Cuba Inaugurates Parliament with Wide Diversity

Cuba is inaugurating Wednesday the 9th Legislature of its National Parliament, a body of 605 members representing diverse sectors of society and being 53.2 percent of it women.

The new MPs are meeting Wednesday and Thursday at Havana Convention Center after being elected last March 11, an election day in which over 7,400,000 voters casted their ballots for an 86 percent turnout.

The Parliament's seats will be occupied by workers, farmers, teachers, doctors, scientists, writers, artists, religious leaders, students, political leaders, businesspeople, sportsmen, military and workers from the private sectors.

Furthermore, the legislative house is made up of 40.5 percent black and colored people, 13,2 MPs under 35 years, 86 percent university graduates and a average age of 49 years.

A relevant fact is that 47.4 percent of the legislators was elected in neighborhood meetings and that women make up 53.2 percent of its membership makes the Cuban Parliament the second in the world with most women sitting second only to Rwanda (61.3).

Prensa Latina spoke with several of the newly-elected lawmakers who will take the oath Wednesday for a five-year term, and they all stressed that a priority is to continue strengthening socialism, following the legacy of the historical leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro and the revolutionary generation of the process that began on January 1, 1959.

Jorge Luis Romero, a cobbler from Lisa municipality, in Havana, said people are aware of the need to preserving the social achievements.

'Just look at me; I'm a cobbler and I'll be sitting at the National Parliament; this only happens in Cuba where every single day I stay undisturbed when my children go to school or when someone in the family gets sick, because we have free quality education and health; this is why people defend the revolution,' said the self-employed cobbler.

After inauguration, the 9th Legislature will elect by secret vote the Assembly's Speaker for the next five years, and the new Council of State that is the highest governmental body.

In doing that, lawmakers will be electing the President who is head of State and Government, the first Vice President and five Vice Presidents, the Council's Secretary and the remaining 23 members of the Council of State, which represents the National Parliament in between its two ordinary periods of sessions a year.

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The Pride of Our Democracy

They were all waiting anxiously. Students and professors gathered early to welcome the visitors. Some have previously met them in person. Others felt curious to know, via their biographies, the most important aspects of their careers.

Finally, they arrived. The school theater hosts the most significant event of all: the exchange of viewpoints.

There is some shyness at first. But the newcomers break the ice. They are not here as a matter of forms. They are here to remove the perception of a simple photo on a wall. They want to be known not only because of their merits —written in a piece of paper—, but also as common people, no matter the importance of what they do.

Soon the ambiance gets pleasantly informal. They talk now about future goals. Young people want to know everything: their work, the electoral process, the reason why they are not from the municipality, and how many times have they been nominated before.

Answers are given one after another. And questions raises from the other side about future careers, functioning of the school hours, and students’ knowledge on the electoral process, and the number of times they have voted before. It was a crystal-clear chat where there was no “they” or “we”, but “all.”

The words “delegate”, “congressmen”, “political system” are now common to all and assume greater significance. Everything is understood as gestures, smiles, and watchful eyes show. It does not only generate interests, but also a profound conviction of voting as a right and duty.

When the meeting seems to come to an end, a new question raises. “Boys and girls, if you are nominated one day, are you going to accept?”

Some look to each other with surprise. No words to say yet. Doubts are written in some faces. And some says “even though we are 16 years old, we are still too young, and being delegate entails great responsibility.”

Nonetheless, to everyone’s surprise, a young face requested the floor. He has already fulfilled such mission and feels the need to share his experience:

“He is right. It is tough. But it is a school to be better women and men. If you were nominated to represent citizens, then do not hesitate. Take it with courage. You only need three things to reach the goal: will, effort, and human sensibility. And there you have a delegate in Cuba.”

The audience faces show light, a light of a simple and irrefutable truth. The ovation is a sign.

This is not a fictional story. I was there and I am pretty sure there have been other meetings similar to this one. The exchange of our congressmen with citizens is far from what we are used to watch all over the world in electoral campaigns.

This is not about delegates looking for aberrant populism. It is about delegates looking to be closer to citizens without obstacles. No one swaps promises for votes. This is a meeting point to share, talk as equals. There is no discrimination in Cuba. There is only one common cause: to defend the Revolution. This is, no doubt, the true face of what we call with pride Socialist Democracy.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

State Council Appoints Date for the Constitution of Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power

Granma

Starting December 17th, the elected delegates will proceed to constitute the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power for a new mandate of two and a half years.

The State Council, through Agreement signed on December 4th of the running year determined that on December 17th, delegates chosen in the current elections of last November 26th and December 3rd to integrate the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power, gathered by their own right, proceed to constitute them for a new mandate of two and a half years.

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Local Elections in Cuba a Success


There were two more hours to go before the polling stations closed.

Despite a complex election day for heavy rains in municipalities of the central and eastern regions, Balseiro said communication links and transportation worked well, and reports were sent on time.

Polling stations closed by 19:00 local time and vote counting began right after. Voters were invited to witness the process.

CEN noted that for this first round of elections for delegates to the municipal assemblies more than 24,300 polling stations were opened, and more than 8 million Cubans were summoned to the polls to elect 12,515 municipal councillors.

Of the 27,221 candidates in the ballots, women made up 35.40 percent, while young people, 19.49.

For December 3 the runoff vote is scheduled in those constituencies in which none of the candidates obtained more than 50 percent of the valid votes.

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Washington: Trump’s mental health

Americans increasingly wonder whether their president is mentally fit to hold the office.

Why? La Jornada newspaper’s renowned analyst David Brooks answered it last Friday.

He headed his article plainly: “Mental health experts warn the world about Trump’s dangerousness”.

Then, he quoted, well-known psychiatrists and psychologists, who consider a mistake to treat him as “if he were a normal person”.

He also refers to a new book that is about to be published in the United States, The dangerous case of Donald Trump.

Its text, written by 27 mental health experts, says that his makes him a clear and present danger.

Because of that, they point out, it is impossible to apply on him rules of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which ban mental health specialists from publicly revealing their diagnoses of public figures they have't assessed. 

The book was prefaced by Dr. Banda X Lee, of Yale University, and Judith Herman, of Harvard.

They point out: "Collectively, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency”.

They offer psychological variants to describe the health state of the president, some focused on his “malignant narcissism”. Experts recall such a concept was developed by psychologist Erick Fromm to characterize Hitler and his followers.

Retired Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor Lance Dodes notices that Trump’s sociopathic characteristics pose a danger to democracy in the United States.

Some quote a famous study on its 37 presidents until 1974, which concluded that half of them had mental problems.

And Trump? Combined in a “highly dangerous” toxic mixture.

May God, if he can, protect us.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi TranslationStaff

 

Dictatorship? Washington’s Mid East allies are the ones that 'never saw a ballot box' – Iranian FM

Donald Trump believes Iran is a dictatorship, even though Washington’s allies in the region "haven't seen a ballot box in their countries," Iran's foreign minister said, adding that Tehran derives its legitimacy and mandate from the people.

“Maybe President Trump likes to think of Iran as a dictatorship, but it is interesting that all of his allies [in the region] haven’t even seen a ballot box in their countries… Be it as it may,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with the Asia Society, a nonprofit based in New York, answering a question about political processes in Iran and where the country was headed.

Iranian FM: ‘We Derive Our Legitimacy From the Public,’ Not ‘Beautiful American-Made...

What is important is that we derive our legitimacy and our power from our people, unlike our friends in the region,” Zarif told television host Charlie Rose. “We do not derive our legitimacy from the ‘beautiful military equipment’ we get from the United States.”

READ MORE: Tehran could ‘walk away’ from nuclear deal – Iran’s FM

“Our society is not that different, we have the same processes,” Zarif explained. “I don’t have a crystal ball. I know the players, you know the players in the US. But if I ask you who will win the next presidential elections in the US, can you tell me?”

 
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on what is expected to be

Despite an apparent jab at Saudi Arabia – one of the Gulf monarchies Trump has been peddling US weaponry to on his recent tour – Zarif stressed that Tehran was hoping to work together with Riyadh to bolster security in the Middle East.

“We do not have the illusion that we can exclude Saudi Arabia from this region. We believe that Saudi Arabia is an extremely important player in the region whose role needs to be respected,” Zarif said.

“But we expect Saudi Arabia to also recognize that we are an important part of this region and they can never exclude Iran. As we will never try to exclude Saudi Arabia so Saudi Arabia has to abandon this illusion,” he explained.

Turning his attention to Syria, the Iranian foreign minister claimed that Washington has apparently completely shifted its priority from battling the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group to making sure Damascus does not regain control over its border with Iraq.

“Today it seems to me that priorities have changed and for the government of the US it is more important to prevent the Syrian government from taking over the border with Iraq than it is to defeat ISIS,” he said.

Mohammad Javad Zarif on Dealing With U.S.: ‘Don’t Trust — But Verify’

Washington’s plans for Syria remain a mystery, Zarif added, noting that Moscow in the meantime has always been open and clear about its intentions and sincerely wanted to resolve the crisis.

“I talk to President Putin, I know that President Putin wants to find a peaceful solution to Syria because [the conflict] does not serve our interest and it does not serve their interest,” he said. “Whether the US is prepared to do it? Ask somebody who has talked to President [Donald] Trump recently…”

Washington and Tehran have been at odds over the future of the Iran nuclear deal struck under the Barack Obama administration. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the July 2015 agreement between Tehran and six leading international powers stipulates only that the Islamic republic limit its nuclear program for fifteen years in exchange for a relaxation of pre-existing sanctions.

 
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. © Stephanie Keith

While Tehran has repeatedly said the existing terms of the JCPOA are non-negotiable, earlier this year, the US Congress introduced legislation that would require Iran to limit other activities, such as missile testing, which are not covered by the agreement.

Under US law, through, and through a Congress-created mechanism, Trump is required to re-assess the JCPOA every 90 days in order to decide whether the nuclear deal is in the best interests of the US. October 15 is the president’s next deadline.

Last week, Trump, who has also been accusing Tehran of being a dictatorship and the main sponsor of terrorism in the region, once again declared the deal with Iran an “embarrassment to the US” and threatened to quit the agreement if the IAEA is not granted full access to all Iranian military sites.

Iran for its part threatened to quit the deal and resume its nuclear program at “greater speed” if the US continues to breach the terms of the agreement.

“Iran has a number of options, which include walking away from the deal and going back with greater speed with this nuclear program,” Zarif told CNN on Sunday. The minister stressed that Iran’s nuclear program “will remain peaceful,” but “will not address and accept the limitations that we voluntarily accepted.”

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General Elections Schedule Rearranged on its First Stage

The changing of the schedule will allow that the assemblies of nominees are carried out with the quality needed.

The National Electoral Commission, meeting the agreement of the Council of State of Cuba passed on September 18th, 2017, that established to postpone the general elections in its first stage for November 26th. The Commission decided to stretch until October 30th the assemblies of nominees to the municipal organization of People’s Power.

The changing of the schedule will allow that the assemblies of nominees are carried out with the quality needed, and that the population, focused on recovering from the havoc after hurricane Irma, can participate fully in the assemblies and present the best nominees for their merits, capacity and commitment with the people, under Law 72, Electoral Law.

The lists of voters will be published on October 19-20, guaranteeing that electoral district commissions and the registration finish the verification and upgrade of this document before the deadline.

The training of staff at all levels especially those working on electoral district commissions and electoral tables, was reprogrammed for November 1-17.

The pictures and biographies of nominee to the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power will be published since November 1st.

All the above required a readjustment of documents, indications and instructions to guarantee the due organization of the electoral schedule, like Instruction No. 1 about the upgrade of the Voters Registration, the Plan of Activities of the National Electoral Commission, the Calendar of Information and the Electoral Guideline, among others.

The National Electoral Commission requested its provincial counterpart to take the necessary measures to guarantee the execution of the new schedule.

Since last September 21st until September 29th, the members of the National Electoral Commission and those from the Group of Supervisors have paid visits to assess the different electoral structures in order to know, evaluate and support the work on the base.

As reported, on November 26th is the new appointed date by the Council of State for the selection of the representatives to the municipal organization of People’s Power, who will remain for two years and a half. On December 3rd will take place the second turn, in districts where the candidates had won more than half of the valid votes.

The nomination assemblies of nominees to delegates to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power that began last September 4th, continue all through Cuba after Irma's wreckage. The nominations will occur in each place given the conditions to guarantee the quality of the process, fully following the Constitution and the Electoral Law, keeping in mind the importance of the assemblies, as opportunity for the full right to vote.

The change in the schedule for the assemblies and readjustment is an example of the importance given in Cuba to this electoral process as well as expression of the Cuban democratic system.

National Electoral Commission

Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Cubasi Translation Staff

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It's Time for Twitter To Ban Donald Trump

He's the commander-in-chief of trolls, an angry toddler who uses Twitter to exact petty revenge on his enemies and who can send the United States into a tailspin in 140 characters. It's time to shut his primary mode of communication down for good.

Author's Note: I wrote this in the morning and by evening there's already an entirely new scandal the incoming Trump administration is dealing with. Get used to it, folks. This is how it's going to be for the next four years: There will be so much corruption coming at so fast a rate that the news cycle will turn over every couple of hours rather than every day or so.

Two nights ago, Meryl Streep used her Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech at the Golden Globes to speak out in favor of kindness, decency and the arts. Maybe you heard that what she really did was indirectly attack incoming president and walking constitutional crisis Donald Trump. Well, yeah, she did, but that's largely because he's proven himself unkind, indecent and a strident opponent of the arts and all they typically stand for to an extreme that's difficult to put into words. Some people are praising Streep's public stand while others are predictably telling her that Hollywood types should stick to being entertainers and not burden America with their political opinions. (Many in this latter group, without a hint of irony, voted to make a reality TV star president, but that's for another time.)

Streep's statement was a bit of a surprise. The instantaneous reaction to it from both sides of the political divide wasn't. Neither, of course, was the 100% inevitable response from Donald Trump, remember, the man who will be inaugurated as President of the United States in ten days and who you'd presume would have better things to do than get into a tiff with an actress. A little while later, the relentless stream of pea-brain farts that is Trump's Twitter feed was turned in the direction of Streep. Film critic Richard Roeper had, not long after Streep's speech, predicted that Trump would call her "overrated," and that's exactly what he did (although he unnecessarily hyphenated the word, because he's an illiterate idiot). "Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes," he wrote, as if she'd taken the stage and burned him in effigy.

To reiterate -- because even after so many instances of this kind of crap it's still shocking -- the president elect, who's less a serious adult than he is an angry toddler without an ounce of self-control, felt the need to respond to perceived criticism from a movie star with juvenile name-calling. He wasn't holding a press conference to react to, say, a threat made by a hostile entity against the United States. No, he was firing off a tweet at three in the morning -- he was awake dwelling on what the mean lady from Hollywood had said about him at three in the fucking morning -- because he felt that he absolutely had to "defend himself" against someone who made a plea for civility from his soon-to-be-office. That's the behavior, again, of a child, not of someone who's about to become, unthinkably, the second most powerful person on the planet (after Vladimir Putin). 

Trump's Twitter feed has become so inextricably linked to his public persona that it's difficult to imagine what he'd do without it. He desperately needs that particular form of expression for a couple of reasons. First, because Twitter is simplistic, it allows someone with Trump's lack of any discernible ability to form a lengthy coherent thought a tool to blurt out his various brain droppings and non sequiturs and to do it in and instant. Second, it lets him bypass the editorial restrictions and pesky questions of the mainstream media, linking him directly to the idiot rabble that hangs on his every word. Unfortunately, Trump's missives aren't confined to his army of red hat-wearing zombies, especially since he'll soon be president and every off-the-cuff proclamation he makes can send the stock market into a spiral or alter the geopolitical landscape. He's not some dimwit tweeting -- well, not just some dimwit -- he's the incoming President of the United States.    

In the past up to now, Trump has self-weaponized his Twitter account, using his immense popularity and influence on the platform to respond to controversies by lying outright or offering willful misinformation, to settle petty grudges and by attacking those he perceives as his enemies, and to publish threats both veiled and blatant in an attempt to silence dissension. More than that, a tweet from Trump has the ability to mobilize a seemingly bottomless reservoir of sycophantic, like-minded trolls -- reliably armed with "deplorable" in their screen names and Pepe-the-Frog in their avatars -- who quickly descend upon the target of their idol's ire like locusts. We've seen that manifest in serious threats against female journalists who've drawn Trump's wrath, people like Megyn Kelly and NBC's Katy Tur, as well as general racist, misogynist and xenophobic frenzies triggered on the so-called alt-right by Trump's outbursts. Trump retweets accounts from white supremacists, spreading bigoted lies and disinformation simply because it either bolsters his worldview or because the person behind the account stroked Trump's fragile ego.

Put simply, Donald Trump is a Twitter troll. The biggest and most powerful in the world. While he's not as obviously toxic as a Milo Yionnopoulos, who was banned when he specifically directed his minions from the depths of Reddit and 8chan to harass SNL's Leslie Jones, so much more is at stake every time Trump tweets. Again, he can, through his thin-skinned penchant for bullying, indirectly set followers of the President of the United States against his enemies. He can, through his lack of impulse control combined with his arrogant ignorance about national and world affairs, disrupt both. His Twitter feed is, in other words, very, very dangerous, particularly as of January 20th. Which is why now is the time for Twitter to do the right thing and shut it down. The service should suspend Donald Trump permanently.

Now, is it going to? Of course not. There's little doubt that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey knows that if he were to suspend Trump the ground would likely open up underneath him, given that Trump is notoriously vindictive and would use the federal government to make life very difficult for him and his business. But he could if he truly wanted to, offering no other justification than the fact that Trump has likely crossed the line and violated Twitters rules against harassment, or at the very least the facilitation of it on a grand scale. Trump is, for all intents and purposes, the leader of the alt-right. And that group's repugnant footprint on Twitter is massive and indisputable at this point. The alt-right and the various subgroups that make it up represent the epicenter of racist, sexist and generally troll-ish harassment of innocent Twitter denizens, making the site a noxious swamp of abuse.

Dorsey knows this, and he seems to be clamping down harder these days on problem users, but there's no doubt that he feels he has to balance concerns about harassment against the need to keep Twitter a forum where free speech is a consideration. The thing is, free speech isn't a consideration. Twitter is a private company. Anyone on the platform is there at the pleasure of the service. They're not owed a damn thing by Twitter because it's not a government agency and therefore isn't bound by the Constitution not to restrict speech. This is why, theoretically, Twitter could ban Trump tomorrow morning and cite nothing more than a responsibility to what's good for the country and the world as reason for the action. Would it stir up trouble for the stockholders and could it lead, again, to retaliation from the Trump administration? Sure. And, again, is Dorsey unlikely to take such a step? Absolutely. But it can be done, there are grounds for it, and it would be beneficial to every single one of us. 

Imagine a Donald Trump forced to think before he spoke. Imagine Trump potentially having no choice but to go through standard channels when addressing the public, channels maintained by fact-checkers who could hold him accountable for his statements. It would be a game-changer in the best possible way. Trump isn't entitled to a Twitter account. He doesn't have a right to it. Always keep that in mind.

On Sunday, Jack Dorsey finally, mercifully -- although maybe only temporarily -- banned disgrace pharmaceutical executive and guy whose face cries out for a fist Martin Shkreli from Twitter. In spite of being a raging tool on the site for a long time now, Shkreli finally crossed the line by harassing Teen Vogue reporter Lauren Duca, hitting on her privately, proclaiming his "crush" on her publicly, and even adjusting his profile to include a creepy collage of images of Luca and her husband with the husband's face replaced by Shkreli's smirking mug. Duca complained to Dorsey and, surprise, Shkreli got bounced. Shkreli's a pretty prominent troll and he's got exactly the kind of following that Milo and even Trump have. Now no one's reported on this yet, but if you don't think these people aren't descending on Luca's feed at this very minute -- insulting her, doxing her, threatening her and her family -- you really don't know how the underbelly of Twitter works these days.

And Trump is the top of that underbelly. He's the highest-ranking troll there is, the racist, misogynist, white nationalist movement's commander in chief, literally.       

  • Published in World
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