THE last few days have seen an intensification of statements and false reports from the U.S. government related to the case of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, particularly related to the alleged deterioration of his health.
Once again, the U.S. government is lying to the public, by affirming that Mr. Gross is suffering from cancer and is not receiving adequate medical attention.
These lies have not stopped, not even after his family and U.S. authorities were given the results of the biopsy of a lesion on Mr. Gross’ back, which leave no doubt that he does not have cancer.
From the very first day, a team of Cuban doctors of international repute have systematically attended to Mr. Gross. This team has the results of a biopsy and other examinations which demonstrate that Mr. Gross is not suffering from cancer or any other illness representing a threat to his life. The U.S. has no evidence to demonstrate the contrary. If these distortions persist, we shall be obliged to divulge further evidence.
The U.S. government is also lying about Mr. Gross’ prison conditions, his schedule of telephone calls and visits.
The U.S. government is continuing to lie as to the causes which led to Mr. Gross’ detention, with the sole purpose of evading his direct responsibility for his situation and that of his family.
The U.S. government has never addressed the case of Alan Gross seriously and has only reiterated the unsustainable position that it has nothing to negotiate with Cuba in order to find a solution. At the same time, it insists on demanding from Cuba a unilateral decision which does not consider our humanitarian concerns related to the case of the Five. This is not realistic. I reiterate today Cuba’s disposition to immediately establish a dialogue on the issue of Gross.
On the basis of these fabrications and curiously coinciding with the anniversary of Mr. Gross’ detention, the U.S. government has pressured the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to force a decision declaring Mr. Gross’ detention arbitrary. Today, we denounce these acts of pressure, which led to a violation of the customary procedures and timing of the Group’s work.
Yesterday, December 4, the government of Cuba received the opinion of this group describing Alan Gross’ detention as arbitrary.
Today, we are circulating via the MINREX website Cuba’s response to the United Nations Group, which demonstrates that the detention of Mr. Gross cannot in any way be described as arbitrary.
Alan Gross was detained, tried and sentenced with all guarantees and rights of due legal process and in fulfillment of principles related to judicial independence. Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws by committing acts that constitute serious crimes, acts which are severely punished in most countries, including the U.S.
The United States does not permit any other government to ignore its regulations and clandestinely send individuals to its territory, with government funding from this other government, to establish illegal and covert communications systems, without undertaking any kind of procedure or registration, far less so when the objective is to destabilize the existing order.
Mr. Gross has received decorous and humane treatment since he was arrested.
The United Working Group is the same body which, in May 2005, declared arbitrary the detention of the five Cuban anti-terrorists, taking into consideration that they were held in solitary confinement for 17 months, did not have due access to lawyers and the evidence related to the case, as well as the existing climate of predisposition and prejudice which contributed to the Five being presented as guilty from the outset, given the absence of objectivity and impartiality.
The government of Cuba once again invites the U.S. government to serious talks on these issues in order to achieve a humanitarian solution acceptable to both sides.
International Press Center
Havana, December 5, 2012.
Tracy Rosenberg and her allies at the national level continue to do damage to Pacifica’s structure and mission. Earlier this week, Pacifica’s governance committee, which is dominated by Rosenberg and her allies, passed a measure that would, if adopted by the Pacifica National Board, prohibit those who dissent from Rosenberg’s agenda from serving on local or national boards.
“The resolution banning those deemed ‘disloyal’ which was presented to the committee by Tracy is pure McCarthy era,” notes Sasha Futran, KPFA’s Local Station Board vice chair. “The appeal process is a sham, as any appeals would go to the very people who took after them for political reasons in the first place. This is the kind of divisiveness that is tearing Pacifica apart. Tracy has a big hand, perhaps the biggest, in that process,” added Futran, who was a member of Rosenberg’s slate at one time, before leaving it to join SaveKPFA.
The measure is aimed squarely at 4 SaveKPFA members — Margy Wilkinson, Dan Siegel, Mal Burnstein and Conn Hallinan — for their role in collecting over $60,000 in financial pledges to restore the KPFA Morning Show and rehire its laid off co-hosts back in 2010. They raised only pledges of support, not actual money. Nevertheless, the “Morning Show 4″ were slapped with a lawsuit by Rosenberg allies Richard Phelps and Daniel Borgstrom, who allege such fundraising activity was “disloyal” to Pacifica. Phelps and Borgstrom are demanding these four listeners pay Pacifica “damages” of $800,000.
The proposal from Pacifica’s governance committee would ban anyone whose actions have been declared by a court of law to be breaches of “loyalty,” “fiduciary duty,” or “duty of care” from holding any office in Pacifica. Rosenberg has been publicly predicting victory in the Morning Show 4 case, and it’s transparent her intent is to get rid of her political opponents.
“Do you have any conscience?” wrote one KFPA listener to Rosenberg recently when the lawsuit came up for public discussion recently. “You’re supporting a horrendous attack on 4 KPFA listeners who were simply trying, like generations before them, to support KPFA in a time of crisis.”
Rosenberg’s allies have been issuing gag rules against KPFA’s unpaid and paid staff; now they are going after listeners too. “Banning people, gag rules, anti-union law firms eating up the station’s cash — where have we heard this before?” asked KPFA listener Alison Davis. “In 1999, the last time the network was taken over.”
Ballots are being mailed for elections to the Local Station Boards at the Pacifica Foundation’s five radio stations across the nation. The result of these elections could determine whether Pacifica survives or continues its slide into bankruptcy.
First a bit of background. Each of Pacifica’s five stations – KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, KPFT in Houston, WPFW in Washington, D.C., and WBAI in New York – has a 22 member Local Station Board (LSB). Half of the seats are up for election this year. Each LSB sends four of its members to the Pacifica National Board (PNB), which wields absolute control over the network, including hiring national staff, approving national and local station budgets, and setting programming priorities.
Pacifica has always been fractious, back to when KPFA was founded as its first station in 1946. Its current bylaws were adopted 10 years ago, following a mass uprising and several lawsuits directed at a leadership group that attempted to create a self-perpetuating PNB. The new bylaws have brought democracy to the network, but they need revision to create a more streamlined and efficient structure that absorbs less of the organization’s time and money. But that is a conversation for another day.
The current majority has controlled the PNB since January 2009. When it took control it fired the Foundation’s long-time Chief Financial Officer, Lonnie Hicks, and replaced him with former KPFA LSB member LaVarn Williams. In the absence of an Executive Director, PNB chair Grace Aaron, a Los Angeles peace activist and veteran of Scientology’s internal wars, assumed political and organizational leadership.
Since 2009, the PNB’s inept and politically sectarian leadership has brought the Foundation to its knees. It has spent down all its reserves, incurring cumulative deficits of $5.7 million in the last four fiscal years, according to its 2012 audit report. The National Office, which receives 20 percent of each station’s on-air fundraising, has fallen far behind on its bills, including payments for Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, Free Speech Radio News, and legal costs. But for its creditors’ patience, Pacifica would be in bankruptcy already. The audit reports raise doubts about Pacifica’s ability to continue as a “going concern.”
The reasons for Pacifica’s financial decline are complex, including both the world wide financial crisis that has impacted almost all nonprofits and the aging of Pacifica’s core listenership. But rather than responding to these challenges, Pacifica’s leadership has accentuated them. Before his termination, Hicks had for years warned of the financial decline and urged Pacifica to develop new fundraising strategies instead of relying on more and longer on-air fund drives that frustrate and alienate listeners. Almost nothing has been accomplished to improve fundraising at either the local or national level since 2009.
Pacifica’s annual budget is about $14 million. The budgets of the member stations vary widely: In the year ending September 30, 2011, KPFA raised $3.3 million, KPFK $3.7 million, WBAI $3.2 million, WPFW $1.6 million, and KPFT $1.3 million. While the other four stations have been able to meet their expenses and pay their share of the National Office expenses, WBAI has not been able to do so for several years.
The PNB has refused to address WBAI’s financial crisis, which has required an annual subsidy of $500,000 to $1.0 million. Most of WBAI’s shortfall is due to the $720,000 it pays annually for its Wall Street office and Empire State Building broadcast tower. The PNB has failed to insist that WBAI find cheaper facilities, at least in part because its PNB members are a critical part of the current board majority. Instead, WBAI’s financial problems have threatened the stability of the entire network.
For Pacifica to survive, its leadership must address its financial problems, particularly the WBAI situation, diversify its fundraising, and develop a strategy for developing Pacifica’s Internet presence and digital media. Pacifica is far behind most mainstream media outlets and free-standing web sites in presenting its content to the growing part of the population that relies less and less on traditional radio broadcasting. Comparing Pacifica’s web presence with that of Democracy Now! proves this point.
Instead of focusing on the critical big picture issues, the PNB has developed a new strategy of intervening in local station affairs. KPFA has born the brunt of the PNB’s attacks, perhaps because three of its four PNB members, who are members of the Save KPFA caucus, oppose the direction of the Board majority. Last year the PNB rejected the station budget developed by the KPFA staff and LSB, even though it was realistic and balanced, including required payments to the National Office. The PNB also backed now former Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt in her unprecedented rejection of all three candidates proposed by the KPFA LSB to serve as KPFA’s station manager. The PNB recently intervened in the selection process for the selection of KPFK’s program director. A PNB committee has proposed a new “code of conduct” that would allow the expulsion of people from membership in the Foundation for bad mouthing or attempting to undermine the PNB’s decisions. Remember that Pacifica calls itself “Free Speech Radio!”
In the interests of full disclosure, you may conclude that I have an axe or two to grind here. I was the Foundation’s general counsel from April 2006 through January 2009, when I resigned over the Hicks firing. When I took office as an LSB member at the beginning of 2010, I was greeted at my second meeting with a libel lawsuit filed by Grace Aaron, LaVarn Williams, and a few others. We had that case dismissed and recovered $20,000 in sanctions. A few months later, some of our opponents filed a new case against me and three other KPFA LSB members for the offense of raising $68,000 in pledges to keep KPFA’s Morning Show on the air after it was removed due to the machinations of Engelhardt and Tracy Rosenberg, the sole KPFA PNB delegate who is not a member of Save KPFA. (Needless to say, the removal of the Morning Show was a catastrophe for KPFA fundraising, a concern that has yet to be fully remedied two years later.) That case remains pending. The final part of the litigation tri-fecta came about when the PNB voted to expel me because I was a “political appointee” as the volunteer legal advisor to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. The superior court ordered that I be reinstated, which finally occurred when the judge threatened to hold the PNB chair and secretary in contempt. The PNB voted to appeal the decision, although the term from which I had been expelled ended a year ago, which coincides with my resignation from my post as the mayor’s legal advisor over disputes concerning her handling of Occupy Oakland.
Sorry for the digression. The bottom line here is that we need to create a new PNB majority by winning a minimum of two to three more seats than we now have. Practically, that means keeping the three current KPFA seats and adding a few more reasonable delegates from the other stations, particularly increasing the number from KPFK from one to two or three.
A new PNB majority will take the focus off petty politics and instead address (1) Foundation finances; (2) Digital media and the Internet; and (3) national programming. It will also have the responsibility early next year to hire a new Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for the Foundation. The new CFO should focus on fundraising rather than bookkeeping. The PNB should limit its activity to setting policy, rejecting the temptation to meddle in staff and local station decisions.
Finally, I want to address what I view as a few of the false issues that have been injected into the campaign for the KPFA LSB. First is the claim that members of Save KPFA are simply stooges for the Democratic Party. In truth, several of my friends in Save KPFA are active in the Wellstone Democratic Club, which probably represents the most progressive wing of that party. Some Save KPFA members, including me, are extremely alienated from the Democratic Party and support the Greens, Peace and Freedom, etc. Period.
A second canard is that we are also stooges for KPFA’s paid staff and want to eliminate volunteers from the airways. That is another canard. What Save KPFA wants is good programming, presented by paid and volunteer staff, that will attract new people to our station. We want Pacifica to grow itself and contribute to the development of a powerful progressive movement in this country. If anyone thinks that is a crime, please do not vote for us.
Dan Siegel is an attorney in Oakland, California.
By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff | Daily Censored | December 11, 2009
The Flashpoints radio program is being directly threatened with closure by station management. Budget cuts implemented by KPFA management; reduce staff time for Flashpoints by some 75 hours per week. Flashpoints, an award winning national radio program, originates at KPFA in Berkeley, California, and reaches some thirty cities in the US and serves an on-line audience worldwide.
Nora Barrows-Friedman wrote on December 9, “KPFA has effectively destroyed Flashpoints this week, beginning with the layoff of our technical producer position. Just hours ago, they called me into a meeting and casually informed me that my hours will be reduced by 50%. I cannot afford to keep this job if I’m on 20 hours a week.”
Ms. Barrows-Friedman is a long time investigative reporter specializing in Israel-Palestine issues and is one of the few reporters in the country who covers this sensitive issue in a straightforward manner. She taught herself Arabic and often reports from the ground in the Middle East. Along with Flashpoints producers Dennis Bernstein and Miguel Molina, Ms. Barrows-Friedman was the recent recipient of a lifetime achievement Media Freedom Award from Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. … Full article
The Heath government orchestrated a smear campaign in an attempt to falsely blame the IRA for an infamous Belfast bar bombing in 1971, a Labour MP told Parliament today.
Fifteen people died when a UVF bomb tore through McGurk’s Bar in Belfast on December 4 1971.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the security forces initially blamed the atrocity on the accidental detonation of a republican device and suggested that IRA members who were carrying it may have been among the dead.
Then Stormont home affairs minister John Taylor said he believed the IRA was responsible.
In 1978 UVF member Robert Campbell was convicted for his part in the attack.
Last year the police Ombudsman said that there had been no collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries but concluded that there had been investigative bias towards blaming republicans for the massacre.
Speaking in the Commons, Michael Connarty MP said that a new book by Ciaran MacAirt cast doubt on the findings of the ombudsman’s report.
“There was collusion and it was clearly the British government, possibly up to the-then prime minister Edward Heath, who colluded and not only co-operated, but instructed that the false story be spread that this was a bomb carried by the people into that bar and it was an IRA bomb in transit,” he said.
Mr Connarty urged Prime Minister David Cameron to apologise and order a full investigation.
“Is it not time now for a proper investigation by the British government into the facts of this case, with all the files being open and the Prime Minister coming here to apologise to those families and the community for the malign way in which they were, for six years, blamed for a bomb that was clearly a vicious act against them?”
Leader of the House Andrew Lansley said he would ask ministers to respond to Mr Connarty’s claims.
The United States says that its military has detained more than 200 teenagers in war-torn Afghanistan since 2008.
The US Department of State revealed that the Afghan teenagers were held at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and a few of them are still imprisoned at the Detention Facility in Parwan.
The figure was released in a report sent every four years to the United Nations regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The US military held the teenagers to “prevent a combatant from returning to the battlefield,” the report claimed.
Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said on Friday that if the average age is 16, “This means it is highly likely that some children were as young as 14 or 13 years old when they were detained by US forces.”
Dakwar also criticized the length of the detentions, which the State Department report said was one year on average.
“This is an extraordinarily unacceptably long period of time that exposes children in detention to greater risk of physical and mental abuse, especially if they are denied access to the protections guaranteed to them under international law.”
Tina M. Foster, the executive director of the International Justice Network which represents adult and juvenile Bagram detainees, said, “I’ve represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram.”
“I question the number of 200, because there are thousands of detainees at Parwan,” Foster stated on Friday.
“There are other children whose parents have said these children are under 18 at the time of their capture, and the US doesn’t allow the detainees or their families to contest their age.”
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 on the pretext of combating terrorism. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but years into the invasion, insecurity remains in the country.
JUBA – South Sudan police detained three journalists from the Gurtong website on Friday in the capital Juba, two days after a leading political commentator, Isaiah Ding Abraham Chan Awuol, was shot dead by unknown gunmen.
At around 10am the journalists’ driver was arrested and taken to a police station after he failed to show his driving licence. The incident occured on the road to Hai Referendum in Gudelle , the western suburb of the capital where Awuol was killed early on Wednesday morning.
The three reporters say they followed the police car which had taken their colleague to Bukul police station but when they entered a scuffle broke out and they were all beaten and detained. The police had wanted to delete photos taken by the journalists, one of the reporters said.
However, the pressmen added, a more senior police officer intervened and released the reporters, recommending that they open a case against the police for mistreating them.
The spokesman of the South Sudan Police Services, Col. James Monday, told UN Radio Miraya FM’s ’Inside South Sudan Program’ at 5 pm on Friday that the three policemen who were involved had been placed in detention for further questioning.
One of the journalist told Sudan Tribune that the police “did not know that we journalists” until they started taking photographs at the police station. Although they had press cards, the journalists said that they did not have time to show them to the police before they were beaten and detained.
He said that their cameras and recorders were taken from them as the policemen wanted to delete any information or photos taken but the equipment was returned upon their release.
All the three journalists work for the Gurtong website, one of the online publications that the late Isaiah Ding Abraham Chan Awuol used to write for before his death.
UN concerned over death of columnist
On Friday the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expressed “deep concern” over the death of the independent columnist who was also known as Diing Chan Awuol and wrote under the pen name, Isaiah Ding Abraham.
Awuol had worked for the United Nations during the war as well as, at other times, fighting with the southern rebels which now govern independent South Sudan.
In a statement, UNMISS said that the full and thorough investigation promised by South Sudan President Salva Kiir was of “utmost importance”.
Awuol was shot outside his home in Gudelle between midnight and 4am on 5 December. Family members and friends have spoken anonymously about the threats he received before his death due to articles, which were often critical of government.
As well as Gurtong, Awuol also wrote frequent columns for Sudan Tribune and also wrote for the Destiny newspaper, while it was publishing.
Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday that Awuol’s “death is a tragic setback to the hopes cherished by South Sudan’s defenders of freedom of opinion since independence” in July 2011 as part of a landmark 2005 peace deal with Khartoum.
The press freedom group added: “The way this case is handled will be test for freedom of information and free speech in this young nation. Only a tireless fight against impunity for crimes of violence against journalists and other news providers will preserve these freedoms, which are the basis of democracy.”
If it is established that Awuol’s death was motivated by his writing, he will be the first South Sudanese journalist to be killed in connection with his work.
South Sudan’s ruling party – the SPLM – and the young nation’s army – the SPLA – have proven sensitive to criticism since they came to power in 2005, struggling to adjust to the move from guerilla movement to responsible governance.
One of Awuol’s relatives told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday: “I knew he would one day be assassinated for his writings and I told him to stop but he said he would prefer to die than to stop writing.”
- South Sudan police authorities investigate killing of political commentator (sudantribune.com)
- RWB: Opinion writer gunned down outside Juba home (sudantribune.com)
Bolivian president Evo Morales subscribed on Friday the Mercosur incorporation protocol which makes it the sixth member of the regional group. The event took place in Brasilia during the Mercosur summit hosted by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.
At the summit which also included associate members, President Morales and his peers signed the document. “With the signing of the protocol, Bolivia becomes the six member state of Mercosur”, announced officially the spokesperson for the Brazilian Executive.
“The protocol defines the different stages and commitment to reach the full incorporation of Bolivia to Mercosur”, added the spokesperson. “The full membership will take place once the Legislatives of the other full members ratify the protocol”.
“Evo, you are most welcome” said president Rousseff before the signing of the document. “This has been good news for the summit. We have skipped years of negotiations with the Bolivian decision to sign the adhesion protocol”.
At the summit President Rousseff as chair of Mercosur stamped her signature to the definitive incorporation of Venezuela as full member which was decided in an extraordinary meeting last July in Rio do Janeiro.
At the summit also, Brazil handed the rotating chair of Mercosur to Uruguay in the hands of President Jose Mujica, for the next six months, thus skipping Paraguay, temporarily suspended and which according to alphabetical order was to have such responsibility.
- Brazil calls for better integrated trading bloc (vancouverdesi.com)