It is with deep melancholy that one reads about the ongoing suffering of Cubans under communism. January 1, 2014 marked the 55th anniversary of Cuba’s communist revolution. In fact, Cuba is “the only full-blown dictatorship in the Western hemisphere” and “no other country in Latin America is ruled by a regime that ‘represses virtually all forms of political dissent.'” In Freedom House’s annual index of political and civil liberties worldwide, Cuba is “consistently rated ‘Not Free.'”
The “Future of Freedom in Cuba” was a March 2013 Cato Institute event that highlighted the continuing repression in Cuba. Cuban dissidents Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and Yoani Sanchez spoke. The 24-minute event can be heard here. If you cannot hear the entire program, begin at 35:07. In essence, Sanchez asserts that in order for true democratic transition, “Cubans must lose their fear” and “the great majority of Cubans must realize that the country belongs to them and changing [Cuba] is their struggle. As long as opportunism, wearing a mask of doublespeak and silence are the ways that Cubans survive under a repressive regime we cannot expect a great change in the country.”
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo asserts that because the regime has successfully repressed the population over the years, there are too many people who are not interested in politics and change. He fears the “great sense of apathy — of not belonging.” Thus, “the idea of emigration as an end in itself is a sad commentary but it is a realistic one.” Nonetheless, Lazo declares to the Cuban government that he “is not going to stay in another country nor will he fear the cowardly acts of repudiation against him by the Cuban regime” even though he is fully aware about the overwhelming number of “car accidents” against many who speak out against the repression.
Recently the University of Colorado noted that political affiliation and orientation would be a protected category in the university’s nondiscrimination policy. What prompted this action were reports from conservative faculty members that their viewpoints have been stifled.
While the proposal was approved, it is remarkable that this policy had to be introduced in the first place. What it suggests is that the faculty political outlook is homogeneous allowing little room for different points of view. Yet, to state the obvious, the essence of education is the exploration of different opinions.
Some faculty members contend that anti-bias policies is a waste of time. After all, the exclusionary position of most faculty members will not change because of university reform. In fact, if diversity of views is the goal that is more likely to come outside the Academy than inside the faculty.
Faculty members who share this left wing orthodoxy, in my experience, are accustomed to the present academic environment. Their self righteousness is mutually reinforcing. They are the virtuous ones and their position must not be challenged.
Hameed Ghuriafi is a senior writer at the Kuwaiti daily As Siyasa and a former editor of several publications in Lebanon, Cyprus and London.
As soon as Israel announced the death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Arab and international web-based news agencies rushed to unveil the “bloody record” of the Israeli leader and how he came to be known allegedly as the “butcher of Sabra and Chatila” Palestinian camps in September 1982. While it is hard to dispute Sharon’s rough military history, many questions remain surrounding his involvement in the Sabra and Chatila massacres.
Notable Lebanese-American historians who have researched the tragic events that occurred at the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982, flatly dismissed allegations of Ariel Sharon’s direct involvement in the killings. Dr. Franck Salameh, Professor of Near Eastern studies at Boston College, revealed in his article titled “Syrian Responsibility for The Sabra and Chatila Massacres”(http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.11159/pub_detail.asp) that the troops who conducted the massacres were selected by a Kataeb (Lebanese Forces) military commander Elie Hobeika who had established secret contacts with the Syrian Baathist regime of Hafez al-Assad.
Hobeika’s henchmen were reportedly instructed to kill indiscriminately men, women, infants and elderly Palestinians and place the blame for the horrific massacres on late-President-elect Bashir Gemayel and then-Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon. It certainly was not a pure coincidence that the killings took place 48 hours after the Syrian-engineered assassination of Gemayel. Salameh’s startling revelation was eerily reminiscent of the allegations made in 1999 by Elie Hobeika’s former bodyguard, Robert Hatem.
Bravest in battles, whether at war or at peace….
A giant passes on, who looms especially large compared to the pygmy who sits in the White House. Readings well worth it:
Times of Israel obituary: Israel’s indomitable protector.
How Sharon narrowly escaped near-certain death in the 1948 war.
Elliott Abrams, who worked closely with Sharon for five years, “His Eye Was Not Dim”; Abrams recounts how Sharon encompassed the security dilemmas of Israel in two contexts, geography and the Palestinian Arabs:
He saw himself as a Jew whose job it was to protect the Jewish state. In early 2003, President George W. Bush sent deputy national security advisor Steve Hadley and me (I was the senior Mideast official on the NSC) to meet with him, hear him out, and see what he thought of the various peace plans. Was he open to compromises? What he told us, according to my notes of the meeting, was this:
I took risks personally but never took any risks with the security of the State of Israel. I appreciate Arab promises but will take seriously only tangible performance. For tangible performance I will take tangible steps. Israel is a tiny small country. From the Jordan River to Jerusalem is only 17.5 miles. Before 1967, the Knesset was in range of machine guns south of Jerusalem. From the Green Line to Tel Aviv is 11 miles. From the sea at Netanya to Tulkarm is 9 miles. Two-thirds of the Jewish population lives is a narrow strip on the coastal plain. Between Haifa and Ashdod, which is 80 miles, is two-thirds of the Jewish population, our only international airport, and most of our infrastructure. All of that is overlooked by the hills of Judea and Samaria.
World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.
For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.
Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.
Obama’s ‘nonenforcement’ approach to the law invites the next president to undo the ACA piece by piece.
The Obama administration is in the habit of selectively enforcing the law. It has justified this practice as an expedient to bypass congressional “dysfunction” and preserve the president’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Yet that strategy may backfire on both counts. The administration’s nonenforcement gambit promises only to prolong the current legislative stalemate while preparing the way for a broader rollback of the ACA.
The major improvisations with the ACA began with a one-year suspension of the employer mandate in July 2013, based on a vague theory of executive “transitional authority.” Next, the administration granted some existing health plans a temporary dispensation from minimum-coverage requirements in a belated attempt to accommodate Americans who liked their health insurance but, due to new regulations, couldn’t keep it. Most recently, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that those same Americans can claim a “hardship” exemption from the ACA’s individual mandate, like victims of fire, flood and other misfortunes.
These nonenforcement decisions follow a pattern that the administration marked out in other areas of law. In 2012, for example, the White House exempted a sympathetic class of undocumented residents from provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and waived federal welfare-to-work requirements for several states.
Serving as secretary of defense isn’t really a duty. It’s an honor that shouldn’t be treated as a burden.
There are evangelizers who prefer the company of the heathen and prudes known to spend their nights in strip clubs—presumably to keep a watchful and warning eye on the ways of the wicked.
And then there is Robert Gates in Washington.
The former defense secretary devoted most of his adult life to climbing the structures of power in Washington, D.C. He was deputy CIA director under Ronald Reagan and CIA director under George H.W. Bush. He then served at the Pentagon for 4½ years under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama —holding the job longer than all but four of his predecessors. He was retired with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Now he wants you to know he was offended, irritated, enraged, scandalized, “too old for this $%*&,” and just plain itching to quit nearly every day he spent at the top.
Mr. Gates offers all this in his new memoir “Duty,” which hits bookstores Tuesday but already has been widely quoted for the dirt it dishes on the Obama administration.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Mirroring problems with the federal health care website, people around the nation attempting to navigate the Spanish version have discovered their own set of difficulties.
The site, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, launched more than two months late.
A Web page with Spanish instructions linked users to an English form.
And the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated — the name of the site itself can literally be read “for the caution of health.”
“When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,” said Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator who helps with enrollment in Miami.
The issues with the site underscore the halting efforts across the nation to get Spanish-speakers enrolled under the federal health care law. Critics say that as a result of various problems, including those related to the website, many people whom the law was designed to help have been left out of the first wave of coverage.
Federal officials say they have been working to make the site better and plan further improvements soon. Also, administrators say they welcome feedback and try to fix typos or other errors quickly.
In Nixonian terms, Robert Gates’s memoir Duty would already be labeled “Gatesgate” if the revelations in it were half as good as the reports of them are. Add to that the dissolution of Iraq, Ed Gillespie’s imminent Senate candidacy and a tinge of GW Bridge envy and you have a lot of SGO for a month that’s only half-over.
(For those just joining us, “SGO” is the comprehensively useful acronym invented by my friend and former SEAL Al Clark. It means “s*** goin’ on” which is as good a shorthand for politics as anyone can devise.)
The Economist seems to have captured the moment in its editorial cartoon this week. In the foreground, de facto Secretary of State Dennis Rodman is handing a “Happy Birthday” balloon to Kim Jong-un. In the background stands Barack Obama asking angrily how he can respond to amateurs messing around in foreign affairs. Next to him stands Bob Gates, saying “You could write a book.”
We need to be a bit cautious about Gates’s book before reading it and being able to judge its importance. (The book isn’t being released until tomorrow, so I haven’t read it yet.) But a few initial comments are appropriate because so many quotes have been published.
The most significant revelation I’ve seen is Gates’s statement about a 2011 meeting with Obama and Gen. Petraeus, then overall commander in Afghanistan. Gates writes, “As I sat there I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”
For those of you who did not watch BBC TV’s News last night it is easy to paraphrase the entire programme as follows:
“Former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died. While a small number of Israelis respected him, to the rest of the world he was deservedly known as a murdering bastard and war criminal who spent his entire life killing innocent Arab women and children. So let’s hear from a whole bunch of Palestinians, none of whose testimonies we will challenge, how truly evil this man was and how he symbolises how terrible Israel is. And who better to lead the narration of all this than Israel-hater Jeremy Bowen.”
The programme was a perfect textbook implementation of the Rules and Guildeines for Reporting about Israel. The program stated as ‘facts’ a catalogue of blood libels that have long been comprehensively debunked (see Honest Reporting’s coverage for example). What was ignored was the fact that, in total contrast to the narrative presented, Sharon was ultimately so desperate to achieve peace at any price that he uprooted the entire Jewish population from Gaza and that these 10,000 Jews were therefore his most unfortunate ‘victims’. What has also been ignored in all the main stream media reporting is that it was Sharon who, in 2004, secured from the US President George Bush a binding commitment from the US that in any future agreement with the Palestinians Israel would keep the major settlement blocks, and there would be no ‘right of return’ to Israel of Palestinian ‘refugees’. This was a written agreement that Obama has now decided to tear up.