Friday, October 14, 2011

Libya's fighters advance toward Sirte ...



Libya's revolutionary fighters have already taken Tripoli, now they are heading to the bastion of Muammar Gaddafi support, the Libyan leaders hometown of Sirte.

'Gaddafi loyalists' and Libya NTC Tripoli battle ends


The BBC's Nick Springate said the clashes followed the release of a tape reportedly from Col Gaddafi
A gun battle in the Libyan capital Tripoli between forces loyal to the transitional government and gunmen they say support fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has now ended.
It was the first serious confrontation in Tripoli since the city fell to the forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) in August.
The fighting started after a demonstration by Gaddafi loyalists.
A hospital doctor has told the BBC that nine people were seriously injured.
Although the gun battle has finished, the BBC understands that NTC forces are carrying out an operation to root out Gaddafi loyalists from the Abu Salim district at the centre of the disturbance.
Security vacuum

At the scene

For two hours, we heard a very heavy exchange of gunfire. Word got out that clashes were going on between pro-Gaddafi residents in the area and NTC forces who had moved in.
The problem at this stage in Tripoli is that everyone is armed. When it comes to Abu Salim district itself, a lot of people there are armed there.
A lot of them are suspected to be posing as people who were opposed to Col Gaddafi's regime. They had set up local councils as well and they simply changed the banner when the rebels arrived in August.
That was always a concern for locals in Abu Salim who looked at it as a pro-Gaddafi neighbourhood that really needed to be cleaned out.
The BBC's Caroline Hawley, in Tripoli, says there are reports that the green flag of the Gaddafi government was raised in other towns as well.
An eyewitness has told the BBC the green flag was also raised in the Daraa area of Tripoli, where a small group of Gaddafi supporters were on the street.
NTC forces cordoned off the area, fired warning shots and stopped cars to search them. However, the witness did not see anyone being detained.
Our correspondent says this is likely to rattle the transitional authorities of the NTC, who are trying to exert control in the midst of a political and security vacuum.
Friday's fighting took place near a notorious prison where political prisoners were held under the previous government.
The area is a stronghold of support for Col Gaddafi.
An eyewitness told the BBC he saw about 20 pro-Gaddafi fighters come out firing AK-47s.
Forces loyal to the NTC engaged them from pick-up trucks fitted with heavy machine guns, the eyewitness said.
A fighter with Tripoli's Eagle Brigade, Assem al-Bashir, told the Associated Press the shooting began after a man was spotted raising the green flag that symbolises Col Gaddafi's ousted government.
There are unconfirmed reports that between 20 and 100 pro-Gaddafi fighters were involved.
A BBC journalist in Tripoli saw over 200 NTC fighters from eight different brigades in the streets.
A doctor at the Tripoli Medical Centre told the BBC nine people were seriously injured in Friday's clashes.
There are also reports that Gaddafi loyalists have appeared on Libya's western border with Tunisia, where they have apparently attacked cars.

More on This Story

Libya Crisis

LPP First Draft...



Senator Rubio: Jacobson Nomination in Question

Friday, October 14, 2011
Senator Rubio Statement on Administration's Proposed Prisoner Exchange With Cuba

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement regarding the Obama Administration's attempts to negotiate the release of an American contractor held in Cuba in exchange for releasing a convicted Cuban spy and easing sanctions:

"It's deplorable that the U.S. government offered several unilateral concessions to the Castro regime in exchange for the release of a man who was wrongfully jailed in the first place. Rather than easing sanctions in response to hostage taking, the U.S. should put more punitive measures on the Castro regime.

Until Secretary Clinton answers for this, the nomination of Roberta Jacobson to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere will be in question."

Support for Democracy Should Not Be Negotiable

By Elliott Abrams at the Council of Foreign Relations:

Trading Away Cuba Policy

Israel’s swap of roughly one thousand prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit demonstrates the extremely difficult choices any decent country faces when dealing with governments or terrorist groups that hold human life cheap. Whatever one’s view of Israel’s decision to make this swap, it is worth noting that Israel is exchanging prisoners–not changing its policies toward terrorism.

This point becomes important when one discovers what the United States was apparently willing to give Cuba in exchange for the freedom of Alan Gross, a USAID contractor who is being held as a hostage in Havana. According to the Associated Press, the Cuban regime was told that the United States would not only free a Cuban spy held in prison here, but was “willing to consider”:

removing Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism; reducing spending on Cuban democracy promotion programs like the one that led to the hiring of Gross; authorizing U.S. companies to help Cuba clean up oil spills from planned offshore drilling; improving postal exchanges; ending a program that makes it easier for Cuban medical personnel to move to the United States….

Now, an administration spokesman told the A.P. that “the offer was only to discuss those issues after Gross was released, with no guarantees that U.S. policies would change.” That is not a significant demurral, because it admits that in exchange for Gross’s freedom we were willing not only to engage in a prisoner swap but to bring into question key elements of our policy toward Cuba. It is especially offensive that we were willing to negotiate over support for democracy in Cuba, for that would mean that the unjust imprisonment of Gross had given the Castro dictatorship a significant victory. The implications for those engaged in similar democracy promotion activities elsewhere are clear: local regimes would think that imprisoning an American might be a terrific way to get into a negotiation about ending such activities.

Every American administration faces tough choices in these situations, but the Obama administration has made a great mistake here. Our support for democracy should not be a subject of negotiation with the Castro regime.
Capitol Hill Cubans

U.S. Offered Cuba Swap for Imprisoned American

Published October 14, 2011
| Associated Press
The United States offered to let a convicted Cuban spy return home in exchange for the release of an imprisoned American, but Cuba rebuffed the offer, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. also indicated it would be willing to address other Cuban grievances after Havana had released imprisoned contractor Alan Gross, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the sensitivity of the issue.
Cuba rejected the offer, noting that the Cuban, Rene Gonzalez, already had served most of his sentence. It wanted pardons for at least some of the four other Cubans convicted with Gonzalez. U.S. officials said they would not consider pardons.
The December 2009 arrest of Gross, a Maryland native, has aggravated relations between the United States and Cuba just as the Obama administration was making tentative movements to ease decades of tension.
Gross was caught bringing prohibited communications equipment into Cuba while on a democracy program financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. In March, he was sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the state. The United States says Gross was merely trying to help Cuba's Jewish community communicate with the rest of the world and should not have faced prosecution.
The Cuban government has long been upset about the fate of Gonzalez and four other Cubans, known as the "Wasp Network," who were convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida. Cuban officials say the five were trying to prevent terrorist attacks on the island by monitoring Cuban exiles.
Gonzalez was released this month after 13 years in prison but a judge has ordered him to serve three years' probation in the United States before returning to Cuba.
U.S. officials offered to press a Miami federal court to allow Gonzalez to finish the parole in Cuba, in exchange for Gross' release. Under the U.S. proposal, Gonzalez, a dual U.S.-Cuban citizen, would have renounced his U.S. ties.
The Gross-Gonzalez swap was raised by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, as well as by senior U.S. officials in a series of meetings with Cuban officials. Richardson traveled to Cuba last month seeking Gross' release. He also told Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez that the U.S. would be willing to consider other areas of interest to Cuba.
Among them was removing Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism; reducing spending on Cuban democracy promotion programs like the one that led to the hiring of Gross; authorizing U.S. companies to help Cuba clean up oil spills from planned offshore drilling; improving postal exchanges; ending a program that makes it easier for Cuban medical personnel to move to the United States; and licensing the French company Pernod Ricard to sell Havana Club rum in the United States.
A U.S. official stressed that the offer was only to discuss those issues after Gross was released, with no guarantees that U.S. policies would change.
In a hearing Friday at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the State Department's third-ranking diplomat, Wendy Sherman, confirmed that U.S. and Cuban officials had recently met to discuss Gross, but she refused to elaborate on the talks.
Richardson's initiative blew up after he referred to Gross as a hostage in an interview and the Cuban government refused to allow him to see Gross. A person briefed on the trip said tensions also spiked when Richardson mentioned that the United States had a plane waiting to make an exchange, if Cuba agreed, a suggestion the Cubans found presumptuous.
Richardson was not immediately reachable for comment Thursday.
U.S. and Cuban officials also discussed the swap on the sidelines of last month's U.N. General Assembly session, but Rodriguez, the foreign minister, rejected the offer, pushing for the additional pardons.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon noted that Gonzalez has served most of his sentence, while Gross has not.
Gonzalez's Miami-based attorney, Phil Horowitz, said neither he nor his client had been approached by U.S. or Cuban officials or anyone working on behalf of either government about a possible swap.
"There is no linkage between the two, and there never has been," he said. "How could you link Alan Gross to a guy who spent 13 years in prison?"
Horowitz said he plans to file a request soon with the Miami court to allow Gonzalez to complete his probation in Cuba.
Peter Kahn, a lawyer for the Gross family, said the family supports the State Department's efforts to win Gross' release.
"They continue to be increasingly concerned about Alan's mental and physical health, as well as their own ability to endure this very difficult situation much longer," he said.
http://www.foxnews.com

AP sources: US offered Cuba swap for American

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States offered to let a convicted Cuban spy return home in exchange for the release of an imprisoned American, but Cuba rebuffed the offer, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. also indicated it would be willing to address other Cuban grievances after Havana had released imprisoned contractor Alan Gross, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the sensitivity of the issue.
Cuba rejected the offer, noting that the Cuban, Rene Gonzalez, already had served most of his sentence. It wanted pardons for at least some of the four other Cubans convicted with Gonzalez. U.S. officials said they would not consider pardons.
The December 2009 arrest of Gross, a Maryland native, has aggravated relations between the United States and Cuba just as the Obama administration was making tentative movements to ease decades of tension.
Gross was caught bringing prohibited communications equipment into Cuba while on a democracy program financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. In March, he was sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the state. The United States says Gross was merely trying to help Cuba's Jewish community communicate with the rest of the world and should not have faced prosecution.
The Cuban government has long been upset about the fate of Gonzalez and four other Cubans, known as the "Wasp Network," who were convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida. Cuban officials say the five were trying to prevent terrorist attacks on the island by monitoring Cuban exiles.
Gonzalez was released this month after 13 years in prison but a judge has ordered him to serve three years' probation in the United States before returning to Cuba.
U.S. officials offered to press a Miami federal court to allow Gonzalez to finish the parole in Cuba, in exchange for Gross' release. Under the U.S. proposal, Gonzalez, a dual U.S.-Cuban citizen, would have renounced his U.S. ties.
The Gross-Gonzalez swap was raised by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, as well as by senior U.S. officials in a series of meetings with Cuban officials. Richardson traveled to Cuba last month seeking Gross' release. He also told Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez that the U.S. would be willing to consider other areas of interest to Cuba.
Among them was removing Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism; reducing spending on Cuban democracy promotion programs like the one that led to the hiring of Gross; authorizing U.S. companies to help Cuba clean up oil spills from planned offshore drilling; improving postal exchanges; ending a program that makes it easier for Cuban medical personnel to move to the United States; and licensing the French company Pernod Ricard to sell Havana Club rum in the United States.
A U.S. official stressed that the offer was only to discuss those issues after Gross was released, with no guarantees that U.S. policies would change.
In a hearing Friday at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the State Department's third-ranking diplomat, Wendy Sherman, confirmed that U.S. and Cuban officials had recently met to discuss Gross, but she refused to elaborate on the talks.
Richardson's initiative blew up after he referred to Gross as a hostage in an interview and the Cuban government refused to allow him to see Gross. A person briefed on the trip said tensions also spiked when Richardson mentioned that the United States had a plane waiting to make an exchange, if Cuba agreed, a suggestion the Cubans found presumptuous.
Richardson was not immediately reachable for comment Thursday.
U.S. and Cuban officials also discussed the swap on the sidelines of last month's U.N. General Assembly session, but Rodriguez, the foreign minister, rejected the offer, pushing for the additional pardons.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon noted that Gonzalez has served most of his sentence, while Gross has not.
Gonzalez's Miami-based attorney, Phil Horowitz, said neither he nor his client had been approached by U.S. or Cuban officials or anyone working on behalf of either government about a possible swap.
"There is no linkage between the two, and there never has been," he said. "How could you link Alan Gross to a guy who spent 13 years in prison?"
Horowitz said he plans to file a request soon with the Miami court to allow Gonzalez to complete his probation in Cuba.
Peter Kahn, a lawyer for the Gross family, said the family supports the State Department's efforts to win Gross' release.
"They continue to be increasingly concerned about Alan's mental and physical health, as well as their own ability to endure this very difficult situation much longer," he said.
____
Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Miami and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Cuba Communist Party mulls call for term limits

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba's Communist Party announced that it is taking up Raul Castro's call to establish term limits for officials, including the president himself, as the country tries to promote younger leaders to take over from the graying revolutionaries who have been in charge since 1959.
The matter will be discussed in party meetings in the coming months and submitted for ratification at a National Conference on Jan. 28, according to an eight-page tabloid published Friday that lays out the agenda for the gathering.
The idea is to achieve a "gradual renewal in leadership," the document said, and "limit the discharge of fundamental political and government positions to a maximum of two consecutive periods of five years."
It did not say specifically which levels of government would be affected, but Castro proposed at a Party summit in April that even presidential terms be limited. Astonishing the world and the nation after 52 years with either him or his elder brother Fidel in charge, Castro spoke of the need for a "systematic rejuvenation."
Castro said then that he and Fidel had tried to promote young leaders but they hadn't worked out well — perhaps a reference to the 2009 firing of Cuba's photogenic foreign minister and vice president, who were later accused of lusting too obviously for power.
"Today we face the consequences of not having a reserve of substitutes ready," Castro said in April.
Such talk raised speculation that younger officials would rise to the top echelons of power, but Castro, now 80 years old, has largely surrounded himself with stalwarts from the revolutionary old guard.
The document published Friday also spoke of a need to promote racial and sexual diversity in positions of responsibility.
It reaffirmed the Communist Party's position as the only one allowed in Cuba and warned that the government's foreign enemies are lurking and waiting to pounce.
"The imperialists pin their hopes on the supposed vulnerability of the new generations. ... They try to foment division, apathy, dismay ... and a lack of confidence in the leadership of the revolution and the party," it said.
"They try to show a society without future in order to turn back socialism, to strip us of independence and revolutionary achievements."

Silvio Rodriguez and the Pentagon spy case...

For EDITORIAL CAFEFUERTE
- The singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez has joined its fervent claims of freedom for five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States that meet  States, the cause of Ana Belen Montes, a senior official of Pentagon spied for Cuba for 16 years.
Ana Belen Montes, a former analyst at the U.S. Defense Department.

Rodriguez called on the blog Second Appointment for "humane treatment for Ana Belen Montes" On the eve of the  ninth anniversary of his sentence to 25 years in prison by a court Washington DC federal.
"Possibly the October 16th I will be traveling. Therefore advance me in this post that I have been ready for days, " wrote the famous troubadour in a comment added to the forum.
The singer, 64, offered at a concert on the Square "Antonio Maceo" in Santiago de Cuba to celebrate the 20 anniversary of his rendition of "The Fool" to the delegates to the Fourth Communist Party Congress at the request of Fidel Castro.
Rodriguez's blog published Montes statement in court,  on October 16, 2002, which explains why the taken to conduct espionage for the Cuban government.
The military analyst said then feel "morally obliged" to help Cuba defend itself against U.S. efforts to impose their values ​​and political system.
Rodriguez said that Montes was sentenced to 25 years after explaining the reasons for their failure and asked, "Is that human?"
The artist, an ardent defender of the Cuban regime went further and said Montes, Puerto Rican, "seems to embody the Ramón Emeterio Betances spirit [1827-1898] ", referring to independence hero and symbol of the Puerto Rican nation.
Topic silenced in Cuba
The text published by Forestry Second Appointment appeared on the site mentioned digital The Jiribilla. It is the first time that Cuban media spend full space and publish a document related to the spy U.S., considered a taboo subject within the island.
After the ruling of Forestry, the only official comment Then came the Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, who said feel for her "deep respect and admiration," and felt that their actions were motivated by "an ethical attitude and a wonderful sense of justice. "Perez Roque's remarks were published only in the foreign press.
The April last year, Percy Alvarado Godoy, security agent  the state that infiltrated exile groups in Miami, wrote a article on the FBI digital site Cubadebate he mentions the case of Montes.
The Cuban press also reported the dismantling of the Red Wasp and capturing its agents in Miami in September 1998, and only began referring to the case after the convictions of the five defendants, in late 2001.
Ana Belen Montes in 1990, and in the middle of the Cuban intelligence service.

Rodriguez has been very active in the campaign deployed from Cuba for the release of the five spies, sentenced to long terms U.S. jails and qualified by Havana of "heroes prisoners of the empire. "
Cuban television Tuesday broadcast the first images of René González agent after his release from a prison in Marianna,  Florida, after serving 13 years sentence. Gonzalez, who is currently on probation, you could see with their families,  troubadour singing songs known as "Major", "The Fool" and  "Appointment with angels."
"It was an honor I do not feel deserving, but I have come very deep, "Rodriguez said during a speech Tuesday at the Roundtable program, interviewed by the driver Randy Alonso.
He added that the release of Gonzalez is "fuel to continue" the struggle for the release of the other four officers, and recalled the phone call that both sustained when the artist visited United States last year.
But the humanitarian request for Montes opens completely new chapter in the Cuban media.
Montes, 54, is currently serving his sentence in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
Graduate School of Advanced International Studies John Hopkins University in 1988, Montes was a key theme of Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence (DIA), Department of Defense, where he began working as an analyst in 1985. According to criminal record from that date began spying for the Cuban intelligence without receiving financial compensation.

Posts compromising
Forestry performance should be the main reports Pentagon asserting that Cuba posed no threat to U.S. national security.
It was she who informed the Cuban government on four agents working undercover on the island to the understanding of Washington and the location of a task force U.S. Special Forces in El Salvador, which was attacked by Front guerrillas' Farabundo Martí "(FMLN) in 1987.
Also offered details about a Cuban intelligence exercise secret in the military who participated in 1996, and reported to Havana on  a special program related to U.S. national defense States.

He had visited the island four times, most recently in 1998.
Montes was arrested on September 21, 2001, just ten days after the terrorist attacks of 9 / 11 attacks in New York and  Washington.
The evidence presented was overwhelming. Montes said guilty of spying for Cuba, citing "ideological motivations." In Under the plea agreement, is obliged to cooperate in research on Cuban espionage on U.S. soil and  against Washington's interests abroad.
At his residence in Washington, the FBI found numerous messages Cuban and your contact records with classified information to be sent to the island.
Cooperation assumed the obligation to provide detailed reports to FBI, CIA, DIA and any other agency or department government which considers itself affected by their criminal acts.
This is one of the most complex espionage cases in the contemporary history of the United States.
Documents filed in court indicate that Montes received encoded messages and Cuban intelligence stored in a laptop that had a decoding program Spanish. The coding system used was the same as using the Wasp Network to communicate with the headquarters in Havana.
The most complete case information gathered appears by Special Agent Scott W. Carmichael in the book True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba's Master Spy, published in 2007.
Last updated Thursday, 13 October 2011 11:18
http://cafefuerte.com

Pan American Games...


The Cuban delegation is suffering its first flight



This is the photojournalist Daniel Anaya, who worked for the INDER.
Before the opening of the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Cuban delegation has suffered its first flight, the photojournalist Daniel Anaya, reported the website Strong Coffee.
Anaya, 35, worked for the National Institute of Sports and Recreation (INDER), the Government.
The photojournalist arrived in Mexico on October 9, 11 left delegation after delivering the last pictures you took, and then crossed the border into the United States.
"I just want to say that I did not take anything that was not mine," he said, without divulging details of his escape, according Strong Coffee.
The Pan American Games begin this Friday and will run until October 30.
http://www.ddcuba.com