Saturday, July 31, 2010

LPP Top News...

Debris in relief well sets back work on gusher

Bob Dudley, James Lee Witt AP – James Lee Witt, right, listens to BP PLC CEO of Gulf Coast Restoration Organization Bob Dudley as he …

NEW ORLEANS – Tropical Storm Bonnie left crews working to plug the Gulf oil gusher a little memento that is expected to push their work back about a day.
Crews found debris in the bottom of the relief well that ultimately will be used to plug the leak for good, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Friday. The government's point man on the spill said the sediment settled in the relief well last week when crews popped in a plug to keep it safe ahead of Bonnie.
"It's not a huge problem," Allen said, but removing the debris will take 24 to 36 hours and likely push a procedure known as a static kill back to Tuesday. Earlier that work had been expected to begin late Sunday or early Monday.
The static kill involves pumping mud, and possibly cement, into the blown-out well through the temporary cap that has kept it from leaking for more than two weeks. Then comes the so-called bottom kill, in which cement pumped in from below the leak using the relief well will plug the gusher for good. The better the static kill works, the less time it will take to complete the bottom kill.
The blown-out well could be killed for good by late August, though a tropical storm could set the timetable back.
After an April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 workers, BP's blown-out well gushed an estimated 94 million to 184 million gallons of oil before the temporary cap stopped it July 15.
There are signs that the era of thousands of oil-skimming boats and hazmat-suited beach crews is giving way to long-term efforts to clean up, compensate people for their losses and understand the damage wrought. Local fishermen are doubtful, however, and say oil remains a bigger problem than BP and the federal government are letting on.
Others contend the impact of the spill has been overblown, given that little oil remains on the Gulf surface. Bob Dudley, who heads BP's oil spill recovery and will take over as CEO in October, rejected those claims Friday.
"Anyone who thinks this wasn't a catastrophe must be far away from it," he said in Biloxi, Miss., where he announced that former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief James Lee Witt will be supporting BP's Gulf restoration work.
Relatively little oil remains on the surface of the Gulf, leaving less for thousands of oil skimmers to do. Dudley said it's "not too soon for a scaleback" in the cleanup, and in areas where there is no oil, "you probably don't need to see people in hazmat suits on the beach."
He added, however, that there is "no pullback" in BP's commitment to clean up the spill.
There had been fears that the massive spill could reach South Florida and the East Coast through a powerful Loop Current, but federal officials said Friday that earlier reports that some oil had reached the current were wrong.
A new analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed most surface oil in the Gulf had degraded to a thin sheen. What remained on the surface and below was hundreds of miles from the Loop Current.
Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle will likely be spared any additional major beach oiling, although tar balls could wash ashore, NOAA said. Louisiana's coast was the most likely place where oil could still make landfall.
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco cautioned that scientists will continue studying the potential effects of the subsurface crude.
"Diluted and out of sight does not mean benign," she said. "But in those concentrations there will be minimal impact to the big things that are out in the ocean, big fish, big marine mammals, birds."
She said scientists still don't know the oil's environmental effect underwater.
For help with the long-term recovery, BP has hired Witt and his public safety and crisis management consulting firm. Witt, who was FEMA director under President Bill Clinton, said he wants to set up teams along the Gulf to work with BP to address long-term restoration and people's needs.
"Our hope is that we can do it as fast as we can," Witt said. "I've seen the anguish and the pain that people have suffered after disaster events. I have seen communities come back better than before."
BP and Witt's firm refused to say how much Witt will be paid for his work.
Commercial fishermen, meanwhile, were allowed back on a section of Louisiana waters east of the Mississippi River on Friday after federal authorities said samples of finfish and shrimp taken from the areas were safe to eat.
About 70 percent of Louisiana waters are now open to some kind of commercial fishing, but state waters in Mississippi and Alabama remain closed and so do nearly a quarter of federal waters in the Gulf.
Reinforcing the state's declaration that Louisiana seafood is safe to eat was U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. At a news conference in New Orleans, she said fish showed levels of contaminants that were "extremely low, significantly below the threshold of concern."
Hamburg stressed that testing will continue because of the large volumes of oil spilled and the large amounts of dispersants used to break it up.
Seafood industry representatives hailed the reopening, but Rusty Graybill, a boat captain from Ysckloskey, La., who fishes for crab, oysters and shrimp, said "it's a joke."
"I'm pretty sure I'll go out and I'll get oil-covered shrimp. They capped this well and now they're trying to say it's OK," he said.
Graybill, a wiry 28-year-old with a leathery tan, made a 2-inch circle with his thumb and finger. "I'm still finding tar balls this big out there, and the boom is still covered in oil," he said.
Oil rig workers are struggling along with fishermen because a federal moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Those workers will be getting $100 million in aid that BP said Friday it will distribute through a Louisiana charity.
Harry Weber reported from Biloxi, Miss. Associated Press Writers Jason Dearen in Ysckloskey and Kevin McGill and Brian Skoloff in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Today's the day! America prepares to celebrate as Chelsea Clinton marries Marc Mezvinsky in the wedding of the year

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:30 PM on 31st July 2010
  A round of golf at the Red Hook Golf Course, shopping at the local independent stores or visiting the Haven Spa is usually the most entertainment Rhinebeck can offer on a Saturday afternoon.
But not today.
For once the eyes of the world are directed at the small picturesque town in the state of New York, home to some 4,000 inhabitants - and hundreds of visiting journalists.
It's here that America's Royal wedding is to take place - as Chelsea Clinton marries her childhood playmate Marc Mezvinsky in front of 500 guests.
Bill Clinton
It's all for our girl: Former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary arrive for the rehearsal dinner at the Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck, New York
Bill and Hillary Clinton arrive for a party in honor of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky last night
Bill and Hillary Clinton attend
Green team: Bill and Hillary Clinton wave to the crowds as they arrive for the rehearsal dinner
He fits the bill: Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky are set to wed tomorrow
He fits the bill: Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky are set to wed tomorrow
And last night the streets of Rhinebeck were lined with well-wishers as the young couple were the guests of honour at their rehearsal dinner.
After weeks of speculation about everything from who designed the dress, to which celebrities would attend, the ceremony will finally take place at 5pm local time.
There's still no confirmation on which stars will be going, but The White House confirmed that President Obama will not be in attendance.
The same goes for former Clinton Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper. But they 'Both wish the couple well and they share in the family's excitement,' said their spokesperson.
Despite intense speculation, Oprah Winfrey is not invited, although reports that Clinton pals Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen may be attending,
Hillary said last week that her daughter's big day would be a 'family wedding.'
'The people coming are [Chelsea's] friends and people who have been meaningful in her life, as it should be,' she said.
Entrepreneur Steve Bing, dad of Elizabeth Hurley's son Damien and former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were spotted at the rehearsal dinner.
And Bill Clinton was very much the proud father of the bride as he arrived in Rhinebeck on Friday.
'Is your daughter going to be beautiful?' one reporter called out.
'She looks beautiful every day to me,' Bill responded.
Steve Bing, center, leaves a party in honor of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky
Party guy: Businessman Steve Bing leaves a party in honour of the happy couple on Friday
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright leaves a pre-wedding party for Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinskywed
Friend of the family: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright waved to crowds as she left the rehearsal dinner on Friday

And with a rumoured $3million spent on the big day, nothing has been left to chance.
In the absence of any real information, rumours have abounded, including one that Rhinebeck was an elaborate decoy planned by the media-shy Chelsea, and that the wedding would be elsewhere.
Even the wedding list has been shrouded in secrecy. The couple apparently used a fake name for the gift registry, reports the Washington Post, so even the shopping locations are a mystery
But this seems unlikely, with the amount of planning that has gone into the day.
Around £400,000 has been spent on erecting the marquees on the 50-acre former estate, while a further £75,000 has been spent on the tables and crockery.
The bride has also ordered a £7,000, five-tier, gluten-free wedding cake.

Royal wedding: Well-wishers line a street across from the Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck
Royal wedding: Well-wishers line a street across from the Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck

The rehearsal dinner: It's an all-American theme
The rehearsal dinner: It's an all-American theme

Clinton's daughter and her fiance will say their vows at the grand Astor Courts, an estate on the scenic east bank of the Hudson River.
Chelsea and Mezvinsky were friends as teenagers in Washington, and both attended Stanford University.

They now live in New York, where Mezvinsky works at G3 Capital, a Manhattan hedge fund, and Clinton is pursuing a graduate degree at Columbia University's School of Public Health.

Mezvinsky worked previously at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.

Chelsea has long sought a life away from the spotlight. She lives quietly in a Manhattan apartment and is described as casual, modest and friendly.
Bill Clinton greets supporters in Rhinebeck yesterday
Bill Clinton greets supporters in Rhinebeck yesterday
Still pulling a crowd: Bill Clinton in the main street for Rhinebeck yesterday
Still pulling a crowd: Bill Clinton in the main street for Rhinebeck yesterday

Workers setup fences outside the Beekman Arms Inn for a pre wedding party
Workers setup fences outside the Beekman Arms Inn for a pre wedding party yesterday
She has blossomed from the gawky corkscrew-curled 12-year-old who entered the White House in 1992 into an assured young woman who has a strong relationship with both parents, even in the storm of her father’s adultery with Monica Lewinsky.
Ferociously bright, Chelsea studied history at the Ivy League Stanford University before taking a masters in International Relations at Oxford — where she reinvented herself with a sleek makeover, being named by Tatler magazine as one of the world’s most eligible females.
In 2003 she returned to New York to work for management consultancy McKinsey & Company, and later a small hedge fund run by one of her father’s major supporters. She’s now studying for a master’s degree in Public Health at New York’s Columbia University.
Despite hitting the campaign trail for her mother Hillary’s Presidential bid in 2008, Chelsea has made it clear she has no intention of following in her parents’ political footsteps.
Catering crews work on the sprawling grounds and under the tent at Astor Courts in Rhinebeck in preparation for the wedding
Catering crews work on the sprawling grounds and under the tent at Astor Courts in Rhinebeck in preparation for the wedding
Chelsea Clinton
No expense spared: A small army of workmen have been on site all week to erect pavilions in the grounds where the wedding will take place
Chelsea Clinton
The marquee where Chelsea and Marc will say their vows: Workers have already started setting up chairs
Fidel Castro described as " torture " the situation in a U.S. prison in Cuba

Havana , July 30 ( EFE ) .- Former President of Cuba Fidel Castro called today as " torture " the situation of one of the five Cubans imprisoned in U.S. sentenced for espionage during a meeting he held with a group of young people in Havana, official media reported .
Castro spoke about the situation of Gerardo Hernandez , a prisoner in U.S. for 12 years and, according to authorities denounced the island , is "sick" and confined in an isolation cell , reported state television and the website Cubadebate .
" There is no reason for this closure. Did you do anything ? - Cuban leader asked "No , nothing. And this punishment was not decided by the prison. They met four officers of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation ) to decide and they decided . That's torture! " .
The Cuban leader said that " even know (Gerardo Hernandez) is sick, you may have a bacteria , which needs medical attention. This would be in a hospital , attended by combating the bacteria that. is a person who needs medical care, " said.
The so called "Five of Cuba, Gerardo Hernandez ( who was sentenced to two life sentences in the U.S.) , René González , Antonio Guerrero , Fernando González and Ramón Labañino , were arrested in 1998 in Florida and a Miami federal court convicted in 2001 of conspiring against U.S. national security through a spy network called " Wasp . "
Castro denounced that the situation in which there is the Cuban prisoner "occurs with impunity , as happened when unjustly condemned the 'Five '(as they are called in Cuba to these Cuban prisoners ) in American courts . "
" It's happening at the sight of everyone, even to the illustrious President of the United States (Barack Obama), that could be released , as they just released a bunch of people they said were Russian spies , the Russians some American - released , "he said .
He then sarcastically said that " they are protecting the security of the United States. "
Fidel Castro made these considerations at a meeting held this Friday with young people, among whom were the " balserito "Elian Gonzalez family together .
Also attending the meeting the national leadership of the Union of Young Communists ( UJC) , workers, students , artists, intellectuals and members of the Cuban armed forces and members of the Ministry of Interior.
The meeting again warned about the danger of triggering a nuclear war resulting from developments in the Korean Peninsula and Iran , one of the topics that has been insisting on his recent public statements and articles.
It considered that "conflict is inevitable , however , there is a formula by which we must fight and opens a hope. It would be very sad to think that we are fighting with no other alternative, " he said.
In his view, " man can not miss the chance to survive with everything he knows today. "
According Cubadebate , Fidel Castro also referred to the recovery of his health: "Not long ago actually, rescued the last battle to find as I am today , "said the Cuban leader.
Also mentioned has become "a news hunter . " " I am looking for news every day , looking at a semicolon , " he says.
In the past two weeks , Castro , that the Aug. 13 84th birthday , has surprised with her public comeback began on July 7 with a visit to the National Center for Scientific Research ( CNIC ).
Subsequently , the former president , who holds the post of first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, paid visits to other centers Cubans participated in a television program and even Cubans met with 115 ambassadors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On Saturday July 25 for the first time since retiring from public life in 2006 when he fell ill and ceded the presidency to his brother Raul , Cuban leader dressed in olive green shirt again . Today, however, red-checkered shirt wearing black and white.
Fidel Castro also recently announced the forthcoming publication of his book entitled " strategic victory "which chronicles the triumph of his rebel army in Sierra Maestra in 1958 and has included a "little autobiography about his childhood and youth.
Fidel Castro described as " torture " the situation in a U.S. prison in Cuba


The Cuban church says yes to socialism

The author comments on an editorial of the journal New Word , to see the light a few hours the start of the meeting of the National Assembly of People's Power
El cardenal Jaime Ortega y Alamino responde preguntas de la prensa el 7 de julio de 2010 en La Habana
Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino answers questions from reporters on July 7, 2010 in Havana.

On Thursday, the magazine of the Archdiocese of Havana, Palabra Nueva , said in its editorial that the problem of Cuba is not "capitalism or socialism "but" what works and what does not . " Reads: " The issue is to reduce the dilemma either to ' capitalism 'and' socialism ' , immobile trap and Pharisees preferred policy . " Nothing, that one suddenly is a Pharisee and not have noticed .
Thus the Church makes it clear that socialism can work, if it is "not working " , were to operate. How strange . Nowhere in the world called real socialism worked, after decades of experiments , not guinea pigs, but human beings . Thus, the Cuban Catholic Church gives a vote of confidence to the Communist dictatorship : it could be the exception to the rule ( although many still believe that it is not a rule but a law, and therefore the exception exists.)
The editorial cited the Church warns that "Cubans aspire to more development and more opportunities for integral development and requires fewer restrictions on individual and collective freedoms . " Not specified in this statement if the " individual and collective freedoms "that Cubans need are political or economic , or what . Either way , take the request in a general sense : we aspire to the basic freedoms that exist in the free world : a multiparty system, freedom of religion and expression , freedom of access to information, private company, etc . Is this what it calls the Cuban Catholic Church ? Or expressed in the editorial New Word not be more than the same concoction of Yes and No to which we are accustomed to the official discourses that seem to "openness", but with the reverse lever ready?
The editorial, signed by Orlando Marquez , director of Palabra Nueva , also emphasizes the overwhelming control over the Cubans, and criticizes the fact that a citizen is not authorized to sell or buy a car or a house. He also cares about the athletes , who were not allowed to be outsourced , while the coaches do have this possibility. Will the Church advocating the professionalization of Cuban sports ? Moreover, the editorial laments that a foreigner can invest in Cuba, but not a Cuban .
The restrictions referred to in the editorial are the result of a "painful manifestation of the nanny state , "he says . The truth is that this conclusion I have heard elsewhere, or coming of another voice that has nothing to do with the Church , but then nothing happened . The reason is simple: if the state -communist - not "paternalistic" how could their children requiring full unconditional ? Well , hopefully .
This editorial New Word see the light a few hours the start of the meeting of the Cuban Parliament called on Sunday 1 August. It is expected that the Crown dictator , Raul Castro, announced some changes , at least in terms of economic openness. If you announce these changes and some or all coincide with the views expressed in the editorial New Word, we must consider that Castro was in his hands in time the Church document , understood its truths and put them in your proposal. Of course, if it were a bad idea will always claiming that everything was "fixed " first Catholic journal's editorial and then similar proposals Castro. If the Cuban leader announced no change similar to calling the Church, because we have no doubt that this will continue fighting. No doubt.
S? Cuba Encuentro/Traslate LPPNEWS Front Line

Felix Luis Viera poet , short story writer and novelist , was born in Santa Clara , Cuba, August 19, 1945 . He has published, among other books , novels With your white dress ( Premio Nacional de Novela 1987 UNEAC Critics Award 1988. Ediciones Union , Cuba ) You will be communist, but I love you (1995 , Ediciones Union , Cuba ) A wounded deer (Editorial Plaza Mayor, Puerto Rico, 2003) and the novella England Hernández (Ediciones Universidad Veracruzana , 1997. reissues 2003 and 2005)

U.S. urges Cuba to free "unwell" detained contractor

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PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) – The United States urged Cuba on Friday to free a U.S. contractor held in Havana for nearly eight months on suspicion of espionage and subversion, saying he was unwell and had still not been formally charged.
The arrest of Alan Gross, 60, at Havana's airport in December has added another bone of contention between the U.S. government and communist-ruled Cuba, obstructing moves to thaw half a century of confrontation and hostility.
Havana says Gross, who worked for a Washington-area company contracted under a U.S.-funded program to promote democracy in Cuba, committed "serious crimes" in aiding U.S. efforts to destabilize the Cuban government.
Cuban officials said Gross gave restricted satellite communications equipment to local dissidents. U.S. officials say he was providing Internet access to Jewish groups after entering Cuba on a tourist visa.
"We consider the arrest of Alan Gross ... to be an unacceptable act. He was not violating any laws and has not been charged as far as I know," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Arturo Valenzuela, told a news conference in Trinidad and Tobago, where he was visiting.
"He is not well, he has lost 80 pounds (36 kg), it's been more than six months (since his arrest) and we're encouraging the Cuban government to release him," he said.
Gross has been held at Villa Marista state security headquarters in Havana. Cuban officials say he has been assured defense counsel, has received consular assistance from U.S. diplomats and has been able to communicate with his family.
Cuban President Raul Castro's government has started releasing the first of 52 Cuban political prisoners to be freed under a recent deal struck with the Roman Catholic Church.
The United States, along with many other foreign governments, has cautiously welcomed this move, but has demanded the release of all political detainees.
President Barack Obama's administration has made clear that its modest efforts so far to improve U.S.-Cuban ties will be put on hold as long as Gross remains detained.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this month that Washington was working "every single day through every channel" to obtain Gross' release and safe return home.
Some analysts have speculated that Cuba may want to use the detained U.S. contractor as a bargaining chip to try to secure release of five convicted Cuban intelligence agents serving long U.S. sentences for espionage.
The U.S. government linked the five to Havana's 1996 shoot-down of private planes piloted by Cuban exiles near Cuba.
(Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Xavier Briand)

Cuba readies to dive into offshore oil exploration

Published July 30, 2010
| Reuters

* Offshore drilling rig expected in Cuba in early 2011
* Oil companies preparing for full-scale exploration
* U.S. companies forbidden by U.S. trade embargo
By Jeff Franks
HAVANA (Reuters) - A Chinese-built drilling rig is expected to arrive in Cuban waters in early 2011, likely opening the open the way for full-scale exploration of the island's untapped offshore fields.
Companies with contracts to search for oil and gas in Cuba's portion of the Gulf of Mexico have already begun preparations to drill once the Scarabeo 9 rig gets to the communist-led island.
An official with Saipem, a unit of Italian oil company Eni SpA told Reuters Friday the massive semi-submersible rig should be completed at the Yantai Raffles shipyard in Yantai, China by the end of this year.
The journey to Cuba will take two months, and once it arrives it will be put into operation almost immediately, said the official, who asked not to be identified.
It will be used first as an exploratory well for a consortium led by Spanish oil giant Repsol YPF , which drilled the only offshore well in Cuba in 2004 and said at the time it had found hydrocarbons.
Cuba has said it may have 20 billion barrels of oil in its offshore, but the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated a more modest 4.6 billion barrels and 10 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Repsol has been mostly silent on the long delay in drilling more wells, but it is widely assumed in the oil industry it was due to the longstanding U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
The embargo limits the amount of U.S. technology that can be used, which complicates finding equipment because U.S. companies have long dominated the offshore oil business.
Construction of the Scarabeo 9 was begun by Norwegian firm Frigstad Discoverer Invest Limited in 2006, but the company was purchased by Saipem in 2007. The rig was due to be completed by September 2009, but has been delayed because of modifications requested by Saipem, the Saipem official said.
The official said it was also slowed because the shipyard "had taken on too much work" with other projects.
Repsol is said to be planning at least one exploration well and possibly another. The rig will then be passed to other companies with contracts to drill in Cuban waters.
Cuba's portion of the Gulf of Mexico has been divided into 59 blocks, of which 17 have been contracted to companies including Repsol, Malaysia's Petronas Brazil's Petrobras, Venezuela's PDVSA and PetroVietnam.
Repsol is partnering with Norway's Statoil> and ONGC Videsh Limited, a unit of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp.
Diplomats in Havana have said Malaysia's Petronas will get the rig next, after Repsol completes its drilling.
Petronas, which has four exploration blocks, has conducted seismic work and built offices for a battery of employees who will come to Cuba for the project, sources said.
It also is talking to a possible partner in Gazprom Neft , the oil arm of Russian energy company Gazprom , whose chief told shareholders last month the company wants to join Petronas in the Cuba project.
ONGC Videsh, which has two blocks of its own, separate from its consortium with Repsol and Statoil, has already solicited bids for equipment including sub-sea wellheads and casing pipes for its planned exploration.
Russian oil firm Zarubezhneft has two nearshore blocks it said it plans to drill next year, but also has an agreement with Petrovietnam to participate in exploration of its three offshore blocks.
Zarubezhneft opened an office in Havana in June, according to Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.
A number of international oil service companies have solicited information about Cuban regulations on issues ranging from safety equipment to finance and taxes, diplomats said.
Cuba's state-owned oil company Cupet has been silent about the offshore activity and rejected requests for interviews. A government official said the requests were denied because Cupet did not want to speak during the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
The spill has never reached Cuba, but it has heightened safety concerns both in the government and among oil companies with offshore blocks, sources said.
The prospect of drilling in Cuban waters has also raised pollution fears in Florida, which is just 50 miles away from the island's maritime boundary.
The Saipem official said the Scarabeo 9, which is capable of operating in water depths up to 3,600 meters, is built to Norwegian standards, meaning it has extra equipment to shut off blown-out wells not required in the United States.
Due to the U.S. trade embargo, U.S. oil companies are not allowed to operate in Cuba.
Later this month a group from the Houston-based International Association of Drilling Contractors is scheduled to visit Cuba. The group has said it wants to discuss offshore safety issues with Cuban officials and get an overview of deepwater prospects.
Despite five decades of hostile relations, Cuba has said it would welcome the involvement of U.S. companies in developing its offshore fields.
Oil expert Jorge Pinon at Florida International University in Miami said U.S. oil service companies would like to enter the Cuban market because it is a new market close to home.
"For the U.S. offshore oil industry, Cuba is basically an extension of the Gulf of Mexico. It's not like Angola -- they can provide service from Houston or Freeport or Mobile." (Editing by Todd Eastham)
Cuba edges U.S. in thrilling quarterfinal
By Dan Toman, Contributing Editor
Thunder Bay, ON (Sports Network) - After a dramatic quarterfinal matchup, one can only imagine what else is in store for the final weekend of the World Junior Baseball Championship.
Omar Luis threw nine solid innings in a gutsy 144-pitch effort to shutdown a dangerous United States lineup as Cuba held on for the 3-2 victory in a thrilling game featuring two of baseball's biggest powerhouse nations.
"This was fun to watch, the fans brought some excitement here," said U.S. hitting coach Brian McRae. "Anytime Cuba and United States play it's going to be a good ballgame and today was no different."
"I was glad to be a part of it."
Luis (2-0) battled through a shaky ninth to hold on for the victory, earning Cuba a date in the semifinals versus Australia.
The Cuban lefty, who threw 137 pitches against Canada earlier in the tournament, turned in another captivating performance in front of a sell-out crowd at Port Arthur Stadium.
"He's got a rubber arm and he just battles," said U.S. outfielder Michael Lorenzen. "Good for him, I'm proud of him."
Lazaro Hernandez' ninth-inning triple off lefthanded reliever Philip Pfeifer (0-1) to score pinch runner Lazaro Ramirez gave the Cubans a 3-2 lead that proved to be the difference.
"We worked hard for this game; this game was very important," said Luis. "We are happy and we are ready to go straight ahead to the championship."
Lorenzen's two-out double in the bottom of the ninth gave the U.S. new life and kept fans riveted on the edge of their seat.
After hitting second baseman Tony Wolters in the back of the head to put the winning run on first, Luis gave up a single to shortstop Francisco Lindor to load the bases and set the stage for a dramatic ending.
But in a game with several twists and turns, the ending proved anti-climatic.
Marcus Littlewood grounded into a game-ending fielder's choice to hand the Cubans the win and send the Americans, who went 5-0 during group play, home earlier than anticipated.
"It's disappointing because you don't want to spend five weeks getting ready for this and all the work you put into it and not reach your goal," said McRae. "Our goal was to get to the gold medal game and hopefully win a gold medal.
"That didn't happen and it's frustrating but this was an awesome ballgame."
In control for long stretches of the game, Luis used a deceptive delivery and a breaking ball with late movement to keep a strong U.S. attack off balance. At one point retiring 11 straight U.S. batters, Luis gave the Cubans the marquee performance they needed to knock off a star-studded American roster.
And yet despite allowing 10 hits while walking a pair with five strikeouts, Luis' warrior-type performance will be remembered for years to come.
"We had them on the ropes and we couldn't take advantage," said McRae. "He was able to wiggle himself out of some jams and when we started to mount a little bit, he seemed like he could make a pitch and do something to keep us from inflicting some damage on him. He did a good job."
As did his counterpart, U.S. starter A.J. Vanegas.
The 6'3" righthander was lights out against a menacing Cuban lineup, locating a live fastball with a dipping curveball on his way to 13 strikeouts while allowing just five hits and two runs over eight innings.
"A.J. was outstanding," said McRae. "We had the right guy on the mound and we just weren't able to get the big hits."
That ended up being the difference, as Guillermo Aviles' first-inning, home run and back-to-back Cuban doubles in the fourth were the only blemishes in an otherwise terrific outing by one of the Americans' top young arms.
"It's bittersweet but it's just a blessing to be out here," said Vanegas following the devastating loss. "Our team just came short today and it happens in baseball. We gave it our all. We were down to our last strike and I'm just so proud of my teammates that they battled their hearts out."
"It's just a blessing to play the game."
With Cuba leading for most of the game, the U.S. tied it up at two in the eighth, after second baseman Yamil Rivalta was unable to corral a hard hit ball from Bubba Starling that scored Wolters.
But after steamrolling through group play and drawing a tough opening round opponent, all the U.S. can do now is think what could have been.
Lorenzen brought his top game today as he has all week, going 3-for-4 with a run batted in to bring his tournament total to 12-for-17 with eight RBI before consolation play.
"We've learned a lot on this trip and we've learned a lot about ourselves," said Lorenzen. "Nobody likes to lose, especially in a game like this. I don't think anyone fell short...they just came out on top."
Lindor went 1-for-5 today, giving him 12 hits on the tournament, which is tied for tops among the Americans with Lorenzen...Aviles' home run was his second of the tournament and the hit increased his team-leading total to nine.
07/31 09:13:17 ET

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Robert McCracken pulls no punches in assessment of young boxers

By Sportsmail Reporter Last updated at 9:31 PM on 12th June 2010

Britain's head coach Robert McCracken refused to be too downhearted about his team's final-day disappointment after they had to settle for three silver medals and two bronze at the European Amateur Championships in Moscow.

But he was aggrieved by judging that appeared to leave Khalid Yafai short-changed. Yafai was the aggressor throughout his fight with Russian Misha Aloyan but only scored a point in the dying seconds of a 4-1 victory.
Iain Weaver
Direct hit: But featherweight Iain Weaver (left) eventually lost out to Denis Makarov of Germany
Iain Weaver and Tom Stalker also lost their bouts and McCracken said: 'Khalid was clearly the better boxer and I thought Iain could have had better luck too. But the fact is we have come away from the toughest of tournaments with five medals.'
Bournemouth featherweight Weaver was undone by the counter-punching skills of Germany's Denis Makarov, who pulled away in the final round to record a 7-2 win.
Yafai's brother Gamal and Welshman Andrew Selby won two bronzes medals on Friday and McCracken added: 'When the disappointment of today is over, we will look back at a great tournament which has proved Great Britain belongs alongside the likes of Russia and Cuba as one of the strongest nations in boxing.'

Valenciano requested the PP to let them try to dialogue and " do not disturb "...

The PSOE will travel to Cuba to ascertain the situation on the island

ELENA HERRERA Madrid 31/07/2010 08:00

Twenty-five years after the last official trip to PSOE José Blanco Cuba did in 2008 invited by Spanish entrepreneurs residents there , a " high-level delegation " of the party travel to the island on Aug. 31 . Surely the Secretary of international politics and cooperation of the Socialists, Elena Valenciano, part of the group but is not official yet time as the secretary of organization, Leire Pajin, which will determine  his trip to the domestic agenda at that time.

A relationship that is not new

The Socialists retake a scheduled trip for a few months ago
Interview  the authorities of the Communist Party of Cuba and feel in ground how will the process of opening are the objectives of Socialists during his visit to the island. The relationship with the Government of the Socialist Party  Cuban " not new "but the people that were previously kept contacts have been ceased , so this trip is to strengthen the relationship with the new leadership . Although not yet  produced a final program to be an "official visit " the delegation will meet with Cuban dissidents. In the words of Valenciano this is " commonplace "in this type of event .
El PSOE a resumption of a scheduled trip planned for a few months ago that was cut short first by the non-admission in Cuban territory Socialist MEP Luis Yanez in January, and then after the death of prisoner Orlando Zapata.

Aznar answered Valenciano

Being an "official visit ", the PSOE will not meet with dissidents
The  PSOE did not want to keep quiet about the statements made Aznar on Wednesday at the headquarters of FAES in which, among other things he said that dissidents who have arrived in Spain in recent  weeks are in a legal limbo . Elena Valenciano told  this newspaper that the honorary president of the PP "is not the most appropriate " to speak in these terms.
"With Aznar, in Cuba , there Guantánamo and with Zapatero, so there is liberation of prisoners. " That is the balance that makes the socialists of the performance of the Executive Spanish in a process claim that is not hindered by the PP. "No  We asked them not to applaud or to help us , but we stop trying to dialogue, they do not bother . "
Respect  Moratinos intention to propose to the European Union adjournment of the Common Position , Valenciano defends this change provide " a bilateral relationship that will help the process and  committing to Havana and Brussels. "
S: / translation LPPNEWS Front Line

U.S. urges Cuba to free a U.S. contractor arrested

Port of Spain, 30 Jul. (Reuters/ EP) -

United States Cuba called on Friday to free a U.S. contractor  who is under arrest in Havana for nearly eight months  on suspicion of espionage and subversive activities , claiming that the detainee " is not well "and still no charges have been filed  against him.
The arrest of Alan Gross, 60, at the airport in the Havana last December became a new source of discord US- Cuba , hindering the steps for the relaxation  relations between the two countries after half a century confrontation and hostility .
Havana accuses Gross, who worked for a company based Washington engaged in a program to promote democracy in Cuba funded by the United States have committed "Serious crimes" in supporting U.S. efforts to destabilize the Cuban regime.
According to Cuban authorities , Gross supplied equipment satellite communication restricted to local dissidents . The U.S. officials , meanwhile , indicated he was providing Internet access to Jewish groups, has entered into Cuba with a tourist visa .
"We consider the arrest of Alan Gross is an unacceptable act .  I was not violating any law and, from what I know so far not been charges against him , "said Deputy Secretary of State  U.S. Western Hemisphere Affairs , Arturo Valenzuela, during a press conference in the framework of a visit to Trinidad and Tobago.
"It is well , has lost 36 kilos , more than six months  ( from arrest ) and encourage the Cuban government to release him , "he added .
Gross is in custody at the headquarters of internal security Villa Marista in Havana . The Cuban authorities have assured that has been granted the defense , which has received consular assistance  by U.S. diplomats and has been able to communicate with his family.
The government of Raul Castro has begun to release 52 prisoners Cuban politicians whose release was recently agreed a deal  with the Catholic Church . A move that was welcomed by States  United States and many others .
Barack Obama 's Administration has clarified that its modest efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba Gross will remain blocked while continuing detention .
U.S. Secretary of State , Hillary Clinton,  said this month that Washington was working "every day across all channels "to get Gross released and return home safe and sound.
S : AssociatedPress / translate LPPNEWS Front Line