Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan has announced his campaign for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, which will be decided at the L.P.’s convention in May.

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan has announced his campaign for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, which will be decided at the L.P.’s convention in May.

Originally elected as a Republican in 2010, Amash left the GOP last July and became an independent. By dint of his new party affiliation, he has also become the first Libertarian member of Congress.

Suspect in custody after targeting Cuban Embassy in shooting, police say

A suspect has been taken into custody after firing multiple rounds toward the Cuban Embassy in Northwest Washington early Thursday morning, police said.

The gunfire broke out about 2:10 a.m. outside the embassy, on 16th Street NW near Fuller Street NW, before police who were in the area arrived at the scene and within minutes arrested the suspect.

D.C. police Lt. Brian Hollan said authorities are “confident” nobody was injured in the shooting, but are still investigating the extent to which the Cuban Embassy was damaged, if at all. Various neighbors in the area, using the neighborhood app Nextdoor, reported waking up to hear a barrage of gunfire and screaming.

Hollan declined to elaborate on how many shots were fired, or what type of gun was used in the shooting. He referred further questions to the Secret Service, which is heading the investigation.

D.C. police identified the suspect as Alexander Alazo, 42, of Aubrey, Texas, located north of Dallas. Police described the gun as an assault-style firearm.

The U.S. Secret Service said charges include assault with intent to kill and possession of an unregistered firearm. It was not immediately clear if the suspect would be charged in D.C. Superior Court or face federal charges in U.S. District Court.

Hollan was not certain whether there were people inside the embassy at the time of the shooting, but multiple lights were on inside the building after police arrived. The Cuban Embassy could not be immediately reached.

About a dozen police cruisers from D.C. police and the Secret Service surrounded the embassy and blocked off 16th Street from Fuller Street to Euclid Street NW, and a police dog sniffed its way around the building’s perimeter.

A maroon Nissan Pathfinder parked directly outside the embassy was the subject of intense police scrutiny, as officers draped yellow caution tape around it and photographed the inside of the vehicle. Hollan said the vehicle appears to be connected to the suspect.

There appeared to be a small decorative American flag affixed on the back end of the SUV.

On the ground next to the driver’s side door was a black jacket and what appeared to be a blanket. One officer picked up a small white face mask lying next to the items and quipped, “Hey, he came with a mask,” before loading the belongings back into the vehicle and driving it away.

FEMA orders 100K more body bags for ‘worst-case scenario’


The feds ordered 100,000 new body bags for possible coronavirus victims in what officials called preparations for a “worst-case” scenario as the pandemic continues, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The order — placed last week by the Federal Emergency Management Agency — for “human remains pouches” comes on top of a previous order for an initial 100,000, and as the US death toll was expected to top 60,000 by Thursday.

President Trump on Monday said he expected the pandemic could cost 60,000 to 70,000 lives in the US.

Some state governors have moved to start reopening businesses, citing encouraging trends of slowing infection and mortality rates.

The order for 100,000 body bags, costing $5.1 million, was placed April 21, the Journal reported, citing federal contracting databases.

The supplier is a small California company that is supposed to deliver the bags by Monday, according to the contracting data.

A FEMA spokeswoman told the paper the agency was focused on a “worst possible case national scenario” from the start of the federal response effort.

“In order to meet the worst-case demand models, FEMA initiated a broad range of acquisition contracts to augment available stocks and produce more human-remains pouches for future requirements should they be needed,”

Trump: ‘I don’t believe polls’ that show Biden leading presidential race
Over 70 percent of tested inmates in federal prisons have coronavirus
Shocking visualization shows how one cough can infect an entire airplane
The development comes after the Defense Department earlier this month said FEMA asked the military to provide 100,000 body bags for civilian use, Bloomberg News reported.

The spokeswoman said the agency has allocated shipments from the earlier DOD contract to hot spots, determined by mortality rates and state requests.

She said newer orders are to prepare “should there be any fall resurgence or need to respond to other disasters.”


Powered by News Corp

Joe Biden’s campaign tells Democrats to deny Tara Reade allegations


Joe Biden’s campaign tells Democrats to deny Tara Reade allegations
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenAP
Joe Biden’s campaign has circulated talking points to Democrats about Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations — coaching them to say the incident “did not happen,” according to a new report.

The memo was sent to the former veep’s top Democratic supporters after The New York Times published an investigation this month examining claims from Reade that she was assaulted by Biden in 1993 while working as a staffer for the then-senator.

While Biden has yet to comment on the allegations, his campaign is seeking to squash the rumor by inaccurately claiming the Times report found the incident didn’t take place.

“Biden believes that all women have the right to be heard and to have their claims thoroughly reviewed,” the memo, obtained by Buzzfeed News, reads.

“In this case, a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen,” it continued.

While the investigation found no pattern of sexual assault allegations against Biden, 77, it was unable to draw a conclusion on the credibility of Reade’s claim that the presumptive Democratic nominee pinned her against a wall, reached under her skirt and assaulted her.

“Here’s the bottom line,” the memo added, per the report. “Vice President Joe Biden has spent over 40 years in public life: 36 years in the Senate; 7 Senate campaigns, 2 previous presidential runs, two vice presidential campaigns, and 8 years in the White House. There has never been a complaint, allegation, hint or rumor of any impropriety or inappropriate conduct like this regarding him — ever.”


Powered by News Corp

Thieves in Brazil wear protective masks in robberies


Apr 29 (Prensa Latina) Brazil’s Military Police (PM) today denounced that thieves are using Covid-19 protection masks to carry out robberies, as in the district of Votorantim, inside Sao Paulo state.

they need to leave their homes to go to supermarkets and drugstores, for example.

However, criminals are taking advantage of the need to wear masks and the pandemic to commit crimes, local police said.

One of the robberies occurred at a watch store in the city center. Two men wearing masks similar to those used to protect themselves from the virus broke into the store, which was operating at the social rehabilitation center, and took out their weapons.

As soon as they entered, they closed the door of the facility. The salesman did not make any resistance, while the rustlers collected watches, bracelets and chains. In total, they took 60 products.

Security cameras recorded the entire action, but the masks make it difficult to identify the perpetrators, the PM acknowledges.


Powered by Plenglish

Cuban FM denounces United States’ lies about medical missions, no a good time to play politics


Cuban FM denounces United States’ lies about medical missions

Havana, Apr 29 (Prensa Latina) Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced on Wednesday that the United States repeats ‘despicable lies against international medical cooperation programs’ of the island.

On his Twitter account, the foreign minister said that the U.S. Department of State is intensifying the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba, and insists on slandering the solidarity aid that it provides to several countries.

In the context of Covid-19, they threaten other peoples’ health instead of joining cooperative efforts for the good of all, he added.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel also referred to the campaign of discredit promoted by Donald Trump’s administration, and described that action as a deliberate deception.

The president addressed the issue on his Twitter profile, in which he shared an article of Cubadebate website analyzing a document by the U.S. Department of State entitled ‘The truth about Cuba’s medical missions.’

The text reveals that this new attack aims to hide the failure of the pressure campaign initiated more than a year ago by the United States to end Cuba’s health missions.

They are trying to distort its nature and present it as what it is not, Yohana Tablada, author of the work and deputy director general of the United States’ Directorate at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Cubadebate.

However, the opposite occurred, because today there are many more countries that, due to the positive experience and the results achieved, request Cuban medical services in their different modalities, she explained.


Powered by Plenglish

Banning Mergers and Acquisitions: A Bad Idea at a Bad Time

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, November 28, 2017.

AOC and Elizabeth Warren are from the government and they want to help.
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have announced plans to introduce a bill seeking to ban company mergers during the crisis caused by the pandemic. The chairman of the House Judiciary Antitrust subcommittee, David Cicilline, is also seeking to add similar provisions to any future support or stimulus bill Congress considers in the future. On the surface, the idea may have merit — stopping companies “taking advantage” of the weakness in the economy to “prey” on smaller and more vulnerable enterprises. But beneath the surface, there is almost nothing that could be proposed that would be more counter-productive to weak companies in this challenging period than this proposed intervention.

What is fascinating is the sleight of hand the two lawmakers are using — calling their bill the “Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act,” but then defending it on the basis of an anti-predatory rationale. Antitrust laws were not repealed when the coronavirus pandemic struck, so if there is a proposed merger that could violate them, regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department already have the jurisdiction to step in. This would, of course, cover the formation of an unlawful monopoly, but Warren and AOC’s broader concerns about “predatory” behavior are worth a closer look in their own right.

The bill would bar acquisitions by certain categories of purchaser (private equity firms, hedge funds, or any company with $100 million of revenues or else $100 million in market capitalization) until the FTC determined that “small businesses, workers, and consumers are no longer under severe financial distress.”

It is worth remembering that acquisitions cannot be closed without two signatures — that of the buyer, and that of the seller. To the extent that a would-be seller does not believe it is in his or her best interests to sell, a “predatory” buyer will not be able to close the deal. The principle of free exchange is still at play, as it was before COVID and will be after COVID. Now, of course, Warren and AOC may very well argue that some beleaguered companies are so bruised from the economic turndown that they lack the ability to act on what is in their best interests, particularly over the longer term. Nevertheless, the arrogance implicit in the assumption that a representative and a senator are more qualified to assess risk and reward than the principals of a business whose net worth and income are actually at stake is staggering. In fact, the cut-off from opportunistic capital for companies experiencing cash flow or strategic challenges may very well be their death warrant. The law that is supposedly designed to protect them may ensure their destruction — a destruction that trickles down to their employees, vendors, counter-parties, creditors, and shareholders.

What happens if an opportunistic buyer is legally banned from taking an equity position in a distressed company? They will move up the capital structure to an infusion of debt. Is that the result Warren and AOC are seeking — the piling on of more (and presumably expensive) debt on companies that are already struggling? Why would that be a better result for the “little guy” than a voluntary strategic equity transaction?

The unintended consequences of this bill would either be (a) more business failures, meaning more debt defaults, unemployment, and contagion effects throughout that company’s vendor network, or (b) the additional leveraging of companies that are already in distress with an almost inevitably negative effect on their future growth, and with that their ability to increase wages and hire more workers.

An infusion of equity would be the preferred option for many companies in distress. But what about companies not in distress? What about a micro-cap biotech company who has a promising treatment for viral respiratory infections, but needs more capital, infrastructure, R&D, and distribution capacity to see it all through? The vast majority of-pre phase 3 pharma companies use M&A as their exit and monetization strategy. Could it be that this ban would actually prevent a marriage from happening which would have enabled a treatment for COVID from coming to market? That might be an extreme case, but it is highly likely that there are many small, under-resourced businesses that have developed products or identified opportunities but lack the resources to develop them for themselves. The best option for them is often acquisition by a better capitalized strategic partner.

At the core of all this is the age-old “knowledge problem.” Warren and AOC’s fatal conceit is to believe that they know more about what a given small business needs or does not need than the owners and management of that business. A time of crisis only makes the stakes higher. Disconnected politicians who have no knowledge of specific company issues, sector challenges, and the countless nuances that exist within an industry can do irreparable harm by insisting that the government should get in the way.

To sum up, this particular initiative is completely unnecessary on its face — antitrust regulations are still in effect. Voluntary exchange needs to be respected. This is no time to cut off companies from the oxygen of capital markets. This bill is a statist nightmare hiding behind the mask of good intentions.


Powered by National Review

The Odyssey of Cubans Exploited in Capitalist Russia (Automatic Translation)


The coronavirus pandemic and confinement expose the immigration and irregular work plots in which hundreds of Citizens of Cuba are defrauded in Moscow.

Rustic curtains, spinning with a blue quilt, give Some privacy to Joshua Perez. After that piece of cloth the dreams of this young Cuban with a knotty body have been dispelled: to get a job in Moscow, to live in a shared little step with a couple of colleagues, to send money to the family on the island. When he left Havana in January, with the promise of a compatriot that, upon payment, he would help him settle in the Russian capital, he did not think that his future was that bunk in an apartment he shares with nine other Cubans, in one of the hives of the Moscovita suburbs. The hopes for which he disbursed $2,000 have evaporated; just like that countryman. The work in which he began working informally and where he received a few rubles from Easter bouquets has been suspended by the coronavirus. No work there is no free accommodation; and the day of paying the bunk is coming. “I came to Russia to find a better life and in the end they’re going to have to send me money from Cuba,” he says, “from Cuba!”

Every year, some 25,000 Cubans enter Russia as tourists, according to data from the Russian Border Guard. Thanks to the agreement between Moscow and Havana, historical allies do not need a visa and can stay in the Eurasian country for up to 90 days; just visiting, without work. Many, like Joshua Perez, came to stay. Others paid between $5,000 and $7,000 a head to people smuggling mafias for the ticket to Moscow and the papers that would theoretically allow them to continue to Spain or Italy; documents that never arrive because Russia is not in the Schengen area and cannot be crossed to the EU legally. Now, with the city confined and in economic hibernation,thecoronavirus pandemic has revealed the cracks in these immigration and irregular employment plots in which many Cubans end up exploited at the hands of mafias whose tentacles arrive from Moscow to Havana; and back.

Junior Castro and Antonio paid $1,500 to an intermediary they already knew by other Cubans. That money would entitle them to the ticket to Havana-Moscow, accommodation the first month and employment in construction. “They tell you that the jobs are bought and that then you are already charging month by month,” explains Castro of Youth Island, who landed in the Russian capital in December. I used to work in a resort laundry there. In Moscow he has shared work with Antonio and his five other roommates. It’s been 12 hours a day building an office building. Without ridroom, they ensure in one of the two rooms, the most spacious, that despite the beds also use as a living room. “We choose Russia for the ease to get, not knowing what we are exposed to here, the vulnerability of not knowing the language, the customs, the exploitation. Now all we’re looking for is a livelihood,” he laments Antonio,all recently, computer scientist in a white ceramic factory in Holguin.
The pattern is repeated over and over again. Buying a flight to Moscow is more expensive from the island, so many turn to some intermediary who sends them the ticket from the outside, and that for a little more money promises them accommodation, work and solve the red tape. This generally Cuban intermediary provides cheap labor to informal Russian, Armenian, Azerbaijani or Serbian contractors who feed from personnel to works throughout the capital. Always without a contract, without security and without guarantee of collection. If everything goes according to the agreement, the worker receives his salary – which usually is around the equivalent of about 300 euros per month – from the intermediary, who remains a commission of what is already likely to be a reduced salary.

“This system has long been used with Central Asian citizenssuch asKyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Uzbekistan; They now enlist Cubans because they are more vulnerable, they don’t know Russian, they don’t know the system, and they have fewer support networks. Many aspire to stay with hope or empty promise that sooner or later they will be able to regularize. Others try to collect the money they lack to pay the alleged documents to travel to Europe; some manage to go out to Serbia and there they stay, waiting,” explains Williams Herrera, a retired lawyer who provides free legal assistance to some compatriots.

Cuban authorities know the problem. The Cuban consul of Cuba in Moscow, Eduardo Escandell, says that they have sometimes assisted, trying to locate legal aid, some who decided to denounce labor exploitation. It is not common, recognizes Mario Carrazana, Cuban legal consultant established in Russia. Most are afraid of reprisals or deportation. So they shut up and look for something else. And start over.

Clara Elsi Felipe, Juan Carlos de la Cruz, Pavvel Roque, Marco Antonio Herrera and Rafael Casete arrived a few months ago in Russia looking for a better future outside Cuba. Cuba. Maria Sahuquillo.

Madelaine de la Caridad found work in cleaning supermarkets. In Cuba she was a nurse and decided to sell what little she had and leave the island with her daughter, Shabely,15. He bought the ticket on his own, but the apartment he was going to live in was found by an intermediary who, like many others, are dedicated to real renting for Cubans all over Moscow. When they got there, what was supposed to be an apartment for both of us was actually a shared bed on a flat with 10 men. “I got out of there fast, being with strangers, with the girl,” she says. She ended up sharing a flat of three more spaces with her friend Yuris Lady and eight others. Everyone is dedicated to cleaning, explains Marco Antonio Herrera, one of the veterans. Jobs of 12 hours a day, every day of the week, for about 25,000 rubles (300 euros); a little more than the legal minimum wage in the capital (20,000 rubles), but for many more hours than what the regulations mark. “And that when we charge them…” says his partner Clara Elsi Felipe in the yellow-walled hall in which stands out a bright poster with the image of a lake.

Madelaine de la Caridad found work in cleaning supermarkets. In Cuba she was a nurse and decided to sell what little she had and leave the island with her daughter, Shabely,15. He bought the ticket on his own, but the apartment he was going to live in was found by an intermediary who, like many others, are dedicated to real renting for Cubans all over Moscow. When they got there, what was supposed to be an apartment for both of us was actually a shared bed on a flat with 10 men. “I got out of there fast, being with strangers, with the girl,” she says. She ended up sharing a flat of three more spaces with her friend Yuris Lady and eight others. Everyone is dedicated to cleaning, explains Marco Antonio Herrera, one of the veterans. Jobs of 12 hours a day, every day of the week, for about 25,000 rubles (300 euros); a little more than the legal minimum wage in the capital (20,000 rubles), but for many more hours than what the regulations mark. “And that when we charge them…” says his partner Clara Elsi Felipe in the yellow-walled hall in which stands out a bright poster with the image of a lake.

Accessing those jobs is not free. In order to work, they must pay an intermediary 3,000 rubles (37 euros), according to different online conversations that you have been able to read this diary. And another 3, 000 “fine” every time they go away one day. Sometimes the pact includes that the first month is “test” and is not paid back. The mechanism of the scam is very similar to that of the building mafias, and the abuses are constant, says lawyer Carrazana.
The markets of Ljubljana or Sadovod, southeast of Moscow, now closed to lime and singing by the pandemic and at another time very frequented by the Cuban community, are a hotbed of ‘intermediaries’ or agents trying to capture cheap labor. Almost everyone knows that if que you’re looking for work, just drop around. Although most are also aware that wages don’t always come. “What happens to us is a scam. You have an idea, you know people get cheated on, but you think it’s not going to happen to you,” says Joshua Perez, desolate. “In Cuba I was dedicated to tourist gastronomy, things were already very bad and now with the virus will go worse,but if everything goes on so we will have to look for the way tobecome. There’s always a neighbor who gives you a loaf of bread, a cup of rice; this is different,” he says.

Madelaine Castillo with her husband, Leodon,and their two children, their mother, Nilda, and their brother, Pedro. Maria Sahuquillo
For Madelaine Castillo and her husband Leodon,returning to the island is not an option. They sold the house they had near Havana to travel to Russia, and now the work stop and confinement has devoured the few savings available to them after paying an intermediary the passages of all and the supposed formalities. They arrived in November with her mother, Nilda Paula, and their two children, Paula, 12, and Pedro, three. Since then, the girl has been out of school. “No papers and no Russian knowledge, how to do it,” Castillo asks.

Until the coronavirus and the turn of reality appeared, the children stayed with Grandma, and Leodon and Madelaine went out to work on the same play. Him, in construction. She, in the cleansing, until the pregnancy prevented her; seven months old and has not had prenatal follow-up for many weeks now. “We don’t even talk about the salary,” Leodonsays. Now, without income, there is no rent to pay and they are pulling the basket of commodities that a Muslim foundation —Dom Dobroty— has distributed among people who, like them, live in extreme need. “It’s a pain to know that tomorrow the children may not have to eat,” Castillo laments.
Stranded in Moscow, no money and no medication
At Yenifer León’s head, the plan had no cracks: traveling to Moscow, working for a few weeks, buying cheap goods and selling it with a profit margin on the way back in Cuba. But came the coronavirus, the increase in contagion, the closing of borders. And all those plans went to the back. She is now stranded in the Russian capital, with no resources and no specific return date. “And my accountant runs,” he says. Leon, 30, is HIV-positive, and the retrovirals it takes for 11 years and brought to Moscow have already run out. “This is a serious problem,” he laments the white turban. Sitting next to her in one of the beds on the floor they share, they nod Yoandra Aguero and Natalie Fonseca, who like her face the double discrimination of being trans and having HIV.
Shopping in Russia is no wonder. Many Cubans travel to Moscow from Havana taking advantage of the need for a visa and that they can enter back to the island with 120 kilos of products per head per year. So, around a couple of wholesale markets in the Russian capital, an entire infrastructure has been created for that business. Much of the 25,000 Cubans who arrive as tourists to Russia take material to market. At the stalls of these great bazaars many prices are already in Spanish. There are little hotels, hostels and apartments for those shopping trips. Soviet car parts—such as the Lada or Moscovichs,)that still abound on the island and for which it becomes difficult to have spare parts or are expensive there, shoes, appliances, clothing. They buy in Russia, they sell in Cuba. They are what many on the island call “pacotilleros”. Although also abound the “mules”, people who in exchange for the return ticket or a small amount carry the saddlebags full.

Leon’s idea was to work for a couple of months in Moscow and buy a few things with that income. It’s the second time he’s traveled to Russia. The first, a couple of years ago, came back with savings and did well, he says. “Now I had been promised a job in picking apples that was then not true, what an ilusa,” laments Leon, who worked for years as a teacher until she left him for tourism. For Fonseca, it’s his first time. Not just in Russia, but away from home. He’s 22 years old and he’s been out of school a long time. She says her teammates harassed her for being trans. “It cost my parents, but they ended up agreeing to have me come for a couple of months,” she says.

Both are from Matanzas. They knew each other by sight and ended up matching in that small, cockroach-infested apartment that climbed the walls and doors, without fear of people. “Don’t think everyone rents to trans women,” says Viki Fonseca, another of the young women, who unlike their companions wants to look at all costs for a solution so that they don’t have to go back to the island. A total of six other people live in the house. They paid 10,000 rubles (120 euros) per head for sleeping in a bunk bed or sharing one of the two beds. Now, without means, it’s been downgraded to 5, 000. “And yet we live drowned out for the fear of not having a way to pay,” says Natalie Almansa. Friends and family have sent them some money. The SPID Foundation (AIDS Center, in Russian) has been able to supply them with antiretroviral drugs for a week each, but time passes and fear is still there.

Amet Miguel Calderín says he has risked a lot to travel to Moscow. This engineer set up a food business in Cienfuegos and had traveled to the Russian capital with all his savings to buy things for his establishment. He had to return this Sunday, but the flights are suspended and the money he had having so long raised, is exhausted. “This is an extraordinary situation and someone should give us an answer, but we are not and we are lying here, left to our fate,” aches Calderín, who lives for the time being in a flat in southern Moscow with other compatriots.

Consul Escandell says he provides information and advice to citizens who contact the diplomatic legation. Now, they are trying to estimate how many citizens are in the situation of León, Fonseca or Calderín, in case it is possible to coordinate with the Russian authorities a return flight, as has been done from other countries.


Powered by El Pais

Workers of the world ratify solidarity with Cuba in virtual forum


Havana, Apr 28 (Prensa Latina) Workers from different union organizations around the world ratified today their solidarity with Cuba, through a virtual forum convened Havana, Apr 28 (Prensa Latina) Workers from different union organizations around the world ratified today their solidarity with Cuba, through a virtual forum convened by the Cuban Workers Union (CTC).


Powered by Plenglish