Trump-Immigrants: Choosing the fox to guard the henhouse

Ronald W. Mortensen was nominated by Donald Trump as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

The nomination took place on May 24th.

Thus reported last Sunday, Los Angeles Times journalist Tracy Wilkinson.

Mortensen was a former U.S. Foreign Service officer and member of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

He has been characterized by his tough opposition to the entry of immigrants into United States.

Both Democrats and immigration advocates objected the nomination.

Moreover, Republicans, who have a majority in the Senate, should pronounce themselves about his nomination.

There, Mortensen could face troubles for his writings and statements attacking both immigrants and Republican senators, including John McCain, and even Marco Rubio.

In 2015, Ronald Mortensen, originally from Utah, told Marco Rubio: “You are either gullible or just plain dishonest on immigration issues.”

After Donald Trump took office in February 2017, Mortensen praised him for stepping up deportations of immigrants and banning some illegal entries.

In his blog, he referred to the success of the president “in destroying the myth of the noble, law-abiding illegal alien.”

The Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, where he worked, has been listed as a hate group.

The theoretical aim of the aforementioned center is “to provide protection, ease suffering and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people all over the world”.

However, in a post on March 10, 2017, Mortensen argued: “DACA grants amnesty to illegal aliens who are criminals and most of its recipients have committed multiple felonies to get jobs”.

According to Los Angeles Times, the number of DACA (Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals) beneficiaries, known as Dreamers, who have been convicted of crimes is very low; all have been vetted to get their two-year permits to live in the United States.

According to official data, the crime rate among immigrants is lower than for the overall population of the northern country.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) said that “Mortensen’s racist, vile and dismissive comments against immigrants disqualified him for the post.”

Jennifer Quigley, an immigration advocate on Human Rights, termed Mortensen’s statements “extremist.”

She also added: “At a moment when the world is facing the worst displacement crisis since WWII, it is astounding President Trump would nominate an individual with a hostile attitude toward immigrants.”

Finally, she pointed out: “Mortensen’s nomination is like choosing the fox to guard the henhouse.”

CubaSi Translation Staff / Jorge Mesa Benjamin

US Should Stop Detaining Migrants, Separating Children: United Nations

Geneva: The United Nations called on the United States on Tuesday to stop detaining irregular migrant families and separating children on its frontier with Mexico, saying this broke the law.

Several hundred children crossing the southern U.S. border have been held in custody since October 2017 following an executive order issued by President Donald Trump when he took office in January 2016, it said.

"The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalising what should at most be an administrative offence - that of irregular entry or stay in the U.S.," U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a briefing in Geneva.

"Entering a country without the relevant papers should not be a criminal offence...so these people should not be detained," she said, adding that some children were very young, including a one-year-old infant.

Poverty, as well as deepening violence from criminal gangs and drug traffickers has driven hundreds of thousands of Central Americans to try to cross the U.S. border illegally or seek asylum in the country.

The Trump administration will soon begin fingerprinting parents claiming custody of children who entered the United States illegally without an adult relative, officials said a week ago, prompting criticism that children may be abandoned by those who fear being identified and deported.

Shamdasani, asked about comments by senior U.S. officials that it was normal to remove children from parents in custody, said: "There is nothing normal about detaining children.

"Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation," she said.

The United States - the only country in the world not to have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child - still has obligations as a signatory to that treaty and as a party that has ratified other rights treaties, Shamdasani said

"Our position is that preserving family unity is a fundamental tenet of refugee protection," U.N. refugee agency spokesman William Spindler said.

Most crossing the U.S. southern border are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador where there is rampant violence and persecution targetting children and youth, he said.

"The fact that you have people coming from countries experiencing violence and might be subject to persecution by gangs and other criminal violence, would certainly ... give them the right to receive international protection," Spindler said.

  • Published in World

How US-China Dispute May Turn Into Trade War With No End in Sight

China is not going to bend under Donald Trump's pressure, analysts told Sputnik, referring to Beijing's recent statement issued after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' visit to the country. According to the analysts, the ongoing dispute risks turning into a new round of a trade war.

China and the United States can cooperate in the sphere of trade, but if Washington takes measures against Beijing, the latter will certainly respond in a tit-for-tat manner, said Bian Yongzu, a researcher with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the People's University of China.

"If the US deliberately creates trade barriers and provokes a trade war, then this is not a market problem, it is already a political problem," Bian told Sputnik China. "Problems cannot be solved this way. According to some experts, the US is deliberately exerting pressure on China."

On May 29 the Trump administration signaled that the tariff war is far from being over: "the United States will impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology, including those related to the 'Made in China 2025' program," the statement said specifying that the measures will take effect on June 15 and 30.

The announcement preceded Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' summit with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on June 2-3 in Beijing.

In response to Washington's sudden change of heart which de facto undermined the May 19 joint statement on the suspension of the tariff frictions, Beijing made it clear that once the US imposes new restrictions on Chinese imports, it would nullify all previous agreements reached by the sides.

"China does not demonstrate cowardice, but at the same time does not exert pressure on the US amid trade frictions," Bian pointed out, stressing that Beijing has "a whole set of adequate countermeasures" to respond to Washington's tariff war.

He added that while "China and the United States can sit down at the negotiating table calmly, it means that there remains an opportunity to solve the problem and both sides can achieve the desired results from the negotiations."

According to observers, the US representative has not gained any tangible results during the recent meeting.

For their part, the Chinese have issued a statement saying that China is willing to increase imports from other countries, "including the US," to address the needs of the population of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

"All economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the US imposes any trade sanctions including raising tariffs," the statement emphasized.

According to Andrei Volodin, an analyst at the Institute of Contemporary International Studies of the Diplomatic Academy, Trump's assertiveness was resisted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who does not intend to give in without reciprocal moves on the part of the US.

"China behaves logically, because the US trade deficit is the result of the inefficient American economy," the Russian academic opined. "The US deficit in trade with China began to reach its peak in 2005-2006. At that time, China was not so active either in the US market or in the global economy. Therefore, one could say that China's 'dumping prices' didn't affect the American economy. China understands this perfectly. It also makes it clear that its huge financial resources are invested in US securities, which means that the two countries will have to negotiate."

For its part, Chinese media outlet Global Times presumed that the ongoing trade dispute could become a "protracted" one: "Given the US may change its mind and make new requests from time to time, it is difficult for both sides to nail down a consistent trade pact and stabilize their trade relationship."

Now it all depends on whether the US will give up its plan to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods on June 15. If Trump's threats become reality the trade war will continue to gain pace.

Meanwhile, China is seeking opportunities to beef up its presence on global markets. Speaking to Xinhua, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui singled out the Eurasian Economic Union which has "great potential" according to the diplomat. On May 17, the EAEU and China inked an agreement on trade and economic cooperation in Astana.

  • Published in World

Trump’s blockade is to provoke regime change – Cuban Ambassador

Cuba’s National Assembly elected Miguel Diaz-Canel as the country’s President in April. Diaz-Canel followed Raul Castro who served two consecutive terms from 2008 when the health of his brother Fidel was in decline. Fidel Castro, who led the 1959 revolution that overthrew Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and ruled the country since died in 2016. The Daily Mirror talked to Cuba’s Ambassador in Colombo, Elena Ramos Rodriguez, on what may be expected from the new leader from a post-revolution generation, US President Donald Trump’s hardened policy towards Cuba, its effects on the Cuban people and Cuba’s response to the intensified economic blockade imposed by the US government.   

 
Cuba’s new President Miguel Diaz-Canel was born a year after the 1959 revolution, representing a relatively younger generation of politicians. Does this generational shift point to a change in Cuba’s style of government in years ahead?

I want to highlight the significance of the last session of the Cuban parliament, on April 18-19 when Mario Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was elected the new President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers. I think the new leader will continue the revolutionary process, will continue the development of our country, the development of our Socialism. Cuban people expresstheir support for this electoral process. The people elect the members of Parliament, the Parliament elects the Council of State, and the Council of State elects the president. This process comes with the support of the people because a majority - 85.65% attended the polls to elect their representation in parliament, from each municipality. Voting is voluntary … if you vote it means you support (the process).   


Diaz-Canel’s predecessor Raul Castro had started introducing certain changes- reducing the size of the state sector, encouraging more private enterprise, loosening some controls etc. with benefit to the economy. Will the new President continue on this trajectory?

Yes. The Cuban government and people are all working on updating the Cuban economic model. It is a complex process. It’s changing not because of pressure from outside but for Cuban society, to establish the economic and social guidance. It is a broad process, with many meetings with people in their workplaces, residential places etc. In Cuba, the programme does not change with each president. The guidelines are adopted with the opinion of all the population – in different ways they participate in the process.   

"The Parliament elects the Council of State, and the Council of State elects the president. This process comes with the support of the people because a majority - 85.65% attended the polls to elect their representation in parliament, from each municipality  "

Former US President Barack Obama had started a process of normalization of Cuba-US relations, signalled by re-opening diplomatic missions in the two countries. Under Trump, this process is being reversed, and the economic blockade is being intensified. What will Cuba’s strategy be, to cope with this situation?

I think Obama’s years demonstrated that Cuba and the US can live and co-exist in a civilized way. Interactions between both sides show that Cuba and the US can exist, respecting our differences and cooperating, for the benefit of both countries and peoples, at the same time. Wherever there is an opportunity, we can cooperate.   

Opportunity such as …?

To stop drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal immigration. Intelligence is not the interest of one country – it’s for both countries. We share maritime borders. We have to cooperate for example in maritime rescue, to save people. Or to avoid contamination of our maritime waters. Cuba wants to continue negotiating with the US government, but on conditions of equality and respect for our sovereignty. Cuba will not resign any of its principles. Principles are non-negotiable.   


But the fact is that you have a US President whose attitude is belligerent. How will you face this situation?

We have to face the new measures. In November last year the US Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce issued new provisions and regulations to implement and strengthen the blockade against Cuba - a week after the Nov. 1stvote in the UN General Assembly on the necessity to lift the blockade. These measures were in a new executive order of the President called “National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the US towards Cuba.” They restrict travel of American citizens to Cuba, restrict commerce between the two countries. During Obama’s time it was more flexible on some issues, but the blockade was still there, especially in the financial/ banking sector.   

In 2016 the US abstention (during the UN vote on lifting the blockade) was a hopeful moment. These measures confirm the regress of bilateral relations as a result of the decisions of the government of Donald Trump. It is also important to say, these measures ignore US public opinion of about 75% which is a great majority, and the international community, and of the Cuban immigrants in the US. The majority of Cuban immigrants want normal relations. Only a small group in Florida want to continue the blockade. This transformation ignores the majority of the international community. On Nov. 1st 2017 for the 26th consecutive occasion, the resolution on “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the USA on Cuba” was approved by the General Assembly of the UN, with 191 votes in favour and two against: the US and Israel, confirming once again the absolute international rejection of this policy. Cuba will continue to present the resolution as long as the embargo is in place. Unfortunately the resolution is not binding. But it’s a good step to demonstrate that the international community supports Cuba.   

"MediCuba, the company that imports and exports medical products, received a communication from the supplier Lindmed Trade of Spain, saying it could not supply the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin Lactate because the manufacturer Claris Otsuka refused to sell the goods because Cuba was subject to sanctions imposed by the US"


The UN Secretary General in July last year presented a report, at the request of the members of the General Assembly, on the implementation of this resolution. Cuba said “the accumulated losses caused by the embargo during nearly six decades it has been in place amount to US$ 822 billion.” Can you give an example of how this translates into deprivation in the day to day lives of the Cuban people?

The blockade affects all fields – business, health, education, agriculture. To give an example – in March 2017, MediCuba, the company that imports and exports medical products, received a communication from the supplier Lindmed Trade of Spain, saying it could not supply the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin Lactate because the manufacturer Claris Otsuka refused to sell the goods because Cuba was subject to sanctions imposed by the US.  

Ciprofloxacin Lactate is a broad spectrum antibiotic used for adults and children in the treatment of respiratory ailments. Also for skin, soft tissue, bones and joints affected by bacteria. This is an antibiotic used in all hospitals. This affects the health of our people not because the government doesn’t give the resources but because we cannot buy from the supplier.   



  • I think the new leader will continue the revolutionary process, will continue the development of our country, the development of our Socialism

  • The ending of the embargo was approved by the the UN, with 191 votes in favour and two against

  • Cuba produces nickel. The company was unable to export 3,500 tons of it, produced in 2016 because they could not find a bank...

  • The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of our country.

  • The US wants to provoke a change of regime, by provoking anger of the people through shortages, by depriving them of food, medication.  

  • Cuba appreciates support provided by Sri Lanka in its fight against the US embargo.

  • Our policy is to give what we have. Others give what they don’t use. Fifty-five per cent of state resources is allocated for budgeted activity


Could you briefly explain the extra-territorial aspect of the embargo, how third parties – other states - are punished for having transactions with Cuba? An example?

The case I just mentioned is also a good example of the extra-territorial impact. The supplier, the Spanish company cannot trade with Cuba. They too are affected. Legally they should be able to trade with Cuba. Also, many other companies have been sanctioned, fined, for doing business with Cuba.   

To give another example, Cuba produces nickel. The company was unable to export 3,500 tons of nickel sulphide produced in 2016 because they could not find a bank that would open a Letter of Credit. The loss to the Cuban economy was $23,600,000.   

In June 2016 the Netherlands mail and parcels company TNT returned to the Consulate General of Cuba in Madrid, two postal consignments addressed to the embassies of Cuba in China and Indonesia containing passports of Cubans living abroad. The company claimed that it had returned the consignments owing to corporate instructions related to the US embargo.   


The rest of the world supports Cuba on the need to end the embargo, which is in violation of the UN Charter and international law. Can you explain briefly, what is the problem the US has with Cuba?

The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of our country. The US wants to provoke a change of regime, by provoking anger of the people through shortages, by depriving them of food, medication etc. They want a regime change favourable to the US. It didn’t happen because the Cuban people stayed brave. This policy satisfies only the interests of a small minority of the American and Cuban-American extreme right-wing of South Florida, whose interest is to reverse the process of normalization of bilateral relations. It is a violation of human rights in general. We have a good economy but it would be better if we didn’t have the blockade. Tourism is greatly affected. People like to visit Cuba, last year we had four million visitors. Imagine if there was no blockade! American citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba as tourists, it’s prohibited. They need a special licence from the Treasury.   

"I think Obama’s years demonstrated that Cuba and the US can live and co-exist in a civilized way. Interactions between both sides show that Cuba and the US can exist, respecting our differences and cooperating, for the benefit of both countries and peoples, at the same time. Wherever there is an opportunity, we can cooperate"


Cuba sends its professionals like goodwill ambassadors to all parts of the world – doctors, teachers, artists, agriculture experts - demonstrating the high level of culture and education it has achieved for its people, in spite of the problems caused by its big neighbour. What is the secret of this achievement?

Our policy is ‘internationalist.’ One of the main principles in our relations with other countries is that we share what we have. If we can provide doctors, we do that. Our policy is to give what we have. Others give what they don’t use. Fifty-five per cent of state resources is allocated for budgeted activity such as education, public health, social security, pensions. That’s why there is a high standard. We believe you must support everybody. You cannot have homeless people. A mother who cannot work because her child has a disability will be provided with a government pension. It is a policy that demonstrates that even a poor nation that has not too many resources - if it uses resources for the welfare of the people - can grow its human capital, and improve living standards of the people, despite major challenges it faces. This is, maybe, our ‘secret!’   


Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba after the revolution and (in the words of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his condolence message on the death of Fidel Castro) “Cuba has been a great friend Sri Lanka could count on.” How can the Cuba-Sri Lanka relationship be taken forward?

A. Sri Lanka and Cuba have historic bonds of friendship and cooperation. Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations in 1959 after the triumph of the revolution, at the very beginning. The first step was the visit of Che Guevara to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka and Cuba both entered the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in the same year, 1961. Cuba received the presidency of NAM from Sri Lanka in 1979. We have a long history of cooperation in sports, education, health, agriculture. At this moment we are working on areas of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. In June, a delegation from Sri Lanka visited Cuba to follow up on implementation of an MoU between the ministries of Science and Technology of the two countries. Last year a Cuban expert visited Sri Lanka to share expertise on the control of dengue. We are also working on registering in Sri Lanka a Cuban product for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. It has an efficiency of over 80%, many people have saved their legs, avoiding amputation. Cuba sincerely appreciates the support provided by Sri Lanka in its fight against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for almost 60 years. On Nov. 1, once again Sri Lanka voted in favour of the Cuban revolution against the blockade in the General Assembly of the United Nations.  

  • Published in Cuba

Trump 'Did Not Like' Meeting Between Lavrov and Kim Jong Un

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday received a letter from Kim Jong-un, but did not reveal what the letter said other than to say that it was "very nice."

U.S. President Donald Trump "did not like" the meeting that took place between Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this week.

RELATED: North Korea, United States June 12 'Nuclear Summit' Confirmed

Immediately after saying he "did not like" the meeting, however, Trump said in the White House briefing that he could "love it" if it is "a positive meeting" – further compounding the already clumsy statement. 

"I did not like the Russian meeting yesterday, as what's the purpose of this meeting? But it could be a positive meeting. If it is a positive meeting, I love it. If it is a negative meeting, I am not happy. And it could be very well a positive meeting," Trump said.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had held a productive meeting with Kim in Pyongyang earlier this week, when they advanced bilateral relations and reaffirmed commitment to denuclearize. A letter from Vladimir Putin was also given to Kim.

Trump on Friday received a letter from Kim Jong-un, but did not reveal what the letter said other than to observe that it was "very nice."

"That letter was a very nice letter. Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter? Would you like? How much? How much?" the president quipped.

Trump also confirmed he will be meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, as originally planned. Trump had earlier canceled the meeting, but then executed a u-turn and reinitiated talks with Korean officials.

  • Published in World

Donald Trump: New Craziness

Another revelation contributes to clarify even more how the threads of Donald Trump’s behavior move inside the White House.

A large report published last Monday by the New York Magazine explains it. The article reveals aspects that push into the background Trumps’ famous addiction for golf.  

The document reveals his devotion for the far-right television network Fox News.  

The article adds that there are daily links between the president, the New York Magazine and the star host of Fox News, Sean Hannity.

  

The leader, amid the turmoil that hit him from every angle, has found another new addiction by exchanging his government strategies with the ultra conservative Hannity and at the same time knowing "the last political gossips of the United States."  

Close sources to the leader informed the New York Magazine that "the feeling is that Hannity is the cabinet leader outside the White House."  

The magazine argues that Hannity is filling the void left by Steve Bannon former White House Chief Strategist.  

Hannity even belongs to a chosen group of authorized officers to call the president directly.  

The New York Times said previously that Donald Trump spends several hours a day watching television, and his main source of news is Fox News.  

According to the report, circulated in January, the president begins every day around 5:30 a.m. watching Fox News followed by "Fox & Friends."  

His favorite TV shows include "Fox & Friends", as well as the show host by Sean Hannity.  

However, the most watched show is the one he is having among the stern walls of the White House.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Trump Calls off Meeting with North Korea's Kim

News comes just hours after North Korea dismantled a nuclear test site.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday called off his planned June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a letter released by the White House.

"I was very much looking forward to being there with you," Trump said in the letter. "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting."

Trump called it "a missed opportunity" and said someday he still hoped to meet Kim.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea repeated a threat to pull out of the unprecedented summit with Trump next month and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington if necessary.

In a statement released by North Korean media, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui had called U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for comparing North Korea - a "nuclear weapons state" - to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi gave up his unfinished nuclear development program, only to be later killed by NATO-backed fighters.

A small group of international media selected by North Korea witnessed the demolition of tunnels at the Punggye-ri site Thursday, which Pyongyang says is proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing.

The apparent destruction of what North Korea says is its only nuclear test site has been widely welcomed as a positive, if largely symbolic, step toward resolving tension over its weapons. 

  • Published in World

US will end like Saddam Hussein did if it attacks Iran – Revolutionary Guards

If the US tries to invade Iran, it will face the same fate that the government of Saddam Hussein did when it launched a war against the Islamic Republic, Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said in a statement.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRSG) said it “will make sure the American regime will end up being destroyed just like Saddam’s regime,” if Washington chooses to go to war.

 
The threat comes after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and declared a 12-point ultimatum to Tehran, which includes stopping all uranium enrichment, withdrawing militia troops from Iraq and Syria, and otherwise submitting to US foreign policy goals.

Iran rejected the demands and is working with other parties to the deal, including China, Russia, Britain, France, and the EU, which criticized Washington’s decision to pull out of the deal and escalate tensions with Iran.

In the 1980s, Iran and Iraq engaged in a bloody eight-year war which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein received support from Western nations, including the US, despite committing well-documented atrocities like using chemical weapons against Iran.

More than two decades after the inconclusive end to the conflict, the Iraqi leader himself was targeted by the US and its allies, which ousted him during the 2003 invasion. He was later executed by the new Iraqi government.

  • Published in World
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