international relationships remain intact (which is a reasonable medium to long term assumption), there are no compelling political or economic reasons that would precipitate a right turn. Rather the reverse in fact; it is booming Chinese state-capitalism and its need to find new markets which makes possible the survival of socialism in Cuba. Moreover, for a country as geographically close to the US as Cuba, Chinese-style reforms would arguably lead to US-style reforms and everything and everybody that goes with them, including the return from Miami of the virulently anti-communist and violent remnants of the Batista dictatorship. And who in Cuba wants that? Not Raul Castro, that's for sure.

References:

[1] Cuba Libre? Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Wall Street Journal, Aug 2, 2006 http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1781

[2] Fidel Castro fades out. Tropical Taliban next? Bernd Debusmann, Sep 17, 2006 http://go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=13511695&pageNumber=0

A World Bank chalenger

Time, July 2, 2007

BANK OF THE SOUTH First the Paul Wolfowitz scandal, and now this: at the end of the month, "Banco del Sur" will launch as a direct competitor to the World Bank, at least in South America. The brainchild of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who has long railed against the meddling of the Washington dominated World Bank and IMF, the development bank got a credibility boost when Brazil, Argentina and other signed on as founding members. With the region's new oil wealth, the dream of locally funding big infrastructure projects without First World interference may be closer than ever.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Registered independents growing

Due to the great dissatisfaction with the two major political parties, the number of people who are registering as independents --- called NPA's or No Political Affiliation --- is growing.

I am an NPA who was thinking of re-registering as a Democrat, in order to vote in the more interesting primary of the Dems. Not anymore. After the disastrous vote in the House on the Diaz-Balart-Sires amendment, which saw 66 Democrats help pass a document written by two ultra-right-wing congressmen, I decided to stay as an NPA. In my book right now, the Democratic Party stinks.

The Democratic Party has no convictions, other than the almighty dollar. These 66 Democrats hope that a "transition" in Cuba will bring them lots of greenbacks.

Just the facts, Mam. Here they are, according to The Wall Street Journal:

"In the 27 states that register voters by party, the number of registered Democrats has fallen by 6%, to 42%, and Republicans have decreased by 1%, to 33% since 1994, according to political analyst Rhodes Cook. Meanwhile, the number of voters registered as independent has increased in all 27 states, to an average of 25% from 18%."

In other words, Dems and Reps go down while the NPA's go up.

Add to this the fact that -- according to the latest polls -- only 20% of Americans say that Congress is doing a good job, and you begin to see why the number of independents is growing.

Could they decide the next presidential election? They very well could.

The Democratic Party has failed on Iraq

Last November the voters of our country turned to the Dems and kicked out the GOP from controlling Congress.

They have failed to do what we voters wanted them to do: take us out of Iraq. Instead they have surrendered to the veto threats of the decider-in-chief.

NO GUTS, NO GLORY!

CIA to declassify skeletons in the closet

The Denver Post

Article Last Updated: 06/22/2007 12:22:13 AM MDT

Washington - The CIA will declassify hundreds of pages of long-secret records detailing some of the intelligence agency's worst abuses - the so- called "family jewels" documenting a quarter-century of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying, kidnapping and infiltration of leftist groups from the 1950s to the 1970s, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Thursday.

The documents, to be publicly released next week, include accounts of break-ins and theft, the agency's opening of private mail to and from China and the Soviet Union, wiretaps and surveillance of journalists, and a series of "unwitting" tests on U.S. civilians, including the use of drugs.

"Most of it is unflattering, but it is CIA's history," Hayden said in a speech to a conference of foreign policy historians. The documents have been sought for decades by historians, journalists and conspiracy theorists and have been the subject of many fruitless Freedom of Information Act requests.

Angola Ambassador to USA Pays Homage to Vilma Guillois

Angola Press

Luanda - Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 2:25:07 PM

Washington, 06/23 – Angolan ambassador to USA, Josefina Pitra Diakite, Friday in Washington, signed the book of condolence made available at the Cuban Interest Centre, for the death of Vilma Espin Guillois, wife of Raul Castro, deputy president of Cuba.

In her message of condolence, the diplomat highlighted the role played by the “heroine”, as Vilma Espin Guillois used to be called, in January 1959, after the victory of the Cuban revolution at Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, her birth region.

"A combatant for freedom, outstanding for her tenacity and modesty, Vilma Espin Guillois, who held the post of vice president of the Cuban Women Federation until the last days of her life, will always be remembered for her contribution to the struggle for the emancipation of women of that country and of the world”, Josefina Pitra Diakite wrote.

Born in the eastern part of the country, Espin fought against Fulgêncio Baptista dictatorship in the 1950’s, having been one of the last representatives of a generation of revolutionary women that marked the recent history of Cuba.