Cuban scientist rejects microwaves as source of mysterious acoustic attacks on diplomats

A Cuban government investigator looking into reports of mysterious acoustic attacks on US and Canadian diplomats on Cuba on Monday dismissed a US government theory that microwave weapons emitting concentrated beams of radiation may have been used in the incidents.

"If you look at the alleged events, there have been reports that there are several people in a room with thick walls and thick windows and only one person was targeted. This is a kind of weapon that doesn't exist," said Dr. Mitchell Valdes-Sosa, a well-known neurologist who is part of the Cuban special task force investigating the alleged attacks. "It's science fiction, not science," he said.

"First, it was sonic weapons, now microwave. What's next, kryptonite?" the investigator said in an interview with CNN at his research center in Havana, referring to an earlier theory that sonic weapons emitting high-powered ultrasound waves could have caused the injuries.

Valdes-Sosa said researchers and investigators are working on a paper to rebut the microwave weapons theory.

Previously, the island government not only denied involvement in the attacks but cast doubt on whether they actually occurred. In June, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said "political motivations" drove the United States to withdraw its embassy personnel.

Though a March report based on the examinations of 21 diplomats who served in Cuba didn't link the attacks to microwaves, the study's lead author, Douglas Smith, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Brain Injury and Repair, told The New York Times that US diplomats in Cuba and China likely suffered brain injuries and that microwaves are considered the culprit.

Valdes-Sosa said for a microwave weapon to work it would have to been used at a close distance, and none of the diplomats reported seeing the alleged perpetrators. He said that Cuban authorities had investigated the report that one diplomat who suffered an apparent attack had seen a van speed off and that the vehicle belonged to a church.

While the US has not directly blamed the Cuban government for carrying out the attacks, US officials said Cuba is responsible for safeguarding the diplomats well-being and that Cuban officials would likely know if a third government were responsible.

But Valdes-Sosa said after more than a year of US, Canadian and Cuban investigations there was still no hard proof that any attacks actually took place.

"For an attack to have occurred you have to have a real victim. First the thing we are not sure is if all these people evacuated from Cuba are really ill or have suffered do something that happened to them," Valdes-Sosa said. "Second, you have to have a perpetrator. Who would be interested? You have to have the opportunity."

  • Published in Specials

China Defends Opening and Reform, Despite U.S. Pressures

China's Ministry of Trade emphasized today this country will continue the reform and opening as well as protecting multilateralism, despite pressures from the United States on trade issues, highlights the local media today.

The spokesperson Gao Feng thus responded the accusations of Washington on alleged disloyal trade practices of Beijing.

Foreign trade activities of China have been done in strict compliance with the international multilateral trade system

since its entry to the World Trade Organization, assured the spokesperson.

According to Gao, economic and commercial cooperation China-United States, of mutually beneficial nature, has generated a notable growth for enterprises of both countries and for both peoples.

We hope the United States does not ponder the general situation based on the criteria of a reduced number of persons and does not mislead itself or the public, said Gao.

The spokesperson repeated the call to an equitable, honest and pragmatic dialogue with mutual respect and listen to the voices of industries and consumers, long-term cooperation and fundamental interests of both peoples to take the right decision.

According to Bloomberg news agency, president Donald Trump wants to go ahead with a plan to impose higher tariffs on Chinese imports valued in 200 billion dollars as son as next week.

If the new tariffs are enacted, it would be the greatest escalade in the trade war between the two biggest economies of the world, which according to the same source, creates even greater worry in the financial markets.

The head of the White House continuously accuses other nations, fundamentally the Asian giant, of taking advantage in trade with that country and boosts this aggressive tariff policy, criticized by the affected territories, U.S. economic sectors and mwembers of his own party.

The news on the possible enactment of more tariffs on China is published when trade conversations between Washington and Beijing do not show signs of progress, as those held last week in this capital showed little results.

  • Published in World

Venezuela: To Face Chaos "Made in the U.S."

In this bunch of promoted actions, organized, sponsored, and paid by imperialism to destabilize and sink Nicolás Maduro's government. Good news are looming like the capture and knowing of many of those involved in failed assassination attempt on Venezuela’s President, the installation of the announced measures to defeat the economic war started by the U.S. and its allies from the national oligarchy and, in this panorama, the strengthening of the currencies that have begun to circulate in the country, with the purpose of containing the inflation and it will keep social programs and the subsidy of gas prices.

About this point it’s important to highlight the announcement that Venezuela will sell its oil according to the international market prices, keeping in this field the solidary support to the most needed countries in the region.

On top of everything mentioned before, it’s overwhelming the popular support to the president, the wide rejection to the assassination attempt. Also the growing and bigger manifestations of support to the Bolivarian process, showing the strong mind and patriotism of most of the population.

This is extremely important, because only like this will be stopped the U.S. decision of turning Venezuela into chaos, to start a civil war with the purpose of not only put a final end to the Bolivarian Revolution and Chavez followers - that would be their first objective -, but also to destroy the national State to wipe out any form of future resistance.

Belgian intellectual Michel Collon has said something similar referring to the “constructive chaos” applied by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Middle East.

To better explain this, the French analyst Thierry Meyssan went back to 2004, when several Pentagon experts explained that, in the future, the U.S. will wage new wars to divide the world in two zones: one stable for him and its allies, and other where there were not a stable government neither development, but chaos, to guarantee that nobody could develop a power that would threaten its world hegemony, what he rounded up saying that "the situation in Venezuela is ready, and when U.S. wishes it, it will begin a war".

It’s not the first time that it’s said, but if we see what happened in Ukraine, Syria and Libya is exactly the same methodology applied today against Venezuela.

It always begins the same, with the indicting the government of committing horrible crimes, then they send to the country special forces, a few snipers deployed on rooftops during a manifestation, with the objective of shooting against both demonstrators and the police, stirring huge confusion. After that each side is convinced that it was the other one that shot him, and that is the beginning of an internal confrontation.

In this way would begin a “symbolic war” that the international media would use to explain that it’s a "revolution" to which the U.S., would give all its support through “non-governmental organizations” and the military bases built in neighboring countries around Venezuela.

Against Libya they used Egypt and Malta; in the case of Syria, almost every bordering States: Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. If they plan to attack Venezuela, undoubtedly they will use a State or several border States of Venezuela, like it’s the case of Colombia, where there are seven military bases controlled by the U.S., and now it’s also spoken of Peru, what is not certain.

Forgive me if I repeat these concepts already written, it’s just to make you never forget, because in the end the U.S., despises all those they send to overthrow governments that are a nuisance to them.

Hence the importance that, in the Venezuelan case, to go all the way to clarify everything around the failed assassination of Nicolas Maduro keep a strong hand and let’s hope this measure are carried fully to try palliate the economic problems.

Many today denounce that the Venezuelan extreme right and their dissociated followers play with fire and, blinded by greed, the irrational hatred and deceit, they don't notice that they are being used by imperialism in a game where everyone loses, but the companies that profit from war and destruction.

Marcos Rubio: The biggest courtier in the U.S. Capitol

After his presidential candidature was crushed in 2016, and bore harsh jibes from Donald Trump, Sen. Marcos Rubio is trying now to show himself as both, Republican and Democrat.

Lisa Mascaro, journalist from AP (Associated Press), described him as if he were sitting on the fences.

According to Mascaro, he tries to find his place in the Republican Party.

The AP reveals that he also ignores journalists covering official events at the U.S. Capitol and only tackles proposed legislations and speeches before the Senate.

Every time he travel to his State, Florida, he only addresses minor issues.

It seems Marcos Rubio tries not to stand too close of the White House before the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Contrary to what polls say, Rubio stated to AP: “I am not going to run against Trump in the upcoming primaries. No one else should do it unless they want to lose the White House.”

The Senator has developed permanent ties with Donald Trump via telephone calls.

However, he continues to maintain his political stance detached from the President while not officially ruling out the possibility of running for presidency.

The Washington Post uncovered the scandal triggered by Marcos Rubio with his parents when he said they were “victims of political persecution” in the Castro regime.

As a matter of fact, Marcos Rubio’s parents left Havana in 1956 as economic migrants.

Senator Rubio believes, among other things, in the need to “modernize” the agenda of the U.S. Republican Party for the 21st century.

Lisa Mascaro says that there are people who believe Rubio is only trying to survive his disappointing presidential campaign in 2016. And he is doing exactly what he usually does: finding the happy medium that pleases nobody.

But many converge on one point: Senator Marcos Rubio is still the biggest courtier in the U.S. Capitol.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

US Blockade on Cuba Hurts the Island's Health System

The economic, financial and trade blockade the US Government on Cuba has caused the island''s health system damages for over 2.5 billion dollars in almost 60 years, its Foreign Ministry upholds.

In its report for the upcoming 2018 session of the UN General Assembly, the Cuban government sustains the most serious damages arise from the hardships to purchase medications, instruments, spare parts for medical equipment and consumables needed for the sector's functioning.

The report is attached to a resolution Cuba will submit once again to the General Assembly to demand the end of the US hostile policy that has been condemned by the international body for the past 25 years.

It explains the hardships arise from having to make purchases in faraway markets and in many occasions through middlemen, and this causes prices to rise.

This generates suffering and desperation among patients and relatives alike for not having the proper medication for the adequate treatment of an ailment or to save a life, a human pain that is unquantifiable, the report stresses.

It mentions that MediCuba, an importing and exporting agency, sent requests during the past year to 30 US pharmacological companies to purchase medications and consumables, but only got replies from two, Agilent and Cook Medical, but both answered that according to blockade restrictions they were unable to make sales to Cuba.

Among the items MedicaCuba was trying to purchase was Temozolamide, a medication to treat malign brain tumor, or Evolucumab Repatha, designed to treat high cholesterol in high risk patients.

Next October 31 the UN General Assembly will debate and put to vote the Cuban resolution that demand the end of the blockade.

Since 1992, the initiative has been supported and voted by most of the international community. In the past three years 191 of the 193 UN member nations voted in favor of the Cuban resolution. In 2017, only the US and Israel voted against it.

  • Published in Cuba

Will Facebook ban subversive propaganda against Cuba?

Does Facebook have any notion regarding the sort of propaganda Radio Marti is trying to camouflage through its platform to Cuban internet users?

As I have warned in previous articles, and after being accused of allowing Russia to interfering in the 2016 presidential election, Facebook is being absorbed in a campaign to remove all the paid propaganda from its website.

The last attempt to improve its “unbiased” image occurred on Tuesday when the social network removed more than 650 websites, groups, and accounts identified as “inauthentic behavior,” according to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The “conspiracy” refuted by Facebook, according to the report delivered to the American authorities, was carried out from websites that were tracked to Iran and groups linked to operations of the Russian intelligence.

According to Facebook, the accounts —also in Instagram and owned by Facebook as well— the news that were presented as independent or by groups belonging to the civil society were actually working in coordinated efforts targeting users from UK, Latin America, Middle East, and the U.S.

The websites, in the words of Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher, were linked to state-owned media from Iran through the publicly available website registration information. Such is the case of Quest 4 Truth, which claims to be an organization independent from Iran media.

The vast majority of the removed accounts focused its activity range on the Near East and tried to manipulate public opinion on some U.S. policies and certain anti-Israeli, anti-Saudi Arabian stances. Similarly, they favor pro-Palestinians viewpoints.

The same source also confirmed in a news conference that Facebook removed a number of websites and accounts previously identified as Russian military services, and following the reports, they were unrelated to Iran.

The HuffPost revealed that this network had 813 000 accounts in Facebook and 10 000 in Instagram and spent around 6,000 USD in ads for Facebook between 2012 and April 2018.

In other words, according to Facebook latest policies, the removed networks were not only related to governments that Washington targets in its sanctions, but these countries also paid ads in order to spread their political propaganda.

So far, so good. Facebook assumes its right to host or not in its platform, paid political propaganda. The problem lays in discerning if the largest social network in the world can be consistent with its principles with other sort of “paid political propaganda.”

Of course we are referring to the kind of propaganda Facebook is using against Cuba. The later was recently confirmed in the budgetary documents for the tax years of 2018 and 2019 of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, released by the Miami New Times.

The document highlights that the U.S. government has plans to use Cuban “native” and “non-branded” accounts in Facebook to spread content created by the government without notifying Cuban users in Facebook:

Due to the Cuban blockade of Radio and TV Marti, the OCB digital strategy has turned to social networks. These consist of Facebook, YouTube, and Google which are the most visited in Cuba. By using AVRA technology, the Radio Marti programs became radio-visual and were broadcasted via Facebook Live along with the programming of TV Marti. It certainly gives the OCB and additional, efficient, and profitable distribution either for its radio-visual or TV content.

In the tax year of 2018, the OCB is creating digital devices in Cuba aiming for creating fake accounts in Facebook to spread information. The websites opened in the island increase the chances of reaching Cuban users in Facebook. The same strategy will be copycatted in other social networks.

According to the Miami New Times, the budgetary document suggests that the OCB (Office of Cuba Broadcasting) plans to spread American propaganda against Cuba to deceive users in Cuba and make them believe that the information is coming from other Cuban users, not from the Radio Marti headquarters.

Does Facebook have any notion regarding the sort of propaganda the OCB is trying to camouflage through its platform to Cuban internet users?

There is no doubt who are the ones paying for it. Since the 1980s, when the inappropriately called Radio Marti was created by the government of Ronald Reagan, such radio station has not stopped trying convey subversive propaganda against the Cuban Revolution either by radio or television; and recently by using new technologies. As the article states, the OCB created the text message service Piramideo (Pyramid), which could not “meet its goal of promoting dissent in Cuba” and for years managed to smuggle small satellite devices that could provide internet access until such smuggling was stopped in 2015 due to the excessive spending.

As we have said before, the hate speech against Cuba abounds in that social network and quoting the Miami New Times, Nasserie Carew, spokeswoman at the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Facebook project never “took off.” But honestly, that is a “weird answer” if we take into account the plan was linked to documents that account for the 2018-2019 budget.

It is also weird that Facebook, a social network that presents itself to the world as an independent enterprise, emerges as part of a dirty war against Cuba in a U.S. government document. Is Facebook part of the Task Force created last January by the Trump Administration, which according to the State Department, “will evaluate the technological challenges as well as the opportunities to widen the access to the Internet and the independent media in Cuba? And it will certainly find ways to spread the usage of social networks and the free Internet access in the island.

Although the spokesman of Facebook did not answer any of the questions on the subject, we may assume that the new subversive plans of the OCB against Cuba are not allowed by such social network by a simple reason, as noted by Professor John S. Nichols, from the Pennsylvania University, co-author of the book 1987 Clandestine Radio Broadcasting in his book:

"Third-party countries see what they’re doing and say, 'There goes the United States again doing that dumb stuff,'" he says. "It's small, mean, and not worthy of a great power. Other countries say, 'If the U.S. is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our treaty obligations?' I think that has a long-term negative effect. And given what Radio and TV Martí might doing right now, it becomes hard for us to complain about what other countries might be doing to us."

Suffice to say that amid such strong misinformation campaign Facebook is in, removing the subversive propaganda posted in its platform would increase the trust of its users for sure. Besides, it should not be complicated to achieve it if we take into account that the budget report of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has saved Facebook time and resources in the investigation.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz // CubaSi Translation Staff

US Reduces Trip Warning to Cuba from Level Three to Two

The US Department of State said today that it has reduced its travel warning to Cuba, a country internationally recognized as a safe destination, from level three (reconsidering the trip) to two (taking additional precautions).

This measure represents an improvement in the recommendation on visits to Cuba in the four-level ranking (the first asks to take normal precautions and the fourth warns about not to travel).

However, the federal agency justified its decision to reduce the level to two by claiming that more caution should be exercised in Cuba 'due to attacks on employees at the US Embassy in Havana.'

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Thus, the State Department continues to use the term attacks to refer to health incidents reported by US officials, despite acknowledging in today's press release that they have not been able to identify the source of what happened.

Thursday's measure comes after last January, when a new system of travel recommendations was released, and Washington placed Cuba in level three, due to 'serious risks to safety and protection.'

At that time, the reason claimed by the US was the situation with the diplomats, which led the State Department to reduce the number of officials in Cuba.

The decision to continue to call to 'reconsider the trips' came a day after the Cuban Educational Travel agency, the organizer of stays in the Caribbean nation, published the results of a survey conducted among 462 US travelers who visited Cuba in 2017 and 2018.

In terms of general security, 83 percent of US travelers, who are banned from traveling to Cuba as tourists, considering that the nation is 'very safe' and 16 percent rated it safe, while less than one percent regarded it as insecure.

During the 41th International Tourism Fair held in Spain last January, Cuba received the Excellence Award as the safest country for tourism.

  • Published in Cuba

New rules make first Women’s Baseball World Cup played on US soil more exciting

WBSC will test during the VIII Women’s Baseball World Cup a new set of rules.
“The twelve-second rule between pitches has been in use for some time now,” cleared WBSC Umpire Director Gustavo Rodriguez during the presentation press conference “But we will be using a clock on the field for the very first time.”

Players will have 90 seconds between half innings to get ready and managers will be able to declare an intentional walk.
The big change in the rules will be the introduction of instant replays. Every manager will have the possibility to challenge one decision of the umpiring crew. When a manager loses the challenge, in the sixth and seventh the decision to turn to instant replays will be left to the umpiring crew

Australia’s manager Simone Wearne seemed not too worried about the new rules.
“They are not going to affect the way we play. Baseball is baseball”.

20180821 Women Baseball World Cup Trophy and Medals

Japan is a five-time defending champion but Megumi Kitta is a first year manager.
“My English is very bad, but my players are very good,” she joked “We have a lot of twenty-year olds on the roster and three High School players.”
Taking over after five World Titles must put some pressure on you: “Well, everybody jokes with me about the possibility I may be the first losing manager after five wins, including my parents…”

Kitta San was joined during the press conference by star pitcher Ayami Sato, who has been the World Cup MVP for the last two editions.
“I am here to be the MVP for the third time in a row. I feel very good. I also have expanded my range of pitches.”

Canada finished second in 2016 and manager Andrè Lachance said: “It’s amazing how much this tournament has grown since the first edition in Edmonton.”

Carlos Torres is the manager of Venezuela, that won a bronze medal two years ago.
“It’s a honour to be here, representing my country. I am sure you are all aware of the sacrifices we had to do, to make this possible.”

Also USA’s Matt Weagle is a rookie manager. But he was on the staff for the last two World Cups as the pitching coach.
“It’s a real honour. I don’t take lightly the fact I am managing on USA soil and I want to thank everyone who made this possible. I can’t promise victories, but I can promise we will play hard.”

The VIII Women’s Baseball World Cup opens on Wednesday, 22 August, at Space Coast Complex in Viera, Florida. The first two games (Dominican Republic-Japan and Chinese Taipei-Venezuela) are scheduled at 10 am (US Eastern time). The opening ceremony will start at 6 pm and will be followed by Puerto Rico-USA to close Day 1 of competition.

  • Published in Sports
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