Saturday, April 30, 2005

Cuba Libre

From The Real Cuba
Hugo Chavez, a declared enemy of the United States, is using Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to keep Fidel Castro in power causing more suffering to the Cuban people. When you need to buy gas for your car, remember that Citgo is owned by PDVSA. Don't help the enemies of our country!
Not that I ever did buy gas from Citgo, I surely won't now.

Vietnam's Victory

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. Vietnam is celebrating that great victory of the proletariat over the imperialistic forces of capitalism. Lets look at the consequences of that great victory. South Korea, that poor agricultural region that was unable to be saved from the Americans had a per capital Gross National Income of $9,930 in 2004. Victorious Vietnam’s GNI was $430 per person. But money isn’t the sole measure of success. Quality of living must be factored in. Over 400,000 South Vietnamese got free public “re-education” camp privileges. The quality of living is so good that only 500,000 people have felt the need to leave since victory was won.

Here is a poem by Nguyen Chi Thien a long time prisoner of conscience in northern Vietnam.

From ape to man, the process took millions of years
From man to ape, how many years?
World, please come and visit
The concentration camps in the heart of the far-off jungles!
Naked prisoners, taking baths together in herds
Living in ill-smelling darkness with lice and mosquitoes.
Fighting with each other for a piece of manioc or sweet potato
Chained, shot, dragged, slit up at the will of their captors
Thrown away for the rats to bite without anyone's notice!
This kind of ape is not fast but very slow in action indeed
Quite different from that of the remote prehistory
They are hungry, they are thin as toothpicks
And yet they produce the nation's wealth all year long
World, please come and visit!

Written in 1967 things are no doubt better today. However they could certianly be improved.

Human Rights In Vietnam
The State Department's latest human rights report describes Vietnam's human rights record as "poor." Freedom of speech, press, and assembly are restricted in Vietnam. Citizens are denied the right to change their government. Some Montagnards in the Central Highlands were reportedly killed while taking part in demonstrations in April 2004. The U.S. is urging Vietnam to respect the rights of its citizens.

I wish I could link to Freedom Fighters out of Vietnam but that will probably not be happening soon.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Our friends the Saudis

Saudi Prince Abdullah visited the President recently and afterward a joint statement was released by the White House. In that statement of glowing praise for our ally in the Middle East we have this little tidbit.

Saudi Arabia reiterates its call on all those who teach and propagate the Islamic faith to adhere strictly to the Islamic message of peace, moderation, and tolerance and reject that which deviates from those principles.

I can’t tell. In a secret recording obtained by the Saudi Institute we hear Saleh bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan saying :

Purely with regard to the men in Iraq -- there are many men there. Entering Iraq has become risky now. It requires avoiding those evil satellites and those drone aircraft, which own every corner of the skies over Iraq, and pay special attention to the borders, cutting the road before all who come and go.

If someone knows that he is capable of entering Iraq in order to join the fight, and if his intention is to raise up the word of God, then he is free to do so.

He who intends to donate money must be sure to verify that the people receiving it are capable of benefiting the cause, and that they are honest in what they say, because they might pocket the money and then go here or there without sound intentions. At this moment in time, we must proceed slowly, acting in accordance with the flow of events. At present the nights are pregnant, and we pray that their labor pains will be a defeat for the enemy.

Al-Luhaidan, made the remarks in October 2004 at a government mosque in Riyadh answering a group of Saudis who wanted to join terrorist organizations in Iraq. (Click Here To Listen to Audio Clip)

Who is Saleh bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan?

Shaikh Saleh Al-Luhaidan is the President of the Supreme Judicial Council (Chief Justice) with a rank of a minister, and a member of Council of Senior Clerics, the highest religious body in the country and is appointed by the King. Luhaidan whose four-year term for both positions was renewed April 11 by the King, would oversea any trial of alleged Al-Qaeda Saudi terrorists if they occur.

According to Saudi press reports Saleh Al-Luhaidan meets frequently with Crown Prince Abdullah and other senior members of the ruling family. In April Al-Luhaidan met twice with Abdullah

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Iraqi cabinet chosen

The Iraqi National Assembly approved a new cabinet 180 to 5. Mohammed at ITM tells all about it. I especially thought this interesting if not suprising.

Something I also wanted to mention which is not a surprise at all is that Al-Jazeera totally ignored today's session and while it allocated long hours talking about the delay in announcing the government in the past few weeks, the channel chose to ignore the important event and was in stead broadcasting a history report with the running news subtitle talking about violence and explosions!

Cuba Libre

Wed Apr 27, 3:49 PM ET

The US Congress urged the European Union to press Cuba on its human rights record and condemned the communist-led island for its crackdown on dissidents.The resolution demands that Fidel Castro's regime "immediately release" political prisoners, hold free and fair elections, and legalize political parties, labor unions and the press.

The EU could actually be effective in putting pressure on Castro since they allow travel and trade.


Martinez, Congress Continue Cuba Debate By KEITH EPSTEIN

While hundreds of Cuban- American activists gathered here Wednesday to protest restrictions on travel to visit relatives, Mel Martinez, the nation's first Cuban-American senator, announced Congress` first bipartisan alliance dedicated to pushing the other way, strengthening sanctions.

A new lobbying group of 30 business interests from 19 states, meanwhile, has organized to broaden existing trade deals - mostly from farming states through U.S. ports that compete with Tampa.

They even want the U.S. to establish full ties with Castro's island dictatorship.

Despite formidable forces building against the current U.S. stance, Martinez feels emboldened by his status as a rarity in the Senate - someone whose boyhood experiences under Cuban repression enable him to use his personal story to persuade colleagues.

The question of course is which method will lead to a free Cuba. Did sanctions against South Africa end apartheid or hurt those we were trying to free? The US seems to believe that by having economic ties with China we can encourage Democracy. Should we do the same with Cuba? Having a big economic club to hang over Castro’s
head might encourage reform.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Humor from a new Freedom Fighter

Went to The Real Cuba and found this in their humor section.

On a recent visit to Cuba, Russian president Vladimir Putin saw that all Cubans were wearing broken shoes. He asked Castro how come after 46 years of socialism Cubans didn't have any good shoes to wear. Castro asked him: "And are things any different in Russia?" Putin answered back that yes, things were different and if he wanted he could come with him to Russia and if he found anyone wearing broken shoes he had his permission to shoot him. Castro and Putin headed to Russia in Putin's plane and as soon as Castro came out of the plane he saw a person wearing broken shoes. Castro took his pistol and shot him.

The next day there was this headline in all Russian newspapers:


New Iraqi Site

Peshmerga Women securing the city of Kirkuk two years ago.

Blood on Voinovich's Hands?

As Democrats and RINO Senator Voinovich continue to obstruct the conformation of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, the death toll mounts. The incredibly oxymoronic U.N. Commission on Human Rights, headed by such egregious human rights violators as China, Sudan, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, is in desperate need of reform. But instead of spearheading that reform Mr. Bolton is busy answering questions about hallway confrontations that didn’t occur or that he was mean to a wimpy subordinate.

The Sudanese Government is massacring it’s own people, Saudi Arabian religious police are herding young women back into burning buildings because they don’t have the proper head gear, and Chinese Communists are killing and torturing Christians. In the face of all that, it’s agonizing that we are holding up the conformation of a tough and aggressive Ambassador because he might not be “nice” enough to win back the "allies" that abandoned us in Iraq.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Why Lebanon matters.

Church and mosque together

Iranian "Elections"

As June 17 presidential elections kick off in Iran, the Iranians have a choice between hard-liner Ali Larijani and centrist Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Nether one is a palatable choice for the United States. Other candidates such as Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, both hard-liners, and the “reformist” Mohsen Mehralizadeh are also said to be running or considering running. Don’t look for much in the title reformist, current President Mohammad Khatami is said to be a reformist. Don’t look for much in the term election either, the Guardians Council can and has disqualified candidates it deems unfit. As Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi has stated, existing vetting procedures mean "free and healthy" elections are impossible. In the last presidential elections in 2001, the Guardians Council whittled down a list of some 900 would-be candidates to just 10. Hossein Derakhshan lists some of the other possible conservative and new-conservative candidates including Javad Larijani, Ali Larijani's brother. Hossien's "idealist part" would like to see Ebadi as President. My hopes for her are a little less grand, I'm hoping she doesn't get arrested and tortured.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bolton's no wimp

The Silberman-Robb Commission stated “The intelligence community needs to be pushed. It will not do its best unless it is pressed by policy-makers — sometimes to the point of discomfort.” Which is exactly what Bolton was doing to Westermann, a biological weapons expert who proposed that Bolton use "language that reiterated existing, consensus assessments by American intelligence agencies” when addressing Cuba’s efforts to obtain biological weapons. In other words, don’t hurt Castro’s feelings. Instead it was Westermann’s feelings that were hurt. And that’s what disqualifies Bolton for the UN position, he might hurt someone’s feelings. Read Andrew McCarthy's article at NRO.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

E-Mail Voinovich


Just what about Mr. Bolton has required that you, in good conscience, must obstruct his nomination? Bad hair cut? Because he is not a State Department bureaucrat? Because of our Iraq policy, in which he had no real impact? Please tell me you aren’t holding up this imminently qualified gentleman’s nomination because he is occasionally tough and aggressive. Look at today’s UN, that is exactly what is needed.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Power of the Blogosphere

September 9, 2004 is the day the blogs made history. By fact checking a major network news story bloggers were able to discredit Dan Rather, CBS, and main stream media. The power of the Blogosphere was revealed. But is that the Blogosphere's greatest power? Or is it the power to assemble like minded individuals in a virtual space that Governments, however oppressive they may be, cannot raid? Syria has blogs. Lebanon has blogs. Iran has blogs. History will tell how effective these blogs are in toppling those regimes but obviously these governments fear the bloggers. What is most interesting is that history is being written before our eyes.

Ashish believes that the big anti-war demonstrations that occurred before GW2 paved the way for Lebanon’s anti-Syria demonstrations later. Third party demonstrations in China or soccer riots in Korea could pave the way for anti-Government demonstrations down the road. The internet could help organize such demonstrations. Blogs can be the nucleus around which revolutionary forces can gather, in an anonymous meeting hall the authorities can’t control. Interesting times.