2019 MAR 04 Fifty years later, Agent Orange toxic byproducts found in Vietnam soil.

2019 MAR 04 50 years later, Agent Orange toxic byproducts found in Vietnam soil. https://www.earth.com/news/agent-orange-toxic-byproducts-vietnam-soil/ … New research has revealed that toxic byproducts of the herbicide Agent Orange used by the US military continue to contaminate soils in Vietnam today.

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2019 FEB 27 Agent Orange effects being seen in grandchildren of Vietnam War veterans.

2019 FEB 27 Agent Orange effects being seen in grandchildren of Vietnam War veterans https://www.wjbf.com/lifestyle/health/agent-orange-effects-being-seen-in-grandchildren-of-vietnam-war-veterans/1814183879 … Emma 9, a little girl but Emma's medical problems keeps growing!

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Landmark court decision extends Agent Orange presumption to veterans who served in ‘territorial waters’ of Vietnam.

Landmark court decision extends Agent Orange presumption to veterans who served in ‘territorial waters’ of Vietnam. https://thenewsrep.com/113451/landmark-court-decision-extends-agent-orange-presumption-to-veterans-who-served-in-territorial-waters-of-vietnam/ … AGENT ORANGE VICTIMS

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Court rules VA must pay disability benefits to ‘blue water’ Vietnam. AGENT ORANGE VICTIMS

Court rules VA must pay disability benefits to ‘blue water’ Vietnam veterans https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2019/01/29/court-rules-va-must-pay-disability-benefits-to-blue-water-vietnam-veterans/ … AGENT ORANGE VICTIMS

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After Court Case, UVA Students’ Tool Could Help Veterans Get Key Benefits … Agent Orange Victims

AFTER COURT CASE, UVA STUDENTS’ TOOL COULD HELP VETERANS GET KEY BENEFITS. https://news.virginia.edu/content/after-court-case-uva-students-tool-could-help-veterans-get-key-benefits … AGENT ORANGE VICTIMS

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Castro is Dead! “Leaders Speaks” History Speaks the Truth”

Cuba: Castro Dead Feature

THE HISTORY RAW and not politically interpreted = TRUTH & FACTS!

Political executions Latin American historian Thomas E. Skidmore says there had been 550 executions in the first six months of 1959. British historian Hugh Thomas, in his study Cuba or the pursuit of freedom stated that “perhaps” 5,000 executions had taken place by 1970. The World Handbook of Political and Social Indicators ascertained that there had been 2,113 political executions between the years of 1958–67. Professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, Rudolph J. Rummel estimated the number of political executions at between 4,000 and 33,000 from 1958–87, with a mid range of 15,000, The Black Book of Communism is that throughout Cuba 15,000–17,000 people were executed.

Refugees 1,200,000 Cubans (about 10% of the current population) left the island for the United States between 1959 and 1993

Forced labor camps and abuse of prisoners In 1986 a “Tribunal on Cuba” was held in Paris to present testimonies by former prisoners of Cuba’s penal system to the international media. The gathering was sponsored by Resistance International and The Coalition of Committees for the Rights of Man in Cuba. The testimonies presented at the tribunal, before an international panel, alleged a pattern of torture in Cuba’s prisons and “hard labor camps”. These included beatings, biological experiments in diet restrictions, violent interrogations and extremely unsanitary conditions. The jury concurred with allegations of arbitrary arrests; sentencing by court martial with neither public audience nor defense; periods in hard labour camps without sufficient food, clothes and medical care; and the arrests of children over nine years old

Political abuse of psychiatry  Americas Watch and Amnesty International published reports alluding to cases of possible unwarranted hospitalization and ill-treatment of political prisoners. These reports concerned the Gustavo Machin hospital in Santiago de Cuba in the southeast of the country and the major mental hospital in Havana. In 1977, a report on alleged abuse of psychiatry in Cuba presenting cases of ill-treatment in mental hospitals going back to the 1970s came out in the United States. It presents grave allegations that prisoners end up in the forensic ward of mental hospitals in Santiago de Cuba and Havana where they undergo ill-treatment including electroconvulsive therapy without muscle relaxants or anaesthesia. The reported application of ECT in the forensic wards seems, at least in many of the cited cases, not to be an adequate clinical treatment for the diagnosed state of the prisoner—in some cases the prisoners seem not to have been diagnosed at all. Conditions in the forensic wards have been described in repulsive terms and apparently are in striking contrast to the other parts of the mental hospitals that are said to be well-kept and modern

Political repression A 2009 report by Human Rights Watch concluded that “Raúl Castro has kept Cuba’s repressive machinery firmly in place…since being handed power by his brother Fidel Castro.” The report found that ” scores of political prisoners arrested under Fidel continue to languish in prison, and Raúl has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental rights.”

Freedom House classifies Cuba as being “Not Free”, and notes that “Cuba is the only country in the Americas that consistently makes Freedom House’s list of the Worst of the Worst: the World’s Most Repressive Societies for widespread abuses of political rights and civil liberties

Censorship Cuba officially adopted the civil and political rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. One of the key principles in the declaration was the insistence on Freedom of expression and opinion. The Cuban constitution says that free speech is allowed “in keeping with the objectives of socialist society” and that artistic creation is allowed “as long as its content is not contrary to the Revolution”.

Cuba’s ranking was on the bottom of the Press Freedom Index 2008 compiled by the Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Cuba was named one of the ten most censored countries in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Books, newspapers, radio channels, television channels, movies and music are supposedly censored, although a lot of foreign media, particularly movies and music, has notably been heard and seen without any police interference.

Media is operated under the supervision of the Communist Party’s Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which “develops and coordinates propaganda strategies

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights assess that: “It is evident that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression under this article of the Constitution is governed by two fundamental determinants: on the one hand, the preservation and strengthening of the communist State; on the other, the need to muzzle any criticism of the group in power.” Human rights group Amnesty International assert that the universal state ownership of the media means that freedom of expression is restricted. Thus the exercise of the right to freedom of expression is restricted by the lack of means of mass communication falling outside state control. Human Rights Watch states: “Refusing to recognize human rights monitoring as a legitimate activity, the government denies legal status to local human rights groups. Individuals who belong to these groups face systematic harassment, with the government putting up obstacles to impede them from documenting human rights conditions. In addition, international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are barred from sending fact-finding missions to Cuba. It remains one of the few countries in the world to deny the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisons.

Restrictions of assembly Human Rights Watch states that “freedom of assembly is severely restricted in Cuba, and political dissidents are generally prohibited from meeting in large groups. Amnesty states that “All human rights, civil and professional associations and unions that exist today in Cuba outside the officialdom of the state apparatus and mass organizations controlled by the government are barred from having legal status. This often puts at risk the individuals who belong to these associations of facing harassment, intimidation or criminal charges for activities which constitute the legitimate exercise of the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly.”

The Cuban authorities only recognize a single national trade union centre, the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), heavily controlled by the State and the Communist Party which appoints its leaders. Membership is compulsory for all workers. Before a worker can be hired, they must sign a contract in which they promise to support the Communist Party and everything it represents. The government explicitly prohibits independent trade unions, there is systematic harassment and detention of labor activists, and the leaders of attempted independent unions have been imprisoned. The right to strike is not recognized in law.

Bans are enforced by “Rapid Brigades”, consisting of members of the army and police in plain clothes, who beat and disperse any demonstrators.

Society In 2001 an attempt was made by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and others from the Christian Liberation Movement, operating as the Varela Project, to have a national plebiscite using provisions in the Constitution of Cuba which provided for citizen initiative. If accepted by the government and approved by public vote, the amendments would have established such things as freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of press, as well as starting private businesses. The petition was refused by the National Assembly and in response a referendum was held in support of socialism being a permanent fixture of the constitution, for which the government claimed 99% voter approval.

Another important project is the establishment of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society. The Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba is a coalition of 365 independent civil society groups with the stated aims of forming a democratic culture, developing a social movement, strengthening the Assembly’s organization, communicating among groups to promote the civil society, using all available means to combat poverty and seeking the betterment of the community’s life conditions, developing a true knowledge of Cuba’s history, in all its dimensions: economic, social and political, undertaking activities and projects aimed at the protection and conservation of natural resources and the ecosystem, and promoting a true culture on labor rights. The Assembly had its first meeting in May 2005

Acts of repudiation Human rights groups including Amnesty International have long been critical of what the Cuban authorities have termed “Acts of repudiation” (actos de repudio). These acts occur when large groups of citizens verbally abuse, intimidate and sometimes physically assault and throw stones and other objects at homes of Cubans considered to be counter-revolutionary. Human rights groups suspect that these acts are often carried out in collusion with the security forces and sometimes involve the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution or the Rapid Response Brigades. The level of violence of these acts have increased significantly since 2003

Religious freedom In the years following the Cuban Revolution, the activities of the Roman Catholic Church were severely limited and in 1961 all property held by religious organizations was confiscated without compensation. Hundreds of members of the clergy, including a bishop, were permanently expelled from the nation. The Cuban leadership was officially atheist until 1992 when the Communist Party agreed to allow religious followers to join the party. In 1998, Pope John Paul II visited the island and was allowed to conduct large outdoor masses and visas were issued for nineteen foreign priests taking up residence in the country. In addition, other religious groups in Cuba such as the Jewish community are now permitted to hold public services and to import religious materials and kosher food for Passover, as well as to receive rabbis and other religious visitors from abroad. In October 2008, Cuba marked the opening of a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Havana in a ceremony attended by Raul Castro, Vice President Esteban Lazo, Parliament leader Ricardo Alarcon, and other figures. The Cuban press noted that the cathedral was the first of its kind in Latin America.

Torture of prisoners Day and night, the screams of tormented women in panic and desperation who cry for God’s mercy fall upon the deaf ears of prison authorities. They are confined to narrow cells with no sunlight called “drawers” that have cement beds, a hole on the ground for their bodily needs, and are infested with a multitude of rodents, roaches, and other insects…. In these “drawers” the women remain weeks and months. When they scream in terror due to the darkness (blackouts are common) and the heat, they are injected sedatives that keep them half-drugged. — Juan Carlos González Leiva, State Security Prison. Holguín, Cuba, October 2003

The Cuban Foundation for Human Rights reports torture of female prisoners in Cuba. About the torture in Cuba, in 2005 a group of culture personalities, including several Nobel Prize laureates, have signed an appeal on The Guardian in defense of Cuba, stating that “the government of the US has no moral authority to elect itself as the judge over human rights in Cuba, where there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959, and where despite the economic blockade, there are levels of health, education and culture that are internationally recognised.” The appeal is signed, for example, by Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, José Saramago, Claudio Abbado, Manu Chao, Walter Salles, Nadine Gordimer, Harold Pinter, Tariq Ali, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Ernesto Cardenal, Alice Walker, Ramsey Clark and Danielle Mitterrand

Black Spring (The Press) In March 2003, the government of Cuba arrested dozens of people (including self-identified journalists and human rights activists), and charged them with sedition due to their alleged cooperation with James Cason, head of the United States Interests Section in Havana. The accused were tried and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 28 years. In all, 75 people were given lengthy sentences averaging 17 years each. Among those sentenced were Raúl Rivero, Martha Beatriz Roque, and Oscar Elías Biscet. Amnesty International described the trials as “hasty and manifestly unfair.

Campaigns against homosexual behavior Thousands of homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, conscientious objectors, and dissidents were forced to conduct their compulsory military service in the 1960s at UMAP camps, where they were subject to political “reeducation”. Military commanders brutalized the inmates. Carlos Alberto Montaner says “Camps of forced labour were instituted with all speed to “correct” such deviations…. Verbal and physical mistreatment, shaved heads, work from dawn to dusk, hammocks, dirt floors, scarce food…. The camps became increasingly crowded as the methods of arrest became more expedient”.

In the late 1960s, because of “revolutionary social hygiene”, the Castro government claimed to cleanse the arts of “fraudulent sodomitic” writers and “sick effeminate” dancers. Additionally, men with long hair were locked up and their hair was cut.

Castro is reported to once have asserted that, “in the country[side], there are no homosexuals”, before in 1992 claiming that homosexuality is a “natural human tendency that must simply be respected.” Another source reports Castro as having denounced “maricones” (“faggots”) as “agents of imperialism”. Castro has also reportedly asserted that “homosexuals should not be allowed in positions where they are able to exert influence upon young people”

Recent changes Cuba has taken some reforms recently. In 2003, Carlos Sanchez from the International Lesbian and Gay Association issued a report on the status of gay people in Cuba that claimed that the Cuban government no longer offers any legal punishment for its gay citizens, that there is a greater level of tolerance among Cubans for gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and that the Cuban government was open to endorsing a gay and lesbian rights plank at the United Nations. Since 2005 sex reassignment surgeries for transgender individuals are free under law, and are paid for by the government. Also Havana now has a “lively and vibrant” gay and lesbian scene.

In a 2010 interview with Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, called the persecution of homosexuals whilst he was in power “a great injustice, great injustice!” Taking responsibility for the persecution, he said, “If anyone is responsible, it’s me… We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death. In those moments I was not able to deal with that matter [of homosexuals]. I found myself immersed, principally, in the Crisis of October, in the war, in policy questions.” Castro personally believed that the negative treatment of gays in Cuba arose out of the country’s pre-revolutionary attitudes toward homosexuality.

Mariela Castro, daughter of current president Raul Castro has been pushing for lesbian rights with the pro-lesbian government sponsored Cuban National Center for Sexual Education which she leads. Mariela has claimed her father fully supports her initiatives, saying that her father has overcome his initial homophobia to support his daughter.


President Elect

Donald J Trump


gets it right again:



Fidel Castro is dead!

 

‘A BRUTAL DICTATOR’

Trump condemns Castro as ‘brutal dictator’ David Jackson , USA TODAY 7:34 p.m. EST November 26, 2016

Donald Trump calls Fidel Castro ‘brutal dictator’ BBC Latin America & Caribbean

Donald Trump dubs Fidel Castro a ‘brutal dictator’ smh.com.au NOVEMBER 27 2016

How Donald Trump responded to the death of Fidel Castro, ‘a brutal dictator’ washingtonpost.com By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. November 26

Donald Trump: Fidel Castro is dead!  cnn.com By Eugene Scott, CNN November 26, 2016

Trump calls Fidel Castro ‘a brutal dictator’ as Cuban-Americans dance in the streets cbc.ca  The Associated Press Posted: Nov 26

Fidel Castro death: Donald Trump hopes for a free Cuba – as it happened theguardian.com


World Leaders Speak

Barack Obama, US president

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.

‎For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbours and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.

Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”

Donald Trump, US president-elect:

Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia:

Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia. He embodied the high ideals of a politician, a citizen and a patriot sincerely, convinced of the rightness of the cause to which he dedicated his whole life. His memory will forever remain in the hearts of the citizens of Russia.”

Xi Jinping, president of China:

The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade. Comrade Castro will live forever.”


Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union:

Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him, and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development. In the past years, even when Fidel Castro was not formally in power, his role in strengthening the country was huge.”

Pope Francis:

In a message to Fidel Castro’s brother Raul: “I express to you my sentiments of grief.”


Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK opposition:

(He was) a massive figure in the history of the whole planet. History will show that Fidel was somebody who stood up for something very, very different in the Caribbean and many independent people would say how good healthcare and education are in Cuba compared with many other places in the world.”

Boris Johnson, UK foreign secretary:

Fidel Castro’s death marks the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba’s people.”


Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada

We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader. While a controversial figure, both Mr Castro’s supporters and detractors recognise his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for El Comandante.”

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa:

President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid.”


François Hollande, president of France:

Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the 20th century. He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionments. France, which condemned human rights abuses in Cuba, had equally challenged the US embargo on Cuba, and France was glad to see the two countries re-establish dialogue and open ties between themselves.”

Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico:

I lament the passing of Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban revolution and emblem of the 20th century. Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoter of a bilateral relationship based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.”


Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela:

To all the revolutionaries of the world, we have to continue his legacy and his flag of independence, of socialism, of homeland.”

Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador:

He was a great one. Fidel is dead. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!”


Narendra Modi, prime minister of India:

Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend.”

Trân Đai Quang, president of Vietnam

For all Vietnamese, Fidel was a great friend, a comrade and a very close brother.”


American Cubans Speak

<<< They Echo President Elect Trump said!

World Watch List – Country Profiles

Open Doors Logo (01) feature

World Watch List 2016: Released

The list showing the countries where Christians are persecuted most, has just been released. Resources will be available from 1 February.

The countries listed below make up the current World Watch List – a yearly ranking of the top 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most intense. Click on a country to read about its current situation.

Source: World Watch List – Country Profiles