Friday, June 26, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Mildrem, left, brushes her dog, named Harley.
Today in Havana Harley Davidson riders pay tribute to Jose Lorenzo Cortez, better known as Pepe Milésima, a legendary motorcycle mechanic.
Milésima means "thousandth" in Spanish and it's a reference to the mechanic's penchant for precision.
Mechanics are gods in Cuba because they somehow manage to keep half-century-old cars and motorcycles running. Pepe died on Father's Day and today riders will climb onto their old American machines and rumble off to the Colón Cemetery to remember Pepe.
I'm taking a spin on my Harley today, too. I'll be thinking of Pepe Milésima, Sergio and the rest of the Harlistas across the Florida Straits.Link:
The Obama administration has done little to change U.S. policy toward Cuba, Raul Castro says, but Cuban officials are "ready to talk about everything" with the Americans "under equal conditions."
The Cuban president said in a June 17 speech that Cuba won't "negotiate our sovereignty nor our political and social system, and our right to self-determination and internal affairs."
As for the U.S. trade embargo, he said:
There is not political or moral pretext that justifies this policy. Cuba has not imposed any such sanction against the United States or its citizens.Castro said the Obama administration's actions toward Cuba were "fine, positive but only achieve the minimum. The embargo remains intact."
U.S. Cuba policy is "a case of post-diplomatic stress disorder," according to Counterpunch, a political newsletter.
This could not be done, however, because the administration has not come to grips with the tectonic shifts in global power relations.Valdés is a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico and director of the Cuba-L Project, a non-profit organization that distributes information about Cuba. Sandels writes for the project.
They say American officials have failed to realize that their hardline policies toward Cuba are out of step with most of the world - and the Obama administration has done little to change that.
The Obama administration's "willingness to resume the routine talks on immigration that Bush had unilaterally suspended" is not a groundbreaking move, they say.
Like his earlier reversal of Bush's restrictions on family travel to Cuba, Obama seemed to think the latest policy tweak was a policy change -- another U.S. volley keeping "the ball in Cuba's court."
Surely, for the U.S. to resume compliance with earlier understandings does not amount to a concession for which the other party now owes it something in return.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
American fugitive Charles Hill has lived more than half his life in Cuba, just beyond the reach of the FBI.
I would hope that Hill be sentenced to die if ever he returns to New Mexico to stand trial.Robert was an outstanding man in all ways. I feel cheated that I only got to associate with him such a short time. It is certainly a time in my life I shall never forget.
They went after us. If you had an Afro hairdo and got stopped by a cop, they went after you. We were being persecuted. There's no doubt about it.
Back in those days, we were considered 'black revolutionaries.' Now we're considered 'black terrorists.' That's a whole misconception.
Basically, if I had an opportunity to go back to the States and be free on the streets and I couldn't come back to Cuba, that would be a tough choice. Right off the top of my head, I don't think I would leave my son and my daughter and my grandson here and not be able to come back to Cuba.
No, no, I wouldn't give it up, man. You know, I'm too old now. I don't have any retirement plan back in the United States.
It's not a perfect society. I'm not a perfect person. Nobody's perfect.They've made some mistakes just like all governments have. But I've always felt they're constantly trying to work for the people.See, this is the basic difference. I don't think the United States government works for the American people.
I'm not an old, bitter revolutionary. I'm not angry at anyone. I just keep on living. That's basically it. I take it as it comes.
Friday, June 19, 2009
The New York Times on Thursday quoted family members who are still reeling over the espionage accusations against Kendall Myers, 72, and his wife, Gwen, 71. Gwen Myers’ daughter, Jill Liebler, 52, said:
When the FBI came to the door and told me my mother had been arrested, I kept thinking they must have the wrong house.Another daughter, Amanda Myers Klein, 40, told the New York Times of the Myers' love for one another.
I have yet to meet a couple who are more in love than the two of them. They are beautiful together.Kendall Myers' son, Michael, rejected some news organizations' portrayal of his father as a fanatic.
The media has painted a picture of him as a loner, a zealot, a man with an agenda. That’s not who he is.Also Thursday, authorities filed a court document asking Kendall Myers to promise never to reveal classified information that comes out during the trial unless the court or the government authorizes disclosure - fat chance of that.
I agree that I shall never divulge, publish or reveal, either by word, conduct or any other means, such classified information and documents unless specifically authorized to do so in writing by an authorized representative of the United States government, or as required by the Classified Information Procedures Act, or as otherwise ordered by this Court.
I understand that this agreement and any other non-disclosure agreement will remain binding upon me after the conclusion of trial in United States v. Walter Kendall Myers, Criminal No. 09-150, and any subsequent related proceedings including the appellate process.Link: Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page
Che Guevara's 24-year-old granddaughter promotes vegetarianism in a PETA campaign that debuts in South America in October. PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the AP:
We say the best way to save animals is not to eat them.In the print ad, Lydia Guevara wears a red beret, camoflage pants and bandoliers of baby carrots. McGraw said the photo:
...very much evokes the tag line of the ad, which is 'Join the vegetarian revolution.' It's an homage of sorts to her late grandfather.I think the photo could be better, no fault of Guevara's. She looks OK, but she's holding her left arm at an odd angle, like she's about to lean on a wall - and missing. That fist should be raised, defiant, pointing skyward.
Below are photos from past PETA ad campaigns.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Luis Posada Carriles trial is now set to begin on Feb. 1. It had been scheduled to start on Aug. 10, but Posada Carriles' lawyers said that wouldn't give them enough time to prepare.
Defense lawyers cited four reasons why they need more time:
1. The complex nature of the underlying facts and circumstances of the charges;In a document filed June 6, defense lawyers wrote of federal investigators:
2. There are reams of documents that the prosecution must provide to the defense, but the defense has only received part of the discovery information;
3. Defense lawyers need time to travel to such foreign destinations as Cuba to interview witnesses, inspect crime scenes and review original documents.
4. They also need time to review classified information and decide how much of it should be kept from public view.
...they have been investigating this case since at least the year 2000, have sent two teams of FBI investigators to Cuba (in 2001 and 2006) to inspect the crime scene and interview witnesses, and have had the benefit of a grand jury investigation with subpoena power since at least 2005.
* Discovery Deadline: October 2, 2009
* Dispositive and Substantive Motions Deadline: October 30, 2009
* Status Conference and Motion Hearing: December 18, 2009, at 2:00 p.m.
* Jury Selection: February 1, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.
* Trial: February 1, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.Lawyers for Posada Carriles say they still have not received:
* tapes of American journalist Ann Louise Bardach's interview with Posada Carriles
* the transcripts of the Bardach tapes
* audible copies of the defendant's statements at an immigration hearing held to consider removing Posada Carriles from the country
* transcripts of the defendant's statements at the removal hearing
* forensic documents related to the underlying allegations
* expert witness summaries
* inspection of original documents
* assistance in obtaining permission to travel to CubaThe complexity of the case and the possibility that some of the discovery material could embarrass the government favors the defense.
Prosecutors, no doubt, are mindful of what happened in the high-profile case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
In July 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Stevens on seven felony counts of failing to report gifts. But prosecutors withheld evidence that could have helped Stevens and a judge threw out the case in April. Attorney General Eric Holder said:
After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.
Phil Peters on Wednesday told a House subcommittee why it makes no sense to continue funding TV Marti, which has not developed an audience in Cuba despite at least $190 million in tax dollars spent over 19 years. Peters said:
TV Marti "has proven utterly ineffective," Peters said.
TV Marti has been broadcast from balloons floating in the air over Florida, from satellites in outer space, and now from an airplane that flies figure eights in U.S. airspace south of the Florida Keys.
Nineteen years of effort have not overcome Cuba’s jamming. I don’t think it’s possible to find a broadcast engineer who will explain how a television signal that originates more than 50 miles from its audience, can ever overcome jammers that are located amid the target audience. We cannot repeal the laws of physics.
Or, it could have paid for nearly a million low-cost laptops for Cuban children.
Peters recalled that Ronald Reagan promoted exchanges with the Soviet Union in 1984. Reagan said:
Civilized people everywhere have a stake in keeping contacts, communication, and creativity as broad, deep, and free as possible. The way governments can best promote contacts among people is by not standing in the way.Peters' arguments are convincing. It'll be interesting to see whether the government continues funding TV Marti.
TV Marti does not seem to have an audience. It's a station that no one watches. So why spend all the money on it?Whatever the cost, TV Marti is symptom of a bloated government. Once you start a program, its managers immediately looks for ways to justify its existence. They protect it. They defend it. They build armor around it.
It becomes an institution. People stop questioning whether it even works. And, even more astonishing, cutting the program begins to have political costs. It's ridiculous. It's part of the reason why our federal government is a big, fat, self-perpetuating, money-gobbling machine.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Soroa is a quiet ecological paradise just 54 miles west of Havana. It features:
* One of the world's largest orchid gardens
* A peculiar old castle built in 1867
The Supreme Court's refusal on Monday to hear the Cuban Five's case is a blow to the socialist government, which has made the agents' plight a cornerstone of its political agenda.
The next to be released would be Ruben Campa, also known as Fernando Gonzalez. The Inmate Locator lists his release date as April 1, 2015 - five years, nine months and 16 days away.
Under the federal criminal code, however, with respect to offenses committed after December 1, 1987, parole has been abolished for all sentences handed down by the federal system, including life sentences, so a life sentence from a federal court will result in imprisonment for the life of the defendant, unless a pardon or reprieve is granted by the President.At the same time, federal inmates serving life sentences can receive good conduct time, which can amount to as much as 54 days per year. According to the Code of Federal Regulations:
An inmate serving a life sentence may earn extra good time even though there is no mandatory release date from which to deduct the credit since the possibility exists that the sentence may be reduced or commuted to a definite term.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Cuban officials today called the American legal system "corrupt and hypocritical" after the U.S. Supreme Court said it won't review the case of five Cuban agents jailed for nearly 11 years. Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power said the five agents are "unjustly imprisoned" for fighting against "anti-Cuban terrorism."
The Supreme Court justices did not explain their decision. A statement by Cuba's National Assembly presidency said, "The judges did what the Obama administration requested of it."
Cuban officials contend that the five agents did not get a fair trial in Miami. The National Assembly statement said the Supreme Court ignored universal support "expressed by an unprecedented number of 'friend of the Court' briefs, among them 10 Nobel prize recipients, hundreds of parliamentarians, and numerous U.S. and international jurist organizations, of outstanding political and academic personalities."
The statement said:
In spite of the solid arguments made by the defense attorneys from the obvious and multiple legal violations committed during the whole trial...the Supreme Court rejected the case, thus ignoring the demand of Humanity and its obligation to do justice.Reacting to the court's decision, jailed Cuban agent Gerardo Hernández Nordelo said in a statement:
We see manifested once more the arbitrariness of a corrupt and hypocritical system and its brutal treatment of our Five brothers.
Our struggle to win their freedom will not diminish for one instant. Now is the time to step up our actions, and not leave even one space uncovered or door unopened.
We are certain that Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando, Ramón, and René will continue leading this battle, as they have during these almost 11 years.
Based on the experience that we have had, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court's decision. I have no confidence at all in the justice system of the United States. There are no longer any doubts that our case has been, from the beginning, a political case, because not only did we have the necessary legal arguments for the Court to review it, we also have the growing international support as reflected in the Amicus briefs presented to the Court in our favor. I repeat what I said one year ago, June 4, 2008, that as long as one person remains struggling outside, we will continue resisting until there is justice.Ricardo Alarcon heads the National Assembly, which described the Supreme Court decision as a "monstrous injustice."
Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This is Varadero.
...is one of the few tourist sites on the island where locals and foreigners can mix in a way that is both relaxed and unguarded. And with more than 300 casas particulares and only three decent city-center hotels, cross-cultural interaction is positively encouraged, creating a kind of Varadero in reverse.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Josh was supposedly a cute 16-year old boy. Grills and Lori Drew’s daughter Sarah used Josh to lure 13-year old Megan Meier into an Internet relationship.
Within an hour, Megan hanged herself.
Lori Drew is scheduled to be sentenced on July 2 in U.S. District Court in California. Her lawyers want probation. Prosecutors ask for a three-year jail term and a $5,000 fine.
Domínguez told the Miami Herald he wanted to ''shatter the myth of an impenetrable'' security system surrounding the Castro family. He also complained about the privileges of Cuba's political elites, citing Antonio Castro's "unlimted access" to the Internet:
While everyday Cubans were banned from using the Internet cafes in Havana hotels, this guy had a BlackBerry and unlimited access to the Web.The June 12 Herald said Domínguez, 46, is a security company employee who operates a Web site "featuring reports on Cuba's armed forces and security services -- Cubaaldescubierto.com."
Domínguez made up a character named Claudia Valencia, a 26- to 27-year-old brunette with blond highlights. The Herald described her as "a sports journalist who, like Antonio, follows soccer and technology."
Domínguez used Tagged, a social networking site, to make initial contact with Castro, then at some point the two began chatting via Yahoo! Messenger.
You also agree to: (a) provide true, accurate, current and complete information about yourself as prompted by the Yahoo! Service's registration form (the "Registration Data") and (b) maintain and promptly update the Registration Data to keep it true, accurate, current and complete. If you provide any information that is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, or Yahoo! has reasonable grounds to suspect that such information is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, Yahoo! has the right to suspend or terminate your account...
Members shall not misrepresent their identity or impersonate any person.
Drew's crime was unauthorized access to the MySpace servers - using fraud to access protected information. In a similar way, Domínguez evidently used stealth to access the servers of Tagged and Yahoo!
Antonio Castro, an orthopedic surgeon, is the doctor for Cuba's national baseball team. Source of photo: Secretos de Cuba
In May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Oregon woman could sue Yahoo! Inc. "for failing to make good on a promise to remove a fake, lewd profile" posted by her disgruntled ex-boyfriend.
Cecilia Barnes filed a lawsuit in March 2005 to try to force Yahoo! to take down a profile that "contained nude photographs of Barnes and her boyfriend, taken without her knowledge, and some kind of open solicitation... to engage in sexual intercourse."
After that, she was bombarded with calls and visits from men who expected sex.
Antonio Castro hasn't made any public comments Claudia, the fake Colombian Internet girlfriend. But some Herald readers were outraged, seeing Castro as a victim, a surprising development in anti-Castro Miami. Among their comments:
* This is pathetic! - Medcom
* The Herald should be embarrassed to print this crap on page one. - Georgemia
* This is not worthy to even be reported. It was a sick, immature and underhanded thing to do. It is a disgrace. Aren't there better things to do with your time? - marianola
* This is trash journalism and only helps the regime in Cuba show how corrupt the Miami exiles really are. - peteracosta
* Pathetic and sad examples of what has become of the once powerful and resonant voice of the exile community. - Pa55ion
I have never met Antonio Castro and don't pretend to know what goes on among Cuba's political elites, but I'll recount a story I heard about him.
But the doorman told them the club was full, and they turned to leave.
Suddenly, someone yelled, "Hey, it's the Portuguese ambassador!" and the doorman immediately let them in.
Incredibly, no one recognized the Castro sons. Nor did they try to use their father's name to get a table. I can't imagine that happening anywhere else in Latin America.
I'm sure Antonio Castro lives better than many Cubans. I'd expect that. But he shouldn't be punished for being the son of Fidel Castro.