The Cuban government’s call for a conference in Havana to dialogue with emigrants

The Cuban government’s call for a conference in Havana to dialogue with emigrants started with a bad name. Cuban emigration is not a separate entity from the nation. Emigrants are, from their citizen link with the republic where they were born and the passport required to return to their homeland, an inseparable part of the nation. The central question is not how emigration is related to a foreign nation, but to repair injustice, of which the Cuban government is a party; by which they have been deprived of rights that are their own by virtue of the principle of citizen equality. The yardstick to measure the Cuban political system’s relations with the emigrants, in fact, with all its citizens, is the model of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

That of “Nation and Emigration” enters without a doubt into the mantra “We are Continuity.” It is “continuing” to stubbornly charge against a policy that must be changed: that of conceiving the emigrant, not based on citizen equality, but as an aggregate outside the nation, with an ambivalent connection. The government, which is dialoguing with the emigrants, grants them, as gifts, rights that assist every Cuban citizen, wherever they live, and that can only be legally repealed under duly proclaimed emergency situations. If there is a limited freedom or right, the government must legally argue what is the danger to the nation that is being stopped. For any other problems, including unfulfilled contracts, stolen funds, legal violations, or collaboration with anti-patriotic policies, the government must seek other solutions, with the opportunity to submit its decision to a due process of review.

This difference with reality is based on the fact that the communist party repeals the representation of the entire nation. Party comes from side. The government represents, in the best of cases, a majority of the people on the island, based on an increasingly plural society, with ever closer ties to immigrants in their daily lives. That majority of the people can temporarily delegate their representation to the government. However, in a republic, the legitimate authority of the majority is limited. It is not enough to place the diaspora outside the nation. These are citizens defined as such at birth on the island, by the jus soli criterion. The majority vote does not grant the authority to block a citizen from entering his country of origin, an inalienable right, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

There is no party sovereignty or principle of self-determination. That right corresponds to the nation, to the Cuban people made up of its citizens, wherever they live, no matter what political idea they profess. The invocation of sovereignty acquires its full dimension only by integrating the concepts of citizenship and republic. State sovereignty in 2020 acquires its true dimension insofar as it is aligned with the moral purpose of managing public conflicts of interests and values ​​between Cuban patriots, from “respect for the full dignity of men” and women (it would be necessary to complement Martí’s phrase).

Journey to the roots

Patriotism, as a positive version of nationalism, is enriched by adding Cubans. It is not just about adding numbers, nor seeking rejuvenation in patriotic emigration, but opening institutional avenues for the country to grow based on its social, cultural, economic, political and ideological diversity.

The formula “With all and for the good of all” for the relationship between the government and the emigrants is not a suicide pact. No one expects patriotism to fade or take national symbols or national security lightly. But “with all and for the good of all” essentially means what José Martí enunciated with two conditions that far from colliding complement each other.

First, an independent country. There should never again exist a Platt Amendment in relations between Cuba and the United States. It is comforting that there is no American diplomat who can say about the Cuban president what the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Gordon Sondland, said to President Trump from Kiev: “President Zelenski wants to kiss your ass.” Since 1959 it has not occurred to anyone to think that of the three Cuban presidents. Emigrants who plead for a return to those times, cannot expect affection or understanding from their fellow citizens.

At the same time, a sovereign government is not enough. José Martí and Máximo Gómez advocated for a worthy and merciful republic in victory, even towards their opponents, not a military camp. The government has the mission of reconciling the natural elements of the country, without being run over by the dissenting patriot. The country they dreamed of and the movement led by our heroes was the most alien to hatred. To all hatreds, those of race, those of class, those of ideology.

One must speak of hatred. Nothing is gained by not recognizing it. Despite the contacts opened by Cuba’s openings in the migratory field and the honeymoon that the Obama administration brought to family trips, it is evident that politically there is still a civil conflict, charged with emotions between different parts of the Cuban nation. That conflict has different spaces and narratives on the banks of the Straits of Florida. In both there is a great deal of Cubans who are emotionally bothered by peace, at least the one that is possible, without total victories, beyond ideologies. Many admit it, but they always blame those on the other side. This escalation of reproaches does not listen to the reasons of the others.

The vertical Government-emigration relationship is an exhausted paradigm

We must change paradigm. No conflict lasts sixty years with all reason on one side. Hate dreams of a settling of scores, rather than positive construction. It is not useful to anyone, nor to those who hate. But those emotions must be paid attention to. No trauma justifies that Cubans continue to support a policy as immoral, illegal and counterproductive as the blockade. The main problems among Cubans would benefit from a constructive and respectful policy by Washington towards Cuba.

Asking that, under the government of Donald Trump and his political complicity with Marco Rubio and the Diaz-Balarts, what is correct is done today, is to ask for the impossible.

In politics, virtue is not in proclaiming what is right but in making it viable. It is not just a matter of calling up ranks and preaching to those already convinced that the blockade is illegal and immoral, but of persuading for a coalition of all opponents of the blockade. All of them indicate grouping without discrimination, without divisive anti-communism, but also reconciling with those who, opposed to the current system, understand that their inalienable condition as Cubans would be extolled with the possibilities open in a Cuba without blockade.

To dismantle hatreds is to reconcile. Emigration was a way out for Cubans who submitted to Platt options, and also, in the conditions of post-1959 Cuba, of men and women, worthy and hard-working, pressed by the abuses and exclusions generated within the revolutionary process. It is not a question of weaknesses, as some unofficial spokespersons continue to say. Identities were trampled, of Cuban men and women with entrepreneurial initiative, artistic talent, work spirit, and prominent scholars in their careers, who have demonstrated this in the United States, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and other places. Let’s add that for decades being religious or homosexual and living in Cuba represented a life of humiliation.

In the same way that visions that recognize the merits of the government, and its exercise of Cuban sovereignty, are imposed on emigration, it is urgent that it be understood from the Palace of the Revolution that there is a need to take steps of national reconciliation, in which abuses and remedies are recognized. It is obvious that both sides are to blame, that revolutions are not walks along the banks of the Almendares River, and that Cuba has been a besieged country. But it is also obvious, even acknowledged by Fidel Castro himself, that there are abuses that have their own origins. The government, being the depositary of sovereign status, has a responsibility to the history of Cuba to redress injustices that no exiled group has.

To consider again a conference in the style of the previous ones, from 1994 to date, is to appeal to an exhausted format. The party-state, from its alleged condition of vanguard, calls, sets the agenda, defines priorities, and encourages emigrants to close ranks with the country as it is. At the end, some specific openings are announced within the same scheme, sometimes a money that emigrants will save by reducing the abusive charges they are victims of for multiple procedures, such as the extension every two years of the most expensive passport in the world that barely lasts six. These issues are discussed with those on the inside who, represented by the party-state, claim to be the nation of which they are only a part, to dialogue with those on the outside, who are neither an organized representation of all those who have operated since the patriotic rejection of any undue interference in national affairs.

In this vertical relationship, the divide between the emigrant and the status of the citizen resident on the island persists. It’s not that there can be no progress. It has happened due to the convergence of goodwill since the 2013 reform. The issue is that time is a political variant. The conciliators and dialoguers have to run faster than those who spread hatred.

It’s time to get out of trenches that cloud common sense. How are economic opportunities for emigrants to be discussed without a substantive dialogue with the actors who daily live in Cuba? Isn’t it incoherent to appeal to the patriotism and critical exercise of emigrated citizens so that they defend a respectful relationship of their country of residence with their country of origin, while fostering an unspoken and suspicious attitude from the ideological department of the PCC without distinguishing apostasy from loyal opposition to the country? Is the economic criterion that squeezes the emigrant with abusive passport fees a good representation of the people on the island? Who is going to take responsibility for this obstacle to a more active relationship between emigrants and their homeland? Who are those who defend those policies speaking for? Has anyone from the PCC explained to the public why it is preferable or patriotic to follow this scheme, rather than opening more spaces for their investment and that of their relatives on the island?

Towards a new paradigm

In Cuba, the presence is evident of officials who do not conceive of any other way out of their differences with the majority of the emigrants and many of their disgruntled compatriots on the island, than that in which the former, to participate in the changes, accept the doctrine of the irrevocable socialism and that the latter find a way to leave. In Miami, there are groups for which no change in Cuba will be significant if it does not include treating the revolution―as Senator Marco Rubio says―as “an accident of history” that should be erased.

For them nothing should be preserved―no matter that internationally many recognize it ―neither literacy, nor public security, nor the health system, nor sovereignty. They have no rules of the game to respect, not even those standardized by international law. These groups have fueled a polarization in which, instead of discussing rights in Cuba balanced with appropriate regulations for the defense of the country against regime change policies from outside, they demand an unconditional stand from their side, and the desire for a maximalist victory.

In those antipodes, they don’t try to build a shared homeland in which “all for the good of all” fit. On the contrary, they speak of a Cuba or an emigration, in which those who differ from their central positions have no place. Either they leave, or they are annihilated, or “why don’t you return to Cuba if you don’t like Trump?” In the best of cases, the dissenters would forever have a second-rate position in atonement for real or imagined sins. Do business, but without politics.

To get out of that, and put those radical sectors at a disadvantage, something more drastic and dramatic is needed than document price reductions and the ratification that there are emigrants in the fight against the blockade. It is urgent to use the new constitution as a reform body, and start by declaring that Cubans inside and outside enjoy citizen equality, and that therefore they will pay the same fees for the same documents, and vote to elect and be elected with the minimum condition of being registered in an electoral register according to international standards. No two years and you lose your residence or if you left before 2013 you need a procedure, God knows for what, to return to your country. Citizen equality therefore means citizen equality, a constitutional principle.

The dialoguing emigrants―What great merit in the face of intransigence!―must be a voice and not an echo. It is necessary to demand the total and unconditional end of the U.S. blockade against Cuba. It is also necessary to air legitimate demands on Cuba’s internal political organization according to international human rights standards. Proclaiming the expectation that to the extent that the exceptional conditions that the country is experiencing disappear; because of the siege imposed by the United States with its regime change policy, not only will relations with this great power normalize, but also the exercise of human rights in Cuba.

Normalizing is not a term to twist with ideologies. Between Cuba and the U.S., normal is a relationship based on international law. Between the Cuban government and its citizens, normal is a relationship based on the paradigm of the Universal Declaration, a republican, liberal-democratic and general welfare state.

Based on the diagnosis presented, it will not be surprising that my prognosis on the announced conference, whenever the world health crisis allows its holding, is quite modest. The reversal of Obama’s openings by the Trump administration closes political spaces for the type of discussion necessary. In the midst of the looming economic crisis, of unpredictable depth and duration, one wonders if it is optimal to hold a Conference now, or to make the fundamental changes that the government was already going to make, postponing the drama of a conference for the time when a new paradigm can be proclaimed.

The Trump administration has shown no sign of wanting to play constructively. The Cuban government has not given signs of wanting to transcend the “Nation and Emigration” model. In exile, the far-right pack is sharpening its fangs against dialoguers, intoxicated with social networks from various platforms full of trolls, rudeness, confirmed biases, lowliness and pack thought. In Cuba, significant unease is palpable at the delay in the calendar of reforms as promised and agreed as they are lengthy. Meanwhile, in an environment of halfway change, corruption, undeserved privileges, and laziness spread.

Does this mean that the conference does not merit participation? In politics, it is always about choosing among the available options. Despite all its limitations, those who participate in the conference can make a greater difference in the relations of immigrants and Cuban society than all the intransigent actors together. The latter mark rhetorical and ideological points from the vain virality of social networks. With all its shortcomings and limitations, one can always expect something from dialogues. In contrast, the inquisitors, converts, and Savonarolas, pontificating the indoctrinated choir, produce nothing. They are all complaints without any announcement, thinking they are vestal virgins.

Are there any proposals that deserve to be assessed on the eve of the conference? Of curse. On the social level, the Cuban government must think about the end of the abuses associated with the use of the passport. Economically, it is important to give emigrants the option of investing as Cubans but also as companies from their adopted country. The emigrants’ skepticism and suspicion are logical in the face of the history of inconsistencies, predatory fiscal policy and abuses by the Cuban government against its businesspeople. Like good communists, if there is a crisis the state-party, before reforming its structures and cutting expenses, has preferred to break contracts and even appropriate private funds and companies. If the government lets emigrants choose to invest with the nationality of their choice, it may ease the fears that their past behavior generates.

Emigrants also have love for their small country, their land, their town and their province. Why not decentralize decisions on the authorization of local joint ventures between emigrated entrepreneurs and the government, the local private sector, or foreign capital willing to invest with Cuban emigrants or not, with the capacity to collect and invest funds at the province level? In several countries, particularly in Europe, there are funds in which emigrants receive support from their adoptive countries to invest in their countries of origin. Why not start with them and put those incentives as an example for those whom the U.S. blockade forbids them to do so?

Agriculture is an area where facilities for importing modern technology can make a big difference in the use of barren land. After 1898, the secretary of agriculture of the intervening government, Perfecto Lacoste, a friend of Antonio Maceo, allowed the tax-free import of, fences and farm implements. Overcoming the distances, Cuban emigrants who returned to Cuba after the defeat of Spain benefited from this measure. Could that experience be imitated?

Rather than presenting concrete proposals, it would be more feasible to produce if the Cuban government invites economists, political scientists, sociologists and scientists from various fields to specific workshops, together with counterparts from the island; it is important to rethink from different points of view sincere, fraternal and conciliation dialogue formats. If that does not happen, it will be necessary to go to the conferences that are called, to get what you can, and put to test the limits of the adopted model of dialogue. At least the dialoguers have brought positive results to relations between Cubans, unlike extremists, without ever causing harm.

Melania vs. Michelle — the Movies

Julia Ormond in Ladies in Black
Ladies in Black honors Melania while Netflix campaigns for Michelle.
Somebody at Channel 13, New York’s liberal-biased public-television channel, must have been asleep at the switch when the station recently broadcast the politically tinged rom-com Ladies in Black. It’s a movie about fashion, femininity, and courage and consequently the first film release that acknowledges Melania Trump and her unique role as our country’s first immigrant first lady since Louisa Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams.

The American premiere of Ladies in Black, a 2018 Australian film by Bruce Beresford that never opened in U.S. theaters, matched public television’s frequent emphasis on immigrant experience and female empowerment. Based on Australian writer Madeleine St. John’s 1993 novel about saleswomen working at Goode’s high-end clothes emporium in 1950s Sydney, it prominently features a character — Slovenian refugee and fashion habitué Magda, played by Julia Ormond — who brings kindliness, self-assurance, and taste to her new country, just as Melania Trump has distinctly shown. In this context, Magda edges past public television’s stubborn liberal partisanship to reflect the emigrant optimism and style that has been marginalized by mainstream media.

Programming this film had to be an accident, given the political preferences of the cultural gatekeepers in left-of-Lenin New York. But it’s a happy accident that counters the deification of former first lady Michelle Obama in Netflix’s new documentary memoir Becoming, a lesser, openly propagandistic film made, strangely, in an aggressive PBS mode.

The contrast of these two movies pinpoints the media’s failure to be fair and balanced about these two first ladies.

It is the fashion-world setting of Ladies in Black, emphasizing presentation and etiquette as social principles, that makes the film’s Magda/Melania parallels so significant. St. John’s shopwomen professionally demonstrate Australia’s immigrant-nation cultural aspirations — their upmarket uniforms do not define or confine them — while also working out self-expression and romantic impulses.

Beresford, who directed Driving Miss Daisy, Crimes of the Heart, and Breaker Morant, movies that portrayed eccentrics inhabiting society’s borders, neither sentimentalizes these women’s struggles nor makes them paragons of identity politics. Magda’s outsider status awes her co-workers. They’re fascinated by her decorum, the disciplined efforts to adjust her cultural heritage to the needs of her new home after surviving European turmoil. Ormond’s past career as a ’90s Hollywood aspirant inflects this role, as does her middle-aged hauteur and full-bosomed solidity. She perfectly matches St. John’s description of the “kind of woman who always got what she wanted. . . . No one could even try to pronounce her frightful Continental surname.” Although Magda is physically different from Melania’s poised, sylph-like movements, her reserve and Eastern European accent mystify the uncouth, English-speaking Aussies. Her chic conveys depth of personality — exactly what our media have simply ignored about Melania Knavs Trump.

In The Dressmaker (2015) by Jocelyn Moorhouse and P. J. Hogan, Kate Winslet played a fashion designer who returns to her rural Australian hometown and confronts its backward sensibility. Ladies in Black has a similar effect, rectifying the cultural omissions of our supposedly enlightened female-empowered culture. Magda’s mentorship to shopgirl Lisa (Angourie Rice) resembles the traditional first-lady advisory role; she responds personally to Lisa’s literary interests, yearning for sophistication, and passion for a particular high-style frock. Their friendship resonates as a reversal of Melania’s first-lady relationship with the world — the traditionally sociable, maternalized, non-policy connection that was cut short by the media ever since her elegant Inauguration Day stride down Pennsylvania Avenue in the powder-blue outfit by Ralph Lauren Collection that rightfully should have reset the world’s fashion barometer.

Harper’s Bazaar described Melania’s milestone this way:

The slim-cut mock turtleneck dress and cropped cutaway jacket — with tonal suede gloves, pumps, and a clutch handbag to match — constituted a nod to Jackie Kennedy’s similarly ladylike ensemble during John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inauguration. The choice seemed to bespeak the First Lady’s implicit declaration of her commitment to this new, dignified, perhaps unexpected position she now assumes — to serving a nation that is not natively hers but which it is now her charge to represent before the world.

A measure of the fashion media’s deranged defiance of Melania can be found in Netflix’s Becoming, a blatant hagiography. Netflix promotes Becoming as an instruction manual and Michelle Obama as an identity-politics role model — as Oprah 2.0 and with Gayle King in tow. This cliché-spouting Michelle talks past her refusal to wear an Afro hairstyle; the bourgie image she projects denies everything that fashion statement represents.

Ladies in Black proves we have to project onto Melania simply because the media refuse to acknowledge her presence except negatively. “Female networks” of feminism in film, television, the press, and lecture circuits are missing when it comes to the way Melania is ostracized. The mania to promote Michelle Obama even into a new presidential administration is evidence of despondency over the peaceful transfer of power and its disruption of the media’s command of fashion. It is Melania’s background in fashion (“She’s a beauty and that’s all there is to it,” designer Manolo Blahnik boldly declared) that exposes the left media’s attempt to convert political figure Michelle into a dubious fashion icon. Netflix’s Becoming does not evidence taste or even fairness. Instead, it suggests the latest step in private enterprise becoming state media


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What is ecotourism (green)?

Ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”

Offering market-linked long-term solutions, ecotourism provides effective economic incentives for conserving and enhancing bio-cultural diversity and helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful planet.

By increasing local capacity building and employment opportunities, ecotourism is an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development.

With an emphasis on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness through interpretation, ecotourism promotes greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture.

Principles of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:

Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.political, environmental, and social climates.
Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

Washington fines agricultural company for selling food to Cuba without informing the government

Washington fines agricultural company for selling food to Cuba without informing the government

Although the transactions are legal, they must be recorded. The Treasury Department says that the BIOMIN America company misinterpreted the law and therefore it was fined.

A group of people line up to buy in an agricultural market, this Monday in Havana. (Cuba) EFE/Yander Zamora
A group of people line up to buy in an agricultural market, this Monday in Havana. (Cuba) EFE/Yander Zamora

Although the sale of food to Cuba by the United States is permitted, the American exporter needs to inform the Treasury Department, which then issues a permit through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Failure to do so, exposes them to a hefty fine.

That was what happened with Biomin America, a company specialized in animal nutrition based in Kansas, which between July 2012 and September 2017 carried out 30 transactions of agricultural products to Cuba through its subsidiaries abroad, for a total of 44 violations of OFAC regulations. Biomin America is what is called a joint venture. Several foreign, non-subsidiary companies control part of its capital, even if they operate outside the United States.

These types of companies are also included in OFAC regulations and must request permission to establish a business relationship with Cuba, as established in article 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), although in this case the agricultural products were not produced in the United States.

After being warned by the Treasury Department, Biomin America entered into a series of negotiations that ended in a settlement agreement: the government will not go to court. The company agreed to pay a penalty of 257,862 dollars.

In a statement, the Treasury Department explained that while it should have applied for the export permit, the company “failed to take the steps necessary to do so” but “developed a transaction structure that it incorrectly determined would be consistent with U.S. sanctions requirements.” Since it was not a deliberate attempt to conceal something, the Treasury Department concluded that there was no premeditated violation.

“OFAC’s decision to leave the matter in a non-serious violation does not prevent the imposition of a fine. But the interesting thing is that in these times when the Trump administration has imposed restrictions on Cuba, the Treasury Department decided to be more flexible than on other occasions. It must be said that the sale of food is still authorized, but you always have to ask for a license anyway. No one is spared in that sense. They give you permission, but you have to report what you are doing on a commercial level,” explained Jerome Richardson, a lawyer specialized in international trade.

Tara Reade calls for Joe Biden to drop out of race in Megyn Kelly interview


Joe Biden accuser Tara Reade says the former vice president should quit his 2020 campaign — adding he “should not be running on character” — in a new interview with Megyn Kelly

“Joe Biden, please step forward and be accountable,” Reade tells Kelly in a clip from a longer, yet-to-air interview teased on Kelly’s Twitter account.

“You want him to withdraw?” Kelly asks in the clip.

“I wish he would,” Reade answers. “But he won’t, but I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.”

Court doc from 1996 confirms Tara Reade told of sexual harassment in Biden’s office

Tara Reade says Biden told her ‘I want to f–k you’ during alleged assault
Tara Reade says she’ll take lie detector test — if Joe Biden takes one
Biden accuser sits down for lengthy interview with Megyn Kelly
Asked if she wants an apology, Reade answers, “I think it’s a little late.”

Reade also described suffering harsh backlash at the hands of “some of [Biden’s] surrogates,” who she said “have been saying terrible things about me and to me” on social media.

“All my social media has been hacked,” she said. “All my personal information has been dragged through.

“Every person that maybe has, you know, a gripe against me, an ex-boyfriend or an ex-landlord — whoever it is, has been able to have a platform.”

At one point, someone online called her a Russian agent, she said.

“That in particular. That incites people. I got a death threat from that because they thought I was being a traitor to America,” Reade said.

“And I mean these are serious things. His campaign is taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely — I have not experienced that.”

The former staffer has accused Biden of pinning her against a wall and sexually assaulting her in 1993, which the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has denied.

Reade’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, has promised she will describe what happened to her. Kelly has promised that “a ton of news” will be revealed in the interview, which will run in its entirety Friday on her Instagram and YouTube channel.


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Sweden sees higher coronavirus death rate than US after refusing lockdown


Sweden has reported a higher death rate than the US after controversially refusing lockdown measures to ward off the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest figures.

The Scandinavian country, which has reported 3,040 virus-related fatalities, has seen a death rate of 297.16 for every 1 million citizens, according to data from John Hopkins University.

The US, meanwhile, has confirmed 74,239 deaths — a rate of 226.33 deaths per 1 million people, the data shows.
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Sweden has taken a more lax approach to battling the virus, leaving most schools, stores and restaurants open — and instead calling on residents to self-regulate themselves when it comes to social distancing from each other.

The result has been a higher rate of coronavirus fatalities relative to the size of the population than in neighboring countries — including Denmark, Norway and Finland, which enacted stricter measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

But Sweden still trails behind hard-hit European countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Spain, which all implemented lockdowns.


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France surveys warn of a second wave of the epidemic


Paris, May 7 (Prensa Latina) Several studies conducted in France, whose conclusions were published today, warned of a probable reactivation of the Covid-19 epidemic if the protection measures decided by the government for the post-quarantine phase are not reinforced.

According to the researchers, the strategy proposed by the government will make it difficult for France to avoid a second wave of the epidemic, when millions of people will leave their confinement to return to work after May 11.

For Dr. Martin Blachier, a public health expert, at this time ‘the barrier measures can no longer slow down the circulation of the virus,’ so the only effective measure would be to continue the confinement, because otherwise the epidemic will be reactivated and ‘will be approximately twice bigger than that we have known, with hospitals on the verge,’ he said.

The Public Health Expertise survey cited that shortcomings in the government’s plan, such as the absence of strengthened protection measures for the most vulnerable people and a return to work and schools, will lead to an increase in serious cases that will exceed the capacity of intensive care services, in a scenario that is planned for the end of July.

Another model, carried out by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and the Sorbonne University, considered it necessary, in order to avoid a second outbreak, that half of the population remain in their homes, and that only half of the planned activities and the reopening of shops be resumed.

He added that the government does not know both the number of people who will return to work from Monday, and the risk to the safety of children who will return to school, which he considered reckless and warned that the ‘ infection with the disease will get worse’.


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What Does Michelle Obama Have to Complain About?

Michelle Obama has had a blessed American life, but she’s all about her grievances in her Netflix documentary.


There’s a curious joy deficit in Michelle Obama’s video memoir Becoming, the Netflix documentary produced by her and her husband. As she glides from one beautiful space to another, surrounded by beautiful and famous people, with beautiful daughters and a beautiful bank account and much else to be grateful for, the viewer keeps waiting for her Flounder moment: Oh, boy, is this great!

Instead, the tone is mostly dour, pained, even somber. I suspect (and hope!) that, off-camera, the Obamas are a bit more full of joie de vivre than Michelle Obama is in this film, which is largely a litany of complaint. She says she felt so much pressure to be perfect for eight years in the White House that when it was over she let the dam burst by crying for half an hour (half an hour?) when she and her husband departed on Air Force One. She talks about the various times she feels she was targeted by racism, exaggerating what actually happened. She walks us through her press coverage, which she finds indescribably unfair and hurtful.

She is, however, so bereft of examples of nasty media attention to cite that two of the examples she shows us are ironic, i.e. the joke is on her detractors. One of them is a cover story in the (left-wing) magazine Radar that asked, wryly, “What’s So Scary about Michelle Obama?” (The underlying story, by Ana Marie Cox, made it clear that there was nothing scary about Michelle Obama.) Another is the famous New Yorker cartoon cover that depicted Barack Obama in traditional Muslim dress and put Michelle Obama in an Afro, with an assault rifle and a bandoleer on her chest, as an American flag burned in the fireplace. The Obamas complained about this at the time and many pointed out that a) The New Yorker has always been a vociferous supporter of the Obamas and b) the cartoon was portraying an obviously fanciful image of the Obamas that existed solely in the fever dreams of right-wingers. The New Yorker itself hastened to explain the joke at the time, which must have been painful for that institution.

Both Obamas are graduates of Harvard Law School, so it seems unlikely that they’re too dumb to have gotten the joke, which means they’re simply pretending not to get the joke in order to create a phony grievance. Most of the rest of the “can you believe how the media ripped her apart?” montage in the movie consists of stray remarks made on Fox News Channel, but if you’re turning on Fox News in search of insults, you’re really going out of your way to be aggrieved. Much of this coverage was, by the way, inspired by Michelle’s remark, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.” Mrs. Obama doesn’t defend this remark at all in the doc except to grumble that it was taken out of context, and admits that this was the last time she was allowed to speak off the cuff in public. So Fox News talking heads apparently were on the same side as the Obama campaign in thinking that this was a dumb thing for her to say.

Another magazine cover shown in the film is one by National Review. On April 25, 2008, we ran a cover story captioned “Mrs. Grievance,” with a cartoon of Mrs. Obama. (The story, by Mark Steyn, began like this: “Michelle, ma belle: These are words that go together well. She looks fabulous, like a presidential spouse out of some dream movie — glossy hair, triple strand of pearls, vaguely retro suits that subtly remind you she’d be the most glamorous first lady since Jackie Kennedy.”) The story wasn’t exactly a rain of hellfire, and since Michelle Obama indisputably had (and has) a habit of discussing her various grievances, the cover headline was, far from an unfair attack, an objective description of reality.

This section of the movie (which, I remind you, was produced by the Obamas themselves) lies by omission, leaving out the ocean of favorable press coverage received by Michelle Obama and focusing exclusively at the puddle of negative attention. Michelle Obama may have received the most glowing press coverage of all time among figures who achieved her level of fame. Even Beyoncé must sometimes think, “What do I have to do to get that level of adulation?” And Beyoncé, unlike Mrs. Obama, actually possesses a massive amount of talent.

What Steyn put his finger on back in 2008 remains a pertinent question: Why is Michelle Obama so aggrieved? “I have troubles” is not usually the message of a First Lady. Usually it’s more like, “I have a lot of hats” or, “I have a literacy program.”

True, the gilded-cage aspect of life as a First Lady of the United States must be more trying than it appears from the outside. On the other hand, unlike a president, a First Lady gets a life of super-luxury without actually having to do anything. No one expected Michelle Obama to solve health care. No one was peppering her with thorny queries for eight years. (If we’re being honest, not that many reporters were throwing “gotcha” questions at her husband, either.) Moreover, even among world-famous, super-rich celebrities, a First Lady is in a special category: She was and is in the position of being able to use federal officers to maintain a zone of privacy. All she had to do was . . . smile and wave. Occasionally cut a ribbon or host a dinner. Like royalty. If there’s an easier job in the world, I don’t know what it is. Hair stylist on her feet all day? Teacher dealing with bumptious children? Stay-at-home-mom making multiple frenzied runs to Target and Judo practice and viola lessons while worrying about meals and managing the household budget? Nope, all of these jobs are far more demanding. Yet Obama tells us in the movie that the point of her book tour “is to be able to have the time to actually reflect, to figure out what just happened to me. It’s kind of the panic moment of, yeah, this is totally me.” So what Michelle Obama feels short of is . . . time to think about herself? She feels “panic”? Michelle Obama is an unemployed, extremely wealthy woman whose children are grown. If anyone has “time to actually reflect,” it is she.

At the climactic point of the film, she returns to the subject of racism, which she touched on several times earlier. “We have to be willing to say who we are. I am the former First Lady of the United States and also a descendant of slaves. It’s important to keep that truth right there,” she says. She has said this before, but the meaning for her is not what it might be for you or me. She isn’t saying, “Gosh, the country certainly has changed for the better!” The point is something close to the opposite: “No matter how splendid your life may be, if you’re black there is unexploded ordnance in the backyard.” She notes, “Barack and I lived with an awareness that we ourselves were a provocation. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. . . .You see people gunned down because somebody was so afraid of a kid in a hoodie that that ended his life. So how were these people dealing with the fact that a black family was in what they perceived as their White House?”

Putting Michael Brown, who the Obama Justice Department confirmed was attacking a cop when he got shot, and Tamir Rice, a little kid playing with a toy, in the same category is unserious, and neither of them has much to do with the Obamas. The point of bringing up these names seems to be a chilling one: They’d shoot us if they could. I wonder if Michelle Obama really looks back on her blessed American life and considers this to be the takeaway. If so, despite her glamour, despite her millions, despite her access to the finest people and places on Earth, I feel sorry for her.


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Melia Hotels highlights Cuba as a destination for recovery


Melia Hotels highlights Cuba as a destination for recoveryBrussels, May 7 (Prensa Latina) Gabriel Escarrer, executive officer of the Melia Hotels chain, stressed on Thursday that Cuba is an important destination for the post-coronavirus tourism recovery, said a report released in Brussels.

In statements to Preferente digital bulletin, Escarrer said that Cuba stands out as a destination for recovery, as the island offers more possibilities for the epidemiological control.

He assured that Cuba will position itself as a safe destination, once the pandemic allows resuming international tourism, and the important thing will be to sell security and the beauty of its landscapes.

He stressed the necessity to think that the confinement multiplied the US market’s aspiration to travel to beach destinations by more than 50% since February.

This data was provided by Skift Research, and was taken up by Escarrer, who specified that once the health threat had ended, a strong rise in travel to the Caribbean could be witnessed.


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