Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Can We Travel Faster Than Light?

Great Coverage of Syria Freedom Struggle ...

CNN and Anderson Cooper faithfully and honestly cover the Historic Syrian Struggle for Democracy and Freedom. Here are coverage of the news on Friday, June 10, 2011

The "Foreign Plots" of Dictators

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
An editorial from Arab News:

An unholy alliance
To say that uprising in Libya and Syria is a foreign plot is an insult to people who are fighting for their freedom
On Tuesday, in a joint statement, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez denounced what they called the West's "imperialist aggression" in Libya and Syria.

It is a wonder they did not try and get Cuba's retired President Fidel Castro or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to endorse their condemnation. They would have certainly obliged. Back in March, Castro's verdict on the Libyan uprising was that it was an American plot. Just over a week ago Mugabe called NATO "a terrorist group" because of its airstrikes against Qaddafi's forces.

The notion that the uprisings in Syria and Libya are a Western plot is not merely a gross distortion of the truth; it is a vicious slap in the face of ordinary Syrians and Libyans. They are the authors of the uprisings, not the Americans or the French or the British. The hundreds of thousands of Libyans who rose up against Qaddafi's iron grip on power and the young Libyans fighting, and dying, to free their country did not do so because of a foreign plot. They did so because they wanted to be free and were inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. They took their destiny into their own hands. It has been the same for the hundreds of thousands who have taken to the streets of Syria's cities, willing to die for freedom and, in some cases, doing so. The suggestion that they are agents in a plot devised by NATO and the CIA is an insult to them and the memory of the thousands who have been killed.

In any event, if it were an American plot, it was one for which the Americans should be congratulated for getting their Middle East policies right for a change and doing something that was genuinely in tune with mass public sentiment.
The fact that men like Chavez trot out this lie says everything about them and their politics and nothing about reality. They have a world view that is hopelessly outdated — a world divided into thieving imperialists and, battling against them, anti-colonialist liberation movements led by themselves. That has long gone. The world has moved on. But it is a vision these dictators are desperate to retain. It is their justification for their dead hand on the levers of power.

The same was said by the ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of the protests in Egypt before he fell; they were organized by outsiders, he said. Qaddafi and Assad have come up with different villains behind the opposition to them — they accuse hard-liners — but the thinking is the same. They need someone to blame for the crisis and refuse to admit they are the problem.

For all their populist rhetoric and their glorification of their "people's struggle" against "imperialism," it is their own people that the likes of Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi and Assad fear their most. So they come up with nonsense about foreign or terrorist plots.
No one is taken in. The Syrians and the Libyans, like the Egyptians and the Tunisians beforehand, know that their uprisings are their alone, not something cooked up in the Pentagon. Others may support them, morally or with money or even arms and air raids, but the Arab Spring is a genuine Arab affair. Those who have to pretend otherwise show how little they understand the momentousness of what is happening.

Still Searching for Humanitarian Travel

While the Castro regime's business partners "jockey" for profits:
Last month, ABC Charters announced plans to begin non-stop service to Cuba on Sept. 10. Since then, XAEL Charters Inc. appears to have leapfrogged ahead; that company now plans to take off from Tampa International Airport to Cuba two days earlier than its competitor, on Sept. 8.

Tessie Aral, president of Miami-based ABC Charters, said her early announcement clearly tipped off her competitors and allowed them to jockey for the prestige of being the first Tampa-to-Havana flight in five decades.

"Am I happy? No. But you have to deal with the cards dealt to you," Aral said. "I guess they're doing the right thing for their business. I actually hurt myself."

The first people-to-people "tour" arrives in Cuba and visits Castro's Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (a repressive arm of the dictatorship):
A sample itinerary for the trip she is taking includes stops in Old Havana, Cathedral Square and the Bacardi Rum Museum as well as visits to schools, an orphanage and Callejon del Hamel, a community art and cultural project where tour participants will meet with Afro-Cuban artists. The trip is also supposed to include sitting in on a meeting of a neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, chats with tobacco farmers and possibly catching a baseball game of Havana's Industriales team.
All while staying at the luxurious, regime-owned, Hotel Nacional, of course.

Rum, music, cigars, baseball and coddling the dictatorship.

So much for humanitarian travel -- let alone promoting democracy.

Capitol Hill Cubans

August 17, 2011

August 16, 2011

Castro goon squad goes nuts against independent journalist/blogger (UPDATED)

 Dania1The banner Dania Virgen Garcia hanged in front of her home
To protest against the detention of anti-Castro activist Michel Iroy Rodríguez, Cuban independent journalist/blogger Dania Virgen Garcia on Saturday, Aug. 13 -- the 85th birthday of Fidel Castro -- hanged in front of her home in Havana a black banner declaring, "On the 13th of August, there was born a demon in Cuba."
In response, Cuban State Security unleashed a vicious "act of repudiation," with close to a thousand of elderly people, students, thugs and other Castro slaves besieging Garcia's home for most of the weekend. Fueled by alcohol provided by police, the crowd shouted threats and insults and tossed dozens of eggs for several hours during the weekend, according to a report Garcia filed with Miscelaneas de Cuba.
Garcia, a former political prisoner, is a frequent target for the dictatorship's goon squads, as she has repeatedly shown her courage and determination in resisting the regime and reporting on its bad behavior. Concern for her safety is warranted, and so is our admiration for her work.
UPDATED, Aug. 18, 2011 -- Here is the video:

Uncommon Sense
Cong. Rivera seeks to restrict Cubans from returning to Cuba during the first 5 years
August 16 - U.S. Rep. David Rivera said Tuesday he wants to sanction Cuban Americans who return to the island less than five years after they left, alleging that they are abusing a loophole in the Cuban Adjustment Act and helping the country’s communist system.
The South Florida Republican submitted a bill on Aug. 1 to deal with the growing complaint that Cubans benefit from the CAA as refuge-seekers but then return to the island just to visit relatives or even to vacation.
Approved in 1966 for the tens of thousands of Cubans who were fleeing the communist government at the height of the Cold War, the CAA offers U.S. residency 366 days after arrival and other benefits. Citizens of no other country receive such benefits.
“The original intent of the CAA was to provide status to Cuban refugees because they were not able to return to Cuba,” Rivera told El Nuevo Herald. “That political situation remains the same today, with a communist totalitarian dictatorship in power.”
“We have to do something about those who avail themselves of an act designed to protect them from persecution and then travel back to the persecuting country in an obvious abuse of the law,” he added.
Criticism of the CAA has been building in recent years around the United States and even among South Florida’s older Cuban exile community, as growing numbers of Cuban arrivals argue that they left the island for economic rather than political reasons.
About 300,000 Cuban-Americans visited the island in 2010, and the Raúl Castro government has said it is reviewing migration regulations — a possible hint that more will be allowed to return in order to help boost the island’s economy.
“The Castro dictatorship is hoping for a lifesaver with increased travel,” Rivera said. “This bill will hopefully throw it an anchor.”
Rivera’s bill, HR2771, requires the Department of Homeland Security to rescind the adjusted state of Cubans who return to the island before they obtain their U.S. citizenship. Cubans generally need up to five years to become U.S. citizens.
Aides said he had not publicized the bill because he is waiting until Congress resumes to amend the wording of a section that would have affected all Cuban arrivals and not just those who return to the island. The Miami Herald
While Cuban hospitals don't have medicines, Castro sells $1.5 billion of medicines to Ecuador
August 16 - How many times have we heard the Castro-apologists saying that the reason why Cuban hospitals don't have medicines to treat its patients, is because of the "criminal embargo."
But if that's the case, How can the Castro brothers sell Ecuador $1.5 billion in medicines?
Here is an article in "Giving Cuba’s pharmaceutical exports a major boost, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa pledged his country would buy up to $1.5 billion worth of Cuban-made medical drugs and vaccines this year.
Ecuador’s move significantly expands the benefits Cuba gets from the ALBA trade and integration agreement, which had been largely restricted to Venezuelan-Cuban economic exchanges. In 2009, Ecuador became a member of ALBA, started in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba.
Correa said his government would give Cuban-made products priority over those made by pharmaceutical multinationals, as a gesture of reciprocity to Cuban healthcare support.
“I have given the order that the first round [of purchases], obviously, would go to domestic products. But in the second round, we’ll first ask Cuba, and whatever Cuba does not have will go up for bidding to the multinationals,” Correa said in his weekly TV report. The purchases will begin Aug. 22 and end in September.
During a work visit to Havana this month — his second this year — Ecuadorean Health Minister David Chiriboga toured Laboratorios Novatec and Laboratorios Farmacéuticos AICA, where he received “detailed information” about the companies’ product lines. Novatec produces, among others, generic versions of Aspirin and Tamiflu; AICA makes medical supplies such as vials and aerosols.
“Cuba is known worldwide for the quality of its pharmaceutical products and for its advanced biotech industry,” Chiriboga said after his visits. “This plant tour confirmed it.” CubaStandard
Yoani Sánchez: State of Fury
August 16 - “Three boys were stabbed in the Piragua* the other night,” “don’t go by Zapata and G where you might be assaulted,” “a former policeman killed a child for stealing mamoncillo fruit,” “don’t even think of going to Central Havana after ten.” These are some of the phrases that make up our own alternative red chronicle, part of the flow of information about violence not reflected in the official media. There is a latent tension that doesn’t explode in a protest at the Plaza of the Revolution, nor in an encampment in front of the Council of State, but is channeled into the punch that smashes into the skin during Carnival, or an iron bar sinking into a shoulder in a riotous brawl. This constant irritation — attributable not only to the heat — brings out the blades in the most unpredictable places, and even makes the little kids who should be playing peacefully raise their fists.
A few days ago two women were pulling each other’s hair as they fought to get a seat in a shared taxi, a bus inspector took a stick to a rider who complained of his management, a mother slapped her son because he smeared ice cream on his shirt, and a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution member from Santiago beat a regime opponent until he broke his jaw. What’s happening to us? Why this fury that turns one against another? Why this institutional silence about the facts now inherent in our everyday lives? I remember having spent a couple of hours in a police station and being amazed at the number of foreigners who came to report a robbery. One after another they came and the official in charge put his hands on his head. “This is too much,” I heard him say.
The authorities in our country think that not mentioning these risks will make them disappear. They think perhaps the absence of a report about the violence plaguing the city will cause it to decrease. I’m sick and tired of turning on the TV and seeing only incidents that happen on the streets of New York or Berlin. I have a son 16 years old and I know the dangers he faces crossing the threshold of our doorway. Enough already of falsifying statistics, manipulating certificates of injuries, hiding the results of the rage. We are a society where a blow and a scream have replaced words, let’s admit it and begin to look for solutions for it.
*Translator’s note: Piragua: A large plaza-type open space along Havana’s Malecon overlooked by the Hotel Nacional.  Generation Y

Being a daddy's boy popular genres, grease certain mechanisms for others remain oxidized, but that caste, casual and crystalline vision, intrigues and further shares frustrations.
Photo: Reuters
Mariela Castro and Colonel Alejandro Castro, Raul Castro's sons.
To speak of children, grandchildren and relatives of the highest Party leaders, the state and the revolutionary government; be careful. All too often we tend to generalize, and  even discriminate, repeating phrases like "The little children of dad are all about madcap. " It is not always real.
It is true, and even has become cliché, it degrades the power,  and corrupts. But it is also well known that wield makes life a spa concept pleasant and relaxing.
Mariela Castro and Alejandro, for example, feel patriotic symbols.  Would fill whole pages describing these brothers. It catagelofóbica he Philocrates both obsessive beings that they can use the modesty and humility as a hammer and chisel to sculpt your monolithic pedestal. Discuss them, but also those other that jealousy, traquimañas mysterious or personal sympathy, have been stigmatized, as Ernesto Guevara March, who deserves my affection.
I do not feed resentments and frustrations interesting, that we have enough. Nor do I get on the pulpit pontificating, my idea is far from wielding a scythe sharp and dark her decapitate anyone who smells or stinks Central Committee. I prefer to demystify and show, the darkest or lightning nocturnal fauna members of some philosophers shoddy called "semen ruling class" and social magazines do not get in because  in Havana do not exist.
Being a daddy's boy popular genres, oil certain mechanisms for others remain oxidized, but that caste, casual and crystal in sight, further shares intrigues and frustrations.
We talked about that and everything. I suggest even interact to satisfy their questions about a group descended from "pristine'' leaders in a country that moral slogans breakfast, snack egalitarianism, and lunch ethical principles. You, send me your e-mail juanjal@yahoo.comAsk what you want, who you want, and I, doing my best, shooting a  tirade. But remember, I do not mean spit falsehoods worn theories end when testing begins.


First gay wedding in Cuba

Transexual and gay married the day that Fidel Castro turned 85

Cuba gay man and transgender woman marry

Ignacio Estrada and Wendy Iriepa after the wedding ceremony 
The couple say their marriage is not meant as a provocation
A Cuban man and transgender woman have married in what is being seen as the country's first "gay wedding".
Same sex marriage is illegal in Cuba, but bride Wendy Iriepa is legally a woman after undergoing one of the first state-sponsored sex changes in 2007.
Her fiance, Ignacio Estrada, is a noted dissident and gay rights activist in Cuba and suffers from Aids.
The couple said the wedding, timed to coincide with Fidel Castro's birthday, was a "gift" for the former leader.
The wedding in Havana was attended by prominent dissidents and members of the gay community.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people faced official discrimination for years in communist Cuba.
'Great injustice' In the early days of the revolution many were sent to re-education camps to stamp out their "counter-revolutionary" values.
Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada were declared ''legally united in matrimony''
But homosexuality was made legal in 1970, and President Raul Castro has introduced a series of gay rights reforms since taking over from his brother Fidel in 2006.
Last year Fidel Castro himself apologised for the persecution of homosexuals under his rule, calling it a "great injustice".
Onlookers at Havana registry office 
For some onlookers outside the registry office, the idea of a gay wedding was a bit of a head-scratcher
Ms Iriepa, 37, had her sex-change treatment at the National Centre for Sex Education, which is headed by Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela.
"I dedicate my wedding to all those who want to have their own," she said after the ceremony.
"This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man," Mr Estrada, 31, said.
"We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba."
Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, who acted as a godmother at the ceremony, said that while the marriage was not technically a gay wedding "it is the closest we have come".
"We are very happy with what happened today," she wrote on Twitter.
"It was a big step in a small Cuba".
Birthday celebrations Far larger celebrations have been taking place across the island to mark the 85th birthday of Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba for nearly half a century
The veteran leader handed power to his brother in 2006 because of serious illness, but is still officially recognised as the "historic leader of the revolution".
People look from a Havana balcony beside a giant poster of Fidel Castro  
Despite his retirement, Fidel Castro remains a dominant figure in Cuba
The main event was a televised concert on Friday night at Havana's Karl Marx theatre, where stars from across Latin America performed for 5000 guests.
Fidel himself did not attend, and nor did Raul.
Fidel Castro has rarely been seen or heard in public since handing power to his brother.
In recent months he has been looking even frailer, the BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says, and his regular newspaper editorials have also dried up for the moment.
President Raul Castro, 80, is now firmly in charge, and has set about overhauling Cuba's struggling socialist economy.
But even in retirement, Fidel Castro remains a dominant force in the island, our correspondent says.
Cuba for Gay Travelers

A new revolution is quietly brewing in Havana, Cuba which could make it the next great gay travel destination. Only two hours from Atlanta, the gay scene in Havana is beginning to sizzle after years of repression. Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela, has even participated in a gay rights march and Brokeback Mountain has been seen on government television.

While gay life is still largely underground, one of the most amazing scenes occurs every night in Havana starting at about 11:00 pm where La Rampa Street and the Malecon, an ocean front walk, intersect. On weekends you'll see hundreds of guys strolling, chatting, and playing guitars all night until the sun rises. Talk to the right people and you'll get an invitation to one of the private home parties that pop up in different locations throughout the week.

If you would like a small splurge, head over to the basement of the National Theatre on a Friday or Saturday night for their cabaret/dance party. You'll see hundreds of young Cuban men looking as if they had just stepped out on a runway.

Full Story from Fenuxe

Click here for gay travel resources in Cuba.