Judi LynnJudi Lynn's Journal
Sen. Tom Harkin Visits Cuba, Is Pretty Impressed With Its Public Health System
The Iowa Democrat drove for 186 miles over three days to examine the country's health care situation.
By Elahe Izadi
January 29, 2014
It makes sense that as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Tom Harkin would want to check out how other countries are doing when it comes to public health. So he spent last week in Cuba, where he saw all sorts of things that made quite the impression on him.
Cuba is a "poor country, but they have a lower child mortality rate than ours," the Iowa Democrat said to reporters Wednesday. "Their life expectancy is now greater than ours. It's interestingtheir public health system is quite remarkable."
Harkin, who made a 186-mile trek over the course of three days, also cited low infection rates in Cuban hospitals and the country's success in reducing smoking among citizens through public health campaigns.
Harkin has been to Cuba before. In 2003, he visited and called on Cuba to release 75 dissidents there. Indeed, other congressional lawmakers have traveled to the Caribbean island, which hasn't had diplomatic relations with the U.S. since 1959. The most recent high-profile visit came in 2009 when members of the Congressional Black Caucus went to Cuba and met with Fidel Castro.
Source: Associated Press
UN Chief Meets With Fidel Castro in Havana
UNITED NATIONS January 28, 2014 (AP)
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana.
Ban's office tweeted that the two met for about 55 minutes Tuesday. The U.N. chief is in Cuba for a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
The U.N. office said it would provide details on the meeting shortly.
Ban met Monday with Cuban President Raul Castro, the younger brother of Fidel. Ban's office said the two discussed the U.S. embargo on Cuba and the human rights situation on the island.
Ban's office says it's his first visit to Cuba.
In her own tweet, Washington's U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, urged world leaders visiting Cuba to meet with "everyday Cubans" and independent groups "to learn what's really happening & support democratic change."
Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/chief-meets-fidel-castro-havana-22269785
(Short article, no more at link.)
The poor deserve equal protection by the law
January 28, 2014
Gary A Haugen
If youve been a tourist or business traveler recently in Kenya, India, Guatemala or any other developing country, you probably saw uniformed guards in the stores and offices you visited or hotels where you slept. The sight of these guards is so common that their presence most likely faded into the background. But they are emblematic of a massive social transformation that is passing unnoticed: Throughout the developing world, public justice systems are being replaced with private systems of security and dispute resolution. The implications for the worlds poorest people are devastating.
Businesses and economic elites in developing countries left frustrated by incompetent police, clogged courts and hopelessly overburdened judges and prosecutors are increasingly circumventing these systems and buying their own protection. In India in late 2010 the private security industry already employed more than 5.5 million people - roughly four times the size of the entire Indian police force. A 2009 World Bank report showed roughly the same ratio in Kenya. The largest employer in all of Africa is a private security firm, Group4Securicor, and in Guatemala, private security forces outnumber public police 7 to 1.
The repercussions extend far beyond the elites and businesses that buy safety: When protection must be purchased, the poorest are left with nothing to shield them from violence. In many developing countries, if you want to be safe, you pay to be safe. And if you cant pay to be safe - you arent.
As elites abandon the public security system, their impoverished neighbors, especially women and girls, are left relying on underpaid, under-trained, undisciplined and frequently corrupt police forces for protection and all-but-paralyzed courts for justice.
This is not a small problem isolated to a single context. It is the terrifying truth of everyday life for billions of our poorest neighbors. As a U.N. commission found in 2008, a stunning 4 billion poor people live outside the protection of law.
UN chief praises Cuba's efforts in promoting women rights, social development
HAVANA, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Cuba has made remarkable efforts in promoting social development and gender equality in the Caribbean nation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said here Monday.
Ban arrived in Havana earlier in the day to attend the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC for its initials in Spanish, as a special guest and to meet with Cuban authorities and representatives of civil societies.
During a meeting at the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), the secretary-general praised the Cuban government's support for "Unite", a UN-backed campaign aimed at ending violence against women. He also lauded the support given by civil societies in defense of women's rights.
Ban said he was touched and inspired by each action and initiative carried out in Cuba, noting that eradicating violence against women is not a dream but a possibility.
LatAm summit in Cuba focus on poverty, inequality
7:26 AM Monday Jan 27, 2014
HAVANA (AP) Leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean are arriving in Havana this weekend for a summit of a fledgling regional bloc that was conceived as a force for integration and a counterbalance to their most powerful neighbor, the United States.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC for its initials in Spanish, was formed in 2011 and comprises every nation in the Western Hemisphere except the U.S. and Canada. By Sunday, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and several foreign ministers were already in Havana for the summit. Lower-level officials began meeting over the weekend and foreign ministers are taking the stage Monday. The formal meetings of heads of state begin Tuesday.
Nobody was a bigger advocate for the bloc than the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington seen by many as the standard-bearer for the region's political left before he succumbed to cancer in March.
"It is the first summit after the death of Hugo Chavez, the great driving force" behind CELAC, said Eduardo Bueno, a professor of Latin American studies at Iberoamericana University in Mexico. "I think they are going to be measuring their possibilities for the future."
Four men arrested for Pinochet-era prison poisonings
By Layne Weiss
Jan 24, 2014
Santiago - Authorities in Chile have arrested four ex-army officers for purportedly poisoning prisoners by adding botulinum toxin to their food. They are accused of murdering two men and attempting to murder five more.
It is believed that the men were experimenting with methods of killing Augusto Pinochet's opponents, BBC News reports.
The four men are already being investigated for their involvement in the 1982 death of ex-Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva.
At the time of his death, it was reported that President Montalva died due to complications from a hernia operation, but recent inquiries suggest he may have been poisoned.
Two of the accused in the poisoning case, retired general Dr. Eduardo Arriagada, and retired colonel Sergio Rosende, who now works as a veterinarian, are reported to have worked in a laboratory run by DINA, the National Intelligence Directorate, which was Mr. Pinochet's secret police force.
U.S. President Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger with Augusto Pinochet.
Henry Kissinger and Chiles 9/11/73
Posted on September 16, 2010 by Ka Frank
13 September 2010. A World to Win News Service.
On 10 September in Geneva Henry Kissinger was greeted by jeers of ?murderer? from over 100 demonstrators, mainly Chilean, as well as Argentines. The man who made the 11 September 1973 military coup in Chile possible, Kissinger had come to Switzerland to deliver the keynote speech on Power shifts and security at a meeting of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
As National Security Adviser and Secretary of State for U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, the list of Kissingers crimes is long. Although awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Vietnam war, he had been a main architect of that war and a long-time advocate of using American troops and airpower to force Vietnam to give in to a political settlement acceptable to the U.S. To achieve that goal, he advocated spreading the war throughout Southeast Asia. He was behind the bombing that destroyed much of Cambodia (a campaign kept secret from an increasingly antiwar public in the U.S.) and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in 1970 that sparked an unprecedented broadening of the antiwar movement.
The other crime with which his name will always be associated is the CIA-backed overthrow of the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. At that time, he told his colleagues, the emergence of possible challenge by the then Soviet Union to U.S. domination of Latin America was too important to let Chileans decide. I dont see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.
Under Kissingers direction, the U.S. tried to block Allendes assumption of the presidency, and then, when that failed, conducted three years of economic sabotage and political conspiracies until the Chilean army bombed and stormed the presidential palace and overthrew Allende. The military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet rounded up and killed thousands of Allende supporters and others. Pinochets brutal, U.S.-supported regime lasted for almost two decades.
20 January 2014 Last updated at 20:10 ET
The Brazilian ranch where Nazis kept slaves
By Gibby Zobel
BBC World Service, Campino do Monte Alegre, Brazil
On a farm deep in the countryside 100 miles (160km) west from Sao Paulo, a football team has lined up for a commemorative photograph. What makes the image extraordinary is the symbol on the team's flag - a swastika.
The picture probably dates from some time in the 1930s, after the Nazi Party's rise to power in Germany - but this was on the other side of the world.
"Nothing explained the presence of a swastika here," says Jose Ricardo Rosa Maciel, former rancher at the remote Cruzeiro do Sul farm near Campina do Monte Alegre, who stumbled across the photograph one day. But this was actually his second puzzling discovery. The first occurred in the pigsty.
"One day the pigs broke a wall and escaped into the field," he says. "I noticed the bricks that had fallen. I thought I was hallucinating."
Venezuela's Extreme Poverty Down One-Third In 14 Years
CARACAS, Jan 21 (BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA) -- Venezuela has cut extreme poverty by almost a third in just 14 years, National Statistics Institute (INE) President Elias Eljuri said Monday.
The extreme poverty rate declined from 16 per cent in 1999 to 5.5 per cent at the end of 2013, thanks to the government efforts to eradicate poverty, Eljuri told state-run Venezolana de Television (VTV) in an interview.
The government sets the goal of totally eradicating extreme poverty in Venezuela by 2019, said Eljuri, adding it was one of the pledges made by President Nicolas Maduro when he took office on April 19, 2013.
Some 94.6 per cent of Venezuelans have access to three or more meals a day, while 5.2 per cent has access to two, and 0.2 per cent has access to one, the official said quoting recent studies which also show Venezuelans consume an average of 2,285 calories a day, almost 99 per cent of the total calories considered necessary for a proper diet.
Elections in Venezuela and Chile Advance Left Agenda and Latin American Economic Integration
Jan 16 2014
The elections in Venezuela and Chile in December provided new momentum for the left-leaning governments in Latin America and the ascent of post-neoliberal policies. Over the past decade and a half, the rise of the left has been inextricably tied to the electoral process. In Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, under the governments of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the electorate has gone to the polls on an average of once a year, voting on referendums, constituent assemblies as well as elections for national offices.
In late November, it appeared the right might be taking the initiative, as the oligarchy and the conservative political parties in Honduras backed by the United States used repression and the manipulation of balloting to keep control of the presidency. And in Venezuela, it was feared the right would come out on top in the December 8 municipal elections. After Maduro's narrow victory margin of 1.5% in the presidential elections in April, the opposition went on the offensive, declaring fraud and waging economic war. If the opposition coalition had won in the municipal elections, or even come close in the popular vote, it was poised to mount militant demonstrations to destabilize and topple the Maduro government. But the decisive victory of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the municipal elections gave a boost to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, enabling him to advance the twenty-first century socialism of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. The PSUV and allied parties won control of 72% of the municipalities and bested the opposition in the popular vote by 54% to 44%.
A class war is going on that is focused on the economy, particularly over who will control the revenue coming from its large petroleum resources that account for over 95% of the country's exports. With no new electoral challenge until the parliamentary elections in late 2015, Maduro now has the political space to take the initiative in dealing with the country's economic problems and to pursue a socialist agenda. As Maduro said on the night of the elections, we are going to deepen the economic offensive to help the working class and protect the middle class....We're going in with guns blazing, keep an eye out.
At the other end of the continent, Michele Bachelet one week later won a resounding victory in the Chilean presidential race with 62% of the vote. She has put forth an ambitious package of proposals that would increase corporate taxes from 20% to 25%, dramatically expand access to higher education, improve public health care and overhaul the 1980 Constitution imposed by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Chile has the highest level of income inequality among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developments 34 member countries. Within her first hundred days, Bachelet has promised to draft legislation to increase tax revenues by about 3 percent of gross domestic product. On election night Bachelet proclaimed: "Chile has looked at itself, has looked at its path, its recent history, its wounds, its feats, its unfinished business and thus Chile has decided it is the time to start deep transformations," Bachelet proclaimed on election night." There is no question about it: profits can't be the motor behind education because education isn't merchandise and because dreams aren't a consumer good."
January 15, 2014
They Don't Mean Well
Americas Rogue Government
by SHELDON RICHMAN
Americans have a strange need to believe that their leaders mean well. Nowhere is this more true than in foreign policy. Even when the horror of some government operation is revealed (usually after being kept from the American people), solemn pundits and elder statesmen will drone on about unintended consequences and the fog of war, while admonishing against pointless recriminations. Typically, the harshest accusation leveled against those responsible for a calamity is incompetence, and even thats rare.
Yet when one examines the U.S. governments bloody record in foreign affairs, it is tough to come away thinking that the long trail of death, mayhem, and devastation is anything but the result of malevolence in the pursuit of political and economic interest.
In a recent article for CounterPunch, former 60 Minutes producer Barry Lando describes the horror inflicted on the Iraqi people by American officials, beginning in 1990 with the George H. W. Bush administration. Officials actually began making life hell for Iraqis well before that, as Lando discusses in this interview with Scott Horton. The U.S. government (specifically, the CIA) not only helped to bring Saddam Hussein to power, it supplied him the means and intelligence to use chemical weapons in his aggressive war against Iran in the 1980s. (The Iranians have not forgotten.) Collusion with Saddam continued right up until he invaded Kuwait, as U.S. officials helped instigate that event by meddling on both sides of the dispute.
The last thing the U.S. should do is become militarily embroiled in the conflict raging again in Iraq, Lando writes. But for Americans to shake their heads in lofty disdain and turn away, as if they have no responsibility for the continued bloodletting, is outrageous. Why? Because America bears a large part of the blame for turning Iraq into the basket case its become.
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