Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Refugee, Immigrant, U.S. Senator To Retire

December 2, 2008

This man is one of our true favorites at Peace and Freedom. A former refugee, immigrant and a true man of strength and character, he has seved his nation and mankind in coutless ways.  Vietnamese immigrants and those locked in Communist jails were among those he stood up for…. He is truly “the embodiment of the American Dream.” 

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S. Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, who has struggled to boost his approval ratings because of close ties to President George W. Bush, announced Tuesday he will not seek a second term in 2010.

His seat was widely seen as vulnerable in two years, but Martinez, a Republican, rejected suggestions he faced difficult re-election prospects in a state won last month by Democrat Barack Obama.

“I’ve faced much tougher obstacles in my life,” Martinez said. “My decision is not based on re-election prospects, but on what on what I want to do with the next eight years of my life.”

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON and MARK WANGRIN, Associated Press Writers

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., speaks at the Republican National ... 
Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., speaks at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 4, 2008. Martinez , who has struggled to boost his approval rating since taking office, will not seek a second term in 2010, a state Republican party official said Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008.(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Martinez, 62, was elected in 2004 after serving as the U.S. secretary for Housing and Urban Development during the Bush administration. He served as general chairman of the Republican National Committee for 10 months, resigning in October 2007.

Martinez was born in Cuba. At the age of 15, he fled to America as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan. Catholic charitable groups provided Martinez, who was alone and spoke virtually no English, a temporary home at two youth facilities. He then lived with two foster families, with whom he remains close. He was reunited with his family in Orlando in 1966.

In appointing Martinez in 2001, Bush said he was “the embodiment of the American Dream.”

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China Can’t Let Crisis End Reform, Central Bank Says; President Hu In U.S., Latin America

November 15, 2008

China can’t let the global credit crisis derail financial reforms that have benefited the public and helped the nation’s banks weather the turmoil, said Yi Gang, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China.

By Li Yanping, Bloomberg

“Although there have been doubts in the market on whether China’s financial reforms should continue after this crisis led to massive government bailouts and nationalization of financial institutions, China’s bank reforms can’t backtrack,” Yi said at a conference in Beijing today.

The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression has caused about $966 billion of writedowns and credit losses among financial institutions worldwide, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. Treasury has initiated a $700 billion rescue plan to shore up distressed financial institutions.

“The U.S. and Europe may need to rethink financial innovations that exceed real economy needs and have pushed risks beyond control,” said Zhao Xijun, a finance professor at Renmin University in Beijing. “China’s financial services are under- developed by comparison, so we need to push ahead with reforms.”

Banks in China sold shares, accepted foreign strategic investors and enhanced risk management over the past three years to avoid repeating the bad-loans crisis earlier this decade, when the government spent $650 billion rescuing them. Limited buying of subprime debt has helped the banks avoid bigger losses.

`Unimaginable Shock’

“State-bank reform has been a success, benefiting people and greatly enhancing financial services,” Yi said. “China’s banks may have taken an unimaginable shock from this financial tsunami if they hadn’t completed shareholding reforms.”

Reforms based on market principles must continue to help shield banks from future risks during economic cycles, Yi said today. Banks will also be “tested” when the nation’s currency gradually become convertible and when interest rates are further liberalized, he added.

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/new
s?pid=20601208&sid=aLRVWbF2vObw

Chinese President Hu Jintao, seen here, begins a Latin America ... 
Chinese President Hu Jintao, seen here, begins a Latin America tour on Monday, taking in Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru, as China tightens economic ties and the region hopes for help in tougher times.

SAN JOSE (AFP) – Chinese President Hu Jintao begins a Latin America tour on Monday, taking in Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru, as China tightens economic ties and the region hopes for help in tougher times.

The Asian giant has increased diplomacy and investment in Latin America in recent years, with an eye on its natural resources and developing markets for manufactured goods and even arms.

Many in Latin America hope for an investment boost to help ride out the economic crisis.

Exports from the continent to China include soya and iron ore from Brazil, soya from Argentina, copper from Chile, tin from Bolivia, and oil from Venezuela.

The trade is still only a small percent of the continent’s total, but it is growing.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported this month that exports to Latin America grew 52 percent in the first nine months of 2008 to 111.5 billion dollars.

Hu will visit San Jose and Havana between a G-20 meeting on the global crisis in Washington on November 15 and an Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Peru on November 22.

China and Cuba have remained all-weather friends for decades, their Marxist Socialist past a driving force in relations.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081115/wl_
afp/latamchinadiplomacy_081115063413

World hopes for a ‘less arrogant America’

November 4, 2008

A world weary of eight years of George W. Bush was riveted Tuesday by the drama unfolding in the United States. Many were inspired by Barack Obama‘s focus on hope, or simply relieved that — whoever wins — the current administration is coming to an end.

From Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to the small town of Obama, Japan, the world gears up to celebrate a fresh start for America.

By WILLIAM J. KOLE and MATT MOORE, Associated Press Writers
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In Germany, where more than 200,000 flocked to see Obama this summer as he moved to burnish his foreign policy credentials during a trip to the Middle East and Europe, the election dominated television ticker crawls, newspaper headlines and Web sites.

Hundreds of thousands prepared to party through the night to watch the outcome of an election having an impact far beyond America’s shores. Among the more irreverent festivities planned in Paris: a “Goodbye George” party to bid farewell to Bush.

“Like many French people, I would like Obama to win because it would really be a sign of change,” said Vanessa Doubine, shopping Tuesday on the Champs-Elysees. “I deeply hope for America’s image that it will be Obama.”

Obama-mania was evident not only across Europe, where millions geared up for all-night vigils, but even in much of the Islamic world, where Muslims expressed hope that the Democrat would seek compromise rather than confrontation.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081104/ap_on_re_
eu/eu_us_elections_world_view

Russia-Venezuela military exercises and drills set

October 14, 2008

By Martin Arostegui
The Washington Times
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A Russian fleet sailing toward the Caribbean for military exercises with Venezuela‘s navy next month reflects a chill in Russia-U.S. relations, though analysts are divided on whether the drill represents a threat to U.S. interests or is merely a demonstration to embarrass Washington.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says the drill seals Venezuela’s “strategic alliance with Russia,” which he announced during a recent visit to Moscow, in which he signed billions of dollars worth of arms deals.

The exercises, led by flagship Peter the Great, will mark Russia’s largest naval deployment to the Caribbean in more than 20 years.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES A Russian warship bound for Venezuela docks at the Libyan port of Tripoli on Saturday. Russian fleets training with Venezuela

Above: A Russian warship bound for Venezuela docks at the Libyan port of Tripoli on Saturday. Russian fleets training with Venezuela’s navy will mark Russia’s largest deployment to the Caribbean in more than 20 years. Photo: AFP/Getty

Like Cuba’s Fidel Castro, much of Mr. Chavez’s political career has been based on his opposition to the United States.

On Russia’s end, many analysts see the move as a face-saving payback for U.S. naval deployments around the Black Sea to show support for Georgia in its conflict with Moscow that led to a brief war in August.

U.S. Navy ships were used to bring food, medicine and other relief supplies to Georgia while keeping their distance from the Russian fleet.

The Pyotr Velikiy, Peter the Great, Russian nuclear-powered ...
The Pyotr Velikiy, Peter the Great, Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser seen in the Barents Sea, Russia, , Russia, in this July, 2004, file photo. The Peter the Great cruiser accompanied by three other ships of Russia’s Northern Fleet was to sail from their base in Severomorsk Sunday on a cruise which will include a joint exercise with the Venezuelan Navy, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said on Vesti 24 television.(AP Photo/File)

Still, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would respond to the deployment in an unspecified manner and with “calm.”

U.S. officials have dismissed the Russian maneuvers as insignificant….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
oct/14/russia-venezuela-drills-set/

Where McCain, Obama stand on the issues

October 13, 2008

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer 

A look at where Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain stand on a selection of issues:

ABORTION

McCain: Opposes abortion rights. Has voted for abortion restrictions permissible under Roe v. Wade, and now says he would seek to overturn that guarantee of abortion rights. Would not seek constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Obama: Favors abortion rights.

AFGHANISTAN

McCain: Favors unspecified boost in U.S. forces.

Obama: Would add about 7,000 troops to the U.S. force of 36,000, bringing the reinforcements from Iraq. Has threatened unilateral attack on high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan as they become exposed, “if Pakistan cannot or will not act” against them.

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (L) ...
Above: Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (L) and Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) stand together onstage after the first U.S. presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi in this September 26, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

McCain: The co-author of McCain-Feingold campaign finance law is running his general campaign with public money and within its spending limits. He urged Obama to do the same. He applied for federal matching funds for primaries but later turned them down so he could spend more than the limits. The Federal Election Commission belatedly approved his decision to bypass the primary funds, but rejected McCain’s claim that he needed no such approval. He raised more than $160 million before having to stop to accept the $84 million in public money for the fall. McCain accepted primary campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Obama: The presidential campaign’s fundraising champion has brought in more than $450 million. He is raising private money for his general election, despite his proposal last year to accept public financing and its spending limits if the Republican nominee does, too. Obama refuses to accept money from federal lobbyists and has instructed the Democratic National Committee to do the same for its joint victory fund, an account that would benefit the nominee. Obama does accept money from state lobbyists and from family members of federal lobbyists.

CUBA

McCain: Ease restrictions on Cuba once U.S. is “confident that the transition to a free and open democracy is being made.”

Obama: Ease restrictions on family-related travel and on money Cuban-Americans want to send to their families in Cuba. Open to meeting new Cuban leader Raul Castro without preconditions. Ease trade embargo if Havana “begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change.”

DEATH PENALTY

McCain: Has supported expansion of the federal death penalty and limits on appeals.

Obama: Supports death penalty for crimes for which the “community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage.” As Illinois lawmaker, wrote bill mandating videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases and sought other changes in system that had produced wrongful convictions.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081013/ap_on_el_pr/where_they
_stand;_ylt=Ah55mSHa3Hh7lFZbmayhE56s0NUE

Food Security: Global Emergency

April 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Since last autumn, “food security” has moved from an issue many in the world never or hardly ever thought about to become the number one issue in life.

Food security involves having and sustaining the supply of proper food sources for entire nations and populations.

If there is any doubt that food security is a big issue, here is something of a recap of recent related news:

–The government of the Philippines said on Sunday that food security would be the number one topic in the legislative session starting Monday. The Philippines is a huge rice consumer and almost all of that rice is imported. Unfortunately, almost all of the rice supplies to the Philippines have been restricted or stopped. The result has been unrest in the streets of Manila and throughout the Philippines. Can you imagine arresting people who refuse to stop their protests because they are hungry?

–Vietnam, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter, said it would cut exports by 22% this year, following similar moves by India and Egypt. Vietnam’s inflation hit an estimated 16.4 percent in the first quarter, the highest rate in 13 years, according to government figures. Food prices were a main component of the increase, rising 21.5 percent in the January-March period compared with the same months last year.

A customer weighs rice at a sale-agent at the Voi market, 20 ...
A customer weighs rice at a sale-agent at the Voi market, 20 km (12.5 miles) south of Hanoi April 16, 2008. Fresh rice from Vietnam’s summer crop could start hitting the market a month earlier than usual, a top exporter said on Wednesday, bringing some relief to importers edgy over inflation and food security.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

–Egypt last week said that an advisor to the Commerce Minister announced a cutback in rice exports. “We have taken this decision to provide for the needs of the local market,” Sayyed Abul Komsan, advisor to Commerce Minister Mohammed Rashid, said. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the army to start baking bread after deadly riots broke out in lines of people waiting for food.

–China this week is doubling taxes on fertilizer exports to ensure supplies for domestic farmers. China also announced that it will review land use issues nation wide. China’s government now says too much land has been turned over to industrialization and the nation of 1.3 billion people can no longer adequately feed itself without changes in policy and land use.

–Malaysia’s government said Saturday it would spend four billion ringgit (1.3 billion dollars) to increase food production and tackle price hikes as the country faces spiraling global oil and food costs.

–Last month the cost of food in Cambodia rose 24%. At this rate, the cost of food will almost double every four months. Yet pay is not rising at all: especially among the poor. Cambodia’s rural poor, who make up over 80 percent of the population, are particularly at risk from inflation.

–Cuba warned the World Trade Organization on Friday that the food security of developing countries is endangered for a variety of reasons, among them the rising cost of fuel.–Oil-rich Libya is discussing a deal to essentially rent a chunk of land-rich Ukraine on which it can grow its own wheat.

–Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was forced to step down last week because of violence linked to higher food costs, and U.N. and World Bank officials warn that more unrest is likely.

–France, sparked in part by unrest in Haiti, released $100 million (USD) in food aid to poorer nations.

A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double ...
A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double its food aid this year, spending 60 million euros (100 million dollars) as part of its response to the world crisis over soaring food prices, President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.(AFP/File/Dominique Faget)

–France’s action followed a release of $200 million in food aid by President Bush exactly one week ago today.

“A lot of countries are in trouble right now,” said Lester Brown, veteran environmentalist and president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. “We’re seeing various efforts made by countries to ensure they have the food inputs they need.”

On Sunday United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The problem of global food prices could mean seven lost years … for the Millennium Development Goals.  We risk being set back to square one.”

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton pick at each other without much addressing American issues, in the rest of the world the big issue is quickly becoming: How will we feed ourselves?

Citizen Carter’s ego trip

April 20, 2008

By Oliver North
The Washington Times
April 20, 2008

Your strength can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes.

Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1977

More than 31 years after he uttered those words, America is still trying to compensate for and minimize Mr. Carter’s mistakes and weaknesses — the greatest of which appears to be hubris. This week, our much-traveled 39th president ventured as a “private citizen” to the Middle East on a self-described mission “exploring possibilities for peace.”
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Regrettably, what citizen Mr. Carter has succeeded in doing is to encourage our nation’s adversaries, lend credibility to terrorists who have killed our countrymen and disparaged a beleaguered ally.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, right, is greeted by Jordanian ... 
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, right, is greeted by Jordanian foreign Ministry secretary general Khaldoun Talhoni, left, at Queen Alia International airport in Amman, Jordan, Sunday, April 20, 2008. On his Middle East tour Carter has met exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in the Syrian capital despite strong opposition from Israel and the White House. (AP Photo/Jamal Nasrallah. Pool)

Mr. Carter’s current sojourn in personal diplomacy is just his most recent foreign foray in post-presidential folly since being voted out of office in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 landslide. During his global quest for relevance, he rarely missed an opportunity to denigrate our country’s interests, helping him to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. But this week’s expedition to Jerusalem, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia may prove to be the most damaging excursion yet.
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Despite his claims, Mr. Carter is no “neutral observer.” In June 1994 the former president went to Pyongyang to broker a failed nuclear disarmament deal with North Korean despot Kim Il-jung. In 2002, he deigned to dignify the brutal, bearded butcher of Havana — Fidel Castro. While in the “island paradise” he disparaged America’s commitment to human rights and praised Cuba’s education and health-care systems.
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In 2006, he and his self-appointed “impartial arbiters” declared “legitimate” the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to power in Gaza. Later that same year in his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” — he declared “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080420/
COMMENTARY06/694546727/1012/COMMENTARY

Castro Retires; New Leader in Cuba

February 19, 2008
Cuban leader Fidel Castro poses in this photo taken by Brazilian ...
Above: Cuban leader Fidel Castro poses in this photo taken by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during their meeting in Havana January 15, 2008.
REUTERS/Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva/CubaVision TV/Handout

For story link to:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080219/wl_nm/cuba_
castro_dc;_ylt=AgFYhVdk6IKy745woQzOQ5.s0NUE

U.S. foes target Latin America

February 8, 2008

By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
February 8, 2008

Iran, Cuba and Venezuela are working together against the U.S. by undermining democracy in Latin America, allowing trafficking of illegal drugs and creating safe havens for extremist groups, intelligence officials said.
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Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday, National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell said that influence from the three countries — led respectively by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez — has spilled into Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, which “are pursuing agendas that undercut checks and balances” of democratic governments.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez salutes during a military ...
 Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez salutes during a military parade to celebrate the 16th anniversary of a failed coup d’etat led by him in 1992, in Valencia, 160 km (99 miles) from Caracas, February 4, 2008.(Ho-Miraflores Palace/Reuters)


“Moreover, each of these governments, to varying degrees, has engaged in sharply anti-U.S. rhetoric, aligned with Venezuela and Cuba — and increasingly Iran — on international issues, and advocated measures that directly clash with U.S. initiatives,” said Mr. McConnell, whose department oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080208/NATION/169452279/1001
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, surrounded by ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, surrounded by officials, stands under a research rocket, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. Iran launched a research rocket Monday and unveiled its first major space center that will be used to launch research satellites, state-run television reported.(AP Photo/ISNA, Mehdi Ghasemi)

New book on China raises a storm

November 18, 2007

By Richard Bernstein
International Herald Tribune
November 18, 2007

Even given the inherent ruthlessness in the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan, there was something almost poignant last week about President Pervez Musharraf appearing before the press and practically imploring the United States to understand the reasons for his move.

Dictators don’t usually do that. They don’t go in for a lot of public self-justification in Cuba or China or Burma, although none of those countries are remotely as tied to the United States and dependent on American support as Pakistan is.

Still, as the Bush administration searches for ways to restore some semblance of democracy in Pakistan – and a semblance of democracy is the best that has generally been managed there over the decades – the question remains: How can the United States best promote its own values around the world, which the Bush administration declares to be one of its major goals?

China, in this sense, emerges as the world’s most important remaining one-party dictatorship, but, unlike Pakistan, where Washington simply says, “hold elections,” the encouragement of democracy in China is more complicated and less obvious, but just as hotly contested a question as ever.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/18/america/letter.php?WT.mc_id=rssamerica