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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Resetting common sense

TRADE WINDS

Did Obama Just Reset the Entire Western Hemisphere?

For Five Decades, the U.S. Has Obsessed Over a Small Caribbean Island at the Expense of Its Policy Toward All of Latin America

U.S. President Obama answers a question about the administration's new policy on Cuba after his end of the year press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington
I was absorbed in a project Wednesday morning when out of the corner of my eye I started seeing references to big news out of Cuba in various incoming email subject lines. “That’s it, he’s finally kicked the bucket,” I thought as I clicked on my browser to do a news dive, assuming Fidel Castro had died. 
That no other big news out of Cuba seemed conceivable is a sign of how tediously stuck the narrative of the U.S.-Cuba telenovela has seemed in recent years. Our Cold War antagonism with the Castro brothers has been a blend of Waiting for Godot and Bill Murray’s classic Groundhog Day. Until Wednesday, that is, when the bold headlines I clicked on announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba. 
The unexpected and historic deal between presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, brokered by Canada and the Vatican, was announced in Washington with unmitigated candor. President Obama conceded that our outdated approach toward Cuba these past five decades has failed to advance U.S. interests (and this is putting it mildly). It isn’t often you hear a political leader, let alone a president, basically say: “This thing that we’ve been doing forever isn’t working.” Bravo. 
It isn’t often you hear a political leader, let alone a president, basically say: “This thing that we’ve been doing forever isn’t working.”
The policy was more than a failure. It was the glaring exception to America’s self-assured, capitalistic, beacon-on-the-hill approach to the world. By preserving an embargo and travel bans against the island all these years (which Obama still needs congressional action to lift), we have prevented Cuba from confronting the full shock and awe of America’s seductive commercial and cultural influence. 
This was out of character. We don’t shy away from engaging Communist dictatorships halfway around the world—like China and Vietnam—because we don’t like their system. On the contrary, we seek to engage them more precisely because we believe, correctly, that American culture is the best antidote for their people’s lack of freedom. Even during the apartheid regime in South Africa, in the 1980s, conservative Republicans were advocating for “constructive engagement” with that nation, to have American companies, goods, and cultural imports undermine an unjust system. And Cuba, with its close proximity and historical ties, would be far more susceptible to this theory. 
Iran and North Korea, like Cuba until this week, are members of the pariah nation club and face sanctions meant to isolate them. But those sanctions are different. They aren’t imposed by us alone simply because we don’t like their domestic political systems. Rather, they’re imposed by a group of countries concerned about those nations’ efforts to destabilize their regions and develop weapons of mass destruction. Cuba long ago ceased falling into that category. 
As it happened, the greatest beneficiary of the longstanding U.S. embargo intended to harm the odious Castro regime in Havana has been none other than the odious Castro regime. So long as the rulers of the tropical Gulag could portray themselves as the victims of the vengeful imperio yanquí, they had a convenient scapegoat for all their revolution’s shortcomings and excesses. The sanctions have helped them keep the island cut off from the outside world and its pesky trade winds of information, online connectivity, and democratizing influences. It’s not surprising that in the past, when a thaw in relations appeared imminent, it was Cuba that repeatedly sabotaged progress at the 11th hour—most recently in 2009, when the regime first arrested Alan Gross, the USAID contractor charged with spying (and released as part of this week’s deal). 
For the Castro brothers, who have bedeviled 11 U.S. presidents, playing victim to the American imperialists while being propped up by foreign sugar daddies has provided them with the best of both worlds. Until now. One reason they are agreeing to end the Cold War with el imperio is that they have run out of sugar daddies. Venezuela, which succeeded the Soviet Union as the Castros’ main benefactor, is now a basket case, devastated by years of mismanagement and plummeting oil prices. Meanwhile, modest economic reforms introduced by the Havana regime have failed to accomplish much. So the Castros are recognizing that the game is up, and that things need to change, especially if they want their revolution to outlive them. 
But it won’t. Absent the Cold War, Marxism is doomed in Cuba.
Cuba’s people will be the main beneficiaries of more engagement with the United States, but normal relations with Cuba also will allow the United States to reset ties with the rest of Latin America. For far too long, partly as a consequence of it being an extension of Florida electoral politics, Cuban policy has claimed a disproportionate amount of attention in Washington. Cuba has been a thorn in the side of our relations with the rest of the hemisphere, providing people from Mexico to Argentina with a pretext to view the United States with suspicion. Even friends of the United States in the hemisphere have long been puzzled, and frustrated, by the extent to which Washington obsesses over the small Caribbean island at the expense of a broader strategic engagement with Latin America. 
The consolidation of democracy in the Western Hemisphere has been a welcome trend in recent decades. Once Cuba can no longer claim to be a victim of U.S. imperialism, the ability of the continent’s revolutionary left to threaten this democratic consolidation will further recede. It should become easier for Latin America’s democracies to start pressing Havana to live up to its regional commitments to respect human and civil rights–since it will no longer come across as piling onto America’s bullying. And if that doesn’t secure freedoms on the island, the airlifting of Coca-Cola, Hollywood movies, and smartphones (hello Facebook!) should do the job. 

115 comments:

  1. ... the ability of the continent’s revolutionary left to threaten this democratic consolidation will further recede.

    The 'revolutionary left' the very idea of such a thing is a throwback to the last century.
    Comical ...

    “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.”
    ― George Orwell


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only "Threat" to democratic consolidation ...

      "The U.S. overthrew 41 governments in Latin America between 1898 and 1994 - ...

      Let's get 'real'.

      Delete
    2. Not all governments are equal.

      What would the planet look like if America didn't overthrow those nations?

      Let's get real.


      Delete
  2. There is no consequences to the rulers and masters in Washington, unless of course they cross their leaders and paymasters. Jim Traficant comes to mind. They can start wars, ruin economies, destroy lives and their punishment is nil. They get their pensions, build their monuments to themselves and continue to receive the largess from the corporate masters and the political action committees, all uprightly wrapped in flag, god and country. Their control of media and group think is rarely rippled as their solution is part of the scam, the unending game of musical chairs on the Potomac. .

    ReplyDelete
  3. It isn’t often you hear a political leader, let alone a president, basically say: “This thing that we’ve been doing forever isn’t working.”

    It is working just fine for the Elect.

    ReplyDelete

  4. Survivors huddle in horror in wake of rebel attack that kills 72 in India


    http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/survivors-huddle-in-horror-in-wake-of-rebel-attack-that-kills-72-in-india-1.2162255

    Luky Moni Orang, 22, an Indian tribal settler, holds her three-day old baby as she takes refuge in a local church after her village was attacked by an indigenous separatist group, in Shamukjuli village in Sonitpur district of Indian eastern state of Assam, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014.

    Note that Luky's people have been in Assam for over 100 years, but they are still referred to as settlers, in India.

    The attacks late Tuesday in Assam state's Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts are blamed on a faction of an indigenous Bodo separatist group. The rebels from the Bodo tribe have been targeting other communities they consider outsiders -- Adivasis, whose ancestors migrated to Assam more than 100 years ago to work on tea plantations -- as well as Muslims, accusing them and the federal government of exploiting the region's wealth while neglecting the locals.

    The violence has left at least 10,000 people dead, most of them civilians, in the last three decades.
    In May, the same rebel faction called the National Democratic Front of Bodoland shot and killed more than 30 Muslims.



    National Democratic Front of Bodoland targets both Christians and Muslims.



    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-25/saudi-arabia-sees-wider-2015-budget-deficit-as-oil-prices-plunge.html

    Saudi authorities pledged to curb wages and push ahead with investments next year as the world’s largest oil exporter seeks to counter the effect of tumbling crude prices on the economy.

    The government said it expects the budget deficit in 2015 to widen to 145 billion riyals ($39 billion), from 54 billion riyals this year, the Finance Ministry said today. That amounts to about 5 percent of gross domestic product, according to Arqaam Capital, a Dubai-based investment bank.

    The Finance Ministry said the government will continue to invest in areas such as education and health care, while exerting “more efforts” to curb spending on wages and allowances, which make up about 50 percent of spending. Projected revenue will drop more than 30 percent next year to 715 billion riyals, while expenditure was set at 860 billion riyals, budget data show. Spending in 2014 is estimated to have been 1.1 trillion riyals, 29 percent higher than target.


    145 billion riyals ($39 billion)
    ... net foreign assets to a record 2.9 trillion riyals in October, ...

    1450 billion R = $390 billion USD
    2900 billion R = 2.9 trillion R = $780 billion

    $780 billion USD = ... net foreign assets to a record 2.9 trillion riyals in October, ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MOSCOW: Russia's gold and foreign currency reserves dropped below $400 billion for the first time since August 2009 as of Dec. 19, the central bank said on Thursday.

      The central bank has spent over $80 billion defending the rouble this year, as a sharp slide in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis have driven the Russian currency sharply lower, threatening financial stability.

      http://www.brecorder.com/business-a-finance/banking-a-finance/213304-russian-reserves-fall-below-$400bn-first-time-since-2009.html

      The value of the stockpile, which includes the central bank’s reserves and two sovereign wealth funds, fell to $398.9 billion
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-25/ruble-defense-curtails-russian-reserves-by-15-7-billion-in-week.html

      Delete
    2. Is the oil crash a secret US war on Russia?

      Lower oil prices, reflected in falling petrol prices at the pump, have been a boon for Western consumers. Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran?

      That's the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse.

      Despite turmoil in many of the world's oil-producing countries - Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria - prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes.

      Analysts identify a number of possible reasons for the steep drop - increased US production, slowing economies in Europe and China and steady production from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

      Rather than look at the causes, however, Friedman says to look at the result - budget shortfalls in Russia and Iran - and what it means.

      Who benefits? He asks.
      The US wants its Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia to have more bite.
      Both the Saudis and the US are fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria.

      "This is business, but it also has the feel of war by other means: oil," he writes.

      Paul Richter of the Los Angeles Times agrees that both Russia and Iran are starting to feel the squeeze of lower prices, ...
      ...

      "The economic pressure isn't expected to change Putin's aggressive efforts to retain strong influence over Ukraine, which he considers non-negotiable," Richter writes. "But they are causing strains in his relations with the Russian elite and business establishment, two pillars of his political support."

      As for Iran, he writes, an oil price of anything less than $100 [£62.41] a barrel will create onerous budget deficits and undermine the nation's position in ongoing nuclear negotiations with the West. The closing price on Wednesday was $81.40.

      "Iran's economic resurgence had enabled Iranian officials to claim they could get by even if the talks collapsed without providing further relief from tough international sanctions," he writes.



      Winning the "War" without a single US boot anywhere near the ground.

      {;-)

      Delete
    3. Both the Saudis and the US are fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria.

      Israel prefers Daesh (al-Qeada) in Syria, over the Alawites, Christians and their Kurdish allies

      Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel so wanted Assad out and his Iranian backers weakened, that Israel would accept al-Qaeda operatives taking power in Syria.

      “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

      Even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
      “We understand that they are pretty bad guys,” Oren said in the interview.


      http://www.jpost.com/Syria-Crisis/Oren-Jerusalem-has-wanted-Assad-ousted-since-the-outbreak-of-the-Syrian-civil-war-326328

      Saudi-Israeli alliance

      In broad daylight, a Saudi-Israeli alliance
      ---------------------------------

      Saudi Israeli alliance forged in blood
      ---------------------------------

      Understanding the Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi alliance




      Delete
    4. Repeating lies is your trade Jack.

      Wormtongue.

      The good news? You are life without meaning.

      Delete
  6. America, under Obama, embraces Communist Dictators, Islamic Nazis and all around thugs...

    America the lawless, the criminal, the un-exceptionial.

    That's the way Obama, Rufus, rat and Deuce want America to be.

    ReplyDelete
  7. >>>For Five Decades, the U.S. Has Obsessed Over a Small Caribbean Island at the Expense of Its Policy Toward All of Latin America<<<

    What a lot of horse shit.

    The truth is, except for some Cuban nationals in the USA, nobody really gives a fuck about the homophobic, racist, slave labor Island Prison of Cuba, from which the only escape has been the inner tube.

    Kennedy, instead of sponsoring an idiotic invasion by a bunch of exiled Cubans, and then fucking it up, should have announced we are sticking with the Monroe Doctrine, and there will be no Marxist/Leninist states in our back yard, because they don't conduce to human freedom, and had the Marines do the job themselves. The Cuban people would be light years ahead of where they are now. Cuba would not have been messing around in Africa, the Russians wouldn't have made trouble via Cuba, and instead of the inner tube, the people could travel via boat, and plane, as they were able to do with Batista.

    I notice that Venezuela is now a total basket case, for following the 'leftist model', and is being run by an illiterate cab driver, I think it is....

    Even the Russians have given up on the 'old model'......

    And Pooty warned us......don't go socialist.....remember that?

    :)



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we were to actually go in there and liberate the place Rufus, rat and Deuce would be bitching about that....probably saying it was some kind of Jewish conspiracy.

      Cuba, today, is an absolute shit hole.

      It was somewhat better with the greatly imperfect Batista, just like Iran was better with the greatly imperfect Shah.

      Delete
    2. You're a moron. One night with a Caribbean girl, and you'd forget you'd ever seen a patch of alfalfa.

      Delete
    3. Bob has an opinion on everything, especially on things where he has no experience, less knowledge and delights in sharing his spalling ignorance

      Delete
    4. Kennedy sold out Cuba not only at the Bay of Pigs but with his deal with Russia.

      Duece has an opinion on everything, especially on things where he has no experience, less knowledge and delights in sharing his spalling ignorance.

      Further, Deuce has undergone a spalling sea change late in life. What was UP is now DOWN, what was DOWN is now UP. Always suspect a man who undergoes such a change. Either he was an IDIOT EARLIER in life, or he is an IDIOT NOW.

      And if it is a skirt influenced change, well then his opinions were never worth a damn whether rightly held or not.

      Delete
    5. You can’t even come up with original rebuttal. As to the skirts at least they involve women.

      Delete
    6. It is understandable for one to change one's basic opinions when one is in one's 30's or even early 40's.

      Experience has had time to work its enlightenment on the frenzied thought of one's youthful years.

      But in one's 60's it is really odd. It's like falling off one's rocker. Or finally awakening after a life long slumber.

      Delete
    7. I don't see any original rebuttal.

      All I see is a stupid personal attack, ala rat.

      What is your point about Cuba?

      I'd be happy to reply if I disagree with it.

      Going to a movie with the wife right now though.

      So my reply would be a little late in the evening.

      Cheers !

      Delete
    8. P.S. - As to skirts I agree they generally involve women.

      Delete
  8. Back in pocket. Had to go visit the St. Looie Clan. I notice we got some great news on the Economic front:

    6.4% Nominal GDP Growth, with

    5% Real (excluding inflation.)

    Big Numbers.

    Now, if we can keep Wages growing for a bit we can officially put the Bush Recession behind us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You actually left the house to go somewhere other than Doyle's?

      The angels sing.

      Delete
    2. "the Bush Recession"

      What a lot of horse shit.

      The Bwarney Frwank Fannie Freddie recession.

      Bush warned about it EIGHT TIMES.

      You're a MORON.

      Delete
    3. 2002: Bush's Speech To the White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership
      President George W. Bush addresses the White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership at The George Washington University Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2002

      THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Thanks, for coming.
      Well, thanks for the warm welcome. Thank you for being here today. I appreciate your attendance to this very important conference.

      You see, we want everybody in America to own their own home.
      That's what we want.
      This is -- an ownership society is a compassionate society.

      More and more people own their homes in America today.
      Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes,
      yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics
      and half the African Americans own the home. That's a homeownership gap.

      It's a -- it's a gap that we've got to work together to close for the good of our country,
      for the sake of a more hopeful future.
      We've got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a homeownership gap.
      I set an ambitious goal. It's one that I believe we can achieve.

      It's a clear goal,
      that by the end of this decade we'll increase the number of minority homeowners
      by at least 5.5 million families. (Applause.)

      Some may think that's a stretch. I don't think it is. I think it is realistic.
      I know we're going to have to work together to achieve it.
      But when we do our communities will be stronger and so will our economy.
      Achieving the goal is going to require some good policies out of Washington.
      And it's going to require a strong commitment from those of you involved in the housing industry.
      ...

      http://www.vdare.com/posts/2002-bushs-speech-to-the-white-house-conference-on-increasing-minority-homeownership

      Delete
    4. Eight warnings? Quoteany three of them, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peteron.

      GW Bush goes on euphorically about extending home-ownership to those that do not 'really' qualify.

      There are plenty more speeches, other than this October 2002 rendition.
      Easy to trot 'em out, if need be.

      Delete
    5. Eight warnings? Quote any three of them, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

      Delete
    6. https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=Bush+Warns+About+Fannie+and+Feddie&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

      Delete
    7. That should shut the dumb rat fuck up.

      Delete
    8. That is no quote, it is not a lickable link, it is nothing but gibber from a jaberwacky.

      Quote the words, dumb ass.

      Delete
    9. Quote the words from any three of the eight warnings you claim GW Bush gave, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

      You made the claim, you are a known liar.
      Proven this time, as well as the last.

      Delete
    10. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, your failure to preform, it is legendary.

      Why is it you referenced GW Bush, but are unable to provide the times, dates, context or content of the remarks that you referenced. He was the President of the US, his every utterance was recorded!

      Come on, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, make your case.
      If it is not beyond you.

      {;-)

      Have a Smiley Solstice

      Delete
    11. In October of 2002 GW Bush was not only "On Board" with expanding 'Home Ownership' he was a major, if not the most major cheerleader for the program.

      He was President of the United States and he was telling US that

      You see, we want everybody in America to own their own home.
      That's what we want.
      This is -- an ownership society is a compassionate society.

      More and more people own their homes in America today.
      Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics
      and half the African Americans own the home. That's a homeownership gap.

      It's a -- it's a gap that we've got to work together to close for the good of our country, for the sake of a more hopeful future.
      We've got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a homeownership gap.
      I set an ambitious goal. It's one that I believe we can achieve.

      It's a clear goal,
      that by the end of this decade we'll increase the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families.

      Delete
    12. Just read the dozens of articles Anonymous has been magnanimous enough to post for you, Herr Rodent.

      Delete
  9. Disastrous news for Rufus -

    Iranian Scientist Invents Radar that Can Detect Beer Drinkers
    December 25, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield 10 Comments
    287
    Print This Post

    I hope this works as well as the Iranian time machine.

    An Iranian scientist claimed this week he had invented a radar system which can detect drug addicts from nearly a mile away, and measure the level of narcotics flooding their system

    According to the Iranian Mehr News Agency, the system was designed to identify explosives and bodies buried under rubble, as well as alcohol and drugs.

    Scientist Seyed Ali Hosseini told the news agency on Tuesday that the technology can locate drug addicts from 1,500 meters (0.9 miles away). He said the “radar tracker was designed and built to detect drugs, explosives, bodies alive and dead under the rubble, addictive drugs and alcoholic beverages.”

    No word on whether it can detect gays, but maybe once this amazing new tech has been used to hunt down all the beer drinkers, it can be rewired to work as gaydar.

    The enterprising scientist offered a vague description of the technology’s mechanisms, saying “the transmitter part consists of radio waves and radio magnets emitting waves across the earth and stimulates elements’ molecular layer and releases their ions.” The receiver, meanwhile, “detects ions as well as the molecular layer, then transfers waves back to the target to detect their essence.” The system then projects the findings on a computer, “which includes the volume, weight and size of the traced elements,” he said.

    Then it travels through three black holes, goes under the gnome, rolls a three and shouts Allahu Akbar and blows itself up.

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/iranian-scientist-invents-radar-that-can-detect-beer-drinkers/

    ReplyDelete
  10. A UN security council report obtained by the Guardian says at least 15,000 people from more than 80 countries have travelled to Iraq and Syria in recent years to become jihadi fighters. Armed opposition groups initially welcomed foreign fighters to Syria, but their growing influence, religious fervour and violence have alienated ordinary Syrians, many of whom feel the jihadis are part of an attempt to further destabilise the country from outside.

    It is no secret that Sunni states in the region have long supported and funded armed opposition groups in Syria and Iraq, though the US vice-president, Joe Biden, speaking at Harvard in October, caused a stir between the US administration and its allies when he accused Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – previously lauded in the fight against terrorism by Barack Obama – of pushing for “a proxy Sunni-Shia war” in Syria by providing financial, military and logistical support for “the extremist elements”.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Deuce ☂Thu Dec 25, 08:30:00 PM EST
    You can’t even come up with original rebuttal. As to the skirts at least they involve women.


    LOL

    This says the champion of Jack "repost lies" Hawkins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. 'Bigotry does not consort easily with free trade.'

      - Peter Ackroyd

      Delete
    2. What is "Occupation"Sat Jul 19, 10:54:00 PM EDT
      it's a great time to buy the stock (Sodastream) Herr Rodent..
      It's undervalued. ($29.11)
      LOL
      you really just don't understand business..


      That was then ...
      This is now

      October 11, 2014 by Doug Henwood for Mondoweiss
      SodaStream: is BDS hitting where it hurts?

      SodaStream’s stock is now 70% off its all-time high set in July 2011
      Sodastream price 25DEC2014 - $21.15


      Now let us review ...
      "O"rdure recommends buying Sodastream on 19July 2014 at $29.11 telling us it was undervalued.
      On 24DEC2014 Sodastream closed at $21.15

      That is DOWN $7.94 or 28% since "O"rdure made his 'buy' recommendation.

      What is "Occupation"Fri Oct 03, 10:16:00 AM EDT
      I have been turned down repeatedly for a REFI.
      The system is screwed.


      Someone really does not understand business, and it ain't Herr Rodent

      Delete
    3. Is this the BEST you can do?

      LOL

      Loser.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. BEST?
      Nah, but more than what is needed for the task.

      {;-)

      Delete
    6. Jack, we all know you, we know your lies, your indirections...

      We have heard you brag of your crimes... Drug sales, stalking bob and myself.

      I have turned you in to the AZ FBI, which you verified...

      You are the one who abounded his own kid...

      You are the one who is not a man, but a mouse...

      a coward.

      what unit did you serve with?

      still can't remember?

      LOL

      Delete
    7. I remember perfectly well, "O"rdure, I choose not to tell you.

      As for you informing the FBI, it is of no import to anyone, but yourself.
      But, serve yourself.

      It is the hedonist in you, we know.

      {;-)

      Delete
    8. Herr Rodent doesn't have a business. Never had any cattle. Never had any publishing business. Got no stocks or bonds. No portfolio.

      Herr Rodent is just a big fraud.

      Delete
    9. He might live in his mom's basement.

      Delete
  12. Al Arabiya News
    Thursday, 25 December 2014

    Eight of the 10 airstrikes by the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in Syria were in the contested border town of Kobane near the Turkish border, the U.S. military said.

    The Combined Joint Task force said two other strikes hit a crude oil collection point near Dayr az Zawr and an ISIS weapons stockpile near Raqqa, in the province where a Jordanian pilot was taken captive in northeast Syria.

    The strikes in Iraq targeted ISIS units and property in al-Qaim, Sinjar, Fallujah and Tal Afar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Property?

      What kind of property?

      Is this what the "rat Doctrine" actually amounts to?

      Targeting homes?



      Is the USA blowing up their homes?

      Delete
  13. Senior Kurdish rebel leader warns Iraq must stay united to defeat 'savage' Isis
    Iraq must remain a united country in order to defeat the jihadis of the Islamic State, a senior leader of the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has insisted.

    Cemil Bayik, co-founder of the PKK and field commander of the organisation warned that it would be “very dangerous” if Iraq were partitioned. Unless Iraq’s Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities worked together to counter the threat of Isis, the “fascist” group would benefit, he told the Guardian in an exclusive interview.

    “If it (Iraq) is divided, the war will intensify and the threat of Da’esh (Isis) to smaller communities will become greater,” said Bayik, speaking in the group’s Qandil mountain stronghold in northern Iraq. “But if they stay united against Da’esh, they can sort out their differences at a later stage through dialogue.”

    Bayik also made clear that the PKK hoped that its cooperation with the US-led international coalition fighting Isis would lead to it being de-listed as a terrorist organization by western countries.





    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/24/pkk-kurdish-leader-cemil-bayik-iraq-syria-isis

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dean Baker thinks everyone is overreacting to a couple of anomalously good numbers, and that we are still in a 2.3ish economy. Unfortunately, I'm afraid he might be right.

    easy on the eggnog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Four or Five Percent Growth requires pretty healthy, sustained, wage gains, and I really just can't see where those are going to come from. I hope I'm wrong.

      Delete
  15. Didn't get my two buck/gal Christmas, but came close.

    $2.18/gal today.

    Lower gas prices are the only really good economic news the average guy and gal have had for a long long time.

    It makes a big difference in the budget.

    Hope it lasts.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'll answer Deuce's non existent rebuttal.....

    What did the Cuban people get out of this?

    The ability to obtain a visa?

    So they won't have to use inner tubes, leaky small boats, and rafts in their attempts to escape?

    I haven't read that.

    I don't think it was even discussed, much less demanded.

    An end to punishments for speaking freely and criticizing the regime?

    A real trial by a jury of their peers?

    The right to form political parties, even unions, outside of the system?

    A two peso wage increase?

    Unfettered access to the Internet?

    The end of the oppression of queers?

    The end of racism against Cuba's blacks?

    The ability to write and publish freely?

    How about free elections?

    etc, etc, etc on and on and on

    What did we get?

    It looks to me like maybe Ronald McDonald might be a winner. And similarly situated folks.

    Quba Tourism LLC is a winner.

    Can you think of much else?

    And as to all the old automobiles in Cuba - practically every major nation in the world makes automobiles, and many trade with Cuba.

    The average Cuban just doesn't have the money, working for slave wages as he/she is doing...

    It's said in Marxism that the owners of the means of production expropriate the excess wealth from the workers.

    This is exactly what the Cuban regime has been doing for decades.

    The Castro Bros and their henchmen undoubtedly thought the thing through......and came to the conclusion that it did not threaten their position in any way. If it had they would not have done it. Because that is their main consideration in all things. Being broke, they see it as helping their position.

    Since the regime in broke, they see it as a big Christmas present. The Russians can't support them. Nor the Venezuelans any longer.

    Well, there's good ol' Uncle Obama, he can help a little.....

    I basically like the new Pope, but he ought to stick to cleaning up the Vatican.

    Counterarguments are more than welcome.....









    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems to me the move puts us in the position of supporting a totally repugnant and inhuman totalitarian slave labor system on an Island Prison.

      Delete
    2. I haven't read yet of a Cuban/American Congressman/women who holds this in anything but contempt.

      Congress of course was not consulted.

      Delete
  17. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-cuba-derangement-syndrome-strikes-again/2014/12/24/5ed435f8-8af6-11e4-8ff4-fb93129c9c8b_story.html

    George Will, characteristically, taking forever to say nothing, really.

    ReplyDelete
  18. December 26, 2014
    Let's Be Honest about the Mideast
    By Mike Konrad

    A doctor's job is to properly diagnoses the problem, be honest about it, and then apply the proper treatment. This is true of medicine, of engineering, etc. Yet honesty has fled the debate concerning the Mideast.

    The problem in the Mideast is that two peoples make an exclusive religious and national claim on the same piece of property. Both are determined to fight for it, and the more determined of each group refuse to recognize the right of the other to exist. Indeed, both deny the other's present existence: many Israelis say there is no such thing as Palestinians, and Palestinians claim that the Jews are actually Indo-European Khazars, not Semites.

    It should be obvious that one of the peoples has to be removed. Yet conservatives never state the obvious. Why?

    No other solution will work. Any other plan will be a failure.

    So why is every other possible solution entertained but the obvious?

    The Palestinians demand full independence, and Israel will not grant independence to such lunatics, so why is the "two-state solution" still being pedaled? The Arabs want to destroy all of Israel, and Israel will offer the Arabs nothing but limited autonomous reservations. Why do we enable the "two-state solution" lie by repeating it? Neither side wants a two-state solution. Their spokesmen, and our State Department, should be dressed down for fraud.

    This is not rocket science, but our best and brightest ignore the obvious solutions.

    Israel has only five possible – not ideal – solutions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A - Continue the present policy, where roughly 4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza are under some degree of Israeli military rule – whether fully or by sea blockade, birth registry, or at the border crossings – without any say in the Israeli government that rules over them...while hoping against all historical experience that these violently irascible Arabs learn to gracefully accept such a diminished status vis-à-vis Israelis who actually have citizenship.

      B - Enfranchise the Arabs.

      C - Intermarriage.

      D - Pay the Arabs to leave.

      E – Ethnically cleanse the Arabs.

      Option A has not worked in 47 years. People do not like to be ruled by those they perceive as foreigners. Yes, the Arabs are nuts, but even so, the situation cannot go on.

      Option B: Given that most of the Arabs are Muslims, now in the full blossom of an Islamic revival taking them back to the seventh century, enfranchisement is out of the question. Besides, Jews, given their history, would never consent to be anything less than a clear majority in Israel. We can rule out enfranchisement of Judean, Samarian, and Gazan Arabs, even though conservative Israelis, such as Caroline Glick, have considered the option feasible for Judean and Samarian Arabs. Most Jews will not allow it.

      Option C: We might criticize the tendency of both groups to resist intermarriage, and assimilation into a greater whole – à la the Western Hemisphere – but "politics is the art of the possible," said Bismarck, and the Western practice of encouraging intermarriage as a means to peace is not possible in the Mideast, even if it worked in the USA and much of Western Europe. Hostile ethnic groups intermarried in the USA. Frenchmen intermarried Germans in Frederick the Great's Berlin. Celt and Saxon married near the River Clyde. English and French intermarried in Montreal.

      But Jew will not intermarry Muslim, nor vice-versa. Indeed, recently in Israel, anti-assimilation groups, such as Lehava, have gotten violent, as the recent arson of a mixed school in Jerusalem shows.

      Arabs are even worse, where death is usually the end of those who dare mix outside prescribed limits. So intermarriage is not the solution. No country in the Mideast allows it.

      This leaves only paying the Arabs to leave or ethnic cleansing. That's it! Payment or expulsion.

      Delete
    2. Any honest observer has to come to these two choices. Anything else is dishonest and a waste of time. Discussions by talking heads that do not come down to these options are conversations of either the deluded or liars.

      If payment is to work, it must be substantial enough to convince most Arabs to leave, and convince third-party governments to take them in. Lowballing will not work.

      Arutz Sheva:

      [MK] Feiglin said that Israel should offer each Palestinian Authority Arab $500,000 to leave Israel. "The country pays 10% of its gross national product every year to maintain the 'two-state solution' and the Oslo Accords," Feiglin said, including money for security fences and checkpoints, Iron Dome missile defense systems and guards whom he said are posted "at every café." Feiglin said the same money could be used to pay every PA Arab half a million dollars to leave Israel.

      Whenever I have suggested paying the Arabs to leave, I have gotten mercilessly criticized for being Arabophilic, but the fact is that many right-wing Israelis have come to the same conclusion, and ended up with roughly the same numbers as my own independent estimate of $200 billion overall.

      For those who cannot stand the thought of paying the Arabs to leave, and prefer forcibly "returning" the Arabs to Jordan, one should know that many of these Arabs have long historical roots in Jaffa, Caesarea, Haifa, with no historical connection to Jordan. Nor will Jordan accept them anymore. "Let them return to Jordan" is a wonderfully nice slogan but often historically inaccurate. However much one might want to free Israel of the Palestinian scourge, historic fictions will not help. Most of these Palestinians did not come from Jordan. Jordan temporarily granted some of them citizenship from 1948-1988, but that was withdrawn.

      Delete
    3. Human Rights Watch:

      In Jordan, not all passports grant the same privileges. Following the 1988 judicial and administrative disengagement from the occupied territories, new regulations were enacted that rendered the passports of Palestinians living in the West Bank temporary [4]. In practical terms, this designation meant that the new temporary passports were now only valid as a travel document–it no longer conferred citizenship and it no longer had a national number.

      Delete
    4. Human Rights Watch:

      In Jordan, not all passports grant the same privileges. Following the 1988 judicial and administrative disengagement from the occupied territories, new regulations were enacted that rendered the passports of Palestinians living in the West Bank temporary [4]. In practical terms, this designation meant that the new temporary passports were now only valid as a travel document–it no longer conferred citizenship and it no longer had a national number.

      If payment is out of the question, then be honest, and recommend that what is preferred is ethnic cleansing. Do not fudge and call it a population transfer – which is, after all, just ethnic cleansing by both sides. Be honest! You want them out, and you do not want to pay for it.

      Yes, Jews were expelled in the late '40s and '50s from Arab countries – most, not all, after the flight/expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Israel. That expulsion of Jews from Araby was also ethnic cleansing and quite despicable. If payback is what you want, be honest! Admit you want ethnic cleansing or "counter-ethnic-cleansing" of the Arabs now. Just know that the Arabs you want to expel now from Judea and Samaria were not responsible for the expulsion of those Jews. Judean and Samaria Arabs had no control over Morocco, Libya, etc.

      I am not saying ethnic cleansing of the Arabs is indefensible. It may come down to that. I just ask that if this is your preferred option, be honest about your designs and reasons – and spare us the antiseptic terminologies like "transfer" or "voluntary flight." When Joshua and the tribes of Israel entered the Promised Land, the Canaanites did not leave voluntarily. Joshua drove them out. If this is your preferred solution, be as honest as the Bible was.

      Ethnic cleansing will require a war. The problem is that Egypt and Jordan are at peace with Israel. Presently, Sisi's Egypt is a better ally of Israel than Obama's America. So a war will not be easily forthcoming. While the solution of forced removal – let's be honest, and call it what it is: ethnic cleansing – may appeal to many, it will be hard to engineer.

      A new year is coming. Lies will not solve the Mideast issue. Keeping people under military rule, however necessary, will only breed more violence. Enfranchisement is not an option. The Jews of Israel will not concede to it. Intermarriage over time is not an option. The mullahs and the rabbis will not agree to it.

      So if you are honest, only paying Palestinians to leave and ethnically cleansing the Palestinians are the real options.

      Make a resolution this year to be honest, at least about the Mideast. Choose which option you prefer, call it by its right name, admit it, and stick to it.

      Mike Konrad is an American who writes on various topics.

      Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/12/lets_be_honest_about_the_mideast.html#ixzz3MzbxdWOE
      Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

      Delete
    5. If Arabs were Hindus there would be no problem.

      Even if Arabs were Swedes (non muslim Swedes that is) the prospects for peace would dramatically rise.

      ;)

      Delete
  19. from The Fat Chance Files -

    Jihad Watch
    Exposing the role that Islamic jihad theology and ideology play in the modern global conflicts


    Pope says Islam is religion of peace, then begs Muslims to condemn violence

    December 25, 2014 6:37 am By Robert Spencer 56 Comments

    FrancisdovesFrancisdovecrowMore Pope Fiction: “Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and peaceful coexistence,” says the Pope. Then he calls on Muslims to push a “more authentic image of Islam, as so many of them desire.” Has he ever wondered how this version of Islam that he assumes to be inauthentic has become so widespread and so powerful as to displace millions of Christians from the Middle East?

    Moreover, condemnations are easy. What we really need to see from Muslim leaders who profess to oppose jihad violence is real action against it to prevent young Muslims from adopting this view of Islam. But we do not see that, and neither the Pope nor anyone else seems to notice or care.

    “Pope challenges Muslims to condemn violence,” by Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service, December 23, 2014 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis challenged Muslim religious leaders Tuesday to “unanimously” condemn the violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, as well as killing in the name of God.

    In an open Christmas letter to beleaguered Christians in the region, the pope called on Muslims to push a “more authentic image of Islam, as so many of them desire.”

    “Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and peaceful coexistence,” the pope said.

    “The tragic situation faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, as well as the Yazidi and members of other religious and ethnic communities, demands that all religious leaders clearly speak out to condemn these crimes unanimously and unambiguously.”

    The pope stopped short of naming the self-declared militant Islamic State but expressed his closeness to Christians suffering in the region, including the thousands of refugees and victims of kidnapping and violence.

    He urged the international community to not only help the many Christians in need but to increase humanitarian aid and end the violence.

    “I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will be accompanied by tears and sighs,” he said.

    It’s not the first time that Francis has urged Muslim leaders to take a stronger stand against Christian persecution and condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam, particularly in Iraq and Syria. He previously called for greater support on his return flight from Turkey in November, saying a “global condemnation” of the violence would help the majority of Muslims dispel this stereotype….

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know he's the Pope, and has to say, or thinks he has to say, certain things in a diplomatic manner, but on this, as on Cuba, he comes over as a little.....soft headed.....

      Delete
  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    List of countries that make cars, and production figures.

    If most of the cars are old in Cuba it must be because they can't afford cars since the days the Castro Bros took over, and not because of the US embargo.

    Hence lifting the embargo would seem unlikely to put a car in every Cuban garage, if Cubans had garages.

    ReplyDelete
  21. December 26, 2014
    Democrats the real party of the rich
    By Thomas Lifson

    One of the great misconceptions in American politics is that Republicans are the party of the rich. That title belongs to the Democrats, who regularly garner the big bucks of America’s moneyed elite. David Elliott of the AP reports:

    For as often as Democrats attack the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch for their heavy spending on politics, it's actually the liberal-minded who shelled out the most cash in the just completed midterm elections.

    At least, that is, among those groups that must disclose what they raise and spend.

    Among the top 100 individual donors to political groups, more than half gave primarily to Democrats or their allies. Among groups that funneled more than $100,000 to allies, the top of the list tilted overwhelmingly toward Democrats — a group favoring the GOP doesn't appear on the list until No. 14.

    The two biggest super PACs of 2014? Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC — both backing Democrats.

    In all, the top 10 individual donors to outside groups injected almost $128 million into this year's elections. Democratic-leaning groups collected $91 million of it.

    Among the 183 groups that wrote checks of $100,000 or more to another group, Democrats had a 3-to-1 cash advantage. The biggest player was the National Education Association, at $22 million. Not a single Republican-leaning group cracked the top 10 list of those transferring money to others.

    Overall, for the campaign season that just ended, donors who gave more than $1 million sent roughly 60 cents of every dollar to liberal groups. Among the 10 biggest donors, Democrats outspent Republicans by an almost 3-to-1 margin.

    There are a number of reasons why the rich tend to support the Democrats. One is the protection racket. Democrats are the party that demagogues class warfare rhetoric. Supporting them buys a degree of immunity. The left’s dominance of cultural institutions means that social prestige as well as political benefit flows in the direction of those who “fight the good fight” (as the left sees it) by supporting the Democrats. Although the Koch brothers lavishly support various cultural institutions, their support for conservative/libertarian causes has made their names anathema in much of the cultural and media establishment.

    The Democrats are also the party of Big Government, and the mega-rich often fnd themselves in a position to benefit from BG programs. A little subsidy here, a loan guarantee there, tax breaks for following the will of the social engineers – it all adds up.

    By supporting the political party of the left, some people feel redeemed for their greed, misdeeds, and lack of personal consideration for those with less. They are hailed as saviors of the oppressed, and if they treat those same people with condescension or worse, why, it is all washed away by their support for the “enlightened” policies of the left, which offer succor to the oppressed.

    As for the big organizations that overwhelmingly support the Democrats, look to the favors BG offers them.

    The GOP is the party of the middle class and small business. Demcorats are the party of the the rich and the poor.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/12/democrats_the_real_party_of_the_rich.html#ixzz3N0zaqLyk
    Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

    ReplyDelete
  22. As for the status of the Arab minority in Israel which, according to the anti-Semites, both the malicious enemies and the dupes of propaganda, are oppressed and discriminated against as second-class citizens, the projected counterpropaganda project will show that the Arabs in Israel are the only Arabs in the Middle East who vote and are elected, and serve in the Knesset where they enjoy unrestricted freedom of speech. They are doctors, lawyers, judges, and civil servants in the ministries and in the diplomatic corps.

    Israeli Arabs are the best educated in the Middle East, and their standards of living are five to ten times that of their brethren in the neighboring countries. No wonder than when offered to be "repatriated" to a future "Palestinian state," not even 2% agreed. Recently, an Israeli colonel, member of the Druze community, wrote: "The Israeli Arabs make 20% of the population and receive 5O% of the Bituah Leumi (National Insurance.) They don't pay taxes, national and local. They live in villas (!?). They build illegal buildings which the government is reluctant to force them to demolish (as it does with Jewish builders.) They vote and elect and enjoy full civil rights. They demonstrate against the State and even threw Molotov cocktails. Many of them identify with the enemies of Israel, Hamas, Hizb’allah, and Iran."

    Is that the profile of an "apartheid state" as the shameless demonizers of Israel and promoters of radical anti-Semitism would have you believe?

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/12/the_anatomy_of_a_scourge.html#ixzz3N10fhLuo
    Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

    ReplyDelete
  23. Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

    The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

    Eric Metaxas
    Dec. 25, 2014 4:56 p.m. ET
    576 COMMENTS

    In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

    Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 21 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

    With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researches have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

    What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

    Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

    As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.

    Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.

    Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

      Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

      Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

      Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

      The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.

      Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” ( Dutton Adult, 2014).

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/eric-metaxas-science-increasingly-makes-the-case-for-god-1419544568

      Delete
  24. Psychopathy and Politics

    At the time of WWII, there were two extended psychopathic systems, militant Islam and the Marxist Soviet Union, and two psychopathic nation-states, Germany and Japan. Germany and Japan were purged of psychopathic behaviors, at great cost, during WWII. The Marxist Soviet Union collapsed of psychopathic dishonesty, inefficiency, incompetence, and corruption in 1991. It would have been well worth our while to assure that Russia never again became psychopathic, but no such foresight. Putin is as psychopathic as Stalin, fortunately with much reduced demographic and physical assets with which to work. After a certain amount of death and destruction, Putin's Russia will collapse in much less time than it took for the Soviet Union to collapse, because Putin has fewer assets to waste.

    Militant Islam has been an ongoing psychopathic system for fifteen hundred years and will continue as long as terrorism is allowed as the political operative system. Sexual dysfunction and immaturity is massively evident within militant Islam and is a prominent driver of the aggressive and suicidal rage of terrorists, which presents a different pathological dynamic from most other psychopaths. Rape of juvenile boys has the same effect in the Middle East as it had on Robert Maudsley and John Wayne Gacy when they were children. Female sexual mutilation is common in the Middle East. The ideological foolishness of Marxists presents a graphic comparison to the existential rage of frustrated and mutilated Islamists. Marxists are probably not stupid enough to start a nuclear war, but militant Islamists might do it.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/12/psychopathy_and_politics.html#ixzz3N13zsS6r
    Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

    Our newly recognized Cuba is a mini-psychopath state.

    And we're nuts for recognizing the Island Prison without demanding some things in return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson ...

      ... we're nuts for recognizing the Island Prison without demanding some things in return.

      In other words, the US would be nuts to recognize and adjust to reality.
      The US should demand things in return, as part of the 'price' to dump the delusions that have driven it for the past fifty years.

      As to "Our newly recognized Cuba..."

      Recognition of Cuba does not come with any proprietary ownership rights or responsibilities accruing to the US.

      Delete
    2. EXODUS: Cubans picked up at sea by U.S. Coast Guard rises nearly 75%...........Drudge

      Delete
  25. More gibberish from the Jabberwocky

    Really, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, you have slipped and are sliding down the tubes.

    {;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's quite the sight to watch Jack " i killed but was not arrested, convicted so I am innocent" Hawkins slander others with lies about service to the nation.

      Delete
  26. More gibberish from the Jabberwocky

    Are you practicing Critical Theory here?

    Do you believe the Big Bang Theory?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No theories involved, Dougman, just plain, old-fashion facts.

      Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson sets up 'Strawmen' in an argument with himself, then cannot knock 'em down.
      His footing, it seems to have slipped, then he slid into an intellectual cesspool of his own construction.

      Delete
    2. Actually, Jack, our resident pathological liar and narcissist, seems to create arguments with everyone, including HIMSELF, then when he is proven wrong, even by himself, does he slip into anger and rants...

      Delete
  27. Obamacare is having a great enrollment this year. The website seems to be working exceedingly well, rate increases are minimal, and the numbers are

    Popping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Iowa and Nebraska exchanges are FUBAR.

      Delete
    2. Rufus IIFri Dec 26, 11:13:00 AM EST
      Obamacare is having a great enrollment this year. The website seems to be working exceedingly well, rate increases are minimal, and the numbers are

      Yea what's another 14% on top of $1440 a month…
      Peanuts for Rufus...

      Delete
    3. Nobody cares about insurance rates in Tel Aviv.

      Delete
  28. Looks like our boys are catching up on their work after Santa's Day.

    31 Airstrikes on Friday

    ReplyDelete
  29. Well, gee, who could'a seen this coming?

    "GAZIANTEP, Turkey — The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules.

    Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.

    Slick Islamic State videos depicting functioning government offices and the distribution of aid do not match the reality of growing deprivation and disorganized, erratic leadership, the residents say. A trumpeted Islamic State currency has not materialized, nor have the passports the group promised. Schools barely function, doctors are few, and disease is on the rise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the water has become undrinkable because supplies of chlorine have dried up, said a journalist living there, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his safety. Hepatitis is spreading, and flour is becoming scarce, he said. “Life in the city is nearly dead, and it is as though we are living in a giant prison,” he said.

      In the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s self-styled capital, water and electricity are available for no more than three or four hours a day, garbage piles up uncollected, and the city’s poor scavenge for scraps on streets crowded with sellers hawking anything they can find, residents say.

      Delete
    2. Videos filmed in secret by an activist group show desperate women and children clamoring for handouts of food, while photographs posted on the Internet portray foreign militants eating lavish spreads, a disparity that is starting to stir resentment.

      Much of the assistance that is being provided comes from Western aid agencies, which discreetly continue to help areas of Syria under Islamic State control. The United States funds health-care clinics and provides blankets, plastic sheeting and other items to help the neediest citizens weather the winter, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

      The government workers who help sustain what is left of the crumbling infrastructure, in Syrian as well as Iraqi cities, continue to be paid by the Syrian government, traveling each month to collect their . . . . .

      Failing State

      Delete
    3. Rufus IIFri Dec 26, 12:02:00 PM EST
      In the Iraqi city of Mosul, the water has become undrinkable because supplies of chlorine have dried up, said a journalist living there, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his safety. Hepatitis is spreading, and flour is becoming scarce, he said. “Life in the city is nearly dead, and it is as though we are living in a giant prison,” he said.


      Bet they'd sell their daughters to LIVE in Gaza….

      lol

      Delete
    4. Keep your racist, Zionist bullshit off of my posts.

      Delete
    5. Sounds like Cuba.


      EXODUS: Cubans picked up at sea by U.S. Coast Guard rises nearly 75%..........Drudge

      Delete
    6. There is nothing 'racist' about what WiO said.

      It's probably the truth.

      At least, last I heard, the Israelis still provide electricity to Gaza.

      Why they do that I have no idea.

      If psychopaths were shooting missiles at me I wouldn't provide them a damn thing.

      Delete
    7. Because they're getting PAID to, you dumb fuck.

      Delete
  30. Jack HawkinsFri Dec 26, 10:29:00 AM EST
    Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson …

    When someone has no facts on their argument they slander…

    Robert Peterson is no "draft dodger"….

    But you seem to get a perverse pleasure in slander…

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Craps is blabbering on about how I set up a 'straw man' about Cuba and can't even knock that down.

      I have trouble understanding what he is saying.

      He doesn't even know what he is saying.

      He is just saying.

      To be saying.

      Laughable.


      Bwabwabwabwahahahahahaha

      Delete
    2. I'll make a preemptive strike upon Rufus.......


      Rufus, you are absolutely the dumbest motherfucker in the Milky Way Galaxy.

      There !

      :)

      Delete
    3. Damn !!!!!!!!!!!!

      Looks like that DUMB FUCK RUFUS beat me to the draw but 2 minutes -

      Rufus IIFri Dec 26, 12:28:00 PM EST

      Because they're getting PAID to, you dumb fuck.

      .........

      Rufus, fastest draw on the Entire Internet.

      bwaha

      Delete
    4. by 2 minutes

      I was laughing....

      Delete
  31. The Cuban Archipelago
    December 26, 2014 by Jamie Glazov 12 Comments
    2324829
    Print This Post - OK, I will.

    cubaprison

    Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl.

    —Che Guevara, Motorcycle Diaries

    President Obama’s recent move to cozy up to Communist Cuba is a crucially important moment not just diplomatically, but as a moral one in regards to human rights, dignity and justice. As we witness a Radical-in-Chief throwing an economic lifeline to a barbaric tyranny, it is our duty and obligation to shine a light on the dark tragedy of the Cuban Gulag — and to reflect on the unspeakable suffering that Cubans have endured under Castro’s fascistic regime.

    Until July 26, 2008, Fidel Castro had ruled Cuba with an iron grip for nearly five decades. On that July date in 2008, he stood to the side because of health problems and made his brother, Raul, de facto ruler. Raul officially replaced his brother as dictator on February 24, 2008; the regime has remained just as totalitarian as before and can, for obvious reasons, continue to be regarded and labelled as “Fidel Castro’s” regime.

    Having seized power on January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro followed the tradition of Vladimir Lenin and immediately turned his country into a slave camp. Ever since, Cuba has distinguished itself as one of the most monstrous human-rights abusers in the world.

    Half a million human beings have passed through Cuba’s Gulag. Since Cuba’s total population is only around eleven million, that gives Castro’s despotism the highest political incarceration rate per capita on earth. There have been more than fifteen thousand executions by firing squad. Torture has been institutionalized; myriad human-rights organizations have documented the regime’s use of electric shock, dark coffin-sized isolation cells, and beatings to punish “anti-socialist elements.” The Castro regime’s barbarity is best epitomized by the Camilo Cienfuegos plan, the program of horrors followed in the forced-labor camp on the Isle of Pines. Forced to work almost naked, prisoners were made to cut grass with their teeth and to sit in latrine trenches for long periods of time. Torture is routine.[i]

    The horrifying experience of Armando Valladares, a Cuban poet who endured twenty-two years of torture and imprisonment for merely raising the issue of freedom, is a testament to the regime’s barbarity. Valladares’s memoir, Against All Hope, serves as Cuba’s version of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Valladares recounts how prisoners were beaten with bayonets, electric cables, and truncheons. He tells how he and other prisoners were forced to take “baths” in human feces and urine.[ii]

    Typical of the horror in Castro’s Gulag was the experience of Roberto López Chávez, one of Valladares’s prison friends. When López went on a hunger strike to protest the abuses in the prison, the guards withheld water from him until he became delirious, twisting on the floor and begging for something to drink. The guards then urinated in his mouth. He died the next day.[iii]

    Since Castro’s death cult, like other leftist ideologies, believes that human blood purifies the earth—and since manifestations of grief affirm the reality of the individual, and thus are anathema to the totality—mourning for the departed became taboo. Thus, just like Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia,[iv] so too Castro’s Cuba warned family members of murdered dissidents not to cry at their funerals.[v]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Castro regime also has a long, grotesque record of torturing and murdering Americans. During the Vietnam War, Castro sent some of his henchmen to run the “Cuban Program” at the Cu Loc POW camp in Hanoi, which became known as “the Zoo.” Its primary objective was to determine how much physical and psychological agony a human being could withstand. The Cubans selected American POWs as their guinea pigs. A Cuban nicknamed “Fidel,” the main torturer at the Zoo, initiated his own personal reign of terror.[vi]

      The ordeal of Lt. Col. Earl Cobeil, an F-105 pilot, illustrates the Nazi-like nature of the experiment. Among Fidel’s torture techniques were beatings and whippings over every part of his victim’s body, without remission.[vii] Former POW John Hubbell describes the scene as Fidel forced Cobeil into the cell of fellow POW Col. Jack Bomar:

      The man [Cobeil] could barely walk; he shuffled slowly, painfully. His clothes were torn to shreds. He was bleeding everywhere, terribly swollen, and a dirty, yellowish black and purple from head to toe. The man’s head was down; he made no attempt to look at anyone. . . . He stood unmoving, his head down. Fidel smashed a fist into the man’s face, driving him against the wall. Then he was brought to the center of the room and made to get down onto his knees. Screaming in rage, Fidel took a length of black rubber hose from a guard and lashed it as hard as he could into the man’s face. The prisoner did not react; he did not cry out or even blink an eye. His failure to react seemed to fuel Fidel’s rage and again he whipped the rubber hose across the man’s face. . . . Again and again and again, a dozen times, Fidel smashed the man’s face with the hose. Not once did the fearsome abuse elicit the slightest response from the prisoner. . . . His body was ripped and torn everywhere; hell cuffs appeared almost to have severed the wrists, strap marks still wound around the arms all the way to the shoulders, slivers of bamboo were embedded in the bloodied shins and there were what appeared to be tread marks from the hose across the chest, back, and legs.[viii]

      Earl Cobeil died as a result of Fidel’s torture.

      Maj. James Kasler was another of Fidel’s victims, although he survived the treatment:

      He [Fidel] deprived Kasler of water, wired his thumbs together, and flogged him until his “buttocks, lower back, and legs hung in shreds.” During one barbaric stretch he turned Cedric [another torturer] loose for three days with a rubber whip. . . . the PW [POW] was in a semi-coma and bleeding profusely with a ruptured eardrum, fractured rib, his face swollen and teeth broken so that he could not open his mouth, and his leg re-injured from attackers repeatedly kicking it.[ix]

      Delete
    2. The reign of terror against American POWs in Vietnam was just a reflection of Castro’s treatment of his own people. In addition to physical hardships even for those who don’t wind up in prison or labor camp, Cuba’s police state has denied Cubans any freedom at all. Cubans do not have the right to travel out of their country. They do not have the right of free association or the right to form political parties, independent unions, or religious or cultural organizations. The regime has outlawed free expression; it has consistently censored publications, radio, television, and film. There is a Committee for the Defense of the Cuban Revolution (CDR) for every single city block and every agricultural production unit. The CDR’s purpose is to monitor the affairs of every family and to report anything suspicious. A Cuban’s entire life is spent under the surveillance of his CDR, which controls everything from his food rations to his employment to his use of free time. A vicious racism against blacks accompanies this repression. In pre-Castro Cuba, blacks enjoyed upward social mobility and served in many government positions. In Castro’s Cuba, the jail population is 80 percent black, while the government hierarchy is 100 percent white.[x]

      Cuban Communism follows Lenin’s and Stalin’s idea of “equality,” wherein members of the nomenklatura live like millionaires while ordinary Cubans live in utter poverty. The shelves in the stores are empty, and food is tightly rationed for the average citizen. Teachers and doctors drive taxis or work as waiters to support their families. Under the system of tourist apartheid, ordinary Cubans are not allowed inside the hotels designated for tourists and party functionaries. There are, of course, police inside every such hotel to arrest any unauthorized Cuban citizen who dares to enter.

      The $5-billion-a-year Soviet subsidy that just barely kept the Cuban economy afloat during the Cold War is long gone. And notwithstanding the $110 billion that the Soviets pumped in over the decades, Cuba has become one of the poorest nations in the world. Its sugar, tobacco, and cattle industries were all major sources of exports in the pre-Castro era. Castro destroyed them all.[xi] Because of his belief in “socialism or death,” Cuba is now a beggar nation. Even Haitian refugees avoid Cuba.

      Delete
    3. The Castro regime also has a long, grotesque record of torturing and murdering Americans. During the Vietnam War, Castro sent some of his henchmen to run the “Cuban Program” at the Cu Loc POW camp in Hanoi, which became known as “the Zoo.” Its primary objective was to determine how much physical and psychological agony a human being could withstand. The Cubans selected American POWs as their guinea pigs. A Cuban nicknamed “Fidel,” the main torturer at the Zoo, initiated his own personal reign of terror.[vi]

      The ordeal of Lt. Col. Earl Cobeil, an F-105 pilot, illustrates the Nazi-like nature of the experiment. Among Fidel’s torture techniques were beatings and whippings over every part of his victim’s body, without remission.[vii] Former POW John Hubbell describes the scene as Fidel forced Cobeil into the cell of fellow POW Col. Jack Bomar:

      The man [Cobeil] could barely walk; he shuffled slowly, painfully. His clothes were torn to shreds. He was bleeding everywhere, terribly swollen, and a dirty, yellowish black and purple from head to toe. The man’s head was down; he made no attempt to look at anyone. . . . He stood unmoving, his head down. Fidel smashed a fist into the man’s face, driving him against the wall. Then he was brought to the center of the room and made to get down onto his knees. Screaming in rage, Fidel took a length of black rubber hose from a guard and lashed it as hard as he could into the man’s face. The prisoner did not react; he did not cry out or even blink an eye. His failure to react seemed to fuel Fidel’s rage and again he whipped the rubber hose across the man’s face. . . . Again and again and again, a dozen times, Fidel smashed the man’s face with the hose. Not once did the fearsome abuse elicit the slightest response from the prisoner. . . . His body was ripped and torn everywhere; hell cuffs appeared almost to have severed the wrists, strap marks still wound around the arms all the way to the shoulders, slivers of bamboo were embedded in the bloodied shins and there were what appeared to be tread marks from the hose across the chest, back, and legs.[viii]

      Earl Cobeil died as a result of Fidel’s torture.

      Maj. James Kasler was another of Fidel’s victims, although he survived the treatment:

      He [Fidel] deprived Kasler of water, wired his thumbs together, and flogged him until his “buttocks, lower back, and legs hung in shreds.” During one barbaric stretch he turned Cedric [another torturer] loose for three days with a rubber whip. . . . the PW [POW] was in a semi-coma and bleeding profusely with a ruptured eardrum, fractured rib, his face swollen and teeth broken so that he could not open his mouth, and his leg re-injured from attackers repeatedly kicking it.[ix]

      The reign of terror against American POWs in Vietnam was just a reflection of Castro’s treatment of his own people. In addition to physical hardships even for those who don’t wind up in prison or labor camp, Cuba’s police state has denied Cubans any freedom at all. Cubans do not have the right to travel out of their country. They do not have the right of free association or the right to form political parties, independent unions, or religious or cultural organizations. The regime has outlawed free expression; it has consistently censored publications, radio, television, and film. There is a Committee for the Defense of the Cuban Revolution (CDR) for every single city block and every agricultural production unit. The CDR’s purpose is to monitor the affairs of every family and to report anything suspicious. A Cuban’s entire life is spent under the surveillance of his CDR, which controls everything from his food rations to his employment to his use of free time. A vicious racism against blacks accompanies this repression. In pre-Castro Cuba, blacks enjoyed upward social mobility and served in many government positions. In Castro’s Cuba, the jail population is 80 percent black, while the government hierarchy is 100 percent white.[x]

      Delete
    4. Cuban Communism follows Lenin’s and Stalin’s idea of “equality,” wherein members of the nomenklatura live like millionaires while ordinary Cubans live in utter poverty. The shelves in the stores are empty, and food is tightly rationed for the average citizen. Teachers and doctors drive taxis or work as waiters to support their families. Under the system of tourist apartheid, ordinary Cubans are not allowed inside the hotels designated for tourists and party functionaries. There are, of course, police inside every such hotel to arrest any unauthorized Cuban citizen who dares to enter.

      The $5-billion-a-year Soviet subsidy that just barely kept the Cuban economy afloat during the Cold War is long gone. And notwithstanding the $110 billion that the Soviets pumped in over the decades, Cuba has become one of the poorest nations in the world. Its sugar, tobacco, and cattle industries were all major sources of exports in the pre-Castro era. Castro destroyed them all.[xi] Because of his belief in “socialism or death,” Cuba is now a beggar nation. Even Haitian refugees avoid Cuba.

      Denied the right to vote under Castro, Cubans have voted with their feet. Pre-Castro Cuba had the highest per-capita immigration rate in the Western hemisphere. Under Castro, approximately two million Cuban citizens (out of eleven million) have escaped their country. Many have done so by floating on rafts or inner tubes in shark-infested waters. An estimated fifty thousand to eighty-seven thousand have lost their lives.[xii]

      Not content to trust the sharks, Castro has sent helicopters to drop sandbags onto the rafts of would-be escapees, or just to gun them all down. Epitomizing this barbarity was the Tugboat Massacre of July 13, 1994, in which Castro ordered Cuban patrol boats to kill forty-one unarmed Cuban civilians—ten of them children—who were using an old wooden tugboat in their attempt to flee Cuba.[xiii]

      These are the heart-breaking stories, and only a few among many, of the Cuban people who have suffered excruciating pain and agony under an evil tyranny that now, as it stands on its last legs, is having its life extended by an American president.

      It is food for thought.

      Notes:

      [i] For one of the best accounts of the brutality of the Castro regime, see Pascal Fontaine, “Cuba: Interminable Totalitarianism in the Tropics,” in Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism, pp. 647–665.

      [ii] Armando Valladares, Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag, trans. Andrew Hurley (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2001), p. 137.

      [iii] Ibid., p. 379.

      [iv] For China’s case, see chapter 7 of my book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror; for Cambodia’s, see John Perazzo, “Left-Wing Monster: Pol Pot,” FrontPageMag.com, August 8, 2005.

      [v] Valladares, Against All Hope, p. 378.

      [vi] Stuart I. Rochester and Frederick Kiley, chapter 19, “The Zoo, 1967–1969: The Cuban Program and Other Atrocities,” in Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia 1961–1973 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1999).

      [vii] Humberto Fontova, Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, (Regnery, 2005). pp. 141–142.

      [viii] Rochester and Kiley, Honor Bound, p. 400.

      [ix] Ibid., p. 404.

      [x] Fontova, Fidel, p. 88.

      [xi] Ibid., pp. 14–15 and 49.

      [xii] Ibid., pp. 8 and 56–57.

      [xiii] Ibid., pp. 157–163.

      *

      To get the whole story on why leftists venerate Castro’s tyranny, order Jamie Glazov’s United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror

      http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/jamie-glazov/the-cuban-archipelago/


      Guy must have been reading my posts before he wrote that........:)

      Delete
    5. >>>>Denied the right to vote under Castro, Cubans have voted with their feet. Pre-Castro Cuba had the highest per-capita immigration rate in the Western hemisphere. Under Castro, approximately two million Cuban citizens (out of eleven million) have escaped their country. Many have done so by floating on rafts or inner tubes in shark-infested waters. An estimated fifty thousand to eighty-seven thousand have lost their lives.[xii]<<<<

      ((((((EXODUS: Cubans picked up at sea by U.S. Coast Guard rises nearly 75%.......Drudge)))))

      Delete
  32. KIEV, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine is suspending all train and bus services to Crimea due to a "deteriorating" security situation on the Black Sea peninsula which was annexed by Russia in March, Ukrainian transport chiefs said on Friday.

    ReplyDelete
  33. A couple of years ago, the city of Chicago started a summer jobs program for teenagers attending high schools in some of the city's high-crime, low-income neighborhoods. The program was meant, of course, to connect students to work. But officials also hoped that it might curb the kinds of problems — like higher crime — that arise when there's no work to be found.

    Research on the program conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and just published in the journal Science suggests that these summer jobs have actually had such an effect: Students who were randomly assigned to participate in the program had 43 percent fewer violent-crime arrests over 16 months, compared to students in a control group.

    That number is striking for a couple of reasons: It implies that a relatively short (and inexpensive) intervention like an eight-week summer jobs program can have a lasting effect on teenage behavior. And it lends empirical support to a popular refrain by advocates: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

    Researcher Sara Heller conducted a randomized control trial with the program, in partnership with the city. The study included 1,634 teens at 13 high schools. They were, on average, C students, almost all of them eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Twenty percent of the group had already been arrested, and 20 percent had already been victims of crime.

    Some of the students were . . . .

    Jobs Stop Bullets

    ReplyDelete
  34. Dec. 26, 2014 10:58 AM ET
    Leaving Cuba: A father and son risk lives at sea
    By CHRISTINE ARMARIO, Associated Press THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES

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    MIAMI (AP) — It was hot and dark and mosquitoes bit at his skin as 23-year-old Jose Fuente Lastre boarded a raft with eight other men, intent on fleeing Cuba.

    Their flimsy vessel built from scraps of metal, wood and inner tubes had failed repeatedly. Oil leaked. The propeller sputtered.

    "I'm not going," Lastre had announced. "It seems we weren't meant to leave."

    "Don't be a fool," shot back his stepfather, Antonio Cardenas. "After trying this hard you have to try again."

    Four of their companions decided it was too risky, jumping out and wading back to shore.

    Lastre looked at his stepfather's wrinkled face. They had invested nearly everything they owned to build the raft.

    They switched on the motor taken from a Russian tractor-trailer.

    Tens of thousands of Cubans have made the harrowing journey on homemade rafts across the Florida Straits, preferring to risk their lives than remain in Cuba.

    President Barack Obama's promise to reverse 53 years of hostility has raised hopes that with normalized relations, Cubans will stop taking these risks. But Obama's deal with President Raul Castro isn't expected to stop the tide anytime soon. Obama lacks the votes in Congress to abandon the embargo and the provision allowing almost all Cubans who reach the U.S. to stay is law. This last year, the number of Cubans picked up at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard or making it to U.S. shores rose nearly 75 percent, from 2,129 to 3,722.

    _

    Lastre didn't grow up with dreams of leaving Cuba.

    He lived with his girlfriend, Yainis, and resold bread on the black market, making about $115 a month, far more than the $20 average Cuban salary.

    His dream was to save enough money to build a house like his stepfather's one day.

    Then he saw his neighbor Omarito disappear on a raft, and come back later with enough money to build a house and a business.

    Watching American movies with Yainis, he couldn't help but notice that even teenagers in the U.S. had cars.

    Lastre and Yainis had grown up under the revolution, never knowing life without Fidel Castro or the embargo, but far more exposed to outside influences than previous generations. About 500,000 U.S. travelers now visit the island each year, most of them Cuban Americans. They bring stories of life in the U.S., cellphones and laptops

    With no close family in the U.S., Lastre felt he could never afford these things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thought of Lastre on a raft at sea made Cardenas, 50, and his wife, Olea, nervous. But if his stepson was going to try it, he wanted to protect him.

      "Go and look at the raft," Olea said. "If it looks strong, go with him."

      _

      Yennier Martinez Diaz, 32, watched from shore. An agricultural worker who lived near the launching spot, he had asked to join them. But there was no room — until the others jumped out.

      "Do you want to come?" Cardenas asked.

      Diaz climbed into the raft.

      At first the skies were blue, the water calm. They drank water, ate crackers and started making plans.

      "The first thing I'm going to do is get a job," Cardenas declared.

      By the sixth day, they were nearly out of gas, with no sign of land.

      "We should use what we have left for when we're close to shore," suggested Cardenas, the oldest on board.

      They would need to move quickly then — If the U.S. Coast Guard reached them in the water, they'd be sent back to Cuba.

      When they woke the next day, all they saw was blue sea.

      "Pa' Cuba!" one of the men began yelling.

      They'd gone seven days without seeing land. A few others agreed.

      "To Cuba no," Cardenas insisted. "We are going to make it."

      Desperate, he took out a sledgehammer and threatened to destroy the motor if anyone touched it.

      The next day, the men saw a flicker of light track across the sky, then another. Planes. They began rowing the boat in the same direction.

      Their 10th day at sea, they kicked on the motor and sprinted toward shore, hitting sand near a condominium. They jumped out and ran barefoot to a metal gate. A guard opened the door.

      "Welcome to the land of liberty!" he said.

      __

      In Miami, the men were treated like celebrities.

      Soon, though, their days looked like this: Long hours in a small hotel room, awaiting resettlement.

      Every few days, they made costly calls to family in Camaguey.

      One month and three days later, the men woke before dawn and loaded nine duffel bags filled with donated clothes into an airport shuttle. Their destination: Portland, Oregon, where the Church World Service had arranged housing, English classes, and jobs.

      Cardenas proudly took photos on his cellphone: Lastre holding up his airplane ticket; Diaz pushing a cart of luggage.

      __

      Three months after the men's arrival, Obama surprisingly announced efforts to restore ties with the island they left behind.

      The news came as a relief: Perhaps they would not have to wait years to see their families.

      Had they known relations between the U.S. and Cuba were about to improve, Cardenas said he would have risked the journey anyway.

      "I'm not looking back," he said.

      _

      Follow Christine Armario on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cearmario

      http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2014-12-26-US--Cuba-Rafter%27s%20Journey/id-e71f3f564dae49edb59ba40932be6b05

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