RFK Jr. Throws Dead Kennedys Under the Obama-Cuba Bus

kennedys

The title of the piece is “We have so much to learn from Cuba”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. opens his latest op-ed, this one regarding the Obama administration’s diplomacy-warming of a U.S.-Cuba relationship by embargo change, by putting blame on two of his own relatives…

In early December, President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than five decades of a misguided policy which my uncle, John F. Kennedy, and my father, Robert F. Kennedy, had been responsible for enforcing after the U.S. embargo against the country was first implemented in October 1960 by the Eisenhower administration.

RFK Jr., I guess, thinks shaking his head and finger at his father and uncle, AND pointing out his privileged visit to the island, solidifies his views that the embargo is broken and must be scrapped, or something. He manages to basically scold the Castro regime for being bad communists.

However, his belief is the U.S. embargo was behind the Cuban government’s reasoning and justification for treating Cuba’s people like starving prisoners and keeping the country’s economy down. Yeah, we made them do it.

It is almost beyond irony that the very same politicians who argued that we should punish Castro for curtailing human rights and mistreating prisoners in Cuban jails elsewhere contend that the United States is justified in mistreating our own prisoners in Cuban jails.

Imagine a U.S. president faced, as Castro was, with over 400 assassination attempts, thousands of episodes of foreign-sponsored sabotage directed at our nation’s people, factories and bridges, a foreign-sponsored invasion and fifty years of economic warfare that has effectively deprived our citizens of basic necessities and strangled our economy.

No, what’s ironic, Bobby Jr., is the conspiracy theory of Castro’s alleged involvement in your POTUS Uncle JFK’s assassination. But, eh…

The Cuban leadership has pointed to the embargo with abundant justification as the reason for economic deprivation in Cuba.

The embargo allows the regime to portray the United States as a bully and itself as the personification of courage, standing up to threats, intimidation and economic warfare by history’s greatest military superpower.

It perpetually reminds the proud Cuban people that our powerful nation, which has staged invasions of their island and plotted for decades to assassinate their leaders and sabotaged their industry, continues an aggressive campaign to ruin their economy.

Yeah, he said that. The same-old same-old claptrap that has been heard for years. Sort of flies in the face(s) of half a century of countless Cubans climbing into dangerous, leaky rafts to sail deadly shark-infested waters to get here to the great Satan … Doesn’t it?

Oh, and I found this one priceless…

Unlike other Caribbean islands where poverty means starvation, all Cubans receive a monthly food ration book that provides for their basic necessities.

But you read and judge.

A week ago A.J. Delgado wrote, “Arguing with idiots about #Cuba”, where she counters many of the anti-embargo talking points liberals, such as RFK Jr., are constantly regurgitating. The fact is Barack Obama’s new age plan for changing diplomacy with Cuba is yet another one of his foreign policy decisions granting trust where trust is not deserved … and is already evident.

While in Florida Paul Ryan Stresses His Stance on Cuba

You can read the full report for Ryan’s comments on Medicare and the future of NASA here

During his interview with FLDemocracy, Ryan sought to reassure Cuban-Americans in South Florida that despite voting to lift the embargo against Cuba in 2001 and 2004, he has since changed his position on the issue.

Ryan, who opposed a measure that would have weakened the embargo in 2007, said he and Romney would maintain a hardline against the Communist regime.

Ryan pointed to his friendship with some of Florida’s most prominent Cuban-Americans as evidence of his commitment to seeing an end to the Castro regime.

“One of my best friends in Congress is Mario Diaz-Balart. I’m also good friends with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. And, I’ve had some great meetings with them — briefings from them — over the last number of years about how important it is to make sure we stare down the Castro regime and we do nothing that helps embolden the Castro regime.”

During an appearance on Miami’s Radio Mambí last week, Romney explained that Ryan changed his position on the embargo after meeting with Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen.

Says He Would Have Backed Rubio’s Immigration Plan

Ryan, who voted against the Obama-backed DREAM Act and has opposed amnesty for most illegal immigrants, said he supported — but hadn’t endorsed — the immigration reform efforts of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

“I’ve been impressed with Marco Rubio’s leadership on this issue,” he said. “Marco Rubio was on the cusp of introducing the bipartisan solution to immigration problems. President Obama preempted that with what many people think is an unconstitutional move and denied the ability to have a bipartisan solution to these legitimate immigration issues that we have to solve.”

Today in Cuba News: Boxing, Jubans and radio censorship

Britain’s Stalker, Cuba’s La Cruz suffer shock defeats in Olympic boxing quarterfinals
Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil also upset top-seeded Cuban light heavyweight Julio La Cruz 18-15 in an eventful final day of quarterfinal bouts.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/upset-central-britains-stalker-cubas-la-cruz-stunned-in-last-olympic-boxing-quarterfinals/2012/08/08/b3f527f8-e1ad-11e1-89f7-76e23a982d06_story.html
Cuba says tourism income up 12.8 percent in 2011
In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.
In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-09/cuba-says-tourism-income-up-12-dot-8-percent-in-2011
Cuban pole vaulter snaps pole at Olympics
Borges had his pole break in half while he was beginning his ascent into the air in the Olympic pole vault final, sending fiberglass flying in different directions. Luckily, he was OK and not injured.
http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/56910532?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7COlympic%20Sports%7Cs
Injury forces Cuba’s Robles out of 110m hurdles final
Robles, the defender of the title obtained in Beijing four years ago and the fastest in the world for the event with a time of 12.87 seconds, could not retain the crown due to an injury in his right thigh that forced him to stop after the fifth hurdle.
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2012/08/08/injury-forces-cuba-robles-out-110m-hurdles-final/
Cuba lifts radio ban on Anti-Castro artists
Though the Communist authorities do not acknowledge it, for five decades state radio stations have blacklisted musicians who abandoned Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution and/or spoke out against it, the BBC reports. Now, that may be changing.
http://rbr.com/cuba-lifts-radio-ban-on-anti-castro-artists/
Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace
So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/08/08/cuba-risky-business/
Navigating humanitarian deliveries to Cuba is tricky for Miami terminal operator
International Port Corp., which offers maritime service from the Miami River to Cuba, is finding the Cuban government is picky about which items it will accept in humanitarian shipments. New Cuban Customs fees could also complicate the business.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/07/2940671/navigating-humanitarian-deliveries.html
Summer Nights: Cuban ‘Jubans’ In South Sudan
In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, there’s a small corner of Havana. A number of Jubans who studied in Cuba have tried to recreate some of the atmosphere of the Caribbean island in their southern Sudanese homeland.
http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158448841/summer-nights-cuban-jubans-in-south-sudan

NEWS

Britain’s Stalker, Cuba’s La Cruz suffer shock defeats in Olympic boxing quarterfinals

Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil also upset top-seeded Cuban light heavyweight Julio La Cruz 18-15 in an eventful final day of quarterfinal bouts.

Cuba says tourism income up 12.8 percent in 2011

In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.

In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.

Cuban pole vaulter snaps pole at Olympics

Borges had his pole break in half while he was beginning his ascent into the air in the Olympic pole vault final, sending fiberglass flying in different directions. Luckily, he was OK and not injured.

Injury forces Cuba’s Robles out of 110m hurdles final

Robles, the defender of the title obtained in Beijing four years ago and the fastest in the world for the event with a time of 12.87 seconds, could not retain the crown due to an injury in his right thigh that forced him to stop after the fifth hurdle.

Cuba lifts radio ban on Anti-Castro artists

Though the Communist authorities do not acknowledge it, for five decades state radio stations have blacklisted musicians who abandoned Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution and/or spoke out against it, the BBC reports. Now, that may be changing.

Navigating humanitarian deliveries to Cuba is tricky for Miami terminal operator

International Port Corp., which offers maritime service from the Miami River to Cuba, is finding the Cuban government is picky about which items it will accept in humanitarian shipments. New Cuban Customs fees could also complicate the business.

Summer Nights: Cuban ‘Jubans’ In South Sudan

In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, there’s a small corner of Havana. A number of Jubans who studied in Cuba have tried to recreate some of the atmosphere of the Caribbean island in their southern Sudanese homeland.

OPINION

Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace

So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.

Today in Cuba news: Alan Gross wants ribs, a Cuban wrestler becomes a legend, Yoani remembers el maleconazo

NEWS

Olympic triathlete Manny Huerta lives immigrant’s dream

He was born in Havana and speaks with a Cuban accent, but he is an American at heart and was proud to march with the U.S. team in in the opening ceremony.

American man in prison in Cuba dreams of freedom, going to Cuban baseball game, eating ribs

Bonnie Rubinstein, the sister of Cuban prisoner Alan Gross, was in Washington Monday for a weekly demonstration in front of Cuba’s equivalent of an embassy.

In an interview afterward, she said her 63-year-old brother is a Washington Redskins football fan who has grown interested in Cuban baseball because his jailors watch games.

Cuba’s Mijain Lopez repeats as Olympic champion

Lopez is the third wrestler to win multiple golds at 120 kilograms, joining Russian legend Alexandre Karelin and Alexander Koltschinkski of the former Soviet Union.

Opinion

Heartbreak in Havana

The Suspicious Death of Catholic Lay Leader Oswaldo Paya and a Vibrant Young Colleague

Cuba: 18 Years After a Short-Lived Uprising (by Yoani Sanchez)

But on the morning of August 5 of that year, the Malecón became a battlefield. Around the ferry dock to Regla people were gathering, encouraged by the hijackings of several boats throughout the summer. An extended sensation of the end, of chaos, of “zero hour” was palpable in the atmosphere.

RELEASES

From Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: As A Dozen Former U.S. Foreign Policy Makers Endorse Document Rejecting Commercial Ties With Cuba While Castros Remain In Power, Ros-Lehtinen Congratulates Them For Putting Freedom First

(see the release below the fold)

Read more

The weekend in Cuba news: Cheesehead wrestler, migration spike, judo gold

NEWS
Wisconsin wrestler to face Cuban opponent in opener
Olympic wrestler Ben Provisor drew the No. 17 spot and will face Alexi Bel of Cuba in the opening round of the Greco-Roman 74-kilogram weight class at the ExCeL Arena on Sunday.
http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/165021846.html#!page=0&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst
Cuban emigrant interdictions skyrocket
The number of Cubans being stopped at sea before entering the United States is the highest it’s been in almost five years, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.
http://www.keysnet.com/2012/08/04/468813/cuban-emigrant-interdictions-skyrocket.html
Cuban Ortiz wins women’s heavyweight gold
Cuba’s Idalys Ortiz improved on her bronze medal of four years ago to win the women’s Olympic heavyweight judo title on Friday, ending the title holder’s five year unbeaten run in the process.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-03/sports/sns-rt-us-oly-judo-juw79kbre8721de-20120803_1_78kg-category-judo-heavyweight-gold
Key political risks to watch in Cuba
Cuba is moving along with reforms aimed at boosting its economy, but has also laid out new taxes that angered many and pose a threat to the growth of small businesses critical to the government’s economic plans.
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/03/cuba-risks-idINRISKCU20120803
OPINION
It’s up to Cuban-Americans to save Hispanics from las mentiras, or the lies of the Dem left.
Ted Cruz’s victory in Texas, as well as the success of Marco Rubio, put Cuban-Americans on the front page of American politics.  These wins also give us an opportunity to craft a message to Hispanics — a message that emphasizes individual freedom, self-reliance, a skepticism of the state, and the value of family in our culture.
We hear it over and over again that Cuban-Americans are different.  We are often called the “other” Hispanics.  The media calls us “reactionaries” or “right-wingers” or makes fun of our disdain for communism.
http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/its_up_to_cuban-americans_to_save_hispanics_from_las_mentiras_or_the_lies_of_the_dem_left.html
Guest Commentary: Time for U.S. to end the Cuban embargo
Most folks don’t know it, but there is now a legal way for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. It is called the People to People Program, and it is available through a select number of U.S. travel groups. Among them are the Grand Circle Foundation, ElderTreks, Friendly Planet, and National Geographic Expeditions.
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_21221143/guest-commentary-time-u-s-end-cuban-embargo
HISTORY
Ocala Rifles head off to war in Cuba
The saga of F.D. Pooser, the former county tax collector who resigned after being denounced by a Marion County grand jury for failure to collect taxes and for shortages in his collections, wasn’t quite over by the end of 1897.
http://www.ocala.com/article/20120805/COLUMNISTS/120809878

NEWS

Wisconsin wrestler to face Cuban opponent in opener

Olympic wrestler Ben Provisor drew the No. 17 spot and will face Alexi Bel of Cuba in the opening round of the Greco-Roman 74-kilogram weight class at the ExCeL Arena on Sunday.

Cuban emigrant interdictions skyrocket

The number of Cubans being stopped at sea before entering the United States is the highest it’s been in almost five years, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

Cuban Ortiz wins women’s heavyweight gold

Cuba’s Idalys Ortiz improved on her bronze medal of four years ago to win the women’s Olympic heavyweight judo title on Friday, ending the title holder’s five year unbeaten run in the process.

Key political risks to watch in Cuba

Cuba is moving along with reforms aimed at boosting its economy, but has also laid out new taxes that angered many and pose a threat to the growth of small businesses critical to the government’s economic plans.

OPINION

It’s up to Cuban-Americans to save Hispanics from las mentiras, or the lies of the Dem left.

Ted Cruz’s victory in Texas, as well as the success of Marco Rubio, put Cuban-Americans on the front page of American politics.  These wins also give us an opportunity to craft a message to Hispanics — a message that emphasizes individual freedom, self-reliance, a skepticism of the state, and the value of family in our culture.

We hear it over and over again that Cuban-Americans are different.  We are often called the “other” Hispanics.  The media calls us “reactionaries” or “right-wingers” or makes fun of our disdain for communism.

Guest Commentary: Time for U.S. to end the Cuban embargo

Most folks don’t know it, but there is now a legal way for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. It is called the People to People Program, and it is available through a select number of U.S. travel groups. Among them are the Grand Circle Foundation, ElderTreks, Friendly Planet, and National Geographic Expeditions.

HISTORY

Ocala Rifles head off to war in Cuba

In Marion County, the focus in early 1898 was on the revolution taking place in Cuba. Most of the Cubans who had populated Marti City, the cigar manufacturing district in West Ocala, were gone. They had moved to Ybor City at Tampa, where they had been promised more than Ocala could ever offer, to continue making cigars and continue fundraising drives to assist the Cuban rebels.

JFK and The Cuban Cigar Crisis

JFK smokin

Talk about insider trading, huh? JFK got his before he slammed the door shut with the Cuba embargo…

President John F Kennedy ordered an aide to buy him as many Cuban cigars as he could just hours before he authorised the U.S. trade embargo – which subsequently made them illegal.

Kennedy asked his head of press and fellow cigar smoker Pierre Salinger to obtain ‘1,000 Petit Upmanns’ on February 6, 1962, so he could have them in his hands before they were deemed contraband.

Then, seconds after he was told the next morning that 1,200 of Cuba’s finest export had been bought for him, he signed the decree to ban all of the communist state’s products from the U.S.

The re-surfacing of the story, initially recounted by Salinger to Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1992, comes with the passing of the 50th anniversary of the embargo yesterday.
JFK, he said, called him into his office and said he needed ‘some help’ to find ‘a lot of cigars’. He wanted ‘1,000 Petit Upmanns’ and needed them by ‘tomorrow morning’.
Salinger added: ‘I walked out of the office wondering if I would succeed. But since I was a solid Cuban cigar smoker, I knew a lot of stores. I worked on the problem into the evening.

‘The next morning, I walked into my White House office at about 8am, and the direct line from the President’s office was already ringing. He asked me to come in immediately.
‘How did you do Pierre?’ he asked, as I walked through the door. ‘Very well,’ I answered. In fact, I’d gotten 1,200 cigars. Kennedy smiled, and opened up his desk.
‘He took out a long paper which he immediately signed. It was the decree banning all Cuban products from the United States. Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country.’

Read more…

I guess Jack wanted to make certain to have plenty on hand with a lovely 19 year old intern around the Oval Office.

Cuba’s Baseball Pickle

antonio-castro

Wow! Must really suck having your best ballplayers defect to other countries so that they can actually be paid for busting their asses to perfect their skills and talent on the diamond … and count their professional contract and paycheck as their own in a professional league as free men in a free market system. It also must suck finally realizing Communism fails as an economy (among other things), but the government simply just can’t let go of its people so that they can strike out on their own and become successful and productive businessmen and workers in order to build an economy that works. Also sucks, despite the belly-aching of the left in America, that the US embargo on Cuba still hangs on and Cuba can’t “farm-out” its brightest baseball players as exported slaves to the USA in the MLB so they can send home those big professional American bucks for the commie castro coffers …

[…]

Over the last two years, major league teams have spent more than $75 million on Cuban defectors for whom a life with new cars and sparkling jewelry and freedom was too much to ignore. Nearly half the sum went to Aroldis Chapman, who in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds threw the fastest recorded pitch in history and showcased the highest-end talent available in Cuba.

Chapman’s defection, along with that of shortstops Jose Iglesias (Boston signed him for $8.2 million) and Adeiny Hechavarria (Toronto signed him for $10 million), has compelled Cuba to reconsider its policy on restricting players from plying their trade professionally elsewhere. The Baseball Federation of Cuba, headed by Fidel Castro’s son Tony, is discussing a plan that would allow baseball players to leave the country in exchange for a proportion of their salary going to Cuba, according to two sources familiar with the proposal.

Ideally, one source said, Cuba would send players to the major leagues and circumvent the spate of defections that have embarrassed the country. Such a plan, the source said, is currently a non-starter. Though MLB would welcome Cuban players, the arrangement would in effect pay the Cuban government for players, a violation of the United States’ 50-year-long embargo on Cuba. That is unlikely to thaw for baseball. While the U.S. government has allowed Cuba to play in both World Baseball Classics, Cuban players were the only ones not given the prize money handed out by the International Baseball Federation.

For now, the idea is for Cubans to go to Japan, South Korea, Mexico or Europe, like doctors and entertainers who make money elsewhere, then return home eventually. Because of working agreements with the first three countries, MLB would not take defectors from them. And baseball in Europe is played at a significantly lower quality and salary, likely keeping the top-end Cuban talent from playing in the Netherlands or Italy.

Accordingly, the defections probably will continue unabated. In November, Yasiel Balaguer, a 17-year-old on the Cuban Junior National team, defected to Nicaragua. Whether Balaguer is anything more than a marginal talent seems not to matter, as MLB teams’ intrigue with Cuban players continues despite the deep risk involved with their signings. Eleven Cuban players made major league debuts in the last three seasons and 35 have done so since 1995.

[…]

Even if they’re busts, there have been enough Cuban successes in the major leagues to feed the defecting marketplace. The Angels’ Kendry Morales is among the best hitters and the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez is among the best-fielding shortstops in the American League. Shortstop Yunel Escobar is poised for a breakout season with Toronto, and pitcher Yunesky Maya joins Washington’s rotation this season, and outfielder/first baseman Leslie Anderson could crack Tampa Bay’s opening day roster.

Despite the dozens of players who have left over the past two years, Cuba remains No. 1 in IBAF rankings. Major league teams still covet Frederich Cepeda and Yulieski Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne and even Lazo, who, at 37 and sporting a paunch, can fire fastballs and forkballs like his old teammate in Pinar Del Rio. […]

What Embargo? It’s Christmas in Havana

Christmas in Havana
(In this Dec. 16, 2010 photo, Wilfredo Martinez Jr. of Miami writes the word ‘Fragile’ on a television set he is taking on his flight to Cuba at Miami … More photos @ AP including worship at the Shrine of Saint Lazarus 2010)

r3777047611

Cuban-Americans visiting Cuba are hauling in the mother lode of goods …

HAVANA – In Cuba, Santa’s sleigh is a Boeing 737.

Thousands of Cuban-Americans are heading to Havana this holiday season carrying everything from electronics and medicine to clothing and toiletries to help relatives back home supplement monthly salaries averaging about $20.

Not only are Cuban-Americans visiting the island in far greater numbers since President Barack Obama lifted travel restrictions last year, they are bringing more stuff. One carrier says the average bag weight per passenger is up 55 percent — and many Miami-Havana flights are shadowed by a separate cargo plane just to haul the load.

“They bring you things for the family,” said Paulo Roman Garcia, a 45-year-old Havana native who makes $9.50 a month selling fruit at a market in the city’s historic quarter.

Roman Garcia was looking forward to a visit in the New Year from his older brother, who lives in New Jersey and will be coming down with stocking-stuffers such as clothing and treats, as well as big-ticket items including a stereo.

“My son has asthma, and he’s bringing inhalers for his asthma,” Roman Garcia said. “Medicines are very important. Some don’t exist here, or they’re hard to find.”

During the administration of former President George W. Bush, Cuban-Americans were allowed to visit only once every three years and were limited to $100 a month in remittances. Those restrictions ended in April 2009, although most non-Cuban Americans are still barred from traveling to the island.

Cuba watchers and charter flight operators say travel between the United States and Cuba skyrocketed after the change and continues to climb steadily.

“About 1,000 visitors are arriving a day from the U.S., and they expect somewhere close to 400,000 by the end of the year,” said Kirby Jones, president of Alamar Associates of Bethesda, Maryland, a consulting firm that works with American companies looking to do business with Cuba.

“The U.S. is now sending the second-most visitors to Cuba than any other country,” after Canada, Jones said.

The great majority are of Cuban heritage, and the rest are non-Cuban Americans traveling for officially sanctioned activities such as academic, cultural and sports exchanges. The figure does not include the small but growing number of Americans who sidestep the travel ban by flying in through Canada, Mexico or other countries, risking a stiff U.S. fine if they are caught.

Traffic is even greater during the busy holiday season, when charters add additional flights that quickly fill up. Miami airport officials said 55 flights are scheduled to depart to four Cuban cities this weekend, among the heaviest travel days leading up to Christmas.

At Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, Cubans crowded up against a low metal fence last week, straining to watch for loved ones as they emerged from customs pushing carts piled high with shrink-wrapped luggage, kitchen appliances, televisions, stuffed animals and cardboard boxes bursting at the seams. (Read in full)

Best Line Ever From A Flick Fits Perfectly Here

Yes, the entire 2:21 clip from The Thing fits perfectly as a metaphor for what follows below … God help us:

The Obama administration got a new “shellacking” this morning, this one entirely voluntary. In the name of improving America’s image abroad, it sent three top officials from the State Department to Geneva’s U.N. Human Rights Council to be questioned about America’s human rights record by the likes of Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.

This was the first so-called “universal periodic review” of human rights in the U.S. by the Council, which the Obama administration decided to join in 2009.

The move represents a striking departure from prior American foreign policy, which has been to ratify selected human rights treaties after due consideration and submit American policy-makers to recommendations based on well-conceived standards accepted by the United States.

But in the three-hour inquisition which took place this morning, Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor responded with “thanks to very many of the delegations for thoughtful comments and suggestions” shortly after Cuba said the U.S. blockade of Cuba was a “crime of genocide,” Iran “condemned and expressed its deep concern over the situation of human rights” in the United States, and North Korea said it was “concerned by systematic widespread violations committed by the United States at home and abroad.”

According to the Council’s procedure, all U.N. members are given carte blanche to comment and make recommendations to the state in the docket. But since only three hours are allotted per state, the practice has emerged of allowing approximately only the first sixty to speak.

This morning fifty-six countries lined-up for the opportunity to have at the U.S. representatives, many standing in line overnight a day ago in order to be near the top of the list. Making it to the head of the line were Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and North Korea.

Recommendations to improve the U.S. human rights record included Cuba’s advice to end “violations against migrants and mentally ill persons” and “ensure the right to food and health.”

Iran – currently poised to stone an Iranian woman for adultery – told the U.S. “effectively to combat violence against women.”

North Korea – which systematically starves a captive population – told the U.S. “to address inequalities in housing, employment and education” and “prohibit brutality…by law enforcement officials.”

Libya complained about U.S. “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”

In response to the many Guantanamo-related criticisms, the State Department’s top legal adviser, Harold Koh, blamed the failure to close the facility on others: “President Obama cannot close Guantanamo alone. That also involves our allies, the courts, and our Congress.”

The U.S. delegation was at pains to impress the international crowd. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organizations, told the assembled: “it is an honor to be in this chamber.”

She was referring to the meeting place of the U.N. Human Rights Council – the new and improved lead U.N. human rights body created by the General Assembly in 2006 over the negative vote cast by the United States. In this very chamber the Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN member states combined. Calling the chamber home, for instance, are Council members Libya, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China.

The Obama administration has until Tuesday to decide if it accepts or rejects the recommendations. The whole list of criticisms and recommendations, as well as the U.S. response, will be put together in a document distributed globally by the U.N. for the future edification of America-bashers around the world.

Administration officials are attempting to spin the exercise as one of justifiable and cathartic mea culpa on the world stage. But the impression they really left was one of moral and cultural relativism in which American leadership has been squandered to the detriment of victims suffering egregious human rights violations worldwide.

I … have really had enough.

Let The U.S. Dollars Flow

cuba1

AFP: Cuba to allow first US dollar home rentals in 50 years

Cuba is to allow some houses to be rented in US dollars for the first time in 50 years as well as the opening up of small businesses as it seeks to shed 500,000 public jobs, state media said Friday.

“From October, the ban on renting accommodation in the Cuban convertible peso (equivalent to the dollar) will be lifted,” the daily Granma said.

The move will apply to “people who have permission to live abroad, or those who live in Cuba, and leave the country for more than three months,” the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party said.

Those people will also be allowed to rent out their cars, it added.

Cuba has been under a US economic embargo for almost five decades. And the communist authorities only permit those Cubans who are married to foreigners or who have work contracts abroad to leave the island and return when they want.

Those people who have been given state housing since 2001 or who have carried out repairs on their homes will also be allowed to rent them, but with time limits.

Cuba is preparing to embrace the free market the hard way by laying off hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in the next six months.

Cuba’s main labor organization said Monday it expected 500,000 jobs to be eliminated from the public sector by March 2011 “along with a parallel increase in the non state sector.”