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Mike Gonzales: ‘Nobody in Cuba sees the United States as a former colonizer, namely because the United States never colonized Cuba’

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Mike Gonzales continues: “When I came into office, I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy,” Obama said, proving once again that last month’s midterm shellacking seems to have had an odd effect on our president. Rather than make him humble, rejection at the polls has liberated him to do all the things he wants in his “legacy.”

“The Castros are still in power not because of the embargo, but because they practice state terror.”

His rationale for acting was instructive, too. In essence, for 15 minutes Obama reeled off a list of talking points one could hear anywhere from the Left Bank of the River Seine to, say, any dusty classroom in Cuba. The only thing missing was the picture of Che so omnipresent in Paris or Havana. The image his platitudes sought to create was the following: the embargo, not Communism’s internal insanity, has left Cuba a pauperized police state; our relations have been frozen by ideology, not principles or national interests; and the United States used to be Cuba’s colonial power.

Now, the one thing all these views have in common is that they are A, untrue, and B, favorite talking points of the international Left.

President Obama Versus Reality

Obama: “I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the Cold War and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between the two countries.” Read the rest of this entry »


Rich Lowry: ‘Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade’

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Rich Lowry writes: …His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.

The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).

“If tourism were the key to empowering and eventually liberating the Cuban people, the country would be a robust democracy by now. About a million Canadian tourists go to Cuba every year. In total, more than 2 million tourists visit annually, and yet the Castro regime is still standing.”

The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.

After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.

“The Cuba embargo is condemned as a relic of the Cold War. But the root of the matter is the Cuban regime that is itself a relic, an inhuman jackboot left over from the era when people actually professed to believe in workers’ paradises.”

Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Former Anonymous Hacker: ‘North Korea Doesn’t Have Capability’ For Sony Attack

“For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate one terabyte or 100 terabytes of data in a matter of weeks.”

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A former hacker for Anonymous doesn’t believe North Korea has the infrastructure to be behind the Sony hack attack.

“Do you really think a bunch of nerds from North Korea are going to fly to New York and start blowing up movie theaters? No. It’s not realistic. It’s not about ‘The Interview.’ It’s about money. It’s a professional job.”

Hector Monsegur told CBS This Morning that the communist regime doesn’t have the technical capabilities to pull off the hack.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a shelling drill of an artillery sub-unit under Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 681 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a shelling drill of an artillery sub-unit under Korean People’s Army (KPA) Unit 681 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP

“In my personal opinion, it’s not. Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely…They don’t have the technical capabilities.”

– Hector Monsegur

He continued, “They do have state-sponsored hackers very similar to China, very similar to Russia and very similar to our good, old USA.”

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Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.”

A former CIA official, though, believes that North Korea could pull of this type of cyberattack.

“North Korea has significant cyber capabilities. They use them quite frequently against South Korea. For a backwards state that might be a little surprising but they also have a nuclear weapon. They are capable of achieving things when they focus on them.”

– Mike Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA

The cancellation announced Wednesday was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

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“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony’s business — and succeeded. We haven’t seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history.”

– Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner

A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and may make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.

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“It doesn’t tell me much. I’ve seen Russian hackers pretending to be Indian. I’ve seen Ukrainian hackers pretending to be Peruvian. There’s hackers that pretend they’re little girls. They do this for misinformation, disinformation, covering their tracks.” 

Monsegur stated that Sony’s hacking had to have happened over a long period of time. Read the rest of this entry »


Bureau 121: Defector Says North Korea is Running a Vast Hacker Network

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SEOUL, South Korea — A defector who once worked as a computer expert for Pyongyang says North Korea is running a vast network of hackers committing cyber warfare against the perceived enemies of the Stalinist state.

“Raising cyber agents is fairly cheap. The world has the wrong view of the North Korean state. With that incorrect world view, North Korea was able to increase its ability to launch cyberattacks.”

Jang Se-yul, who defected from North Korea seven years ago, told CNN that he thinks there are 1,800 cyber warriors in the agency in place around the world, but he says even the agents themselves don’t know how many operatives work for the secretive group, labeled Bureau 121.

The South Korean government thinks Bureau 121 is the agency at the heart of the cyberattacks that North Korea conducts against foreign countries, a government official who requested to be anonymous told CNN on Thursday.

“This silent war, the cyber war, has already begun without a single bullet fired.”

An unknown number of agents and operatives work with Bureau 121, the official said, adding that South Korean intelligence thinks the group is responsible for the “Dark Seoul” hacks on South Korean banks and media companies in March and June 2013. Read the rest of this entry »


If Two Rolex Can Live Happily Next to Each Other, Why Can’t the US & Cuba?


When Can We Take a Vacation to the Moon?

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Reality Check: It’s Not the U.S. Embargo that Keeps Cuba Poor, it’s the Brothers Castro

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Bobby Ghosh writes: Many Americans and Cubans believe that it is the tight noose of the US embargo that keeps the island nation deep in poverty. This narrative suits the regime of Fidel and Raul Castro, because it gives the grim brothers a ready excuse for their inability to give their subjects decent economic opportunities.

“For a microcosm of the Castros’ failure as managers of the Cuban economy, look no further than the tourism industry….for 20 years most tourist services and imported products in Cuba have been priced in an artificial currency created by the regime to bilk foreigners.”

But the noose is pretty loose: Most of the world does business with Havana. Although much is made of Cuba’s special relationship with Russia and Venezuela, it trades with most of the countries that would be considered close US allies. With a halfway competent government, Cuba could be a fairly wealthy nation, able to brush off the American embargo as a minor inconvenience.

For a microcosm of the Castros’ failure as managers of the Cuban economy, look no further than the tourism industry. The island—blessed as it is with gorgeous beaches, warm weather, fantastic music, and terrific rum—gets nearly 3 million foreign tourists a year. Nearly a million come from Canada, with the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany all accounting for large groups. Read the rest of this entry »


Pause for a Smoke: Celebrations Begin for American Consumers of Cuban Cigars

CUBA-XVI HAVANA CIGAR FESTIVAL

WASHINGTON — With President Obama announcing major shifts to diplomatic relations with the island nation of Cuba, it’s going to get easier to find the one of the country’s most renowned exports:JFK-cigar

Cigars.

In the changing relations, the “number of steps to significantly increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba,” will increase, diplomatic officials told reporters Wednesday.

American citizens will be also authorized to import additional good from Cuba.

The ease of travel and commercial restrictions may soon result in more Cuban cigars in the country. Relaxed commercial restrictions may facilitate the ability to do exports by making the general process easier, as well as more travelers from Cuba bringing back the famed smoking sticks. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. to Start Talks with Cuba to Normalize Full Diplomatic Relations, Open Embassy

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Steps to restore ties with Cuba are certain to meet resistance by some groups, particularly the Cuban community in South Florida that remain staunchly opposed to the communist leadership in Havana

Brian Murphy reports: The United States and Cuba will begin talks to normalize relations, including opening an embassy in Havana and putting to rest one most enduring Cold War standoffs, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The landmark initiatives appeared to be set in motion by a surprise prisoner swap that freed American contractor Alan Gross after five years in custody in Cuba. In exchange, the United States would release three Cubans jailed for espionage, the Associated Press reported.

President Obama was expected to make a statement on Cuba at noon. At the same time, Cuban President Raul Castro was scheduled to address his nation about relations with the United States, Cuban state television reported.

Possible moves to close the rifts would mark a significant moment in Western Hemisphere politics.

The United State has maintain various sanctions against Cuba for more than five decades and enmity between Washington and Havana has played a role in affairs across the world — from snubs against the United States from Cuba’s allies in Latin America to the hero’s welcome given to then-President Fidel Castro during a visit to Tehran in 2001.

“President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

– Senator Marco Rubio

At the moment, the United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations, but allow interest sections to handle outreach.

The U.S. official said Gross departed Cuba on a U.S. government plane earlier Wednesday. He was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States, the official said.

NYTimes-Cuba-Kennedy

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

Gross, 65, was detained in December 2009 while setting up illegal Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship. Read the rest of this entry »


[CARTOON] Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy

doctrine

Via Twitter


79 Days That Shook Hong Kong

Originally posted on TIME:

Hong Kong authorities on Monday began tearing down the last of the city’s pro-democracy camps, bringing a quiet end to two and a half months of street occupations that constituted the most significant political protest in China since 1989’s Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing.

By Tuesday, all three protest sites — in the Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay districts — will be gone. The streets will be tidied up and returned to traffic, office workers and shoppers.

The protesters are leaving the streets with few tangible results. Beijing has rejected their insistence that Hong Kongers should have the right to freely elect the head of the city’s government without a pro-establishment committee first handpicking the candidates.

The Hong Kong government has also made it clear that it sees itself as a local representative of the central government, and is unwilling to convey the democratic aspirations of many of its…

View original 378 more words


Hong Kong’s Final Protest Site Has Been Cleared

Originally posted on TIME:

The 79-day occupation of Hong Kong’s streets by pro-democracy protesters met a rather lackluster end on Monday morning, as police cleared the last of three protest sites in a matter of hours.

The clearance of the Causeway Bay camp, a small street occupation that was partly set up to accommodate the spillover from the main camp in the Admiralty district, began at around 10 a.m. with a 20-minute warning from police telling the protesters to clear out.

The authorities moved in soon after, and hurriedly cleared barricades, tents and protest artwork in a process devoid of the drama of the Admiralty clearance four days earlier or the conflict that accompanied the removal of the Mong Kok protest site across the harbor in Kowloon the week before that.

The Causeway Bay site, over the course of the past few weeks, had dwindled to a hundred-meter stretch of road held down by…

View original 219 more words


Tuesday’s Australian Newspaper Front Pages

AUS-press

 – via Twitter


Daniel Greenfield: The Sydney Hostage-Taker, Rapist, Murderer and Terrorist, Should Never Have Been in Australia

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 writes: Sheikh Haron moved to Australia from Iran in 1996. During that time he was involved in murder, sexual assault and support for terrorism in the most blatant ways possible.

In two decades, he wasn’t expelled from the country despite a laundry list of crimes and horrible behavior like sending Jihadist letters to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

The core problem is that Haron and all the others like him should…

1. Never have been allowed into Australia

2. Should have been forcibly deported after their first crime, their first act of support for terrorism

The media’s official narrative is that Sheikh Haron is mentally ill. Just another lone wolf. Just more workplace violence. There’s no point in even wasting time debating that. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Sydney siege: Hostages Taken in Lindt Cafe, Islamic Flag Reportedly Flown

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Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place in Sydney’s central business district

At least one gunman has taken several people hostage at a cafe in the Australian city of Sydney.

Pictures on Australian television show at least three people with their hands up against a window, and a black flag with Arabic writing.

“All Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner.”

– Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place in Sydney’s central business district.

Armed police patrol the vicinity at Lindt Cafe, Martin Place on Dec. 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Don Arnold/Getty Images

Armed police patrol the vicinity at Lindt Cafe, Martin Place in Sydney, Australia. Don Arnold/Getty Images

[Also see – Police Operation Under Way in Sydney Financial District – ABCNews.com]

New South Wales police have asked people to avoid the area.

An Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter said that gunfire had been heard at the scene, the Lindt chocolate cafe – but this has not been confirmed.

Lindt-aus-TV

Police have also said that they are dealing with an “incident” at the Sydney Opera House which has been evacuated.

Local media are reporting that a suspicious package was found there on Monday.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the incident as “deeply concerning” in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] NASA: Earth Passing Through Debris from ‘Rock Comet’ Meteor Shower

 


Michael Auslin: Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement, R.I.P.

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The world response was shameful. As during Iran’s Green Movement protests in 2009, the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, so five years later Obama all but ignored what was happening in Hong Kong: He chose to expend a minuscule drop of the moral authority of the American president to make a point about the value of democracy.

Michael Auslin writes: The tents are gone and the streets are cleared. The thousands of students and older citizens peacefully trying to make their voices heard have gone back home. And the best hope for ensuring that Hong Kong’s fragile and evolving democracy does not flicker out has been extinguished.

What the Chinese government, and its proxy in Hong Kong, gained from the protests should not be underestimated.”

Hong Kong police finished clearing out the last remaining protest site this week after allowing two and half months of peaceful demonstrations. For a brief while in the beginning, back in late September, it looked as if things could get violent — that Hong Kong students in 2014 could wind up suffering a fate close to that of their predecessors in Tiananmen Square in Beijing back in 1989. Yet the Hong Kong police, despite a few volleys of tear gas, refrained from physical confrontation.

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“First, they crushed the movement peacefully, thereby avoiding the international opprobrium that would have come in the wake of a violent suppression…”

Not so the mysterious groups of thugs who harassed the students and attempted to break up some of their encampments. Whether directed by China or not, those ruffians clearly had the backing of the mainland authorities, as well as of Hong Kong’s Beijing-picked leader, who made clear throughout the months of protest that his primary loyalty is to the Communist party of China, and not the people of Hong Kong.

HK-china-wsj-dec14

“Second, they successfully encouraged or used small groups of thugs to intimidate the protesters and sympathetic onlookers….”

So many weeks later, it is hard to remember that the demonstrations began over a simple point: the right of Hong Kongers to democratically choose their chief executive in elections starting in 2017, as seemingly promised by Beijing back in the 1984 agreement with Great Britain that paved the way for the handover of the colony in 1997.

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“Third, they neutralized global criticism. Most importantly, in winning the confrontation, they have shaped perceptions of Hong Kong’s future, erasing any doubt over China’s ultimate control of the city.”

Yet the agreement’s language was vague enough that Beijing could manipulate its implementation despite later promises to allow free elections — and, really, what could anyone actually do to prevent the Chinese from running Hong Kong however they liked? Read the rest of this entry »


Let Me Pump You Up: Oil Closes Below $60 a Barrel for the First Time Since July 2009

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Socialist Panic: Falling Oil Prices Risks Driving Venezuela’s Economy Off the Edge


On the way to the Moon, 1972


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