Thursday, October 7, 2010

LPP News...


Thursday, October 7, 2010
Kudos to The Minnesota Daily's Editorial Board.

First, for its thoughtful review of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson's (D-MN) Cuba bill. Needless to say, we disagree with its final conclusion regarding sanctions, but appreciate its realistic view of the "smoke-screen" agricultural provisions within the legislation.

And foremost, for being the very first publication to highlight the political contributions of the farm bureaus and multinational agri-business giants. This stands in refreshing contrast to a majority of publications, which only like to take irresponsible and biased pot-shots -- including Chairman Peterson himself -- at Cuban-American political activism and contributions -- even though agricultural political contributions stymie those of Cuban-Americans.

It's a must-read:

From Heartland to Havana
A lopsided Cuban trade proposal aimed to help farmers falls short.
Minnesota Democrats Rep. Collin Peterson and Sen. Amy Klobuchar might seem like odd candidates to jump into the muddy waters of U.S.-Cuba relations. Yet together, they've authored a pair of bills that would lift a decades-old travel ban to Cuba and poke holes in the U.S. trade embargo of that island nation.

But Peterson has made clear that this effort isn't about Cuba; it's about American farmers needing new markets. Peterson is the current chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and his 7th district covers a heavily agricultural swath of the state.'s list of his top campaign contributors also reads like a who's-who of national and international agribusiness interests, with the multinational agricultural corporation, Monsanto, topping the bill.
Steve Suppan, a policy analyst for the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said in an e-mail that agribusiness giants like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland have "long sought" exemptions from the Cuban embargo, which would eliminate the need for them to trade through third-country loopholes as they currently do. He argues this exemption, which would primarily move commodities whose production is "highly mechanized," is hardly the pro-farmer job-creation engine its authors suggest.

There are in fact excellent reasons — economic, cultural and otherwise — to open relations with an apparently reforming Cuba, which has been singled out as a communist pariah for too long. It is time to re-evaluate our gratuitous, Cold-War-era posture toward this close neighbor. To that end, lifting the travel ban is of undeniable importance, but this narrow proposal that comes from Minnesota's congress-people reeking of special interests falls short of a productive solution.

A Worthy Nobel

According to AP:

Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel literature prize
Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world, a man of letters who also braved the violence and political divisions of his homeland to run for president, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday.

Vargas Llosa has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, including "Conversation in the Cathedral" and "The Green House." In 1995, he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor.

The Swedish Academy said it honored the 74-year-old author for mapping the "structures of power and (for) his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat."

Vargas Llosa emerged as a leader among the so-called "Boom" or "New Wave" of Latin American writers, bursting onto the literary scene in 1963 with his groundbreaking debut novel "The Time of the Hero" (La Ciudad de los Perros), which builds on his experiences at the Peruvian military academy Leoncio Prado.

The book won the Spanish Critics Award and the ire of Peru's military. One thousand copies of the novel were later burned by military authorities, with some generals calling the book false and Vargas Llosa a communist.

The military academy "was like discovering hell," Vargas Llosa said later.

At 15, he was a night-owl crime reporter. Still in his teens, he joined a communist cell and eloped with his 33-year-old Bolivian aunt, Julia Urquidi — the sister-in-law of his uncle. He later drew inspiration from their nine-year marriage to write the comic hit novel "Aunt Julia and the Script Writer" (La Tia Julia y el Escribidor).

After they divorced, Vargas Llosa in 1965 married his first cousin, Patricia Llosa, 10 years his junior, and together they had three children.

In the 1970s, he denounced Castro's Cuba and slowly turned his political trajectory toward free market conservatism — sparking a fallout with many of his Latin American literary contemporaries.
In a famous incident in Mexico City in 1976, Vargas Llosa punched out his former friend, Garcia Marquez, whom he would later ridicule as "Castro's courtesan." It was never clear whether the fight was over politics or a personal dispute.

CHC: For Spanish speakers, make sure to read Vargas Llosa's stinging critique of the current Spanish government's stance towards the Cuban dictatorship, "Fidel Castro's Sad Whores."
The Cuban government has asked Interpol to detain Chilean businessman Max Marambio after learning that he is suing Cuba in the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court, La Tercera is reporting.
Marambio decided to formulate a judicial offensive against the Cuban Attorney General, who brought charges against him for bribing Cuban government officials.
Marambio, owner of the Río Zaza (a food company operating in Cuba), was once considered to be the most influential foreigner in Cuba because of his friendship with Fidel Castro.
Ed. Note: The Cuban government’s actions serve as a warning to businesses dealing with the regime in the future, don’t sidestep us (functioning like a syndicate), we always get a larger cut.

October 07, 2010

Hospital protocols will be revised to lower costs and improve treatment, paper says

Hospital admission guidelines will undergo a revision to "achieve a better quality of [medical] care, elevate the results of treatment and reduce costs," Granma reported Thursday.
(sym) In a densely worded article, the newspaper said that medical professionals from hospitals nationwide will gather Oct. 14-15 at Havana's Ameijeiras Brothers Hospital to review the existing protocols so as "to replace the practice of medicine based on the trial-and-error basis" and apply "a methodological guide for medical procedures that [...] are not above the authority of the acting specialist, are of a methodological, not normative nature, are dynamic and modifiable, are removed from any dogmatic spirit and whose results can be evaluated through quality indicators."
All of which suggests that the standards for triage, admission and treatment will be tightened to keep hypochondriacs out and hospital costs down. Almost 48 percent of Cuba's budget goes to providing free medical care and education for its citizens.
The Ameijeiras hospital has drawn up "314 assistance protocols for 36 specialties, ranging from the care of hypertensive or allergic patients to cardiovascular surgery and transplants," Granma said.
(See also our Oct. 5 blog item "Health care undergoing compaction...")
–Renato Pérez Pizarro.
Posted by Renato Perez at 11:24 AM in Science
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New York composer will hear her music performed for first time in her native Cuba

The music of Cuban-born composer/conductor Tania León will be performed at a festival in Havana for the first time ever this week, The New York Daily News reported Thursday.
(fot) León, who left Cuba in 1967 to study music in the United States, heads Brooklyn College's composition studies department. She was a founding member and first music director of the Dance Theater of Harlem. Her music has been performed worldwide, and one of her works is up for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
Two of her compositions will be performed at the Leo Brouwer Festival of Chamber Music, which starts Friday at the historic Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. Her presence in Cuba has been cleared by the U.S. government.
"I would like this to be a door to embrace other artists," León told The Daily News. "There's a lot of Cubans all around the world who have made a tremendous contribution to the arts."
To read the article, click here. Details about the festival are here.(img)

Posted by Renato Perez at 07:42 AM in Music, U.S.-Cuba relations
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S: Cuban Colada

Even Cuba finally gets it: Capitalism works

Cuba's tacit admission that its communist economy is failing marks the end of an era.
It follows the eclipse of similarly stultified economies in three other lands of lingering communist persuasion – China, Vietnam, and North Korea. All have either moved, or appear to be moving, to free, market-based economies while retaining a communist structure to continue harsh political control.
Cuba may be no exception. It recently announced plans to dump hundreds of thousands of government workers into a suddenly ­authorized private sector. That doesn’t mean democracy is right around the corner. Though the brothers Castro, Fidel and Raúl, may soon be passé, some Cuba-watchers expect their successor may be a tough, but as yet unidentified, general from the powerful military who will use the Communist Party structure to maintain authoritarian rule.
So while some international critics, like the delusional Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, continue to rant against capitalism and America, aging communist regimes seek the fruits of capitalism’s prospering systems while retaining power with communism’s political infrastructure. It is an intriguing period in history.
Signs of reformDuring Fidel’s long absence for health reasons, his empowered brother Raúl has hinted at modest reforms. He has ordered the release of a number of political prisoners. He has expressed impatience with the inefficiency of the labor market and sent Cuban delegations to Russia, China, and Vietnam to study their departure from communist economic models.
In August he declared in public: “We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working.” This was a reference to the fact that most of the population is employed by the state, and with the low wages they are paid – on average $20 a month – many people do not work very hard. There is large-scale moonlighting, dabbling in the black market, and reliance on money sent from abroad by Cuban exiles. Now Raúl is setting free about 10 percent of the state’s workforce, encouraged to launch small businesses or otherwise fend for themselves.
Meanwhile Fidel, in a interview with an Atlantic Monthly reporter, let slip his view that the Cuban economic model has failed, hastily but not credibly claiming later that he had been misunderstood.
Looking to Russia, China, and VietnamWhat the brothers Castro learned from studying Russia, China, and Vietnam is that all have supplanted the old communist economic systems with consumerism, free markets, and privatization in varying degrees, while China and Vietnam have kept the state in firm control. Even North Korea, whose communist-run economy has left many of its citizens hungry and despairing, has rehabilitated a former prime minister who was fired three years ago for promoting market-oriented reforms. Pak Pong-ju re-surfaced from obscurity in August, with restored party status, stirring speculation that economic reforms and pragmatism are in store. This suggested policy shift comes at a time when Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, is engineering the political succession from himself to one of his sons, the 20-something Kim Jong-un.
Vietnam, while under strict Communist Party political control, has been steadily transforming from a centrally planned economy to a ­ market-oriented one, with rapid growth stimulated by the traditional entrepreneurship of its people.
And despite the Communist Party’s tight hold on the reins of political power, China’s free-market economy has become the second largest in the world, exceeding even Japan’s. Its populace of industrious millions has built roads and high-speed railway networks and factories and whole manufacturing cities, turning out cars – and now electric cars – and electronics, machinery, and consumer goods for export and to meet the demands of its own increasingly affluent citizens.
All this freeing up of centralized economies that have proved inept is of course a step on the road to the inevitable: namely, the political freedoms that the respective regimes fear, and – ultimately – democracy. We must hope that such progress will come sooner, rather than later.
John Hughes, a former editor of the Monitor, writes a biweekly column.