Women’s Boxing Added for 2012 Olympics
BERLIN — Berlin has not been an Olympic city since 1936, but the Olympics were changed here Thursday, and more change could be on the way.
Meeting in the German capital, the International Olympic Committee’s executive board voted to include women’s boxing in the 2012 Summer Games in London. The 15-member board, presided over by the I.O.C. president, Jacques Rogge, also voted to recommend that rugby sevens and golf be included in the program for the 2016 Olympic Games. But it rejected the candidacies of five other sports: baseball, karate, roller sports, softball and squash.
The full I.O.C. membership will vote in October to decide whether rugby and golf will be incorporated.
“I hope they will be, but this requires a majority vote by the I.O.C. session,” Rogge said.
No more votes will be required on women’s boxing. Because boxing is already an Olympic sport, the board does not require the full membership’s approval to add women, and so one of the sturdiest gender barriers in the Olympics came crashing down.
Of the 26 sports contested last summer in Beijing, boxing was the only one that did not include women, in part a reflection of lingering cultural perceptions that boxing is too dangerous for women.
“I think it’s a very important and symbolic message from the I.O.C. to the world,” said Wu Ching-kuo, president of the International Boxing Association.
“I think people’s conception of women’s boxing were influenced by professional women’s boxing,” Wu said. “The amateur boxer and professional boxer, they are different. Different rules, different security concerns and measures. Amateurs have a head guard. Last year in China, we had the world championships, 250 boxers, more than 50 countries, and no single injury.”
To include three women’s weight classes in boxing, the number of men’s weight classes will be cut to 10 from 11.
“I am delighted that London 2012 will take its place in the Olympic tradition of advancing women in sport,” said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee.
Thirty-six women’s boxers will be part of the Olympics in London, but other women will have to continue to wait. Softball, an Olympic sport from 1996 to 2008, was removed from the 2012 program, along with baseball, in an I.O.C. vote in 2005.
Don Porter, an American who is president of the International Softball Federation, mounted a vigorous campaign to reintegrate softball in the Games, lobbying and traveling extensively. But on Thursday, Porter was left searching for answers as he listened to Rogge’s announcement at a news conference in a Berlin hotel.
The I.O.C.’s initial decision to remove softball came at a time when the American team was dominant and when there were concerns about the sport’s universality. It also came at a time of widespread anti-American sentiment globally. But the Americans lost the gold-medal game in Beijing last year to Japan, and Porter said he did not believe that a backlash against Americans was a factor this time, even though no Americans are on the executive board.
“I think the I.O.C. has a tough decision to make when they do look at all the sports, and they have to determine what they feel is best,” he said. “It’s their Games.
“Naturally, we’re disappointed and would have hoped they would see it differently, but that’s how sport is, and we’re going to continue our efforts, going to work and do as much as we possibly can to grow our sport.”
With the I.O.C. eager to promote women’s sports, Rogge was asked how he could justify the decision to reject softball. Rogge said he followed his usual custom by not voting Thursday, but suggested that the members who did support rugby and golf were “reassured” by the fact that although softball would have brought 120 women into the Games, rugby could potentially bring in 144 women on 12 teams and golf 60.
Golf and rugby have been in the Olympics before. Golf was part of the 1900 and 1904 Games. Rugby union, the classic 15-a-side-version of the game, was part of four Olympics, most recently in 1924.
But rugby officials are proposing its faster-paced, seven-a-side version for the Olympics, and it received the strongest support of any of the candidate sports, achieving the simple majority required on the second secret ballot. Bernard Lapasset, the Frenchman who is president of the International Rugby Board, said what made the difference was the geographical spread of nations that play rugby sevens, its festive culture and the fact it is played by men and women.
Top golfers have expressed support for the Olympics, even though their sport already features plenty of competitive pinnacles, including the four major championships.
But Peter Dawson, the chief executive of golf’s global governing body, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, said he believed the Olympic tournament, which would mimic the majors in its proposed 72-hole stroke play format, would not be a minor event.
“I think the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games and win a gold medal with the name of your country on your back is a very different thing to playing for yourself in golf’s major championships,” said Dawson, who also said Olympic status would boost youth participation significantly.First, however, they have to achieve Olympic status. “We’re not counting our chickens,” Dawson said.
Julio Iglesias Supports Juanes
Julio Iglesias who is the internationally known singer from Spain declared his support for Juanes concert in Cuba. Julio Iglesias made his declarations in an interview with the radio station based in Colombia called W Radio.
Mr. Iglesias reiterated that the intention of Juanes is to "sing in Cuba and nothing more". He calles Juanes a "great artist and humanitarian" who will be "transmitting a message of love and music" to Cuba.
It is refreshing to see people who are supporting a concert which is only meant to promote music. There were other developments in the Juanes story.
Gorky Avila [who is one of the singers of the Cuban Rock Group Porno Para Ricardo] stated in an interview with Oscar Haza [the host of the news talk show "A Mano Limpia" [Transparent Hands] transmitted by the US Latin Station America Teve] that he is ready to participate in the concert by Juanes "if the Cuban Authorities allow me".
Gorky Avila reminded the people watching the interview that his group as well as himself have been jailed repeatedly for music that criticizes the Castro Government in Cuba. In the case of Gorky Avila, the ball appears to be in the court of the Cuban Government.
Source : Now Public Crowd Powered Media
EU concerns over dissident anger Cuba
By Jeff Franks
HAVANA (Reuters) - Diplomats from European Union countries angered Cuba on Thursday when they went to the home of a jailed dissident to express their concern about the case and what they view as government efforts to quell dissent.
Their visit signaled that despite improved relations with Cuba, the EU still has reservations about the communist government's treatment of opponents.
Cuba's government reacted swiftly, summoning ambassadors or charges d'affaires from the five countries whose diplomats made the visit -- Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Germany and Britain -- to say they had threatened recently renewed EU-Cuba dialogue.
"The message was of criticism about the visit, meddling in Cuban internal affairs and putting at risk the political dialogue. It was a pretty strong move," said a European diplomat.
The five diplomats had met with Yusnaimy Jorge Soca, the wife of Cuban physician Darsi Ferrer who has been imprisoned since July 21 on charges he bought two bags of cement on the black market and verbally assaulted a neighbor.
No trial date has been set for Ferrer, 39, who has organized walks along Havana's seaside boulevard, the Malecon, and in front of local UNESCO offices to support human rights.
Angry mobs attacked his small group at the UNESCO walks in 2006 and 2007.
His wife, pointing to concrete ceiling beams with gaping holes in the living room of their cramped home, told reporters a friend had given them cement to make repairs.
"My husband is not in prison for two bags of cement," she said. "He's in prison for dreaming."
Swedish diplomat Ingemar Cederberg, speaking on behalf of the EU group, said the case looked suspiciously like a political prosecution hidden behind trumped-up criminal charges and needed to be "clarified."
"There's a question mark when it comes to this arrest," Cederberg said. "There are accusations that belong to the category of common crime, not really political, and (our visit) is a way of showing our interest that the case should advance and get clarified."
Sweden currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
The government has been accused by the Cuban Commission on Human Rights, a group that tracks political prisoners, of using short detentions to quell dissent.
Cuba views dissidents as mercenaries working on behalf of its long-time enemy the United States, which openly supports opposition groups.
Cederberg said there were several recent cases of government opponents being jailed on nonpolitical
Cuba may be "trying to invent something new and that is very worrying," he said.
"We have given signals (to Cuba) on this case and (expressed) concern in general about the situation," he said.
Ferrer's wife said she believed he was arrested because the Cuban government feared his Malecon walks could provoke wider protests amid the country's economic crisis.
"All this is theater by state security," she said.
The EU, which has 27 member nations, lifted diplomatic sanctions and re-established cooperation with Cuba last year after a five-year rift over Cuban political prisoners.
But the EU said it would review Cuba's human rights situation annually.
Cuba and the EU resumed political dialogue in May, when Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the country has no political prisoners because all inmates had undergone due legal process.
The Cuban Commission on Human Rights said in a recent report that there were 208 political prisoners on the island.
Another European diplomat said the EU did not view Thursday's row as a threat to warmer EU-Cuba relations.
"The EU has a dialogue with Cuba and we very much want it to continue," he said. "In our view, (the visit) was very much in line with what we're doing here. We don't see it as meddling in Cuban internal or legal affairs."
Source: Reuter (Editing by Pascal Fletcher and John O'Callaghan)
Fidel Castro says racist right-wingers fight Obama
HAVANA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is trying to make positive changes in the United States, but is being fought at every turn by right-wingers who hate him because he is black, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday.
In an unusually conciliatory column in the state-run media, Castro said Obama had inherited many problems from his predecessor, George W. Bush, and was trying to resolve them. But the "powerful extreme right won't be happy with anything that diminishes their prerogatives in the slightest way."
Obama does not want to change the U.S. political and economic system, but "in spite of that, the extreme right hates him for being African-American and fights what the president does to improve the deteriorated image of that country," Castro wrote.
"I don't have the slightest doubt that the racist right will do everything possible to wear him down, blocking his program to get him out of the game one way or another, at the least political cost," he said.
Castro, who writes regular commentaries for Cuba's state-run media, has criticized Obama, complimented him occasionally and said that he is watching him closely to see if he means what he says about changing U.S. policy toward Cuba.
His latest column comes during a visit to Cuba by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson that has stirred speculation that he may try to push U.S.-Cuba relations forward.
Richardson has been a diplomatic trouble-shooter in nations with which the United States has poor relations. In 1996 he negotiated with Castro for the release of three Cuban political prisoners.
Obama has said he wants to end 50 years of hostilities between the United States and Cuba and has eased the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against the communist-led island.
But he has said the embargo will be lifted only if Cuba shows progress on political prisoners and human rights. Cuban President Raul Castro has said he is happy to discuss these issues but will make no unilateral concessions.
Obama has been criticized by anti-embargo groups for moving too slowly on Cuban policy.
Castro, 83, ran Cuba for 49 years after taking power in a 1959 revolution, but stepped down last year so Raul Castro, his younger brother, could succeed him.
He has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006, but still plays a behind-the-scenes role in government and maintains a high profile through his writings.
He appeared on Cuban television on Sunday for the first time in 14 months meeting with Venezuelan students.
He seemed in good health as he smiled and talked with the students in an appearance some experts believe was aimed at shoring up support for his brother and the government at a time when Cuba is in deep economic crisis.
(Reporting by Jeff Franks; editing by Chris Wilson)
Well, I Guess that Settles It
Cuba’s murderous dictator has declared Obama’s opponents to be racists. I guess there is no point in arguing the point any more.
President Barack Obama is trying to make positive changes in the United States, but is being fought at every turn by right-wingers who hate him because he is black, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday. In an unusually conciliatory column in the state-run media, Castro said Obama had inherited many problems from his predecessor, George W. Bush, and was trying to resolve them. But the "powerful extreme right won't be happy with anything that diminishes their prerogatives in the slightest way."
When one of the last remaining old-line Commie dictators has spoken, I guess there really isn’t any room for debate any more -- we’re just a bunch of angry right-wing racists. But I can’t help but find it interesting that the Communist line on opposition to Obama is exactly the same as that of the Democrats. Sorta makes one wonder.
Source : Rhynes with Rights...