Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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Tougher air checks for SOME travellers: Britain could follow U.S. lead over 'terror' nations

By Daniel Martin and David Gardner
Last updated at 7:22 AM on 05th January 2010

Extra airport security checks may be focused on travellers from Muslim countries which have been deemed more prone to terrorism.
These passengers could be subjected to special pat-down searches and more thorough luggage checks.

The controversial targeting - which critics say amounts to discrimination - was brought in yesterday in the U.S. as part of stepped-up security following the failed plan to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.
Security threat: An officer searches a passenger at the international departure lounge of Benazir Bhutto Airport in Islamabad, Pakistan

Airline passengers in Pakistan heading to the U.S. met increased security screening following requests from the States for stricter checks
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis plans to make a statement later this week on the extra checks he wants in Britain, following the announcement that full-body scanners will be installed at major airports.

Last night, civil liberties groups warned that such passenger profiling could radicalise more Muslims.
Before yesterday's U.S. move, only Israel openly used such a system.
Now all air travellers from 14 countries will have to go through extra searches at boarding gates before being allowed on to American-bound flights.
A Transportation Security Administration officer views a full-body scan during a demonstration of passenger screening technology
Top of the 14-strong list are mainly Muslim Iran, Sudan and Syria, followed by Cuba. All four countries are considered by the U.S. to be state sponsors of terror.
Passengers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen will also be affected, as will people travelling from or passing through any of those countries.
Whitehall is now under pressure from airports to follow suit.
Passengers wait as a U.S. TSA officer checks the travel documents of passengers at Los Angeles International Airport
BAA, which runs Britain's major airports, said: 'It is our view that a combination of technology, intelligence and passenger profiling will help build a more robust defence against the unpredictable and changing nature of the terrorist threat.'
But Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties group Liberty, said: 'Has no one noticed the terrorists' ability to capitalise on discrimination, or the recruits from a range of backgrounds?
'Suspicious behaviour is a sensible basis for search by policing professionals - race or religion is not.'
The International Air Transport Association, an umbrella group representing 230 airlines, welcomed the U.S. changes as 'definitely a step in the right direction'.
X-ray: The scanners will be installed at every major airport in the country within weeks
An airline security official in Israel, which has some of the most rigorous screening procedures in the world, said: 'We appreciate the right of passengers not to suffer from discrimination, but we feel the right of other passengers not to be blown up in the sky has to take precedence.'
But Nawar Shora, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, warned: 'This is extreme and very dangerous.'

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: 'The security of airline passengers and crew is our highest priority, and we are constantly reviewing airport security, given the ever-changing threat from global terrorism.
'The UK already has one of the strictest aviation security regimes in the world and we will continue to consider carefully what additional measures are required in response to this latest incident.'
Lord Adonis said at the weekend that among the security measures being considered were for all passengers to face two body searches, with the second taking place at the gate just before boarding.
All transit and transfer passengers passing through Britain would be screened and have their hand luggage checked for traces of explosives before being allowed on their flights.
The Transport Secretary is also looking at copying the U.S ban on passengers leaving their seats for the final hour before landing.

Passengers on a BA flight to London had to disembark and go through security a second time in Abu Dhabi yesterday after a woman told the captain a security man had been talking on his mobile rather than watching his screen.

Fanatics killed in Yemen

Two Al Qaeda militants were killed by security forces in Yemen yesterday.
Yemeni officials said the militants were behind a terrorist threat which has forced the British, U.S. and other European embassies to shut as concerns grow about the country's stability.
'Security authorities had been monitoring them for several days and struck today,' a Yemeni official said. 'These elements are believed to be behind the threats directed to the embassies.'
The raid took place near the capital, San'a, after the attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day thrust Yemen into the foreground of the struggle against Islamic militants.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen branch of Osama bin Laden's network, claimed responsibility for the attempt to blow up the Detroit-bound plane.
The British and U.S. embassies in San'a stayed shut for a second day in response to what they said were Al Qaeda threats.
There has also been civil unrest in the country in the past two days.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that the situation in Yemen was a threat to both regional and global stability.


March 2010

Two political prisoners released
HAVANA Cuba, March 4 (Leticia Ramos and Tania Maceda/ – Two political prisoners have been freed after serving sentences of two and three years.
Daisy Talavera, 39, was freed in from the women’s prison in Matanzas after being sentenced for disrespect of authority.  She’s a member of the Marta Abreu Feminine Movement.
Ramón Velásquez, 54, was freed from the Piedra prison camp in Las Tunas after serving his three-year sentence as a danger to society. He was found guilty of being a danger to society for leading an anti-government protest march from Santiago de Cuba.

Independent journalist held for 10 hours

HAVANA, Cuba, March 1 (Luis Cino, - Independent journalist Juan González Febles was detained for 10 hours last week.

Two state security agents detained Febles February 24 around 3 p.m. on Neptune Street in Central Havana  as he approached the home of

Laura Pollán of the Ladies in White to sign a condolence book in honor of political prisoner  Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who starved himself to death.

Febles, 59, was taken to the Zanja police station where he was held until late in the evening. He is director of Primavera Digital.
Generation Y is a Blog inspired by people like me, with names that start with or contain a "Y". Born in Cuba in the '70s and '80s, marked by schools in the countryside, Russian cartoons, illegal emigration and frustration. So I invite, especially, Yanisleidi, Yoandri, Yusimí, Yuniesky and others who carry their "Y's" to read me and to write to me.

Glass House 

By Yoani Sanchez 

Along with Brazilian soap operas, documentaries pirated from the Discovery Channel, and the boring Round Table talk show, there is another form of television reporting that emulates the saga of “Big Brother.” On our little screen we see citizens filmed by hidden cameras and get a view of the emails in their electronic in-boxes, without any of this having been ordered by a judge. As if we lived in a glass house overseen by the State’s severe eye, even the telephone company records the conversations of its clients and broadcasts them to eleven million shocked viewers.
The final form of this public dissection is to air the declarations of doctors who violate the privacy of what is said in a consultation to reveal the details of a medical case, an act as serious as that of the priest who betrays the secrets of the confessional. Photos of the insides of the homes and even the refrigerators of those who have dared to contravene official opinion emerge, while the paparazzi and political police are fused into a single character very close to a voyeur. It would not surprise me that some dossier – waiting to be brought to light – displays the nude body of a non-conformist, as if being naked were irrefutable proof of his “badness.”
Images taken out of context, edited phrases, and unfavorable angles meant to generate aversion in public opinion, are some of the techniques around which these TV reports are built. In none of them is the “victim” interviewed, which of course prevents the run-of-the-mill viewer from finding out they have critical opinions in common. Unfortunately for the crude producers of this kind of reality show, the technology in the hands of citizens has started to make the walls around our lives transparent as well. Having been so long observed, we now see that there is hole we can look through to the other side of the fence.
Marzo 8th, 2010 | Category: F: Generation Y | 59 comments |

Israel Cuarta Labrada, Cuban Political Prisoner of the Week, 3/7/10

This post will remain at the top of the page through Friday, events allowing. To read newer posts, scroll down.
Cuban human rights activist Israel Cuarta Labrada in June 2007 was sentenced to 4 years in the Castro gulag on charges of "disrespect" and "attacking" — two of the regime's favorite charges it uses to try to silence its opposition.
A member of the February 24 Human Rights Movement, Cuarta was arrested and convicted in a Havana-area court after protesting the Castro dictatorship and clashing with police, according to a report posted at Payo Libre.
S:Uncommon Sense

Freedom of speech in Cuba...

RSF Che image


1. Cuba, the world's biggest prison for journalists

Promulgated in February 1999, the "88 Law" – soon nicknamed the "gagging law" in dissident circles – weighs like the Sword of Damocles over any person who "collaborates, by any means whatsoever, with radio or television programmes, magazines or any other foreign media" or "provides information" considered likely to serve US policy. The law provides for very heavy sentences: up to 20 years' imprisonment, confiscation of all personal belongings and fines up to 100,000 pesos (close to 4,800 dollars, while the average Cuban salary is 250 pesos or 12 dollars per month). This law, that no court has taken advantage of as yet, also provides for punishment for "the promotion, organisation or encouragement of, or the participation in meetings or demonstrations.
In Cuba, they don't just censor you now - they throw you in jail.Independent journalists in jail in Cuba
President Fidel Castro's police rounded up 26 independent journalists on 18 March, along with more than 50 political dissidents, all for the same reason. At the beginning of April, Cuban courts dispatched each of these journalists to prison for between 14 and 27 years after three days of sham trials. They were punished for allegedly working with the United States "against the independence and territorial integrity of the state," which is a crime under article 91 of the Cuban criminal code and under article 88 on "protecting national independence" (known as the "gag law").
Those targeted had regularly published articles in the foreign press, mostly American, since no independent or privately-owned newspaper or radio or TV station is allowed in Cuba, and had recently dared to start up two underground publications in Cuba itself - "De Cuba" and "Luz Cubana" - which was unprecedented in the 44 years of President Castro's rule.
This new persecution of political opponents and independent journalists, as well as the execution on 11 April of three would-be refugees who hijacked a ferry in a bid to reach Florida, has revolted democrats around the world, even leading the European Union to reconsider its future economic cooperation with Cuba.
Reporters Without Borders invites the public to sign a petition calling for the immediate release of the 26 journalists, who have been thrown in jail to stop them speaking out freely.
The arrests mean Cuba is now the world's biggest prison for journalists and that President Castro has become the "Maximum Leader" of predators of press freedom.

Each of these men:

List of journalists in prison:

Cuba: back to darkness

Urgent message for Latin American, European and Canadian officials who welcomed Pope John Paul II's 1998 visit to Cuba as a sign of a new opening on the island: You should read Cuba's new gag law against independent thinkers. It's a return to the darkest ages of Soviet communism or European fascism. The Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba -- better known as Law No. 88 -- was passed by Cuba's rubber-stamp National Assembly last month, but its full text is only now beginning to circulate among foreign governments and human rights groups.
Judging from a copy I received this week, it's not only directed against Cuba's courageous independent journalists but could be applied to any Cuban who writes a letter abroad complaining about Cuba's problems, or -- God forbid -- suggesting that the Maximum Leader may be less than perfect.
Among its key provisions:
  •  Article 6: Sets prison terms from three to eight years for those ``who accumulate, reproduce or spread material of subversive character from the government of the United States of America, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, officials, or from any other foreign entity [my italics].'' Target: any publication sent by foreign pro-democracy groups, which often smuggle into the island copies of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, or banned books like George Orwell's Animal Farm and biographies of Martin Luther King and Mohandas K. Ghandi.

  •  Article 7: Sets penalties from two to five years in prison for ``anyone who . . . collaborates in any way with foreign radio or television stations, newspapers, magazines or other mass media with the purpose of . . . destabilizing the country and destroying the socialist state.'' The penalties rise to three to eight years in prison if such collaboration ``is carried out for profit.'' Target: Cuba's independent journalists, who are not allowed to work in state-controlled media, and sell their reports to foreign media. Many of them have become a more reliable source of news than the Communist Party's daily Granma or the government's news agency Prensa Latina.

  •  Article 9: Sets prison terms of seven to 15 years to ``anyone who . . . carries out any action aimed at hindering or hurting economic relations of the Cuban state.'' Target: Could be applied against any Cuban who complains to a foreigner about the state of the economy, since such information can lead a potential foreign business partner not to invest on the island.

  •  Article 11: Sets prison terms of three to eight years to ``anyone who . . . directly or through third parties, receives, distributes or participates in the distribution of financial, material or other resources, from the government of the United States, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, officials or private entities [my italics].'' Target: The paragraph is aimed at prohibiting religious or other nongovernmental organizations from sending money, computers or fax machines to independent groups or individuals in Cuba.
    Conclusion: While Law 88 is ostensibly aimed at countering the ``U.S. economic war on Cuba,'' its real target is not the U.S. government -- which has been trying to build bridges to Cuba lately -- but Cuba's independent journalists, independent civic groups on the island, and U.S. and European nongovernmental organizations trying to help them.
    ``It's lamentable,'' Pierre Shori, Sweden's minister of international cooperation, told me in a telephone interview Wednesday. ``This kind of free movement of thought should be allowed: It's part of the modern world. No man is an island, and neither can be Cuba.''

    Published Thursday, March 18, 1999, in the Miami Herald
    Andres Oppenheimer Andres Oppenheimer is a foreign correspondent and a member of The Miami Herald team that won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize.

  • Google settles down with Exporting Restrictions to Cuba, Sudan, and Iran.

    Google Inc. Exec. Bob Boorstin announces Market Moving news regarding Internet Communication.
    North Bergen, New Jersey 3/09/2010 03:58 GMT (TransWorldNews)
    Google will welcome countries such as Sudan, Iran, and Cuba with Internet Communications…Google Inc. trades on the “NASDAQ” under the Stock Symbol ”GOOG”. For the Latest information regarding “GOOG”, make sure to visit the Most Exclusive and In Depth newsletter website at:

    Join today and be part of the best free investment newsletter on the web where we focus on market moving news.

    A senior Google executive welcomed on Tuesday a U.S. decision to relax restrictions on exporting Internet communications services to Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

    "This is a great accomplishment," Boorstin told a human rights meeting in Geneva. "We are hopeful this will help people like yourselves in this room and activists all over the world take a small step down what is certainly a long road ahead."

    Bob Boorstin, Google's director of policy communications, said the Web search company would now be able to offer some of its other products in those countries, such as the mapping satellite software Google Earth, photo management program Picasa and Internet chat client Google Talk.

    The U.S. Treasury Department said the change to existing trade sanctions was intended to help people "exercise their most basic rights" with the help of instant messaging service and e-mail.

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    Cuba replaces head of civil aviation

    HAVANA – Cuba has replaced the official who oversees the country's airlines and airports, a general who fought alongside Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara as a teenager, according to a terse statement in official media.
    Rogelio Acevedo was replaced by Gen. Ramon Martinez Echevarria, the current No. 2 in the Air Force air defense unit, according to an announcement published Tuesday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
    No reason was given for the change at the Civil Aeronatics Institute, which has played an important role in the expansion of Cuba's tourism industry. The announcement said Acevedo, 68, would be given "other tasks," but it did not describe them or refer to Acevedo's background as a revolutionary.
    Acevedo joined the fight against dictator Fulgencio Batista when he was 16, fighting in the Sierra Maestra mountains in a unit led by Guevara. His younger brother Enrique joined him, and wrote about the experience in a book titled "The Shirtless Ones."
    After the revolution triumphed in 1959, Acevedo was named first head of a new national militia at age 18, and he later fought with Cuban forces in Angola.
    He is a longtime member of the Communist Party's Central Committee and has run the Civil Aviation Institute since 1989.
    Martinez studied in the former Soviet Union as a helicopter pilot, and is also a veteran of Angola. The Civil Aviation authority controls all air transport in Cuba.
    LPPAlert: Source anonimous from Cuba say: Cuban Authorities do not reported that 137 millions (USDollars)was found inside Water'sDeposit at Acevedo's house from loundry money...