“For years, U.S. citizens have not been able to fly legally to Cuba from the United States. Some travelers found their way around the ban, slipping in through Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. This was time-consuming, costly and a bit risky……… Looking for a deal to Cuba? Despite these changes, deals are still rare. Airfare is chartered, and with the U.S. government paperwork required, it is nearly impossible to put a trip together yourself. But deals can be found. Friendly Planet, one of the approved travel companies to bring U.S. travelers, currently has two programs (which include the Cuba entrance visa and all U.S. government paperwork). The four-night getaway costs $1,899 per person, based on double occupancy; similar packages from other licensed companies are selling for at least $2,400………”
This is almost like in the old “Communist” Soviet Union, when the state restricted travel. It is almost like trying to travel from old “Communist” Albania to any other country in the “free” or “communist” world. But wait, this is not the old USSR or Communist Albania, it is the USA, a free country, banning travel to Cuba, a “Communist” Bible-less dark-purple country. I am exaggerating a little, as usual.
Both the USA and “Communist” Cuba seem to have one thing in common: both encourage the citizens of the other to come visit; both discourage their own citizens from visiting the other. So, they are not that far apart after all.
“The IRI is an international arm of the US Republican party, so anyone with the stomach to watch the Republican presidential debates might doubt whether this would be a “democracy-promotion” organization. But a look at some of their recent adventures is enough to set the record straight: in 2004, the IRI played a major role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti. In 2002, the head of the IRI publicly celebrated the short-lived military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Venezuela. The IRI was also working with organizations and individuals that were involved in the coup. In 2005, the IRI was involved in an effort to promote changes in Brazil’s electoral laws that would weaken the governing Workers party of then President Lula da Silva. Most recently, in 2009, there was a military coup against the democratically elected government of Honduras. The Obama administration did everything it could to help the coup succeed, and supported “elections” in November of 2009 to legitimize the coup government. The rest of the world – including even the Organization of American States (OAS), under pressure from South American democracies – refused to send observers. This was because of the political repression during the campaign period: police violence, raiding of independent media, and the forced exile of political opponents – including the country’s democratically elected president. But the IRI and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) – its Democratic party-linked counterpart – went there to legitimate the “election”……….The IRI and NDI are core grantees of the National Endowment for Democracy…………...”
I bet there are no offices for either IRI or NDI in places like Amman (Jordan), Manama (Bahrain), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Abu Dhabi (UAE), or Tehran (Iran), and all for the same reasons.
You’d think the Saudi and Emirati and Bahraini potentates, with whom some Western (American and British) leaders profess a communality of values (?), would welcome these democracy-advocating groups. Otherwise, what are those hundred billion dollar weapons deals for, except to make sure democracy survives in these places? Yet all this tells me that now there is much more freedom in Egypt than in those places (any democracy is more than none). More than there was in Tegucigalpa (Honduras) when they went to Honduras allegdly to rubber-stamp the coup d’etat.
All this does not justify these Americans being held by Egyptian authorities and tried. There has been no ‘crime’. I believe they ought to be freed: there should be no restrictions on advocacy in either Cairo or Tehran or Riyadh.
The Florida Republican race is reaching the home stretch. it is desperation time for the Republican candidates. The focus shifts to the special interest groups. The talk is about Space, Israel, and Cubans longing for the days of Batista. Last debate they talked about who would hire the most “Latinos” in their administration. Then there always lurks Netanyahu:
Romney: I’d hire Netanyahu if he were not Israeli prime minister.
Sanrotum: There you go again, disrespecting Netanyahu. You should be ashamed of yourself talking like that about a great American patriot. I’d hire Netanyahu even while he is PM of Israel. Hell, I’d hire him even if he were an Iranian ayatollah.
Romney: I like patriots too. I’d never disrespect Netanyahu. It is Obama who is always disrespecting Netanyahu. I would never do that, not while running for president, for heaven’s sake. I’d rather disrespect my own mother and the intelligence of the American people than Netanyahu, at least until November 2016.
Santorum: I don’t believe you. Anyway, I’d also hire Luis Clemente Faustino Posada Carriles (aka Bambi).
So there, you try beating that.
Gingrich: He sounds like a great Cuban-American and a good Catholic. I’d have to ask Callista first.
Ron Paul: I wouldn’t hire Netanyahu if he were the only man available for the job. Not unless he can bike for 27 miles, which he can’t because they don’t have a 27 mile stretch in that whole place over there. I’d rather send Netanyahu, along with Newt and all the rest of you pandering schmucks to that new moon base Newt and Callista are building.
“The court action, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks nearly half a billion dollars in penalties from three Lebanese financial organizations — the now-defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank and two Beirut-based money exchange houses — and 30 auto dealers in the United States. The $480 million in penalties is the sum of the drug proceeds that are alleged to have been laundered; the government is also seeking to freeze and seize assets traceable to those companies………… Thursday’s complaint offers fresh details about the workings of what it says was a scheme to launder South American cocaine cash and Hezbollah’s own money, naming the American-based auto dealers and people it says were Hezbollah operatives. For example, the action charges that Oussama Salhab was a Hezbollah operative in Togo who ran a network that transported cash from cars sold in Benin on flights to Beirut. Prosecutors say he worked with Maroun Saade — suspected of being a member of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Lebanese Christian political party allied with Hezbollah — who has been charged in a separate case with aiding the Taliban………”
I wonder what Mel Brooks is up to these days? Is he teaming up with Oliver Stone? Could those two be working on something like this, this topic of my piece here?
Is it just the holiday season or is the world going crazy around me? At least from my current perspective in the Pacific Northwest it seems like many heretofore otherwise sensible people are going mad. Look at all this:
Hezbollah alliance with the Taliban (across fourteen centuries of separation, across five nations of separation)?
- Iranian alliance with al-Qaeda which is the mortal Wahhabi enemy of the Shi’as (including Iranians and Iraqis and Lebanese and Bahrainis and Pakistanis and all others)?
- Iranian and al-Qaeda alliance allegedly but ridiculously improbably going way back to the 1990s, mostly via the good offices and miraculous guesswork of Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia?
- Iranian-Mexican Drug Cartel-Texan Nutcase alliance to blow up a restaurant in Georgetown and its famous clients just because it serves mediocre food to smug bureaucrats and charges too much? This last one allegedly courtesy of the DEA and the U.S. Department of Justice, and possibly Mujahideen-e-Khalq, among others.
- Iraqi-Iranian-Syrian (wtf?)-Lebanese alliance to conquer Bahrain as a prelude to conquering the rest of the world and forcing Rick Santorum and Rick Perry to become Muslims and make the Hajj to Mecca?
- Lebanese-Columbian-Taliban-Hezbollah-Maronite Christian plot to make money from a new triangular trade but without the rum and the African slaves.
- Hezbollah-IRGC-Wehrmacht-Goldman Sachs…….. oh zut, sorry. Got carried away.
WTF is going on here? Is everyone going paranoid or are all of these plots real? Should we start looking under our beds each night for Iranian mullahs and Lebanese Shi’as? Are the Wahhabi princes now financing the hated Shi’a militants as well? Or is it just that the ‘plots’ are thickening?
“Raised a Christian, Manuel Gomez now goes by Mohamed Chechev, and counts himself among a handful of Tzotzil Indians converted to Islam by Spaniards in southern Mexico. “I am Muslim. I know the truth. I pray five times a day, celebrate Ramadan and have traveled to Mecca,” Chechev said in rudimentary Spanish. He lives in a mainly Protestant community in Chiapas called Nueva Esperanza on the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas, where he shares a modest house with 19 relatives and sells vegetables he grows on a plot of land……….. In the interior courtyard of the home, Chechev’s wife Noora (born Juana) and his daughter-in-law Sharifa (Pascuala) swept and cleaned laundry. They wore long dresses and a veil covered their hair………… And Chechev followed in the footsteps of another indigenous leader, Domingo Lopes, who was an official at an Adventist church before converting to Islam, introduced to the region by the Marabutin movement which moved to Mexico from Spain in 1993 in a bid to create a self-sufficient community. The Marabutin sect is a hangover from the days when Spain was part of the Muslim empire for some seven centuries……………”
Oddly, the Mexicans have not rushed to pass laws against the Shari’a threatening their Agave Tequila. They have not, yet, taken a page from the worthies in Bible Belt Oklahoma which passed an anti-Shari’a law last year only to discover that it may apply to the Bible and the Ten Commandments as well. There was also something about Islamic danger in both Tennessee and Missouri.
Call it the revenge of the native Mexican deity Quetzalcoatl against the Catholic priests who forced his fans, with iron and fire, to abandon him. Even more ironic: those who concerted these handful of Mexicans came from Spain, presumably without the regulation Catholic mullahs. And not seeking “oro y plata”.
Okay, before the good people of the great states of Tejas and Arizona panic: this “Muslim” conversion thing is far away in Chiapas. It is not going to go far, it will not spill across the border. Never fear, the drug cartels still rule supreme, and the Evangelicals, as they will for many years to come. There will be no “officially sanctioned” polygamy along the border, not as much as already exists in Texas.