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Shameless US Hypocrisy on Cuba




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US corporate media are having a field day over public protests in Cuba that are being hailed as a revolt against the island’s communist government.

The protests are said to have been prompted by economic hardship which has been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Scarcely mentioned by the Western media is the proverbial elephant in the room. That is, Cuba has endured nearly 60 years of unremitting economic sanctions imposed on it by the US. 

Can we please just focus on that vital background to the story and get our heads around the fact that the American government is a criminally hostile and lawless entity. The Caribbean country has been throttled and strangulated for over half a century by over a dozen American presidents whose malign conduct is no better than that of crime bosses. 

Under President Trump, the economic blockade was tightened with new vindictive measures to hit the Cuban economy and population of 11 million. The new Biden administration has done nothing to reverse those harsher sanctions. 

President Biden this week has the gall to say “the United States stands with the people” of Cuba in their protests. What Biden really means to say is the US is standing on the necks of Cubans. 

Every year, the vast majority of countries at the United Nations general assembly make an appeal for Washington to lift its callous embargo on Cuba. Every year, Washington vetos that international call. 

There is no legal justification for American sanctions on Cuba. It is an act of sheer spite because Cuba dared to have a socialist revolution in 1959 when it kicked out a US-backed dictator and American businesses that were exploiting the people to the hilt. Cuba then became the “threat of a good example” to the rest of the hemisphere also plagued by American imperialism and predation. It had to be punished and destroyed so that others would not repeat the rejection of Uncle Sam and his crime syndicate.

AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa

An American classic car and bicycle share the road on the Malecon amid a cloud of Sahara dust in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Amazingly, Cuba and its revolution have survived against impossible odds and brought its people many successes in social development. It also inspired other Latin American nations to follow its path despite Washington’s unforgiving barbarity. America likewise sanctions Venezuela and Nicaragua because of their socialist governments, thereby making social misery and suffering in those countries as well.

It cannot be overstated. American economic sanctions are criminal. They are nothing short of economic warfare and aimed deliberately at making life unbearable for the population in order to destabilize the government and incite revolt. 

When US media blithely mention “sanctions” on Cuba that is a monstrous feat of hypocrisy. Washington should be unequivocally condemned for crimes against humanity and aggression towards a peaceful nation. 

The media silence in the face of this appalling barbarity really demonstrates the cowardice and propaganda function of the US corporate media. 

The Cuban people have been subjected to a siege of terror for six decades. That state-sponsored terrorism by the United States has involved attempted military invasion (the Bay of Pigs in 1961), the threat of nuclear annihilation (1962 missile crisis), countless assassination plots against the late leader Fidel Castro and other government figures, biological warfare to destroy the island’s agriculture, as well as mass murder as in the CIA bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner in 1976 which killed 73 people. 

The psychopathic US rulers have ratcheted up economic warfare against the people of Cuba during a worldwide pandemic, limiting Cuba’s access to medicines and other vital imports. 

Not only that but there are grounds to believe that the relatively small protests that have erupted across Cuba have been instigated by Washington and its paid-for “opposition figures”. 

It has all the hallmarks of a “color revolution” orchestrated by US intelligence and the ever-pliant news media who are scripting a “pro-democracy” uprising. 

However, such American media claims should be disdained with contempt. Pathetically, the corporate-controlled media have never stood up during 60 years to tell the truth about the American government and its criminal covert war on the Cuban people. Whatever they “report” now about Cuba should be dismissed as yet more distortion and fabrication in the service of Uncle Sam. 

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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Texas Deputy AG Apologizes for Slamming Simone Biles as ‘National Embarrassment’




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US gymnast Simone Biles received immense support from Americans this week after announcing she would not be competing in the Team USA final, nor the women’s individual all-around gymnastics final, due to personal mental health concerns. At the same time, the 24-year-old has received backlash from many individuals who viewed her pull-out as weak.

Aaron Reitz, deputy attorney general for Texas, took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to issue an apology to Biles, and recant a statement in which he panned the record-setting US gymnast as a “national embarrassment.” 

“In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed. That was an error. I can’t imagine what Simone Biles has gone through,” Reitz claimed. “Simone Biles is a true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of our time.”

“I apologize to her, and wish her well,” the deputy AG concluded, emphasizing that his “personal social media comments” do not represent the views of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, nor the Office of the Attorney General. 

Reitz’s since-deleted tweet against Biles, who was born in Texas and still resides in the Lone Star State, quoted another post that applauded the 1996 Olympic performance of Team USA gymnast Kerri Strug. Strug, one of the US’ “Magnificent Seven,” severely injured her ankle during the first half of the vault competition, but refused to bow out of the event and ultimately led her team to win the US’ first gold medal in women’s gymnastics. 

“Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment, Simone Biles,” Reitz said in his quote tweet. 

The deputy AG’s attempt at using Strug’s story to chastise Biles fell flat, as the two-time Olympian threw her support behind the 24-year-old on Tuesday. 

Furthermore, it is worth noting that Biles is no stranger to performing with adversity. When the US Women’s Gymnastics team took home gold at the 2018 World Championships in Qatar, Biles dominated in nearly every competition, despite intense stomach pains from what was later confirmed to be a kidney stone. 

Despite her pull-outs this year, Biles has continued to root for her fellow Team USA gymnasts. She also expressed in a Wednesday social media post that “the outpouring [of] love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”

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Aid cuts make a mockery of UK pledges on girls’ education | Zoe Williams



With all the fanfare Covid would allow, the global education summit opened in London this week. Ahead of the meeting, the minister for European neighbourhood and the Americas was on rousing form. “Educating girls is a gamechanger,” Wendy Morton said, going on to describe what a plan would look like to do just that.

The UK, co-hosting the summit with Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, plans to raise funds for the Global Partnership for Education, from governments and donors. The UK government has promised £430m over the next five years.

There followed a number of reasons why the issue is so important, all of them absolutely sound: on any given indicator, from GDP to infant health and beyond, a nation stands or falls by how well, for how long, and how inclusively it educates its girls.

The issue has never been more important than during this pandemic, which in many countries is hitting a peak having already affected girls disproportionately.

These are all the right words, even in the right order, yet they land completely at odds with the government’s behaviour.

Lis Wallace, head of advocacy at the One campaign, is most immediately concerned with these pledges being fully funded. There are two core targets: one is to increase girls’ access to education, the other is to boost the key milestone for all children – that they’re able to read and understand a simple story by the age of 10.

The past 18 months have been devastating for education, particularly in countries where it’s harder to access to online learning. About 1.6 billion children are out of school across the world. There’s a target to raise $5bn (£3.6bn), “which is a drop in the ocean of what is required to meet the global learning crisis”, Wallace says. It looks as though this summit will raise no more than $4bn, which is nothing less than a “failure of statecraft”, as Wallace explains: “It’s challenging when the host government is stepping back and making aid cuts for it then to ask other countries to step up.”

This is a depressing echo of the G7’s failure earlier this year; commitments to share vaccine doses with low-income countries came too little, too late, with devastating results, and it’s hard to avoid the question of whether that outcome would have been different if the host nation had role modelled some generosity.

Furthermore, there’s some confused causality in the minister’s assertion that staying in school protects girls from “forced child marriage, gender-based violence and early pregnancy”. The exact inverse is true: it is largely teenage pregnancy that forces girls out of school in the first place, and to try to use education in lieu of sexual health and reproductive provision is illogical.

Esi Asare Prah, who is a youth and advocacy officer in Ghana for MSI Reproductive Choices, describes a situation in which 5,000 to 7,000 girls drop out of school each year after becoming pregnant – last year, 2,000 of them were between 10 and 14. Across sub-Saharan Africa, MSI estimates that up to 4 million girls drop out or are excluded from school every year due to pregnancy.

“These girls are most likely to be on the street, doing menial jobs; their children will not make it into higher education. It creates a cycle of poverty and a cycle of slums. For me, the foundation of it is that you can’t seek to invest in education for girls in sub-Saharan Africa and cut down funding for sexual and reproductive health. If you treat development issues as isolated, you will have the same issues of 50 years ago chasing you into the future.”

Here, the recent cuts to the aid budget make a mockery of these pledges on education: UK funding to the UN Population Fund recently went down by 85%.

There is inspiration to take from this summit, nevertheless; President Kenyatta has been leading the charge not only on education but also on the climate crisis, and there is a solidarity and sense of purpose between poorer nations that may yet inspire greater generosity from donors. Whatever it achieves, though, it will be despite its UK host not because of them.

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[Ticker] US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation



US secretary of state Antony Blinken affirmed his country’s support to conduct additional investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 after meeting with the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday, Reuters reported. “He stressed the need for the next phase to be timely, evidence-based, transparent, expert-led, and free from interference,” a US state department spokesperson said in a statement.

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