ACT OUT! [136] - Cuba: What You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know

Screenshot 2017-11-16 at 9.46.27 AM

By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy – This week on Act Out!, Cuba – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. From my experiences there two weeks ago, to new updates on U.S.-Cuba relations, I’ll introduce you to some people and facts you never knew. We’ll lift the veil on a vilified island that has suffered greatly from U.S. empire, and show how education and interaction can cure us of the red scare disease.

Students Will Sail From Washington, D.C. For Cuba, Despite U.S. Travel Warnings

image003-685x342

By Staff of Progresso Weekly – Despite U.S. warnings against travel to Cuba, a 130-foot American school schooner operated by Ocean Passages of Portland, ME, will sail this week from Washington, D.C. for an educational voyage in southern Cuba. On board the ship are U.S. crew and Gap Year students ages 18 – 24. The ship will spend a total of four months in Cuba engaged in ecological site visits assessing long-term sustainability. The owners, crew, and students of the Harvey Gamage have carefully reviewed the U.S. administration’s recent travel warnings and are committed to continuing their mission in Cuba. The ship, currently moored at the Capital Yacht Club on the D.C. waterfront, will set sail for Cuba this Wednesday, October 25. At an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday morning aboard the schooner, representatives of Ocean Passages and the students will discuss the value of legally authorized “people-to-people” travel in Cuba begun under the Obama administration. They will describe their determination to “stay the course” despite the Trump administration’s changes in U.S. policies towards Cuba. This marks Ocean Passages’ third consecutive year of student voyages to Cuba. In addition, U.S. tour operators and Cuban experts will discuss the negative impacts of the recent State Department travel warning and other measures on educational and cultural exchanges with the island and on Cuba’s burgeoning small-scale, household-based tourism businesses.

Japan’s Vote For Abe Could Worsen Prospects For Peace With North Korea, China

Screenshot 2017-10-24 at 10.53.05 AM

By Nicole L Freiner for The Conversation – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gambled by calling a snap election – and he has won big. Voters handed Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party a sweeping victory in the Oct. 22 balloting for Japan’s House of Representatives. The call for the election came in late September after North Korea had just fired another test missile, with its longest delivery system yet. Over the past months, North Korea has tested six missiles, with each test either falling into the Japan Sea or passing over Japan to land in the Pacific. This latest missile flew over Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jung Un, used strong threats after this missile test, saying that he hoped to see Japan sink into the sea. Abe and his hawkish, conservative coalition have been attempting to rebuild Japan’s military capabilities and to scrap its WWII-era constitution that prohibits aggression. Based on my research in Japanese politics, I believe the party’s electoral victory spells trouble for peace in Asia.

North Korea Foreign Minister On What Is Needed For Negotiations With US

AP_17269131289835

By Adam Garrie for Mint Press News – North Korea’s Foreign Minister, Ri Yong-ho, has spoken exclusively to TASS on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Moscow. Before taking questions, Ri Yong-ho, who recently delivered the DPRK’s speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, addressed the current state of relations between his country and Russia: Tomorrow, October 12, will mark the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the DPRK and Russia and in this connection I would like to express the hope that friendship and cooperation between our peoples will be growing stronger and that the strategic importance of interaction will grow with the passage of time. My country today is attaining a victory and acting as a worthy counterbalance to the United States, which refers to itself as the “only superpower.” I believe that having such a strong neighbor by its side quite agrees with Russia’s interests. Lately, Korean-Russian relations have been not at the desirable level due to internal and external factors and a number of difficulties and obstacles, but we are optimistic about their potential and their prospects, because there is a solid groundwork for the development of bilateral relations, resting upon a long history of friendship and cooperation.

Declaration Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of Cuba

1cuba2

By Staff of Cuba Minrex – On September 29, 2017, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the decision to significantly downscale the diplomatic staff of the US embassy in Havana and withdraw all their relatives, claiming that there had been “attacks” perpetrated against US Government officials in Cuba which have harmed their health. Once again, on October 3, the US Government, in an unwarranted act, decided that 15 officials of the Cuban Embassy in Washington should depart from the United States, claiming that the US had reduced their diplomatic staffing levels in Havana and that the Cuban Government had failed to take all appropriate steps to prevent “attacks” against them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly protests and condemns this unfounded and unacceptable decision as well as the pretext used to justify it, for it has been asserted that the Cuban Government did not take the appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of the alleged incidents. In the meeting that, at the proposal of the Cuban side, was held with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, warned him against the adoption of hasty decisions that were not supported by evidence; urged him not to politicize a matter of this nature and once again required the effective cooperation from the US authorities to clarify facts and conclude the investigation.

Trump Adds Venezuela And North Korea To Travel Ban

donal_trump_venezuela.jpg_1718483346

By Staff of Tele Sur – The addition of North Korea and Venezuela broadens the restrictions from the original, mostly Muslim-majority list. U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that Venezuela and North Korea will be added to the list of countries banned from traveling to the United States. The order outlines different restrictions for each country on the list. In the case of Venezuela, the new decree is aimed at “certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members,” according to the White House press office. The new directive prevents Venezuelan officials involved in state security, law enforcement and migration functions from entering the United States. Immediate family members’ ability to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants on business, tourist and tourist/business visas will also be suspended. The proclamation names ministries and state bodies involved in “screening and vetting procedures,” including the Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration; the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps; the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; and the Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations.

Need For Diplomacy More Clear Than Ever After North Korea Claims H-Bomb Test

Protesters call on President Donald Trump to stop his drive to war against North Korea on August 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, said that he was drafting new sanctions to place on North Korea in response to the test. “It’s clear this behavior is completely unacceptable,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” Yukiya Amano, head of the U.N. nuclear agency, said the test was “an extremely regrettable act,” and called on North Korea “to fully implement all relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA,” which include stopping further nuclear tests. Among those appealing for calm was Russia, declaring diplomacy “the only possible way” to resolve the conflict. The foreign ministry in Moscow said the test merited “the strongest condemnation,” and warned that “the continuation of such a line is fraught with serious consequences” for Pyongyang. “In the unfolding conditions,” the ministry statement added, it is imperative to remain calm and to refrain from any actions that lead to a further escalation of tension.” “We call on all interested parties to immediately return to dialogue and negotiations as the only possible way for an overall settlement of the problems of the Korean peninsula,” it said.

Can The US And North Korea Move From Threats To Negotiations?

2017_0827nk_

By Gareth Porter for Truthout – For months, the Trump administration and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have each made a series of moves that have appeared to take them ever closer to the brink of war. But a closer review of the escalation of the conflict reveals that both sides are consciously maneuvering for what they know will be extended serious negotiations on a new framework for peace on the Korean peninsula. The Trump administration is well aware that it has no real military option against the North, and the Kim Jong-un regime seems to have sought to use missile launches as signals to the Trump administration to convey not only North Korea’s determination not to give in to pressure, but also its hopes to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation in US-North Korea military relations. The latest US-North Korean crisis revolves around the Trump administration’s public refusal to accept North Korea’s nuclear weapons and long-range missile program, and Trump’s flirtation with options for removing it that would certainly result in a highly destructive and destabilizing Korean War.

Iran Threatens To Send Warships To Atlantic And Ramp Up Nuclear Activities If US Continues Sanctions

activistpost.com

By Aaron Kesel for Activist Post – Amid Americans’ concerns that North Korea threatened to launch a missile at Guam, Iran is planning on building up a flotilla of warships in the Atlantic Ocean, while Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani has threatened to revitalize the country’s nuclear program if the U.S. continues “threats and sanctions.” If Washington continues with “threats and sanctions” against Iran, Tehran could easily ramp up its nuclear activities Rouhani said in Iranian Parliament, AP reported. In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced (nuclear) level than at the beginning of the negotiations. “The U.S. has shown that it is neither a good partner nor a trustable negotiator,” Rouhani added. “Those who are trying to go back to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past hallucinations. They deprive themselves of the advantages of peace.” Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the bill to increase military spending. The legislation also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials who are in the region. Meanwhile, after the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, Iran has planned to send flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean in response to the U.S. proposed sanctions against the country.

Soft Coups Made In USA To Control Latin America: Bolivia

Attendees of the book release of "Geopolitics and Regional Integration — Latin America in the World System." | Photo: Bolivian vice presidency

By Staff of Tele Sur – While the U.S. employs brute military force in the Muslim world to obtain foreign policy objectives, soft coups are reserved for Latin America. Cesar Navarro, Bolivia’s minister of Mining and Metallurgy, emphasized Wednesday that the main objective of the United States is to implement soft coups in order to reestablish hegemony over Latin America during a speech launching a new book, according to Prensa Latina. The official was commenting on “Geopolitics and Regional Integration — Latin America in the World System,” a compilation which includes a variety of prominent Latin American intellectuals. He noted that while the United States employs brute military force in parts of the Muslim world to obtain foreign policy objectives, soft coups are reserved for its southern neighbors or as top U.S. officials — including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry — refer to the region as its “backyard.” To support his claim, Navarro cited the removal of democratically-elected Manuel Zelaya in Honduras; Fernando Lugo in Paraguay; and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, describing how the United States supported their ouster despite the fact that it goes against all claims of supporting democracy.

Stop Trump From Making NAFTA Even Worse

Webp.net-resizeimage_(19)_1_850_593

By Ethan Earle for In These Times – Many on the Left have been deeply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since before it was fast-tracked into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. Now, President Donald Trump’s current plan to renegotiate NAFTA is poised to make the massive trade deal even worse. In late May, a loose coalition of civil society groups gathered in Mexico City to discuss this upcoming renegotiation. Participants included the AFL-CIO, Canadian Labour Congress and over one hundred other labor, environmental, and immigrant rights organizations from across Mexico, the United States and Canada. The meeting produced a joint declaration opposing a Trump-led NAFTA renegotiation and marked the kickoff of the latest international campaign against free-trade deals that benefit corporations and political elites at the expense of workers, communities and our shared environment. NAFTA’s legacy is marred by lost jobs, lower wages, increased inequality and a litany of environmentally destructive practices. While the people who gathered in Mexico City have long opposed NAFTA for its pro-corporate bent, a consensus emerged that President Trump and his team are cooking up something even worse. Two questions follow from this judgment: What can we do to stop Trump, and how can we use the moment to challenge the powerful interests that he represents?

Join DC Protest Friday On Korea as President Moon Meets President Trump

From ZoomInKorea.org

By Staff of Yonhap News Agency – SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) — Thousands of South Koreans staged a protest rally in central Seoul on Saturday demanding the withdrawal of the deployment of an American high-tech anti-missile defense system as President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump are set to meet in Washington D.C. next week. “The deployment of THAAD, which is unnecessary for the defense of the Korean Peninsula, should be pulled back,” the protesters said in a rally held in Seoul Plaza at the heart of Seoul. The rally’s organizer put the number of participants at 3,000. The rally came ahead of the first Moon-Trump summit to be held from June 29-30, which is expected to feature the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). After taking office last month, Moon ordered the deployment to be delayed until an environmental impact assessment is carried out at its deployment site. “The South Korea-U.S. summit to come next week should be a venue where the review of the THAAD deployment should be assured,” the protests said. They also demanded the U.S. stop enforcing the deployment.

Break Through The Propaganda Watch Oliver Stone Interview With Vladmir Putin

Vladimir Putin at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting- Davos, 2009. (Photo: World Economic Forum)

By Alexander Mercouris for The Duran – I have now watched the first three episodes of the Putin Interviews, which is sufficient to give an overview of the series. In my opinion it is by far the best and most interesting series of programmes which have appeared on Western television about Vladimir Putin. I would say that claims that Oliver Stone fails to raise ‘difficult subjects’ with Putin are simply untrue. All the usual stories about Putin – his KGB past, his reputed homophobia, his ‘billions’, his ‘murders’, his ‘aggressions against Georgia and Ukraine’ etc – are all there. There is also one telling moment when Stone and Putin strongly disagree with each other. This is in relation to a recent Russian law that requires Russian internet providers to store data for longer than previously, and to hand it over to the Russian security services if requested following a court order. The US whistleblower Edward Snowden has denounced this law as a ‘big brother’ law. Stone clearly agrees with him and tells Putin as much. Putin predictably enough doesn’t agree. The key difference between Stone and other Western interviewers is that Stone doesn’t try to get the better of Putin by bullying and hectoring him.

Why The United States Should Negotiate In Good Faith With North Korea

Above Photo: Jimmy Carter and Kim Il Sung, 1994. Former President Jimmy Carter visited North Korea in June 1994 to successfully negotiate a “freeze” on the North’s nuclear program. Kim Il Sung died a month later but, following bilateral negotiations, the two countries signed the Agreed Framework putting in place the process for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.

By Michael Haas for Common Dreams – The United States is technically still at war with North Korea. No peace agreement has been signed despite repeated requests from Pyongyang for high-level negotiations. Former presidents Carter and Clinton and other high-level officials have gone to the North and achieved negotiation successes, but no sitting president had done so. Now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, new to the job, has declared that decades of negotiations have not served to normalize relations, clearly unaware that American obstinacy and tit-to-tat overreactions are the main culprits. In the extraordinary Agreed Framework of 1994, the United States promised to provide light-water reactors by 2003 to supply electric power in exchange for North Korean abandonment of nuclear weapons development to be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States pledged never to go to war with North Korea and to begin negotiations for economic and political normalization of relations. Annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States, long seen in Pyongyang as a preparation for an invasion, were cancelled in 1994 and 1995 to show good faith.

Who Is Behind The State Department’s Coup Plot In Venezuela?

These actions led by the United States lead toward one final aim: intervention by financial and preventive military means. | Photo: teleSUR

By Misión Verdad of Tele Sur – The Council on Foreign Relations, or CFR, is a think tank founded in 1921 with money from the Rockefeller Foundation. It is aimed at creating a group of experts to shape U.S. foreign policy and its leadership positions, including the president and the State Department, which does not act for its own reasons but rather according to the interests of these lobbyists. Since it was created, the council, which is made up of 4,500 members, has placed a number of senior officials in positions to implement CFR strategy. These include Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, responsible for the war in Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Iraq respectively, and in the case of Powell, a major player in the April 2002 coup. Moreover, an honorary member and ex-vice president of the think tank was David Rockefeller, the former owner of Standard Oil Company who has great interests and influence in Venezuela. His penetration in the country’s national political life reached such a point that he was one of the sponsors of the Punto Fijo pact that gave rise to the Fourth Republic.