Thursday, January 24, 2013


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Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the leading candidate for top White House budget role - @WSJ

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

News Update

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At least 3 people die in clashes between police and local residents in Cairo, health ministry confirms - @ahramonline

Islamist rebels flee town of Diabaly following days of French airstrikes, according to obtained video - @AP

More than 200 masked Serbian police take down Albanian guerrilla memorial, @Reuters reporter at the scene says 

Egypt's police stop 1 ton of explosives heading to Gaza in single largest explosives bust, official says - @Haaretzcom

A couple and their 3 children are among those killed by air raids on a town in Damascus province, watchdog says - @AFP

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013



UN: About 1 million Syrians going hungry as fighting rages - @Reuters

You don't get conditions worse than this,' says Australian fire official fighting wildfires - @AP

More: Steubenville City, Ohio, schools under precautionary lockdown after shooting threat made on social media - @WTOV9

Fred L. Turner, former CEO of McDonald's, dead at 80 - @AP

Calif. Boy Scout group challenges ban on gays by formally recommending an openly gay former Scout be awarded top rank of Eagle - @Reuters


The Anti-Sanctions Argument "Du Jour"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Until recently, the most frequently cited argument by advocates of unconditionally normalizing relations with the Cuban dictatorship was that sanctions provide the Castro regime with an excuse for its failures and repression.

This silly argument presumes that the Cuban people are ignorant as to whom is beating and imprisoning them, or to whom is prostituting and humiliating them to garner favor (and profit) from foreign tourists.

Hint: It's not the U.S.

Moreover, this argument has been debunked by polling data from the island consistently showing that less than 10% of Cubans believe the U.S. embargo is the cause of their ills.

Thus, to lift sanctions, and hand-over billions of dollars to the Castro brothers and its military henchmen -- in order to try to convince less than 10% of Cubans that the U.S. is not at fault -- is absurd (at best).

So their new argument is that the U.S. should lift sanctions to somehow "empower" Castro's "self-employed" -- for this will supposedly prompt them to push for human rights and political reforms thereafter.

(Note: There is no "private sector" in Cuba, a term all too frequently misused by the media when referring to Castro's "self-employed," who are only allowed to lease the practice of a limited set of pre-approved services. However, all means of production are legally owned by the state.)

It's a rehash of the theory that "economic reforms will eventually lead to political reforms."

Except that this never happens -- to the contrary.

Just ask Chinese and Vietnamese pro-democracy activists, who have been reduced to a fraction of what they were prior to the world embracing the "economic reforms" of their rulers, which have only strengthened those brutal dictatorships.

So how exactly would lifting sanctions help Castro's "self-employed"?

Perhaps in the same manner as Canadians and Europeans helped Castro's "self-employed" during the 1990s -- by prostituting and humiliating them, while Castro's military raked in billions at the very top.

For the fact remains foreigners are strictly prohibited from directly hiring Cubans (much less paying them in hard currency), or contracting with them in any type of business venture. Moreover, the Castro regime's Constitution clearly states that all foreign commerce is strictly reserved for the state.

So perhaps they are hoping for some sort of totalitarian "trickle-down effect," whereby tourists spend $5,000 in the regime's hotels, restaurants and nightclubs -- and then buy a $2 trinket or service from a "self-employed" artisan pre-approved (and then heavily taxed) by the Castro regime to set up a stand in a restricted tourist zone.

Now that's a deal only Castro could dream up.