Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Magnitude-4.4 earthquake shakes Southern Calif.

LOS ANGELES – An earthquake east of downtown Los Angeles rippled across Southern California before dawn Tuesday, jolting millions of people awake and putting first-responders on alert but causing no damage, injuries or power outages. The magnitude-4.4 quake, centered about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, struck shortly after 4 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The California Highway Patrol reported a buckled 10-foot stretch of concrete on Interstate 5 south of downtown, but it was unclear if the broken concrete was caused by the quake. "It was a shake, but not bad. Our inmates slept through it and we had a few calls, but not as many as you would think," Pico Rivera sheriff's station Sgt. Jacqueline Sanchez said. Deputies were immediately dispatched to check on bridges and dams, he said. Los Angeles County Fire Department supervising dispatcher Andre Gougis said there were no injury reports and the department was at normal operations. Gougis said the quake was felt as his east Los Angeles headquarters. "There was an initial jolt, then mild shaking after that," he said. Though the quake was considered small in size, it was felt over a large swath of Southern California. People from San Bernardino County to the east and Santa Monica, about 25 miles to the west, reported feeling it. "The building started shaking. That's it. I'm used to it," said Ruben Solis, a 25-year-old security guard who works downtown. Solis said he checked his monitors and no alarms were triggered. "I got up and went on patrol," he said. The quake hit not far from the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, a magnitude 5.9 quake that killed eight people and caused more than $350 million in damage. The latest jolt was not likely to inflict the same damage. "I'm sure people would have felt it, but this is not an earthquake that will be damaging," said USGS geophysicist Amy Vaughan. Tuesday's early morning jolt was probably not related to the Whittier Narrows quake because too much time has elapsed, said California Institute of Technology seismologist Kate Hutton. Scientists have not yet determined which fault was responsible for the latest quake. Hutton said there's a small chance that Tuesday's temblor is a precursor to a larger event, but the likelihood diminishes over time.

Cuban TV program charts 638 assassination attempts on Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro's longevity is being celebrated by a new series on Cuban TV that charts his escape from 638 assassination attempts.

Cuban TV program charts 638 assassination attempts on Fidel Castro
The first episode focuses on efforts to kill Castro when he was a young revolutionary in Mexico in 1956 Photo: REUTERS
He Who Must Live, an eight-part series, combines more than 1,000 actors and extras, CSI-type fiction, docu-drama and archive material into a lavish production the likes of which is rarely seen by viewers in the impoverished country.
The series, which explains how the CIA spent years trying to kill the communist leader, was brought to life by the interior ministry, institute of police sciences and state-sanctioned film-makers, the Guardian reports.
"As a historical series we turn to a mix of genres to help us and give the viewers more information about the facts," the director, Rafael Ruiz Benítez, told officials before the first 70-minute instalment aired last Sunday.
Dan Erikson, an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank and author of The Cuba Wars, told the paper: "Fidel Castro may be leaving the stage but it's already clear that he has no plans to go quietly. By commissioning a major television series about how Fidel Castro outwitted and outlasted his foes in the United States over the past 50 years, the Cuban government is reviving one of its favourite story lines and burnishing the mythology that swirls around Cuba's revolutionary leader."
The first episode focuses on efforts to kill Castro when he was a young revolutionary in Mexico in 1956.
Later instalments feature the CIA's notorious and much derided efforts to kill the Soviet ally after his insurgency triumphed and he established a communist state 90 miles off Florida.

Warrants for Cuba-Based Terrorists

Monday, March 15, 2010
A Spanish judge requested international arrests warrants for six suspected members of the Basque terrorist group, ETA, and six members of the Colombian narco-terrorist group, FARC.

Three of the six ETA suspects named in the arrest warrants live in Cuba.
On March 1st, they were charged with terrorism and conspiracy to assassinate government officials, including Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, during a trip to Spain.

How will the Castro regime respond?
If history (and the regime's silence) is any indicator, it will continue to harbor terrorists.

February Repressive Arrests Double

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), the number of civil society activists arbitrarily arrested in February by the Castro regime doubled to 236.
And these are only arrests they've been able to track down and document. There are likely many more.

The CCDHRN had reported 93 arrests in December 2009 and 113 in January of this year.

Why is the Castro regime so afraid of the Cuban people?

March 13, 2010

A video tribute to Guillermo Fariñas

Monday, March 15, 2010

Archives of the Miami News

Back in 2008, Google began a project to digitize old newspaper microfilm with the goal to present historic news articles online. (What a great idea.) And, recently I was happy to see that the archived microfilm of the now-defunct Miami News (first known as The Miami Metropolis) is now increasingly available.

I believe the Palm Beach Post has provided Google with the Miami News microfilm, and its been a virtual treasure to search through. I think I will start posting about some of the more interesting historical articles I find related to U.S. policy towards Cuba.

Above is a photo of Fidel Castro above an opinion column titled "We have no right to meddle in Cuba's internal affairs," dated January 18, 1959 and written by William "Bill" Baggs, editor of the Miami News. The article concludes:

"And, as declared in this comment, no one ever gave any citizen of the United States any right to reside over the domestic affairs of Cuba.

"And anyone who assumes the right, a Congressman or anyone else, is a foolish meddler in a nervous world."

  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.

By Yoani Sanchez

Reporting the news… living the news 


To report what hurts us, to write about what we have encountered, touched, suffered, transcends the journalistic experience to become a living testimony. The distance between articles about a man on a hunger strike and the act of feeling his ribs protruding from his sides, is an abyss. Thus, no interview can reproduce the tear filled eyes of Clara, Guillermo Fariñas’ wife, while she tells me that for their daughter her father has a stomach illness and so grows thinner every day. Not even a long report could manage to describe the panic induced by the camera which, a hundred yards from the home of this Villa Claran, observes and films everyone who approaches number 615A Calle Alemán.
To accumulate paragraphs, compile quotes and show recordings, fails to convey the odor of the emergency room where Fariñas was moved yesterday. My guilt for having come too late to beg him to eat again, to persuade him to avoid irreversible damage to his health, is unbearable. On the drive there I wove together some phrases to convince him not to carry on to the end, but before coming into the city a text message confirmed he was hospitalized. I would have said to him, “You have already accomplished it, you have helped to remove their mask,” but instead of this I had to offer words of consolation to his family, sitting in his absence in that room in the humble neighborhood of La Chirusa.
Why have they brought us to this point? How can they close all the paths of dialog, debate, healthy dissent and necessary criticism? When this kind of protest, a protest of empty stomachs, happens in a country we have to question whether they have left citizens any other way to show their lack of consent. Fariñas knows they will never give him one minute on the radio, that his voice cannot rise up, without penalty, in a public place. Refusing to eat was the way he found to show the desperation and despair of living under a system that gags and masks his most important “conquests.”
Coco cannot die. Because in the long funeral procession that is taking Orlando Zapata Tamayo, our voice and the rights of citizens which they killed long ago… there is no room for one more death.
Marzo 12th, 2010 | Category: F:Generation Y | 90 comments |

March 15, 2010

Russians invited to enjoy 'health tourism'

If you get sick, tovarishch, you couldn't do better than come to Cuba for treatment. That's pretty much the message voiced by Carmen Casal, an official of the Ministry of Tourism who addressed Russian tour operators Monday in Havana.
As reported by Prensa Latina, Casal "described the advantages of [Cuba's] health-tourism service, with emphasis on the benefits of a follow-up after an operation or treatment of an illness."
The service is called Servimed.
"To serve tourists, Servimed has a network of 40 medical offices and 64 international pharmacies. Also, it offers services at the Center for Neurological Rehabilitation and the International Center for Retinitis Pigmentosa, among other facilities," Prensa Latina said.
"The Placental Hystotherapy Center treats skin diseases such as psoriasis and vitiligo, which are most frequent among the Russians who solicit the services of Servimed in Cuba."
Health-tourism services are also provided at the Riviera Hotel in Havana, the Plaza America in Varadero, and other resorts, the news agency said.
Casal's presentation to the Russian travel agents was attended by officials of the Russian Embassy and representatives from the Cuban travel agencies Sol y Son, Havanatur, Mintur, Cubatur, and Gaviota.
To read more about Cuba's medical services for foreign visitors, Russian or not, click here and here.
–Renato Pérez Pizarro.
Posted by Renato Perez at 11:49 PM in Science, Tourism
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100 unproductive farms will be shut down, 40,000 farm hands reassigned, official says

About 100 "inefficient [farm] enterprises" will be shut down this year "to spur production in this sector, which is considered by the government to be strategic," the official daily Granma reported Monday, citing Agriculture Minister Ulises Rosales del Toro.
(foto1) Rosales revealed the closings at a meeting of the National Association of Small Farmers held in Santa Clara. He said the companies – which he did not describe or list – "are not profitable in the current economic situation."
About 40,000 workers who are indirectly dependent on farm labor will be relocated, the minister said. He did not say if they will remain in farm work or retrained into other trades.
"To increase efficiency and production," Cubans need "to adjust our own mechanisms and transform the work of the farmers," Rosales was quoted as saying.
The decisions are in line with a pronouncement by Raúl Castro last Dec. 20, when he told the National Assembly that "the development of our agriculture constitutes a matter of national security" and warned that, in the pursuit of increased production,  "trims can be made in all of the nation's activities."
–Renato Pérez Pizarro.
Posted by Renato Perez at 12:55 PM in Comestibles, Economy & Trade, Raul Castro
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S:Cuban Colada 

Cuba slams US easing of sanctions on Web services

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Cuba slams US easing of sanctions on Web services AFP/File – A man works on a computer at a technology fair in Havana. A US decision to ease sanctions on the island …
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HAVANA (AFP) – A US decision to ease sanctions on Cuba and two other countries to allow exports of Internet services is intended to "destabilize" the communist island, Cuba's government has said.
The US State Department announced March 8 it would ease sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan to increase citizens' access to online communication tools and boost "free speech and information to the greatest extent possible."
But Cuban President Raul Castro's government said the decision "said clearly that its objective was to use these service as tools of subversion and destabilization," according to statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
"This shows once again that the US government is not interesting in softening its policy nor in developing normal relations with Cuba, but only in developing a network that facilitates its subversive actions in our nation," the statement added.
The US Treasury Department modified sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Sudan to allow exports by US companies of services related to Web browsing, blogging, email, instant messaging, chat, social networking and photo- and movie-sharing.
Cuban authorities exercise strict control over the Internet, blocking communication sites like Skype and blogs that are critical of the government.
Few Cubans have access to the Internet, which is cannot be installed in private residences without express permission from authorities.
Where access is available in places like hotels, the cost -- often eight dollars an hour in a country where a monthly salary runs around 20 dollars -- is prohibitively high.

US air charter companies fight Cuba judgment

Associated Press - March 16, 2010 3:14 AM ET
MIAMI (AP) - Eight charter companies that provide air travel between the U.S. and Cuba are seeking to block an order requiring they help pay a $27 million award won by a woman who said she was tricked into marrying a Cuban spy.
Ana Margarita Martinez won a 2001 default judgment against Cuba and successfully sued the companies in 2007 to help indirectly collect the money from the island.
Martinez wants the air charter companies to pay her money they owe companies in Cuba. In a hearing scheduled Tuesday for federal court in Miami, the charter companies are expected to ask a judge to halt any payments to Martinez. The companies say Martinez's efforts could put them out of business and hurt the ability of Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island.