Saturday, August 11, 2012

BREAKING: Marco Rubio not VP pick

Dana Loesch at Big Government reporting:
Reports are in that Marco Rubio--who was one of several names on Mitt Romney's Vice Presidential shortlist--was informed by the campaign that he would not be the pick.
It's another sign pointing to a possible Paul Ryan vice presidential announcement early Saturday morning. Rubio rode into office on a grassroots wave and became one of the tea party's favorite lawmakers. The buzz surrounding his name grew this week as speculation intensified as to who Romney would choose. Some believe that while Rubio would be a formidable pick, he is also too valuable a conservative fighter in the Senate to part with at this time.
Even if Rubio isn't the pick, the Senator is still marked as one of a handful of conservative Republican candidates who represent the future of the party.
Some reports had suggested Tim Pawlenty as a possible pick, but seeing as Pawlenty will be on ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning, it's highly unlikely that the Romney camp would stick their VP pick on the talk circuit right before showcasing them on the bus tour booked for this week.
Rubio 2020!


Boycott Sean Penn, traitor to his nation
August 10 - Sean Penn loves dictators, especially if they are anti-American leftists. Recently, the Hollywood star visited Venezuela to campaign for strongman Hugo Chavez. Mr. Penn joined Mr. Chavez at a major rally in the city of Valencia. The actor has been a longtime friend of the despot. With Venezuelans going to the polls on Oct. 7, Mr. Penn came to bolster Mr. Chavez’s re-election efforts. He should be ashamed; Mr. Penn’s actions border on treason.
“Thank you very much for visiting us again, dear friend,” Mr. Chavez said, while introducing Mr. Penn in front of a large crowd. “We're all Americans, from the north, the center, the south. Long live the American continent!”
Mr. Penn, sporting expensive sunglasses and wearing a white shirt, was accompanied by Argentine producer Fernando Sulichin. The actor waved to the audience, and then embraced the Venezuelan socialist. Although he didn’t speak, Mr. Penn’s message was obvious: He backs Mr. Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution. In other words, the Hollywood star supports a brutal tyrant who is a mortal enemy of America and capitalism — the very nation and economy that have enabled Mr. Penn to attain great wealth and celebrity status. He is not just a colossal hypocrite, but obtuse.
Mr. Chavez has transformed his country into an oil dictatorship. Since 1999, he runs a military regime characterized by human rights abuses, economic nationalization and neo-imperial socialism. Political opponents are harassed. Critics have been imprisoned. He has cracked down on the independent media. He controls the judiciary and the central bank. He has expropriated private property. He has raised taxes on the rich. He has engaged in massive social spending and redistribution of wealth, using nationalized oil companies as a personal piggy bank to reward his constituents. The results have been disastrous. He has amassed massive deficits and crippling debt. Inflation is soaring. Poverty and unemployment have risen. The middle class has been eviscerated. Government corruption is rampant. Businesses and investors have fled. The rule of law has been overturned. Basic freedoms are repressed. The Catholic church is persecuted. Venezuela’s fledgling democracy has been dismantled. It has become the Cuba of South America — a failed Marxist police state.  Read more
How can you investigate a car accident without asking questions about it?
August 10 - Aron Modig, the Swedish citizen who survived the car crash that killed Cuban dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, told a Swedish newspaper that he suffered an intensive interrogation for five days while he was in Cuba, but that he was never asked anything about the accident.
"The questions are always the same: 'Why are you here? Who sent you?' They switched between asking questions and scolding: 'Don't come to our country and interfere'," Modig told the daily Dagens Nyheter in the interview. "In a dictatorship that's no good, of course I got worried."
No questions were posed about the accident, he said.
Now, how can you conduct an investigation of a car crash and never asked any questions about it?
Only when you knew in advance what were the real reasons for the accident since you orchestrated it.
Click here to read the whole story
Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace
August 9 - Havana is at the same time attracting and terrifying entrepreneurs.
Until this spring, Stephen Purvis had it all. The British architect, who’d helped launch the Saratoga, Cuba’s poshest hotel, was one of the more prominent figures in Havana’s business community. As chief operating officer of Coral Capital, one of Cuba’s biggest private investors, he was overseeing a planned $500-million resort in the sleepy fishing village of Guanabo. The Bellomonte resort, which would allow foreigners to buy Cuban property for the first time, was part of Havana’s ambitious, multi-billion-dollar plan to attract high-end tourists and badly needed foreign exchange. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. The musical Purvis produced in his spare time, Havana Rakatan, had a run at the Sydney Opera House last year before moving on to London’s West End. But in April, the 51-year-old was arrested on suspicion of corruption as he prepared to walk his kids to school in Havana.
Purvis’s arrest could have been anticipated. Coral Capital’s British-born CEO, Amado Fakhre, has been held without charges ever since his arrest in a dawn raid last fall. The investment firm is being liquidated, and both men have faced questioning at Villa Marista, Cuba’s notorious counter-intelligence headquarters. They are not alone. Since last summer, dozens of senior Cuban managers and foreign executives, including two Canadians, have been jailed in an investigation that has shocked and terrified foreigners who do business in the country.
Since replacing his brother Fidel as president in 2008, Raúl Castro has painted himself as a reformer, and Cuba as a place where foreign businesses can thrive. Over the last year, he has relaxed property rights, expanded land leases and licensed a broad, if random, list of businesses—everything from pizza joints to private gyms. And he’s endorsed joint venture golf courses, marinas and new manufacturing projects. Canadians are chief among those heeding Raúl’s call to do business with Havana. Hundreds have expressed interest in the Cuban market in the last year alone, according to Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service. Flattering reports in Canadian media have praised Raúl’s efforts. Yet they seem to overlook troubling signs that Cuba appears to be moving backwards. Read more

August 10, 2012

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet launches new video interview, commentary program

This is why the Castro dictatorship imprisoned Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet for most of the past 15 years.
The man is a natural before the camera, which must terrify the regime to no end.

Assisting Dr. Biscet with this project is Jordan Allott, the producer of the documentary "Oscar's Cuba," about Dr. Biscet and others in Cuban opposing the dictatorship.
Allott offers more details about Revelando Cuba:
Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet and the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights are proud to present Revelando Cuba (Revealing Cuba). Produced and distributed
in Cuba, Revelando Cuba gives viewers in-depth context and analysis of international and domestic events. Relevando Cuba also features commentary by Dr.Biscet and guest interviews, covering topics that affect the day-to-day lives of the Cuban people. This first-of-its-kind program will educate Cubans about important events they would otherwise not hear about from the island's government-controlled media.Revelando Cuba - episode one- is currently being distributed on the island.  You can email the program at
 To see other videos that make up Episode 1, go here.
Uncommon Sense

Modig's lapses, and ours

Swedish Christian Democratic activist Aron Modig has now spoken about his experience in Cuba – the crash that killed Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero and left him and driver Angel Carromero of Spain’s Partido Popular injured, his memory, the questioning he faced afterward – and Modig is telling the same story to Swedish print and radio reporters that he told on camera in a press conference in Cuba. 
In sum: Modig was snoozing when the crash took place, he awoke when the car lost control, lost consciousness upon impact, and awoke again in an ambulance en route to the hospital.  He was questioned in Bayamo about the accident and had dinner with the Swedish ambassador there, and he was questioned in Havana about his political activities while being held in a windowless room in a house.  He did not enjoy the process. 
When asked for more details about the crash, he told Swedish reporters he preferred to stick with his memory and not to speculate.  (See AFP Spanish, AP English, and you can Google-translate this article from Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter; if you speak Swedish you can listen to this radio interview.)
From various accounts, Modig seems not to have communicated with the Paya family before leaving Havana to give information or to express condolence.  Paya’s organization chided Modig today for failing again to express condolences to Paya’s family.
Carromero, meanwhile, is reported by Madrid’s ABC newspaper to have phoned a friend immediately after the accident to say, “We have just had an accident.  Things could get bad, and you need to help me out.”  ABC’s reporter got almost no information from anyone at the Partido Popular; all personnel are staying quiet so as to avoid saying anything that could hurt his case.  Some friends did say Carromero is “prudence personified” at the wheel.  For their part, Spanish traffic authorities have now revoked his drivers license, having stated their intention to do so last May based on his many speeding and parking violations.
How does all this figure into the speculative debate over what really happened July 22 on the highway outside Bayamo? 
It certainly does not support the theory that a Cuban government car caused the accident directly or indirectly by harassing Paya’s car on the highway.  This theory, advanced by Paya’s family, might have been sustained by statements by Modig made from Swedish soil.  But he continues to say he was asleep, which doesn’t fit a less-than-relaxing scenario where the car was being rammed by another, or harassed such that (as Paya’s daughter suggests) Carromero accelerated to escape the harassment. 
Carromero himself has said he was driving at 50 miles per hour the last time he checked, came upon a gravel-covered section of the road, saw a pothole, braked, and lost control.  It “could have happened to any other person,” he said in a statement recorded in Havana.  The Cuban legal case against him will apparently rest on the allegation that he failed to heed signs to slow down in an area under repair.
If Modig is sticking with his terse statement to leave the door open for Carromero to say what he wishes at trial, then he is also leaving Carromero completely on his own. 
Of course, it’s also possible that the Swede and the Spaniard are telling the truth.
Driving in Cuba is not easy.  Eight hours into this grueling Havana-to-Santiago trip, the group had passed the point near Sancti Spiritus where a wide, open highway turns into a two-lane road.  On the former it’s easy to average 70 miles per hour; on the latter you’re lucky to average 40 as you pass through towns and slow down for trucks, bicycles,  horses, parked cars, pedestrians, and vendors leaning into the highway hawking home-made cheese and other wares.  It’s hard for any driver – and this driver was new to Cuba, 27 years old, and judged to be unfit to drive in his own country. 
I’m all for being skeptical of government statements, in this case Cuba’s, and I don’t for a moment discount the rough treatment that dissidents receive.  And certainly the statements of Carromero and Modig in Cuba may have been be colored by their desires to escape criminal charges and go home.
But the many efforts to accuse Havana of assassinating Paya, or in most cases to insinuate that it did so, seem hasty and very political, even as those who make the accusations complain that Havana is making its own political points.  No one else is being blunt, so I will: The idea here seems to be to avoid the quite plausible conclusion that an amateurish political operation intended to help Cuban dissidents ended up getting two of them killed.  
Worse still is the charge that Carromero is a “hostage” in the absence of evidence that the Cuban case against him is a sham.  The idea seems to be that Cuban laws, even traffic laws, are illegitimate and should not apply to foreigners engaged in political work.  Even Senator Rubio has recognized Cuban “civil law” and the obligation of foreigners to respect it. 
The burden on the Cuban state is to prove its case.  The burden on us, it seems to me, is to let that process take its course.  The alternative is to send a message to the Cuban people that when two Cuban citizens die and a foreigner is involved, the only thing that matters is to get the foreigner out of Cuba and back to the comforts of home. 
Other items from the Spanish media:
·         From El Pais: “Madrid prepares for a long diplomatic crisis with Havana”
·         Luis Gomez of El Pais profiles Carromero, who as part of his effort to climb the ranks of the Partido Popular, “traveled to Cuba to fulfill a mission.”  Gomez could not verify if this was Carromero’s first trip to Cuba.  Carromero’s political mentor, Pablo Casado, traveled to Cuba in 2007 and later wrote of a “clandestine meeting” with Oswaldo Paya.  “My mission consisted of gaining access to the most surveilled houses in Cuba without being detained or jailed,” he wrote.
·         Mauricio Vicent, former Havana correspondent for El Pais, puts Carromero’s trip in the context of a long line of other Spanish political activists who have traveled to Cuba and been turned around at the airport, “thus obtaining the sought-after headline,” or who manage “to move about the island believing themselves to be a kind of James Bond” only to meet eventual deportation.
[Photo from the website of Dagens Nyheter.]

Swede in Cuba car crash worried about driver

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Swedish politician who survived a car crash in Cuba that killed dissident Oswaldo Paya and another government opponent has described an intense five-day grilling about why he was in the country and said he is deeply worried about the fate of a Spanish colleague charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Aron Modig said in an interview published Friday that he doesn't remember what led to the crash and recalls only fragments of how the car suddenly swerved off the road and how he regained consciousness in an ambulance. He said he fears for Angel Carromero, who was driving the rental car when it crashed on July 22 and could face up to 10 years in a Cuban jail.
"Nobody knows what's happening to him there," he said.
In videotaped testimony, Carromero said he lost control of the car when it suddenly entered an unpaved area of road under construction and he slammed on the brakes, causing it to skid and hit a tree. A Cuban investigation found that Carromero was speeding and failed to heed traffic signs warning of construction.
Paya, 60, was for many years one of Cuba's most powerful voices of dissent against the communist government of Fidel and Raul Castro, though his influence has waned in recent years as younger activists gained prominence. He died along with another dissident, Harold Cepero Escalante. Both were riding in the back seat of the car and were not wearing seatbelts.
Prior to leaving for Cuba, Carromero had been fined for speeding and Spanish authorities had been working since May to revoke his driver's license. It was finally revoked on Thursday, Madrid regional authorities said in a statement.
Paya's family has said it has doubts about the official explanation by Cuban authorities.
Modig, the 27-year-old head of the youth party of Sweden's conservative Christian Democrats, returned home July 31 after what he said were days of high-pressure questioning in a windowless room in Havana by Cuban police.
"The questions are always the same: 'Why are you here? Who sent you?' They switched between asking questions and scolding: 'Don't come to our country and interfere'," Modig told the daily Dagens Nyheter in the interview. "In a dictatorship that's no good. Of course I got worried."
No questions were posed about the accident, he said.
Cuban media have reported that Carromero and Modig entered the country July 19 on tourist visas and brought €4,000 ($4,900) for Paya's organization to help organize dissident youth wings. Paya's family denies that he received any money from the Europeans. The government considers the small opposition to be subversive and objects to foreign-based efforts to support them.
"I went there with good intentions to contribute to a freer Cuba, but was jailed and questioned. Cubans are treated like that every day," he said.
The car crash happened while the four were on their way to Santiago de Cuba, the island's second largest city. Soon after the accident, speculation spread that a second vehicle was pursuing the rented car and might even have run it off the road.
Carromero, an activist with a conservative Spanish party, and Modig have both said no other car was involved, but Paya's family has asked for an independent investigation.
Modig's party had initially scheduled a news conference upon his return to Sweden two weeks ago, but canceled it at the last minute, citing the ongoing legal case in Cuba. The interview in Dagens Nyheter is the first he has given since his return; he was not immediately available for more comment.
Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report.