Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Libyan convoys in Niger, may be Gaddafi deal

BENGHAZI, Libya/AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) - Scores of Libyan army vehicles crossed the desert frontier into Niger in what may be a bid by Muammar Gaddafi to seek refuge in a friendly African state, military sources from France and Niger told Reuters on Tuesday.
The United States said it believed the convoy was carrying senior members of Gaddafi's entourage but not the fallen leader himself.
The Libyan rebels who overthrew Gaddafi two weeks ago said they also thought about a dozen other vehicles that crossed the remote border may have carried gold and cash apparently looted from a branch of Libya's central bank in Gaddafi's home town.
Details of the developments were very sketchy.
The military sources said a convoy of between 200 and 250 vehicles was escorted to the northern city of Agadez by the army of Niger, a poor and landlocked former French colony. It might, said a French military source, be joined by Gaddafi en route to adjacent Burkina Faso, which has offered him asylum.
A spokesman for Gaddafi said, however, that he was still in Libya. "He is safe, he is very healthy, in high morale. He thinks very much that he is doing exactly what he should be doing," Moussa Ibrahim told Reuters by telephone.
He did not say where Gaddafi was or when he might next appear in public. He also said he had "no idea" about the reported convoy of military vehicles, saying only that it was normal for groups of travellers to cross the border.
France, Niger and Burkina Faso, as well as Libya's new rulers and NATO, all denied knowing where Gaddafi was or of any deal to let him go abroad or find refuge from Libyans and the International Criminal Court who want to put him on trial.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said it was for Libyans to decide the venue but that Gaddafi must not slip away quietly. "He will have to face justice for all the crimes he has committed in the past 42 years," he said.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Gaddafi was on the run and that he had no information as to where he might be.
A French military source said 69-year-old Gaddafi and his son and heir Saif al-Islam might join the convoy later to head for Burkina Faso.
France has taken a lead in the NATO action backing Libya's uprising and, with its Western allies, would be likely to have the ability to track any sizeable convoy in the empty quarter.
But Niger's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Adani Illo, told Reuters that such surveillance over thousands of miles of desert was still hard. "The desert zone is vast and the frontier is porous," he said. "If a convoy of 200 to 250 vehicles went through, it is like a drop of water in an ocean."
Sources close to Niger's government said the head of Gaddafi's security brigade, Mansour Dhao, was in the capital Niamey. He was allowed in to the country earlier in the week.
Gaddafi has broadcast defiant messages since he was forced into hiding two weeks ago, and has vowed to die fighting on his own soil. But he also has long friendships with his poor African neighbors, with which he shared some of Libya's oil wealth.
The sources said the convoy, probably including officers from army units based in the south of Libya, may have looped through Algeria rather than cross the Libya-Niger frontier. Algeria last week took in Gaddafi's wife, daughter and two other sons, angering the interim council now ruling Libya.
NATO warplanes and spy satellites have been scouring Libya's deserts for months, raising the likelihood that any convoy of the size mentioned would have been spotted. But a spokesman for the Western alliance said it was not hunting Gaddafi and had a U.N. mandate only to stop his forces attacking civilians.
"Our mission is to protect the civilian population in Libya, not to track and target thousands of fleeing former regime leaders, mercenaries, military commanders and internally displaced people," Colonel Roland Lavoie said in a statement.
Tuareg nomads living in the Sahara say those fleeing Libya include many black Africans, some of whom may have been fighters for Gaddafi and most of whom fear the anger and reprisals of Gaddafi's enemies among Libya's Arabs.
NTC commanders last week said both Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam were in the tribal stronghold of Bani Walid, 150 km (90 miles) south of Tripoli. But that belief has evaporated this week after days of blockade of the town.
NTC officials said Saif al-Islam, for one, may have escaped south into the desert, toward the southern, pro-Gaddafi bastion of Sabha and perhaps on to Niger. Tracking him would be hard; fully 1,300 km (800 miles) of sand separate Sabha from Agadez, with a further 750 km of road to travel to Niamey.
Near Sirte, Gaddafi's home town on the Mediterranean coast, there was the first sign of heavy fighting for some days. Combatants reported exchanges of shell fire and rockets to the east. Several NTC fighters were wounded in an ambush.
Though conditions in Tripoli were improving with the return of water supplies two weeks after rebels overran Gaddafi's headquarters compound, evidence of brutality during his battle to cling to power during the Arab Spring is also accumulating.
Reuters journalists in the provincial town of Khoms found evidence Muammar Gaddafi had deployed squads which held suspected opponents in shipping containers, tortured them for information about insurgent networks and disposed of their bodies in unmarked graves.
A spokesman for the NTC said banknotes in the convoy of gold and cash that the council believed had reached Niger had been stolen from Sirte's branch of the Central Bank of Libya.
NTC official Fathis Baja told Reuters: "Late last night, 10 vehicles carrying gold, euros and dollars crossed from Jufra into Niger with the help of Tuaregs from the Niger tribe."
It was unclear if these vehicles were separate from the much larger military convoy reported by the foreign sources.
Burkina Faso, once a French colony and a recipient of large amounts of Libyan aid, offered Gaddafi sanctuary last month but has also recognized the NTC as Libya's government.
President Blaise Compaore, like Gaddafi, took power in a military coup. He has run the country for 24 years.
Gaddafi has long touted his origins among the peoples of the desert. After largely turning his back on fellow Arab leaders, most of them allied with his Western adversaries, Gaddafi had portrayed himself as an African "king of kings"
(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas, Christian Lowe and Alex Dziadosz in Tripoli, Sherine El Madany in Umm Qundil, Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Barry Malone, Sylvia Westall and Alastair Macdonald in Tunis, Sami Aboudi, Amena Bakr and Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Erika Solomon in Dubai, Nathalie Prevost in Niamey, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, David Brunnstrom in Brussels and Richard Valdmanis and Mark John in Dakar; Writing by Alastair Macdonald)

Conceding How Tourism Funds Castro's Military...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
News reports about the death of Castro's Defense Minister, Julio Casas Regueiro, have almost unanimously conceded the fact that the military owns and controls Cuba's tourism industry.

So why would anyone support having tourists fuel this industry (thus, Castro's military)?

Unless, of course, you support Castro's military dictatorship.

From AFP:

Among Casas Regueiro's unexpected legacies: he helped turn Gaviota into Cuba's largest tourism conglomerate, with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, marinas and airlines.

From CNN:

When Raul Castro was made defense minister, he put Casas in charge of the profitable businesses that the military ran, including tourist hotels and the main telephone company.

From Reuters:

[Casas] helped lead Cuban military-run enterprises that are some of the largest in the country and include everything from tourism to retail stores.

From AP:

Beginning in 1990, Casas ran the Defense Ministry's Business Administration Group, which includes a host of efficient and profitable enterprises designed to generate the hard currency Cuba has needed to buy critical imports... The armed forces also manage a chain of hundreds of small consumer goods stores and a tourism company that runs more than 30 hotels, with subsidiaries that provide domestic tourist travel by air and land.

From Al Jazeera:

As a military official, Regueiro was credited with pressing through some of Cuba's political and economic reforms in the 1990s as the island sought to recover from the collapse of the Soviet Union, its key supporter during the Cold War. They included creating new roles for the armed forces such as managing the Gaviota hotel chain to create a source of hard currency for the military and creating small local industries to maintain and replace Soviet-made equipment.

And even The New York Times:

The Cuban military runs real estate businesses, factories, supermarkets and even a large tour operator, Gaviota. Its companies, many of which generate much-needed hard currency, enjoy a reputation for efficiency in a country dogged by mismanagement and a bloated bureaucracy.

Are Castro, Chavez and Gaddafi Rational Actors?

Monday, September 5, 2011
A wake-up call for those that have argued -- and still argue -- for rapprochement and negotiations with the Castro and Chavez regimes, as if they were rational actors.

From Bloomberg:

When asked if he would offer Gaddafi asylum, Chavez recalled a conversation he had with Cuba’s Fidel Castro about the capture of Saddam Hussein after Iraq was invaded. Chavez said Fidel told him that in such situations “what we have to do is win or die.”

While on this topic (sort of), please make sure to read Nicholas Kristof's editorial in The New York Times, "Thank You, America!"

Here's the introductory paragraph:

Americans are not often heroes in the Arab world, but as nonstop celebrations unfold here in the Libyan capital I keep running into ordinary people who learn where I’m from and then fervently repeat variants of the same phrase: “Thank you, America!”

Capitol Hill Cubans

Today Picture...

Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega, center, smiles as he waits for the Virgin of the Copper Charity during a procession in Madruga, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011. A year long pilgrimage with the Virgin of the Copper Charity began on Aug. 8, 2010 in Santiago de Cuba in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of her appearance in Cuban waters. It  is expected to arrive in Havana Dec. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega, center, smiles as he waits for the Virgin of the Copper Charity during a procession in Madruga, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011. A year long pilgrimage with the Virgin of the... AP ..... more

Catholic Church condemns assaults on Cuba dissidents

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's Catholic Church denounced on Monday recent rough treatment of dissidents by supporters of the Cuban state, saying violence against "defenseless persons" could not be justified.
In a statement, the Church said it was told by the island's communist government that it had not ordered the assaults on the dissidents, but this assertion was greeted with skepticism by one of Cuba's leading human rights activists.
In recent weeks, the dissident group Ladies in White and other activists have accused government supporters and police of assaults and detentions in Havana and in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where a new Ladies in White chapter has been formed.
"It is well known, and we have reiterated it on various occasions, that violence of any kind, applied to defenseless persons, has no justification," the Catholic Church said.
It went on to say that "the Cuban government ... has communicated to the Church that the order to assault these persons came from no national decision-making center."
Cuba's government has said so-called "acts of repudiation" against dissidents arise spontaneously from its supporters, although foreign diplomats say they are orchestrated by the state.
Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission of Human Rights, said any orders for the harassment of anti-government activists would have to come "from the highest level of the government", including President Raul Castro.
"I am sure that General Raul Castro, at least, approved or gave the order to use force in the past few weeks," he said.
He said it was possible that "more brutality" than that officially intended was used by those executing the orders.
Sanchez preferred not to speculate on the church's motives for including the government denial in its statement, saying only that "the Church here has always had to be very careful."
Ladies in White leaders met with Church officials last week to ask that Cardinal Jaime Ortega intervene on their behalf as he did last year when they suffered several acts of public harassment by pro-government militants.
The cardinal, who is Archbishop of Havana, negotiated an agreement with President Castro in 2010 to allow the women to continue silent protest marches they have conducted every Sunday in Havana's Miramar section. They say they have been harassed when they tried to stage protests elsewhere.
The Sunday marches began in March 2003 to demand the release of 75 family members jailed in a crackdown on dissidents, whom Cuban leaders view as mercenaries for the United States, the government's longtime ideological foe.
As part of the agreement with Ortega, Castro freed 115 political prisoners, including those remaining from the crackdown. The Ladies in White say about 65 political prisoners are still behind bars, so they continue marching.
In Santiago de Cuba, they say members in their new chapter have been beaten, detained and in one case gassed by police.
(Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Cynthia Osterman)
Cuba's brave 'Ladies in White'
Sept. 3 - Raul Castro, Cuba's successor to brother Fidel, has recently unleashed his thugs on women peacefully protesting Cuban human rights abuses. The brutal attacks completely undermine Mr. Castro's attempt to appear moderate and will set back his carefully cultivated relationship with the European Union. Ultimately it could lead to a popular uprising.
The attacks are unconscionable, and betray a realistic fear that the Cuban public is fed up with Castroism and only lacks a spark to rise up against the geriatric dictatorship. The Cuban women's protest movement could supply that needed spark.
Members and supporters of the "Ladies in White" human rights movement attempting to assemble for protests after church services in Santiago de Cuba have been physically attacked by Cuban government agents every Sunday from July 24 through Aug. 28.
The women are expected to exercise their right of peaceful protest again this Sunday.
But don't expect eyewitness reports from the foreign press in Cuba. They are being kept away.
The most detailed account of the beatings is a report by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights on what happened Sunday, Aug. 7, in the vicinity of Santiago. It said state security officials and "Castro supporters" attacked women assembling for a protest march using "sticks and other blunt objects" causing "injuries, some considerable," according to The Wall Street Journal.
The women were forcibly taken by bus to the city outskirts and forced to walk back.
When some attempted another protest march the same afternoon they were again attacked. Read more
According to Mariela Castro, her uncle is in "great health"
Sept. 3 - Raúl Castro's daughter, Mariela, told Spanish news agency EFE that her uncle Fidel is "alive and in great health."
Mariela told EFE that her uncle "is alive and kicking, enjoys very good health and he is really being very creative, he is investigating."
Mariela didn't specify what Castro was investigating.
Today marks two months since the last "reflection" the dictator wrote in Cuba's official press, while inside and outside the island there are once again rumors about his poor health.

SIP intolerance criticizes Cuba for foreign press...

09.06.2011 / 20:41 h
In a statement added that "the Cuban government always acts Likewise, "referring to whenever" escalates repression against dissidents, like the attacks on the Ladies White-curtails freedom of information to try hide his intolerance of criticism and fear of freedom. "
These statements take place after it became known that International Press Center (CPI), Ministry of Foreign Cuban has expressly forbidden to publish more information Vicent from Cuba and informed him that his credentials would not be renewed work necessary to perform the work of correspondent that country.
President's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information the SIP, Robert Rivard, recalled today that the organization has repeatedly denounced the situation of the foreign press its semi-annual reports on press freedom in Cuba.
"Foreign correspondents are closely watched and Official control is strict about not ordered to cover sensitive issues that might affect their legal stay in the country, becoming self-censorship is common practice, as has been recognized some of them, "said Rivard, of the daily U.S. San Antonio Express-News.
The Spanish newspaper rejected "accusations vigorously Cuban regime "and said in its Sunday edition that the decision withdraw the accreditation of Vincent is "an attack freedom of expression and information. "
It also reaffirmed its commitment to continue to report as happen in Cuba with the same rigor, respect and independence, and revealed for a year that Cuban authorities refused to renew the work permit of Vincent, so that he could not attend press conferences and official events, but allowed him to continue publish their information.

Cuban government denies ordering attack on Damas de Blanco...

Cuba's government denied the Catholic Church ordered to "attack" the Ladies in White, wives express alleged political harassment and police repression in the recent weeks, reported Monday the Archbishop of Havana.

"The Cuban government, in these situations, informed the  Church from any center of national decision has been given order to attack these people, "said a statement from the Archbishop  signed by its spokesman Orlando Marquez.
Las Damas de Blanco complained last weekend temporary detention and harassment of the eastern towns Santiago de Cuba and western Matanzas when attending Sunday Mass, which typically demand freedoms the Government.
"Violence of any kind applied to helpless people, has no justification," said the text.
Leaders of the group, 2005 Sakharov Prize, met last Archdiocese officials Wednesday to ask the Church intercede with the government to cease repressive acts.
The Church "seeks the good of the Cuban people, reconciliation and peace among all, through attitudes and gestures  promote peaceful development that Cuba needs at this stage changes in which we live and the Cuban people expect and demand, "said  the note.

05/09/11 - 15:30 International


How Communist propaganda works...LPP Archive...

The other day I featured excerpts from an article by Toby Westerman, editor-in-chief and publisher of International News Analysis (INA) Today.
In another column, ‘Weapons of Thought Destruction’ dated February 23, 2010, Westerman describes how leftist propaganda works and why conservative counterpoints are denounced.  Emphases mine below.

The tools which the Moscow elite use are as current as the Internet and YouTube, and their goal is as old as Lenin and the Bolsheviks …
Most “experts” continue to approach Moscow as a work in progress, a regime needing only the right words to produce a responsible, peaceful actor on the world stage.
Yet, blind eyes are being turned toward a series of threatening developments to which the “experts” pay little public attention and discuss even less. These include the Moscow-Beijing military/political alliance; Moscow’s aid to not only Iran but also to Syria and North Korea; and the support – even inside Russia as well as in Latin America — for the Venezuelan Marxist dictator, Hugo Chavez.

The communist disinformation ...

"The U.S. is looking to repeat the scene in Cuba Libyan" Cubadebate
Published: September 6, 2011 2:40 pm.

EE. UU. would promote a media campaign against Cuba with the to iterate on the Caribbean island a scenario similar to Libya Syria. This is the official site Cubadebate complaint.
"The slaughter of the Libyan people, perpetrated by NATO and the U.S.. UU.-With Security Council auspices of the UN and under the false guise of protect civilians, is an alternative to the enemies of the legitimate dream of revolution against Cuba, "says the website.
According to the article, lately the media bombard the public with a Of course the climate of repression and violence in the country. In particular, they cite  alleged acts of aggression against those known as Ladies White. The Cuban site suspected that this movement, which advocates release of some dissidents, part of strategy White House to make the condemnation of Havana to the institutions international.
"The current generated cross from Florida aims to create a matrix of opinion in the media international project the distorted image of an alleged increased police repression on the island, for which they serve, as always, its historic employees ", says the portal, making  reference for the Damas de Blanco, according Cubadebate, have "the U.S. government support and special services. "
American activist Gloria La Riva of the National Committee for  Release of 'The 5', says the opposition groups in Cuba receive millions of dollars from Washington.
"It seems that the Obama Administration is launching a campaign more against Cuba in an attempt to destabilize the country, create a pretext within the country to justify any aggression by the United States. UU. Y  also for other countries to join this imperialist war. We have been delivering tens of millions of dollars to groups very small counterrevolutionary in Cuba. "

Libya: Bastion of Bani Walid gadafista can surrender in hours...

TRIPOLI. A delegation of five Tribal leaders in the region of Bani Walid is scheduled to meet Libyan rebel military commanders besieging the city to try to reach a final agreement.

ABC Digital
Libia: Bastion gadafista de Bani Walid puede rendirse en horas
Source: Reuters
Sources  rebel soldiers said he expects a positive response from notables, who reportedly pledged on Monday to convince the gadafistas is entrenched in this town in the desert that lay down their weapons.

News of the possible resolution of conflict in Bani Walid, one of the last bastions of resistance, Today the light came just hours after being informed that a convoy of nearly 200 Libyans have militarized vehicles into  Niger, apparently from Algeria. It is not known so far those traveling in the caravan, who runs a Tuareg tribal leader close to  Libya's former strongman, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Sources rebels had pointed to the possibility that Gadhafi and some of its  children-particularly bellicose Seif al-Islam were in Bani Walid, one of the power centers of the tribe of the Wafala the most largest in the country. The ability to catch and convert the input peaceful city into a symbol for the rest of the locations  still reluctant to date has been delayed a possible assault by the arms of the city.

However, some sources now point to  The convoy traveling through Niger Burkina final destination is Faso, a country willing to welcome the former Libyan leader, who could join the caravan days.

The news, however, are confusing, since in an audio recording aired last night by a Syrian satellite television, the former spokesman for Gaddafi, Musa Ibrahim said that both the dictator and his son Saif al-Islam " Libya are in "good health and in a location inaccessible to rebels.

Fears that the negotiation was in fact a dilator gadafistas process to save time and allow flight of its leaders and called on the Sunday at the commander Efe Mohammad Anis rebel at the gates of Bani Walid. On Monday, one of the locals quoted by various media, gave understand that at least Seif al Islam was in town, but would  managed to flee to the south for four days.
September 6, 2011 5:38

Mubarak's trial degenerates into a pitched battle outside the court...

Judge denies access of the press to stress that triggers the process

GONZÁLEZ ENRIC - Jerusalem - 06/09/2011
The third session of the trial degenerated into Hosni Mubarak battle, both on the street and in the living room. One of the Egyptian president's lawyers held up a photo of Mubarak, but a lawyer for the victims snatched it to burn. Thus began a fist fight between lawyers. Outside, around the Court  the Police Academy in Cairo, where the process takes place, Supporters and detractors of rais deposed against each other and against the riot police. Four people suffered serious injuries.
    Hosni Mubarak

    Hosni Mubarak


    Kufr el-Musailaha



    81,713,52 (est. 2008)

A witness said that the Ministry of Interior to carry weapons in ambulances
For the first time, Judge Ahmed Refaat prevented access to the press  the room. The images of the previous two sessions, with Mubarak lying on a stretcher and two sons, Gamal and Alaa, behind bars caused a huge impact on the Arab world. Judge Refaat, without however, found that the lawyers on both sides tended more to cameras at the same court decided to close the doors.
It happened yesterday was a reflection of the growing political tension that lives Egypt. Hours before the start of the session two crowds precariously separated by a police cordon, thronged to the Police Academy. Some were shouting in favor of the deposed president, others called for his hanging. From the screams went on to shock and to fights.
Hosni Mubarak, now 83 and suffering from cancer, charged with murder and multiple murder because, according to the prosecutor, ordered police to shoot to kill on protesters Tahrir Square demanding an end to the regime. Mubarak denies the charges.  About 850 people were killed during the protests started on 25 January, culminating in the resignation of rais Feb. 11.
A  helicopter yesterday to the president moved to the Police Academy. The main defendant in the process was introduced into the room on a stretcher, according to eyewitness accounts, and remained silent.
The session was devoted to questioning by several police officers. All agreed that they were ordered to disperse the crowd with tear gas, batons and water pressure in any case with firearms.
Sources of the lawyers explained to Reuters that one of the police chiefs, Gen Hussein Said Mursi, gave a new version on the use of lethal force by police. Mursi said he heard on 28 January, the day of clashes over violent, a conversation between two senior officials of the Ministry of Interior in which they discussed how to protect their own prisons and ministry building. They decided, according to the witness, fees ambulances with weapons, and the protesters attacked cars police, and distribute it. "We ordered it impossible to access  the crowd at the Tahrir Square in the media that we seem timely, but never heard the order to use live ammunition people, "said the witness.
Police fired three days from the Home Office and made indiscriminately,  causing many casualties. There were many officers in other incidents used their weapons, they claim to defend attempted lynchings.