The United States and Cuba have ended decades of cold war hostility by agreeing to normalise diplomatic and travel relations after 18 months of secret talks on prisoner releases brokered by the Vatican. The surprise breakthrough came after a 45-minute phone call between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro on Tuesday finalised the release of Alan Gross, a US government aid contractor held for five years in Cuba, which accused him of being a spy. But as he was dramatically flown back to the US on Wednesday accompanied by three congressmen, it became clear that a far larger deal had been agreed between the two countries, not just to release other prisoners and spies, but to restore ties between the countries that have been frozen since 1967.
Investigation finds USAid recruited musicians ‘to break information blockade’ as part of covert social Project. ● Hip-hop has emerged as the latest covert weapon in the US government’s hapless attempts to unseat Cuba’s communist government. ● Like its previous efforts, including exploding cigars, Cuban Twitter and the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, the attempt to co-opt rappers ended in ignominious failure, new documents have shown. ● For more than two years, the American development aid organisation USAid has been secretly trying to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. ● The idea was to use Cuba’s rappers “to break the information blockade” and build a network of young people seeking “social change” to spark a youth movement against the government of President Raul Castro.
Ecuadorian President reportedly announced that his accounts have been a target of cyber attacks that came from the United States. ● According to the president, these attacks were aimed at gaining access to personal data. He noted that the attacks targeted the computers of the people closest to him. The newspaper added that back in October Correa said that "organized networks" carried out several cyber attacks from Colombia trying to extract information from the government. In September, Ecuadorian authorities announced plans to set up a Cyber Defense Command, which is to be established by mid-2015. The $8 million of funding was to be used to recruit staff and provide necessary software and hardware.
US-Israel in Mexico: Murdered Students and the Failed State
Brazilian police killed more than 11,000 people between 2009 and 2013 for an average of six killings a day, a public safety NGO said Tuesday. ● The study by the Sao Paulo-based Brazilian Forum on Public Safety said police nationwide killed 11,197 people over the past five years, while law enforcement agents in the United States killed 11,090 people over the past 30 years. "The empirical evidence shows that Brazilian police make abusive use of lethal force to respond to crime and violence," the report said. There were 416 people killed last year in Rio de Janeiro state, giving it the highest per-capita rate for 2013. The study also said 50,806 people were killed in all homicides last year, about one person every 10 minutes. Nearly 70 per cent of the homicide victims were black and more than half were ages 15 to 29, it said. In addition to using excessive force, Brazilian police frequently execute suspects, said Bruno Paes Manso of the University of Sao Paulo's Center for the Study on Violence. He called it "a practice rarely investigated."
The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for the 23rd time to condemn the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, with many nations praising the island state for its response in fighting the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa. ● In the 193-nation assembly, 188 countries voted for the nonbinding resolution, titled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba." As in previous years, the only countries that voted against the declaration were the United States and an ally, Israel. The Pacific island nations Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. The voting result was identical to last year's.
There is much that we are unaware of, and little do we know of our own ignorance. I read Hawking’s second work, “The Universe in a Nutshell,” written, according to him, in a more comprehensible language for those unfamiliar with the topic, and I highlighted many of the ideas which most interested me. Throughout its evolution mankind has never had, nor ever could have had, a clear idea of its own existence, because it simply did not exist, it simply evolved at the same rate as everything else that existed. This is a reality which is not intended to antagonize or offend anyone. Everyday we can learn something new. Help others and wherever possible, help ourselves.
Yesterday I listed to a speech by the new Secretary General of NATO, the former Prime Minister of Norway, who assumed the position on October 1, only six days ago. How much hate in his face! What an incredible effort to promote a war of extermination against the Russian Federation! Who are more extreme than the Islamic State fanatics themselves? What religion do they practice? After this, will it be possible to enjoy eternal life at the right hand of the Lord?
Jean-Claude Duvalier, the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti whose corrupt and brutal regime sparked a popular uprising that sent him into a 25-year exile, died today of a heart attack, his attorney said. ● Reynold George said the 63-year-old ex-leader died at his home. He was 63. Duvalier, looking somewhat frail, made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, allowing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him and prompting some old allies to rally around him. Neither side gained much support, and the once-feared dictator known as “Baby Doc” spent his late years in relative obscurity in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital. Duvalier was the son of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, a medical doctor-turned-dictator who promoted “Noirisme”, a movement that sought to highlight Haiti’s African roots over its European ones while uniting the black majority against a mulatto elite in a country divided by class and colour.
Nearly 40 years ago, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger mapped out secret contingency plans to launch airstrikes against Havana and “smash Cuba,” newly disclosed government documents show. ● Mr. Kissinger was so irked by Cuba’s military incursion into Angola that in 1976 he convened a top-secret group of senior officials to work out possible retaliatory measures in case Cuba deployed forces to other African nations, according to documents declassified by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the request of the National Security Archive, a research group. The officials outlined plans to strike ports and military installations in Cuba and to send Marine battalions to the United States Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to “clobber” the Cubans, as Mr. Kissinger put it, according to the records. Mr. Kissinger, the documents show, worried that the United States would look weak if it did not stand up to a country of just eight million people.
New York Daily News: "I think we are going to have to smash Castro"
Cuban News Agency: Former US State Secretary Henry Kissinger Planned to Attack Cuba in 1976
Ryan Devereaux ■ Freshly-released CIA documents show how the largest newspapers in the country helped the agency contain a groundbreaking exposé of cocaine trafficking by its Contra proxy forces.
Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism. The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head. These days, Webb is being cast in a more sympathetic light. He’s portrayed heroically in a major motion picture set to premiere nationwide next month. And documents newly released by the CIA provide fresh context to the “Dark Alliance” saga — information that paints an ugly portrait of the mainstream media at the time.
The chief hitman of Colombia’s most infamous drug lord, Pablo Escobar, was released from prison Wednesday after 22 years behind bars. Jhon Jairo Velasquez, alias “Popeye,” was set free after serving only three-fifths of his original sentence, for reasons of “good behavior,” according to Colombia’s W Radio. By his own admission, Popeye participated in over 300 murders; however, he has been implicated in coordinating over 3,000 assassinations, including of Colombian police, politicians, and journalists.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin apologized Monday (Aug 12) to his Brazilian counterpart for a remark by a foreign ministry spokesman calling the Latin American powerhouse a "diplomatic dwarf." ● The comment in July was made by spokesman Yigal Palmor after Brazil criticized Israel's military campaign in Gaza as excessive and recalled its envoy in Tel Aviv. In a phone call Monday, Rivlin assured Brazil President Dilma Rousseff that Palmor's comments "do not correspond to the sentiments of the population" of Israel, Rousseff's office said in a statement. Rousseff had criticised Palmor's remarks, saying "Words, including the spokesman's, sometimes create a very bad climate. In this case, we have to be very careful."
Bolivia has declared Israel to be a “terrorist state” and renounced a visa exemption agreement with the country in protest over the ongoing Israeli military offense in Gaza which already killed more than 1,300 dead and left over 7,000 wounded. ● Canceling the 1972 agreement which allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia “means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state,” the country's President Evo Morales announced. Morales explained that Operation Protective edge clearly shows that “
Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community.”
Paul Craig Roberts ■ South America Takes Moral Leadership Away From The Immoral West
The group of emerging economies signed the long-anticipated document to create the $100 bn BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 bn. Both will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. ● The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size. Each BRICS member is expected to put an equal share into establishing the startup capital of $50 billion with a goal to reach $100 billion. The BRICS bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will preside as president the first year, and Russia will be the chairman of the representatives. “
BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within.
RT.com/Pepe Escobar: BRICS bank on its way to beat casino financial system - VIDEO
Wayne Madsen: Check Mating Washington in its Own Backyard with
RIA Novosti: BRICS Seek Joint Stance on Foreign Policy – Putin
RIA Novosti: Washington ‘Not Worried’ by BRICS Bank – Spokeswoman
Moscow and Havana have reportedly reached an agreement on reopening the SIGINT facility in Lourdes, Cuba - once Russia’s largest foreign base of this kind - which was shut down in 2001 due to financial problems and under US pressure. ● When operational, the facility was manned by thousands of military and intelligence personnel, whose task was to intercept signals coming from and to the US territory and to provide communication for the Russian vessels in the western hemisphere. Russia considered reopening the Lourdes base since 2004 and has sealed a deal with Cuba last week during the visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the island nation, reports Kommersant business daily citing multiple sources. “I can say one thing: at last!” one of the sources commented on the news to the paper, adding that the significance of the move is hard to overestimate.
Forty years after the US-backed military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile, the truth about the sordid abuses and crimes that took place during his dictatorship are still emerging. ● The mountains of Patagonia in southern Chile witnessed a particularly bizarre chapter of the Pinochet era; one that is still claiming victims today. In 1961, a former Nazi corporal called Paul Schaefer fled Germany, along with hundreds of others, to found a sect in southern Chile. In an idyllic rural enclave framed by the Andes Mountains he created a virtual state within a state - one where horrifying events unfolded. Initially with the ignorance of the government, and then with the complicity of the Pinochet regime, children were separated from their parents at birth and raised in a Kinder House. Men and women were kept apart and often drugged, while Schaefer systematically sexually abused boys and, occasionally, girls. But it was not only the residents of Colonia Dignidad, or the Dignity Colony, that endured such brutalities. The secluded Colony, set on a huge estate featuring forests, mountains and rivers and enclosed by electrified barbed wire fences and look-out posts manned by armed guards, was the perfect place for the interrogation, torture and disposal of anyone Pinochet considered to be an enemy. It also served as a haven for Nazi fugitives - such as Walter Rauff, the inventor of the portable gas chamber, and Joseph Mengele, the so-called 'Angel of Death' - who were permitted to hide out there in exchange for overseeing sophisticated forms of torture. All of this took place with the full knowledge of the Pinochet regime, whose notorious intelligence chief, General Manuel Contreras, would often visit the site.
Scott Campbell ■ As technology offers new possibilities for connection, it also offers new means to keep tabs on people. Surveillance has become seemingly ubiquitous, from the NSA reading emails to drones in the skies. As a nation that has for 66 years been ruling over an indigenous population by force, one of the main countries practicing surveillance is Israel. And it is the Israeli defense industry that has been reaping the profits off of the oppression and surveillance of the Palestinian people. One of the top occupation profiteers in Israel is the defense firm Elbit Systems. The largest non-governmental defense company in the country, its revenue stood at $2.83 billion in 2010. Using knowledge and expertise gained from assisting in the occupation of Palestine, Elbit has made millions exporting surveillance and defense materiel worldwide – and increasingly so to Latin America.
Ecuador says US scientists have taken thousands of unauthorized blood samples from an indigenous group in the Amazon known for their unique genetic profile and disease immunity. ● Rene Ramirez, the head of Ecuador’s Higher Education and Science Ministry, said some 3,500 procedures were carried out in which blood was drawn without authorization from 600 members of the Huaorani indigenous community, living in the country’s Amazon basin region. Ramirez added that blood samples “were also taken from some people on more than one occasion.” Ecuador’s Higher Education and Science Ministry had previously released new details of a government investigation into the issue. In the initial report two years ago, members of the Huaorani community said that the US scientists deceived them into taking part in the sampling procedures between 1990 and 1991. The Huaorani people said they were told by the American researchers that the blood samples were for medical tests for them; however, they never received any results.
The Latin American countries are waking up to the fact that most of the world’s population does not want GMO food. Brazil recently increased their export of corn to China, for example, when China rejected U.S. genetically modified corn that was not approved in China. With an apparent eye to the potential export market for non-GMO corn, a court in Brazil banned approval of further GMO corn in the country. Likewise, judges in Mexico seem to also be waking up to the dangers of GMO corn and the market potential for non-GMO corn, and have recently banned GMO corn in some provinces. Unfortunately, the biotech industry responsible for producing GMO seeds in America has tremendous political power. We have documented in the past how the U.S. State Department has tried to force European countries to adopt made-in-the-USA GMO seeds. (See: U.S. State Department Wants to Pressure the EU to Accept our GMO Products) We have also documented how the United States has used their military might to force occupied countries to adopt our GMO seeds, at the expense of local sustainable agriculture. (See: US Foreign Policy Destroys Native Sustainable Agriculture) So it should come as no surprise that the United States is now trying to pressure Latin American countries to buy our GMO seeds.
A device containing radioactive substances [cesium-37 and americium-beryllium] was stolen from a government research facility and authorities are working to track it down, Mexico's No. 2 official said. "We have the report regarding the theft of this material and the alerts and protocol we follow in these cases have already been implemented," Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told reporters after speaking at a conference of state law enforcement chiefs and attorneys general. A group of armed men grabbed the device Sunday night during an assault on a National Construction Laboratory warehouse in Tultitlan, Mexico state.
Hours before the opening ceremony of the football-soccer World Cup in Sao Paulo Thursday, protests continued across Brazil. Sao Paulo, the center of the opening festivities, is a city occupied by military forces. In the morning hours, the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to contain a protest march. At least five people, three reporters and two protesters, were reported injured. Police surrounded the demonstrators as they were nearing the Itaquerao stadium and forced them to retreat. Subway workers staged another demonstration, demanding that the state governor rehire scores of transit workers victimized during last week’s strike in this city, the largest in Latin America. [...] The street protests and strikes are a continuing reflection of popular anger over the US$11.3 million spent on the World Cup—four times the initial estimate—at a time in which clinics, schools, mass transit and other social services are facing cutbacks.
Ecuador has ordered all 20 defence department employees in the US embassy's military group to leave the country by the end of the month, Associated Press says. The group was ordered to halt operations in Ecuador in a letter dated 7 April, said embassy spokesman Jeffrey Weinshenker. AP was first alerted to the expulsions by a senior Ecuadorean official who refused to be identified by name due to the information's sensitive nature.
The United States engineered a text messaging network in Cuba to try and spread unrest in the communist country. More than 40,000 people have shared news and opinions using the service. ● The documents obtained by the Associated Press state the project was led by Joe McSpedon, a US government official, who attracted a team of high-tech wizards from around the globe to set up a site that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. The Caribbean island has some of the world’s most stringent internet regulations, so text messaging via cellphones would help to evade the country’s strict information controls. Since Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raul, the use of mobile technology has been encouraged. Cubans were given the opportunity to call one another or send text messages, though the cost was high, given that the average salary is just $20 per month. The network was called ZunZuneo, which was a play on twitter, with the word being slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid. The initial plan was to gain users by allowing access to light news stories, such as baseball bulletins, music and weather updates. However, once a critical number of subscribers was reached, operators would introduce political stories aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the Cuban government, with the aim of creating a ‘Cuban Spring’.
Ecuador has said it will not deal with the coup-appointed government in Kiev and has called for fair elections. President Rafael Correa declared he would only negotiate with a “
legitimate government” that represents the will of the Ukrainian people. ● In his weekly address to the Ecuadorian people, Correa explained why Ecuador had abstained from the UN General Assembly vote Thursday that passed a resolution condemning Crimea’s union with Russia. “
We will not fall for a farce, we will only deal with a legitimate government,” said Correa, adding that Ecuador does not recognize the current government that is the product of a coup d’état. To win the support of Ecuador, Ukraine should hold democratic elections and establish a legitimate government chosen by the Ukrainian people, Correa said. Moscow has also decried the coup-appointed government that came to power in Kiev at the end of February following weeks of bloody protests in the Ukrainian capital’s Independence Square. "
The current government is the product of devious machinations, to put to it mildly, clearly supported by hypocritical rhetoric from the West,” Correa said.
World-renowned Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia has died aged 66 in Mexico, reportedly of a heart attack while playing with his children on a beach. He is said to have died in the Mexican resort of Cancun. ● The death of one of the most celebrated flamenco guitarists was announced by the mayor's office in Algeciras, southern Spain, where he was born. ● Famous for a series of flamenco albums in the 1970s, he also crossed over into classical and jazz guitar. He also worked on films by Spanish director Carlos Saura, notably appearing in his 1983 version of Carmen, which won a UK Bafta award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. Algeciras is to hold two days of official mourning. Its mayor, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, called the musician's death an "irreparable loss for the world of culture and for Andalusia". He had lived both in Mexico and in Spain in recent years. ● 'I knew every rhythm' - He was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez on 21 December 1947, the son of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez, who was of Gypsy origin. He took his stage name in honour of his mother, Lucia Gomes. It is believed he had played the guitar from the age of five. "
My family grew up with the Gypsies," the guitarist was quoted as saying in a 1994 article in Guitar Player. "
My father and all my brothers played guitar, so before I picked it up, before I could speak, I was listening. Before I started to play, I knew every rhythm of the flamenco. I knew the feeling and the meaning of the music, so when I started to play, I went directly to the sound I had in my ear." - ¡En paz descanse, Paco!
Ayuntamiento de Algeciras:
Algeciras Llora En Silencio La Muerte De Paco De Lucía
Tres Días De Luto Oficial Por La Muerte De Paco De Lucía
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