Thursday, March 31, 2011

This is how our Earth really looks like: a semi-deflated football

The real Earth
The earth is not round as we had believed until now. The European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed today in Munich, Germany, the most accurate model of the ‘geoid’ [*] ever produced to enhance our perception and knowledge of how Earth works.

The exceptional new geoid was obtained with data gathered by ESA’s GOCE satellite which has been in orbit for two years measuring Earth’s gravity with astounding precision. It was unveiled to a group of scientists and media at the Fourth International GOCE User Workshop hosted at the Technische Universität München.
“GOCE geoid provides a dynamic topography and circulation patterns of the oceans with unprecedented quality and resolution”, said Prof. Reiner Rummel, former Head of the Institute for Astronomical and Physical Geodesy at this university.

GOCE in orbit
The data being collected by GOCE will enable scientists to better understand the internal structure of the Earth, particularly the processes that cause earthquakes and the effects of climate change. The ultimate goal is to learn how to predict such devastating events as the mega quake that hit Japan recently and develop a clear approach to the dramatic climate changes that we are experiencing.

Schematic representation of the different fields covered by GOCE

* A hypothetical solid figure whose surface corresponds to mean sea level and its imagined extension under (or over) land areas.

Record number of 228 human rights’ violations in the U.S.: UN Human Rights Council

U.S. prisoners in Guantánamo
On March 25, the UN Human Rights Council recommended the U.S. to pay attention to as many as 228 cases of human rights’ violations. These violations, of course, are only the ones that have reached the United Nations, and therefore, have been documented; other allegations remain to be properly examined. Never before had this Council put such a record number of accusations against any country. Those accusations mainly involve cases of race discrimination and mistreating of prisoners in the illegally occupied Guantánamo Prison (which in itself counts as another violation of the rights of the Cuban people).  The United States has only agreed to review 40 of all those cases.

Inhuman treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo
Juliette de Rivero from the Geneva department of the “Human Rights Watch” organization, considered the process of identifying these violations as “very important, because it gave us the opportunity to debate the problems in the U.S.”, and she added:

We saw some positive steps taken, but also in some aspects there have been no change. So, we were disappointed that the United States did not openly invite the special reporters to visit Guantanamo, so that they can interview the detainees in Guantanamo, and several UN experts have been asking to visit Guantanamo, and haven’t been given open access. So, we were disappointed that an invitation wasn’t issued to them, and the US accepted a recommendation about eradicating torture, and that’s a positive sign. But again, you know, we are concerned that investigating torture also means accountability of high levels of those that particularly, during the Bush administration, allowed and ordered torture, especially of terrorist suspects.”

Black protesters in the U.S.
Discrimination against blacks in the U.S. has contradictorily soared after the election of the first black president in this country. The Ministry of Justice, for instance, has revealed that, in New Orleans, blacks are arrested 16 times more than whites, while in the rest of the country the proportion is 3 blacks to 1 white. It has also been denounced that several Afro-Americans were killed during their detainment, and their remains burned to erase any traces of ill-treatment by the police.

According to Ms. De Rivero, the death penalty, which still remains in effect in the U.S., is the main violation in her view. On this particular issue she said:

"We were disappointed that many of the recommendations to end the death penalty were not supported by the United States. Of course, there are problems of racism, but this is one of the areas where the US has made a commitment to improve. One of the areas we are very concerned with is the life imprisonment of persons who commit murder under the age of 18. And, you know, the fact that the US hasn’t accepted that child offenders should have a chance to be rehabilitated. And this is one of the issues that we focused on a lot. And, as we have said before, the death penalty which is still applied in the United States."

According to Amnesty International, in 2010, the U.S. was the world’s record breaker in the number of death penalties – 46. A number even larger than Iran’s, whom U.S. authorities ferociously criticize for, in their view, violating the human rights their citizens.

As a norm, Blacks are arrested more often than Whites in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Former U.S. president Carter admits the embargo is wrong and demands the immediate release of the Cuban Five

James Carter in Havana today
Carter has ended his three day visit to Havana and has met with ecclesiastical authorities, U.S. government local employees, sometimes referred to as ‘dissidents’, Alan Gross (a U.S. citizen recently charged in Havana for illegally bringing high technology communication equipment to the aforementioned dissidents), Cuba’s Jewish community, relatives of the Cuban Five, Raúl and finally, shortly before leaving, he was received by Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Carter greets Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega
During a press conference on Wednesday, he said that the United States should lift the embargo, and wished all U.S, citizens could travel to Cuba. He also spoke in favour of the release of Alan Gross.
He declared that the Cuban Five deserve to be back in the island after 12 years of unjust imprisonment after a trial which under any standards has been described as highly irregular.  

Carter and Adela Durwin, President of the Hebrew Council of Cuba
Although as a private figure today, Carter obviously cannot exercise any legal force to end the blockade, and that it is also true he could have used his presidential powers to do it during his tenure as President, it is nevertheless encouraging to see a former U.S. president admit that the approach of all U.S. governments, including his, towards Cuba has always been wrong. 

Raúl Castro sees Carter off at José Martí Airport
However, Jimmy Carter could definitely help ease the tensions and clear the way for a hypothetical dialogue as equals between Washington and Havana. We remain optimistic that at least he can do that now.
It took Carter 30 years to admit the mistake.
Do we have to wait until the year 2041 to see a much older repentant Obama visiting Cuba, telling reporters  that things could have been better, if only ...?

Information from Cubadebate

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hugo Chávez and Cristina Fernández take a further step towards Latin American integration

Chávez and Cristina in Buenos Aires today
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Argentinean counterpart Cristina Fernández have signed at Casa Rosada, the government house in Buenos Aires, several agreements related to the economic integration and complementation of the two nations, whilst reviewing important aspects of their bilateral ties, reports Telesur today.

This is their third summit, and the last one this year, to materialize the integration process between the two Latin American giants. During a press conference both presidents discussed the vitality and continuity of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and emphasized the importance of integration for Latin American countries, so they can thrive free of U.S. meddling.

On arriving in Buenos Aires Chávez told reporters that Venezuela will import “thousands of vehicles, about 600.000 tons of food, and some 400 million USD in agricultural machinery from Argentina”. Later the Venezuelan President added that “all oil and derivatives Argentina needs for the next 200 years will be sent there” and described the Argentinean-Venezuelan relations as “a perfect equation of food and energy that complements both countries perfectly”.

Both leaders also condemned the NATO airstrikes against Libya and considered those actions of aggression a prelude to the looting of the oil reserves of that country, and deplored the loss of civilian lives in the conflict.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Identity of Cuban Security agent working on U.S. “humanitarian” projects revealed on Cuban TV special

In another spectacular chapter of the series Cuba’s Reasons, Cuban television has just broadcasted Dangerous Help, where undercover agent Gerardo narrates how the U.S. government manipulates its so-called “humanitarian” help.

Dr. Manuel Collera
Dr. Manuel Collera, agent Gerardo’s real name, a child cardiologist, tells about being systematically contacted by U.S. government officials and later recruited to work with them in these "humanitarian" projects. The final aim: overthrowing the Cuban government. Curtin Winsor, former U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica and head of the Donner Foundation, Akram Elías, former Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Washington DC, and Marc Wachtenheim, CIA collaborator linked to Rene Greenwald, are some of the names which came up during the TV program.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Popular March in Havana for the 50th anniversary of the victory of Playa Girón

Archive picture
April 16th promises to be a very special day in Havana, Cuba. First, Habaneros, representing the people of the whole nation, will take part in what is expected to be a historical popular march and military parade for the continuity and reaffirmation of Socialism. Also that day, Cuba commemorates the 50th anniversaries of the Proclamation of the Socialist Character of the Revolution and the Victory of Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs), and dedicates the event to the youth as the necessary force that will take the Revolution forward. And to round off the day, the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party opens that day in Havana, which is one of the most anticipated events of the last few years.

This anniversary of the Victory of Playa Girón is marked by extraordinary circumstances. Cuba lives a transcendental moment in its history as it embarks in a process of essential renovation and reform to make our Socialism more efficient and effective, and to that end more than 7 million citizens have debated the Draft Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution, in an impressive lesson of meaningful and popular participation of the people of Cuba in the shaping of its destiny.

It is also a moment in our history when our enemies have intensified their decades long aggression against Cuba, both in the international arena, where they own the resources and means to discredit our country; and by creating a fifth column of wage-earning “dissidents” within the country, which represents their imperial interests. This forces Cuba to continue building its social system under mounting hostility and the continuous threat to our sovereignty and freedom.

The Sixth Congress is probably, due the particular historical context in which it will be celebrated, one of the most important milestones in the history of Cuba. The future of our Socialism will be decided in this meeting, Cubans expect that the party delegates discuss and propose solutions to the economic problems and the updating of the country’s economic model. Cuba and its Revolution must step into the future for the benefit of Cuba and for the hope it represents for others in the world. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Surprise performance at a bar during the European Opera Days last May in Spain

Enjoy this fabulous idea.
Patrons at Café Iruña in Pamplona, Spain, are surprised by an unexpected performance by the "Premier Ensemble" Choir. This happened last year during the Opera Days, 7-8 May, 2010.

The suggested theme for this year's celebration is Young ears - opera for young audiences, and its organizers have issued a Manifesto that reads:

"Each year on the weekend closest to 9 May (Europe Day), opera houses in Europe and beyond open their doors to new and existing audiences to celebrate the art of opera and the talent of those who make it.
The European Opera Days celebrate opera as an art form.  Their aim is to help bring opera into the mainstream of cultural practice and to enhance its appreciation in today’s society.  
Opera is the European art form par excellence, because it overcomes national and linguistic barriers through the universal language of music. Its core values and themes are central to European culture, which is part of our common identity. For this reason, the European Opera Days are celebrated on the weekend closest to 9 May, Europe Day.
Opera today is alive and kicking.  It explores unconventional spaces and forms, uses state-of-the-art technology and draws inspiration from the world in which we live today. It plays a major role in contemporary artistic and cultural life and contributes to the development of a creative society.
Opera reaches out to everyone.  Europe needs a creative society in order to develop - just as opera needs the involvement of its audiences if it is itself to develop and remain an innovative art form, central to our lives.
Access to opera should therefore be promoted for all European citizens".

This year, 108 opera houses from 25 countries and all throughout the weekend of May7-8, 2011, will open their doors and introduce visitors to their art with a multitude of free activities: open rehearsals, creative workshops, guided tours, etc.

Deutsche Oper am Rhein organised activities around their production of Rameaux's Les Paladins

50 million Hispanics in U.S.A.: US Census Bureau

US Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves
According to figures released today by the US Census Bureau, the Hispanic population has ballooned to 50 million, representing 16% of the total population and the largest minority group in the country.

This is a nightmare for conservative circles in the U.S., which fear the end of the preponderance of the English language and the Anglo-Saxon culture over other minority groups and languages, particularly in this case, Spanish and the Latino culture.

Typical Latino family, big and united
This means that the proverbial “melting pot” – the policy of the U.S. towards the acculturation process, which in their view, assimilates individuals into the new culture, literally erasing past experiences  and identities, and turning them into “Americans” - will be more difficult to apply and the sheer number will provide more opportunities for integration of this minority group. Integration in terms of acculturation means that the individual adapts to the new cultural context but without losing its own culture, language and experiences, which the new-comer contributes to the new community.
The Latino community in the U.S. will thrive and the Spanish language, and the fact that it is the second language in that country, will be finally accepted.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cuba: Another television documentary denounces U.S. cyberwar against the island

On Monday Cuban television offered another delivery of the series “Cuba’s Reasons”. Cyberwar, the latest documentary denounces, once more, and offers irrefutable prove of the ongoing efforts of the United States government to destabilize the Cuban society, this time making use of new communication technologies.

U.S. Cyber Command
To this end, and only for the year 2010, Washington approved a budget of 90 billion dollars to finance the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), the entity which directs this new modality of wars, not only against Cuba, but also against other countries in the world.

After fifty-two years of trying to destroy the Cuban Revolution, to no avail, by utilizing every means available: from military invasions, biological warfare, terrorism in all its forms, to a ferocious media campaign to misinform the world about Cuba; the U.S. now resorts to the cyberwar.

Cuba is now the target of a permanent and expensive media warfare promoted by a group of individuals, both inside and outside the island, who are paid to lie and defame their country. Those inside, called “dissidents”, are a group of mercenaries that in exchange for a monthly allowance from the U.S. Interest Section in Havana and with the active cooperation of other western diplomats, exacerbate Cuba’s everyday problems, and simple daily difficulties that people experience anywhere as accounts of the life of Cubans in their blogs, magazines and communications with the world, painting a distorted and biased image of our reality.

They purposely ignore vital points that afflict Cuba such as the occupation of a piece of territory in Guantánamo, the immoral and illegal 50 year-old blockade that the U.S. imposes on Cuba, the continuous aggression to which our country have been submitted by successive U.S. governments that threatens our sovereignty and exhausts our resources. They also ignore the many achievements of Cuba in education, medicine, sports, scientific and academic research in this half century which the whole world acknowledges. With no exception they all have a very superficial view of our reality and a mistaken idea of what the solutions to our problems should be.

(We need you to write something really bad about Cuba - Is that gonna be in Euros or US dollars?)
Wage-earning "dissidents"
It is no secret that Cuba, as part of the world, is also under the influence of the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929, which together with errors committed in the island, miscalculations, and above all the 50 year old blockade imposed against Cuba, has left the country in a critical economic situation.

These individuals, taking advantage of the present situation of difficulty, have sold their souls for a handful of dollars for their own personal benefit and gain rather than for the well-being of their homeland. But it is not us or them who will say the last word, History will judge them, as it always judges traitors.

Cuba, with no doubt, will sort out the present obstacles and the Revolution, as invincible as it is, will prevail. The Sixth Communist Party Congress will help clear the way for the future. And believe me; the future belongs to the people of Cuba and NOT to its enemies.

This is why Cuba cannot provide Internet services massively. The U.S. blockade prevents Cuba from connecting to the cable coming from the United States that feeds all the other countries in the area. But our enemies and their lackeys will never mention this.

U.S. government denies permit to US Badminton team to travel to Cuba

U.S. Badminton Team
The United States will not be represented in the XII Havana International Badminton Tournament since Washington has refused to allow the country’s badminton team to travel to Havana, where they were expected to take part in that world engagement was announced in Havana today.

Participants from more than 80 countries including Brazil, Venezuela, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, and Suriname will soon be arriving in Havana for the event which will take place at the Kid Chocolate sports center.

The U.S. players, as citizens of the country which portrays itself as the model of democracy and freedom, cannot enjoy that freedom. Their country imposes an inhuman blockade against Cuba since 1960, violating 19 United Nations resolutions. Overwhelmingly the international community has condemned it and has called for its immediate end.

Because of this absurd and failed policy the basic human rights of the peoples of Cuba and the United States of America are violated. Very seldom does the U.S. government allow cultural, scientific, academic and sport exchanges, thus depriving both sides of the benefit of collaboration.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Macabre photos of U.S soldiers posing with bodies of their victims

  • Pentagon apologizes for distress that pictures may cause, but not for the murders

Today Der Spiegel ( ) has published three photos of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with the bodies of the innocent civilians they had just killed.

In a statement the U.S. military said that the actions seen in the images are “repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States.” The soldiers depicted in the photos are from a group that will soon be court-martialled, accused of several murders.

NATO braces for the expected protests and violent reactions against its soldiers that the publication of those pictures will trigger in Afghanistan. It is also believed that this new incident will have a negative impact in the already strained U.S.-Afghan relations, precisely over the killing of civilians by U.S. troops.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bayamo: San Salvador Parochial Church

Coat of Arms of the city of San Salvador de Bayamo

Bayamo, capital of the province of Granma, cherishes, among many other pieces of history, the famous Iglesia Parroquial Mayor de San Salvador, dating back to the year the city was founded by Diego Velázquez in 1513.

Bayamo holds the titles of “National Monument”, “Birthplace of Cuban Nationality”, and “Cradle of the Revolution”. All important emancipation processes have started in this city, the first in 1868 with the Grito de La Demajagua, and the last one, the attacks to the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrison in Bayamo and Moncada in Santiago de Cuba, lead by Fidel Castro and the Generation of the Centenary, of the “26 of July” Revolutionary Movement.

Carlos M. de Céspedes Garrison in Bayamo

Events that have shaped and influenced our Cuban identity, took place in this magic city. One of the most important of those is closely related to this church. Exactly on June 11th, 1868, the music of what would later become our National Anthem was interpreted for the first time in this church. The music was composed by orchestra conductor Manuel Muñoz Cedeño, and the occasion was a Te Deum during a religious celebration. It was the result of a conspiracy of several patriots and the priest. Among the rebels was Perucho Figueredo who had already composed the lyrics on August 14th, 1867.

Main altar

On October 20th, 1868, the mambises took the city and proclaimed Bayamo the capital of the Republic in Arms. Amidst the patriotic fervour of the journey, euphoric Bayameses asked Perucho for the lyrics, which he, crossing his right leg on the saddle of his horse, proceeded to write using a piece of paper and a pencil form his pocket. The copies went quickly form hand to hand, and that day the crowd sang for the first time the anthem in a plaza adjacent to the Parochial Church. That plaza is now known as Plaza del Himno (National Anthem).

Plaza del Himno Nacional (National Anthem)

For three glorious months, Bayamo was the capital of the first free Cuba, until the Spaniards decided to punish the rebel city. They sent in great number of troops. Under the fear of falling into the colonial rule of Spain again, on January 12th, 1869, the Government in Arms and the whole community in an unparalleled revolutionary gesture decided to set fire to the town, and just leave the ashes to the oppressors.

Ruins of Bayamo after the fire in 1869

Most of the city burned to its foundations with the exception of some isolated houses and portions of buildings. The church also burned except for the Capilla de la Dolorosa. The chapel’s main altar and the statue of the Virgen de los Dolores had been built back in 1740.

Details of La Dolorosa Chapel

On 1919, the new Iglesia Parroquial Mayor was built. It is the only church in Cuba which displays a patriotic sign featuring a mural by Luis Desdangles of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the Father of the Homeland blessing the Cuban flag, which dominates the view on top of the main altar.

Interior of the Parochial Church
The Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patron Saint of Cuba

Why Benghazi, Libya?

Maybe this fact will help you understand why the U.S., Canada, the European Union, and others are so preoccupied for the preservation of innocent lives in Benghazi. And their preoccupation have no limits, as we have seen.

Libya is the largest light oil producer (the one preferred for fuel refining) and it has the biggest proven oil reserve in Africa. Libya is also one of the main suppliers of oil to Europe, and in 2009 it was the 16th oil exporter in the world. It currently produces 1.6 million barrels daily which amounts to 2% of the global production.

So preoccupied are these oil-thirsty world powers that for instance, the U.S., which has launched 110 Tomahawk missiles, at a cost of $569.000, will have spent in a matter of hours $56.9 million just to “help” ... raise the victims death toll.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Self-proclaimed world masters launch air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya

Sarkozy greets Clinton in Paris
Early today, French President Sarkozy announced that France had taken military action against Libya. The statement was made after an emergency summit in Paris with top officials from the main military powers in the world, including the U.S. the E.U. and the Arab League.

Those airstrikes are the beginning of the “consequences” Obama was talking about yesterday, in a harangue that was reminiscent of one W. Bush gave shortly before he attacked Iraq on March 2003. (W. must be laughing as he munches on pretzels at home in California).

In a very severe tone, President Obama warned Libya what would happen if it did not abide by the resolution taken by the ten powers that decide the fate of the earth, led of course by the U.S.
Do not miss the harsh tone and the almost theatrical evil resolve on his face -Malia and Sasha must have been scared- to fit the role of Supreme Master. The U.S. has insisted on bringing others to the ‘coalition’, so the blame is shared.

Although this time the U.S. did not take the lead, the "honour" was left to France, it would, hours later launch more than a hundred cruise missiles from the sea aimed at hitting some 20 military objectives consisting of air defense systems by the coastline and in the surroundings of Tripoli. In the meantime French fighter jets continued shelling Gaddafi's positions from the air, mainly in Benghazi.

A Libyan government official, Mohammed al-Zwei, claims a large number of civilians were injured in the capital and in Misrata, although the real damage would not be properly assessed until morning. He also denounced the destruction the airstrikes have caused, and called the aggression 'barbaric' and 'an intervention in Libya's internal affairs'.

French jets depart for Libya
First victims of France and U.S. airstikes in Libya, March 19, 2011
Tripoli is not new to U.S. bombs. In 1986, President Reagan launched similar airstrikes in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin disco, which Reagan blamed on Libya. The bombing of the disco killed three people, including 2 U.S. soldiers, while the Tripoli strikes killed around 100 people, including Gaddafi's young daughter in his compound in the capital.

1986 victims of U.S. air-force bombings in Tripoli