Mar 26, 2011

Google Strikes in the United States Again

Yet again one of my blog posts has been blocked or censored by Google. "Libya and Cuba: Simple Solutions Perhaps" was published over twelve hours ago and is still not available if one searches by its title. If this is a technical problem how is it that Google keeps messing up? If it is not, why is this - repeatedly - happening in the United States?

UPDATE MARCH 28, 2011 - 2;15 A.M.

Almost forty eight hours have now elapsed since I published the blocked post on Cuba and Libya but it still can not be found by its title. The Invisible Cuba blog that contains it as well as this post you are reading can be found. But the blocked post itself can not be found on any search engine by its title.

My post is like that tree falling in a forest empty of humans. Does the tree make a sound? One might think that because no one is around to hear it that it does not. But, objectively, of course it does, although no one is near enough to hear it.

Google Blogger effectively owns an Internet blogging forest. The sound that Google doesn't like for whatever reason is a sound that will not be heard. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn't work with censorship.

Of course, I am aware that I can open a blog outside of the Google blogger forest. But that is not the point and, in any case, it would hardly solve much given that Google controls 84.77% of all Internet searches, 14 times more than its nearest rival. Furthermore, the other search engines obtain much of their information from Google.

Whatever Internet content Google hides or censors is seemingly pushed into virtual non existence and invisibility. If this can be demonstrated to be in fact the case (or nearly so), how could it be in the best interests of a free society?

What if Google's idea of "the Good" is off by even a fraction of a degree?

UPDATE MARCH 29, 2011, 1:49 P.M.

After over three days of invisibility, one is finally able to find Libya and Cuba: Simple Solutions Perhaps on Google's search engine. This is outrageous and I hope that mine is the only case.

UPDATED MARCH 29, 2011, 10:33 P.M.

The post "Libya and Cuba: Simple Solutions Perhaps" has been blocked by Google again after having been briefly unblocked earlier today. Not good.

MARCH 31, 2011, 9:45 A.M.

I last checked a few minutes ago and one can now find the blocked post by its title. But that had also happened briefly on March 29, as I reported then. There is no reason to trust it will not happen again with this post, or with a new post.

APRIL 11, 2011

I just discovered that I had been misspelling 'Libya' as 'Lybia'. Could that explain the block on the post? (Read below.)

APRIL 12, 2011 2011 UPDATE

No, a misspelling can not account for Google's five days censorship. There are plenty of misspellings in blog posts published by Google blogger.


Invisible Cuba´s New Web Address

Invisible Cuba Announces New Web Address (and new content)

Censored by Google Again

Google Vs. Invisible Cuba

Google, the Mainstream News Media, Blogs and Cuba : What I thought was not so crazy after all

Google Hides Abuses in Cuba (Again)

Libya and Cuba: Simple Solutions Perhaps

The emerging civil war in Libya is not far from what might happen in Cuba if the full opposition made itself visible and demanded that the Castro brothers surrender or leave. The assaults we have grown accustomed to seeing on Cuban non violent protesters could quickly metamorphose into threats of "hunting foes down in their homes" with "no mercy" and urging Cuban mobs to fight them "to the last drop of blood". Castro's old slogan was of course "socialism or death".

Understandably, Castro's opponents have very little interest in a civil war. Like the Libyan rebel opposition they would be unable to defend themselves against air attacks, tanks, grenades, and an assortment of weapons in the hands of the tyrannical regime's mercenaries. A tyranny's opponents have to be very careful not to start one of these things unless there is a clear path to victory that will not result in something that is worse than what exists at the moment.

But the uprising in Libya, as in much of the Arab world, appears to have been spontaneous. They were not planning on a civil war. It appears as if they figured they could get Gaddafi to step down with a relentless show of resolve and solidarity, just as the Egyptians had just done with Mubarak.

Gaddafi of course - like his good tyrant friend, Fidel Castro - had been closely watching events in Tunisia and Egypt and preparing his response should a challenge come his way. He observed what did not work and did not take any chances: civilian unarmed foes must be mercilessly exterminated. Thus, he "reasoned". Thus, it is quite comprehensible that President Obama reacted immediately and that NATO determined to stop the genocide the Libyan madman was publicly contemplating. But now we have civil war. So what are the options:

The first option is to abandon the Libyan civilian rebels and allow the genocide. That is obviously not acceptable.

The second option is to continue the bombing indefinitely. That will not prevent the massacre of some but will save the lives of even more. Yet, it probably won't end the civil war.

A third option is to train and arm the defenseless civilians for war but that means a possibly protracted civil war. Think El Salvador.

Then there is the option of attempting to negotiate peace but how long will that take and what happens in the meantime?

Finally, there is the option of splitting the country in half and protecting its dividing line with NATO troops until the new Lybyan nation can protect itself. That's what I have proposed be done in Cuba without any blood shed. But perhaps the solution is not so simple. Perhaps, I suppose, the Castros and Gaddafis of the world think it's easier to just be a tyrant. Whether they can get away with that will depend on the opposition and its allies.

Dividing Libya up (proportionately to the population on each side and resources) would establish a great precedent for Castro and Cuba, and for other peoples seeking freedom from dictatorships in the future, and their allies.

MARCH 26, 2011, 4:18 P.M. UPDATE
For Libya there is the immediate and considerable benefit of stopping deaths on both sides. Negotiations to reunite the country can then begin without anyone's life being threatened and anyone being governed without their consent. The same would apply if this were to be implemented in Cuba.

The benefit of this solution for the United States and NATO is that there is a clear and ethical exit path from the conflict. There should no longer be a genocidal threat and their role should quickly diminish as soon as the division is set up and Libyan civilians are trained to defend it.

MARCH 27, 8:14 P.M. UPDATE

This blog post is being censored by Google Blogger as I have explained here. Followers of this blog or feed subscribers may nevertheless have read it and thus this update is primarily intended for them.

First I want to more clearly restate a couple of the options I had written:

Second Option - restated:

I wrote: "The second option is to continue the bombing indefinitely..." That is not really an option. The purpose of the bombing is (or should be) to protect the lives of civilians opposing Gaddhafi given his threat to hunt them down mercilessly. While Gaddhafi threatens and hunts down civilians, if he can be deterred through air raids, they should continue. They should stop immediately if he demonstrates that he will no longer be the aggresor. People will die of course. But many more will die if no one stops Gaddhafi. Think Nazi Germany.

Fourth Option - restated:
I wrote: "Then there is the option of attempting to negotiate peace but how long will that take and what happens in the meantime?" Peace negotiations should begin as soon as Gaddhafi is willing to sit down and talk. But if while negotiating he continues being the aggressor then it is morally obligatory to continue defending the civilians. The best way to end the fighting and killing in such a case is to begin splitting the country up as described in the fifth option. Of course, if Gaddhafi stops being the agressor, hostilities should cease and negotiations should begin immediately.

Fifth Option - restated:

I wrote: "Finally, there is the option of splitting the country in half ..." Well, not in half. Ideally, each faction should have access to land, water and resources proportionate in quantity to the portion of the population that consents to be governed by it. Once the country is split and rebel civilians are trained to defend their portion the killing will cease. Both sides can then negotiate whatever they want, including the reunification of the country.

* * *

Pope Benedict XVI issued a call today for diplomatic talks to end the conflict. The Pope of course knows that the protests were not originally violent and that everything changed when Gaddhafi (spurred by Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chavez's support) began threatening and attacking civilians. There are about 40 thousand Catholics, mostly Italians, in predominantly Sunni Muslim (97%)Libya.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Tripoli issued a call for a cease to hostilities on March 22 and 23. This led to a strong criticism of the Vatican's "silence" by a renowned Italian Catholic writer, Sandro Magister.

As Catholics, we all want a cease to hostilities. The Pope and the Bishop of Tripoli urge negotiations. But what is to be done about Gaddhafi's attacks on civilians, they have not explained.


In this video President Obama tells Americans why had Gaddhafi had to be, and had been, stopped.

President Obama Explains Libya Initiative
Photo from Associated Press video on You Tube

MARCH 29, 2011, 1:52 P.M. UPDATE

After over three days of invisibility, one is finally able to find the post you are now reading, "Libya and Cuba: Simple Solutions Perhaps", on Google's search engine. This is outrageous and I hope that mine is the only case.

But why was it unblocked now?

MARCH 29, 2011, 10:12 P.M. UPDATE

I just checked. This post has been blocked again. You can no longer find it by its title. One can find my next post referring to this one, by its title. But why not this one?

There is evidence that Google gives low rankings to news of Cubans being oppressed by the Castro tyranny. But this post is not even ranked. Not buried in Google search page one hundred and nine. It is simply blocked. Censored. By Google.

I realize that Google is not obligated to publish anyone or anything. But it controls 84.77% of Internet traffic.

MARCH 31, 2011, 9:52 A.M.

This post can now be found again by its title. But how does one trust Google after all of this?


It is being reported that African leaders friendly to Gadhafi announced that he has accepted their cease-fire proposal. Not surprisingly, Cuba's 52 year dictatorship is also asking for a ceasefire in Libya. This is very good news except for the fact that Gadhafi's forces continue pounding the civilian rebels. Indeed, just today The Huffington Post reported:
"In the embattled city of Misrata, the lone rebel outpost in the west of the country, residents said shelling continued Sunday, killing one and wounding two others seriously.

"'We woke up at 7 a.m. from the tank fire,' said a doctor working at the local hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

"Libya's third-largest city has been pounded without cease for more than a month by Gadhafi's heavy weapons, but the rebels have managed to hold out."
In addition, the Huffington Post also tells us that Gadhafi did not keep earlier cease fire promises.
"Gadhafi has ignored the cease-fire he announced after international airstrikes were authorized last month, and he rejects demands from the rebels, the U.S. and its European allies that he relinquish power immediately."
So what are the civilian rebels to do? Armed rebellion and foreign intervention only came about after Gaddhafi threatened to exterminate them.

Yes, of course, a cessation of hostilities is the best thing that could happen, the earlier the better. But the stronger force, that is, Gaddhafi and his armed forces, should immediately stop firing and retreat from all threatening positions. Negotiations with the (hopefully elected) civilian leadership should then immediately begin. If there is a will for peace it will be found. May Our Lord grant the Libyans that grace.


The civilian rebels have reportedly rejected the ceasefire given that Gaddhafi´s forces have kept firing.
"Rebels in the Libyan city of Misrata scorned reports Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to a ceasefire on Monday after his forces fired rockets on the city and fought intense house-to-house battles."
If Gaddhafi wants his ceasefire offer to be taken seriously he should order his forces to stop and retreat to non threatening positions.

The rebels are however demanding that Gaddhafi must leave. They no longer sound like civilians on the verge of being exterminated but rather, arrogant and triumphalist. They must resist these temptations and place human life (children!) first. They must understand that their enemy also has supporters with a right to life in Libya.


Given its publicly declared willingness to commit genocide, no one could argue that respect for its citizens is a high priority for the Gaddhafi dictatorship. A woman allegedly raped by fifteen men at the start of protests has now accused a government minister of being the ringleader. Apparently as a result of that, she is reportedly being accused of naming the rapists. She recounts how after two days of rapes she was finally able to escape from her assailants with the help of another woman who was not resisting the rapes and was therefore not tied. The Washington Post reported:
"Naked and hysterical, she said she jumped out of a window and threatened the African guards at the gate with a metal rod.

"'I could see fear in their faces when they looked at me — my hair was wild, I was naked and screaming,' she said.

"Once they opened the gates to the street, she ran for her life.

"'I ran down the side of the house screaming and crying and the ('rapists’) car was chasing me,' she remembers. 'Neighbors started to come out to look and they protected me.'

"Women in the neighborhood brought her clothes and paid for her taxi.

"'They asked if I wanted to go to the police station, but I didn’t go because that’s not where I would find justice,' she said."

Mar 22, 2011

Libya, Cuba, Obama and Lugar

President Obama should be commended for taking concrete steps to stop Gaddafi's genocidal threats against the Libyan people who oppose him. But it's not surprising that one of the president's main critics on Libya is his ally on Cuba policy. Senator Richard Lugar [Rep-Ind], has been a tireless advocate for the lifting of travel restrictions to Cuba, a move that will result in the financing of the Castro tyranny. The bills he sponsored last year were never passed; yet Obama acted on Cuba, without Congressional approval, in a manner that obtained what the senator had been wanting to legislate. No complaints were heard from Senator Lugar then. But now the senator has expressed his disappointment with Obama's initiative on Libya, complaining that "it should be handled different."

Apparently Senator Lugar believes President Obama was constitutionally required to have first consulted Congress because of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. That's a fair and debatable question but the Senator dropped the piano when he tells the world that he wants to know who the Americans are fighting in Libya and who they will end up supporting in the end.
"People are being killed. So the question is how do you stop the killing, I suppose. And furthermore, after you do, who do we recognize? Do we recognize Gadhafi who is still there after all this time or do we take further action to depose him, literally to eliminate his regime? That is not at all clear. In fact, it's hardly been discussed as far as I can tell.
That is not at all clear? Evidently supporting Gaddhafi, even after he has threatened to exterminate all Libyans who oppose him, has remained a real option for this United States Senator. But it is not inconsistent with his willingness, and the enormous effort he made in favor of the Castro tyranny (or with Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chavez's support of the Libyan madman). President Obama should be careful with political friends like this.


Interview with Senator Richard Lugar

Mar 21, 2011

Obama Vs. Obama's Shadow on Cuba

At the Palacio de las Monedas in Chile today, President Obama spoke of his commitment to the "independence of the Cuban people" and placed his hopes on "Cuban authorities" who he insisted "must take some meaningful actions to respect the basic rights of their own people — not because the United States insists upon it, but because the people of Cuba deserve it." Now really.

Obama's shadow: Cubans deserve it and therefore I believe Fidel will wake up from his trance and their nightmare. Or maybe Raul will ... and that will suffice.

President Obama continued: "Let’s never waver in our support for the rights of people to determine their own future — and, yes, that includes the people of Cuba. Since taking office, I’ve announced the most significant changes to my nation’s policy towards Cuba in decades. I’ve made it possible for Cuban Americans to visit and support their families in Cuba. We’re allowing Americans to send remittances that bring some economic hope for people across Cuba, as well as more independence from Cuban authorities."

Me: Come on, don't hold back. Don't hide it now. Say it: You licensed eight more airports, now 11, to fly all Americans with a cultural interest in Castro to Cuba to pay their tributes with American dollars (that should really be going to the aching Miami and South Floridian Cuban exile and Latin American immigrant tourism driven economy).

Obama's shadow: Man, Fidel ... Raul ... wake up.... This is the mother of all bribes. I'm sending billions your way. Come on guys, don't pretend you don't know that I know that you control everything...yes...the banks too....And Cuban exiles. Just wait and see. I'll bribe you too.

President Obama: "Going forward, we’ll continue to seek ways to increase the independence of the Cuban people, who I believe are entitled to the same freedom and liberty as everyone else in this hemisphere. I will make this effort to try to break out of this history that’s now lasted for longer than I’ve been alive."

Obama's shadow: That's why I'm bribing Fidel and Raul like no one ever has before. We never went this far with Batista. I'm sure this strategy will work. If it doesn't, some of my supporters at least will be wealthier too. It's a win win with Fidel.

President Obama:
"The lessons of Latin America, I believe, can be a guide — a guide for people around the world who are beginning their own journeys toward democracy."

Obama's shadow: Just look at how almost all of them have supported Fidel in Cuba. Hey, I heard Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Mexico were all warned ahead about that poor guy (now what was his name? Zapata Tamayo? And his poor mom too.) who was starved to death by, ja, ja, "the Cuban Authorities", and apparently did nothing to prevent it. I read how Lula uselessly tried to defend himself after the letter showing that he had been previously informed ... by Invisible Cuba ...was published. The others did not even speak up. But they received the plea for help ahead of time too. That's the way to go. Just do as they do and smile. It's worked for them and for Fidel, hasn't it?

President Obama:
"There is no one model for democratic transitions."

Obama's shadow: That's right. Just look at Cuba. Their good old revolution to cure Batista's coup on Cuba's democracy has been going on for 52 years.

President Obama: "But as this region knows, successful transitions do have certain ingredients. The moral force of nonviolence."

Obama's shadow: That's right. That's why we are bribing Fidel. No force. Just money. It'll be a win win this time.

President Obama: "Dialogue that’s open and inclusive."

Obama's shadow: Who says criminals shouldn’t be a part of it? Who says murdering more than 8000 of your own people and goading 3-4 million into exile is so bad? Hey, no one is perfect.

President Obama: "The protection of basic rights, such as peaceful expression and assembly. Accountability for past wrongs. And matching political reform with economic reform, because democracy must meet the basic needs and aspirations of people."

Me: Oh, but wait, maybe Obama is serious. Now I'm confused. So the Castros are to be held “accountable for past wrongs” (trashing the Cuban constitution, murders, summary trials, false imprisonments, theft, three to four million exiles). But they are also trusted to remain in charge, and lead political and economic reform?

He can't be serious. That can't be what he means. But if it isn't, then why is he sending billions their way?

Mar 20, 2011

Censored by Google Again

Once again one of my blog posts has been (hopefully temporarily) censored by Google. "Compassion Here and Justice There by Setting the Captives Free" was published over a half hour ago and is still not available if one searches by its title (above), "Cuba" or "Cuba Gross". I thought this only happened in Cuba, Venezuela, China and Islamic countries.


At 12:32 A.M. (3-21-2011) it was still being censored. It was published at 10:56 P.M. (3-20-2011).

UPDATE 12:45 A.M. (3-21-2011)

Nor can this post that you are now (unlikely, thanks to Google) reading be found in Google by searching for "Cuba", "Cuba Censorship" or "Exiled Cubans Censorship". It can be found by searching for "Invisible Cuba Censorship". So it can probably only be found if you know it exists, that is, by me or very close followers.

UPDATE 1:50 A.M.

One can now find "Compassion Here and Justice There by Setting the Captives Free" if one searches for its whole title, but who is going to do that not knowing it even exists?

UPDATE 11:27 A.M - MARCH 21, 2011

The censorship issue now appears to have been resolved but with unintended results. This post denouncing censorship can now be easily found by searching, for example, for "Cuba Gross". But it cannot be found by searching for "Google censorship", "Cuba censorship" or "Google Cuba Censorship" (first ten pages of any of the former).

The censored post denounced herein can now be more easily found, for example, by searching for "Cuba Gross Compassion", but not by "Cuba Gross" or "Cuba", which are the most likely ways someone would search for this topic.


Google, the Mainstream News Media, Blogs and Cuba : What I thought was not so crazy after all

Google Hides Abuses in Cuba (Again)

Compassion Here and Justice There by Setting the Captives Free

Freeing Cuba's five spies imprisoned in the United States may be the most ethical and effective way to obtain the release of American Alan Gross and Castro's remaining Cuban political prisoners. While these spies certainly facilitated the murder of Cuban exiles, to my knowledge there is no evidence that they knew this would happen or linking them to the decision to shoot down the small aircraft carrying them to Cuba. The regime led by Castro murdered them. The spies only uncovered the plan and informed Castro of its details. They are, however, guilty of having spied in the United States but, unlike murder, that is not necessarily intrinsically evil; and the United States also has spies.

Castro's five spies obeyed his orders, just as United States spies are expected to obey the orders of its government. The fact that Castro's is not a legitimate government makes no difference since he still exercises power as if it was and forces people to obey him. The spies could have chosen another career or refused (if recruited) to become spies for a tyranny; of that they are guilty, but not of first degree murder.

It is a terrible injustice for innocent people such as Castro's political adversaries or Mr. Gross (regardless his political views) to be separated from their families and imprisoned in Cuba. More painful yet is the fact that Mr. Gross' twenty six year old daughter has been diagnosed with cancer. If by freeing any or all of these five spies their and/or his liberty can be obtained, then it should be the first option to consider, provided it does not jeopardize the security of the United States.

As expressed in a previous post:
"Freeing a prisoner who is innocent (e.g. Alan Gross, Castro's political prisoners regardless of charges) is the only just thing to do. Freeing one who, once freed, cannot bring harm to others, is compassion."
Furthermore, for Cubans and Cuban Americans who oppose Castro's tyranny, this solution is far superior to the one proposed by the Wall Street Journal, that is, conditioning visas and economic assistance to a criminal tyranny in order to obtain the release of Mr. Gross. That would be a grave offense, just as it was to support Batista after his 1952 coup on Cuba's democratically elected government.

Instead, travel by Americans (including Cuban Americans) to Cuba should be unconditionally stopped (except for exclusively religious purposes). Remittances by Americans to Cuba, and any other policy that economically enriches and therefore strengthens the tyranny should be immediately stopped, unless it can reasonably be expected to bring down the tyranny in less than one year. Cultural exchanges should similarly be immediately stopped as they only serve to package and promote a criminal who has enslaved a nation for over fifty two years. None of those policies should ever have been implemented.

Only direct and open charity by the US government or authorized Churches should be allowed for the exclusive purposes of helping Cubans (i) build houses (ii) grow food, (iii) prevent malnutrition, (iv) obtain free uncensored access to the Internet and (v) pursue religious purposes (hopefully Roman Catholic).

So the foregoing is a way to perhaps obtain the release of Alan Gross without further harming the Cuban people.


Flawed Reasoning on Cuba by The Wall Street Journal and Obama

Mar 16, 2011

Flawed Reasoning on Cuba by The Wall Street Journal and Obama

According to the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board, the United States should condition bailing out the Cuban tyranny on the release of convicted and imprisoned American citizen Alan Gross.
"Conditioning future visas and Cuba's economic lifeline on Mr. Gross's release is the only message that the Castro brothers and their government will heed."
But, this of course would make America's Cuba policy contingent on one American. Secondly, such a policy repeats a grave historical error with Cuba, that is, supporting a dictatorship.

Is this really what the Wall Street Journal believes should be done? If so, its policy recommendation couldn't be more perfectly aligned with the United States' 1952 Cuba policy, when it immediately began supporting Batista, after his coup on Cuba's democratically elected government.

If the United States government wants to be taken seriously in its defense of democracy and human rights it should unconditionally stop helping keep tyrannies afloat. That should not be too hard to understand.

While the United States continues to bail out this tyranny, unconditionally, or conditionally as the Wall Street Journal recommends, it will only continue to demonstrate that truly nothing has changed in its Cuba policy in the 59 years since Batista's coup, which is when this tragic mess began.

Therefore the United States should withdraw all recent concessions (cultural travel, remittances by all Americans allowed, etc.) whether or not Alan Gross is released.

In a previous version of this blog post I had referred to the Wall Street Journal's suggestion as "tantamount to giving in to extortion". But it is not extortion, because Castro has not explicitly demanded or asked for anything in exchange for releasing Alan Gross. The truth is that the Wall Street Journal is in effect suggesting that the United States bribe tyrant Castro with economic assistance. This is unethical and hypocritical. It is unethical to abet a tyrant who for 52 years has robbed a people of their nation and is on the list of US terrorist states. It is hypocritical and an insult to Cuban (anti Batista, anti Castro) exiles who arrived in these shores from 1960 onwards trusting in the United States and its democracy, to now suggest it's necessary to finance the tyrant who caused their exile. Cuban Batistianos who arrived in 1959 will probably not mind if Castro is bribed, as they are of the same ilk. But the United States should finally just stop listening to them.

Furthermore, by attempting to buy Castro off with concessions, the United States is providing him with the ideological ammunition he uses with nationalist non-socialist Cubans, and Latin Americans, and a cover for every crime he has committed and may yet commit.

Rather than condition the issuing of Cuban visas to Gross' release, as the Wall Street Journal recommends, I believe no more should be granted, conditionally or unconditionally, because they have become a way for Castro to create a base in the United States. However, exiles who have parents or offspring in Cuba should be allowed to bring them to the United States (vertical family only). But they should not be allowed to travel to Cuba from the United States anymore. To avoid family break ups, they should bring them to the United States or move back.

If the United States wants to help Cubans it can directly and openly help them build their own homes, grow their own food, provide them with food and nutritional supplements where needed, and with the means to communicate freely on the Internet. Castro may of course not agree to any of this generosity. But that bridge should be crossed only once he refuses it.

If the United States wants to help Cubans it should also not forget the exiles to whom it once opened its arms.

As for the release of Alan Gross, there is no easy ethical answer. He is not guilty for he did nothing unjust. Yet he is in a Cuban prison.


MARCH 29, 2011 1:39 A.M.

But at the beginning of his public ministry, quoting Isaiah 61:1, Jesus proclaimed:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
You can read it in Luke 4: 18-21.

So that is what I think God wants, on both sides.

UPDATE MARCH 20, 2011 10:29 P.M.

When Jesus announced that he came to free prisoners, he primarily meant prisoners of Satan, of sin, for he later asserted that his Kingdom was not of this world (John 18: 36). So why am I using Luke's passage (Luke 4 18:21) to recommend that prisoners be freed and on on both sides?

The fact that his kingdom is not of this world does not mean that he excluded liberating prisoners in the here and now. Indeed, Jesus encouraged compassion towards those in prison when in Matthew 25: 36 he says: "For I was ... in prison and you visited me."

Freeing a prisoner who is innocent (e.g. Alan Gross, Castro's political prisoners regardless of charges) is the only just thing to do. Freeing one who, once freed, cannot bring harm to others, is compassion.

Accordingly, if freeing Cuba's five spies imprisoned in the United States cannot harm this country (including Cuban American exiles) but can obtain the release of Gross and Castro's Cuban political prisoners, then it would be an intelligent act of compassion to liberate them.


American Convicted and Sentenced - What Now?

This Time It's an American Who May be Convicted in Cuba (Revised)

Mar 14, 2011


May God help the people of Japan.

You can make a donation through Catholic Relief Services (U.S. Bishops' international relief and development agency), Caritas (Catholic Church's international charitable organization) or the American Red Cross.

UPDATE: March 15, 2011, 1:13 A.M.

Why has God allowed something like this, I've asked myself throughout the day today. My faith was shaken. Why does He just not listen to my prayers and stop it?

The readings at today's Catholic Mass provided me with an answer. Reflecting on Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 and the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46, Rev. Deviny C.P., the priest who presided at the celebration of the Mass online at St. Ann's Monastery reminded us that we are "made in the image of God" and are therefore "holy as He is holy."

But human beings certainly don't seem very holy for the most part I thought.

Rev. Deviny then spoke about Jesus' message in Matthew's gospel:
"Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?"
And the king will say to them in reply,
"Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."
He continued and asked why then had Jesus "condemned the pharisees who perfectly observed all of the commandments" and answered:
"Being holy for a Christian should be heart centered and not merely action centered. Being holy means being compassionate as Jesus was compassionate. Being holy means allowing the Spirit of Jesus living in us to transform our hearts and our actions. The Holy Spirit moves our hearts to have compassion on the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked and the imprisoned. Our actions follow our hearts, and we give according to our ability: food, water, welcoming to the strangers and clothe the naked, consolation to the imprisoned."

"Being holy means becoming Christ's heart and Christ's hands."
That is, I reasoned, perhaps God's purpose in allowing this monstrous tragedy. It is an opportunity for humankind to become holy, to become Christ's heart and hands for Japan. For being holy "as God is holy" lasts for eternity and is therefore incomparably more important than any suffering in this world.

Seen this way, suffering, and Japan's tragedy, is meant as a gift for humanity.

UPDATE 4:00 A.M.

Reading what I wrote in my previous update tonight, one might ask how the nuclear plant explosions and the spread of radiation is a gift.

While nuclear plants are human made the constitution of energy and matter is not. But had there been no nuclear plants this stage of the tragedy would not be occurring. So there is a metaphysical as well as a human dimension to the question.

The metaphysical question might be answered like seventeenth century German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz did, that is, by arguing that God created the best of all possible worlds (note that St. Thomas Aquinas did not agree). Following Leibniz lead, one would argue that the constitution of matter and energy is essential for experiencing life as we have known it, prior to nuclear plants.

But nuclear energy can potentially serve good purposes if appropriately harnessed and regulated by humanity. Thus man made nuclear plants could have a place. But how fast and at what cost? Why were we not ready for this tragedy if not because we rushed to satisfy the "need" for energy? But isn't it mortally foolish for the first world to have rushed to nuclear energy without first being able to control it worldwide?

This raises several questions one of which is the availability and cost of other energy sources as well as about lifestyle expectations and high energy usage by highly industrialized and rapidly developing nations.

Was it worth it to supply a Japanese family with energy for fifty years only to have it die from radiation? Of course not. Yet first world families (and now China and Iran too) want a certain standard of living no matter what, and at any cost, it would seem. Arguably billions are willing to give up their lives and those of their children and grandchildren for a lifestyle, however frivolous and ultimately incapable of fundamentally satisfying existential religious needs it may be.

Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reported that Monday morning, just two days after this disaster struck, Japanese in Tokyo were reported to be angry about the train delays. Some did not want to be late for work. Surely they knew there were thousands just dead from the tsunami, or perishing, or in grave danger because of radiation resulting from nuclear plant explosions.
"Anger in Japan is mounting at Tokyo Electric Power Co., the country's leading utility, not just over the precarious nuclear situation but also over its mismanagement of a series of planned blackouts that caused mass confusion and delays in the commute for many Japanese heading back to work on Monday.... It's just too confusing," Nobuyoshi Takashimaya, 56 years old, an insurance firm employee in Tokyo. He said he had to walk one hour from home to reach his office because his train wasn't working."

"A Tepco spokesman, responding to the barrage of criticism, said he regretted there was inaccurate information about the areas affected by the blackouts. ...Even before Monday's confusion, the company took out a full-page ad in the Nikkei newspaper, Japan's leading financial paper, apologizing for the inconvenience of the blackouts and asking for Japan's cooperation in conserving energy."
Confronting mortality in the face is not easy, even for an unrelentingly stoic people like the Japanese. Better get to work, make some dough, drink Sake and watch the sunset on a wide television screen. Although perhaps that is one of the problems that got us here.

Mar 13, 2011

American Convicted and Sentenced - What Now?

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr. Alan Gross, an American Jew, has been convicted to 15 years in prison in Cuba. According to the Associated Press, the Cuban court said the case had been proven that Mr. Gross was:
"...working on a "subversive" program paid for by the United States that aimed to bring down Cuba's revolutionary system."

The New York Times reported American officials saying:
"... USAID programs in Cuba, a $20 million initiative, were being reworked to emphasize educational exchanges and small-business growth rather than efforts that could be perceived as directly weakening the government."
Interesting but not surprising.

However, one is very sorry to hear about Mr. Gross. One is very sorry for his daughter and family. Mr. Gross is being used as a bargaining chip and that is inhumane.

But the United States must not give in to extortion.

Furthermore, if it does not have any realistic strategy to rescue new American captives in Cuba it should immediately warn them, and swiftly stop allowing travel there. It should never have permitted it given that it finances Castro.

Cuban Americans who have families in Cuba should not be allowed to travel there any longer either. Visas to Cubans wishing to come to the United States should be restricted to those who already have an immediate family member in the United States or for political reasons. Cultural and academic exchanges should cease. They have only served to promote and embolden Castro. Visits by clergy for religious purposes should be allowed in both directions.

The United States should not support or help strengthen a tyranny. It should bring relations with Cuba back to the just basis that was abandoned with its immediate support of Batista's coup in 1952. Everything started there.


This Time It's an American Who May be Convicted in Cuba (Revised)

Mar 9, 2011

This Time It's an American Who May be Convicted in Cuba (Revised)

Allan Gross, a United States citizen, and Jewish, may be convicted in Cuba after having been charged with distributing Internet communications equipment to Cuba's tiny Jewish community. The attorney who has been assisting Mr. Gross' family (in Cuba, but not in court), happens to be the same one representing the Castro tyranny in the United States in the case of 5 Cubans convicted of spying. The trial lasted only two days. So what could all of this mean?

On the United States' end, perhaps we can get some insights from very recent debates in Congress. Cuban American Congressman David Rivera had recently questioned Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela about whether President Obama's Administration considered Mr. Gross a hostage, and if it had granted the Castro tyranny concessions in order to obtain his release. A few days earlier Cuban American Senator Marco Rubio had also questioned the Assistant Secretary of State regarding the sudden shift in the Administration's policy to one which now allows all Americans to visit and send money to Cuba.

The sudden change in United States policy is stunning and one might not believe it were it not really happening. While an American has been held hostage without a trial for almost one year in totalitarian Cuba, the United States has been preparing to reward his captors. The reward? Well, more Americans.

Indeed, today, as Castro and his team continue to supposedly deliberate on whether and for how long to convict the American, US newspapers are reporting that airports throughout the United States and even Puerto Rico will now be able to deliver Americans (by the thousands? Tens of thousands?) to his doorstep. No longer are flights restricted to academics, journalists or Cuban American exiles flying out of Miami, New York or Los Angeles. Now, any American with a cultural interest in Castro or Cuba can also fly from Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, O'Hare in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, BWI in Washington or Luis Muñoz Marín in San Juan, Puerto Rico. What timing.

Whatever the verdict, Mr. Castro has already set an unambiguous precedent with Mr. Gross' detention and trial: his many friends in the United States are most welcomed, and other visitors too, but not to help Cubans communicate freely with the world, let alone help them liberate themselves from his 52 year dictatorship.

Mr. Castro will probably also want to use Mr. Gross to obtain the release of the Cuban spies who in 1996 helped facilitate the interception and murder of United States citizens (Cuban exiles) in international airspace on their way to Cuba. Trading humans for humans is actually an ethical improvement in Castro's historical record. A few may still remember when in 1961 he callously and successfully traded those who back then were his adversaries, but also his fellow Cuban citizens, for American tractors.

Mr. Fidel Castro likely sees Mr. Gross as an opportunity, and will likely want more if he can get it. For example, can anyone seriously doubt he would want to make himself further immune to what his student and ally Muammar Gaddafi is facing in Lybia? Not that he faces anything remotely near such a threat. It would make no sense for Cubans to begin killing each other to rid themselves of a man in his eighties or his slightly younger brother. Nor would it make sense to resolve this problem like Lybia and thereby provide yet another tyrant opportunity to emerge.

It will be tragic however if Mr. Gross' is convicted, not only because he did nothing wrong but because his daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer after his detention last year.

See picture of Mr. Allan Gross and his daugher Shira

Published in Along the Malecon Blog

However, Mr. Gross' daughter and family will perhaps be consoled that her father is still on the just side of history. Furthermore, a New York Times prediction may ease their worries. The New York paper, which in 1959 helped defeat another tyrant* by promoting Mr. Castro into power, tells us:
"Although Mr. Gross faces a stiff sentence, most political observers expect him to be released on humanitarian grounds."
Mr. Castro, the humanitarian.

If Mr. Gross' release will come about as a result of the Obama Administration's clandestine concessions to the tyranny, The New York Times doesn't say. Nor does it ask what will happen if other Americans are taken captive. Now that permission to travel to Cuba has been broadly extended, there is a plan for that, right?

According to the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters Mr. Gross was convicted today to 15 years in a Cuban prison. Granma has not reported anything yet.

That other tyrant was Fulgencio Batista, previously a legitimately elected president (1940-1944) but who decided to return to power in March 1952, not through elections, given he was behind in polls, but through a violent coup shortly before they were scheduled. The 59th anniversary of said coup is, hmmm, today, March 10, 2011.

Prior to Batista's coup and Castro's tyranny, Cuba enjoyed a representative democracy with divisions of power, and three consecutive legitimate elections (1940, 1944, 1948). United States President Harry Truman, nevertheless, recognized Batista as Cuba's legitimate president only 15 days after his 1952 coup. President Eisenhower also supported him, except towards the end.

The New York Times helped popularize Castro through its reporter Herbert Matthews, who spent time with him in the Cuban Sierra Maestra, where he was evidently preparing to be the next dictator while claiming to be ridding the people of a tyrant. Indeed, almost everyone in Cuba who did not support Batista's murderous regime supported Castro. But many were imprisoned or executed upon rebelling after realizing that they had been duped, that is, that Castro did not have any intention of holding democratic elections or respecting Cuba's 1940 republican constitution. That is what the university student organizations and urban rebels had been fighting for and almost everyone else's hope. Urban rebellion led by those who had fought against Batista continued for months against Castro after he consolidated power.

There are more than 8000 documented executions or disappearances under the Castro tyranny according to the Truth and Memory project of the Cuba Archive.

1961 - Cuban Patriots from the poorly US supported Bay of Pigs invasion
upon arriving in Miami after having been imprisoned and then traded by Castro for tractors.