'Pastors for Peace' Solidarity Caravan Arrives in Cuba from US

"Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first," Gail Walker, the director of the organization said.

The 48th contingent of the United States-Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by Pastors for Peace, arrived in Havana yesterday to deliver a symbolic donation of important drugs and medical supplies, as well as demand the end of the “economic, political, and cultural embargo.”

RELATED: Cuba's Havana to Honor Nelson Mandela on His Birthday

The group traveled through 50 cities in the United States to do solidarity work and speak on the realities of the ongoing embargo, promoting the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The most recent caravan has traveled in the context of a renewed wave of U.S. aggression toward Cuba, as the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has rolled back several gains made in recent years toward normalization, and has heightened anti-Cuba rhetoric.

On Friday the visiting group, mostly from the United States, is paying tribute in Havana to the founder of Pastors for Peace, Reverend Lucius Walker. Reverend Walker, who died in 2010 is considered by many in both Cuba and in the United States to be a tireless fighter in defense of Cuba's revolution and against U.S. aggression.

His daughter, Gail Walker, is currently the director of the organization, and carries forward its original vision.

“Inside the United States, a campaign still persists whose purpose is to undermine Cuba and its revolutionary principles. Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first. That’s why we continue … calling upon the U. S. government to end its efforts towards regime change," she said in an interview with Cuba Debate.

Walker founded the organization as a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and was inspired by what he saw as anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America. The project focused on solidarity efforts with Cuba beginning in 1992, sending regular caravans to the Island.

They have consistently defied the travel ban on U.S. citizens to perform their work.

When Walker died, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, ran an announcement declaring “we do not want to think of a world without Lucius Walker.”

His final resting place is in Havana, and he is honored by a plaque at the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune across from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

  • Published in Cuba

Trump Drops a Motherload: US Uses Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb in Afghanistan

"It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area," said Lt. Col. Rick Francona.

The U.S. military dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan Thursday — in an area where the munition’s impact is likely to be felt by at least 95,000 people.

RELATED: US-led Coalition Airstrikes Mistakenly Kills 18 Militia Allies in Syria, Says Pentagon

CNN first reported the strike after speaking to four U.S. military officials who had direct knowledge of the mission.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb or as it’s nicknamed, the "mother of all bombs" – MOAB, is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is the world’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

@DavidWright_CNN Breaking: US military has dropped most powerful non-nuclear US bomb, MOAB, targeting ISIS in Nangarhar, Afghanistan -- first ever combat use

@DavidWright_CNN MOAB - also known as ‘Mother of all bombs" - a 21,600 lbs munition; dropped Thursday & US military currently assessing damage

It was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft that was stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

The target was allegedly an ISIS cave and tunnel complex.

"The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told press shortly after the munition was dropped. The strike "targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely."

The MOAB, which was developed during the Iraq War, has never before been used in the battlefield.

While the U.S. Forces Afghanistan claim that they took “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties”, and while it remains to be seen what the impact of the strike will be, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona told CNN, "It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area", implying that it will likely be grave.

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‘The G-7 Are Terrorists!’: Hundreds Protest Italy G-7 Meeting on Syria

After U.S. airstrikes, “Hands Off Syria” demonstrations have cropped up throughout the world, including in Syria itself.

Hundreds of protesters poured into the streets of Lucca, Italy, to protest the two-day meeting of G-7 foreign ministers who had gathered mainly to talk about Syria.

RELATED: How 'Anti-Trump' Liberal Media Cheered Syria Attack

The anti-G-7 demonstrators held banners emblazoned with slogans such as “Tuscany against the G-7!” and “Out with the murderers!” as leaders from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the United States met under the chairmanship of Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The crowd was protesting the recent U.S. missile attack against a Syrian army base in Homs, with many blasting the G-7 governments for feigning concern over the crisis under the guise of pursuing their own interests in the resource-rich Middle East region.

Italy G7 protest

“The G-7 are the terrorists, and those who launched 59 missiles on Syria a few days ago are terrorists. Syrians have been suffering because of the war they caused and their policies,” one of the demonstrators said, as reported by Press TV.

Another protester said, “The foreign ministers have long been active, because the region has resources, and oil and natural gas pipelines underground, and also because there are vested economic interests. They want to increase their own capital rather than help people around the world.”

On the first day of the meeting Monday, Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pushed for sanctions against Russia for its policy on Syria, but the motion was ultimately rejected. The group did not reach a consensus on the conflict, but openly embraced the recent U.S. airstrikes and condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad, echoing the tune carried in many liberal media establishment outlets.

Many have condemned U.S. intervention in the country, and after the most recent strikes, protests under the banner of “Hands Off Syria” cropped up throughout the world, including in Syria itself.

RELATED: Bolivia UN Envoy on Syria Attack: 'History Teaches Us' US Lies to Justify Wars

Lambasting U.S. aggression in the region on Friday, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti compared the basis for the unilateral move to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous 2003 presentation to the U.N., when fraudulent evidence of an alleged Iraqi weapons program was presented to justify the U.S. war on Iraq.

Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah also decried the move, issuing a sharp warning to Washington Friday, calling it a “stupid move carried out by Trump’s administration (that) would usher a major and serious tension in the region and complicate the situation in the whole world.”

China, too, blasted the attack as a weak move made in order for the U.S. to maintain hegemony in the region.

  • Published in World

USAID-Funded Freedom House Report Casts Leftist Latin American Governments as "Not Free"

The assessment is unsurprising given the U.S. history of pushing for regime change in leftist governments in Latin America. 

The Washington-based, USAID-funded research group Freedom House recently released its annual “Freedom in the World” report, which promoted a definition of "freedom" bent towards U.S. interests in the region. The report cast Venezuela and other left-wing Latin American governments as “not free,” while marveling at Brazil’s Michel Temer government, which ousted elected President Dilma Rousseff in a parliamentary coup last year.

RELATED: Venezuelans Remember Chavez's War Against Imperialism

“Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s combination of strong-arm rule and dire economic mismanagement pushed his country to a status of Not Free for the first time in 2016,” the organization warns in their report. Its assessment of the country, however, grossly overlooks that the opposition-controlled parliament has long attempted to, and prioritized, ousting Maduro through constitutionally dubious means.

Since the report was published, leaders have spoken out against the conclusion. Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez quelled the mainstream hysteria surrounding Venezuela, telling Deutsche Welle Tuesday that "there is democracy because there are three powers working.”

The Uruguayan president recalled that in that country "there is a functioning judicial power, a legislative power in operation (where the opposition is majority) and there is an executive branch with its president and vice president … this is the cold figure of the Venezuelan state."

While the report rebuked Maduro’s rule and other leftist governments in the region, such as Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia, it remained unconcerned with Brazil, ranking the country’s freedom with a high ranking of 79 in its 100-point ranking system.

“History may judge the impeachment itself. The process impeded government functions by absorbing executive and legislative attention for months, and it did little to resolve a broader corruption crisis,” they write of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. The report, however, made no mention of Temer regime’s criminalization of social movements, its 20-year freezing of social spending, and Temer’s history of corruption himself.

The assessment is unsurprising given the United States’ alignment with the Temer government and history of pushing for regime change in the leftist governments in the region.

While Freedom House claims to be an “independent watchdog organization,” it is financed through “grants from USAID (US Agency for International Development) and U.S. State Department.”

RELATED: Only Progressive Governments Attended CELAC Summit

As Venezuela Analysis reported, the NGO has conducted “democracy promotion” projects across the region, funded by USAID. Between 2012 and 2015, the organization received US$2,160,000 in grants for its activities in Venezuela alone.

In leaked U.S. State Department documents from 2006, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield explicitly laid out U.S. objectives in the South American nation: “The strategy's focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital U.S. business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.”

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  • Published in World

Donald Trump winds up “the” organization of US imperialism

With a view to reshaping the system of governance established in 1947, President Trump has published a Memorandum on the Organization of the National Security Council and the Council of Homeland Security) [1].

The principle that had been applied till now was to deal with “National Security” under the joint authority of the White House, the Chief of Joint Military Forces and the CIA which was established in 1947.

From 1947 to 2001, the National Security Council was right at the heart of the Executive. The President shared power over it with [two other officials]: the Director of the CIA, (appointed by the President) and the Chief of Joint Military Forces chosen by his peers. Since 11 September 2001, the Council was in fact placed under the supervision of the “Government of continuity” of Raven Rock Mountain.

Hereafter, it will not be the norm for the Chief of Joint Military Forces to be represented at meetings but only when an item on the agenda requires his input. In addition, the CIA loses its place on the Council where it will eventually be represented by the National Director of Intelligence.

So, the CIA, which was till now an arm the President could use to lead covert operations, finally becomes an Intelligence Agency in the proper sense of the term. This means, that its mandate is to study international actors, to anticipate their actions and to advise the president.

The annual report on its activities indicates that in 2015, the Council ordered political assassinations in 135 countries.

During the transitional period, President Trump had solemnly declared that the United States would no longer organize any more regime changes as it had done or tried to do since 1989 by using Gene Sharp techniques.

Furthermore, President Trump has assigned a permanent seat to his chief strategist as well as his chief of staff.

The former Security Council Adviser, Susan Rice, has strongly reacted on her Tweeter account. Most of the former CIA directors have already entered the fray in protest.

  • Published in Specials

US imperialist policy to continue under Trump: Scholar

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said that the results of the US presidential election make no difference to Iran, because both Republican and Democratic parties follow hostile policies toward the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khamenei also emphasized that the Iranians are not worried about the election of US president-elect Donald Trump, but the Muslim nation is prepared to face any eventuality. Press TV has interviewed a political analyst to discuss the future of America’s foreign policy toward Iran.

John Steppling, author and commentator, told Press TV’s Top 5 that the US president-elect seems not to be able to change American “imperialist foreign policy” especially toward those countries who are not obedient to US demands.

“Foreign policy never changes in the United States,” Steppling said, noting, “Trump ostensibly is going to be more of an isolationist but one suspects given his cabinet choices so far that he’s going to engage in this imperialist foreign policy that has been the norm for 50 or 60 years.”

“What Trump now will do, who knows, but over the last 20 years ... the numbers of deaths and the amount of suffering that the US has inflicted just in the Middle East is incalculable.”

“Neither [US] party changes the foreign policy, it’s always imperialist,” he said, adding that “the US has 800 military bases around the world” to protect its imperialist interests.

According to the analyst, “The US sees itself as the world’s policeman and they [American officials] are policing in the interest of Western ... businesses, corporations, the defense industry, oil and gas, and its never changes.”

He further noted, “US government's policy since World War II has been to squash any socialist, communist, any alternative business-unfriendly regime or country; anybody that is no obedient, any country that is not obedient to US business demands or Western capital is going to be punished for that disobedience.”

Trump’s election campaign had been marred by his disparaging remarks on domestic and international policies of the United States. The president-elect called for adopting harsh foreign policies toward Iran, China, Europe, NATO and some other international players. His stance against a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 has drawn condemnations from not only Tehran and European signatories of the agreement but also from American politicians.

  • Published in World
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