CHICAGO – President Barack Obama is paying his respects to America's war dead. The president is scheduled to lay a wreath and deliver remarks Monday at a Memorial Day observance at the Abraham Lincoln Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., south of Chicago. Presidents traditionally participate in an annual Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, as Obama did last year, his first as president. Some veterans groups have criticized Obama for not appearing at the nation's most hallowed burial ground this Memorial Day. Vice President Joe Biden will help lay the wreath at Arlington instead. Obama spoke at the Lincoln cemetery in 2005. He and his family spent the holiday weekend at their home in Chicago.
Monday, May 31, 2010
By AMY TEIBEL and TIA GOLDENBERG, Associated Press Writers Amy Teibel And Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press Writers – 31 mins ago
JERUSALEM – Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, killing at least 10 passengers in a predawn raid that set off worldwide condemnation and a diplomatic crisis. Israel said its commandos were attacked by knives, clubs and live fire from two pistols wrested from soldiers after they rappelled from a helicopter to board one of the vessels. Dozens of activists and at least 10 Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody confrontation in international waters. Reaction was swift and harsh, with a massive protest breaking out in Turkey, Israel's longtime Muslim ally, which unofficially supported the mission. Ankara announced it would recall its ambassador and call off military exercises with the Jewish state. The bloody showdown came at a sensitive time in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama to discuss the next round in U.S.-led indirect negotiations. From Toronto, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with top Israeli officials and expressed his "full backing" for the military, according to a statement from the army. The White House said in a written statement that the United States "deeply regrets" the loss of life and injuries and was working to understand the circumstances surrounding this "tragedy." The activists were headed to Gaza on a mission meant to draw attention to the blockade, which Israel and Egypt imposed after the militant Hamas group seized the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians in 2007. There were conflicting accounts of what happened early Monday, with activists claiming the Israelis fired first and Israel insisting its forces fired in self defense. Communications to the ships were cut off shortly after the raid began. An Israeli commando who spoke to reporters on a naval vessel off the coast, and who was identified only by the first letter of his name, "A," said he and his comrades were surprised by a group of Arabic-speaking men when they rapelled onto the deck. He said some of the soldiers, taken off guard, were stripped of their helmets and equipment and thrown from the top deck to the lower deck, and that some had even jumped overboard to save themselves. At one point one of the passengers seized one of the soldiers' weapons and opened fire. A high-ranking naval official displayed a box confiscated from the boat containing switchblades, slingshots, metal balls and metal bats. "We prepared (the soldiers) to deal with peace activists, not to fight," he said. Most of the 10 dead were Turkish, he added. A Turkish website showed video of pandemonium on board one of the ships, with activists in orange life jackets running around as some tried to help an activist apparently unconscious on the deck. The site also showed video of an Israeli helicopter flying overhead and Israeli warships nearby.Turkey's NTV showed activists beating one Israeli soldier with sticks as he rappelled from a helicopter onto one of the boats. Activists said Israeli naval commandos stormed the ships after ordering them to stop in international waters, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Gaza's coast. An Al-Jazeera reporter on one of the Turkish ships said the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it. The pan-Arab satellite channel reported by telephone from the Turkish ship leading the flotilla that Israeli navy forces fired at the ship and boarded it, wounding the captain. "These savages are killing people here, please help," a Turkish television reporter said. The broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, "Everybody shut up!" In a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel's military chief of staff and navy commander said the troops were able to take over the five other boats without incident and all of the violence was centered on the boat carrying most of the flotilla's passengers, the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara. Troops were attacked, said Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and an unspecified number of troops were helicoptered to hospital suffering from gunshots, knife wounds and blows. "To me it is clear without a doubt, judging by what I saw and what I heard in the first reports from the soldiers, that in light of the danger to human life this violence required the use of weapons, and in my opinion the soldiers acted as they should have in this situation," Ashkenazi said. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed regret for the loss of life, but called IHH, a Turkish group organizing the sea convoy, a violent organization "operating under cover of humanitarian activity." The ships were being towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod, and wounded were evacuated by helicopter to Israeli hospitals, officials said. Two ships had reached port by midday. Many of the passengers were from European countries. The European Union deplored what it called excessive use of force and demanded an investigation by Israel. The EU said the blockade of Gaza, now in its fourth year, is "politically unacceptable," and called for an immediate, sustained opening of crossings into the Hamas-controlled territory, according to a statement by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Turkey called on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session about Israel. Thousands marched in protest in Istanbul, some setting Israeli flags on fire after trying to storm the Israeli consulate. Israel quickly advised to its citizens to avoid travel to Turkey. In neighboring Jordan, hundreds demonstrated in the capital Amman to protest the Israeli action and demand that their government breaks diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Israeli security forces were on alert across the country for possible protests. There were no details on the identities of the casualties, or on the conditions of some of the more prominent people on board, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, European legislators and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 85. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli "aggression," declared three days of mourning across the West Bank and called on the U.N. Security Council and Arab League to hold emergency sessions on the incident. Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the rival Hamas government in Gaza, condemned the "brutal" Israeli attack and called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene. In Uganda, Ban condemned the deaths of the activists and called for a "thorough" investigation. "Israel must provide an explanation," he said. The activists were headed to Gaza on a mission meant to draw attention to a 3-year-old Israeli blockade of the coastal territory. Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group, violently seized the territory. Critics say the blockade has unfairly hurt Gaza's 1.5 million people. Before the ships set sail from waters off the east Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Sunday, Israel had urged the flotilla not to try to breach the blockade and offered to transfer some of the cargo to Gaza from an Israeli port, following a security inspection. The violent takeover threatened to deal yet another blow to Israel's international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory. Organizers included people affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group that often sends international activists into battle zones, and the IHH. The Turkish group is an Islamic humanitarian group that is based in Istanbul but operates in several other countries. Israel recently arrested the IHH's West Bank operative, but said his arrest was not related to the planned aid mission. Hasan Naiboglu, the Turkish maritime affairs undersecretary, told the Anatolia news agency that Israel had jammed communications with the ships. He accused Israel of violating international law by carrying out the raid in international waters. Turkey had unofficially supported the aid mission and has been vocally critical of Israeli military operations against Palestinians in Gaza. The flotilla of three cargo ships and three passenger ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid and 700 activists was carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials. This is the ninth time that the Free Gaza movement has tried to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza since August 2008. Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009. The latest flotilla was the largest to date. ___ Goldenberg reported from aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon. AP writer Selcan Hacaoglu contributed to this report from Ankara.
a Triumph of the Revolution
|Habana, Cuba -- Called to task by Fidel Castro to explain themselves for botching several operations on the 80 year old Cuban President, his surgeons have taken the unprecedented action of holding a news conference to explain to the world President Castro's medical condition. Chief Surgeon Rafael Bernardo of the Cuban Escuela Latinoamericana de Ciencias Médicas explained to the gathering: "When we first operated on the Maximum Leader we'd thought that he was suffering from a broken Wish Bone. The operation made President Castro's condition even worse. After several more unsuccessful operations on a Funny Bone, his Spare Ribs, and Water on the Knee we realized that his problem had to be related to his Bread Basket. Of course, if it were not for the U.S. embargo we would have had modern medical training devices and operated on his Bread Basket sooner," Cuba's Chief Surgeon said.|
Demonstration of the delicate surgical technique of removing a patient's Bread Basket using a 1950s era pre-revolution Halliburton Medical Group Super Fun Operation trainer.
"President Castro's grave medical condition proves once again that the capitalist Empire of America will do everything possible to force the Cuban people to live on so little for so long," Cuban doctors said. "The world community should make Americans feel shame and guilt for not allowing the heroic Cuban people to live off generous donations from rich Western individuals and corporations, like all the other heroic socialist nations of the Third World do."
Second opinion from Iran:
Castro's illness caused by Jews
The People Cube's columnist Dr. Leonid Fuku reports from Tehran:
A selected group of doctors, approved by the Guardian Council of Iran, have offered their professional second opinion on the ailing Cuban President's condition:
DIAGNOSIS: The stress and anxiety from seeing the suffering of righteous Muslims at the hands of Zionist occupiers, have led to Fidel's spontaneous expulsion of blood from the rectum as a sign of solidarity with the murdered children. The condition is aggravated by a new Mossad-CIA program to assault Fidel's rectum by emitting secret death rays from Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba, as well as by Zionist attempts to destroy Cuba's Socialized Health Care so that Jewish doctors could once again have unlimited access to people's blood.
RECOMMENDATION: All people of good will around the world must ask Allah for an end to the madness and for the survival of our staunch ally in the fight against American imperialism.
|Fruits of the Revolution: a well-treated Hero of the Revolution enjoying free health care in a free Cuban hospital. |
"Doctors in Cuba aren't slaves to profit so they can do so much more. They were so good that they amputated four of my fingers to ensure that infection would not spread, that was of course after they used the leaches and blood letting to get out the poison that was in the splinter. Only Socialism cares that much."
This is Yamilet Fernandez Donate. She was lucky enough to get treated for all kinds of things and even got a free abortion! And since it's a Socialist country there's no expensive malpractice insurance for the Revolutionary State to worry about!
|ALFREDO GUEVARA: "history will be 'TERRIBLE' IF THE REGIME not give SURVIVAL STEPS "|
Fidel Castro TV series charts 638 assassination attempts
He Who Must Live documents Cuban leader's escapes from bacteria-infected hankie, exploding cigar and poisoned wetsuit
The eight-part series, He Who Must Live is an extravagant departure from Cuban TV's typically low-budget fare: more than 1,000 actors and extras are used in a mix of CSI-type fiction, docu-drama and archive material.
The interior ministry, institute of police sciences and state-sanctioned film-makers teamed up to tell the story of how the CIA spent decades trying to murder the US's tropical communist foe.
"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.
The prime time show, unprecedented in its glossiness, is to run over eight weeks, each episode focusing on a different period. It marks an unexpected starring role for a leader who relinquished power and vanished from public view four years ago after serious intestinal problems.
Dan Erikson, an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank and author of The Cuba Wars, said: "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 series took three years, 243 actors, 800 extras and a possibly significant chunk of Cuban TV's spartan film-making budget.
The inaugural programme focuses on efforts to kill Castro when he was a young revolutionary in Mexico in 1956 preparing to lead several dozen guerrillas on a mission to overthrow Cuba's US-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista.
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.
Some are well known: the exploding cigar, the ballpoint hypodermic syringe, the gift of a poisoned wetsuit. Others less so: a bacteria-infected hankie, an aerosol can filled with LSD.
Cuban security services counted 638 assassination plots by the CIA or their many proxies. A retired agent, Fabián Escalante, wrote about them in his book, 638 Ways to Kill Castro. His colleague, Xavier Solado, wrote a pamphlet of the same name. There was also a 2006 Channel 4 documentary of the same name.
Cuba's TV series features actors playing Batista, the CIA director Allen Dulles and, it is thought, presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who authorised the murder attempts. A thaw after Barack Obama's election has ended with Washington and Havana trading insults but the US has forsworn killing Castro.
The series airs at a difficult time for the revolution. Raúl Castro has tinkered with the centrally planned economy he inherited from his big brother, but with little success. The state is struggling to pay international creditors and ordinary Cubans are suffering food shortages, electricity rationing and meagre wages.
"The gigantic paternalistic state can no longer be, because there is no longer any way to maintain it," the economy minister, Marino Murillo, said in a recent video shown to communist party cadres, according to Reuters.
With gloom widespread, the TV series may not set pulses racing, said Erikson. "While some older Cubans may be intrigued by this trip down memory lane, the reappearance of Fidel as a telenovela star will likely prompt younger generations of Cubans to reach for their remote controls."
El Bola ~ Cuba's King of Song2022347174
Category: Performing Arts
Location: GALA Hispanic Theatre
DescriptionThis play celebrates the international career of Afro-Cuban singer, pianist and composer Ignacio Villa, nicknamed "Bola de Nieve" (Snowball). This original musical comedy follows the backstage antics of a director, a flamboyant “diva” and a santera who are staging a musical review about Bola’s life.
This production was written by Héctor Quintero and will be directed by Hugo Medrano. Starring actors and singers from Venezuela, Cuba, Miami and DC. Also with DC’s very own Sin Miedo. In Spanish with English surtitles.
Marine journalist to talk about cruising Cuba
Posted on May 28, 2010Marine journalist and Cuba expert Peter Swanson will speak June 11 at CubaCon 2010, a Cuban art and culture conference scheduled for June 10-13 in Provincetown, Mass.
Swanson will discuss sailing the "Great Bahamas-Cuba Loop: A Post-Embargo Cruising Strategy." Other marine experts might join him for a session that's still taking shape.
Swanson, a Massachusetts native now living in Florida, has written about Cuba for Soundings and Soundings Trade Only, PassageMaker, Yachting and MadMariner.com. He has developed a Web site (www.cubacruising.net) devoted to the prospect of cruising Cuba if the U.S. travel ban is lifted.
Swanson has recently lectured about Cuba at PassageMaker's Trawler Fest in Fort Lauderdale and at the Essex by the Sea series in Essex, Conn. His talk in Provincetown will focus on how cruisers can incorporate the north coast of Cuba and Havana into their traditional Bahamas cruising plans.
"I invite New England mariners to join me for the conference, which spans four days featuring many sessions on Cuban art and culture," Swanson said. "There is also a Cuban music dance party on tap, along with a Cuban art auction and Cuba movie day."
Swanson's talk is scheduled for 2 p.m. Registration information, the conference agenda, presenter bios, lodging and more is available at the conference Web site.
By Jeff Franks Jeff Franks – Sun May 30, 6:20 pm ETHAVANA (Reuters) – The Cuban government has not yet improved conditions for political prisoners or released any as had been hoped after recent talks between Catholic Church leaders and President Raul Castro, Cuba's "Ladies in White" dissident group said Sunday. Speaking to reporters after the group's traditional Sunday march protesting the 2003 imprisonment of their loved ones, leader Laura Pollan said they had heard nothing from the government about its plans. "Here, nothing is known. Everything is a state secret," said Pollan, whose husband, dissident Hector Maseda, is serving a 20-year prison sentence. Catholic officials said Castro promised in a May 19 meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega to move prisoners soon to jails closer to home or, if they were sick, into hospitals. According to some reports, he also signaled the possible release of an unknown number of prisoners. The high-level talks preceded a mid-June visit to Cuba by Vatican Foreign Secretary Dominque Mamberti. So far, Pollan said, the only thing certain is that no prisoners have been moved or released. "Everything is speculative; there is not thing concrete," she said. The Ladies in White have staged weekly protest marches since the March 2003 arrest of 75 dissidents, many of whom are their husbands or sons and most still behind bars. After Sunday's march by 33 white-clad women, Pollan told them it was important for them and their imprisoned family members, particularly those who are ill, to remain calm while waiting for the promised changes. "Anxiety can produce strong stress and we don't want them to get sicker," she told the women. At least 26 of the prisoners are said to be in ill health. Former prisoner Guillermo Farinas has been on a hunger strike for more than three months demanding their release. His hunger strike followed the February 23 death of hunger striking prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, which prompted international condemnation of Cuban human rights. In April, the Cuban government tried to stop the women from staging their Sunday marches and brought in pro-government counter protesters to harass them. But Ortega intervened, and officials allowed the marches to go on, at least for now. Human rights advocates say Cuba has about 190 political prisoners in all. The Cuban government views them as mercenaries working for the United States and other enemies. (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)