Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sue Turton updates on the latest from Sirte ...

Fighters supporting Libya's interim government have raced into the eastern outskirts of Sirte backed by NATO warplanes and are fighting street-to-street battles with loyalists of Muammar Gaddafi in his home town.

From The White House...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Roberta S. Jacobson, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State

Roberta S. Jacobson currently serves as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) at the Department of State. Previously, Ms. Jacobson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA issues (2007-2010), Director of the Office of Mexican Affairs (2003-2007), and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lima (2000-2002). From 1996 to 2000, Ms. Jacobson served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination in WHA. She began her career at the Department of State as a Presidential Management Intern (PMI). Ms. Jacobson received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Capitol Hill Cubans

Chinese naval expansion in the Americas...

20110925 0:07 am · 
by Armando F. Mastrapa III
PLA Daily reported September 16 on the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) “Peace Ark” hospital ship making its way to the Caribbean—including Cuba:
The navy emblem is shining and the navy songs are loud and clear. All people of the “Peace Ark” hospital ship of the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held an oath-taking and mobilization meeting at Zhoushan naval port at 09:00 on September 15. They are scheduled to sail on September 16 for visits to Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica and carry out the “Harmonious Mission 2011” medical service task.
CNA analyst Peter Mackenzie’s recently published paper addresses the development of China’s hospital ships since the 1970s and the implications of China’s use of hospital ships for the country’s expanding maritime hard and soft power:
Some analysts have speculated that the “Peace Ark” could support distant-seas missions in ways that go beyond the mere provision of medical services. They see the “Peace Ark” as part of a PLA strategy to build a navy suited for long-range expeditionary missions involving combat forces. They point out that the “Peace Ark” was built at the same shipyard and launched within months of another notable vessel: China’s first long-range amphibious assault ship, Kunlunshan.
[H/T: Dr. Andrew Erickson]
(Image: PLAN)

Cuba drilling next hurdle for U.S.

The White House must crisscross complex political and policy waters as it faces the impending reality of oil drilling off Cuba a mere 60 miles from the Florida Keys.
“It’s just like firing a shotgun in a crystal store,” said Jorge Piñón, a visiting fellow with the Florida International University Latin American and Caribbean Center’s Cuban Research Institute. “You’re going to break something eventually.”
That presents multiple challenges for the Obama administration, which is tasked with protecting the U.S. coastline and waters if a catastrophe begins off Cuba.
“I think there is a lot of a tendency to hold the breath and hope it doesn’t happen,” said Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors. “I can assure you that inaction and lack of leadership against a potential disaster would be this administration’s Katrina.”
Administration officials have already upgraded drilling standards for operations off the U.S. coast and have established a partnership with Mexico to set higher bilateral standards in the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s historic spill. And Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich said last week that “the issue of drilling offshore Cuba has bhat even very experienced companies and very practiced regulators can get it wrong,” Reilly said.
From Cuba with Nada
Sept. 27 - Every once in a while, we send a useful fool to Havana. They go bearing gifts from the U.S. government; concessions we are willing to make to the world's oldest dictatorship — and one of the most repressive regimes on the planet — without getting anything in return.
Sometimes we think we actually are making progress. Yet when Fidel and Raul Castro's Communist dictatorship makes a concession, it is usually to correct an injustice that should have never been committed in the first place. Their concessions are not permanent changes to their tyrannical rule, but temporary gestures to minimize international condemnation.
They'll release political prisoners who should have never been incarcerated. Then, we'll foolishly recognize it as a sign of progress, only to realize that other dissidents are still being harassed and arrested for the same shameful "offenses," like trying to express themselves freely. That's some progress!
Like broken records, we Cuban-Americans keep telling the rest of our fellow Americans that the Castro brothers would never agree to concessions that would weaken their choking grip on the Cuban people. But nobody listens!
Since the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba has failed to force political change in the Caribbean island for more than a half century, some very naive American politicians assume that simply doing the opposite — caving in to the Castro brothers — is a viable alternative to ease the pain of the Cuban people.
These useful fools actually believe that by lifting all U.S. sanctions on the Cuban government, the Castro tyrants will be miraculously rehabilitated and embrace democracy — as if bloody dictators could go to rehab and come out transformed into humanitarians.
Of course, "useful fools" is the term traditionally used by communists to describe gullible people who fall for the romantic appeal of leftist rebels — idealists who allow themselves to be used by the communists. If it were up to the useful fools who visit Havana, the U.S. government would be making unreciprocated concessions to the Cuban tyrants. Read more

Another confrontation between dissidents and thugs organized by the regime
Sept. 26 - This one took place on Saturday September 24, in Río Verde, Boyeros.

The Ladies in White were again attacked on Saturday by soldiers and paramilitaries
Sept. 24 - Approximately 200 paramilitary forces blocked about 35 members of the Ladies in White from leaving the house of the group leader, Laura Pollan, in Havana to attend Mass according to dissident sources reporting from the Cuban capital.
"Regular citizens are not allowed to participate in the act of repudiation. The police only let in those people who were allowed to participate. There is not a single neighbor taking part," blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo told DIARIO DE CUBA from the scene.
Cuban police has closed Neptuno Street.
During an attempt to leave the house, the women were beaten by soldiers and paramilitaries, according to the independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra, who was present in Neptune Street.
"We tried to go out and were brutally assaulted. They beat me and broke my lips," Laura Pollan told Diario de Cuba.
Pollan said those who were at the front line preventing them from leaving the house are State Security agents, behind them are female police officers and then another group of supposedly university students.
"The students were not involved in the attacks. The State Security agents were the ones beating us," she said.
Another dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, said the regime "is afraid that a little spark could lead to a social explosion of major proportions."
The Ladies in White said they will not ask for help from Cuba's Catholic church because they consider it a waste of time.
"We haven't called on the Archbishop, nor are we going to call him. The last time we met, they agreed to respond and did not. They sent a statement and became spokespersons for the government," Pollan said.  Diario de Cuba (Spanish)
Fidel Castro: A documentary of how a lunatic dictator destroyed the Cuban nation
Sept. 24 - Documentary by Ricardo Vega and Zoe Valdes showing how a demented dictator was able to destroy the Cuban nation.
Among some of Castro's craziest ideas: Air conditioners for the heads of cows to improve the production of milk; the 10 million ton sugar harvest that fell way short; his plan to export millions of egg and tons of meat to Europe.
How laws were "approved" unanimously by simply getting thousands of people in 'robolution' square and asking them to raise their hands.
It is in Spanish with French subtitles.


Escalation of repression against dissidents in Cuba


Miembros de las disidentes Damas de Blanco son hostigadas, el pasado sábado 24 de septiembre, por un grupo de hombres y mujeres afines al régimen, que les impidió realizar una marcha para ir a una misa por el Día de la Virgen de la Merced, patrona de los presos.
Members of the Ladies in White dissidents are harassed, on Saturday 24 September, a group of men and women related to regime, which prevented them from making a motion to go to Mass for the Day of the Virgin of Mercy, patron saint of prisoners.
Alejandro Ernesto / EFE


Members of the opposition movement and a rights organization Cuba denounced human escalating temporary arrests and acts harassment perpetrated in the last 48 hours against activists peaceful and independent journalists.
The siege intensified  Monday in Havana, when agents of State Security prevented  a march to demand the release of three detained opposition weekend. There were also numerous arrests and beatings the central city of Santa Clara, sources of dissent.
"What  is happening shows that we should abandon all hope of that this government tries to improve the situation of civil and politicians, "said Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, director of the illegal Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN ). "Prevalent this type of political repression and the most worrying is that the scenario will continue unless a miracle occurs. "
The cast Rio Verde, in the Havana municipality of Cattle, to least eight activists were arrested by uniformed police plainclothes officers outside the house of Sara Marta Fonseca, a spokeswoman  Front National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Orlando  Zapata Tamayo. The harassment began Monday with a strong police presence around the house, seat of the House of Cuban political prisoners.
Fonseca was arrested on Saturday when  way to a meeting with her husband Julio Ignacio Leon Perez, and  Miranda Ramses Camejo. The incident took place in a day when pro-government mobs particularly violent, mostly composed of university students and members of the Union Young Communist League, harassed and beat the Ladies in White, mothers and  wives of political prisoners outside the home of its leader, Laura Pollan, in Centro Habana.
In Santa Clara, police arrested for several hours with members of the Central Opposition Coalition and the Front anti-totalitarian Kingdom. The arrests occurred when trying to mobilize activists to the headquarters of the Military Court Provincial of the region to claim the status of opponents threatened to be prosecuted.
The dissident Guillermo Farinas Sakharov Prize 2010 of the European Union, whereas the scale transmitted arrest despair engulfing the government  Cuban and his attempts to stop the movement at any cost opposition, he said.
"This is very attuned to the situation There are economic as well as lack of food and transportation. The Cubans are being slowly expelled into the streets " Fariñas said from Santa Clara. "They fear that the opposition is the trigger and catalyst for this degree of social unrest. "
The harassment by the authorities has raised concerns that the Raúl Castro is hardening its position against its critics. So far in September, the CCDHRN has documented more than 400  arbitrary arrests throughout the island, the highest number of arrests in the last ten years.
Meanwhile, in Palma Soriano are in custody a dozen activists of the Front National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Orlando Zapata Tamayo after the raid on the home of opposition Marino Antomarchit Rivero, Aug. 28, when performing an activity to support the Ladies in White.