Monday, April 27, 2015

Judge denies motion to dismiss

Jason Flores-Williams
A judge rejected a New Mexico's lawyer's motion to dismiss the case against Charlie Hill, a former militant now living in Cuba.
Jason Flores-Williams said in a statement:
Based upon the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine, the Motion to Dismiss has been denied. The Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine holds that an individual who has escaped a jurisdiction may not seek justice in those courts.

§ In regard to escaped African-Americans, this doctrine has an impressive history. During slavery, an individual could not petition for their freedom until they submitted to the jurisdiction that wanted to enslave them. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. (Here, we have replaced the institution of slavery with the institution of mass incarceration, both highly profitable.) 
From recent events, we know that Americans are the subject of government surveillance (Edward Snowden, another person subject to the Fugitive Disentitlement Act); and that African-Americans are the particular subjects of police brutality. 
Charlie Hill
During the 1960’s, however, these two aspects of American life came together in an especially virulent way under the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program, COINTELPRO, which monitored, harassed and arguably killed people of color struggling for the extension of democratic principles. As an African-American political activist who was part of a group targeted by the FBI, Mr. Hill rightly feared that he would be condemned before receiving a fair trial.

We had hoped that our judicial system would consider the context in which these events occurred. It appears, however, that our system is only capable of considering context with regard to investment bankers, corporations, and other elite entities that it considers too big to fail.
Related: Lawyer: Throw out charges against Charles Hill

Saturday, April 25, 2015

USAID supports freedom of [redacted] in Cuba

Released nearly four years after FOIA submission
The Agency for International Development has released a new document about a Freedom House program called New Media Initiatives for Cuba.
Key portions of the 18-page document are redacted, so it is difficult to gain a full understanding of the project.
The document states:
The NewMIC Project is designed to enhance the [redacted] among Cuba's civil society, with a particular emphasis on supporting [redacted] through the application of [redacted]. Specifically, the Project will assist [redacted] in advancing their [redacted] including [redacted]. By providing [redacted], the Project will also foster freedom of expression among [redacted] for change, [redacted] and promote understanding of [redacted] among the general population as well as abroad.
Freedom House ran the program for a secretive USAID branch known as the Office of Transition Initiatives, or OTI. (See "USAID hides money trail" and "The [redacted] USAID shell game").
OTI operated in Cuba from September 2007 to September 2011, budget records show. I sometimes wonder if they're going back in (See "Another 'window of opportunity' for OTI?").
In October 2011, I requested further information about the New Media Initiatives program under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.
In response, USAID in May 2012 released a 33-page document showing that Freedom House had operated the $1.47 million Cuba project from September 2007 to June 2009.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BBG to discuss Cuba Broadcasting

André Mendes
The Broadcasting Board of Governors plans to meet on April 29 to discuss the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the agency announced today.
The OCB will give a presentation on its operations and activities. The BBG will also consider a report to be submitted by Interim CEO/Director André Mendes.
A BBG announcement stated:
The public may attend any or all of these sessions in person by registering here by 12:00 p.m. (EDT) on April 28. The meeting will also be streamed live on the BBG website, www.bbg.gov.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. Additional information, including any updates or adjustments to its starting time, will be posted on the BBG website. Minutes, documents and a video recording will be available after the meeting concludes.
For more information, please contact BBG Public Affairs at (202) 203-4400 or by e-mail at pubaff@bbg.gov.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

U.S. Interests Section: Melon farming

U.S. Interests Section spending: Contracts by date signed
The U.S. Interests Section in Havana has reported spending $14,953,224, most of it since 2004. (See interactive graphics: breakdown of $14.9 million; contracts signed by date; top 50 vendors).
The Interests Section didn't list a category for $3,538,546 in expenses. That left $11,414,678.
The 20 most entertaining, interesting or intriguing expenses included in that $11.4 million were listed under the following categories:
  1. New car dealers: $169,143
  2. Clothing accessories stores: $142,730
  3. Furniture stores: $108,107
  4. Locksmiths: $79,812
  5. Title abstract and settlement offices: $66,422
  6. Distilleries: $46,929
  7. Bus and other motor vehicle transit systems: $30,200
  8. Satellite telecommunications: $28,204
  9. Other motion picture and video industries: $23,740
  10. Temporary shelters: $18,553
  11. Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming: $15,294