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drive-by planet: Cuban medics on the front lines of the Ebola fight: lack of decent public healthcare at root of the Ebola crisis

Top: Cuban medical team leaving for West AfricaBeneath: Arrival in Sierra Leone

The magnificent Cuban response to the Ebola crisis is in a class of its own. While Western nations pledge funds to fight the disease there is a reluctance to step up and send needed medical personnel. Cuba by contrast has gone into action on the front lines. It will send some 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa – the largest number of medical personnel from any nation. One hundred and sixty five Cuban medics are already in West Africa setting up operations.

The World Health Organization (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Fidel Castro compares NATO with Hitler’s SS: says US/Israel responsible for the creation of ISIS

 Below: Demo in Poland protesting this weeks NATO summit in Wales

In an article published in Cuban state media iconic revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, calls out NATO and imperialist war mongering. He compares statements by NATO representatives with Nazi SS talk.

Castro: “Many people are astonished when they hear the statements made by some European spokesmen for NATO when they speak with the style and face of the Nazi SS.”

Castro’s NATO remarks are timely given the summit currently underway in Wales that aims to increase troops and armaments in Eastern Europe in response to what NATO views as (Read more…)

drive-by planet: US corporate media propaganda: NYT’s misleading photo ‘evidence’ of Russian soldiers in east Ukraine

Back in 2003, when Colin Powell presented “evidence” at the UN to back up the White House claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, major US news outlets ran the story believing the Bush administration had the goods. During the UN presentation Russia’s ambassador at the time, Sergei Lavrov,  greeted Powell’s “evidence” with a look of incredulous disbelief or perhaps disdain might be the better term.  As we now know, the Russians were entirely right to cast scorn on Washington’s pack of lies about Saddam’s non-existent WMD.

In the current war of words-and-images on Ukraine, Russian media (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Vladimir Putin’s strategic crisis in 2014 sure looks a lot like John F. Kennedy’s in 1962

President John F. Kennedy signs the proclamation of the “Interdiction of the Delivery of Offensive Weapons to Cuba” on Oct. 23, 1962. The order imposed the U.S. naval blockade on Cuba that Mr. Kennedy had announced during his televised address the night before. Below: Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, Sun News bloviator Monte K. Solberg.

“Good evening, my fellow citizens,” President John F. Kennedy said grimly on Oct. 22, 1962. “This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the island of Cuba.

“Within the past week unmistakable (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Mandela Was More Radical Than Most Know

Well, I miss Mandela. The post-Mandela world is sadly less colourful. While all sorts of people, including reprobate politicians in Canada laud him for this and that, it’s important to remember that he never seemed to angle for being a darling of right wing, neoliberal libertarian freedom fighters.

Here are some items we should all remember. If any of this is new to you, click the link at the bottom to flesh out the details. You won’t regret it.

1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism.

2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.”

3. (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Irony of Raul Castro – Obama handshake: Cuba helped defeat S.A. apartheid in battle whereas U.S. sent Stingers to UNITA

Raúl Castro at Mandela memorial service / Nelson Mandela with Fidel in Cuba

At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the media seized on the handshake between Barack Obama and the president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, as possible evidence of something more significant afoot in the relations between the two countries. The handshake has taken on symbolic overtones and given rise to far-fetched speculation. There have been predictable denunciations. U.S. Republican rep lleana Ros-Lehtinen criticized Obama for shaking the hand of “a ruthless dictator.” Yet another case of an American politician failing to look in the mirror (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Che Wants to See You: remarkable untold story of Che Guevara by right-hand man Ciro Bustos

The English translation of Che Wants to See You was recently published. It is a remarkable insider account by Ciro Bustos, a comrade-in-arms who was intimately familiar with Che Guevara and the broader liberation struggle in Latin America. The book adds to the credibility of Bustos who has been unfairly cast as Che’s betrayer in the events that led to the execution of Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.

Ciro Bustos – now 81 – is an artist who lives and works in Malmo, Sweden. He is Argentinian by birth, a native of Mendoza.

When Bustos first heard Che’s voice on (Read more…)

LeDaro: Russian Warships to visit Cuba

It looks that relations between Russia and U.S have taken a new turn. The American government is quite upset over Russia giving refuge to Edward Snowden. Now the renewal of close relations by the Russians with Cuba is another indication of cooling off relations with America. Déjà vu all over again – during J.F. Kennedy presidency and Cuban missile crisis. Is cold war on again? Too early to tell.

Russian Warship

“During his visit to Cuba in April, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, met with Cuban Defense Ministry officials and reiterated that Russia and (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: GroupThink ReSpun: The Death of Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez died of cancer on March 5, 2013. He represented an ideological pushback against neoliberal globalization. He pursued a progressive hemispheric trade agenda. He raised oil royalties dramatically to improve the social capacity of people in and around Venezuela. He revolutionized and democratized Venezuela’s constitution. He attracted the ire of American imperialists who supported an amateurish, botched coup. And while we never saw the formation of Cubazuela or some kind of socio-economic cooperation that would elevate Haiti out of its status of hemispheric whipping boy, though that may be on its way, his legacy begins this week.

Thanks (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Reflections from Cuba – Civic Responsibility

January 23, 2013:

In a previous post, I compared and contrasted Cuba and Canada in terms of the opportunities for achieving one’s potential through access to information, ideas, etc., noting that in Cuba the opportunities are almost non-existent, while sadly, in our country, there are those who choose not to avail themselves of the almost boundless access to ways to develop themselves.

Today I want to consider people who have availed themselves, used the resources available, yet choose to close themselves off from any meaningful participation in our society. While I readily acknowledge that there are so many

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Reflections from Cuba – Civic Responsibility

Politics and its Discontents: Reflections From Cuba

The following is one of several pieces I wrote on my Blackberry Playbook while on a recent holiday in Cuba. Because Internet access and outside information is limited there, I spent some time writing pieces largely drawn from things I was thinking about at the time, and therefore are perhaps not as overtly political in nature as my usual fare.

January 21, 2013:

What, I wonder, is worse, a society in which there is little or no opportunity to learn and grow, or one in which the opportunity exists but is ignored by a substantial proportion of the people?


. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Reflections From Cuba

The Canadian Progressive: The Ugly Canadian: Harper Policy in Latin America (VIDEO)

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, Ottawa has been openly hostile to Venezuela and leftward swing in Latin America – except in Cuba where Canada has large commercial interests. So argues Canadian author, activist and commentator, Yves Engler. RELATED: Photo Tells Us Why Canada Severed Diplomatic Ties With Iran Canada’s Unenviable Royal Race READ MORE

Politics and its Discontents: On Hiatus

There won’t be any new blog posts for the next two weeks as we begin our annual hegira to Cuba, where the climate and the people offer a soothing respite from the Canadian winter. This will be our sixth visit to the island, and each time there we learn another facet of Cuban life, thanks to two friends that we visit, usually for a day, during our holiday.

Since Internet is very restricted there, I will be offline during our stay.

Any online comments to this blog will not be published until I return.

Keep the faith, everyone! Recommend this

Politics, Re-Spun: GlobalTV Mocks Hurricane Deaths

Frankenstorm Promo

How would you feel about a news organization that treats a hurricane as a campy Halloween ratings booster? I’m appalled. Watch the above clip from GlobalTV last Thursday night.

Hurricane Sandy has killed dozens already and will likely kill more as it runs aground today in the northeast where tens of millions live.

I was stunned to see the jovial treatment that news broadcasters were taking to a subject packed with such calamity.

Cynically, it appears that an attempt to create levity about such an impending disaster is a compelling way to boost ratings to earn more profits

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: GlobalTV Mocks Hurricane Deaths

Art Threat: Una Noche a beautiful story of a challenging life

It’s rare to see depictions of Havana that don’t consist of the stereotypes: people playing music, someone sitting on the street smoking a cigar, old American cars, stunning old buildings.

In fact, many films set in Havana (such as Our Man in Havana and even Die Another Day) are filmed in other locations, posing as Havana. Tour books of Cuba consistently say that visitors will leave with more questions than they arrived with. The ‘real’ Havana is often masked and protected by Cuba’s Revolutionary government (one of its founders, Che Guevara, had openly written about being anti-freedom of the press).

. . . → Read More: Art Threat: Una Noche a beautiful story of a challenging life

Politics and its Discontents: The Realities Of The Child Soldier

I suppose I might feel differently about Omar Khadr if I hadn’t read a particular book, A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. It provided indelible insights into both the realities of the child soldier’s world and the possibilities of redemption and rehabilitation. It should be read by everyone who is quick to judge and condemn Khadr.

Now 31 years old, Beah, a very bright, articulate and talented writer effectively conveyed in his memoir the horror of his experiences as a child soldier, conscripted into the army at the age of 13 to fight the rebels in Sierra Leone,

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Realities Of The Child Soldier

Sketchy Thoughts: Nehanda Abiodun, Political Exile

Recommended reading: Jake Krzeczowski’s blog post about Nehanda Abiodun, a political exile living in Cuba; “They say I and others were involved in expropriations of armored trucks, that we were also engaged in the ‘liberation’ of Assata,” Abiodun said. “Personally they say I was involved in the expropriations and aiding and abetting Assata’s liberation.”

Read it here.

Bill Longstaff: The Monroe Doctrine is dead

A new age has dawned in the Americas. The Monroe Doctrine, a policy established by the United States ostensibly to keep European imperialists out of the Western Hemisphere but which eventually deteriorated into an instrument to maintain American dominance, is now effectively deceased. At the recent Summit of the Americas, the Latin nations couldn’t have made it clearer that they intend to be

Montreal Simon: Stephen Harper’s Summit Humiliation

Holy Chiquita Banana. What an embarrassment.There he was, looking like Obama’s Sancho Panza, or the Dirty Oil Man.

Making an idiot out of himself. Again. 

Canada and the United States are finding themselves at odds with Latin American countries on two thorny issues — the war on drugs and the exclusion of Cuba — at a summit of hemispheric leaders in Colombia.

Trying to keep Cuba out of the Summit of the Americas. When everybody knows that the cruel Yankee embargo has caused the wonderful Cuban people all kinds of misery. 

Defending the insane War on Drugs.

. . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Stephen Harper’s Summit Humiliation

Bill Longstaff: Baseball and that freedom of speech thing

Sports is a tribal business, and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has upset his tribe. The outspoken Venezuelan had the audacity to express admiration for Fidel Castro in Time magazine. “I respect Fidel Castro,” he is reported to have said. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.” The team and a number of the

Politics and its Discontents: How Long Before This Lynch Mob Mentality Comes To Canada?

As someone who is a regular visitor to Cuba and has seen both the good and bad of its society through friends that we visit there, I know that it has very real problems, but also very real benefits, under its dictatorial communist system. However, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be, thanks to the reactionary dictatorship (aka the Harper regime) we in Canada are currently chafing under, before we adopt the ‘lynch mob’ mentality evident here. Recommend this Post