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Cuba: A History of Resistance and U.S. Meddling

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by Askia Muhammad
Special to the NNPA from The Final Call

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – There is a reason why leaders in this country waged a “cold war” against neighboring Cuba after revolutionary forces led by Fidel Castro overthrew the corrupt, American-friendly dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista: they did not want the revolutionary ideas such as agrarian reform and socialism to spread to other Latin American and Caribbean countries, or to even take hold in the U.S.

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After President Dwight Eisenhower rejected Cuban overtures for cooperation with the U.S., Cuban President Castro signed a commercial agreement with the Soviet Union in February 1960. One month later Mr. Eisenhower approved a CIA plan to train Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro government.

For seven years—from 1959 until 1966—U.S. supported rebels fought an insurgency, attempting to overthrow the Cuban government, including the CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion on April 14, 1961 in which 1,400 Cuban exiles landed and were captured and defeated.

On Oct. 19, 1960 the U.S. first placed its embargo and trade sanctions on the island nation of 11 million, which remains in effect to this day, and until Congress lifts it. U.S. citizens and companies are restricted from exporting virtually anything to Cuba, so long as the Cuban government refuses to move toward “democratization and greater respect for human rights.”

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In a 2006 British documentary film called “638 Ways to Kill Castro,” produced by the U.K.’s Channel Four, multiple methods of attempted assassination were revealed, from exploding cigars, to would-be female seductresses; a radio station rigged with gaseous LSD, to a poison syringe disguised as a fountain pen.

Despite the crippling sanctions since the revolution, health care is now free in Cuba, education is free there, and life expectancy and literacy rates are well above those of other South American countries, rivaling those in this country. In 2012, life expectancy for example was 79.07 years in Cuba, but only 78.74 years in the U.S.

In 1961, President Castro launched the “year of education,” and sent “literacy brigades” out into the countryside to construct schools, train new educators, and teach the predominately illiterate Guajiros(peasants) to read and write. The campaign was successful, and by the completion of the campaign, 707,212 adults were taught to read and write, raising the national literacy rate to 96 percent. U.S. literacy is 99 percent.

In a 2006 British documentary film called “638 Ways to Kill Castro,” produced by the U.K.’s Channel Four, multiple methods of attempted assassination were revealed, from exploding cigars, to would-be female seductresses; a radio station rigged with gaseous LSD, to a poison syringe disguised as a fountain pen.

In the film, Fabian Escalante, the former head of the Intelligence Directorate and the man who had the job of protecting President Castro for many of the 49 years he was in power, alleges that there were more than 600 plots and conspiracies known to Cuban agents, all dreamt up to end Mr. Castro’s life. Some were perpetrated by the Central Intelligence Agency, especially during the first half of the 1960s. From the 1970s on, the attempts were most often made by Cuban exiles trained by the CIA shortly after the revolution in 1959.

In addition to the trade embargo and sanctions, there is an “information embargo” which prevents accurate information about Cuba to reach people in this country. In September 1960 when Mr. Castro attended the United Nations General Assembly session, the decision of the Cuban delegation to stay at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem was the subject of much derision and humor, because the Cuban leader brought fresh chickens to kill and eat, lest his food be poisoned by American assassins. President Castro met with poet Langston Hughes, and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s national representative, Minister Malcolm X, during that visit.

“I think that he was hated by this country because he symbolized so many things that if we tried to follow, would turn this country on its head,” Ellen Bernstein, former associate director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) told The Final Call. “He was about free education, free health care. He was about a government that favored the dignity of the poor, and created a safety net for people.” Ms. Bernstein was literally enroute back to this country from a visit to Cuba when President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro simultaneously announced the new diplomatic détente between the two countries.

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, left, waves during an ALBA summit in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 20. The meeting in Havana was called by Maduro with the stated objective of preventing the spread of Ebola. Cuba sent nearly 400 doctors to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the largest contribution by any single country. Pres. Raul Castro said, “Cuba is willing to work shoulder to shoulder with all other countries, including the United States.” Also pictured are Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, left, and Castro, center. Photos: AP/Wide World photos

Led by the late Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., beginning in 1992 IFCO Pastors For Peace defied the U.S. embargo 24 times, with thousands of volunteers, delivering hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid—from powdered milk, medicine, bibles, bicycles, and school supplies on the first caravan, to computers and school buses at the end.

The caravans—which often included Cuban exiles living in the U.S.—travelled throughout this country collecting donated supplies, before transiting to Cuba by way of Mexico. The participants in the caravans were literally “conscientious objectors to the embargo,” Ms. Bernstein said.

“(President Castro) was also about resisting the great power to the north, where so many other countries in the region, in order to accept loan packages from the IMF and the World Bank and the U.S. government, they changed their systems around, and started privatizing their schools and privatizing their hospitals, and Cuba refused to do that,” she continued. “Cuba said, even if it really makes us struggle, we value the system that is gonna be in favor of our people.

“It’s really hard to get that message across in the United States. What you hear is about Fidel being the evil dictator, and Cuba being the prison for 11 million people, but if you spend any time in Cuba, what you find are people who are really well educated who wish they could be really more economically prosperous, but they feel that they’re participating in a system that is accomplishing something important.

“It’s trying to take care of people. They see how we struggle up here. They see Ferguson, and they see how our Congress is not responsive to the wishes of the majority, and they see us being bad neighbors.”

There is a nostalgic image of Cuba, as if the country is stuck in the past, with 1950s-vintage American cars, and a population waiting for U.S. fast food chains and U.S.-style “freedoms,” and a chance to sell their rum and famous cigars to American tourists.

“What I see in Cuba is so many accomplishments, so many great things to be celebrated and things we could be learning from,” said Ms. Bernstein. “I hope that the U.S. attitude isn’t always going to be, ‘We need to have our little playground back so that we can go sit on the beach and drink mojitos and smoke cigars.’ ”

Instead, the country has been on the frontline, with both troops, but especially with doctors, in Africa—fighting Ebola and other diseases—and in Haiti. “The Cuban doctors who are working in West Africa, the Cuban doctors who work in Haiti, have much more experience than a lot of our doctors working in really minimal infrastructure conditions, but providing the highest quality of clinical care,” said Ms. Bernstein.

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The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (c) and the Millions More Movement delegation in Cuba with the island nation’s medical students after his historic address to them. Photo: Final Call Archives

“And you know students from the United States are benefitting from that training now and coming back to the U.S. to work and be physicians here. What Cuba has been doing in bio-technology, what Cuba has been doing in terms of environmental work, climate control, what Cuba has been doing in terms of many of its social programs: and what the Cubans always say about it is that they literally don’t have a lot of economic resources, they hardly have any, but what they have is human resources, and because they prize education and because they count on the ingenuity and the resistance of their people to keep inventing new solutions to things.

“Cuba is putting out a cholera vaccine next year. And Cuba has created vaccines against meningitis B and meningitis A, a lot of diseases that only come up in the more developing nations and the poorer countries where the U.S. and the big pharmaceutical companies don’t have an interest in making those products because they don’t see a market where they’re going to make any money.

“But Cuba steps up to meet those needs and has done that consistently over the years. I would hope that the U.S. would learn something from Cuba about being a good neighbor. There is a word in Spanish—which may have been derived from Arabic,” Ms. Bernstein explained, describing the Cuban optimism about their future. “The word is ‘Ojalá’ which means, ‘from your lips to God’s ears,’ it means ‘if only.’ It means, ‘we wish.’

“I hope that the U.S. can come to a point where it can really listen and be in respectful dialogue with our Cuban neighbors, because we do have an awful lot to learn,” Ms. Bernstein said.

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COMMENTARY: Is U.S. marching steadily to war with Iran?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — A war, Mr. Trump may be estimating, could “rescue” him politically, and inject more money into the Pentagon. The U.S. “war strategy” was revealed by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) after a House Armed Services Committee meeting and confirmed to The Intercept by Rep. Gabbard. “We were all in that meeting with Pompeo where those statements were made,” Ms. Gabbard said.

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An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, June 13. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on June 13, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. Photo: AP/Wide World Photo

By Askia Muhammad, Senior Editor, The Final Call
@askiaphotojourn

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump seems to want war with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is beating the drum for war with Iran. National Security Adviser John Bolton is itching for war with Iran. Together they are orchestrating an all-too-familiar scenario to justify the use of U.S. military force against the Islamic Republic.

In 1846 U.S. forces falsely claimed they were attacked by Mexican forces inside U.S. territory. In retaliation the U.S. launched the Mexican-American War, seizing land from New Mexico to California, to Colorado, even to Utah. Have we forgotten the suspicious sinking of the USS Maine, the Navy ship which went down in the Havana Harbor in 1898, dragging the U.S. into the Spanish-American War?

In 1962, a Pentagon plan called “Operation Northwoods” was hatched for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to commit acts of terrorism against U.S. civilians to be blamed on Cuba, in order to justify an invasion of that country. In 1964 the White House committed “material misrepresentations” of the truth of what was known as the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” in order to goad Congress into authorizing war with Vietnam. And of course, the convincing dramatizations of “Yellow Cake Uranium” and non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” were used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Trump administration is now stoking fear of a potential conflict with Iran. The president withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—in May 2018. More recently, National Security Adviser John Bolton asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran.

In the latest incident, the Secretary of State said Iran was behind the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman June 13, implicating the nation in the second set of attacks on tankers in the region in two months. U.S. Central Command even released a video it says shows Iran removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers it’s accused of attacking.

But the Japanese owner of the ship that was damaged denied that it was struck by mines as the U.S. claims, insisting instead that it was hit by “flying objects.” Yutaka Katada, president of the Kokuka Sangyo shipping firm that owns the Kokuka Courageous tanker, told reporters in Tokyo June 14: “The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something came flying toward them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel. Then some crew witnessed a second shot.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran—(without) a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence,” and he accused the Trump White House of “economic terrorism” and “sabotage diplomacy,” according to published reports.

“So it’s apparent that the United States is trying to execute a false flag operation and to throw dust in the eyes of international communities and make the international community feel that the Iranians are the aggressors when in fact it’s Washington that’s the aggressor,” Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston said in an interview.

The U.S. lust for war is because U.S. interests and allies are suffering, while Iran is making gains in the region, according to Dr. Horne. The U.S. invasion of Iraq has made that country even more dependent on Iran for everything from electricity to security. And U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is fighting a costly and bloody war against rebels in Yemen who enjoy Iranian support.

“Interestingly enough, because of Mr. Trump pulling out of the (Iranian) nuclear deal, the EU 3—Germany, Britain, and France—are trying to set up a special purpose vehicle to circumvent U.S. sanctions,” Dr. Horne said, “which will then be a threat to the dollar, which is now under siege not only because of the EU 3 but also because of Russia (and) China preparing to conduct trade without the dollar.”

A war, Mr. Trump may be estimating, could “rescue” him politically, and inject more money into the Pentagon. The U.S. “war strategy” was revealed by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) after a House Armed Services Committee meeting and confirmed to The Intercept by Rep. Gabbard. “We were all in that meeting with Pompeo where those statements were made,” Ms. Gabbard said.

The Trump administration is prepared to wage the war against Iran without congressional authorization, based on the notion that the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” approved by Congress in 2001 after 9/11 can be applied to Iran, through that country’s purported links to Al Qaeda.

Democratic House members and senators, and a host of presidential candidates condemned the president’s saber rattling. “If the administration wants to go to war against Iran, then the Constitution requires them to come to Congress to ask for an authorization for the use of military force,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a presidential candidate told reporters.

“This is Constitutional Law 101, that it is Congress, not the president, that declares war,” Sen. Warren, a former law professor, continued. “We would have to have a debate on the floor of the Senate. And if the administration doesn’t believe that they can withstand a debate, then they shouldn’t be aiming themselves toward war.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters after a classified members-only briefing on Iran, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump told an interviewer on June 13 that “Iran did do it.” In response, presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters: “Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman are unacceptable and must be fully investigated. But this incident must not be used as a pretext for a war with Iran, a war which would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region and the world.

“The time is now for the United States to exert international leadership and bring the countries in the region together to forge a diplomatic solution to the growing tensions. I would also remind President Trump that there is no congressional authorization for a war with Iran. A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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Dennis-Benn’s novel of Jamaican immigrant is magnetic, wrenching

FLORIDA COURIER — In her new novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching. The story is a perfect fit for the author: Her first novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” laid bare the poster image of Jamaica as a tropical paradise, revealing the ugly truths behind the promises of sun, sand and sex.

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Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

By Connie Ogle

In America, anyone can be anything. That’s what the dream assures us, right?

We live in the land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard. Unless of course you get here the wrong way. Then there’s little opportunity, few choices, constant unease, quick despair. You don’t belong.

In her new novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching.

The story is a perfect fit for the author: Her first novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” laid bare the poster image of Jamaica as a tropical paradise, revealing the ugly truths behind the promises of sun, sand and sex.

Another mirage

Now, in “Patsy,” she exposes another mirage, returning to themes she explored with insight and empathy — sexism, racism, colorism, homophobia, motherhood and poverty.

What must women sacrifice, Dennis-Benn asks, to become their true selves? It’s not just a question for the privileged. Patsy, a civil servant in Jamaica, knows her answer.

In a fair world, her affinity for math would lead her to a desirable job.

Accounting, maybe. But such work is impossible to find, because dark-skinned, poor women like Patsy have little value in her town.

So Patsy has invested the little money she has saved and spent it on a visa application. She is going to America, she tells her 5-year-old daughter Tru, to “mek t’ings bettah fah you. Fall all ah we.”

A new life

This is a lie. Patsy hopes to find a better job — after all, she has taken two courses at a community college and once solved 100 math problems in a row at school.

But she won’t return to Jamaica because Cicely is in America. Cicely, her beautiful friend who emigrated and married for a green card.

Patsy and Cicely loved each other once, and Cicely still writes hopeful letters to Patsy, encouraging her to come to New York. And so Patsy leaves Tru to build a new life. But America is less a paradise than a treacherous illusion.

Hard choices

A mother who abandons her child is a monster in most cultures, but Dennis-Benn’s deep compassion for Patsy — for all women facing unthinkable choices — forces you to reconsider your own preconceptions.

She urges you to think about this woman’s desperation, her fear, her past, her yearning for connection. She never wanted to be a mother, and Tru’s father, a married police officer, can provide a stable home for the girl.

That rationalization doesn’t soothe Patsy’s guilt, nor does it comfort Tru, who clings to her mother’s promise to return for as long as she can.

Eventually, though, Tru has to grow up and make hard choices of her own.

Two views

“Patsy” is told from both points of view, mother and daughter, the voices raw, honest and haunting. Patsy faces the irony that the only options open to her are nanny jobs, caring for the children of others.

She hates being labeled “illegal” and “can’t understand why she’s deemed a criminal for wanting more.” She wonders: “What am I good at?” and simply doesn’t know.

As a teenager, Tru begins to reject the role her culture has carved out for her (Dennis-Benn has a lot to say about how girls are raised in her native Jamaica).

Both women suffer depression, a battle all the harder to win when you don’t have the means to fight it.

But reinvention and redemption are possible. The story ends on a note of hope, though it comes at a price. What are you good at, Patsy? Loving. Learning. Living. The most human strengths of all.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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Committee Democrats Call on Facebook to Halt Cryptocurrency Plans

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Investors and consumers transacting in Libra may be exposed to serious privacy and national security concerns, cyber security risks, and trading risks. Those using Facebook’s digital wallet – storing potentially trillions of dollars without depository insurance– also may become unique targets for hackers. For example, during the first three quarters of 2018, hackers stole nearly $1 billion from cryptocurrency exchanges.[3] The system could also provide an under-regulated platform for illicit activity and money laundering.”

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters has emerged as one of the strongest legislators, community organizers, and champions for women, children, seniors, veterans, people of color, and the poor. She was elected in November 2018 to her fifteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives where she proudly represents California’s diverse and dynamic 43rd Congressional District. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Congresswoman Maxine Waters has emerged as one of the strongest legislators, community organizers, and champions for women, children, seniors, veterans, people of color, and the poor.

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets Subcommittee; Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Chairman of the Housing, Community Development and Insurance Subcommittee; Congressman Al Green (D-TX), Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee; and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Chairman of the Task Force on Financial Technology, wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook; Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; and David Marcus, Chief Executive Officer of Calibra, requesting an immediate moratorium on the implementation of Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency and digital wallet.

“Because Facebook is already in the hands of over a quarter of the world’s population, it is imperative that Facebook and its partners immediately cease implementation plans until regulators and Congress have an opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” the lawmakers wrote.“During this moratorium, we intend to hold public hearings on the risks and benefits of cryptocurrency-based activities and explore legislative solutions. Failure to cease implementation before we can do so, risks a new Swiss-based financial system that is too big to fail.”

This letter comes on the heels of Chairwoman Waters’ initial request for Facebook to agree to a moratorium in June.

The Chairwoman has also announced plans to convene a full Committee hearing entitled, “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System” on Wednesday, July 17.

See full text of the letter below.

July 2, 2019

Mark Zuckerberg
Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Facebook
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Sheryl Sandberg
Chief Operating Officer
Facebook
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

David Marcus
Chief Executive Officer
Calibra
Facebook
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. Sandberg, and Mr. Marcus:

We write to request that Facebook and its partners immediately agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on Libra—its proposed cryptocurrency and Calibra—its proposed digital wallet. It appears that these products may lend themselves to an entirely new global financial system that is based out of Switzerland and intended to rival U.S. monetary policy and the dollar. This raises serious privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns for not only Facebook’s over 2 billion users, but also for investors, consumers, and the broader global economy.

On June 18, 2019, Facebook announced its plans to develop a new cryptocurrency, called Libra, and a digital wallet to store this cryptocurrency, known as Calibra. To assist it in this venture, Facebook has enlisted 27 other companies and organizations to form the Libra Association, which is based out of Switzerland. [1] These companies span the financial services and retail industry and include payment systems, like Mastercard, Paypal, and Visa, and technology giants, like Uber, Lyft, and Spotify. By the target launch date of early 2020, Facebook hopes to have recruited over 100 firms into the Libra Association.

While Facebook has published a “white paper” on these projects, the scant information provided about the intent, roles, potential use, and security of the Libra and Calibra exposes the massive scale of the risks and the lack of clear regulatory protections. If products and services like these are left improperly regulated and without sufficient oversight, they could pose systemic risks that endanger U.S. and global financial stability. These vulnerabilities could be exploited and obscured by bad actors, as other cryptocurrencies, exchanges, and wallets have been in the past. Indeed, regulators around the globe have already expressed similar concerns, illustrating the need for robust oversight.[2]

Investors and consumers transacting in Libra may be exposed to serious privacy and national security concerns, cyber security risks, and trading risks. Those using Facebook’s digital wallet – storing potentially trillions of dollars without depository insurance– also may become unique targets for hackers. For example, during the first three quarters of 2018, hackers stole nearly $1 billion from cryptocurrency exchanges.[3]The system could also provide an under-regulated platform for illicit activity and money laundering.

These risks are even more glaring in light of Facebook’s troubled past, where it did not always keep its users’ information safe. For example, Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm hired by the 2016 Trump campaign, had access to more than 50 million Facebook users’ private data which it used to influence voting behavior.[4] As a result, Facebook expects to pay fines up to $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and remains under a consent order from FTC for deceiving consumers and failing to keep consumer data private. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, Facebook has also removed more than 2.2 billion fake accounts, including those displaying terrorist propaganda and hate speech.[5]It has also recently been sued by both civil rights groups[6] as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for violating fair housing laws on its advertising platform and through its ad delivery algorithms.[7]

Because Facebook is already in the hands of a over quarter of the world’s population, it is imperative that Facebook and its partners immediately cease implementation plans until regulators and Congress have an opportunity to examine these issues and take action. During this moratorium, we intend to hold public hearings on the risks and benefits of cryptocurrency-based activities and explore legislative solutions. Failure to cease implementation before we can do so, risks a new Swiss-based financial system that is too big to fail.

Sincerely,

Rep. Maxine Waters, Chairwoman

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Chair – Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, Chair – Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance

Rep. Al Green, Chair – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chair – Task Force on Financial Technology

[1] The 27 other members of the Libra Association are Mastercard, PayPal, PayU (Naspers’ fintech arm), Stripe, Visa, Booking Holdings, eBay, Facebook/Calibra, Farfetch, Lyft, MercadoPago, Spotify AB, Uber Technologies, Inc., Iliad, Vodafone Group, Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holdings Limited, Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Union Square Ventures, Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, and Women’s World Banking

[2] See, e.g. The Honorable Randal K. Quarles, Vice Chairman of Supervision for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Chair of the Financial Stability Board, Financial Stability Board Chair’s letter to G-20 Leaders meeting in Osaka, June 25, 2019, https://www.fsb.org/2019/06/fsb-chairs-letter-to-g20-leaders-meeting-in-osaka/. (“A wider use of new types of crypto-assets for retail payment purposes would warrant close scrutiny by authorities to ensure that that they are subject to high standards of regulation.”); Bank of International Settlements Annual Economic Report, Big tech in finance: opportunities and risks, June 23, 2019, https://www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2019e3.htm. (“Big techs have the potential to become dominant through the advantages afforded by the data-network activities loop, raising competition and data privacy issues. Public policy needs to build on a more comprehensive approach that draws on financial regulation, competition policy and data privacy regulation… As the operations of big techs straddle regulatory perimeters and geographical borders, coordination among authorities – national and international – is crucial.”)

[3] CipherTrace Cryptocurrency Intelligence, Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report, 2018 Q3 https://ciphertrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/crypto_aml_report_2018q3.pdf

[4] Kevin Granville, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: What You Need to Know as Fallout Widens, (March 19, 2018).

[5] Facebook, Community Standards Enforcement Report (2019 Q1).

[6] Complaint, Nat’l Fair Housing Alliance et al. v. Facebook, Inc., No. 18-cv-02689 (S.D.N.Y Mar. 27, 2018), https://nationalfairhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NFHA-v.-Facebook.-Complaint-w-Exhibits-March-27-Final-pdf.pdf.

[7] Charge of Discrimination, U.S. Dep’t of Housing & Urban Development v. Facebook, Inc., FHEO No. 01-18-0323-8 (March 28, 2019), https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/Main/documents/HUD_v_Facebook.pdf.

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Charleston Chronicle

Former President Of Egypt Dies On The Stand In Contentious Court Hearing

CHARLESTON CHRONICLE — Egyptian ex-president Mohammed Morsi, persecuted by the current military regime according to rights activists, collapsed on the stand and died after giving testimony in his trial, it was reported on state TV. Morsi, 67, had been speaking from the glass “cage” where he was confined during sessions. He warned of “many secrets” he could reveal, when suddenly he collapsed.

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Mohammed Morsi (Photo by: Global Information Network)

By Global Information Network

Egyptian ex-president Mohammed Morsi, persecuted by the current military regime according to rights activists, collapsed on the stand and died after giving testimony in his trial, it was reported on state TV.

Morsi, 67, had been speaking from the glass “cage” where he was confined during sessions. He warned of “many secrets” he could reveal, when suddenly he collapsed.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was stricken by a heart attack, sources said. State TV said Morsi died before he could be taken to the hospital.

Mohammed Sudan, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in London, described Morsi’s death as “premeditated murder” saying that the former president was banned from receiving medicine or visits and there was little information about his health condition.

“He has been placed behind glass cage (during trials). No one can hear him or know what is happening to him. He hasn’t received any visits for a months or nearly a year. He complained before that he doesn’t get his medicine. This is premeditated murder. This is slow death.”

The former president was known to have been suffering from several ailments, including diabetes and liver disease.

Morsi was elected in 2012 after the nation’s Arab Spring revolts that toppled the autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, an ally of the U.S. who ruled with an iron fist. He led Egypt to become the first Arab state to join the attack on Iraq but estranged his people by the use of torture, denying freedom of speech, and enabling police violence.

Morsi improved relations with the U.S., recognized the state of Israel, and developed a working relationship with President Obama that brought temporary peace between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

But his national legislation was a let-down to followers. He granted himself unlimited powers without judicial oversight or review.

Soon, the young population wanted Morsi to step down as well. He was ousted by the military in 2013. Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members were sentenced to death following proceedings that violated due process rights and failed to establish individual guilt, Human Rights Watch said.

Now, even Morsi’s opposition has denounced his treatment in prison and the long time he spent in solitary confinement.

“Egyptian authorities unlawfully prevented former President Mohamed Morsi from contacting or receiving visits from his family and lawyers. On June 4, 2017, Egyptian authorities allowed Morsy to receive visits from his family and lawyer for only the second time in nearly four years,” wrote Human Rights Watch.

“Morsi’s treatment is a window into the appalling conditions suffered by thousands of political detainees in Egypt.”

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted angrily to news of Morsi’s death. “History will never forget those tyrants who led to his death by putting him in jail and threatening him with execution,” he said in a televised speech.

And on Twitter, newspaper columnist Hisham Melhem wrote: “One could argue #MohamedMorsi was not fit to be pres.of #Egypt, that he was not a true democrat & with known prejudices; but he was the first civilian democratically elected in Egypt’s history. Not as brutal as those preceded him or the monstrosity that toppled him.”

This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle

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Health

Injectable Birth Control Raises HIV Risk for African Women

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Recent studies suggest that African women face greater risk of HIV infection upon using an injectable birth control, a hormone shot known as Depo-Provera. The shot provides an opportunity to discreetly avoid pregnancy for a period of about three months. Due to societal pressures from both families and partners desiring children, most African men refuse to use condoms.

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Depo-Provera (Courtesy of mayoclinic.org

By Olivia Boyd, WI Intern

Recent studies suggest that African women face greater risk of HIV infection upon using an injectable birth control, a hormone shot known as Depo-Provera.

The shot provides an opportunity to discreetly avoid pregnancy for a period of about three months. Due to societal pressures from both families and partners desiring children, most African men refuse to use condoms.

These shots are quite popular in areas where HIV is prevalent and, in some cases, is the only form of contraception available for women as opposed to other options like intrauterine devices, also known as IUDs or the pill.

A recent study, Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes, involved 7.800 women in four African countries (South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), presented relieving results for health care providers showing that while Depo-Provera appeared to have minimally higher risk of HIV infection than other forms of contraception.

However, the results were not significant enough to prove that the birth-control shots method is completely dangerous or should be stopped completely.

The study has proved controversial with concerns that it would instead cause more harm than good as more women could possibly become infected with the HIV virus. It compared infections rates among the women over an 18-month period. Each woman was required to use one of the three most modern forms of birth control during that time. While the study was deemed well executed and the study quite helpful in its results, physicians remain concerned about opting for birth control shots over much safer options.

In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Lauren Ralph, an epidemiologist at the University of California, said she hoped the debate would continue and not be quickly settled in favor injectable hormones.

The World Health Organization plans to review the studies within the next month and decide whether or not to promote the use of injectable hormones as the top-rated safest contraception, a rating that other more traditional forms of contraception currently hold.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.

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Government

Sudan: Facts About the African Nation in Crisis

THE BURTON WIRE — The North African Country of Sudan is in crisis. After the forced and successful removal of president Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled with an iron fist for three decades, the country broke out in celebration. In December of 2018, protesters, many of them women, had taken to the streets to rail against fuel shortages and the rising cost of food. Those protests morphed into pro-democracy protests against then president al-Bashir. The pro-democracy protests that had been happening for months seemed to take hold when al-Bashir was ousted and hope for a brighter future seemed imminent.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.

The North African Country of Sudan is in crisis. After the forced and successful removal of president Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled with an iron fist for three decades, the country broke out in celebration. In December of 2018, protesters, many of them women, had taken to the streets to rail against fuel shortages and the rising cost of food. Those protests morphed into pro-democracy protests against then president al-Bashir. The pro-democracy protests that had been happening for months seemed to take hold when al-Bashir was ousted and hope for a brighter future seemed imminent. The celebratory spirit has gone awry since that fateful day on April 11 when al-Bashir was arrested and The Military Council took over led by Sudanese Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf. The celebration came to a screeching halt with calls for Ibn Auf to step down. Thus a three-month state of emergency was declared and a 10 p.m. curfew put into place in Khartoum, the nation’s capital. Pro-democracy protesters have continued battling the military takeover with many lives being lost.

On June 3, 2019, more than 100 people were killed in Khartoum and doctors say 40 of those who died were dumped into the Nile River. The governing Transitional Military Council puts the figure at 61. Subsequently, pro-democracy protesters have organized a strike but an internet shutdown has made communication difficult. The council has also overtaken the state television system initially allowing for voices from the pro-democracy protesters and those in power to be heard, but firing the heads of radio and television in the process. According to BBC, the state broadcast system. now plays patriotic songs and shows soldiers removing protest barricades in Khartoum. Criticism of The Military Council has not been televised since the June 3rd clash. It is also being reported by The Military Council that 61 people have been killed during the clashes, although the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors is reporting 120 (BBC).

In the form of a nationwide mass civil disobedience campaign, pro-democracy protesters and activists say they will not relent until the current government is placed in civilian hands. The Military Council shows no signs of stepping down although they appear to be open to talks with the activists. Will Ross of  BBC reports, “Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan urged the Forces for Freedom and Change and all political powers to hold talks with the military council.”

FACTS ABOUT SUDAN

Sudan is a north African country bordering the Red Sea, Egypt, Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Sudan was the largest country in Africa prior to the secession of South Sudan in 2011. It is now the third largest, after Algeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sudan has 43 million people.

Sudan is made up of Sunni Muslims and a small Christian minority. Ethnically, 70 percent of the population is Sudanese Arab.

On June 30, 1989, Lieutenant General Omar al-Bashir seized power of the country as part of a military coup.

In February 2003, the conflict in Darfur begins when black African rebel groups attack government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan.

During the Sudan/Dafur conflict, between 2003 and 2008, at least 300,000 people were killed. Three million people were displaced during the conflict which involved fighting between rebel groups and the government.

Despite being issued arrest warrants for genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2008, 2009 and 2010, al-Bashir was never brought to justice by the ICC.

For more facts about Sudan, visit CNN.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual. 

Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

This article originally appeared in The Burton Wire.

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